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Sneak Preview Of the Newly Renovated Film Forum, Opening Tonight

(Photos: Scott Lynch)

Who doesn’t love the Film Forum? The autonomous, non-profit institution first started showing films (foreign, art house, independent, repertory) back in 1970, in a space with 50 folding chairs on the Upper West Side. It moved downtown two years later, and, after a couple of temporary homes in western Soho, settled into its current residence on Houston Street some 28 years ago. So even if you don’t make it over there as much as you’d like to anymore–those cramped seats am I right, ugh!–just the fact that it exists is enough to give you faith that NYC isn’t dead yet, right?

Well, sorry, that’s not going to cut it. Institutions, especially autonomous, non-profit ones like Film Forum, need your physical presence (and money) as well as your affection from afar. And now, thanks to a respectfully-conceived, extremely well-executed renovation of this cultural treasure–it’s been closed for construction since the spring–you can get excited again about actually going here and sitting through a two-plus-hour feature. Here are all the details on this near-miraculous, $5 million transformation:

  • There’s a whole new theater, upping the Film Forum’s total screen count from three to four. And they didn’t cut into any existing theaters, or the lobby, to build it; what’s now Theater Four used to be a loading dock. The new screen will be used for movies with longer-running commitments as well as holdovers of popular titles. This fourth screen will allow the Film Forum to increase its overall number of selections each year by a third.
  • The new seats–more than 500 of them, in all four theaters–are amazing! Made by Spanish design firm Figueras, they’re firm (but comfy), and much wider than their at-times-tortuous predecessors. The spacious, cushioned arm rests, too, are now places upon which you’d actually want to rest your arm. And there’s none of that fuzzy, vaguely disconcerting cloth material going on here anymore; soft, easily-cleaned vinyl is now where it’s at. Also, and crucially, the leg room in each row has been lengthened to a noticeable degree.
  • Just as crucial for your viewing pleasure, each of the old theaters have been re-raked, steepening the grade of the floor to a more stadium-style seating situation. This increases the number of “good” seats in each theater by a large margin.
  • There are two new additions to the lobby, most notably a 10′ x 5′ digital screen hung over the ticket-taker. This will show, among other things, silent, short, specially commissioned “lobby movies” by the likes of David Byrne and Cindy Sherman which you can watch while you wait in line for your theater to open. There’s also new carpeting, which is always nice.
  • Good things that have NOT changed at the new Film Forum: the layout of the lobby, and that funky, zig-zagging standing table; the generous slate of member benefits (their subscription-based model means they never have, nor ever will, accept MoviePass); the commitment to both new and classic movies; and, perhaps most important, the popcorn.
The Film Forum is located at 209 West Houston Street, between Sixth Avenue and Varick Street. Tonight is the grand re-opening, with a full schedule of movies daily from here on out.
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The Photographer Documenting DIY Culture in Brooklyn and Beyond

La Rhaata on the subway, New York City 2017 (photo: Walter Wlodarczyk)

Those who proclaim the spirit of New York City is dead would be wise to look away from the fresh horror that is the CBGB Target and instead fix their eyes on the work of photographer Walter Wlodarczyk. There, you’ll find a vibrant collection of musicians, performance artists, dancers, and other experimental creative types. As Wlodarczyk’s solo exhibition There Is Only One Of You demonstrates in an impressive 160 or so photos, thriving artistry is still alive and well here. Keep Reading »

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TV On The Radio Will Play Dear Science Live As the Album Turns 10

TVOTR at Rough Trade in 2014. (Photo: Daniel Maurer)

Is it 2008 again? First Interpol releases a new single, and now this. After moving to Los Angeles, TV on the Radio is heading not just halfway, but all the way home to mark the 10th anniversary of Dear Science. They’ll play the entire album live at the Knockdown Center on Sept. 20.

For various reasons this record means a LOT to us and we’re thrilled have a chance to play it in its entirety, in New York, nonetheless,” Tunde Adebimpe said in a statement. “I’d say it’s gonna be a special night.”

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Despite the Washouts, Panorama NYC Made For a Killer Weekend

Attendees during PVRIS’s set on Saturday.

This year’s Panorama NYC festival was watched by more than few outside its bubble this past weekend. Between the early evacuation on Friday and Janet Jackson’s quickly praised performance, folks on the “mainland” might have thought things had gotten crazy on Randall’s Island. But mostly the kids were all right. Those who were there wanted to be there and stayed chill through it all, including Lil Wayne being cancelled 20 minutes into his set time on Saturday.

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A ‘New Yonic Era’ and More Art This Week

(image via Cooler Gallery)

Surface Tension
Opening Tuesday, July 31 at Cooler Gallery, 7 pm to 9 pm. On view through August 12.

