If you're looking for a little escape, even for a few precious moments - and in these parlous times, whom among us is not? - I really can't recommend anything better than the latest fantaisie from the prodigiously talented Mr. Ed Cachianes.
In these parts, this visionary and his creations last turned up hereabouts a year or so ago, when his extraordinary Follies @ The Roxy had me transfixed. As good a deconstruction of the very notion of stardom as I know, and on top of that set to one of the great works of one of the greatest American masters, that film-collage (to call it a mashup is simply too reductive; it is a work that draws on others, but stands entirely on its own) only seems more prescient now, in this era of Feud and what seems to me a new and rather acidulous kind of nostalgia that's becoming prevalent.
This new one, though, is in some ways an antidote to that note of bitter in the bittersweet. Le cinéma des tour de magie embraces a kind of pure visual wonder, the sort that seized the likes of Georges Méliès and his coevals. Those pioneers, steeped in Victorian etchings, Greek legends, and the childhood world of shadow puppets and paper theatres, found themselves in the service of a new art - one that could embrace the grotesque - from Punch and Judy to biblical tall tales - and make it move. They initially translated the simple (but effective) stage effects of their era, but quickly and decisively moved beyond - incomprehensibly far beyond. To the moon, sometimes, but also into the heart of myths and dreamland.
Here Cachianes captures the sheer exhilaration of that moment, the dawn of cinema when suddenly the static visual took flight (sometimes literally). What were once still faces now grimace and grin; figures from old fairy tales take to their mischief; and the gleeful and outlandish cheerfully intermingle. Before the curtain falls, we get a brief and satisfyingly sharp little reminder that film's fascination with bizarrerie has lingered on through all the decades since its primitive beginnings. Who knew that the journey from the rising of a paper curtain could wind through Chaplin via a Nazimova deathstare and land us in a different kind (but so intimately related) of theatre and its lady, there inside the radiator? Ed Cachianes, apparently.
So leave the sordid world behind, for just a little while, courtesy of this quaint and curious volume of (half-) forgotten lore. The music, by the bye, is charmingly apt; the overture from The Fantasticks, which to me recalls the silent-movie ensembles that sawed away in nickelodeons and the smaller picture palaces. Try, it bids us, to remember, even as the dream (as dreams so often do) fades into glimpses and fragments, subconscious moments when it makes sense for a pig to snicker or a flight of nymphs to shiver into blossoms...