Squeaky Wheel goes ‘Wild’ for Arthur Russell - The Buffalo News

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Squeaky Wheel goes ‘Wild’ for Arthur Russell

One of the unique local film series to emerge over the last year is Squeaky Wheel’s “Squeakeasy,” a monthly event that, true to its speakeasy sound-alike title, is held in the Back Room at Allen Street Hardware. The series is billed as exploring “outsiders of culture through films that have bypassed the theatres and ended up at your local pub.” Indeed, the selections more than back up that bold statement.

On May 28, Squeaky presents “Wild Combination: A Portrait of Arthur Russell,” a look at the avant-garde icon who died of AIDS in 1992. The musician, artist and producer never achieved great fame during his lifetime. But as director Matt Wolf’s film shows, his influence is wide-reaching, and his work seems more relevant than ever.

Russell was a classically trained cellist, and his music displays a classical influence merged with experimental rock and even disco. The result is songs like “This Is How We Walk On the Moon” — strange, stirring and unforgettable.

“Wild Combination” is the latest noteworthy film to be screened at this Western New York treasure. In the past year, Squeaky has screened everything from Ben Wheatley’s hallucinatory and terrifying English Civil War drama “A Field in England” to the astonishing, summary-defying “Leviathan.”

The latter two films were screened at the 2012 and 2013 Toronto International Film Festivals, respectively, but never stopped in Buffalo during their limited releases. As anyone who has seen them can attest, the visual stunners were made for a larger screen.

And so is “Wild Combination,” a heartfelt documentary that appropriately shines the spotlight on an unfairly neglected artist

“Wild Combination” screens at 8 p.m. May 28 in Allen Street Hardware (245 Allen St.), and will be followed by a performance from cellist T.J. Borden. For more information, visit www.squeaky.org.

— Christopher Schobert

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