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He may not have gotten rich or especially famous doing it, but German-born filmmaker Oskar Fischinger used to make abstract shorts that were actually shown in commercial theaters. The cine-artist tangled with some of the major forces of reactionary aesthetics, from the Nazis (who in the ’30s banned his work as “decadent”) to the Walt Disney Company (who turned the abstract images Fischinger created for Fantasia into representational ones). Still, he actually worked successfully for MGM, enjoyed the patronage of Orson Welles and the Guggenheim Foundation, and invented the light show for ’50s performances by Dizzy Gillespie and Thelonious Monk. Now, of course, such work is relegated to museums, a suitable place for the accomplishments of the man called “cinema’s Kandinsky.” This centennial tribute to Fischinger (1900-1967) is divided into three programs: “The Masterworks” (noon) includes the filmmaker’s best-known films, including three of the 1920s studies that the Nazis eventually suppressed and 1936’s Allegretto (made for Paramount, but not shown at the time because its vibrant colors upstaged the black-and-white feature the studio wanted to show with it); “The Rarities” (4 p.m.) includes some of Fischinger’s postwar American advertising films and 1927’s Walking from Munich to Berlin, a four-minute time-lapse rendering of the insolvent artist’s actual month-long trek; and “The Legacy” (5:45 p.m.), a selection of work by filmmakers influenced by Fischinger, including Norman McLaren, Mary Ellen Bute, and Harry Smith. The tribute begins at noon, Sunday, Oct. 29, at the National Gallery of Art’s East Building auditorium, 4th & Constitution Ave. NW. Free. (202) 737-4215. (Mark Jenkins)
Lamb of God
Heavy metal’s never gotten much respect—certainly not the kind of respect that’s being heaped upon, say, Radiohead. But over the past few years, a slew of metalliferous minions such as Neurosis, Dillinger Escape Plan, Meshuggah, and Discordance Axis have infused some much-needed art into territory primarily known for ham-fisted bombast and bitchin’ long hair. Roaring like a pissed-off lion, Lamb of God (formerly known as Burn the Priest either name would make a lesser band) have consolidated some of the ripest elements of today’s avant-metal into New American Gospel, one of the finest slabs of hard rock to hit the double-aughts. Melding black metal’s blizzard speed and math rock’s slide-rule precision with intermittent blasts of free-form grindcore blurt, the Richmond quintet’s sound is brain and brawn all rolled into one. Much of the band’s twisted power and genre-pushing complexity is owed to double-kick-pedalin’ drummer Chris Adler, who could probably play Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries” with his feet alone. Sure, there’s plenty of cog-in-groove guitar-and-drum alignment included therein that will no doubt seem dumbly Hessian to those not enthralled with the primacy of the riff. But if you still derive some pleasure in hearing Helmet’s “Meantime” on a jukebox, then that kind of crap isn’t going to bother you. Once you get past Lamb of God’s guttural Cookie Monsterlike vocals and surly lyrics (“I would rip out my own entrails by hand just to be alone”), weirdly beautiful melodies and off-center hooks emerge. Give ’em the goat. At TIME TK at the 9:30 Club, 815 V St. NW. PRICE TK. (202) 393-0930. (Brent Burton)