HQ’s monthly “Silent Night” film series continues with one of those movies that critics always call essential but exhibitors never seem to show. Except this Sunday, at 7 p.m., at 25th and R streets. René Clair’s 1924 debut, Paris qui dort, or The Crazy Ray, is an elegant little comedy and a classic not just because we say so, but also because it helped invent the poetic syntax of cinema. A crackpot scientist manages to freeze time throughout Paris, leaving only a select few—inlcuding the Eiffel Tower’s caretaker—able to move. That was a high concept during the age of surrealism, and the grace of Clair’s execution is (pun inevitable) timeless.
This screening also benefits from new original music by local composer J. Greenberg. “Generally speaking, I broke the film into scenes that had distinct moods and took it from there,” Greenberg said recently. “A bit of serendipity—a broken string one night after all the guitar shops had closed—led me to pick up my bass guitar for the first time in a while, and I composed a fair amount of the score on that instrument.” Greenberg also used his own digital technology for a touch of tactful resoration work; his is an adoring treatment. “I love movies that play tricks with time,” he said, “and The Crazy Ray has fun with the concept while still eking a bit of Omega Man eeriness out of the sleeping city. The camerawork is also inventive, and the derring-do on the Eiffel Tower gives Jackie Chan a run for his money.” True enough. For anybody who loves movies, this rare event should be an eye-opening delight. Call (530) 848-9027 for more information.