As ’90s “it” author JT Leroy once put it in a book title, the heart is deceitful above all things. But not as deceitful as LeRoy himself ended up being. Embraced as a hard-living, gender-bending literary wunderkind by everyone from Bruce Benderson to Bono, the troubled teen author was famously outed as a fabrication of Laura Albert, a somewhat less troubled 40-year-old woman. A new documentary about this bizarro episode in literary history, Author: The JT LeRoy Story, recently premiered at BAMcinemaFest– if you missed it there, Rooftop Films is offering another chance to see it, Aug. 18, with Albert and filmmaker Jeff Feuerzeig in attendance.
Friday August 5, 7:20 pm and 9:40 pm at IFC Center: $15
John Waters’s second full-length film, Multiple Maniacs, a black-and-white absurdist comedy that he shot in 1970 for just $5,000, might be his best film ever. But most of us wouldn’t know– the film never saw wide release beyond a 1994 VHS tape. Until now. Thanks be to the Criterion Collection for restoring this masterpiece to its former, er, glory’s not the right word exactly– unless of course we’re talking glory holes.
The Childhood of a Leader
Wednesday July 20 through Thursday July 28 at IFC Center: $14
Actor Brady Corbet’s directorial debut follows the coming-of-age of a seriously naughty child who is maybe the scariest looking blonde-maned creep you’ve ever seen standing 3-feet tall in a Victorian drop-waist looking slightly underfed. Maybe early cutoff from the teet is to blame– always look to the mother, right? Well, maybe– but this isn’t Corbet’s first sociopathic-character-study rodeo (see: 2013’s Simon Killer where Corbet played the part and helped co-write with director Antonio Campos), so let’s trust that he goes a little bit farther than some yawn-worthy evolutionary quibble.
I’ll be the first to admit it, my total “experience” with voodoo involves not much more than occasional trips to my local botanica to refresh my incense supply, and subsequently stressing about my decision to go with the “Fast Luck Egyptian Money Drawing” candle (*alleged) over the Reverse Action Evil Eye one (*also alleged). Which is to say, I have exactly no actual experience. I’m totally gonna let the lovely Haitian shop owners dress my devotional candle of choice with what looks like confetti and smells like potpourri, because why not? In my understanding, it’s best to cover all your bases on the warpath to riches, and I’ll take any and all of the help that the Supernatural Powers That Be, whoever they may be, are willing to give me.
Friday July 15 and Saturday July 16 at IFC Center: $14
I remember very clearly my first time at a Mexican wrestling match, aka lucha libre– like almost any arena you can imagine staging such an event in the U.S., the place was barebones and there were troughs carrying swiftly flowing rivers of piss presumably into the storm drains outside. But let’s just say I’ve never been to a sporting event north of the border where it was a-OK for muscley men in masks to grasp a group of little people by the wrists, and one by one, ignoring their struggle and cries, toss them off into the stadium abyss. Where was it these little luchadores were on their way to? Not anywhere nice, is all I can say.
It’s been a long time coming, but the Vamp Bikers Tres trailer has finally dropped. After a shooting marathon that seemed more like a roving zombie party than any script-driven film production we’ve ever seen, we can finally start to make some sense of all the crazy shit that’s happened since we first caught up with director Eric Rivas. Back in December, we met Rivas and his crew, including Michael Alig who stars in the film as the King of the Club Kid Zombies, on-location out in deserted off-season Coney Island. As it turned out over the last several months, Alig was just (if you can ever even use that qualifier in a sentence about the notorious ex-party promoter) the beginning when it came to cameos and weirdness.
Nelson Sullivan’s Downtown: ’83 – ’89
Monday July 18, Tuesday July 26 (7:30 pm and 10 pm) at Spectacle: $5
When Nelson Sullivan, the tireless documentarian of the 1980s downtown party scene, died suddenly of a heart attack in 1989, not only did he refuse to go quietly into the ’90s and subsequently save himself from the disappointing developments of the aughts, but he left over 1,200 hours of footage in his wake. It was a “treasure trove of late-night videos,” according to Michael Musto. As the former Village Voice writer whose beat was the ins and outs of the Downtown party scene (he was largely responsible for some of the first coverage of the Michael Alig murder case), Musto should know some good gossip when he sees it.
Let’s be real, it’s been a sticky week. And since the frozen negroni machine has been broken at the Narrows for going on forever, you’re probably thinking, what’s the point of even leaving my fire-escape kiddie pool this weekend? There never is one, truth be told. But there’s something going down this weekend at Alphaville that could turn out to be the next best thing to soakin’ in a plastic tub filled with the champagne of public water and dribbles of your own pee.
Probably the best known film to come out of the I Am Eye scene opens with a view from the cameraman’s car as John Heyn and Jeff Krulik pull into a a sweaty asphalt parking lot full of Wayne’s World clones. “I’m ready to rock!” the spandex-clad kids with big hair exclaim un-ironically, throwing up devil horns and alternating between sloshing around beer bottles and back-bent air guitar. The next 15 minutes or so of Heavy Metal Parking Lot (1986) is nothing short of sheer brilliance and even though the film– which has won praise as “the original viral video” and “the Citizen Kane of wasted teenage metalness”– is approaching its 30th anniversary, it feels supremely right-now. In a lot of ways, this “sleeper” bootleg hit anticipated the kind of cheeky, ironic tone that today we see everywhere in art-making.
Likewise, I Am Eye, the DC-based “independent film forum” that ran from 1982 to 1991 out of a DIY venue called dc space, was a hotbed for underground filmmakers whose influence is still felt today, even if what they screened back then is seriously hard to find now. But for the first time in 25 years, the founders are gathering up their old reels and holding a screening/reunion at Microscope Gallery in Bushwick that opens this weekend.
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).
As a work-resident of Greenpoint, I feel lucky that I can reap the benefits of the neighborhood without having to pay the increasingly steep average rent. My existence up here is dependent on a fair amount of lying to myself– that I can afford to eat at the nice restaurants here (false), that the nice people who work in the hip boutiques actually believe I’m going to buy something this time around (so false). But what really charms me about the neighborhood are its eccentricities– the picture window on Franklin decorated neatly with dozens of bobble heads gyrating in unison, the Polish bars where you can bet there’s a strange scene going down or at the very least some $1 Jell-o shots to pick at, and of course the ancient bag lady who shuffles along Manhattan Avenue screeching in a mix of gibberish and maybe Old Church Slavonic, sometimes disappearing down into the subway or inside an apartment, knowing that she can safely leave her bags and carts anywhere she pleases.
Looking back, do you miss the days before everyone had a camera in their pocket? The days when getting your hands on the family camcorders felt so special that they could suddenly turn you into a mini-Scorsese? If you love the idea of movies made with less polish and more graininess, then DV8 Film Festival might just have a movie or two for you.
Now in its second year, DV8 began when Rebecca Shapass and Gabriela Granada, two NYU film students decided they were sick of being told there was a correct way to make films. “When you go to film school, you’re taught that movies have to be made a certain way,” Shapass said. “We want to do something else.”