Inside the Frame

The movies typically show museums as oases of civilization providing escape from the cacophony and chaos of the outside world. In his one-of-a-kind tour de force, Russian Ark (2002), director Alexander Sokurov brings the world — that is, three centuries of his country’s unruly history — into the vast State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg. Going further still, Sokurov shot the film in a single astonishingly conceived, superbly choreographed, feature-length take. The unqualified high in the film series Museum Highs Museum Lows, Russian Ark is both chaotic and civilized, unsurprisingly, not to mention dense and exhilarating. Then it’s on to Paris for William Wyler’s 1966 romantic comedy How to Steal a Million (Jan. 14), starring a très stylish Audrey Hepburn and an equally dapper Peter O’Toole as cohorts plotting the heist of a fake museum piece. The clothes-conscious series makes its last stop in New York, where horny housewife Angie Dickinson locks eyes with a handsome gent at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Dressed to Kill (Jan. 28). Brian De Palma’s taut 1980 shocker offers an instructive lesson in the effects (good and bad) of watching Vertigo and Psycho too many times, along with a wee warning about picking up strangers in museums.
Thu., Jan. 7, 7 p.m., 2010

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