It’s October, and the annual Silent Film Spectacular is coming back to the Albany Public Library. The four-event series offers a truly unique film-going experience as silent movies are accompanied by live performances of original soundtracks composed and performed by Local 518 bands. Kicking off on Wednesday (October 7), this season’s selection of films ranges from the terrifying to the adventurous; and it even include a film created by one of the bands.
The Silent Film Spectacular events take place in the large auditorium of the Washington Avenue Branch of the Albany Public Library on four consecutive Wednesday evenings in October at 7pm. All performances are free.
Here’s the schedule of films and bands for the 2015 Silent Film Spectacluar:
Hot from the world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, the Berkshire International Film Festival (BIFF) proudly presents a special pre-release screening of “Freeheld,” starring Julianne Moore, Ellen Page, Michael Shannon and Steve Carell. “Freeheld” is based on Berkshire resident and BIFF board member Cynthia Wade’s 2008 Academy Award-winning short documentary film of the same name. The documentary was screened at the 2009 BIFF.
The screening of “Freeheld” will be held at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center at 4pm on Sunday (October 4), and Cynthia Wade will be in attendance for an introduction and Q&A immediately following the film.
It is a film that has come in for some controversy, but as GALECA colleague Daniel D’Addario wrote in Time Magazine when he interviewed Ellen Page, “Documentaries are one thing; a feature film with two major actresses is quite another. As a film about the inner lives and the challenges of a lesbian couple, ‘Freeheld’ is a rarity in a Hollywood that still privileges stories about straight characters; it’s no wonder it took six years to make.
“And it’s all the more rare that it features an out lesbian movie star, one who’s willing to be outspoken on behalf of what she believes. (Her upcoming projects include the Vice series ‘Gaycation,’ for which she interrogated Presidential candidate Ted Cruz in Iowa after this interview was conducted.) Since coming out last year, Page says she’s moved beyond depression and is now ‘excited about life, and motivated and inspired.’ But asked if taking on a role that’s somewhat outside where Hollywood is willing to place 28-year-old actresses is ‘brave,’ Page bristles, calling the term ‘borderline offensive.’ After all, she notes, this movie shouldn’t even be a risk: ‘People want diversity. They want it. Whether they consciously know it or not.’”
Throughout his 45-year recording career, the sometimes scathing, often hilarious Loudon Wainwright III has been the most candid of singer-songwriters, writing with unflinching honesty about himself and his family, warts and all. In fact, you could say that singing about failed and flawed family relationships is his career.
When last in concert at The Egg two and a half years ago, Wainwright focused much of his show on his relationship with his father, Loudon Wainwright Jr., the longtime Life Magazine columnist, who died in 1988. In reviewing that show, I wrote, “In fact, the performance had such deep resonance that it seemed as though Wainwright was likely working out the kinks in a work-in-progress one-man theatrical show.”
And, yes, that’s exactly what he was doing…
Wainwright returns to The Egg on Friday night (October 2) with “Surviving Twin,” a very special evening that combines new Wainwright material and some of his most well known songs with spoken word sections taken from the writing of his late father.
Comedian-screenwriter-director-actor-composer-etc. Mel Brooks – best known as the slightly deranged mind behind such enduring film comedies as “The Producers” and “Young Frankenstein,” as well as their transformation into hit Broadway shows – is headed to Proctors in Schenectady this fall for a live appearance in conjunction with another of his classic films, “Blazing Saddles.”
One of the problems with tribute albums is that they usually don’t come with historical perspective. Oh, sure, whoever’s doing the tribute obviously gives the artist’s compositions all the love they feel about the subject, but other than – maybe – a few words about how (insert Jazz Icon’s Name here) was the greatest thing since (insert appropriate metaphor here), you’re on your own when it comes to background. With that in mind, drummer Michael Benedict came to the Gary McFarland Legacy Ensemble’s drop party at Madison Theater with the ultimate answer to this problem: Music and a movie!
If you’ve followed Benedict’s career over the last 10 years, you know McFarland’s music has been a heavy presence. That said, you may be like me and reacted to the singular compositions by saying, “WHO wrote this?” We all got the answer late last year, when Kristian St. Clair’s 2011 documentary “This Is Gary McFarland” was released to DVD. A mash-up of old TV footage, home movies, audio tracks and radio interviews with major names like Willis Conover and Hugh Downs, the 72-minute film is an outstanding portrait of an artist you’re convinced you should have heard of by the time the credits roll. Benedict brought the film to the Madison Theater’s terrific concert space and sandwiched it with five tunes from Circulation: The Music of Gary McFarland, which was at #24 on the national jazz charts when the band took the stage.
SJ: Do you remember the name of the song Lyle sang about driving with his folks in the front seat of the car?
Writers want to summarize: What does this mean? What did we learn from this? That's a very 19th-century way of thinking about art, because it assumes that it should make our lives better or teach us something.