Friday February 3 (10 pm), Thursday Feb 13, (7:30 pm) Monday Feb 20 (10 p), and Sunday Feb 26 (5 pm) at Spectacle: $5
“Punk” is maybe one of the most confused, contradictory, and misunderstood terms, like, ever. For some people it’s a lifestyle, a fashion statement, or a style of music, for others its Liberty Spikes and an ever-present leather jacket with pins and patches and even more spikes. In its simplest form it’s an immediately recognizable baditude, and boy do these ladies at an all-girls borstal (the British school system for juvenile delinquents) know a thing or two about punk.
Which, by extension, means filmmaker Mai Zetterling did as well, which made her a very rare bird indeed, belonging to a flock that otherwise seems incapable of capturing anything beyond punk’s obvious surface level. In Scrubbers, she does so in hilarious style, and with “plenty of fighting, swaggering, glue-sniffing and bawdy singing” Zetterling offers a decidedly British flavor of punk. Honey Bane makes an appearance.
Oh right, and for once girls are not just the accessories lingering stylishly and silently outside the mosh pit, their stories are front and center, and a whole lot more gut wrenching and complex, since Zetterling doesn’t hold back even a bit from showing “lesbian relationships, separation from children, and self-harm.” If this sort of thing really gets you going good, it’s probably a decent idea to check out Explicit Memory and Every Desire, the filmmaker’s lil retrospective at Spectacle (now though February 25).
See also Amorosa, about Swedish writer Agnes von Krusenstjerna who was committed to an insane asylum after she was diagnosed with hysteria probably due at least in part to her transgressive views. She continued to write even after she was institutionalized and, according to one account, refused to sit quietly: “While undergoing ‘continuous bath’ treatment for hysteria, Agnes von K would smoke; she studied fellow patients with a keen eye, joked with doctors and complained about the nurses’ lack of sex appeal.”
Friday February 3 through Thursday February 9 at IFC Center: $14
Surprisingly, the title of this documentary didn’t bear any immediate associations, and even looking at the black and white photo of an awkward country boy sitting on the hood of his car, squinting from the sunlight didn’t ring any bells. But look a bit longer at the kid: you should notice that he’s wearing a camo army cap, and has a little sign stuck under his windshield wiper, “Bumper Stickers 4 for $5.” Below it are the products in question, with declarations like “BAN GUNS: Make the Street Safe for a Government Takeover” and “Fear the Government that Fears Your Gun”– just four of them lined up as if that’s all there is to say in this black-and-white matter.
As it turns out, that weasely kid is Timothy McVeigh, who you may or may not recognize as the guy that carried out the infamous Oklahoma City bombing attack of April 19, 1995. He drove a Ryder truck loaded with a 5,000- pound fertilizer bomb in the parking lot of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building where it detonated and ripped off an entire facade of the building, killing 168 people and injuring 675 more.
IFC points out that it was “the worst act of domestic terrorism in American history” but as the doc shows, McVeigh would have argued that the honor belonged to the ATF’s incredibly violent siege of a cult compound in Waco, Texas. It was “the largest massacre of Americans by their own government since [Wounded Knee in] 1890,” according to Gore Vidal. The late writer actually corresponded with McVeigh, who was inspired by Vidal’s 1998 piece on “the shredding of our Bill of Right,” which he read on death row.
The bombing happened more than 20 years ago, and McVeigh was executed by the U.S. government in 2001, but as Vidal pointed out in a follow-up for Vanity Fair, the popular conception of the OKC bombing, pushed by the government and promoted by the media, glosses over an essential part of the story: McVeigh’s motive, his likely co-conspirators, and most relevant to our situation now, the far-right-wing politics and white power ideology that he embraced.
The White Ribbon (Das Weise Band)
Friday February 3 and Saturday February 4, midnight at Nitehawk Cinema: $12
If black-and-white films replete with images of always unsmiling, often glowering children and adults who constantly look as though they are on the verge of bursting into tears or throwing themselves off a cliff, you can rest easy because we’ve found the most depressing movie on planet Earth, and clearly it was made just for you.
Even the trailer overflows with a strange feeling of expectation, a pervasive sense of shaky tension radiating off the characters’ pale skin and sharp-tongued German speech. At certain moments, you can feel that the characters are aware of the little hairs standing up on the back of their necks, and understand that something is about to give. There’s a reason for all that horrible, cold-sweatin’ anticipation: The White Ribbon is set in Germany just before World War I. Probably best to go home and take a cold shower immediately after.
Friday February 10 through Thursday February 15 at The Metrograph: $12
If you don’t like cats, you can GTFO. But if you’re the kind of person who not only follows @bodegacatsofinstragram but maintains your very own private collection of bodega cat iPhone photos, which are really just portraits of the only creatures who actually acknowledge you with a warm hello when you walk in the door, and trace adoring eyes over your cold, lonely body, I implore you to proceed.
Kedi, a documentary shot in one of the world’s most fascinating cities (where else can you make your way through the city by chomping on sketchy street mussels lucked out of the water by a guy with a fishing pole only moments before?), has a simple premise: “In Istanbul, the cat is more than just a cat.” Anyone familiar with the city will probably recall the thriving population of street cats, which seem to be lurking everywhere (a phenomenon seen across the world, but especially pronounced in places we lump together as the “East,” and in Europe these include Romania, Bulgaria, and Croatia). These are not quite feral cats, but true city meows, scruffy street-dwelling cats whose leopard-like gait is immediately distinct from that of a house cat, but unlike the many feral cats New Yorkers know and love (and hate to see that they are now being displaced), these Istanbul cats are remarkably friendly, and engage with passerby as if the whole city, where they move around freely and seem to occupy every nook and cranny, is their home and each and every resident their feeder and companion.
The film might seem a little cutesy at first, but consider how difficult it must have been to capture this amazing footage, including scenes of the cityscape from a cat’s-eye view (how???). Best of all, the filmmakers have avoided the cliché, hyper-real nature show-style popularized by Planet Earth, in which animals are regarded with a distant sort of awe and and supernatural wonder. Instead, we see the cats as the scrappy, sneaky, and brilliant baby creatures they really are. Just try your best not to squeal through the whole movie.