February 28, 2008
Cool Cleveland reviews University Circle's finest institutions, including the Cleveland Institute of Art Cinematheque.
A Day (and a Half) in the Life of University Circle
Where else in the world can you do the following all in one stop, without even moving your parked car: catch a rare film The Other Side of the Mirror on Bob Dylan's early performances at The Cleveland Museum of Art, one of the major art museums in the world; then walk across a beautiful sylvan glade like Wade Oval to be enveloped by the fragrances at the stunning Orchid Mania show at a world-class venue such as the Cleveland Botanical Garden; then walk back to CMA take a complimentary audio tour of the rare Arms and Armor from Imperial Austria exhibit, featuring 300 examples of "killer outfits & power suits" from 1600s Austria; then across the street to the Cleveland Institute of Art, one of the Top 10 colleges of art & design, to screen another Dylan film, I'm Not There, a recent and underrated flick that spent too few nights in Cleveland on its initial release.
Nowhere but University Circle, that incomparable one square mile of art, culture, education, commerce and soon, housing & retail offering experiences so rare that one could traverse the world and still not find comparable quality, convenience and accessibility. Even better, being members of Circle institutions meant our family was comped to Orchid Mania and Arms & Armor, we used a member movie pass and received a member's parking discount. We had to ask ourselves if we were dreaming.
The final stop on our magnificent tour actually took place the next day at the Cleveland Cinematheque located in the Cleveland Institute of Art, directly across the street from the CMA & the Botanical Garden. If timing had allowed, we would have left the car in the Botanical garage and walked across, but if you show up in the evenings for films, the CIA parking lot is open and free.
Cinematheque director John Ewing, who also runs the film program at CMA, is a true asset to the region, with his thoughtful programming of classics, cult favorites, and overlooked recent films. His knowledge of film history is comprehensive, yet he retains the curiosity of a fan, always searching out the next stellar film experience.
One such experience was the screening of the brilliant Todd Haynes film, I'm Not There, the audacious, kaleidoscopic view of the life of Bob Dylan as portrayed by no less than 7 vastly different actors, each representing not so much a phase of Dylan's life, as a particular facet of his personality. The film opens with 11-year old Marcus Carl Franklin, and 11-year-old black troubadour, hopping trains, speaking in Dylan's crookedly wise 20-something voice, calling himself "Woody" (as in Guthrie) and hauling his guitar across the Midwest. And the roller coaster ride is off and running. Richard Gere as Billy The Kid, representing Dylan's time with The Band as the prototypical Americana outfit, and Heath Ledger as the domestic Dylan with estranged wife and kids, are bizarre yet meaningful refractions of key elements of the Dylan persona. When Cate Blanchett hits the screen, she stuns the other actors and the audience in a way that is strangely similar to Dylan's mid-60s impact, remarkable considering the cultural chasm between that era and today. No matter how much knowledge of Dylan you bring to the film, you'll be as confused as you might have been watching Haynes' earlier film Velvet Goldmine, his inscrutable gay fantasy revolving around the lives of a re-imagined David Bowie and Iggy Pop.
Cleveland Institute of Art Cinematheque
The lucky ones, of course, are the residents of Northeast Ohio, who have film resources at CIA & the Museum of Art that only exist in major cultural centers. Pair that with similarly high quality institutions just steps away across the Oval, and you have the finest resources in the world just waiting for your visit.
From Thomas Mulready LettersAT CoolCleveland.com
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