Introducing “Reel Psyched,” wherein we tell you what we’re really excited to see in the theaters this week.
With the Lower East Side Film Festival in full swing in Manhattan and the Northside Festival’s film program popping off tonight in Brooklyn, it’s a good time to be a film buff.
At the L.E.S* Film Festival, which kicked off Thursday and continues through the weekend, offerings from up-and-coming directors are judged by a panel of guests including celebrities like Judah Friedlander (“30 Rock”) and Dan Janvey (“Beasts of the Southern Wild”). The audience favorite gets a $2,000 check from Vimeo (ahem, Bedford + Bowery’s video player of choice).
Roxy Hunt, one of the four filmmakers who directs the festival (Tony Castle, Shannon Walker and Damon Cardasis are the others) says she goes for a diverse range of films. Her favorites include “crazy genre breaking docs like i hate myself , great narrative features with stellar actors like Having You and crazy ass films in Mind F*CK night.”
Mind F*CK was just as it sounds – bizarre films like “Bewilderbeast,” in which a young normal-looking guy leaves his pregnant wife to “find himself” and ends up joining a terrorist group and participating in Mortal Kombat-style fights. As he films his experiences, he seems completely unfazed by everything from his blood-soaked clothes to the death he delivers.
“Bad Motherfucker,” a music video directed by Ilya Naishuller for the band he fronts, Biting Elbows, takes more than a few pages out of Quentin Tarantino’s book. With immediate nods to “Reservoir Dogs” and “Pulp Fiction” (the sharp-dressed gangsters and a glowing object in a suitcase), and shots from the perspective of the protagonist’s helmet cam, the video plays out like a round of “Grand Theft Auto” complete with shooting, violent beatings and breaking into cars.
Here now are this week’s picks from Northside, L.E.S*, and beyond. If it helps your planning, there’s free wine at all of the L.E.S.* screenings, with the exception of last night’s “Block Party and Drive-in Movie Theater” (because drinking and driving don’t mix). And remember: all of these screenings are also viewable on the Bedford + Bowery calendar.
“Fear of Flying” (part of the L.E.S* Film Festival)
Anthology Film Archives, 8 p.m.; tickets $12
A stop motion animation about an owl with a fear of flying trying to avoid going south for the winter. Part of the LES Film Festival’s “Animation Night.”
“Dosa Hunt” (part of the L.E.S* Film Festival)
Casa Mezcal’s Obra Negra, 8 p.m.; Tickets $12
Stereogum’s Amrit Singh takes a crew of musicians (members of Das Racist, Vampire Weekend, Neon Indian, Yeasayer and more) on a journey from Manhattan to Jackson Heights to find the best dosa in NYC. Screening as part of the “Shorts Showcase.”
“Byzantium” (part of Northside Festival)
Wythe Hotel, 9:30 p.m.; tickets $10
A mother and daughter struggle with their secret lives as vampires, seeking refuge in a run-down beach resort where the daughter befriends a man and shares their secret. The consequences are dire.
“The Birdman” (part of the L.E.S* Film Festival)
Sunshine Cinema, 8 p.m.; tickets $12
The Birdman (as his customers call him) has been running Rainbow Music in the East Village for 13 years, and despite the hordes of CDs and seeming lack of organization, he knows everything he’s got in the shop. Part of the LES Film Festival’s “Doc Night.”
“Who Took the Bomp: Le Tigre on Tour” (part of Northside Festival)
Union Docs, 8:30 p.m., tickets $10
Kathleen Hanna’s Bikini Kill paved the way for many amazing riot grrrl acts and her follow-up group Le Tigre is doing the same. Despite the change from raw punk rock to electronic dance rock, the message is still loud and clear: Girl Power. “Who Took the Bomp” follows the band on their 2004-2005 international tour, capturing behind-the-scenes footage, interviews and never-before-seen live performances. A Q&A with Hanna and director Kerthy Fix will follow the screening.
“Go Down Death” (part of Northside Festival)
Williamsburg Cinemas, 7:30 p.m.; tickets $10
Filmed in black and white 16mm in an abandoned Greenpoint warehouse, the setting depicts a haunted town chock full of superstition and disease. Dark folktales penned by a fictitious writer become reality.
An Evening With Ian Svenonius
Spectacle, 8:30 p.m., $5 at the door
Best know as the front man for DC bands Nation of Ulysses and the Make-Up, Ian Svenonius has been keeping busy with his new band Chain and the Gang and writing books like the recent “Super Natural Strategies for Making a Rock ‘n’ Roll Group.” This Friday he’ll be presenting his new short film “What is a Group?” A Q&A will follow the screening.
“Having You” (part of the L.E.S* Film Festival)
Crosby Street Hotel, 7 p.m.; tickets $12
After proposing to his infertile girlfriend, Jack receives a visit from an old one-night stand to learn he has a 7-year-old son. His life will never be the same. Tickets get you access to the sold-out filmmaker reception with an open wine bar.
“Super Mario Brothers” 20th Anniversary Screening
Sunshine Cinema, midnight, tickets $10
It’s been 20 years since the live-action Super Mario Brothers movie hit the big screen and 28 years since Nintendo changed video gaming in the United States forever. Revisit the film starring Dennis Hopper, John Leguizamo and Bob Hoskins, as the Mario Brothers try to save the princess from King Koopa in “Dinohattan.”
Atom Tan Presents: “Prayer of the Rollerboys” and “Stunt Rock”
Videology, 8:30 p.m.; free
The concept of Atom Tan is to group two films under a common theme and screen them as a double feature. The latest theme is “Well, these got made.” Two movies filmed a decade apart but with equal amounts of ridiculousness: “Prayer of the Rollerboys” is about a rollerblading gang of white supremacists fighting for control of their city (Corey Haim is in this). “Stunt Rock” is about an Australian stuntman who moves to LA and hangs with his cousin and his rock band Sorcery (stunts, rock, explosions, and magic).