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Shadow Electric Open Air Cinema New Program Announced

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by Richard Leathem (subscribe)
Freelance writer. Melbourne based cinephile. Fond of food.
Event: -
The Abbotsford Convent continues to shine brightly at night
It's mid January and right on cue, the Melbourne summer is making a typically late but dramatic entrance. Its also that time of year the Shadow Electric program reaches the half way point. And so it is that part 2 of the summer season (January 25 to March 16) has been announced.

shadow electric
When the sun goes down, the screen comes up at Shadow Electric

For those who haven't ventured to the Abbotsford Convent at sundown to experience the whole food truck convoy, licensed bar, big outdoor screen, cool breeze on a hut summer night vibe, then you're missing a treat. This is the one outdoor cinema event that has it all, including the best line-up of films.

Here's what's in store in Part 2 of Shadow Electric 2013/2014.

A few (but not many) of the titles from the earlier part of the program get a repeat screening, so if you missed out on opening night film Frances Ha, Danny Boyle's Filth, or you just have to see Gravity one more time, you're in luck.

There's a handful of recently released buzz films which were not available for the first half of the season. These include such Oscar darlings as American Hustle, Inside Llewyn Davis, The Wolf of Wall St and Her. All deserving of the praise they're receiving and are must-see films for anyone who wants to sound like they know what they're talking about when discussing possible Oscar winners. So whether its big hair from the 70s, folk music from the 60s, wall-to-wall profanity Scorcese style or a love story between a man and his new software package, there's plenty to like.

shadow electric wolf wall street
Leonardo shares a toast, and you can too while watching the Wolf of Wall Street

Another recent release, Short Term 12, is every bit as good as these titles and if it hadn't been such a small budget indie, may have scored a best actress nomination for Brie Larson or a nod for its tight and gripping screenplay. It's a raw and authentic look at life in a care facility for troubled teens and well worth seeing.

Some cinephile favourites from the 80s and 90s are on offer, including Delicatessen, looking just as bold and original as it did on first release, and three early Jim Jarmusch classics, Mystery Train, Down by Law and Dead Man - shining examples of the American auteur at his creative peak.

shadow electric mystery train
A scene from Jim Jarmusch's Mystery Train

Other cinematic icons include Hearts of Darkness, the extraordinary documentary about the making of Apocalypse Now. Essential viewing for anyone interested in the filmmaking process. Enter the Dragon, Bruce Lee's most famous film, gets a rare outing on the big screen, and one of the all-time great horror films, Rosemary's Baby is screaming out to be seen. Released in 1968, it's the oldest film on the program, and living proof that they don't make 'em like they used to.

Shadow Electric always tips its hat at the music documentary, and the theme continues with a selection of diverse offerings. Muscle Shoals focuses on the legendary recording studio in Alabama, home to a rich history of recordings from Aretha Franklin, the Rolling Stones, U2, Paul Simon and many more. Then there are more marginal musical subjects, such as Bikini Kill's lead singer Kathleen Hanna in The Punk Singer and Paris/Berlin: 20 Years of Underground Techno.

The non-fiction titles venture to the non-musical, with a couple of local hits. In Bob We Trust, about the inimitable Father Bob, and the fascinating Lygon St: Si Parla Italiano - direct from its record breaking run at the Nova. It will educate and entertain you with stories of Carlton's famous dining strip.

It's not all rarefied art house fare. Anchorman 2, L.A. Story and the original Hairspray (with the one and only Divine) are on board to provide laughs to a broader audience, and Sleepless in Seattle is the perfect ingredient for a date night under the stars.

At the other end of the scale, the Monday night $10 Cult screenings really do push the boundaries of taste and decorum. With titles like I Drink Your Blood, Beaver Trilogy, Vampire Hookers and Marriage Parlor Murders, you can't say you haven't been warned. You're not likely to see any of these played on Foxtel any time soon.

shadow electric vampire hookers
Vampire Hookers - not coming to Foxtel any time soon.

It's a wonderfully eclectic bunch of films, with something in the full program to please everyone.

Shadow Electric is open from Wednesdays to Mondays, however in the past they've been known to hold an encore screening on a Tuesday if something sells out quickly. The bar opens at 12 midday, with films starting at sundown.

Booking online is advised, although tickets are sold at the door subject to availability. Admission is $21, concession is $18.

For more details go to the Shadow Electric website

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Why? The best open air cinema in Melbourne
When: Sundown, Wednesdays to Mondays
Where: 1 St Heliers Street, Abbotsford
Cost: Adults $21, Concession $18
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