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.
anthology film archives
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).
Between the Lower East Side Film Festival, the Art of Brooklyn Film Festival, the DV8 Film Festival, and now even the Porn Film Festival, there’s no shortage of summer film fests in NYC. For the past 15 years, the New York Asian Film Festival has been a part of this cadre, presenting lineups of movies from all across the continent. This year, with 51 picks in its final lineup, the organizer Samuel Jamier is certain that there will be enough varieties of genres to satisfy anyone’s tastes.
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.
Dog Star Man
Saturday, March 5, 7:30 pm at Anthology Film Archives: $9
Stan Brakhage’s series of several short films shot and released sequentially during the first half of the 1960s are what make up the 78 extremely dense minutes of Dog Star Man, screening as part of Anthology’s Essential Cinema program. In spite of its brevity, the film is often described as epic, grueling, and intense. And, you know, trippy. You know what to do before going to the theater. (Just please don’t do it in the bathroom of Biang noodles down the street, it wasn’t at all pleasant explaining to the servers that no, I wasn’t smoking jazz grass in the bathroom, actually I had a vaporizer back at the table.) And, I know it’s easy to mix them up, but go for the chiller strains– trust, you’ll need to keep your cool after your brain melts into you popcorn bucket.