Hi, are you feeling patriotic yet? Usually I’m not either, but that whole Obama singing “Amazing Grace” thing still hasn’t quite worn off. I’d call you a liar if you said you didn’t cry at least a little bit. Like, that was some realness. Or maybe just a speech writer’s brilliant means of getting us to forget about… what are those thingamabobs called again? Those silent death dealing demons of the sky? Oh right, drones. Well, at least I had a brief moment of nationalist, er, I mean patriotic pride this Birthday Season.
Usually I just want to hide from all the red-white-and-bullcrap, hole up in a dark theater somewhere until the boom booms have subsidized. Can you blame me? I got burned by my fair share of sparklers as a kid and I’m NOT about to let that happen this year. Edward-40-hands-plus-holding-sparklers-between-your-toes be damned. Never again. I may have been raised by wolves but I am myself not a wolf (see: The Wolfpack). Join us in remembrance of horrible things past by disappearing into the arguably better world of cinéma. Heh, See what I did there? I wrote that the French way.
So we could go all totally predictable on you and suggest that you go see Independence Day. I mean, sure there’s a time and a place for that, and the time is most certainly Independence Day and the place is Videology where the screening is free and fans of Scientology and Will Smith can slosh back $2 Budweisers all day long. But if you want to be a little more precise about Americanness, the likelihood of Americans waiting around to get blown up by alien spaceships is much lower than the probability of our launching in to space, preemptively striking at these normally peaceful and fine aliens, destroying their home, and then expecting that they won’t be all angry. Enter, Starship Troopers.
What one critic pointed out, but that seemed glaringly obvious to some of us at the time we first saw it, is that by and large people didn’t “get” Starship Troopers when it first came out back in 1997. Yes, it’s a campy as hell sci-fi action film, but it’s also slicing satire of America’s hyper-militarism and the right-wing, gun-toting, war-mongering fascists who live amongst us and some of whom are running for President. To be fair we did have things like the Iraq War, and the War on Terror that made us late-comers to the film understand immediately the implications.
This America World Police attitude, though rhetorically on the wane throughout this present administration, in actuality seems to be going nowhere fast (unless of course we decide to make like the Soviet Union and blow our entire allowance on broke-ass toys), which is why Starship Troopers more relevant than ever. How’s that hot dog tasting now? Midnight on Friday July 3rd and Saturday July 4th at Nitehawk: $11
This documentary about the lives of Puerto Rican drag queens and trans individuals is maybe the most visually hypnotic real life portrayal of these two groups we’ve ever seen, thanks in part to the wonders of HD cameras, Mala Mala is a visceral form of hyper-reality getting us closer than we thought possible. The trailer shows only a few facets of this documentary– physical transformation, sex work, and the drag performance life– but there’s a lot more happening here. The filmmakers also explore the political implications of being trans in Puerto Rico, a place where human rights violations are a concern, and the fight for greater protections.
There’s a real emphasis in this film on the process of making one’s body into a more gender idealized version than what said person was dealt at birth. It becomes abundantly clear, through the hormones, the wigs, the makeup, the blowouts, the breast taping, and everything else, that a big part of gender is performance. And this rings true not just for trans individuals and drag queens, but for the rest of us too.
See the film at IFC Center and get a chance to see the director and some of the cast in person. Thursday July 2nd through Thursday July 9th at IFC Center: $14
Wow, this one is definitely at the top of our list for Independence-Day-Appropriate-Films. It’s about as anti-patriotic as you can get. I mean, c’mon, the targets of these mutant revolutionaries are attractive people, and what’s more American than valuing looks above all else? The rebels take to blowing up gyms, spas, and other wellsprings of superficial wealth. “Society treated us like shit and now we’re going to kick their ass,” their leader declares. Right on!
And in times like our own, who can blame these ideologue mutantes? Gyms have literally taken over this entire city. I mean, the old Limelight is now a David Barton Gym for god’s sake. Maybe these mutants are on to something is all we’re saying.
But besides agreeing wholeheartedly with the mutants’ very anti-LA leanings, we’re on board with the campiness of this film. Take a pinch of Mad Max and a heavy dose of X-Men and you’ve got Accion Mutante. Get it. Thursday July 2nd (10 pm), Friday July 10th (7:30 pm), and Saturday July 25th (7:30 pm) at Spectacle Theater: $5 at the door
Ugh, here’s another doc that’s gonna make you feel nearly as guilty for being a fangirl as Montage of Heck did. But instead of Kurt Cobain, this time the rockstar-dead-at-27 is one Amy Winehouse. According to the reviews we’ve read, filmmaker Asif Kapadia spared no one in his searing portrait of the late British soul singer. Though Kapadia was contacted by Winehouse’s family about making the documentary, he refused to forge loyalties instead dedicating himself to getting as close to the truth of the matter as possible.
And it’s a painful truth. Winehouse long had alcohol and drug problems, and as the documentary reveals her father had a chance to send her to rehab (a la her hit song) and was advised to do so, but decided that she simply didn’t need any help. The Times critic notes that Winehouse’s father, Mitchell Winehouse, went on to have a music career of his own after Amy’s death. Yeesh.
Of course if you’ve ever been to England you’ll understand the role of the media in Winehouse’s demise. If you thought tabloids were brutal in the States, think again. I remember very clearly that at certain points during rush hour, the streets of London would be positively covered in celebrity-hounding papers featuring a bleary-eyed Amy Winehouse in beat-up ballet flats, half drooling and bone thin. Three years later she was dead. The filmmaker certainly touches on the media obsession, but he delves deep, finding people that were close to Amy before she had her big break. The result might be difficult to watch, but we can thank Kapadia for digging up the truth rather than settling for some rockumentary bull. Thursday July 2nd through Tuesday July 7th at Sunshine Cinema: $13.50