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September 3rd, 2014 AP KRYZA | Movie Reviews & Stories
 

AP Film Studies: Lucid Dreams

Akira Kurosawa’s Dreams gets the musical treatment.

apfilm_dreams_4044FREE AS A BIRD: Now imagine dubstep in the background. - Image courtesy of Warner Bros.

Music nerds and film geeks are constantly jockeying for the title of most obsessive fan, scrutinizing every note of an album or every frame of a movie. But sometimes, the two factions arrive at an intersection where remarkable things happen.

ILLUSTRATION: Hawk Krall
For the past five years, Oryan Peterson-Jones has turned his love of music and film into something more cerebral with (Recurring) Dreams (3737 SE Madison St.; 9 pm Friday, Sept. 5). It’s a musical exploration of Akira Kurosawa’s 1990 film Dreams, which comprises eight gorgeous vignettes inspired by the director’s nocturnal visions. As Dreams plays on a large screen in Peterson-Jones’ front yard, eight bands, one for each of the film’s segments, play original  accompanying music.

Unlike with Filmusik—in which an orchestra, voice-over artists and a sound-effects crew take the stage in full view of the audience—(Recurring) Dreams hides its performers behind the screen. This allows viewers to be fully immersed in Kurosawa’s entrancing images: a mythical wedding procession through a forest, living dolls, ghostly spirits of World War II, a snowed-out mountain path and, oddly, Martin Scorsese as Vincent van Gogh. 

The musicians—who include Peterson-Jones’ own project Die Geister Beschwören, avant-garde cacophonists Electro-Kraken, psychedelic folksters Harem, and garage-rockers Beat Totem—are tasked with interpreting each sequence. “They can do whatever they want,” Peterson-Jones says. “They can play their own songs. They can write new things, or improvise or make sounds. It’s completely up in the air.”

In the past, this has meant ample surprises from performers like Aan, Hosannas and Like a Villain. Last year, country group Ed and the Red Reds played an electronica set, surprising those familiar with the band’s roots in Americana.

Peterson-Jones has a degree in ethnomusicology and a minor in film. His brainchild represents the mating of these passions into something surreal, beautiful and unexpected, allowing his favorite film to become new with each iteration. “This film is just so perfect, with its imagery and plot,” he says. “Each year, I’ve seen groups pull off something in a way I never thought of. I’ve been so inspired.”


Also Showing: 

  • Pretty in Pink might be the most dated of John Hughes’ ’80s teen flicks (blame director Howard Deutch, or Jon Cryer’s stupid Flock of Seagulls hair), but damned if its themes of teenage confusion aren’t timeless. Pix Patisserie. Dusk Wednesday, Sept. 3.
  • Film archivist Dennis Nyback is invading the Hollywood, and he’s bringing with him jugglers, roller skaters, musicians, rednecks, contortionists and other old-timey acts. OK, Vaudeville Deluxe doesn’t actually feature them in the flesh, but they’ll be presented in preserved 16 mm films shot between 1925 and 1940. One of the jugglers is W.C. Fields. Hollywood Theatre. 7:30 pm Wednesday, Sept. 3.
  • In 1982, the world was introduced to Robin Williams’ seriocomic side, and if time has sugar-coated your memories of The World According to Garp, well, just wait until the gang rape and tongue-cutting commence. Patch Adams it ain’t. Academy Theater. Sept. 5-11.
  • Kurosawa isn’t the only Akira in theaters this week. The landmark Japanese animated bugout is also screening. Laurelhurst Theater. Sept. 5-11.
  • Popeye isn’t Robert Altman’s best work, but it does boast Shelley Duvall as Olive Oyl and the big-screen debut of a young whippersnapper named Robin Williams as the titular spinach addict. Hollywood Theatre. Sept. 6-7.
  • The classic Billy Wilder joint Sunset Boulevard kicks off a series of newly restored classics at the NW Film Center. NW Film Center’s Whitsell Auditorium. 7 pm Friday, 7:30 pm Saturday, Sept. 5-6.
  • The Sex Workers Film Series screens the 2009 Swedish anthology Dirty Diaries: 12 Shorts of Feminist Porn, which subverts sexual stereotypes via films like the anus-focused Fruit-Cake and the animated Dildoman. Bring the kids! Clinton Street Theater. 7 pm Saturday, Sept. 6.
  • John Wayne and Dean Martin—who probably consumed enough whiskey and beef on set to kill an elephant—star in Howard Hawks’ classic Western Rio Bravo. Whitsell Auditorium. 4:30 pm Saturday and 7 pm Sunday, Sept. 6-7.
  • The Biosafety Alliance presents a series called “Justice Begins with Seeds,” all films focused on GMO food issues. Among them is the great King Corn (6 pm Monday, Sept. 8), which follows two affable dudes tracking their tiny corn crop through the food system. Clinton Street Theater. Sept. 7-10. See cstpdx.com for full schedule.
 
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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