The Jazz Loft According to Eugene W. Smith
Friday September 23 through Wednesday September 28 at the Metrograph: $15

In this film about a loft that from 1957 to 1965 drew some of the best musicians of its time to a nondescript location in the city’s Flower District, you might get the feeling that you’ve been to a place sort of like this before. Like almost everything cool in America, the DIY venues we frequent today have their roots in jazz, specifically the underground spots of yesteryear where the music could be experienced in its natural state.

Some seriously incredible marathon jams and recording sessions went down here, and the place attracted some of the greats, including Thelonious Monk. As the place’s host, photojournalist Eugene W. Smith had an in at the club and was able to document some of the crazier happenings there. He did so not only with photos, but by recording the jam sessions. The result is a documentary by Sara Fishko, who has pieced together Smith’s work and made what the Metrograph describes as “an unsentimental portrait of unstable genius and a long-lost Manhattan.”

Friday September 23, 9:45 pm at Video Revival: $8

Exciting news, y’all. Crown Heights recently got its very own lil’ art house cine. If you’re a fan of Spectacle Theater in Williamsburg, meet Video Revival– 25 seats of pure, unadulterated DIY movie theater bliss. It’s a volunteer run organization, with nightly screenings (two films per weeknight, three most Fridays, and four on both Saturday and Sunday) that run $8 a pop and include everything from post-war noir to campy ’80s adventure comedy and a documentary shorts showcase. Revival is also devoted to spotlighting work by local filmmakers and video artists as well as providing community-oriented programming such as kid-friendly films.

I know, I know– it’s exciting stuff, and you, too, should prepare to jump for joy. I know I did.

Actually, my convulsions were dramatic enough that, for the first time in years, my friends have started calling me “Andre” again, a nickname I earned years ago when I had what seemed to be an unshakable tic. Whenever there was the promise of good times ahead, my arms would lurch out in front of me, stiff as a board and seemingly controlled by an unseen force, maybe even the devil himself. I’d start clapping my hands mechanically and throw my head back, gazing upward as if in search of a treat falling from the ceiling.

In my defense, I’d always remind my friends that I looked nothing like Andre the seal, because, 1) where in the shit was my little red ball to balance on top of my nose? and 2) you wouldn’t catch me eating buckets of still-squirming fishes in public, not without a $100 bill waiting for me at the bottom of it, no you would not.

But I’ll admit, when I heard about this Video Revival, my tic returned.

Video Revival, a new art house theater recently opened in Crown Heights (Photo via Video Revival)

Video Revival, a new art house theater recently opened in Crown Heights (Photo via Video Revival)

In case the seal reference is escaping you, Andre is the classic 1994 film about a little girl who develops a close friendship with a homeless orphan seal pup named Andre, who her parents adopted. He basically becomes her brother and wacky antics ensue. Cute! Actually, Andre quickly became one of the most hated films in America, right after Monkey Trouble (also released in ’94). It’s basically the same thing only the girl is the orphan of divorced parents and the monkey isn’t wholesome at all, but a devilish little rogue. Both movies inspired an entire generation of children to beg and plead for exotic pet seals or monkeys until they reached either adulthood or encountered Jawbreaker I don’t know about you, but the 1999 bleak-as-hell teen dream comedy was certainly a kick in the teeth for me.

The moment Rose McGowan walks onscreen as Courtney, the sociopathic Queen Betch of Reagan High School’s bad girl clique, and opens her mouth, she releases a torrent of cynical assessments regarding the decrepitude of suburban life/the American Dream which are exaggerated and compressed into the “cruel politics of high school.” It’s hypnotizing to watch her, really, because she has this incredible ability to crush dreams and shatter closely held belief systems on contact.

Courtney and her fellow betches murder the prom queen, which is insanely dark, but that’s not nearly as wrenching/captivating as the scenes where Courtney’s bubbly teenaged friends (well, “friends”) and bushy-tailed, naive little classmates listen are utterly shaken to their core by one of her tear-downs. Their faces visibly start to melt, transforming from toothy grins to shattered frowns. Many children of the ’90s probably experienced a similar shift in themselves after seeing Jawbreaker–suddenly getting an Andre for Christmas or BFF’ing a mischievous monkey seemed so… empty.

(Image via Spectacle)

(Image via Spectacle)

Vintage Erotica: Anno 20
Friday September 23, midnight at Spectacle: $5

Even though we’re excited about Video Revival, we just wanna say– hey, don’t worry Spectacle, we’ve still got mad love for you boo. You’ll always be our number one, trust.

It’s events like this one that remind us of just how strong our love is. I mean, where else are you gonna find a screening devoted to vintage French erotica spanning 1920 to 1929? Nowhere, that’s where.

The series is available on DVD from Cult Epics (Image via Cult Epics)

The series is available on DVD from Cult Epics (Image via Cult Epics)

Cult Epics, that mined and remastered the 19 old-school gems in the series, are aiming to dispel the myth that sexual freedom and liberation was born in the 1960s, the dawn of a sexual reawakening which broke up a long period of prudishness following the enormous fuckfest that was the Roman Empire– incest, baby boy sex slaves, orgies, more incest. You’d be forgiven for believing that Queen Victoria and her beta boy-man Albert spread their ethos regarding sensuality which held that the only acceptable form of mutual pleasure making involved clothes-on, head-turned away, eyes-closed gentle petting but mostly just leg rubbing. Not many high school history teachers care to deviate from the narrative of Western superiority/ open the flood gates of lusty, hormonal fury already raging in their classroom by mentioning ancient Roman gangbangs.

Here’s your chance to reassess history and check out some naked people from the 1920s. Spectacle writes to “expect costumed role-play with nuns, ballet dancers, satyrs, apes, telegraph operators, monks and bellboys.” Sounds cool, but mostly we’re looking forward to answering one of the gnawing questions of contemporary historiography: Were nipples really that different back then?