Monday, September 7, 2009

Saturday Cinematheque: Orientation Week

Our first Cinematheque was New York themed, naturally. It was actually a perfect welcome to the city. There weren't many of us there, mostly a bunch of freshman who laughed at the films and left halfway through, but I can already see a group of people that I will fit nicely into. It's exciting to be in a creative environment with so many people who love the same thing I love. It's also refreshing (and often surprising) to see all the different ideas people have and the different aspects of film that interest them. Here's what we saw at our first screening. I hope this doesn't bore anyone too much. The links are to YouTube so you can watch them!

1. Skyscrapers of New York City (Edison, 1903)
This literally made my heart race. It's mind-blowing when you think about what it meant at the time and how far we've come. I get emotional thinking about how the world and the human experience (and my life) have been altered because of it. I thought about the emigrants and I can relate to them in experiencing this city for the first time, and the fact that this is what Edison chose to shoot.
2. The New York Hat (Griffith, 1912)
The script was written by Anita Loos when she was 16, and ended up directed by D.W. Griffith and staring a Barrymore. I can never make another excuse again. Quite funny and racy for its time.
3. Manhatta (Strand, Sheeler, 1921)
A bunch of people left during Manhatta, which is such a shame. It has some really innovative, interesting shots. It was really late and had been a long day of orientation for all of us but every time I would start to feel sleepy something cool would happen that would grab my attention again. So cool. One of my favorites.
4. A Bronx Morning (Leyda, 1931)
Jay Leyda was a professor at NYU in the 70's and 80's. This film got him an invitation to study with Einstein and is in the National Film Registry.
5. Lights of New York (Foy, 1928)
The only talkie in the group. An average early sound movie with musical numbers, old-school gangster action and crazy dames. I can't find a video or still and don't feel like stretching beyond Google to look for it because it's honestly not that great. Also, NOT the first all talking picture. This was post-
Jazz Singer. Confused.
6. Docks of New York (Sternberg, 1928)
Lots of fun, entertaining and heartbreaking. I found this really interesting as it came from the Hollywood machine as a commercial release but has some dark, controversial elements and so much style, which I love. My favorite of the night. The video is just a series of clips set to piano, can't find the full thing.

So we didn't have accompaniment for all these silent films and our 16mm projectors only go down to 18fps which didn't work for many of them, but it was still such a treat. I can't believe I get to go to stuff like this every week. There are screenings every night and if I were childless, I swear I would be at every single one.

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