Buster Keaton's Stroll
By Rob Christopher in Arts & Entertainment on Feb 1, 2008 4:00PM
Next Wednesday the Instituto Cervantes presents a fascinating evening of Buster Keaton, including a screening of one of our all-time favorite movies Sherlock Jr. The sad-eyed Buster created a film that was post-modern before "modern" even existed: he plays a projectionist who eventually steps into the very movie he's showing, in the process solving a crime that's taken place in the onscreen world. It's a hilarious movie that's also unexpectedly poignant, and it's been appropriated by countless filmmakers including Buñuel and Woody Allen.
What makes this screening so cool is that the movie is being paired with "Buster Keaton's Stroll," a rarely-performed work by Frederico Garcia Lorca. Puppeteer Blair Thomas is just the man for the job, specializing in dark grotesquery that's oddly endearing. Lorca, like many of the surrealists, was fascinated by Keaton's deadpan expression and wordless eloquence of the absurd. Thomas' staging is "a one-man band spectacle staged in a giant toy theater with functioning low brass instruments woven into the proscenium." It sounds a bit scary for the kids, but in the dead of winter it's just the kind of jolt that could rouse us from our lethargy.
"Lorca & Keaton" takes place at the Instituto Cervantes, 31 W. Ohio, on Wednesday, February 6 and again on the 11th. Tickets are $20. The film is scored for string quartet and piano by Steve Prutsman and performed by the composer and members of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago.