Queens-born rapper Awkwafina (the alter-ego of Nora Lum) says she’s been doing some serious “hustling” in the last couple of years: recording an album, putting out an NYC guidebook, and making the big move to Greenpoint. She’s not there for the cute boutiques and charming scenery (after all, she made her fame with “NYC Bitche$”, in which she deftly buried an entire section of our humble Brooklyn borough for being overrun not just by transplants, but adult-baby transplants). Rather, she has a “rent control situation” weighing in her favor (“I’d live anywhere if it was cheap,” Lum told us last spring).
Taking a stance against nuclear weapons proliferation might not be as controversial as hating on vaccines– as we saw when Tribeca Film Festival announced it was pulling Vaxxed: From Cover-Up to Catastrophe, the doc made by a disgraced doctor that pushes the dubious theory linking autism to vaccines. But the filmmakers behind The Bomb (premiering Saturday, April 23) are nevertheless hoping t0 strike an equally urgent chord with festival audiences, even if they’re reluctant to call it an “activist” film.
“Well, it’s an immersive film and music experience. It’s a human story, too,” explained Smriti Keshari, one-half of the filmmaking team behind the immersive, multimedia documentary focused on the persistent threat of nuclear weapons. “It’s one that makes you realize just how powerful individuals can be when they care about something. I think all art is political if it’s a reflection of what’s happening around you.”
When aging hipsters pine after “the way things used to be” in Williamsburg, they’re usually talking about the free-spirited ’90s music and art scene or even the early 2000s when Williamsburg already was an indie darling, but didn’t yet have hotels, tourist mobs chasing the rainbow-bagel dream.
But what if you could wipe the streets clean and go back before even the days of Luxx and the Stinger, to see Williamsburg as it was in the 1980s? The music scene would have been the one on the street, with immigrant kids playing salsa and pop from boomboxes, hips moving in formation, or squaring off in a break dance competition. The neighborhood was also one of New York’s poorest during the high-crime 1980s, suffering drug problems and neglect. Keep Reading »
Soplo de Vida
Saturday April 9 and Saturday April 16, 10 pm at Spectacle: $5
Do you find yourself still watching new eppies of True Detective well into season two, ignoring the hammy dialogue and neverminding the complete void of character development that is Detective Colin Farrell? Do you often invoke the phrase, “It can’t rain all the time” with complete and utter sincerity only to be lol’d at by your friends who just don’t get it? Well, it’s likely you’re a fan of noir. It’s ok, friend, this is your safe place. But given all of the above, it’s likely you’ve had your way with the Hollywood stuff. Here’s a curveball– Soplo de Vida (“Breath of Life”) Colombian director Luis Ospina’s singular detour into noir. Too bad he only made one of these, because as it turns out, he’s rather good at it.
“I had opportunities that were way classier than this, and I thought I’d do this instead,” Jeremy Saulnier said of his new film, Green Room, during a preview screening at Nitehawk Cinema last night. His previous effort, Blue Ruin, was a critical darling, but when it came time for a follow-up, the Brooklyn director decided to make what he described self-deprecatingly as “a cruddy punk-rock murder movie.”
The Preppie Connection
Friday March 18 through Wednesday March 29 at IFC Center: $14
I have a few words for you: Connecticut, prep school, conspicuous wealth, cocaine. If you can get past all of those without your face falling off from cringing so damn hard, then read on– I’m guessing you’re a fan of Cruel Intentions. And if you puked a little, I’ll excuse you. The Preppie Connection, if you can stomach it, takes place at a prep school for the uber-rich and mega-privileged. Unfortunately for Toby, as a kid from a working-class background he only fits into one of those categories, and he has a hard time making nice-nice with the ridiculously good-looking party kids at the school. Hoping to win their attention, especially that of his love interest, a super-blonde girl who adores doing huge rails of cocaine, Toby gets a friend from Colombia to supply him with some high-quality disco shit. Things get out of control and, before you know it, Toby’s the kingpin of an “international drug ring.”
