Grrrl Germs: a Visual History of Riot Grrrl 1990-1997
Various screenings, now through Saturday May 28 at Spectacle: $5.
It’s been nearly 30 years since the Riot Grrrl movement challenged punks everywhere to reexamine their subculture, demanded “girls to the front” at shows, and delineated punk’s physical and intellectual spaces as welcoming to women, but also as zones that were for and by a diversity of voices. Riot Grrrl may have become the victim of sensationalism due to a desperately out-of-touch media trying to figure out what the hell was going on with these tattooed, pierced, and sex-crazed Gen Xers.
But even after all the obsessive coverage and attempts to make smart young people seem like frivolous, hypocritical, and alarmist drama queens (um, did someone say Millennial trend pieces?), Riot Grrrl made some real gains in redefining a scene that, up until that point, had been overwhelmingly occupied and interpreted by white men. Figures like Kathleen Hanna and Tobi Vail (founding members of Bikini Kill) effectively brought third-wave feminism to punk and confronted the sexism, sexual violence, and misogyny that plagued a supposedly “revolutionary” counterculture.
Of course, the music of Riot Grrrl remains hugely affecting, even today– everyone from Penis (a Brooklyn-born punk duo with old-school flare) to Mykki Blanco (the gender-bending rapper performing at the Good Room this Fri Fri) invokes the movement and its followers as influences. But also, some of the discourse that was developed and expanded on by Riot Grrrl has emerged from the confines of radicalism and is now just known as part of being a decent human being. There’s still a long way left to go for feminism, but in a lot of ways, things are looking way better now than they were back when Riot Grrrl started.
Former Riot Grrrls, like Molly Neuman of Bratmobile, have gone on to do all sorts of impressive things and remained outspoken, badass feminists in the process. And lately, we’ve been blessed with a whole bunch of secondary cultural byproducts from the movement: The Punk Singer (an excellent 2013 documentary about Kathleen Hanna’s life), Hanna’s return to the stage, a new album from The Julie Ruin on the way, and not to toot our own horn, but some fairly successful archival digs at the Fales Library Riot Grrrl Collection too.
Still, our moving-picture urges can never be overly sated, which is why we’re super psyched to see that Spectacle, with the help of Fales and Lisa Darms (author of The Riot Grrrl Collection), is hosting a month-long screening series that includes several documentaries that spotlighted the Riot Grrrl scene, and a bunch of films by artists who were involved in the movement.
The historically-minded series offers some awesomely rare glimpses into Riot Grrrl: a close-up of the New York City scene, Grrrl Love and Revolution, which was shot between 1993 and 1996 by Abby Moser, who was knee-deep in the movement herself; and She’s Real (Worse Than Queer), a short doc profiling the Toronto queercore scene. We’re also looking forward to This Is Not A Test: Shorts 1990-1998, a program featuring six short films by women artists who participated in “Big Miss Moviola,” a VHS tape chain letter founded by Miranda July while she was in college. These include “Ants in Her Pants,” a five-minute film by K8 Hardy, the artist behind the incredible Outfitumentary. There’s a dizzying amount of awesome programming, and we strongly advise that you don’t sleep on any of it.
Band of Outsiders
Friday May 6 through Thursday May 12 at Film Forum: $14
I hate to admit it, but whenever I need new haircut inspiration I look no further than a Jean-Luc Godard film. I know that’s maybe the most Tumblr thing anyone’s ever written, but it’s true. And, honestly, what’s worse– someone who Pinterests a photo of Anna Karina smiling coyly with a cigarette and tags it #TresBrooklyn? Or someone who actually sits through the entirety of some old-ass, black-and-white film without so much as a bucket of popcorn to distract from how freaking long movies used to be? Don’t let yourself fall into the mildly Pinterested category, get actually interested in the cultural products that informed your mood board! Since I’ve already had my way with Karina’s bangs in the French New Wave classic Band of Outsiders, and have decided I’m done with them, I’m willing to share this film with you. Thank me later.
