Some of us have the distinct memory of weaving up and down the aisles of Kim’s Video– or really, any old-school place of a similar disposition with B-film and cult-movie analogue tapes galore– while an endless stream of campy horror flicks played on the junky old TV set. Did you ever feel a burning desire to run your fingers up and down the spines of those dusty VHS tapes? Then use those same gritty fingers to grab handfuls of mushy bananas and stuff them into your face?
If somehow the answer to this twisted fantasy is “yes,” then you best get over to Terra Firma tonight, because believe it or not all these things will be available to you there, coz lord knows the days of the video store (it’s kind of like Netflix, only IRL) are over and done with. This is where your people are now.
Wild Combination: a Portrait of Arthur Russell reflects on the late musician’s wide ranging talent as a classically-trained cellist, steeped in traditional Indian music, who had a knack for meditative dance tracks and even a bit of rock music under his belt from his time in a power pop group called the Necessaries.
A quick hypothetical for you: if real people host film festivals with “real films,” then wouldn’t it make sense that an animated film festival should be hosted by animated people? Crazy, I know, but filmmaker Morgan Miller seems to think it’s worth a shot.
After completing an animated short starring the characters Jeff Twiller and Randy—two coarse guys who enjoy the simple things in life and “like to hang out at the dump” in a place “kind of like Queens”—Miller decided that they’d be perfect hosts for their own film festival.
Bottle Rocket Wednesday August 10, 6 pm, 8:15 pm, and 10:30 pm at Syndicated: $3
There’s a Wes Anderson retrospective happening this week at Syndicated which is… something. If celebrating Wes Anderson’s particularly noxious brand of twee makes you want to pour cyanide in your cereal, then feel free to move on to our next pick. But if you’re something of a masochist, read away.
Free Films at Tompkins (Photo: Joshua Davis for The Local East Village)
Dinner theater is often regarded as cheesy, and not in a good way. Cinemas serving food with flicks can be pricey (and let’s be honest, sometimes a little too air conditioned)– also, where’s that food even coming from? One of those Wolfgang Puck airport terminal franchises? Let’s be real, the answer’s probably much worse than that. So what is one to do when they want to enjoy the blissful multitasking of watching moving pictures with their eyes while shoving deliciousness into their mouths?
Multiple Maniacs 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.
Genesis Breyer P-Orridge in “Bight of the Twin,” a new documentary from Hazel Hill McCarthy III
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.
Lucha Mexico 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.
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.
Detail from the first “I Am Eye” flyer (Via Microscope Gallery/ “I Am Eye”)
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.
Three Sisters 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.