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 ScienceFictionFilm 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!
Jonas Mekas, co-founder of Anthology Film Archives with Andy Warhol (Courtesy Stephen Shore / Anthology Film Archives)
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 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.
Still from Ovarian Psycos (Photo: Courtesy of Bicycle Film Festival)
In this town, cycling isn’t just a convenient method of getting from A to B: it’s a lifestyle. And with biking season and film festival season in full swing, the Bicycle Film Festival is back for its 16th year at the Anthology Film Archives.
Three Sisters 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).
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.
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.”
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.