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The Arts Voyager, 3-17: Take Two
Auto-Remakes at Anthology: Twice as Nice

Raoul Walsh's 1941 "High Sierra" (above, with Humphrey Bogart at left), as well as his re-cast 1949 remake "Colorado Territory" starring Joel McCrea, are part of the Auto-Remakes series showing at Anthology Film Archives March 18-31. Image courtesy Warner Brothers.

By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2011 Paul Ben-Itzak

NEW YORK -- Why would the art voyager want to spend any part of an excursion inside a darkened room watching movies? Because the films in question can't be seen anywhere else. What's unique about Anthology Film Archives -- even as big-city cinematheques go, including its European counterparts -- is that since its founding more than 40 years ago by internationally renowned avant-garde director Jonas Mekas, the very curatorial focus and encadring of the programming has provided an outlet for films rarely seen anywhere else, 'old' and new, an eclectic sampling all of which usually have at least one thing to offer for every ardent cinephile. And where other major cinematheques -- notably the Cinematheque Francaise in Paris and the Institute Lumiere in Lyon, where films are shown in the former hanger of the supposed first film, shot by the Lumiere brothers -- seem to program with at least an eye to marketability, Anthology follows its own muse which, because it was formulated in its foundation by Mekas, is designed to appeal to the most exacting cinephile. Although Anthology does regularly feature classics like Renoir's "Rules of the Game" and Eisenstein's "Ivan the Terrible, Parts 1 & 2" under the rubric "Essential Cinema," this is not a place where you go merely to see old favorites. (The Institute Lumiere's current major attraction is... a Hitchcock Festival.) Rather, the core of Anthology's mission seems to be consistently turning up films that even die-hard cinephiles have never seen before. (As well as new films you haven't heard of yet... and perhaps never would if not for Anthology.) One of the ways it does this is by thematic festivals that, because they are not tied to one director -- or even one epoch -- offer an eclectic menu, a celluloid kaleidescope sure to turn up a novelty for every taste, even for amateur experts. Auto-Remakes, opening Friday and running through March 31 at Anthology's 2nd Ave. and 2nd Street East Village digs and focusing on directors' attempts to remake their own films, is one such cornucopia.

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