Cassavetes’ Shadows “improvises” Beat Generation Manhattan, where two brothers and a sister, black but inexplicably played by two white actors, careening off track to scaled-back sketches of Charles Mingus’ saxophone jazz yearnings. Black and white neon signs blink and the old Times Square looms like the otherworld, naturalistic cordial racism separating the chosen from the downtrodden, both dreaming of making it, of creating something.
Film and music of shimmering yet jarring beauty play together on a South Seas beach in “Legong: Dance of the Virgins.” It’s a rarely screened 1935 silent movie, shot entirely in Bali with a Balinese cast, mixed with a new score by Club Foot Orchestra and Gamelan Sekar Jaya. Presented in a crude but rich two-strip early Technicolor process, one of the last silent films made by Hollywood, it depicts Bali as Westerners idealized it at the time.
“America could have been a fantastic monument to all the best instincts of the human race. Instead, we just moved in here and destroyed the place from coast to coast like killer snails. Everybody wants power over a country that’s had it’s day.”