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.
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.
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.
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.)
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 alsofeatures 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.
“Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?” screening tomorrow night at the Cans Film Festival
Film “festival” might not be exactly the right word to describe this brand new monthly queer film series at Williamsburg’s Macri Park, but clearly the curators, Daniel Kessel and Ben Miller, are willing to bend things slightly for a solid pun. The Cans Film Festival pops off tomorrow night with the 1962 cult classic Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?
The organizers are hoping to give people access to classic, nostalgic, and just straight-up weird films that have inspired local drag queens and other queer artists. “For queens, these films really shape your aesthetic– and not just queens but every person really, especially artists,” Daniel explained. “Everyone has their own set of films that they particularly love and that have shaped them, especially when they were younger and were coming into their own as people and artists.”
The Reverend himself was supposed to be at the Wythe Hotel for Wednesday’s screening of Big Al: a Week in the Life of the Reverend Al Sharpton, but he ended up ditching out for a special civil rights summit convened by President Obama yesterday. Which, I guess is understandable. Instead, a big-screen version of Sharpton in his heyday filled the room.
Film still from K8 Hardy’s “Outfitumentary” (Courtesy of K8 Hardy)
Selfies have become so ubiquitous that if your Instagram feed can’t claim at least one, it’s safe to assume you’re the hideous victim of a Korean rubber face mask gone horribly wrong, or you’re so vain that turning a lens on yourself for an arms-length shot is totally out of the question. In art, that lens has been swapped out for an electron microscope, aimed squarely at the self, but penetrating far beyond the puckering duck face.
Big Al: a Week in the Life of the Reverend Al Sharpton Wednesday February 17, 7 pm at the Wythe Hotel: $11.50
Hey, it’s Black History Month which means we should be celebrating all kinds of incredible achievements from major badasses throughout American history. And, hey nothing against penis peanuts, but why don’t we give someone other than George Washington Carver a go for once? I’ll never, ever forget the look on my middle school teacher’s face when I told her, after reading The Autobiography of Malcolm X, I was considering converting to Islam– but what about some black icons who are part of our living history?
Spectacle calls this 1987 pulp noir, directed by Donald Cammell an “unmissable gem,” which was convincing enough, until we saw Cathy Moriarty sipping white wine in a massive fur coat backed by an original soundtrack composed by Pink Floyd’s Nick Mason. And then we were sold.
Grace Jones, Queen of Everything (Via the Kitchen)
Dirty Looks: A One Man Show Monday February 8, 8 pm at The Kitchen: $10
So this one’s a little bit beyond this week, but we fear that if you don’t make plans quick-like, you’re gonna miss out. Tickets appear to be sold out online already, but the venue suggests that you contact them and hopefully they’ll have some availability at the door. DREAM BIG. Why? Because Grace Jones is worth it.
We’ve been rubbing our grubby hands together in anticipation of the premiere of ZomBikers akaVamp Bikers Tres, the Coney Island horror film starring Michael Alig in the roll he was born to play– King of the Club Kid Zombies. Filmmaker Eric Rivas invited us to the carnival-side set last month, where we were inundated with (legit) bikers, busty witches, and of course, the E’d-out, colorful zombie squad led by Alig. But in the meantime, we’ve been given a great gift– the official Vamp Bikers Tres music video starring the Brooklyn all-lady rap trio, Hand Job Academy.