Danny Says
Friday September 30 through Thursday October 6 at IFC Center: $14

Danny Fields was the music manager “at the pulse of the underground,” the man behind the best rock n’ roll to come out of the ’70s New York City scene and actually some of the most influential rock of all time. Iggy Pop, Lou Reed, and the Ramones were just a few of his associated acts and though all of this stuff is standard by now, back in Danny’s glory days it was nothing short of insanity.

The Queens native was on a very different path for a while, but according to the Times’s assessment that it’s possible punk rock might never have happened (or at least exploded in the way that it did) without Fields, we should all be very thankful that he dropped out of Harvard Law School and whipped Iggy into shape (well, “shape”). Of course, there’s a flipside to this– Danny brought the underground into the mainstream, which for better or for worse was a major shapeshifting force at the level of both American culture as a whole and the counterculture.

No matter your take on that doozy, this documentary is going to be seriously entertaining, with crazy Danny stories galore straight from the little ponies’ mouths– Iggy Pop, Alice Cooper, and more icons of the era are interviewed. Eventually Danny left the music industry to focus on his writing, so you can be there are going to be some interesting reassessments.

Saturday October 1, 2 pm at The Metrograph: $20

For many of us, Old Boy served as an introduction to Korean film– so don’t be surprised if someone gets all haughty when you mention that it’s playing at the Metrograph. “Oh that old film,” they’ll chuckle and pause to tip a toddy to their lips, taking a moment to gaze up at you snobbishly, smirk-sipping from behind their teacup. “Now that’s what I call old hat.”

Don’t pay them any mind, and while you’re at it get rid of such vile friends, why dontcha? There’s good reason for revisiting this one. It’s actually the second feature-length eppy in director Park Chan-wook’s Vengeance Trilogy, but the best-known of the bunch, a certifiable classic of Korean cinema and an excellent neo-noir. Visually, Oldboy is highly-stylized and Chan-wook’s dark, twisted rock n’ roll/fashionable psychopath/sexy serial killer aesthetic has definitely found a few Hollywood imitators– Nicolas Winding Refn (who was also responsible for the fancy rerelease of the Oldboy soundtrack on vinyl) is clearly a fan.

The story revolves around an ultimatum– this is noir after all. We meet the central character Oh Dae-su in a state of serious confusion, so far he’s spent 15 years trapped inside a hotel room where he’s been imprisoned for reasons that are unclear (talk about golden handcuffs). The last thing he remembers is getting super wasted and then… this.

Eventually he escapes by digging a tunnel and wanders through a surreal Seoul, trying to piece his life back together by meeting up with a sexy sushi waitress and generally doing super violent shit, when his anonymous captor gives him a call and informs Oh that he has just five days to solve the mystery of his kidnapping/detainment. If he succeeds, his captor will commit suicide– which, yes, seems crazy, but stay with me– and if Oh fails, his captor will kill him instead. Either way, there’s bloodletting but Oh’s not about to let it be his warm goo that ends up on the ground.

Get it while it’s hot– there’s just one screening happening at the Metrograph.

Larry Buchanan's "Beyond the Doors"

Larry Buchanan’s “Beyond the Doors”

Down On Us 
Friday September 30, midnight at Spectacle: $5

The Larry Buchanan retrospective continues at Spectacle– you can read more details about the series here. But in case you’d rather have it handed to you short and straight (just like they do at Minnie’s Lil’ Striptease over in Pittsburgh)– the month-long Buchananal is a sort of rehashing of this self-proclaimed “schlockmeister” and the heaping mound of midnight movies he made, which has largely been regarded by the critical old guard as stinking of poo. Not so, says Spectacle.

Sure, there were the occasional quantity-over-quality considerations, but the Texas independent filmmaker also made some true gems. And considering that he pretty much went it alone, Lone Ranger-style (i.e. without Hollywood’s golden showers of wealth/bathtubs full of lukewarm liquid assets), he did a pretty damn good job. Case in point: Down On Us (alternately titled Beyond The Doors), a film about the revolutionary rock n’roll of the ’60s and a top secret plot to kill the movement’s idols hatched by the U.S. government– which, yeah, I could see it.

Aside from horror, erotica, and sci-fi galore, Buchanan also had a thing for conspiracy theory films– The Trial of Lee Harvey Oswald, the 1964 historical-fiction/“speculative drama” made just a few months after Kennedy’s assassination– is one of his greats and indicative of the sheer speed of Buchanan’s filmmaking capabilities.

What might make Down On Us the superior film, however, is that it combines the best of Buchanan’s ingenuity with his knack for backing ridiculous conspiracy theories with something like legitimacy. He somehow convinced a Dallas criminal defense attorney to join the cast and frames the audience as complicit in the film as jurors, and instead of making a conclusion of his own, he leaves it up to the viewers.

And Buchanan wasn’t about to let a low budget get in his way, even though it meant that he had to contend with maybe the biggest roadblock the way of dramatizations of real-life very famous musicians: licensing. But all the better for us, since “Down On Us” had to include the music of its main characters–Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, and Jimi Hendrix–Buchanan simply arranged what Spectacle calls “ludicrous imitations” of the originals.

Is it bound to be ridiculous? Absolutely. Hilarious? You bet.