Harlan County, U.S.A.
Friday February 17 through Wednesday February 22 at The Metrograph: $15
Lately we’e seen some pretty intense and protracted protest movements fighting it out against the seemingly impossible-to-topple Powers That Be, and in some cases actually succeeding in their effort (or lasting much longer than anyone could have guessed).
Flashback to 1974, Southeastern Kentucky: a group of coalminers and their families organized against the Eastover Coal Company– one of those Coal Country corporate machines that own whole towns and everything in it. If you want to hear more about what it was like to be a director embedded in such a massive strike, be sure to go tonight at 7 pm for a special Q+A with the filmmaker Barbara Kopple. Because this film takes place in Appalachia, it would be absolutely criminal to proceed without a banjo, so the night includes a live performance by Appalachian musician Jack Morris, whose father David Morris was featured in the film’s soundtrack.
Beware of a Holy Whore
Friday February 17, 8:45 pm at Anthology Film Archives: $11
If you’re not a huge fan of Rainier Fassbinder, then clearly you haven’t seen his films. Really, you gotta see two in order to get a feel for his style, but trust– it’s worth it. His career was cut short when Fassbinder died of a drug overdose probably brought on by working too hard, but during his 14 years of filmmaking, he made 39 movies. Many of Fassbinder’s films reflect his debauched lifestyle, but none more extensively than Beware of a Holy Whore, a hazy sort of booze, drugs, and sex bender set against the backdrop of the beautiful people and perfect settings that haunt movie sets. The notably weird fitful passage of time is subject to the same laws of a film set, a sort of parallel universe as Fassbinder sees it.
The screening is part of Darker, Anthology’s homage to the late, disarmingly human and really, really great Leonard Cohen (RIP bb), the singular songwriter and performer who kept it real well beyond an age that most stage people should consider taking it easy. The series includes films that feature Cohen “as subject, soundtrack, actor, and inspiration”– it’s Anthology’s way of “[commemorating] the death of our favorite ladies’ man.”
As a “poet, novelist, monk, songwriter, and heart-melting baritone,” Cohen had an impressive resume, and he did it all with an imperfect, at times exceedingly average vocal range. But that’s how you know the guy wasn’t cheating. Instead of sticky sweet surface appeal, the power of his music radiates from an untouchable core, and Cohen’s own inimitable spirit– what’s the word I’m looking for? Oh right: soul. Leonard Cohen had soul, and it lives on in his music. (Yes, even in– wait, especially in “I’m Your Man” his 1988 synth-pop record.)
Anthology writes, “the film features a nearly nonstop succession of songs issuing from the hotel’s jukebox, with memorable airtime for Cohen’s ‘Suzanne,’ ‘So Long, Marianne,’ ‘Master Song,’ ‘Sisters of Mercy,’ ‘Teachers,’ and ‘Winter Lady.'”
Babycastles Film Festival
Saturday February 18, 2 pm to 11 pm at Babycastles: $12
Eternally weird and ever-welcoming home for weirdos Babycastles is throwing a day-long film festival this weekend. There will be videos games (duh), but also six separate films about video games (four feature length and two shorts), plus Q+As, all in line with the fest’s rather improbable theme, “people.”
If you missed out on all the hoopla at last year’s epic iteration of Super Hot Ronny’s Rumble, an annual event for the video game collective where members throw their bodies into an IRL game of sorts– last year it was a footrace to a helipad, check out Helicopter Race: the Movie.
Be sure to catch Tomaso Walliser’s documentary The Commodore Wars , about the one-time Apple competitor, Commodore– created in the ’70s by Jack Tramiel, it’s “the next generation consumer computer” megapower that might have been is also on deck. But certainly the most exciting part of the whole fest is the “POPCORN with or without REGULAR or CHOCOLATE-COVERED SILKWORM PUPAE.” Get it, girls.
Friday February 17 and Saturday February 18, midnight at Nitehawk: $12
If you grew up watching horror movies and, like me, possess at least a few qualities that some might describe as “female,” you might have suffered years of inner turmoil, a kind you found difficult to place until your prefrontal cortex was fully functioning. It’s a real shame, but by and large horror movies have relied on super tropey portrayals of women as meek, powerless, and featherbrained dum dums. Often, entire plots rely on a female character’s slip-up, and her inability to properly see what’s so obviously right in front of her. At worst, some slasher gore and likeminded genres are essentially misogynist porn. Just a few films– insanely excellent classics like Suspiria— might fall into a few stereotypical-lady-trait traps, but are much more concerned with a woman’s perspective, rather than the angle of the male gaze in which women are no more consequential than a squealing titmouse in a lab experiment (OK, usually it’s an actual mouse, not a bird– but “titmouse” is hard to resist).
The problem? There are so few women out there actually making horror films. Enter the “all-female horror anthology” XX which is debuting at a pair of midnight preview screenings happening at Nitehawk this weekend. The program features four short films from four separate directors including Annie Clark’s The Birthday Party, Karyn Kusama’s Her Only Living Son, as well as Don’t Fall created by Roxanne Benjamin, and finally The Box by Jovanka Vuckovic. Spooky.