Cinephiles, take note: the New York Asian Film Festival (NYAFF) opens June 30, and this year’s roster has just been announced. With “just shy of 60 films,” including feature films and documentaries from seven countries, there’s a diverse lineup of films in every genre, from gangster flicks to romantic dramas to experimental stream-of-consciousness softcore porn. Truly, something for everyone.
China and Hong Kong are particularly well-represented, with a slate of popcorn-friendly thrillers, dramas, and crime flicks. Battle of Memories (2017, dir. Leste Chen) follows a novelist who wakes from an experimental medical procedure to discover he has acquired the memories of a serial killer. In Blood of Youth (2016), directed by “self-trained fireman-turned-filmmaker Yang Shupeng,” police and criminals alike race to hunt down a computer hacker.
Biking is having a moment. Citi Bike is expanding, Andy Samberg just released his Tour de Pharmacy trailer, and Bicycle Fetish Day is quickly approaching. Which makes it a great time for the Bicycle Film Festival to roll into town. The fest will bring a week of screenings, live performances, exhibitions, and even a new animation program to Anthology Film Archives.
It’s always amusing to hear new transplants to New York speak excitedly of summer in the city. Those of us who have lived here longer know with grim certainty that the city will soon transform into a giant sauna filled with rotting garbage. Not quite a dystopian hell. But close.
However, there are some things to look forward to in the summer. One of them is Films on the Green. Cinema buffs – and francophiles – will want to mark their calendars for the popular outdoor film series, which returns June 2nd and runs through the 7th.
Combat Cops Thursday May 11, 9:30 pm at Nitehawk: $12
Perhaps you’ve heard of The Deuce Jockeys, the resident VJs at Nitehawk whose film series has a very specific mission: “Excavating the facts and fantasies of cinema’s most notorious block; 42 Street between 7th and 8th Avenues.” If you’re wondering, that’s the Port Authority Bus Terminal, once the epicenter of violence in Fear City. Around 1970, the Times described the place as a sort of terrifying, tortuous God’s waiting room– another circle of Hades that Dante himself would have considered just a bit too far even for tax evaders. Its occupants went one of two ways: “Some are waiting for buses. Others are waiting for death.”
I haven’t seen The Lost City of Z just yet, but what I can tell you is that the film takes place in 1925, a tumultuous time in the Western world when it looked like the sun might very well start to set on the British Empire. In fact, imperial order was starting to collapse around the globe, and would eventually be replaced by a new bipolar world order– divvied up into two supposedly opposite political instincts, nationalism and socialism. (If that sounds like a super mysterious process, that’s because it is. There are tons of fascinating theories about how and why this happened, and about WTF nationalism even is, man– none of which I will go into here.) So even though a bunch of landowning white men still ruled the day at this point, they were probably feeling a little insecure about their privileged position, which they justified by an unshakeable belief in white supremacy and fashionable pseudoscientific ideas/total BS concepts of the time. I mean, now we know that terms like “imperial expansion” and “colonization” are just fancy ways to talk about pirate stuff (e.g., raping, pillaging). Oh, and racism too.
The electro post-rock band Collapsing Scenery has been hailed as “the voice of LA’s new underground,” so it only makes sense that their tripped-out, abstract videos are essential to their music. Cool, but doesn’t every synth-dominated band these days sorta need visuals to make what is by and large a cold-blooded genre cluster feel even remotely emotive? And what’s so special about swiping a bunch of “found footage” from YouTube, throwing on a glitchy distortion filter, and calling it a “short film”? If you answered “yes” and “nothing,” in that order, then you’re exactly right– only, not about Collapsing Scenery.
Unkissed Bride Saturday April 22, 10 pm at Spectacle: $5
OK, before you LMFAO at the premise of this Jack Harris film, put yourself in the shoes of either Ted or Margi, the young couple who find out on their honeymoon (of course) that there’s a roadblock standing in the way of (early) marital bliss. Like, that blows. Especially for such a young couple, because for the most part isn’t it true that marriage–am I pronouncing that right? may-raj…? mar-ridge..?–these days either ends in de jure divorce (courthouses, lawyers, and custody battles, etc.) or de facto divorce (separate beds, six-month yoga retreats, and the like).
Remember those mysterious cubeheads at Astor Place? Well, now we know what they were up to. No, they weren’t trying out the hot new headware. Turns out they were shooting a short for a campaign by the Tribeca Film Festival called “See Yourself In Others.”
Lipstick Under My Burkha’ by Alankrita Shrivastava
Fly fashion, bloodshot eyes and hordes of young’uns two shades paler from not having seen the sun in a week: must be film fest season! The Brooklyn Film Festival just announced that it would return for its 20th year on June 2. While we wait for it to unveil its lineup, here are two other fests to catch if you slept on those Tribeca tickets.
The Girl Who Loves Roses Thursday March 30, 6 pm to 9 pm at Larrie, NY: free
Kelsey and Remy Bennett, granddaughters of Tony Bennett, are working artists, outspoken feminists, and curators of various exhibitions and art happenings. You might be saying to yourself, “Of course they are.” But that would be a jerk move, since the Bennett sisters take after their family patriarch, who is widely known as one of the nicest dudes in showbiz (the Daily Beast called him “one of the greatest living Americans” for his long history of service to just causes including “Nazi hunting” and participating in the 1965 Selma to Montgomery marches of the Civil Rights movement). Their approach to curating is ultra-inclusive and social justice-oriented, but it’s not motivated by self-congratulatory horn tootin’ and seems instead to come from an easy, natural inclination to do good work.
You know what’s cool about ancient Greek mythology? It looks good on almost anyone. Even 21st-century French people, as you’ll see in Christophe Honoré’s new film Metamorphoses. It’s actually based on a really old poem–but you already knew that by the film’s title right? Metamorphoses (the original) dates to about 8 AD when this Roman dude named Ovid fused bits from more than 250 existing Greek mythos together to create a pretty wacky piece of non-linear literature that defies the standard didactic, A-to-B tellings that were popular back then. Thankfully, Ovid’s story is every bit as riveting as the OG mythos, which are always chock-full gore, guts, adultery, betrayal and, of course, horny gods mingling with orgy-prone mortals.