Music Hall of Mirrors | Chicago Reader

Music Hall of Mirrors

From Austria, Virgil Wildrich's astounding animation Fast Film offers a dense, encyclopedic survey of American cinema, acknowledging both the primacy of the director and the outsize personalities of the studio-era stars; its dazzling optical effects, suggesting both collapse and regeneration, remind us that Europeans have always responded to the speed, dexterity, and visceral power of American movies. Scott Calonico's The King and Dick, about the notorious meeting between Elvis Presley and President Nixon, beautifully offsets the president's opportunism with Presley's galling hypocrisy and self-aggrandizement. And Peter Sillen's Branson: Musicland USA, shot in textured black and white, explores the Missouri town remade into a relentlessly middlebrow live-music center where Roy Clark and Tony Orlando perform in self-named concert venues-as well as the extreme poverty at the town's margins. Shorts by Tom Putnam, Edie Faig, Kitao Sakurai, and Todd Downing complete the program. 81 min.

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