The week in Buffalo cinema: “Seconds” at Hallwalls


John Frankenheimer’s Seconds is “one of those movies.” In other words, it is a cult classic that, if you’re lucky, you happen upon, and then cannot get out of your head. It is a strange, disturbing, downright eerie film that feels both ahead of its time (it came out in 1965) and also wonderfully dated.

Rock Hudson stars in the film, which is nicely summarized by the Criterion Collection folks; it was released by Criterion last summer:

Rock Hudson is a revelation in this sinister, science-fiction-inflected dispatch from the fractured 1960s. Seconds, directed by John Frankenheimer, concerns a middle-aged banker who, dissatisfied with his suburban existence, elects to undergo a strange and elaborate procedure that will grant him a new life. Starting over in America, however, is not as easy as it sounds. This paranoiac symphony of canted camera angles (courtesy of famed cinematographer James Wong Howe), fragmented editing, and layered sound design is a remarkably risk-taking Hollywood film that ranks high on the list of its legendary director’s achievements.

The crisp black and white photography should look especially cool at Hallwalls, which is screening the film at 7 p.m. tomorrow (February 11) as part of curator John Massier’s “Long Nights, Bright Paranoia” series. It kicked off last week with 1953’s Invaders From Mars, and follows up Seconds with Alex Proyas’s underrated Dark City and Alan Pakula’s The Parallax View.

What a fantastic series of films — and a nice way of brightening up the ugly February cinema calendar.