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April 2, 2002

Doc Films Spotlight

Doc has been having nightmares recently. The feverish doom-foretelling kind, reminiscent of Dr. Frankenstein. There have been war scenes witnessed from the window of a friend's apartment, roomates-turned-mad scientists, along with the typical vague sensation of falling. Maybe Doc really does just have a fever. Maybe Doc has been staying up too late fretting about petty problems. However, when sweat beads on the brow and sheets are twisted in fearful frenzy, a few fantastic battles between good and evil might be just what the doctor ordered.

Fortuitous it is, then, that this week has two such battles in store, starting with this Thursday's screening of The City of Lost Children and ending with three showings, at long last, of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone on Saturday. The latter speaks volumes for itself at this point and, while J.K. Rowling's books pale in comparison to the late, great Roald Dahl, her fantastic plot and imaginitive characters translate well to a star-studded screen. If you've hidden from the hype for this long, Doc is giving you one last chance to sell out.

By comparison, The City of Lost Children is a much more nightmarish tale involving kidnapped children and lost dreams. Directed by Marc Caro and Jean-Pierre Jeunet, the same pair that created the dark comedy Delicatessan (Jeunet also went on to direct Amelie), The City of Lost Children involves a mad scientist who steals dreams from children because he does not have the capacity to dream on his own. Unfortunately, since the children are kidnapped and frightened, they can only generate nightmares.

The film is "very fanciful," according to a Doc volunteer who has been known to play some Snood. "There are some blown-up bad guys in a kid's world sort of way, some unlikely heroes┬Śnot necessarily the most physically attractive people. I remember them being out on an island somewhere and this brain drives a car. Have you seen it, Noah?"

"No, but I really want to," said Noah McKittrick, Doc volunteer coordinator.

"Hey, if you're gonna quote me as a Doc volunteer you'd better get me a Doc volunteer pass," the disgruntled volunteer said. "Yeah. It's like that."

City of the Lost Children is this week's installment of the Fantasy Film Scores series. The selections in this series are drawn from the pool of contemporary fantasy and science fiction films with an eye towards notable film scores. Nicely fitting these requirements, City of the Lost Children composer Angelo Badalamenti complements the bizarre plot with an equally interesting and dark score.

Trained at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, Badalamenti has kept a low profile among the major Hollywood composers. Lately however, his star has risen due to his status as David Lynch's composer of choice. This professional relationship has allowed Badalamenti to move away from projects like A Nightmare on Elm Street 3 and instead work on films such as Lynch's The Straight Story and the recent Mulholland Drive, which garnered Badalamenti considerable critical praise and popular recognition. Never overpowering the visuals onscreen, Badalamenti prefers to create a growing, musical discontentment, conveying to the audience a feeling of ill-boding.

Badalamenti's styles for The City of the Lost Children are simlilar to those of composer Danny Elfman from Tim Burton's Batman, in that circus freaks and the dark underbelly of the industrial city heavily influence the mood. Unlike Elfman however, Badalamenti relies mainly on the synthesizer to create his carnival music and lend an already creepy film a sound of nightmarish fantasy.

Doc will also sponsor a free sneak preview at 9:30 p.m. this Wednesday of Alfonso Cuaron's Y Tu Mama Tambien, a sexy road trip taking place south of the border (if you know what I mean). The film follows a pair of horny teenage boys as they take a beautiful older woman on a road trip to a beach named Heaven's Mouth. The destination is both fictitious and incidental as the story focuses on the journey into adulthood, both for the boys and the country in which it takes place. Y Tu Mama Tambien marks a departure into the realm of the realistic for cinamatographer Emmanuel Lubezki, who was nominated for an Academy Award for his work on Tim Burton's Sleepy Hollow. According to Alfonso and his brother Carlos Cuaron, who co-wrote the film, the music of Frank Zappa served as an inspiration for the movie's overall tone. Sexy indeed. Passes will be given out at 5 p.m. on Wednesday in Max Palevsky Cinema.