Michel Auder + Rebekah Rutkoff: Sunsets and Other Stars
Tuesday, Dec. 15, 7:30 pm at Light Industry: $8 at the door
French artist, photographer, and filmmaker Michel Auder left France in the ’70s for New York City, where he’s resided ever since. He’s maybe best known as Cindy Sherman’s ex-husband (JK, but for real — how do you compete with Cindy Sherman?). Much of his video work (though apparently Auder “did not consider it fine art”) consists of ethnographic snapshots and sceney vignettes, the stuff of Auder’s cool Downtown life amongst artists like Annie Sprinkle, Larry Rivers, Hannah Wilke, among others.
But another good chunk of his focus was deadly personal. Take My Last Bag of Heroin (For Real), a 1993 piece which shows the filmmaker, who battled with heroin addiction for many years, breaking apart a glassine baggie of heroin onto a piece of aluminum foil and smoking the stuff. The video demonstrates the banality of drug use, often depicted as an explosively orgasmic experience, particularly in film.
For this event, Light Industry will screen some of his rarely-seen shorts including, Polaroid Cocaine, (a 1993 “meditation on photography, advertising, desire, and spectacle”); Talking Head, 1981 (Auder, obscured behind the leaves of a plant, films his kid as she recites a bizarre child-speak monologue); and Multi-Screen 1967 (a collection of still images including ones of Brigid Berlin painting with her mammaries).
New York-based essayist/artist Rebekah Rutkoff will be reading from her new book, The Irresponsible Magician. In case you’re unfamiliar, her publishers describe her as a Joan Didion-type writer whose work is “sharp, acerbic, and often humorous.” The book includes an essay on Michel Auder, one of many photographers and filmmakers who she spotlights among other cultural figures as diverse as Oprah Winfrey and the Kennedys.
Janis: Little Girl Blue
Wednesday, Dec. 9 through Tuesday, Dec. 15 at IFC Center: $14
When I first heard the words, Janis: Little Girl Blue, I froze. Who, who, who was going to be playing Janis Joplin? I didn’t want to wait around to find out. I shut my ears up straight. But coming across the trailer on the webs, I was forced to recon with the film, which thankfully fits neatly into the category of documentary rather than dramatic biopic. In my opinion, it’s essential to hear Joplin’s voice and see the woman herself to get her at all.
The doc makes use of a plethora of archival concert footage, media appearances, backstage videos, and family photos. In this view, Joplin wasn’t simply another ’60s rockstar who died too soon, but also a groundbreaking force for women in rock n’ roll. A babe in her own way, but certainly not conventionally attractive, Janis broke all the showbiz rules for women — particularly the superficial music industry ones. Her deep, raspy blues voice also defied convention: instead of appearing delicate and perfect, Joplin bared her flaws. And though it’s totally appropriation of black blues culture (Joplin was a big fan of blues artists like Bessie Smith and Lead Belly from an early age) we can find some comfort in the fact that Joplin, though a white woman with all the privileges, visibility, and opportunity that come with such a position, seemed to embody at least a fraction of the spiritual struggle of the original blues singers; Joplin struggled with depression, outsider-ship, and being perpetually misunderstood.
Friday, Dec. 11 through Thursday, Dec. 17 at Nitehawk: $11
Berlin is so hot right now. Just see the soon-to-be-circuit party, The Club by Ostbahnhof popping up in Brooklyn as of last week. As we know, art imitates life — hence, Victoria, set to a throbbing dance track, with a building tension that recalls Run Lola Run (sorry, I know every German film with a techno soundtrack, i.e. every German film, is compared to Run Lola Run, but this time I mean it.
Victoria nearly won an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, which means absolutely nothing save for it has good distribution in the United States. Or something. Nevertheless, we’re intrigued.
The film is set in Kreuzberg, the fast-gentrifying Williamsburg of Berlin (how fitting that you should see it in Williamsburg!), and shot through a gritty, nighttime filter that makes even the daytime look drab. Three guys beckon our heroine, Victoria, a naive Spanish girl who has just moved to the city to find work, to join them for a wild night out, but it ends up being much wilder than she bargained for.
Victoria is working as a waitress but doesn’t know anyone in the city yet, and after leaving a club late at night– and she’s pretty boozed up at this point– is approached by the men. At first they seem fun, they steal her some alcohol and smoke her down, but then one of the men reveals he’s been to prison for a violent crime, which kind of creeps Victoria out, but not enough to leave. But things get crazier and the guys trick Victoria into becoming their accomplice on a bank heist, suddenly Victoria’s implicated in the crime.
Wednesday, Dec. 9 through Dec. 15 at Anthology Film Archives: $10
Nathan Silver, not to be confused with local performance artist/enfant terrible Matthew Silver, is nothing if not an ambitious filmmaker. Since the early aughts, he has penned and directed nearly a dozen films, averaging about one a year, “creating films whose messy, turbulent, barely controlled madness seems to be a function not only of the stories and characters but of his filmmaking process itself.”
His latest work, Stinking Heaven, is set in the early ’90s in New Jersey at a group home for recovering addicts. The film depicts the bizarre relationships that can form in closed quarters and, shot on old analogue camera equipment, Silver achieves the requisite lo-fi glow of the ’90s, nostalgia for which we’re feeling stronger than ever right now. Catch it before we reach peak ’90 y’all, which is bound to be any second. You won’t hate it, we don’t think — the film’s getting rave reviews.
Check dates at Anthology, where Nathan Silver will be on hand for a few screenings.