If the thought of CMJ renders you an anxious, nail-biting, hair-pulling mess we’ve got some sweet alternatives for you, in places where you can hide away in a dark room without having to talk to people and avoid being regarded as a social misfit at the same time. “I’m just more into movies,” you can practice telling them. And hey, even if you’re not going to a music show per se, you can still join in the very trendy #notCMJ, which is currently trending on trendy website Twitter. Gobble up our film picks lurking just below this line.
Red Hook International Film Festival
Oct. 17 and 18 at the Brooklyn Waterfront Artists Coalition Screening Room: $12.50 per screening block
Already in its ninth year, the Red Hook International Film Festival is as diverse as ever, showcasing shorts, docs, animation, and feature lengths, all from relatively unknown filmmakers. A handful of films are New York City-centric including Millie & the Lords (screening Sunday, Oct. 18, noon to 2:15 pm) a coming-of-age story about a young Puerto Rican woman from El Barrio who discovers the Young Lords, an important part of her community’s history. The Young Lords activism, which began in the late ’60s in New York City, was aligned with the Black Panthers and fought against discrimination and oppression of the Puerto Rican diaspora.
If you’d describe your cinematic leanings as “cheese loving” then perhaps consider seeing Fuerza (Saturday, Oct. 17 from noon to 2 pm) a low-budget super hero movie about a hot babe who acquires fantastical powers just in time to defend planet Earth from space invaders hungry for human. See the full schedule of films here.
A Nite to Dismember 2015
Saturday, Oct. 31 at midnight: $50
Nitehawk is hosting one seriously grueling movie marathon: 480 minutes of gruesome horror brought to you by this third annual all-night Halloween celebration. The curation is always excellent and this year, the theater has selected five films to represent each decade in horror from the ’60s through the aughts. OK, so House on Haunted Hill was released in 1959, but still– the black-and-white classic set the tone for so, so many horror movies of the ’60s to come. The film stars Vincent Price– the voice of horror. Close your eyes and imagine being told a ghost story, I guarantee you it involves Vincent Price’s mustache and his distinctive, nasally whinny: “Good evening, I’m your host.”
“Carol Anne! Carol Aaaaaaaanne!” I couldn’t think of a more 80’s horror film than Poltergeist. This movie epitomizes a major theme in cinema of that era: deep suspicion of suburban comfort and conformity. A little blonde girl living with her non-divorced parents in sub-development California gets sucked into a TV, kidnapped by a demonic force with the ability to travel through radio waves? It’s like a swift punch to the gut of the American dream and guess what? It’s beautiful.
Spielberg (who actually wrote, directed, and produced the dang thing) would never be capable of such feats again. And speaking of distinctive voices– that psychic in the film, Carrigan (Zelda Rubinstein, all 4-foot 3-inches of her), is the perfect mini-Elton John lookalike who masters that true-crime trope, the daytime television-watching clairvoyant. Sigh, there’s even a Poltergeist remake coming out, but you won’t find me buying tickets for it (unless it’s as god-awful as the latest Jurassic Park installation).
Also featured is Bay of Blood aka Twitch of the Death Nerve, ’70s slasher gore at its very best with the highly-stylized cinematography and lush color we’ve come to expect of Italian horror. And seriously, I dare you to come up with a better representative of the ’90s than Scream (1996)– one of the early mainstream American meta-horror films (which seem to be everywhere in the past few years: Cabin in the Woods, It Follows, Shaun of the Dead). The film ended up becoming a beloved franchise that extended the length of David Arquette and Courtney Cox’s fairytale marriage and has now found a new life as an MTV television series. Nitehawk also has a surprise in store (trick or treat– lol get it?). The fifth film of the evening, representing the 2000s, shall remain shrouded in secrecy until the moment of its premiere. Spooky!
All Things Must Pass
Friday, Oct. 16 through Thursday, Oct. 22 at Village Cinema East: $14
The story of Tower Records is a surprisingly dramatic one. Duh, there are rock star stories galore– Dave Grohl worked there back when his hair qualified as “luscious”– and the film itself was made by Colin Hanks. It’s a romantic look at a time when even basics were shopping at record stores. If we’re judging by the trailer here, it might seem as if this doc is a bunch of people saying “Tower Records was the record store,” and “everyone went to Tower Records!” followed by dramatic screen shots of Napster. But the trailer is deceiving — it’s apparently a rather nuanced story of Russ Solomon, Tower Records’ founder, and the company’s ups and downs from the ’60s through the 2006 when the last shop closed.
Although the doomsday proclamations about there no longer being places to buy records and in the process talk to people who really know stuff about music, are misinformed– small, independent record stores are thriving. This is akin to saying print media is dead. Of course if you look at how big publishing houses are doing you’re going to think that, but take a look at small presses. They’re popping up everywhere. That seems to be the documentary’s only major downfall, a rather myopic, corporate view of the record industry.
Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead
Friday, Oct. 16 through Sunday, Oct. 18 at IFC Center: $14
If docs about the good old days are your thing, Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead should be next up on your list. As the name implies, the film chronicles the depraved, wild world of one of the great satirical magazines turned media conglomerate, National Lampoon which had an immeasurable influence on American comedy. To all you digital natives out there: first of all, cringe but secondly, I betcha didn’t know National Lampoon was a magazine at all. Am I right? Wait, do you even know what a print magazine is? But seriously, whether you’re a comedy nerd or someone who enjoys knowing what they’re talking about when it comes to culture, this is important stuff.
The doc incorporates interviews with the few people left on this earth and some incredible archival footage of alumni, which included the likes of John Belushi, Bill Murray, and of course, Chevy Chase– the National Lampoon poster boy who’s definitely still alive (don’t be misled into thinking Dick Cheney is just going by the name Chevy Chase for kicks). And if you weren’t aware yet, yep– National Lampoon was totally a white boys’ club. Let’s hope the doc goes into detail about that unfortunate history (and continuing problem) of comedy. Thankfully there are people working really hard to change that, and succeeding.