Durham's Carolina Theatre used to have the best video store in the area, particularly for those sensitive types who wanted to be able to locate their foreign and otherwise arty films without having to run a depressing gauntlet of the latest blockbusters providing evidence for the decline of film culture. Unfortunately, you didn't have to run a gauntlet of customers, either, and the store disappeared.
Happily, the videos themselves ended up a few blocks away at the Durham County Library, where they may be checked out for a week. The library's stewardship of this collection is pretty timely, because many classic titles have yet to be released on DVD.
Now the folks at the library have scheduled a monthly series of screenings culled from their collection. It's called A Year At the Movies: Rediscovering Classics, and as the name implies, the series seeks to introduce audiences to the extraordinary talents that thrived in the days before special-effects blockbusters--with their inevitable multi-disc boxed DVD sets with multiple endings--made film experts out of everyone, while simultaneously shortening our memories of older films.
The series kicks off this weekend with a double bill of Charlie Chaplin features, appropriately enough. First, there's A Dog's Life, a 40-minute saga of the Little Tramp, down and out in the company of a lounge singer and a dog. Next up is the much-loved 1921 flick The Kid, which at 68 minutes, was an early foray into feature comedies. Here, Chaplin's Tramp starts a money-making racket with a little hellion he encounters, played by Jackie Coogan.
Rediscovering Classics will take place at Durham County Library, Saturdays at 2:30 p.m. Call 560-0171 for more information.