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.
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 »
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.
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.”
“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 today. Tonight 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.
“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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.