The Best Old Movies on a Big Screen This Week: NYC Repertory Cinema Picks, June 3-9

06/03/2015 10:05 AM |

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Daughters of the Dust (1992)
Directed by Julie Dash
On a base level, Dash’s historical drama boasts the anthropological interest of immersing oneself in an unfamiliar culture, with its central Peazant clan’s distinctive Gullah dialect and traditions at the turn of the 20th century. But for Dash, this is a mere starting point for a larger story: that of a culture torn between adapting to a modernizing present and holding for dear life onto the ways of the past. This timeless dichotomy isn’t just dramatized through its characters and dialogue, however. John Barnes’s music score, for one, straddles the tradition-versus-modernity divide with its fairly discreet yet still-audible use of synthesizers in addition to more traditional African instruments. And then there’s Dash’s visual syntax, languorously alternating between classical observation and a more advanced vocabulary of dream-like slow motion and impressionistic montage. The result remains as sui generis as ever: a lyrical meditation that feels like dipping into a warm bath of slowly disappearing memory and history. Kenji Fujishima (June 7, 2pm; June 8, 4pm at MoMA’s “A Road Three Hundred Years Long: Cinema and the Great Migration”)