‘Tis the season for festivals, apparently, and the Lower East Side is not one to be left in the dust. Along with an art festival in Bushwick, music festivals in Brooklyn, and more coming up in the next weeks, the Lower East Side Film Festival is coming to the nabe from June 9-16. It’ll hit the Sunshine Cinema, natch, as well as Hotel Indigo, the new Ludlow House and The Standard, East Village.
The headliner for opening night is the premier of The Art of the Prank, about a mischievous LES artist who loves nothing more than exposing the media’s hunger for sensational story with outrageous tall tales that sound just (barely) plausible enough to swallow. Lambasting the media has certainly been in fashion this election season, but no one has been doing it longer and in better style than Joey Skaggs (sorry, “Settle for Hillary” guys).
Still from “Adventures of Drunky” (Image courtesy of Augenblick Studios)
When it comes to feature-length films, much of the time fans of adult cartoons are SOL. Thanks to party-pooping producers and geezer film execs, the art form has essentially been ghettoized, forced into late-night TV slots, chopped up into web series, and largely excluded from the big screen. Instead, animated children’s movies have all the fun, with production companies popping out spin-offs and trilogies like there’s no tomorrow, while their aggressive marketing campaigns and box office dominance succeed in driving many of us close to insanity. You didn’t have to be anywhere near a movie theater to be completely, utterly inundated with shrapnel from the $593 millionMinions propaganda blitz. (This writer isn’t kidding at all when she recalls, with horror, having run into a guy selling Minion dolls in the Andes. Shudder.)
With the streets of the Lower East Side reshaping themselves faster than any of us can keep track, it’s easy to become a wistful piner for the “good old days,” when a storied building with a 100-year-old storefront was your neighbor instead of all these fresh new high rises. (A teaser site for the Essex Crossing condo building on Broome Street was just released today; the first of its 10 buildings is expected to be finished in the fall.) One longtime resident, Clayton Dean Smith, decided to channel that urge to preserve the neighborhood into an artistic outlet. Maybe he couldn’t save all the buildings he’d come to love over his 16 years in the area, but he could use some of them for the backdrop of a short film that serves as a living time capsule of the neighborhood as it currently exists (or existed, only a year and half ago).
Best in Show Friday, May 27, 7:30 pm at Fort Greene Park: FREE
To promote the impending opening of the first NYC Alamo Drafthouse in Downtown Brooklyn, the boozy Austin-based cinema (and direct competitor of our beloved Nitehawk, we might add) is hosting three free screenings at Fort Greene Park starting this week. They’re all family-friendly, for sure (which means you’ll have to get your R-rated full-frontal and cigarette-smoking kicks elsewhere), but actually only two of the screenings are worth going to– that is, if you have a dignified hair left on your body. You’re guaranteed to literally never get laid again if you go see the third screening, Finding Nemo– but if you’re willing to take that risk anyway, it’s happening Friday, June 10, 7:30 pm to 10:30 pm, and I wish you the best of luck.
It was kind of ironic when the sold-out, sneak-peek screening of Weiner sputtered out, turning into a glitchy, hallucinatory version of itself at Rooftop Films’ Industry City screening last week. While everyone else seemed to be weathering the drizzle just fine, the projector wasn’t so resilient.
When you’re out picking up groceries for the week, ever wonder what recipes the other shoppers have up their sleeves? If you shop at Trader Joe’s you’re probably too busy elbowing people out of the way and fighting over the last jar of coconut oil to really get a good look at your neighbors’ shopping lists. (Wait, does anyone handwrite those things anymore?) But if you live near the sleepy old-school Essex Street Market, you’ve surely got a little more time to poke around and wonder about the diverse cast of vendors and shoppers rubbing shoulders amid the fruit and vegetable sellers, Japanese specialty items and fancy cheeses. If there’s anywhere you’d shop to whip up something unique, it’s here.
