The Austin Chronicle

Man With the Movie Camera

By Raoul Hernandez, July 10, 2012, 12:02pm, Earache!

As the millennium approached, the Alamo Drafthouse fed the apocalyptic dread by hiring Austin's musical avant-garde to score and accompany live silent film scares Nosferatu, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, etc. Justin Sherburn & Montopolis, matched to Man With a Movie Camera – which screens again tomorrow – offers a series best.

Sherburn, profiled last week in a Screens-front feature about the endeavor, counts a day job in Okkervil River, but he may have made a name for himself with his chamber outfit Montopolis' stunning, hour-long score to the famous 1929 Russian silent. The near-capacity audience at the Alamo South Lamar's 2pm Sunday matinee this past weekend gave the local sextet a well-deserved standing ovation at the conclusion of the film and its accompanying live performance.

The score itself can be downloaded on the Montopolis site, but of course this meeting of sound and vision belongs in a darkened theater dedicated to the silver screen. That final opportunity (for now, at least) takes place at the Alamo South Lamar on Wednesday at 7pm.

And don't simply imagine grainy black and white images punched up by gorgeous string arrangements and indie rock. Plenty of that has spilled forth from Alamo Drafthouse patronage over the last 15 or so years, from multiple Golden Arm Symphonies by Graham Reynolds to recent triumphs including My Education electrifying F.W. Murnau's 1927 Oscar-winner Sunrise: A Song of Human Beings and Bee vs. Moth's thrilling soundtrack to Buster Keaton's The Cameraman.

Rather, Man With the Movie Camera, remains a cinematic landmark of pure image. Contemporarily, think of Baraka and the Qatsi trilogy: Koyaanisqatsi (1982), Powaqqatsi (1988), and Naqoyqatsi (2002). Man With a Movie Camera isn't just their precursor, it's documentation of teaming Russian culture bringing the industrial revolution into the 20th Century. Sherburn and company then update the whole for the new millennium.

This is rich Austin culture with an already storied legacy made even more so by this latest entry. Your summer blockbuster has arrived.

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