Sayles Retrospective & Homecoming
such a good idea, it’s surprising that it hasn’t happened
before. Internationally renowned indie-filmmaking legend
John Sayles is being feted in his hometown—which, in case
you didn’t know, is our own shining Electric City, Schenectady.
Beginning today (Thursday, Sept. 9) Proctor’s is hosting
a retrospective of Sayles’ films, including The Brother
From Another Planet, Lone Star, The Secret of Roan
Inish and The Return of the Secaucus Seven. This
all leads up to Sept. 18, which will see the “John Sayles
Homecoming” and the premiere of the writer-director-editor’s
new film, Silver City, on the big Proctor’s screen.
As part of the festivities, Sayles will do meet-and-greets
with the public, take part in a panel discussion on politics
and the arts mediated by critic Dan DiNicola, receive the
key to the city (or something like that) from mayor Brian
Stratton and, with his producer-partner Maggie Renzi, be
celebrated at a post-Silver City debut celebration.
Reached by phone, Sayles chuckles and says, “I know they’ve
got almost a full day planned.”
The cause is just, however: the renovation of Proctor’s
Theatre, and the establishment of scholarships to benefit
students studying film. “I’ve seen it work in some other
places,” Sayles says, “and be a great addition to the community.
It’s something I’m happy to support.”
Sayles, who made the incisive City of Hope about
a gritty, down-on-its-luck city, is aware of and sympathetic
to Schenectady’s problems: “I know it’s had some hard times,
just with General Electric retreating year after year .
. . and the [general] shrinking [in size], with one high
school instead of two, and the population going down a little
His new film, Silver City, is a political comedy
with a healthy dose of drama and satire. It’s the story
of a not-too-bright scion of a Colorado family pushed into
state politics by men with money, and the murder mystery
that complicates his campaign for governor.
character that Chris Cooper plays,” Sayles explains, “is
very much based on George Bush when he was first running
for governor of Texas, when he really was a total political
neophyte, with a very famous political father and a lot
of money behind him.”
You couldn’t mistake the man Cooper plays for anyone else:
The Academy Award-winning actor pulls off an uncanny recreation
of W.’s swagger and speech patterns.
Sayles points out that “the arc of the character during
the movie is a guy who is learning to stay on the script—he’s
not very good at ad-libbing and just talking off the top
of his head.” Much like W. when he started out. Like W.,
too, Cooper’s character is a quick study.
The film isn’t all comedy, however.
also gets into fairly serious stuff about what’s going on
in the country,” Sayles says, “and the news media.”
Particularly, Sayles explains, the crucial issue of media
ownership and censorship (see this week’s feature story,
for instance). It’s about “who they belong to, and who they’re
. . . It gets into the whole thing that we all have to deal
with, which is what’s presented to us as truth.” Truth that
later proves to be a lie, he says, adding, “and why that
information was not presented to us in the mainstream media.”
The John Sayles retrospective begins today (Thursday, Sept.
9) with 5 and 7:30 PM screenings of The Brother From
Another Planet, and continues through Sept. 17 at Proctor’s
Theatre (432 State St., Schenectady). The John Sayles Homecoming
and Silver City premiere will be on Sept. 18. For
the full schedule of events, ticket prices and times, visit
the Proctor’s Web site at www.proctors.org or call 346-6204.
Kuhlman and the Grove Press Covers
was one of those happy accidents that might, reasonably,
be mistaken for fate. In 1951, avant-garde artist Roy Kuhlman
interviewed for a job with Grove Press’ new owner Barney
Rosset. The interview did not go well, but, as Kuhlman was
leaving, some of his more “abstract” works fell out of his
portfolio and . . . Rosset loved them. (“This is what I
Kuhlman designed covers for Grove for the next 20 years:
from Samuel Beckett to Eugene Ionesco, from Herman Melville
to Jean Genet, Kuhlman brought a modernist sensibility to
his work that usually complemented the content within. A
selection of this work will be on display beginning today
(Thursday) at the Opalka Gallery. Curated by Barbara Rietschel,
Roy Kuhlman and the Grove Press Covers highlights
some of the artist’s most distinguished, and innovative,
Kuhlman and the Grove Press Covers opens today (Thursday,
Sept. 9) at the Opalka Gallery on the Sage College campus
(140 New Scotland Ave., Albany) and continues through Dec.
10. There will be a speaker panel and reception on Sunday,
Oct. 24 from 1-3 PM. For more information, call 292-7742
or visit www.sage.edu/SCA/opalka.
2007, the Renssalaer Polytechnic Institute will open a new
Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center—but the folks
at RPI are far too excited to wait until then to begin celebrating.
So, they’ve chosen to collaborate with producer Bruce Bouchard
and the Lenox, Mass.-based Shakespeare & Company to
commemorate another more immediate RPI initiative: Beginning
Saturday, at the behest of EMPAC, Shakespeare & Company
will perform David Egan’s play The Fly-Bottle to
honor the opening of the new Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary
Studies Building at RPI.
The play re-creates a famous argument that took place at
a meeting of the Moral Science Club at England’s Cambridge
University in 1946: The philosopher Karl Popper had been
invited to speak before the club to an audience that included
the club’s chairman, Ludwig Wittgenstein, and Bertrand Russell.
At some point in the evening the three men engaged in a
brief, private conversation, which lasted a mere 10 minutes
or so before Wittgenstein stormed out in a fury. Rumors
began circulating quickly about the exchange, and about
the exact manner in which Wittgenstein wielded the fireplace
poker during said talk—there’s a fine line between “gesturing”
and “brandishing,” and who better to draw fine lines then
three of the century’s most prominent philosophers?
The interaction has been debated by partisan Wittgensteinians
and Popperians ever since, and it’s that very evidence of
passionate attachment to inquiry that the presenters believe
makes this such a perfect play for the occasion.
Shakespeare & Company and EMPAC will present The
Fly-Bottle at the auditorium of the Center for Biotechnology
and Interdisciplinary Studies (RPI, 15th Street, Troy) beginning
Saturday (Sept. 11), running through Sept. 18. Tickets for
the 8 PM shows are $15, $8 students/seniors. Call 276-4135.