Purple Rain: Terror Beyond Belief
Friday January 27, 7:30 pm at Spectacle: $5 always
Ok, so I might be outing myself as a giant lame by admitting this but, until I came across this mind-blowing feature presentation, I had no idea that “détournement” is actually, like, its own thing. Basically, that’s just a fancy word for (re)appropriated movies that have been drastically altered and yet retain some of the original characteristics of their source films which tend to be instantly recognizable classics. The result is a chunky, weird-tasting at first, but then loveably gritty combination of parody/homage, familiar/totally alien, nostalgic/apocalyptic– or post-modern upchuck that could trick your grandma and scare the kids. In other words, it’s very punk.
Your conspiracy-theory-obsessed uncle might suspect it’s just another sketchy way to skirt copyright laws. Set him straight and tell him that there are dramatic consequences to even the most subtle mods–splicing and piecing-back-together-again (aka editing) of a few parts.
That’s exactly what artist John Wiese has done with Purple Rain: Terror Beyond Belief, his twisted take on the semi-autobiographical rock-drama where Prince made himself into the spritely, frilly-shirt-wearing wizard-icon who literally everyone on planet Earth adored. And all Wiese had to do was edit the film so that “Prince murders Apollonia and gets away with it.”
If you’re still having a hard time picturing it, well, first watch the trailer and then come talk to me. Or go with the short answer, as Spectacle writes: “This is PURPLE RAIN as you have seen it before (yet not).”
Tuesday January 31, 7 pm at IFC Center: $15
This Hollywood noir-ish classic was first released a little over 71 years ago, but even by the oh-so-enlightened standards of now, the film would probably elicit a fair amount of slut-shaming. Now translate all that into 1944, long before “sex positivity” was a thing. Here was Mildred Pierce, a beautiful young mother who just so happens to be divorced and broke (once a crippling fate), so in order to survive and provide for her rebellious daughter, she plays arm piece and, um, another kind of piece, to a string of men. The steamy plot elements were hardly disguised– as Variety wrote back then, “frank sex play […] dots the narrative.” Damn girl.
Joan Crawford plays the badass Mildred Pierce, and she steals the screen with her killer gravity-defying ’40s up-do and an appetite for vroom-vroomin’. As a former fling says, “Mildred? Loving her was like shaking hands with the Devil.”
IFC is screening the film in honor of a new “4K restoration” from Criterion. Go see it, and be the first to tell your friends that “Mildred Pierce” isn’t just a Sonic Youth song.
Night on Earth
Friday January 27 and Saturday January 28, midnight at Nitehawk: $12
If you haven’t seen Jim Jarmusch’s Night on Earth, the best way to understand it is to think of like Coffee and Cigarettes but instead of a dingy cafe, the film is set inside another timeless space: the taxi cab. Well, five separate taxis in fives different cities around the world, to be precise, go into this “quintet of tales of urban displacement and existential angst, spanning time zones, continents, and language.” Much like its cousin film, Night on Earth shows that there are certain, very particular elements of the human experience that are united across cultures.
Jarmusch’s endearing, romantic portrayal is truly not an overly romanticized vision of the rider/driver relationship and the short, totally banal but occasionally intense moments spent locked inside a small space with a stranger who you are trusting with your life (hey, it swings both ways if you think about it). Which all sort of reminds me of the $1 slice spot on my block (or any block in the city, really)– for 24 hours a day, 365 days a year (except for the inevitable once-annual fire that closes the place for a few hours), it’s a crush of humanity, full of conflict and sometimes love, and home to everyone from cops, to K2 blazers, drunk girls in heels, punk kids, teenagers bouncing basketballs, and MTA workers. Seriously, spaces like these might be the most democratic places on earth. And as Nitehawk writes of Night on Earth, “It’s a lovingly askew view of humanity from the passenger seat which, frankly, we need to see right now. ”
Part II, Tuesday January 31, 7 pm and every other Tuesday: Pt. III, Feb 14; IV, Feb 28; V, March 14; and VI, March 28 at Anthology Film Archives: $11
If the finite world is something you’d prefer to depart when you enter the womb-like confines of a theater, consider attending Broken Senses. Somewhat paradoxically, one of the most effective ways to take a break from reality is to dive in head first. In this case, it’s the five senses and memory that are given special emphasis on what happens when one (or many) of these very human capabilities are perceived to be imperfect or otherwise altered, whether temporarily or permanently– as in the case of your friend of a friend of a friend who, back in high school, dropped 100 hits of acid and thought he was a glass of orange juice for the rest of his life. (I guess that’s pretty common or something?) The result in film form are “embodied interventions [that] conjure affective strategies to address blindness, sexuality, government surveillance, family, aging processes, death and grief, bliss, trauma, love, fear, and spiritual awakening.”
This hugely ambitious six-part special series is going down at Anthology, and it’s the seminar-style programming that The Flaherty has been known for over the last 63 years (!) of its existence as a non-profit media arts and documentary film institution working at forefront of indie and experimental filmmaking. (I dunno, maybe hit them up if you’re into that sort of thing?) Check out a detailed list of the programming here.