The Best Old Movies on a Big Screen This Week: NYC Repertory Cinema Picks, January 27-February 2

scary time-clarkeA Scary Time (1960)
Directed by Shirley Clarke
While the first four films in MAD’s program of Shirley Clarke’s short films focus on whimsical dance routines and musical documentary, the closing film stands in stark contrast as it takes a turn to the dark side. Commissioned by UNICEF, the film opens with a group of children dressing up to go trick-or-treating, raising money for the organization. “Halloween’s a scary time,” one of the children proclaims, “but it’s a time for children to have fun.” With narration throughout by children, sometimes reciting poems of goblins and witches, these kids do seem to be having mischievous fun, while the imagery—roaring fires and flashing skeleton masks shot on very dark, gritty film—is rather menacing. The film takes an unexpected turn when images of gaunt sick children from around the world begin to trickle into the picture, while innocent narration continues, one child finally asking, “What’s it like to be dead?” These are indeed scary times. UNICEF did not use the film. Samuel T. Adams (January 29, 7pm as part of a shorts program within the Museum of Arts and Design’s Shirley and Wendy Clarke retrospective)

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