Treasure Teeth Provide a Live Soundtrack to Metropolis at Coral Gables Art Cinema

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When German expressionist Fritz Lang filmed his prodigious and highly innovative science fiction social commentary, Metropolis (1927), his agenda was manifold. A dry reading of the plot reveals a somewhat formulaic commie pinko bildungsroman, but Lang's real achievement lay in his vanguard approach to the cinematic process. In addition to large-scale set design and what was then cutting-edge special effects, the director was also obsessed with how his moving picture would sound.

Metropolis debuted before the dawn of the "Talkie," and it was customary for the theater experience to include live musical accompaniment that, depending on context, existed somewhere on a spectrum of atmospheric filler to intentional soundtrack. But a visionary like Lang recognized the unique narrative power of a proper score, and placed such an emphasis on it that he had composer and conductor Gottfried Huppertz play piano on set to influence the actor's performances.

There's no doubt that alongside the strikingly angular futurist visual aesthetic, Metropolis is equally infused with outright musicality. And that explains why leagues of musicians (including '80s chart topper Pat Benatar and contemporary techno artist Jeff Mills) spanning all genres have found sonic inspiration in Lang's signature iconography.

It's in that grand tradition of interpretation (with maybe, like, half a dose of Dark Side of the Moon at the planetarium) that electronic avant-pop duo Treasure Teeth, will be seizing the sound system at Coral Gables Art Cinema to give the dystopian Classic a fresh coat of aural paint via their own feature-length, entirely original score.
The sharp pairing of a nearly century-old materialist silent film set in the flapper future-past, with accessible off-kilter sensual cyborg sounds, is the first collaboration between the Art Cinema and New Times' Best of Miami 2015 recipient, Miami Music Club. MMC's resident film archivist and projectionist, Dave Rodriguez, curated the event as one of an extended, open-ended series of cinematic situations — including collaborations with popcorn junkies and cult film club, Secret Celluloid Society — that push the boundaries of his beloved medium to their absolute limit.

"Metropolis is an epic gem of sci-fi," Rodriguez told us, "and TT's own futurist richness syncs so well with it."

In fact, the evening would seem to be rooted in the very formalistic renewal that inspired Lang in the first place. "I hope people who have seen it will take away something new and those just getting acquainted can appreciate its iconic style and Treasure Teeth's sonic interpretation."

Metropolis with a live score performed by Treasure Teeth. 11: 30 p.m. Saturday, May 28, at the Coral Gables Art Cinema, 260 Aragon Ave., Coral Gables; 786-385-9689; gablescinema.com. Tickets cost $8 at the door and come with complimentary popcorn.

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