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After You See ‘Visceral’ Danger Doc, The Bomb, You’re Gonna Be All, ‘Mind = Blown’

Taking a stance against nuclear weapons proliferation might not be as controversial as hating on vaccines– as we saw when Tribeca Film Festival announced it was pulling Vaxxed: From Cover-Up to Catastrophe, the doc made by a disgraced doctor that pushes the dubious theory linking autism to vaccines. But the filmmakers behind The Bomb (premiering Saturday, April 23) are nevertheless hoping t0 strike an equally urgent chord with festival audiences, even if they’re reluctant to call it an “activist” film.

“Well, it’s an immersive film and music experience. It’s a human story, too,” explained Smriti Keshari, one-half of the filmmaking team behind the immersive, multimedia documentary focused on the persistent threat of nuclear weapons. “It’s one that makes you realize just how powerful individuals can be when they care about something. I think all art is political if it’s a reflection of what’s happening around you.”

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Doc Series Burn to Shine from Fugazi’s Brendan Canty, Returns With ‘Vol.6 : Atlanta’

(Flyer courtesy of BTS)

(Flyer courtesy of BTS)

It’s been nearly a decade since Lee Tesche, guitarist for the Atlanta-rooted band Algiers (whose brain-jostling blend of gospel and hardcore punk has been sort of blowing up since the band release their self-titled debut last spring) convinced a longtime idol, Brendan Canty of Fugazi, that his hometown music scene was worth documenting. Canty, along with his collaborator Christoph Green, had been working on an episodic rock-documentary series for the past few years, Burn to Shine, a stripped-down take on various music scenes across the country. And Tesche wasn’t wrong in thinking it was high time they came to Atlanta. The doc captures bands like Deerhunter and Black Lips at the moment before they blew up big, as well as veterans like Shannon Wright, who went on to stake out even wider renown.

But Volume 6, shot in 2007, became something of a time capsule, after it failed to see an official release when Canty, Green, and many of the bands they had filmed, ran up against the collapse of the DVD industry and advent of YouTube mid-way through the project. Finally, almost ten years later, Burn to Shine 6: Atlanta is seeing a proper premiere as Algiers has set out on an East Coast mini-tour, playing music and screening Tesche’s portion of the series along the way. Tonight marks the band’s New York City stop, when they’ll be playing Le Poisson Rouge (along with Savak) following an 8 pm screening of the new BTS installment.

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IFC Center Lobbies For an Expansion That Would Bring Six New Screens

Rendering via IFC Center

Rendering via IFC Center

Anyone who has visited the IFC Center in winter knows the particular pain of waiting in line for a popular film in the freezing cold. No, it’s not an effort to separate the diehard arthouse film enthusiasts from the weak dilettantes. The center, formerly the Waverly Theater and before that a church, is just really old and the owners sacrificed lobby space for screens. But now, relief for those long lines– and much more– may be on the way. The IFC Center is preparing for a serious upgrade, with plans to double the size of its building and add six new screens.

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‘Los Sures’ Doc Takes Us Back to Williamsburg Before the Bearded Hoardes

When aging hipsters pine after “the way things used to be” in Williamsburg, they’re usually talking about the free-spirited ’90s music and art scene or even the early 2000s when Williamsburg already was an indie darling, but didn’t yet have hotels, tourist mobs chasing the rainbow-bagel dream.

But what if you could wipe the streets clean and go back before even the days of Luxx and the Stinger, to see Williamsburg as it was in the 1980s? The music scene would have been the one on the street, with immigrant kids playing salsa and pop from boomboxes, hips moving in formation, or squaring off in a break dance competition. The neighborhood was also one of New York’s poorest during the high-crime 1980s, suffering drug problems and neglect. Keep Reading »

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Week in Film: Visconti Double Trouble and Some Colombian Noir

Soplo de Vida
Saturday April 9 and Saturday April 16, 10 pm at Spectacle: $5
Do you find yourself still watching new eppies of True Detective well into season two, ignoring the hammy dialogue and neverminding the complete void of character development that is Detective Colin Farrell? Do you often invoke the phrase, “It can’t rain all the time” with complete and utter sincerity only to be lol’d at by your friends who just don’t get it? Well, it’s likely you’re a fan of noir. It’s ok, friend, this is your safe place. But given all of the above, it’s likely you’ve had your way with the Hollywood stuff. Here’s a curveball– Soplo de Vida (“Breath of Life”) Colombian director Luis Ospina’s singular detour into noir. Too bad he only made one of these, because as it turns out, he’s rather good at it.

