Tonight: Sufjan Stevens' Ode to an Expressway... and Hula Hoops

Categories: Playbill

Musical cartographer Sufjan Stevens may have given up on his attempt to record 50 albums, each one dedicated to a different U.S. state, but he's still writing music about places. In 2007 he paired with cinematographer Reuben Kleiner to create a film dedicated to the BQE, the 13-mile New York City expressway linking Brooklyn and Queens. Although Stevens is originally from Detroit, we doubt the M-1, which runs from the Motor City through rural Michigan, would make as interesting a film experience as The BQE.

Stevens and Kleiner shot footage of the expressway using vintage Super 8 and 16 mm film, then manipulated it with mirror effects, stop-motion photography, time lapsing and footage of kaleidoscopic-style Busby Berkeley hula-hooping girls. Stevens composed an Old Hollywood-worthy soundtrack, which he initially performed live with a full orchestra at screenings of the film (the musical composition has been compared to, of all people, the Gershwins). In October, the soundtrack was released as an album paired with a DVD of the film.

The overall effect of BQE, at least judging from the trailer, is somewhere between nostalgia and twee. See for yourself tonight, when it screens at the MFAH courtesy of Aurora Picture Show at 7 p.m.. Tickets are free for Aurora members who RSVP, $7 for non-members.

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