Ann Arbor Film Festival Presents
Is it just me or are there actual butt loads of film festivals taking place all over our dear city. Happening right now in Gowanus is the Motorcycle Film Fest and last week we were graced with a Coney Island Film Festival. Well, I hope you’re not totally infested just yet because there’s even more fests and marathon of shorts coming down the pipeline, and they’re getting closer to us than ever.
Friday, Sept. 25, 7:30 pm at Spectacle Theater: $5
If artful animation is your thing, get to Spectacle this Friday for the last night of “Head Space,” a showcase of work by a dozen local animators, including Penelope Gazin, master of the monster babe (read our profile of her here.)
The series spotlights a number of different animation styles but each short demonstrates boundless imagination. The animations embrace everything from freaky shit (Charles Manson) to wacky visuals (stop animation digital clay monsters) and everything in between. This is animation we’re talking about after all. While most of the shorts on display are recent work, there are a few “established classics” like Make Me Psychic, made by Sally Cruikshank in 1978 that looks very much a progenitor of Rocko’s Modern Life.
The series has been so popular that you can actually purchase tickets in advance, which is usually not the case for Spectacle, so get at it if you’re planning to attend.
New York Film Festival
Friday, Sept. 25 through Sunday, Oct. 11 at Film Society Lincoln Center: opening night $75/$100, centerpiece and closing $50/$75, individual programs, $15/$20 + a variety of discount packages available here.
The New York Film Festival, which spans a mind-boggling 17 days, starts tomorrow (Friday, Sept. 25) and features new and classic cinema from filmmakers famous and unknown from the world all over. In keeping with years past, the NYFF has wrangled in some big names– for instance, do the words Martin Scorsese mean anything to you?
If you’re aiming to hear from the mob movie master– who was responsible for those flash mobs of good looking people decked out in bell bottoms and disco threads that would pop up out of nowhere all over the city this summer, extras for his new HBO series about the music biz in 70’s NYC– be sure to snag tickets for Heaven Can Wait (Thursday Oct. 1st at 6 pm, $20). He’ll be fielding the As for a Q+A about who knows what. Could this be Scorsese’s favorite movie or something? Shrug.
The festival is screening a remastered version of the original Heaven Can Wait, a 1943 Technicolor “comedy of manners” in which Henry Van Cleve dies and finds himself held up for questioning at the Gates of Hell. A lesser known checkpoint to be sure, but one that nevertheless has its own set of protocols. Satan, known in this context as His Excellency, surprises Van Cleve, who assumed gaining admission to Hades would be an easy task, by presenting him with a series of questions about his life above ground.
Tickets are selling out super quick, so it’s best to make your moves ASAP. Be sure to catch Don’t Blink (Sunday, Oct. 4 at 3 pm and Tuesday, Oct. 6 at 6 pm), a documentary about Robert Frank, the seminal American photographer who’s documented street life and his own life with equal mastery. A film called Brooklyn, written by Nick Hornby (High Fidelity) also caught our eye coz, well, because Brooklyn. Though I’ll have to warn you, this one involves a love story, but at least it sounds like a potentially saucy one (well, as saucy as PG-13 allows, y’all). A young Irish woman moves to Brooklyn in the 1950s, meets an Italian dude and falls in love. But when she returns to Ireland for a visit and starts to play the field, she meets another guy and falls in love yet again. Which love object will she choose as her own? Get it, girl.
Saturday, Sept. 26, 7:30 pm at Union Docs: $9
This screening event looks neat as hell, and I’m not just saying that because I lived in Ann Arbor up until I gave up all hope for reasonable quality of life, sold my soul to the devil, and moved to New York City. The Ann Arbor Film Festival (the 54th one goes down March 15-20, 2016) is a legit experimental/indie film fest, and even if the programming has been watered down a bit in the last few years, its solid reputation for spotlighting avant-garde cinema (new and old) remains well deserved.
The one shitty thing about the fest, however, is that usually it requires that you be present in Ann Arbor (aka 45 minutes from Detroit) to experience it. That’s all well and good for those of us with a valid Michigan driver’s license and/ or time + money to burn, but for all of us less-fortunate bastards out there, we’re kind of screwed. But suddenly our luck has turned around, because Union Docs is screening a lineup of nine short films from the 53rd iteration of AAFF earlier this year, curated by the festival.
Particularly titillating is Clear and No Screws, a very short doc about Send-a-Package, a company founded by a formerly incarcerated guy that provides a rather unique service to its customers: wholesale items that follow strict regulations regarding packages and materials that can be sent to prisoners in New York. Send-a-Package was dubbed the ‘Cellblocks’ Amazon’ by the Times.
BK Horror Club
Thursday, Sept. 24, 8 pm at Throne Watches Showroom: $10
While this isn’t a festival per se, I’m including it because it’s technically a series, k? And a brand new one you should definitely be aware of, particularly if you’re a fan of horror movies. TBH horror is a genre that requires you to wade through a lot of muck before you reach the good stuff. Bad horror movies (e.g. the ones without a sense of humor) are an especially harsh thing to suffer, but once you find that gooey center, you’re handsomely rewarded.
But if investing a lot of time and effort into leisure isn’t really your thing, the BK Horror Club has got your back with its curated selection of classic and contemporary horror films ranging from brilliant, thought-provoking horror films like It Follows and camp classics such as Scream. First up for the monthly-meeting film club is The Strangers, a film starring Liv Tyler as a freaked out wife-lady living out in the boonies with her equally horrified husband. Apparently they’re being stalked by strange beings, but the things are wearing masks so we can’t be sure what’s up.
Maybe this particular role didn’t give Liv the room to live up to her incredible performance in Armageddon, but her doe-eyed look of being scared shitless is on point, which is all you need, really. That, and popcorn and beer, both of which the club has promised to provide. Chill.