Tag Archives: Coolidge Corner Theater

“The Sounds of Silents” at Coolidge Corner

5 Sep

Not an optical illusion.

I love Coolidge Corner. So much so, I decided to move closer to it. It saves time for commuting and spends my entertainment allowance faster. It makes sense.

But one reason I love this theater so damn much, is the fact they still screen silent films. That’s kinda ballsy in an age filled with 3D glasses and CGI for almost every movie released. Pish-posh, let’s go back to simpler times. Times where the audience got to participate in the interpretation of a movie and the only sound that was heard in theaters was the sounds of music.

The beauty of a live silent film is that it’s alive. The music shakes your seat, the images are a good two stories tall in your face, the actors’ overact like its no one’s show business. Now that’s entertainment.

I was fortunate enough to save a ticket for the kick off event of the series, a screening of the re-released “Metropolis”. Let’s just say, I’ve seen the film about twice before seeing it with the found footage and the live accompaniment, and I was practically jumping into the aisle out of anxiety because it stirred up so much emotion. Though I was privy to what happens, it felt like it was a movie I never watched before. Greatness.

The Tampa Theatre

The Tampa Theatre

So it is with bated breath, I await the arrival of “Steamboat Bill, Jr.” later this month. One of my favorite comedians in one of his masterpieces. I can’t wait to share the experience. But, Coolidge is throwing in a different twist to the standard tinkling piano in the corner of an old theater. They are bringing in a guitarist to accompany the antics of Buster Keaton, who I think is wacky enough already. In fact my first live silent film was back in the historic Tampa Theatre. It was the late, great Rosa Rio at the helm of a Mighty Wurlitzer Organ playing along with the slapstick comedy onscreen. I remember bouncing out of my seat often, bobbing to the pace of the music and Keaton’s almost musical timing. The screening even came with a preshow, as is tradition for big screenings in the Tampa Theatre; a sing-a-long of “My Funny Valentine,” just in time for the holiday.

I look forward to the quirky fun live silent movies can offer. No two screenings are alike, and it makes each time you go is akin to seeing the movie anew. If only more movies could feel that fresh. They just don’t make ’em like they used to.

The next two screenings in the series are “Sunrise” on December 2nd and “IT” on May 2nd. Mark your calendars. To buy tickets to the three remaining silent films of the season, check out the program listing.

Return to “Metropolis”

24 May

"Metropolis," One of the greatest Sci-Fi films the world has ever seen.

The quote “must see movie of the year” is way too widely misused. Often, studio’s advertising campaign will use some critic’s words to drive audiences to their film.

Well, let me utilize this cliche: “Metropolis” is the must see movie event of the year.

A one week engagements and live accompaniment by the Alloy Orchestra is one proper way to get people’s interests. Keep your over-priced 3-D ticket, the real show is never repeated; each performance offers something new. It’s like watching a film that has come alive.

Alive since 1927.

Yes, it’s a silent film, the cast and crew are long gone, and even the great studio that commissioned the work has been reduced to a mere TV production company. But, this is still a new film being released. Just last year, around a half an hour of never before seen footage was found in an archive in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Much like pre-production, the delicate film was put into one of the most delicate restoration efforts ever attempted. These 30 minutes have been erased from history, with even film historians considering this piece of work lost with the other 90% of all film made before the sound era (1929).

A poster that has become quite popular in its own artform.

What’s more exciting than watching something considered lost to time? Imagine rediscovering the Library of Alexandria or the Colossus of Rhodes. Like these ancient wonders, we won’t find the piece in its entirety, there is still over 30 minutes of footage unaccounted from Fritz Lang’s original cut of “Metropolis.” I still will walk into Coolidge Corner’s Art Deco theater with the awe and wonderwent of an explorer discovering Atlantis. It means that much to me.

So I hopefully have you sold on the historical aspects of “Metropolis,” but what about the actual movie you’re going to be paying good money to see. Well, if you share my 20-something age, it’s something you’ve never seen before, unless you like the classic movies before the days of computer animation. This entire city of the future is made of intricate models stylistically done in 1920’s art deco. That’s the German Expressionism style that was popular among German directors at the time. Artsy, with a plot of a driving struggle for survival-it’s Karl Marx’s history of class struggle placed in a cold future. The upper class and the lower class are divided not only by societal position, but they are literally segregated from each other. Eventually, the worlds collide with chaos, and only time will tell if the leaders of revolution and their oppressors will turn to peace rather than tearing each other to pieces. And there’s a love story of sorts and a cast that numbers over 20,000.

Watch the most expensive, epic movie of its time, the way it was meant to be seen.

Tickets are on sale now for the restored version of “Metropolis” playing for one week only at Coolidge Corner Theatre. The June 4th screening will feature a live orchestral accompaniment. For more information and ticketing, please visit their website.

"Metropolis" at its finest-or worst.