Saturday, April 3, 2010

Orson Welles and the AFI Silver

I am an uncommonly lucky movie geek in that I live five minutes away from the best movie theater in the world. The American Film Institutes's Silver Theater is located on Colesville road in Silver Spring, Maryland--a bustling de facto suburb of Washington, DC. It's a gorgeous theater--originally built as a movie palace in 1938, it was lovingly renovated and expanded in 2003--and, more to the point, it is dedicated to showing classics.

It's rare to find a revival house these days, but it is a distinct honor to live by a state-of-the-art theater with three screens and a seemingly unlimited access to old and important films. I've been living in DC three years and in that time AFI has mounted retrospectives on film noir (in 2008 and 2009, both in conjunction with the FNF), Truffaut, Charlton Heston, Robert Mitchum, the Thin Man series, Jean Arthur, David Lean, Clint Eastwood, Paul Newman, and much more. I've seen Detour, For Whom the Bell Tolls, The Big Combo, Only Angels Have Wings, A Foreign Affair, The Maltese Falcon, The Bride Wore Black, The Asphalt Jungle...the list goes on and on.

I say all of this in a kind of bittersweet appreciation because I'll soon by moving up the coast to New Jersey (where, I am happy to say, I'll be within commuting distance of NYC and the glorious Film Forum). As if to send me on my way with a smile on my face, however, the fine folks at the AFI have mounted an amazing Orson Welles retrospective for April and May.

It kicked off this week with showings of Oja Kodar's documentary, Orson Welles: The One Man Band, Linklater's Me & Orson Welles, and Reed's The Third Man (which also closed out a retrospective on British Noir). Now the real fun begins: Citizen Kane, The Magnificent Ambersons, Lady From Shanghai, Macbeth, Othello, Mr. Arkadin, The Trial, Touch of Evil, Chimes at Midnight, F for Fake.

I mean, where the hell else can you go to watch F for Fake in a movie theater? A big movie theater, at that.

The series also includes Journey Into Fear, which I'm not too wild about and which, unlike some of my fellow Wellesians, I do not attribute to the Great One himself. Instead of JIF, I wish the theater would have been able to show The Immortal Story, Welles's haunting Isak Dinesen adaption and his least seen film. But I'm not complaining. This retrospective is an embarrassment of riches, eleven films by my favorite filmmaker, shown in the best theater I've ever seen. What a gift.

You can read more about the retrospective, Larger Than Life: Orson Welles at the AFI website.

To read more about the history of the AFI click here.

1 comment:

Cullen Gallagher said...

I'm also an admirer of "The Immortal Story." Never seen it on film, though.