Some art has sweeping sociopolitical messages, while other art serves a primarily aesthetic purpose. Neither is better or worse: sometimes you want to be provoked into thinking deeply about the world around you and sometimes you just want to be dazzled by how cool something looks. The work of mixed media artist Senem Oezdogan (presented in partnership with Uprise Art) falls more into the latter category, consisting largely of “fiber-based geometric studies” inspired by architecture, shapes, and the textures of fabrics. They’re fairly simple pieces, featuring abstract shapes and rich splashes of color, and manage to convey an alluring calmness in their playful minimalism. Rather than fixating on what message an artwork might be trying to proclaim, Oezdogan’s work invites you to merely appreciate the visuals. If it makes you feel nice, you don’t need to question it. Keep Reading »

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Michael Jackson Mural Hits East Village as Spike Lee Preps MJ Block Party

(Photo: Tara Yarlagadda)

At the corner of First Avenue and East 11th Street, tourists and residents alike stopped in their tracks, stunned by the mural in front of them. It was a very familiar visage split straight down the middle. The right half of the face depicted an image of a young boy with a relaxed smile, round cheeks and a discernible afro on a white backdrop. The left half, by contrast, showed an older, gaunt face with straight hair and alert eyes on a black backdrop. The faces were further bifurcated into crisp diamonds in all the colors of the rainbow, standing out from the neighboring red brick facades. The face was none other than the late king of pop: Michael Jackson.

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East Williamsburg Club Will Welcome DJs, Drag Kings and Snake Chamers

Galatea Stone and Jon Corbett. (Photos courtesy of Eris)

If you’ve seen the Williamsburg episode of the satirical “What’s the 311?” web series, you know locals are bummed about all the venues that’ve closed: “Shea Stadium… Wreck Room… the White Castle on Metropolitan, when will it stop?” Well, here’s some good news: A pair of party promoters are putting down roots and opening a new multipurpose venue in East Williamsburg.

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John Waters Considered Roseanne For a Part, Plus 9 Fun Facts About the Newly Restored Female Trouble

From left: Moderator Michael Musto and John Waters. (Photo: Daniel Maurer)

John Waters dropped into IFC Center over the weekend to introduce a screening of his 1974 cult favorite Female Trouble, newly restored with a 4K digital transfer. The follow-up to Pink Flamingos once again starred legendary drag act Divine, this time as Dawn Davenport, the beauty-obsessed leader of a girl gang who takes her lust for fame even beyond Kardashian levels (as in, chopping off her caged aunt-in-law’s hand in the name of art).

At the time of its release, the movie didn’t do quite as well as its predecessor, which had been a midnight phenomenon. “This movie was a flop when it came out,” Waters told the packed theater on Friday, later adding, “For a long time it was thought of as Pink Flamingos‘ weak sister.” Now, of course, it’s a cult classic, and Criterion Collection has just put out a new edition loaded with extras. Here’s what we learned from the Pope of Trash during his Q&A at IFC, where Female Trouble will run alongside Hairspray through Aug. 2.

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Feminist Food from the Past Comes to Life at MOFAD

An edible display of Saint Agatha at MOFAD (Photos: Tara Yarlagadda)

On the corner of Bayard and Lorimer Street in Williamsburg, the Museum of Food and Drink (MOFAD) is a quiet, unassuming structure whose only distinguishing exterior feature is the bright red door that beckons guests inside. But inside the museum, food history is being made. Thirty-nine guests—mostly women—have come together on this Wednesday night to recreate Judy Chicago’s 1970s feminist artwork The Dinner Party, which is a permanent exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum. Chicago’s Dinner Party arranges an elaborate dinner banquet on a triangular table. The table hosts place settings for 39 iconic female figures throughout history. These settings include gold china and brightly-painted porcelain plates in the shapes of butterflies and vulvas. The artwork also displays the names of 999 other women in gold inscription on the tiled floor beneath the table.

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‘Store Front’ Photographer Karla Murray Races Against Time to Document ‘Fun and Funky’ NYC

(Photo courtesy of James and Karla Murray)

Longtime East Village photographers James and Karla Murray installed a structure in Seward Park recreating the Lower East Side’s Cup and Saucer, which closed after more than 70 years in business. Now, they’ve set up a gallery show featuring photographs from their “Store Front” books just a few blocks away at The Storefront Project (70 Orchard Street). The exhibit, “Store Front: The Disappearing Face of New York,” pays homage to the mom-and-pop shops of the Lower East Side and will remain open through August 12. Bedford + Bowery chatted with Karla Murray about her hopes and thoughts on the changing neighborhood. This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

(Photo: Tara Yarlagadda)

BB_Q(1)

I hope the opening reception went well.

BB_A(1)We got a lot of love and support from our friends and store owners as well. The granddaughter of Moe Albanese [of] Albanese Meats & Poultry on Elizabeth [Street]. Really the last butcher in Nolita. A neon sign fabricator who created the sign for Trash & Vaudeville and refurbished the Russ & Daughter’s sign was in attendance as well.

