By Aaron Hillis
By Casey Burchby
By Stephanie Zacharek
By Calum Marsh
By Kera Bolonik
By Stephanie Zacharek
By Ernest Hardy
By Eric Hynes
Finally, Astorias Museum of the Moving Image drops its veil to reveal its new chassis, a nearly two-year-long architectural overhaul that substantially upgrades its standing exhibitions, its capacity for educational and video programs, and its position as the loveliest afternoon-killer in Queens. Most important, the screening schedule will be fattened up, beginning out of the gate this week with a motley six-week program of must-sees and new excavations.
A raft of newly unearthed and/or re-polished silents plant the flag, from John Fords Upstream (1927), a Murnau-at-Fox-era vaudeville pulpster hinging on knife-throwing performers, accompanied by a live vaudeville-style ensemble, to Gabriel García Morenos The Ghost Train (1927), a little-known Mexican silent thriller. A full program of Georges Méliès makes an appearance, supported by the live accompaniment of renowned found-object-instrument dynamo Sxip Shirey, who will perform alone and with household gadgets. Heres also your only current opportunity to see Josef von Sternbergs debut melodrama, The Salvation Hunters (1925), and to submerge yourself into the big-screen experience of maniac-auteur Marcel LHerbiers three-hour Emile Zola filmization LArgent(1928), along with its simultaneously shot making-of doc, Autour de LArgent (1929). But the retrophiliacs may jump higher for the thought-to-be-lost German adaptation of the 18th-century play Nathan the Wise (1922), a Weimar hymn to Muslim-Christian-Jew tolerance set in Crusade-era Jerusalemimagine thatand one of the earliest victims of nascent Nazi censorship.
Other repolished humdingers range from Rossellinis Open City (1945) to the 70mm resplendence of Tatis Playtime (1967) and Kubricks 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), two methodical reinventions of reality that go together like megalomania and money. Jaromil Jiress cult fave Valerie and Her Week of Wonders (1970) offers a tipsy Czech countercharge of pubescent softcore and vampire anxiety. And the clock goes back to multiple noir torpedoes (Jacques Tourneurs Out of the Past and Joseph Lewiss The Big Combo) and lost Golden Age nuggets from Warners, like Archie Mayos The Mayor of Hell(1933), in which liberal gangster James Cagney takes over a corrupt juvenile reformatory, and William Keighleys The Match King (1932), a veiled biopic of Depression-slammed monopolist Ivar Kreuger, who shot himself the same year the film was released.
Dont overlook the freaky avant-garde onslaught, including an array of new-and-classic samplers, site-specific video installations, an evening of vintage Kuchars, a showing of Warhols Edie-loving Face (1965), and a rare and modest sectiononly 3.5 hours, mind youof Gregory Markopouloss Eniaios (2004), an 80-hour ambient monster, the preservation of which wont be finished until 2028. In the same spirit, and experimenting in his own mid-career fashion, Manoel de Oliveiras Doomed Love(1978), at 4.5 hours, is demanding and unwieldy enough to require a pilgrimage.
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