Centuries of Childhood, or Middletown Elegies (Zenith Year Zero): Selections From the Robert Beck Memorial Cinema | Chicago Reader

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The eclectic mix of films shown by the Robert Beck Memorial Cinema in New York is reflected in founder Brian Frye's selection of 14 films with the theme of family. An anonymous home movie, Atlantic City (circa 1928), which includes familiar group poses, is placed alongside more self-conscious works. In Gail Camhi's wryly humorous An Evening at Home (1979) the filmmaker's father sings, pretends to conduct music on his stereo, and finally dances; multiple intercut angles create visual fluidity and a respect for the subject that's uncommon in home movies. Tony Ganz and Rhody Streeter are similarly respectful as they film a couple showing off their new retirement home in A Trip Through the Brooks Home (circa 1972), though the couple's bourgeois obsession with decor may cause snickers. Sarah Hanssen's And Shine (2001), with its fragmentary silhouettes in sun-drenched interiors, is more self-consciously poetic, as is Barbara Meter's From the Exterior (1970), whose disturbingly voyeuristic views into home interiors at night are softened by her use of lush superimpositions. On the same program, films by Frye, Nathaniel Dorsky, Vincent Grenier, Mark Lapore, James Otis, and Paul Turano. 90 min.

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