(Photo: Tara Yarlagadda)

BB_Q(1)

Tell me about your hopes for the Orchard Street exhibit.

BB_A(1)The majority of the photos relate to the Lower East Side. You know, to relate back to the neighborhood that the gallery is in. We also have a smattering from our so-called other “favorite” ones, mostly departed stores like Zig Zag Records and the Ralph’s that you saw in the window. We included some others but concentrated on the Lower East Side because we wanted to continue our story. ‘Cuz certainly the Lower East Side has changed a lot with gentrification and different people moving in. Unfortunately, a lot of mom-and-pop stores have closed. Buildings have been knocked down—it’s not only the stores. They’ve destroyed a lot of old tenement buildings [that] have been replaced with newer developments. When that happens, what replaces them on the ground floor as far as retail [goes] is a massive space that usually doesn’t lend to a mom-and-pop store leasing it because it’s just too expensive.

(Photo: Tara Yarlagadda)

BB_Q(1)

Are you mainly trying to preserve the legacy of these buildings or do you think there is some hope for activists to see your work and get inspired?

BB_A(1)Oh, of course. The way we’ve always thought of it is a celebration of the businesses that are still around. We always photograph vibrant, lively businesses. That’s why we always put the address with the cross street because we want people to be able to go to the stores and shop at them. That’s really the key to their survival, [which] is that they need customers.

(Photo: Tara Yarlagadda)

BB_Q(1)

And how many businesses did you end up photographing as part of this project?

BB_A(1)It’s countless. Thousands of photos. There’s over 325 stores just in our first book. And we have three books on the subject. Too many to count and interviews with the store owners as well. It’s over twenty years now [that] we’ve been documenting these mom-and-pop stores.

BB_Q(1)

You [and James] have been East Village residents for how many years now?

BB_A(1)We’ve lived in the same apartment for 22 years now. So it’s been a long time. It’s changed a lot in the time that we’ve been there. To be honest: we wish we had photographed more. There’s many, many small businesses that we remember fondly, but frankly we didn’t ever take a photo of [them] because we didn’t think they would ever close. And then it was too late. It’s always been a race against time to document them because they seem to be closing almost on a daily basis. For the most part, if they don’t own the building they’re located in, with the cost of new real estate going up, the landlord will triple, quadruple [the rent]. One business, they increased the rent 15 times. I mean, no small business can absorb that kind of rent increase, so then they’re forced to close.

(Photo: Tara Yarlagadda)

BB_Q(1)

So how do you feel about new developments like the Target in the East Village? Do you feel that kind of bodes ill for the mom-and-pop businesses?

BB_A(1)We live on that street.That was all mom-and-pop stores. We documented them on film in the ‘90s. There was a pizzeria. There was a Permacut [Beauty Salon]. There was an old dive bar. Blarney Cove. There was a little bodega. There was a 99 cent [store]. There was a whole strip of store after store after store. Mom-and-pop places. They knocked all that down and built that development. I mean, you can go anywhere and shop in Target. You don’t have to be in New York City. That doesn’t make a neighborhood. To us, it’s the mom-and-pop stores that define a community. The very reason we moved to the East Village years ago [was] that we thought it was fun and funky and had a lot of cool and interesting shops. When those types of stores close, the fabric of the neighborhood suffers.

(Photo: Tara Yarlagadda)

James and Karla Murray will lead a walking tour from their Seward Park installation to the Orchard Street exhibit on Saturday, August 4th from 1-3 p.m. Check their Instagram and Facebook for further details coming soon.

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Remembering Romany Marie’s, Where Artists Traded Paintings For Chorba Stew

Marie Marchand in front of her fireplace. (Photo: Jessie Tarbox Beals, courtesy of New York Historical Society)

A distinguished modern art collection once hung in the cozy Greenwich Village tavern at 20 Christopher Street, above steaming bowls of 35-cent Romanian chorba stew. Romany Marie’s, which operated out of the location between 1915-1923, wasn’t plastered in paintings because its proprietor was a collector (although Marie Marchand did love art). It was simple: neighborhood artists who were strapped for cash could go there for a free meal, in exchange for artwork.

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Once-Trendy Cupcakes Replace Trendy Poke Bowls on East 8th Street

(Photo: Daniel Maurer)

If you’re wondering whether we’ll ever see the end of the poke bowl trend, here’s food for thought. RAW MKT, the poke spot on East 8th Street, closed just a year after opening in the NYU area. Its replacement? A cupcake shop.

Wait, wasn’t the cupcake trend declared dead after Crumbs crumbled?

Don’t tell that to Buttercup Bake Shop. Signage for the mini chain has gone up in the window of the narrow storefront at  61 East 8th St., near Broadway. It declares the bake shop is “opening soon…like, real soon,” and an employee at the shop’s 2nd Avenue location tells us it should be doling out sweet treats in about two weeks.

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