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Week in Film: Teen Traffickers & Ornette Coleman’s Strange Egg-Sperience


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.”

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Hardcore Porn: Two New Docs Take on NYC Hardcore, Its Future and Genesis

Youth of Today (Photo courtesy of New York Hardcore Chronicles)

Youth of Today (Photo courtesy of New York Hardcore Chronicles)

“The only people who shaved their heads in 1981 were Marines and psychopaths,” laughed Drew Stone, the filmmaker behind one of two new documentaries that focus on the New York City hardcore scene, albeit from vastly different angles. For nearly two years, Stone has been immersed in his project, The New York City Hardcore Chronicles, which touches on the past, but focuses mostly on the persistence of hardcore todayTonight at 8:30 pm, he’ll screen excerpts from it at Niagara.

At the opposite end is John Woods, a filmmaker who’s concerned with what he calls “a moment in time”–  a turning point in the NYC hardcore scene of the late ’80s, centered around the release of an influential compilation tape. The documentary, New Breed, which Woods co-created with Freddy Alva and directed, premieres March 30 at Nitehawk. While Stone’s film aims to be an epic take on the scene’s culture, Woods’s doc focuses instead on a singular event to illustrate the trajectory of hardcore.

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Goodnight Brooklyn Tells the ‘Amazing, Inspiring, and Really Bittersweet’ Story of Death By Audio

Still from "Goodnight Brooklyn" (Film still courtesy of Matt Conboy)

Still from “Goodnight Brooklyn” (Film still courtesy of Matt Conboy)

“It wouldn’t have happened as rapidly as it happened if it weren’t for all the people that were creating culture on their own terms and making it attractive.” —Kyp Malone, TV on the Radio

“The role of the artist in New York is to make a neighborhood so desirable that artists can’t afford to live there anymore.”—Mayor Ed Koch

Goodnight Brooklyn: the Story of Death by Audio, a documentary premiering today at SXSW, is all of the things you would expect it to be: a historical look at the origins and eventual demise of the Williamsburg DIY venue, a crushing story of scruffy artists’ defeat at the hands of corporate near-sightedness, and a montage of live footage from the final evenings of shows. It’s also a really good movie.

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Four Films: Doomed Love and a Black Dracula for the Ages

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.

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Four Films for the Freakin Weekend

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.

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I Visited an Outlaw Motorcycle Club’s HQ to Hang With Some Vampires

(Photo: Nicole Disser)

(Photo: Nicole Disser)

A few things came to mind when I though about what I might encounter during a visit to the Bushwick headquarters of the outlaw motorcycle gang, Forbidden Ones. And none of them involved peace and harmony. For one, there’s the image of the old-timey cast iron cannon one member allegedly sold to an undercover NYPD officer a few years back (definitely the most hilarious of the items that led to a slew of criminal weapons trafficking charges brought against a number of the club’s members). And then there was the unmistakable visage of Tatu Jesus, an FO with a preference for blood-red contact lenses, heavy chains, and black leather.

It’s hard to explain until you see him, but Tatu looks exactly like a vampire biker. Naturally. Which makes sense, seeing that I was invited here by was Eric Rivas, the director of Vamp Bikers Trilogy. The Brooklyn-born-and-bred filmmaker was wrapping up part three, starring Michael Alig as a Club Kid zombie alongside “authentic, real outlaw bikers.” (The second installment, Vamp Bikers Dos, screens tonight, March 1, at 8:45 p.m., as part of Anthology Film Archives’ New Filmmakers series.) 

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4 Sizzling Films to Make You Forget It’s Still Winter

Unholy Rollers 
Saturday February 27, 7 pm at Anthology Film Archives: $10 
This trailer might be en Español, but if we’re going by Trump definitions of “American” this 1972 film is about as American as it gets, for better and for worse. Presented at Anthology in all its grainy 35mm glory, Unholy Rollers is not only 100 percent English-language cinema, but it also features battling broads, busty babes, and roller derby dames behaving badly, satisfying our inalienable right as taxpaying Americans to see hot girls beat each other up.

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