Rooftop Films Premiere Wednesday May 18 through August 2016
The summer al-fresco screening series turns 20 years old this season, which officially makes Rooftop Films a millennial– meaning they’re addicted to their phones, underemployed, over-entitled, and why don’t they just grow up already and chain themselves to a cubicle desk and support the only real man in this race Donald Trump? Did that sound curmudgeonly enough to come from the desk of David Brooks or something? I figure the only way to drive the olds out of a universally beloved series such as Rooftop Films is to convince them either that it will somehow induce diabetic reactions and/or edema or that, like Snapchat, it’s something that only Millennials would understand.
If you’ve ever walked by that outlaw biker clubhouse on Thames Street and wondered aloud, “What the hell is this doing in Bushwick?” keep in mind that, for one, you’re probably being watched by the Forbidden Ones’ on CCTV (um, don’t touch the bikes) and, two, the bikers are probably asking the same question, only they’re looking at you. So you could say that Uncle Meg’s new music video, which was shot inside the debaucherous members-only club in Bushwick, definitely qualifies as too real, even if it stars vampires and zombies from the cast of Michael Alig’s new film Vamp Bikers Tres.
Grrrl Germs: a Visual History of Riot Grrrl 1990-1997 Various screenings, now through Saturday May 28 at Spectacle: $5.
It’s been nearly 30 years since the Riot Grrrl movement challenged punks everywhere to reexamine their subculture, demanded “girls to the front” at shows, and delineated punk’s physical and intellectual spaces as welcoming to women, but also as zones that were for and by a diversity of voices. Riot Grrrl may have become the victim of sensationalism due to a desperately out-of-touch media trying to figure out what the hell was going on with these tattooed, pierced, and sex-crazed Gen Xers.
Still from “Icaros: a Vision,” Filippo Timi as Leonardo (Image courtesy of Matteo Norzi/ “Icaros”)
If you really, really wanted to, you could probably find ayahuasca right here in Brooklyn. We know you’d be “asking for a friend” and everything, but just keep in mind that artist Melanie Bonajo didn’t seem to have any trouble for her film on urban shamanism, Night Soil, andthere’s at least one ayahuasquero – a spirit guide responsible for serving the hallucinogenic brew – based in Bushwick, a neighborhood where a certain “mixed-use community space” (that may or may not still exist) hosted ayahuasca ceremonies recently. Still, it’s not like you can approach your neighborhood drug dealer to hook you up with some of that especially potent jungle juice (one part Banisteriopsiscaapi vine, one part Psychotria viridis leaves).
Thankfully, with the recent premiere of Icaros: a Visionat Tribeca Film Festival, we can satisfy our ayahuas-curiosity from a safe distance while getting a good look at both the indigenous tradition of ayahuasca tripping and what happens when Western ninnies leave behind their workout routines and compulsive internet consumption and start getting real.
If you were living downtown in 2013, you probably remember the strange suspended week of superstorm Sandy. Maybe you lined up at a pay phone, or held up your iPad at that weird 3G oasis on Houston Street, or scooped up half-melted ice cream at the deli, or drank warm beer with your neighbors on Halloween. The storm wreaked havoc downtown (and caused much more destruction in other areas of the city), but for many people in secure locations, it was also a respite from the constant stream of tweets, emails and phone calls, and a chance to reflect, reconnect, and maybe even hook up (just think of the many kids named “Sandy” nine months later).
Green Room Friday, April 29 through Thursday, May 5 at Nitehawk: $12
Is there anyone more punk than Patrick Stewart? Apparently there is, and it’s Patrick Stewart on a murderous rampage, hellbent on killing a little punk band for no apparent reason. Green Room might be the most bizarre combination of genres we’ve seen come together under one film in a long, long time. Fusing together snuff, Saw-like torture horror, teen drama, punk movies, and backwoods suspense, the film follows a punk band as they embark on a tour that takes them to some real hillbilly places.