Nastassja Kinksi has only appeared in one film since popping up in the last scene of David Lynch’s Inland Empire in 2006, but the German actor has always been elusive, even when you’re watching her. The daughter of Werner Herzog’s notoriously unhinged muse Klaus Kinski, Nastassja was quick to step out of her father’s shadow. After landing starring roles in films by Roman Polanski, Francis Ford Coppola and Paul Schrader, she was arguably as famous as her father by the time she turned 21.
Graced with the face of a fashion model and often cast in the part of a temptress, Kinski’s breakthrough roles conspired to make her a sex symbol, but her wardrobe was the only transparent thing about her. Whether she was playing a tragic peasant girl who becomes the victim of her cousin’s ambition (Tess), a sexually frustrated werecat (Cat People) or a stripper desperate to escape the memories of her past life (Paris, Texas), Kinski has always been both compulsively watchable and entrancingly withdrawn (not to mention game for anything).
But, at least for a few days, the actor is going to be a lot more available than she’s ever seemed on screen. Starting Wednesday 26 and running a full week, the Film Society of Lincoln Center is running "From the Heart," a retrospective of Kinski’s most memorable performances. As a bonus, Kinski herself will be in town for Q&As after select screenings. All nine of the films are worth seeing, but these are five of our favorites.
Cat People Paul Schrader’s crass, exploitative remake of Jacques Tourneur’s 1942 suspense-horror masterpiece manages to make the old Hays code look like a positive boon. But it sure is a fun and frisky psychosexual adventure. Thu 8:45pm, Wed 3 at 9:30pm
Exposed Here’s an eclectic cast for you: Nastassja Kinski, Rudolf Nureyev, Harvey Keitel and Pierre Clémenti. The plot somehow involves both fashion models and terrorism; it never remotely threatens to work, but at least it’s arrestingly awful. Director James Toback will participate in a post-screening Q&A. Fri 8:30pm
One from the Heart Francis Ford Coppola’s garish, operatic musical about a busted-up marriage was considered a commercial flop and the death knell for Zoetrope Studios back in the day. But Heaven’s Gate this ain’t; you’ll be surprised how well Tom Waits’s songs complement the story and admire the director’s chutzpah for trying something completely different. Thu 6:30pm, Wed 3 at 4:30pm
Paris, Texas Wim Wenders’ dusty, atmospheric tale centers around a drifter (Harry Dean Stanton) trying to put his life and his family back together. A masterpiece. Kinski will be on hand for a Q&A following the Sunday screening. Fri 5:30pm, Sun 7:30pm
Tess Nastassja Kinski excels as the title character in this evocative adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the D’Urbervilles; it won several minor Oscars (Cinematography, Art Direction, etc.), and was shot in anamorphic widescreen, so it should ideally be seen on the big screen. A Q&A with Kinski will follow the Saturday screening. Thu 3pm, Sat 4pm