For all you film nuts, Band of Outsiders came after Breathless, but we see that Godard was so not finished with kooky cutesy gangster films. Can you blame him? No one else but the French could make guns look both romantic and chic (Americans do it with too much muscle, the Brits with too much prudishness, and the Germans, well…).
I know it’s hard to swallow such an improbable scenario, but the film finds two young lads, Franz and Arthur, competing for the affection of Odile (Anna Karina). The friends’ relentless competition is at its best in a scene where Arthur and Odile get up to dance, only to be joined by Franz for a funky sort-of three-way line dance (the routine inspired one of the coolest scenes in Pulp Fiction, when Uma Thurman and John Travolta shimmy on the dance floor). One of the boys eventually wins out, but the threesome prevails as they all team up to rob Odile’s aunt (she sucks, it’s OK).
As usual, Godard will inspire great haircuts, but he might also stir in you a desire to pick up a cute looking pistol and hope that some wonky little piano track will play as you rob your annoying Aunt Maude’s place on Long Island and take off for South America, your spoils and love object in-tow. Go out in style– like, there’s no way that won’t end with a quirky suicide scene.
Sunday May 8 (1:30 pm) and Monday May 9 (9:30 pm) at the Metrograph: $15.
They’re twins! They’re gynecologists! They’re creepy as hell! Jeremy Irons plays a pair of twins in this 1988 Cronenberg classic about identical doctors with a penchant for blood red scrubs. While one is keen on sexually assaulting his female patients, the other twin is an actual human. But the two are inextricably tied together due to their bizarro twin bond, mutual drug addiction, and self-isolation from functioning society.
The film is a highly liberal take on a true-life spooky story of twin gynecologists Stewart and Cyril Marcus, who “shocked the medical profession” in 1975 when their literal rotting corpses were found inside their shared New York City apartment, dead of apparent barbiturate withdrawal.
Thankfully Cronenberg spiced up the story by adding in the doctor’s murderous/super creepy tendencies and some occult imagery for good measure. Of course this wouldn’t be a Cronenberg film without some serious psychedelic gore. No exploding heads perhaps, but you’ll be treated to some real spooky surgery scenes.
Tuesday May 24 (6 pm, 8:15 pm, and 10:30 pm) at Syndicated: $3
If you thought that Cronenberg film was twisted, well…
Long before the masterpiece that is “Leave Britney alone!” and lightyears before Britney Spears dressed in a heather grey hoodie and pearls, shaved her head, and attacked the paparazzi with an umbrella, there was “Crossroads.” As a twisted fulfillment of what’s sure to be someone’s dissertation thesis regarding celebrities, class, and sadism, Britney Spears, the meta-pop object, has become a cultural phenomenon all its own. But in light of all the insanity that resulted from Spears’s rise to (and fall from) uber-celebrity, “Crossroads” is sorta seriously disturbing to watch these days.
Just make sure you bring a sense of humor and some numbing substance to the theater, because you’re not gonna feel good about yourself after this one. You’ll find yourself thinking stuff like: How is it that Britney Spears never managed to look like a believable teenager? While Spears was 21 at the filming of Crossroads, there’s something so, so tragic about her that bleeds through the movie– she looks like an innocent, probably not very educated little girl who you get the feeling is being closely watched by some monster dude in a suit constantly rubbing his hands together and cackling maniacally.
Ugh. The best way to forget about all that heavy stuff is to turn Crossroads into a drinking game. Britney’s bouncing around on a bed in her underwear again? Take a shot. Britney awkwardly breaks into song in an attempt to push album sales through the roof? Take two shots. Britney shows flashes of an impending nervous breakdown and nobody seems to care? Drink the whole bottle.
OK, so Crossroads isn’t screening this week, or even next week. But since it’s only showing for one day at Syndicated (ONE?!), I feel obliged to let you know asap so you can swoop in there and get those tickets right quick. They’re bound to go like hotcakes– the number of ironic attendees are gonna be through the roof on this one. And perhaps if we show up in force, Syndicated will do everyone a favor and screen Crossroads once a week for a whole month or something. Then we’ll learn a thing or two about child exploitation, right?