“The only people who shaved their heads in 1981 were Marines and psychopaths,” laughed Drew Stone, the filmmaker behind one of two new documentaries that focus on the New York City hardcore scene, albeit from vastly different angles. For nearly two years, Stone has been immersed in his project, The New York City Hardcore Chronicles, which touches on the past, but focuses mostly on the persistence of hardcore today. Tonight at 8:30 pm, he’ll screen excerpts from it at Niagara.
At the opposite end is John Woods, a filmmaker who’s concerned with what he calls “a moment in time”– a turning point in the NYC hardcore scene of the late ’80s, centered around the release of an influential compilation tape. The documentary, New Breed, which Woods co-created with Freddy Alva and directed, premieres March 30 at Nitehawk. While Stone’s film aims to be an epic take on the scene’s culture, Woods’s doc focuses instead on a singular event to illustrate the trajectory of hardcore.
Ilana Glazer of Broad City told a crowd at SXSW that her new Comedy Central miniseries, Time-Traveling Bong, will premiere, appropriately enough, on 4/20. But it looks like we’ll get a sneak peek of it at the Tribeca Film Festival. The fest just announced the lineup for its 2016 installment, running April 13 to 24, and there’ll be screenings of both Broad City and the new show, followed by Q&As with the stars. Some of the festival’s highlights are Manhattan-oriented (a short doc about Warhol superstars Taylor Mead and Ultra Violet; a 40th anniversary screening of Taxi Driver followed by a Q&A with stars Robert De Niro, Jodie Foster, Cybill Shepherd, and writer Paul Schrader.) But, as you can see below, Brooklyn is really representing.
City of Gold
Friday March 11 through Thursday March 24 at IFC Center: $14
Perhaps you count yourself among those very special people who know no other way to discover new cities and far-off places than by eating their way through the landscape, from its street food vendors to corner taquerias and refrigerator-less open-air markets (Sorry, looking at the Michelin Guide doesn’t count. Wait, does anyone actually do that?). If so, here’s your chance to meet a man after your own heart. The subject of this doc is Jonathan Gold, the LA-based writer, and the first food critic to win a Pulitzer Prize.
“It wouldn’t have happened as rapidly as it happened if it weren’t for all the people that were creating culture on their own terms and making it attractive.” —Kyp Malone, TV on the Radio
“The role of the artist in New York is to make a neighborhood so desirable that artists can’t afford to live there anymore.”—Mayor Ed Koch
Goodnight Brooklyn: the Story of Death by Audio, a documentary premiering today at SXSW, is all of the things you would expect it to be: a historical look at the origins and eventual demise of the Williamsburg DIY venue, a crushing story of scruffy artists’ defeat at the hands of corporate near-sightedness, and a montage of live footage from the final evenings of shows. It’s also a really good movie.
“Watching people struggle to create something on the spot is as much the joy as the joke.” —Todd Bieber
Chances are you’ve never heard of Del Close—and if you have, it’s probably a fair indication that you spend a lot of time watching, practicing, or thinking about improvisation. Not the kind where you have to quickly make up an excuse for your boss about why you’re late for work, or invent the name of a non-existent dive bar to throw your bestie off the scent of what you really did last night—no, we’re talking “improv,” the word bandied around to apply to a collection of theatrical training games that has become an entertainment form in its own right and made millionaires out of many of your comedy favorites. Some of them, including Bill Murray, Tina Fey, Mike Myers, John Belushi, and Chris Farley, studied, at one time or another, under a man named Del Close.
River of Grass
Friday March 11 through Thursday March 17 at IFC Center: $14
Director Kelly Reichardt’s first film, River of Grass, has been digitally restored and reissued so that it can finally get the love it deserves. The filmmaker is keen on letting landscapes dictate her characters’ (usually bizarre) states of mind. Reichardt’s 2010 Western drama, Meek’s Cutoff, was soooo Oregon Trail: it’s about a family that’s doing the covered wagon thing and find themselves lost in a desert with dwindling supplies– as the travelers grow increasingly thirsty, they begin to look more and more at home in the arid, harsh wilds of the desert. River of Grass is infused with a different kind of darkness, one that’s bitingly funny, which makes sense– the film is set in Southern Florida and the Florida Everglades, after all. We’re also not surprised that the wilds of Florida lend for a much wackier story than we saw with Meek’s.