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Cineaste Magazine: City Scherzos
Brooklyn, NY
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Cineaste Magazine: City Scherzos
In the 20s and 30s, at the strange intersection of Impressionist music, constructivist politics, and the broadcast networking of telecommunications, film and radio, City Symphonies like Man With a Movie Camera, Rien Que Les Heures, and Berlin: City Symphony became something of a genre. In the age of mechanical ballets, Eisenstein, Disney, and Lang, even Max Fleischer tried one; D.A. Pennebaker and Stan Brakhage would try their own variations on a New York subway years later. Espousing a sometimes Nationalist, sometimes Marxist faith in mass-production as a form of aestheticsthe rhythm of labor and the movement of modern architecture propagating its designs across water and up to heaventhe city film collapsed distinctions between politics and art, realism and abstraction, documentary and propaganda in its belief that documentary, like the State, offered the basic materials and building blocks for a modern paradise: and the means to become conscious of them. The films, taking off from modernist city novels like Ulysses and Manhattan Transfer, operate as though the city, not director, is a conductor through everyday rhythms, pathways, and rituals, and its inhabitants the floating nodes in a larger network of information exchange and routine. In the age of global social networks, these films couldn't be more relevant.  David Phelps



322 Union Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11211
United States

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