APL Silent Film Spectacular 2015

Peter Pan 1924 still

The 1924 version of Peter Pan is among the silent films on the slate.

The Albany Public Library's Silent Film Spectacular returns for another season this month. The APL will be screening silent movies with live soundtracks performed by local bands.

The screenings are the next four Wednesdays in the large auditorium of the APL's main branch on Washington Ave, starting at 7 pm. They're free.

Here's the full lineup:

All blurbage via the APL.

October 7: Dementia with live, original music by Blacklight Lighthouse
In "Dementia," which was released in 1955, a psychotic woman awakens from a nightmare in a cheap hotel room and spends a frightening night on skid row. Blacklight Lighthouse creates loops and samples layered with acoustic and electronic instrumentation resulting in a sound collage that will delight the audience.

October 14: Peter Pan with live, original music by Time Travel Bookclub
The 1924 film "Peter Pan" closely follows the original stage play and incorporates some of the dialogue in the title cards. Time Travel Bookclub will use modular synthesis, guitar, piano, electronics, and percussion to create an evocative soundscape.

October 21: The Unknown with live, original music by Clank
In "The Unknown," which was released in 1927, a criminal on the run from the law hides in a circus and pursues the ringmaster's daughter. Clank is an electronic musical duo that uses synthesizers, samplers, effects pedals, electric guitars, and modifiers to create live soundscapes of spontaneous sounds, loops, and samples woven together.

October 28: When an Alien Robot Crash-lands in Troy, NY an original film and soundtrack by lastdayshining
Albany band lastdayshining had such a great experience at last year's Silent Film Spectacular that they decided to create their own film for this year's event. lastdayshining is a hard-hitting, post-rock band with a sound characterized by expressive instrumental buildups that travel through a range of dynamic changes from quiet lows to bone-crushing highs.


APL advertises on AOA.

still from Peter Pan (1924) via D Cairns YouTube


I braved the cold and driving rain without an umbrella last night to go see the last of the silent film series at APL, called "When an Alien Robot Crash-lands in Troy, NY." I had sort of low expectations, which weren't entirely assuaged during the first few minutes of the movie, but I quickly became enamored of it. The "robot" was a small, crudely made thing, like a child would construct, with two white boxes for the body and head, cardboard arms, round red eyes and a black line for the mouth. It moved around on four wheels, like an all-terrain-type vehicle, and was obviously operated by remote control. So it starts out exploring this old industrial park or landfill where you drop off old computer equipment or something. It goes up to various things and touches them exploringly, then moves on. It rambles through the woods, where it seems to "fall in love" with a wilted sunflower head, and down to the river, where it's surprised by water. The plot itself is thin and whimsical, although it provides some enjoyable food for thought. For example, I loved the way that, unlike the robot's wide-eyed reaction to seeing so many unusual things for the first time, the people it passes on the streets of downtown Troy and at the farmers market barely give it a first glance, much less a second one. Apparently, they thought it was just a toy or maybe some advertising gizmo, or maybe they really didn't see it, the way people often "look right through" other people or things that aren't part of their own circumscribed world view. But the best thing about this film, really, wasn't the alien robot, or even the local color; it was the truly deft and artistic way it was filmed. It was like a cinematic love letter to Troy, beautifully and affectionately rendered. If this was Bobby Kendall's first film, I'm even more impressed! Last night was its "debut" and the librarian said they were recording it. I'd love to get or borrow a copy if they decide to issue it on DVD.

Yep, that film was a great love letter to Troy and the live score was superb. Equal parts whimsical and touching, and some of the still shots were nicely executed. It could use a repeat performance in a bigger venue, even.

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