The texture of the Detroit Film Theatre is often like a finely played piece of chamber music. Delicate details like the architecture, program notes, ushers, and pre-film music stimulate the mind and emotions with unique sensations. In the space between these impressions, your own observations can linger.
Archive for the ‘Documentaries’ Category
After I watched the film New York Doll at the Detroit Film Theatre on December 8, 2006, the warm afterglow of this poignant movie helped shield me from the sharp chill of the winter evening. I turned on the car radio, and there was John Lennon on WCSX (94.7 FM), singing “Watching the Wheels”, as part of that classic rock station’s tribute to Lennon, who was shot to death 26 years ago on December 8.
As I drove home from the Redford Theatre last night, oldies station WOMC-FM was playing “Ballad of the Green Berets”, a 1966 salute to soldiers fighting in the Vietnam War. That popular song honored U.S. troops during a war that, like the current Iraq War, divided the country, provoked many protests, and shook up the political power structure in the United States.
As the multi-colored leaves fall, and the afternoon light takes on a crystal clear glow, many people enjoy the stimulating pleasures of autumn. The crisp temperatures and dramatic sunsets intensify one’s feeling for life. The approaching end of another year fills a person with reflective insights. The summer season is over, fall/winter arts events have begun, and people are drawn more to indoor group activities.
As I wandered the Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor on the evening of September 12, 2006, I was fascinated by the many contrasts of the old and the new. The theater was hosting the Grand Opening of its MicroCinema Gallery, a collection of video screens that were scattered throughout the Grand Foyer and other parts of the theater.
In August 2001, the Detroit Film Theatre showed the Chinese film The Road Home, about a businessman who returns to the village of his childhood for his father’s funeral and makes some heartfelt discoveries about his parents. This emotionally powerful movie was directed by Zhang Yimou (Raise the Red Lantern) and starred Zhang Ziyi (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon). I enjoyed this poignant film so much that I decided to see it again if it showed up at another movie theater.
In almost 20 years of trips to the Detroit Film Theatre, I have discovered many fascinating things about the world of cinema. It started in 1988, when my good friend John Petersen invited me to a screening of the German film Wings of Desire. The beauty and preservation of the theater impressed me, and then I was entranced by the hypnotic rhythm and evocative camerawork of this meditation on life in Cold War Berlin. After hundreds of trips to the theater, I still reserve a special place in my DFT memories for this first visit.
Twenty-five years ago this week, the Detroit Film Theatre began its ninth season on August 7, 1981 with François Truffaut’s The Last Metro. The first half of that season finished on December 20 with the documentary From Mao to Mozart: Isaac Stern in China. A glance at the fall 1981 schedule reveals interesting insights into how art film programming has changed in the Detroit area.