Cinephiles, take note: the New York Asian Film Festival (NYAFF) opens June 30, and this year’s roster has just been announced. With “just shy of 60 films,” including feature films and documentaries from seven countries, there’s a diverse lineup of films in every genre, from gangster flicks to romantic dramas to experimental stream-of-consciousness softcore porn. Truly, something for everyone.
China and Hong Kong are particularly well-represented, with a slate of popcorn-friendly thrillers, dramas, and crime flicks. Battle of Memories (2017, dir. Leste Chen) follows a novelist who wakes from an experimental medical procedure to discover he has acquired the memories of a serial killer. In Blood of Youth (2016), directed by “self-trained fireman-turned-filmmaker Yang Shupeng,” police and criminals alike race to hunt down a computer hacker.
It’s always amusing to hear new transplants to New York speak excitedly of summer in the city. Those of us who have lived here longer know with grim certainty that the city will soon transform into a giant sauna filled with rotting garbage. Not quite a dystopian hell. But close.
However, there are some things to look forward to in the summer. One of them is Films on the Green. Cinema buffs – and francophiles – will want to mark their calendars for the popular outdoor film series, which returns June 2nd and runs through the 7th.
Here’s some good news for New York’s numerous indie film fans – the Art of Brooklyn Film Festival is only a week away.
Running June 3 to 12, the festival (acronym, for extra credit: AoBFF17) describes itself as “the ONLY international, independent festival in the world devoted to Brooklyn’s vibrant film and media scene,” and considers films with any connection to the borough.
Combat Cops Thursday May 11, 9:30 pm at Nitehawk: $12
Perhaps you’ve heard of The Deuce Jockeys, the resident VJs at Nitehawk whose film series has a very specific mission: “Excavating the facts and fantasies of cinema’s most notorious block; 42 Street between 7th and 8th Avenues.” If you’re wondering, that’s the Port Authority Bus Terminal, once the epicenter of violence in Fear City. Around 1970, the Times described the place as a sort of terrifying, tortuous God’s waiting room– another circle of Hades that Dante himself would have considered just a bit too far even for tax evaders. Its occupants went one of two ways: “Some are waiting for buses. Others are waiting for death.”
I haven’t seen The Lost City of Z just yet, but what I can tell you is that the film takes place in 1925, a tumultuous time in the Western world when it looked like the sun might very well start to set on the British Empire. In fact, imperial order was starting to collapse around the globe, and would eventually be replaced by a new bipolar world order– divvied up into two supposedly opposite political instincts, nationalism and socialism. (If that sounds like a super mysterious process, that’s because it is. There are tons of fascinating theories about how and why this happened, and about WTF nationalism even is, man– none of which I will go into here.) So even though a bunch of landowning white men still ruled the day at this point, they were probably feeling a little insecure about their privileged position, which they justified by an unshakeable belief in white supremacy and fashionable pseudoscientific ideas/total BS concepts of the time. I mean, now we know that terms like “imperial expansion” and “colonization” are just fancy ways to talk about pirate stuff (e.g., raping, pillaging). Oh, and racism too.
Unkissed Bride Saturday April 22, 10 pm at Spectacle: $5
OK, before you LMFAO at the premise of this Jack Harris film, put yourself in the shoes of either Ted or Margi, the young couple who find out on their honeymoon (of course) that there’s a roadblock standing in the way of (early) marital bliss. Like, that blows. Especially for such a young couple, because for the most part isn’t it true that marriage–am I pronouncing that right? may-raj…? mar-ridge..?–these days either ends in de jure divorce (courthouses, lawyers, and custody battles, etc.) or de facto divorce (separate beds, six-month yoga retreats, and the like).
Ghost in the Shell (1996) Thursday April 13, Saturday April 15, and Sunday April 16 at The Metrograph: $15
No better time to see the original Ghost in the Shell, now that the anime classichas been remade and lost a good chunk of its futuristic/cyborg ambiguity in the process via the casting of a decidedly blonde, white bombshell in the lead. In the remake, Scarlett Johansson plays Major, i.e. an Anglicized version of the already Anglized Cyborg Major Kusanagi from the anime version.
The year is 2029, and this “perfect specimen of human-brained computer engineering” has been tasked with tracking down the elusive and amorphous villain known as The Puppet Master, whose precise plan for overthrowing the world– a Blade Runner-like super-city megalopolis where the human race has become so consumed by technology, that they are now inseparable and, at times, difficult to distinguish. The film deftly navigates the ethical and existential quandaries that are dramatically more real than they were in 1996 when the animated film was made.
Ghost in the Shell(2017) Thursday April 13 through Thursday April 20 at Nitehawk: $12
Remember those mysterious cubeheads at Astor Place? Well, now we know what they were up to. No, they weren’t trying out the hot new headware. Turns out they were shooting a short for a campaign by the Tribeca Film Festival called “See Yourself In Others.”
The Girl Who Loves Roses Thursday March 30, 6 pm to 9 pm at Larrie, NY: free
Kelsey and Remy Bennett, granddaughters of Tony Bennett, are working artists, outspoken feminists, and curators of various exhibitions and art happenings. You might be saying to yourself, “Of course they are.” But that would be a jerk move, since the Bennett sisters take after their family patriarch, who is widely known as one of the nicest dudes in showbiz (the Daily Beast called him “one of the greatest living Americans” for his long history of service to just causes including “Nazi hunting” and participating in the 1965 Selma to Montgomery marches of the Civil Rights movement). Their approach to curating is ultra-inclusive and social justice-oriented, but it’s not motivated by self-congratulatory horn tootin’ and seems instead to come from an easy, natural inclination to do good work.
Mysterious live-installation by the Alamo (Photo: Anaka Kaundinya)
Ugh, the Tribeca Film Festival is up to something cool at Astor Place — but they won’t tell what! Sneaky fellows. What we do is know is that there are folks (volunteers? actors? unsuspecting people on their way to work taken hostage by the crew? sad!) wearing mirrored cubes on their heads and just… standing around near the Cube cube. They’re also being filmed, so our best guess is that it’s an empathy-generating live-installation for some sort of performance art film.
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.
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.