Best in Show
Friday, May 27, 7:30 pm at Fort Greene Park: FREE
To promote the impending opening of the first NYC Alamo Drafthouse in Downtown Brooklyn, the boozy Austin-based cinema (and direct competitor of our beloved Nitehawk, we might add) is hosting three free screenings at Fort Greene Park starting this week. They’re all family-friendly, for sure (which means you’ll have to get your R-rated full-frontal and cigarette-smoking kicks elsewhere), but actually only two of the screenings are worth going to– that is, if you have a dignified hair left on your body. You’re guaranteed to literally never get laid again if you go see the third screening, Finding Nemo– but if you’re willing to take that risk anyway, it’s happening Friday, June 10, 7:30 pm to 10:30 pm, and I wish you the best of luck.
For the restuvus, the two remaining screenings are appealing in their own ways. The 2000 comedy Best in Show is a reminder of how kids movies used to have the potential to be somewhat dark and actually kinda hilarious instead of just horribly uplifting (if one more person tells me to go see Up or whatever that horror show with the minions is called, I might be up for a life sentence soon).
But Best in Show also stands as a beautiful, whimsical rewind to a time when dogs were dogs, and dog people were creepy. (These days, dog people are everywhere and are even venerated for baby-talking those waddling, shedding, biting, little creatures. Their bizarre desire to wipe fur-clogged butts and trample on everyone else’s good time might as well be worthy of the Purple Heart these days. There goes the neighborhood!– am I right?)
Back to the surface-level things happening in the film. Catherine O’Hara and Eugene Levy make a dazzling husband-and-wife dog-breeding duo, Cookie and Gerry Flick, competing in the Mayflower Kennel Club Dog Show. The furry pageant acts as a jumping-off point for a number of personal, freaky backstories for everyone involved– from the trainers to the dog-portrait photographers, judges and Dog Fancy freaks that make the whole nasty monster churn.
If you do drag some kids along (but hopefully, for your sake, they belong to someone else), Best in Show offers a wonderful opportunity to teach them right, and ensure that they’ll never get made fun of on the playground again– after all, gold-digging, sexual innuendo, and adult braces (thank you, Parker Posey, for donning them to play a sniveling, creepy dog lady) are all avenues for important life lessons.
And because you can’t do a kidsy screening series without it, Alamo will be screening David Bowie’s Labyrinth for the Friday, June 3 iteration, from 7:30 pm to 10:30 pm. And for that matter, you really can’t have a decent childhood without Labyrinth either, so go, go, go– especially if you’ve never seen it (traaaagic).
Friday May 27 through Thursday June 2 at Nitehawk Cinema: $12
Looks like Colin Farrell had to go into damage-control mode, STAT, seeing as True Detective season two was a little bit, well, meh. The guy did the best he could with what he had though, and The Lobster just goes to show that Farrell is actually quite good at this whole acting thing– and that’s an even truer statement when it comes to dark comedies and weirder-than-weird scripts. It also helps when Farrell is playing men who are supremely flawed and, how shall we say this? Castrated.
David, the central character of concern here, lives in a strange, heady near-future, alternate-universe type of zone. I immediately thought of I Heart Huckabees when I first saw the trailer– it’s that same kind of cerebral, matter-of-fact, fast-flowing, and unblinking acceptance of bizarro circumstances. The conflict in The Lobster isn’t so much existentialism versus nihilism, however– instead, a newly single David must come to terms with the insane reality that his society has made a binding agreement with magical forces, one that requires single people to find a partner in love in just 45 days. If they fail, they’ll be poof! turned into a beast– be it creepy, crawly, hairy, mammal, or reptilian (though we all know which one of those dreamed up an arrangement like this one)– before being released into the wild to fend for themselves. Sounds tricky, right? Or sexy? Dunno.
But I do know that David does exactly what I’ve done in this exact same situation– because, duh, “The Lobster” is not even a metaphor, but a poetic interpretation of our relation-shit obsessed, right-swiping world of casual liaisons that people fight disgusting battles for not simply to satisfy primal urges (which is perfectly fine) but to banish boredom derived from Netflix n’ chillin and playing Candy Crush all by their lonesome. The horrror! After a number of failed attempts at finding anyone to replace his now ex-wife, our hero joins a group of scraggly singles known as The Loners, and you can sorta guess what goes down from there.
June 17 through June 24 at Metrograph: $14
There’s a whole lot of screaming in the last film of legendary Polish director Andrzej Żuławski (same guy behind the super-spooky Possession, the 1981 paranormal-thriller/ cult classic). Cosmos is actually a French-language film, based on the novel by Witold Gombrowicz (author of Pornografia, who the Times dubbed an “imp of the perverse”)– both of which explain why the emotion is so heightened.
The film follows Witold as he drops outta law school and splits town, finding refuge at a quaint, countryside inn where he quickly falls in love with the lady of the house’s beautiful daughter– so much for relaxation. Suddenly, Witold starts to notice that bad omens of all sorts (hence the moniker of “metaphysical noir thriller”) are appearing all around him. Could this mean that getting fresh with the daughter is not such a good idea? Żuławski’s conclusions say a lot about human behavior and the nature of lust and desire.
Tuesday, May 24 (7:30 pm), Wednesday May 25 (7:20 pm), and Sunday, May 29 (5 pm) at Spectacle: $5
Ok, so we already spent a fair amount of space freaking out about “Grrrl Germs,” Spectacle’s ongoing visual history of Riot Grrrl, which you should definitely go check out this week before it’s gone forever on May 28. Once you’re done with that (not to give you too much FOMO or anything), don’t blink even one eye, because there’s a related film that’s a great way to get well-informed about a phenomenon currently seeing something of an ironic revival– cyber punk, a trend/identity/aesthetic that was a contemporary of Riot Grrl’s.
Today, you’ll see cyber punk’s progeny in the form of net artists– they share in a distinct set of attitudes and pain-inducing aesthetic decisions (um, just try and watch the above trailer without getting a pounding headache– if you succeed, it means you were born after the year 1990).
The fun thing about “Cyberpunk,” which Spectacle writes is “itself an artifact of the time and aesthetic being documented,” is that it’s hyper-current– so much so that it starts to fold in on itself, almost to the point of being a psychedelic experience of nostalgia or time-tripping. Which is why we see Timothy Leary as an interviewee. The guy is always one step ahead of us in some way, eh?
The filmmakers also interview a series of “musicians, animators, plastic surgeons, crafters, and self-proclaimed hackers” and the resulting otherwise bland video is adorned with CGI animation and web 1.0 graphics. Weirdly, as I mentioned before, the cyber-punk “look” is back in a big way, and has been for a long time. And it’s really only grown and evolved since it became trendy, or whatever, again– which begs the question, did cyber punk ever go anywhere to begin with? Are we all just cyber punks who found portals into telepathy (Twitter), time travel/wormholes (YouTube), and immortality (Facebook/Instagram) while, along the way, discovering a path to the post-human ideal of leaving our useless, overrated bodies/ soul containers behind forever (Snapchat)? Perhapz.