Cinephiles have plenty of excuses to spend the summer in city parks, starting with Films On The Green and Movies Under The Stars. But if you’ve sworn off going to the movies in favor of #Netflixandchill, there are plenty of other excuses to enjoy our public greenery, starting with the following free events dedicated to The Artist and The Bard.
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.”
The Lost City Of Z
Now through Thursday May 11 at Sunshine Cinema: $14
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.
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 classic has 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
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.
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.
Dirty Little Billy
Thursday March 9, 9:30 pm at Nitehawk: $16
Legends and lore of the Old West have been distorted so horrendously for modern entertainment purposes that what most people know about Billy the Kid they’ve learned from The Wild Wild West (arguably Will Smith’s greatest cinematic/symphonic achievement ever) and a National Geographic Channel reenactment where the infamous, down-n’dirty, sharp-shootin’ gunslinger is portrayed by a male-frickin’-model.
K: A Film About Prostitution
Thursday March 14, 10 pm and Wednesday March 29, 7:30 pm at Spectacle: $5
“K” is just one film screening as part of Spectacle’s month of March series, Tricks of the Trade: True/False Portraits of Sex Work, which features four separate, cross-cultural, semi-fictional, but mostly very real portrayals of sex work. Shot in Budapest in 1989 by director György Dobra, the doc captures the world’s oldest profession– prostituáltakról in Hungarian (try saying that one ten times fast)– at a time of turmoil, when Communist Party-controlled governments and institutions across the Eastern Bloc were collapsing. Hungarians found themselves in an especially bizarre position because things in their country at least… were fairly calm during the transition to democracy.
Because it’s shot in the sort of bold, hyper-real HD-quality style that’s available to even low-budget filmmakers now, Desire Will Set You Free already feels too real from the POV of click-play. Which is funny, because filmmaker Yony Leyser (who stars as Ezra, an American expat) is celebrating the freewheeling, anything-goes Berlin of the twenty-teens (aka now), a place where weirdos, freaks, and artists can live out their fantasies, especially the sexy ones, which is all about negating the supposedly fixed norms of society and transgressing life as it was handed to us. Even the title, “Lust Macht Frei” in German, is the opposite of the infamous “Arbeit Macht Frei,” which appeared sometimes welded into iron gates at the entry point to Auschwitz and other Nazi death camps.
Berlin has been the place for your coolest friends to flock to over the last several years, and if you haven’t made the trip, “Desire” is definitely a great way to get acquainted with the city’s “hedonistic queer underground,” as Spectacle writes, and its nonstop, freaky deaky nightlife. The theater is hosting three screenings that serve as the film’s New York City premiere, and judging by the sparkly cast (Dev Hynes, Peaches, and Nina Hagen, among others), the promised “Q&A with special guests” is probably gonna be pretty great.
Sunday February 26 at Anthology Film Archives: $11
This 1979 sci-fi-tinged horror film is a Cronenberg classic, and Anthology is screening it this weekend as part of its Canadian classics series, Gimme Shelter: Hollywood North. In part, The Brood is exactly what we’ve come to expect from the filmmaker’s own “body horror” sub-genre obsession– blood, guts,– but the film puts even more weight on what’s in some ways a much spooky psycho-thriller-style of horror storytelling that recalls The Shining (and, sure, stylistically the two movies feel cut from the same cloth too).
At the center of the film is a woman, Samantha Eggar, who is deemed psychologically unstable and pursues experimental treatment by a doctor who believes that dramatic physical changes in the body’s chemistry can eradicate mental illness. Meanwhile, Eggar’s ex-husband steps in to take care of their daughter, and promptly pursues full custody. She might be far away, geographically and mentally, but Eggar knows what’s up, and her treatment has the terrifying consequence of enabling her to undertake “the spawning of a brood of murderous mutant children who act on [her] rages.”
Cronenberg wasn’t just guessing, either– he was actually in the middle of his own messy divorce and custody battle when the film was under development. Anthology writes that the director has called The Brood “my version of Kramer vs Kramer, while noting that that film’s ‘happy ending’ was a million miles away” from his own take on the process of unraveling a marriage.TVTV Looks at the Oscars
Saturday February 25, 10:15 pm at The Metrograph: $12
Hey! The Oscars are coming up. I bet you, like myself, could care less. Like, really, why would anyone wanna spend their Sunday evening (Friday February 26 at 5:30 PST) watching a bloated film industry hand out a bunch of little gold alien man statues to a film literally called La La Land in an awkward display of “Hey! Look at us! Seriously, we aren’t racist”? The award ceremony (and really, any mainstream award ceremony) has so little to do with our day-to-day lives that it’s barely worth kvetching about. And yet here we are…
Thankfully, the Metrograph has put together an alternative program hosted by TVTV, a “guerrilla video”-making collective that got its start in San Fransisco way back in 1972,”– like, long before it was full of the dregs of humanity (i.e. tech bros). Consisting of tape from the 1976 award ceremonies, when Lily Tomlin was nominated for Best Supporting Actress for her roll in Nashville, TVTV put together this
“close-up look at Hollywood’s annual awards ceremony that mixes intimate behind-the-scenes views with deadpan comedy, featuring [Tomlin] as a mousy homemaker watching the Oscars in her suburban home.”
Harlan County, U.S.A.
Friday February 17 through Wednesday February 22 at The Metrograph: $15
Lately we’e seen some pretty intense and protracted protest movements fighting it out against the seemingly impossible-to-topple Powers That Be, and in some cases actually succeeding in their effort (or lasting much longer than anyone could have guessed).
Flashback to 1974, Southeastern Kentucky: a group of coalminers and their families organized against the Eastover Coal Company– one of those Coal Country corporate machines that own whole towns and everything in it. If you want to hear more about what it was like to be a director embedded in such a massive strike, be sure to go tonight at 7 pm for a special Q+A with the filmmaker Barbara Kopple. Because this film takes place in Appalachia, it would be absolutely criminal to proceed without a banjo, so the night includes a live performance by Appalachian musician Jack Morris, whose father David Morris was featured in the film’s soundtrack.