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.
anthology film archives
Fet culture and cinema? I mean, duh, guys, they’re a match made in heaven– er, whichever circle of hell doms and bronies go to. (Dunno about you guys, but that’s where I’m hoping to end up, Lucifer willing). That’s why Cinekink NYC– which clears up any confusion by calling itself “the kinky film festival”– is popping off this week for its 14th year.
Video courtesy of Jonas Mekas
I don’t know about you, but galas are not an everyday thing around these parts– the closest this reporter’s been to a real black-tie-and-gown affair was high school prom, which didn’t even really happen because my date got arrested. So needless to say, when I was somehow allowed to crash the Anthology Film Archives gala –a fancy fundraising party and art auction held last week to raise cash for the theater’s expansion– I was just slightly out of my realm. It was made all the more surreal by a performance from Patti Smith, and seeing people like John Waters, Zosia Mamet, and Zac Posen’s eyebrows all in one room.
K: A Film About Prostitution
Thursday March 14, 10 pm and Wednesday March 29, 7:30 pm at Spectacle: $5
“K” is just one film screening as part of Spectacle’s month of March series, Tricks of the Trade: True/False Portraits of Sex Work, which features four separate, cross-cultural, semi-fictional, but mostly very real portrayals of sex work. Shot in Budapest in 1989 by director György Dobra, the doc captures the world’s oldest profession– prostituáltakról in Hungarian (try saying that one ten times fast)– at a time of turmoil, when Communist Party-controlled governments and institutions across the Eastern Bloc were collapsing. Hungarians found themselves in an especially bizarre position because things in their country at least… were fairly calm during the transition to democracy.
Harlan County, U.S.A.
Friday February 17 through Wednesday February 22 at The Metrograph: $15
Lately we’e seen some pretty intense and protracted protest movements fighting it out against the seemingly impossible-to-topple Powers That Be, and in some cases actually succeeding in their effort (or lasting much longer than anyone could have guessed).
Flashback to 1974, Southeastern Kentucky: a group of coalminers and their families organized against the Eastover Coal Company– one of those Coal Country corporate machines that own whole towns and everything in it. If you want to hear more about what it was like to be a director embedded in such a massive strike, be sure to go tonight at 7 pm for a special Q+A with the filmmaker Barbara Kopple. Because this film takes place in Appalachia, it would be absolutely criminal to proceed without a banjo, so the night includes a live performance by Appalachian musician Jack Morris, whose father David Morris was featured in the film’s soundtrack.
The next month or so will bring many an opportunity to honor the late, great Leonard Cohen. You’re already aware that Film Forum is screening the tour documentary Leonard Cohen: Bird on a Wire. And you may have heard about “Sincerely, L. Cohen,” the tribute concert scheduled for January 24 at Music Hall of Williamsburg (tickets went on sale today). That show will feature Joan as Policewoman, Richard Thompson, Lenny Kaye of Patti Smith Group, Lee Ranaldo of Sonic Youth, Ian O’Neil of Deer Tick, and Hannah Cohen (no relation), among others. To top it all off, Anthology Film Archives has announced a film program that will pay tribute to the Canadian crooner, who died in November.
Now that you’re done binging on Black Mirror and Westworld, it’s good to know there’s a sci-fi film fest in the not-so-distant future. The New York Science Fiction Film Festival launches next Friday, January 20, and brings an intriguing slate of films to downtown venues like the Roxy Hotel Cinema and Anthology Film Archives. The schedule promises UFO cults, zombie attacks, breath mint ads for vampires, apocalyptic viruses, murderous humanoid robots, android clones of Philip K. Dick, and Winston Churchill battling Nazis with a group of time-traveling super scientists. There’s even a 360 VR experience simulating a Bohemian Grove-esque virgin sacrifice, set to music by These Machines Are Winning. Okay, then!
Yesterday, Anthology Film Archives announced that, for the first time in their 46-year history, big changes are coming to the institution in the form of an expansion to their East Village operations that will include a library and café.
The Prison in Twelve Landscapes
Friday November 4, 7 pm and 9:15 pm and through Wednesday November 9 at Anthology Film Archives: $11
This documentary explores the far-reaching consequences of incarceration across the United States, without ever setting foot inside the prison proper. It’s a fascinating take on the impact of the prison system from a different perspective than the one we’re used to, in which the cameras are literally being behind bars. Instead, the subject is approached through absence and invisibility, from the parallel infrastructures that bring food and supplies into penitentiaries to women prisoners fighting forest fires in California.
Wild Combination: a Portrait of Arthur Russell
Thursday August 18, 9:30 pm at the Metrograph:$15
It seems like the perfect moment to revisit this 2008 documentary about Arthur Russell, the eccentric experimental musician whose disco dance records are seeing a serious resurgence more than 20 years after his death– what with a sampled homage to Russell’s “Answers Me” on Kanye’s new one, Life of Pablo, and Eric Copeland’s “self-described Arthur Russell-influenced album” Black Bubblegum.
Wild Combination: a Portrait of Arthur Russell reflects on the late musician’s wide ranging talent as a classically-trained cellist, steeped in traditional Indian music, who had a knack for meditative dance tracks and even a bit of rock music under his belt from his time in a power pop group called the Necessaries.
Tuesday, June 21 (7 pm) and Sunday June 26 (7:30 pm) at Spectacle Theater: $5
For six months, documentary filmmaker Wang Bing embedded himself in a tiny rural village, Xiyangtang, in China’s Yunnan province, following the lives of three sisters all under the age of 10, orphaned, and living under crushing poverty. Their mother has died and their father, who occasionally pops into their lives, but never long enough to see if they’re even meeting their basic nutritional needs, has gone to the city to work. The family represents some of the major problems for China’s rural residents– an extreme lack of resources that is leveled unevenly by women, and therefore children as well, when men leave to find work in urban areas (China is one of the few places in the world where the suicide rate for women surpasses that of men, and many of the suicides are related to death by fertilizer poisoning).