Combat Cops
Thursday May 11, 9:30 pm at Nitehawk: $12

Perhaps you’ve heard of The Deuce Jockeys, the resident VJs at Nitehawk whose film series has a very specific mission: “Excavating the facts and fantasies of cinema’s most notorious block; 42 Street between 7th and 8th Avenues.” If you’re wondering, that’s the Port Authority Bus Terminal, once the epicenter of violence in Fear City. Around 1970, the Times described the place as a sort of terrifying, tortuous God’s waiting room– another circle of Hades that Dante himself would have considered just a bit too far even for tax evaders. Its occupants went one of two ways: “Some are waiting for buses. Others are waiting for death.”

Not much has changed since then– a dramatic decrease in violent crime has only made getting stabbed at the 42nd Street bus station slightly less likely. The anxiety-inducing confines of the building itself remain a total pile of trash. It’s a dark, dank, “functionally obsolete” maze for rats. One visitor accurately described the area just outside the men’s room: “If hell had a hell, that would be it.” Of course John Oliver, being John Oliver, captured the bus station’s vibe perfectly and poetically: “The single worst place on Planet Earth.”

Thus far, The Deuce’s special selections have tackled such wide-ranging topics as mental illness, slumming manic pixie dreamgirls, and ninja bikers, all from a range of questionably sensitive, action-fueled perspectives. Film snobs (see: “film” versus “movies”) go take a hike, Tarkovskian epics these are not. The only rule is that the film somehow crosses over into the bus terminal’s horrorplex, or feasibly represents the kind of gnarliness (real and imagined) it contains.

Tonight, relish in pure ecstasy and witness rough-and-tumble cops act like dummies/heroes in pursuit of a particularly rotten/desperate “mankiller”– the worst/most realistic product of Panic City (the most telling of many alternative titles): a super scary criminal/hustler just trying to get by the only way he knows how. Just like the 42nd Street Bus Terminal, the cops in this film (“They play rough– real rough. and for keeps”) are not far from what we’re dealing with on the streets today.

I’d say that this one-off screening is a great opportunity to catch the film in its 35mm glory, but let’s just say the filmmakers were too busy with battlefield glory to pay much attention to sissy stuff like stylized visuals.

Now through Thursday, May 18 at Film Society of Lincoln Center: $15

Speaking of Tarkovsky, Lincoln Center is screening a pair of the Russian mammoth’s films–his sci-fi flicks, Solaris (literally NOT the 2002 one with George Clooney, ugh) and Stalker. In my humble opinion, they’re among his best.

If you’re already a huge Tarkovsky Broski (ew, sorry), then you know that it’s darn near impossible to get your pals to sit through any one of his films in their entirety. I knowwww, right?! They just don’t get it, man. Andryusha’s movies are not boring, he was just the master of d-r-a-w-n-o-u-t scenes. BIG difference.

This might be your first– and who knows, could be your only–chance to kidnap the hell outta those plebes (your pals) and teach them the lesson that your professor of the Russian language (yes, you should say it like that) taught you. It’s painful at first, for most, but eventually effective– especially after being trapped, shoeless inside a dark theater, having been told that there are a series of very sharp kitchen knives placed strategically throughout the theater in case you make a run for it.

Tarkovsky addicts should also remember that Stalker, which some Criterion dude called “the holy grail for art-house audiences,” was always a pain in the butt to watch because whatever copy of the film was delivered to the West (with “luv” from the CCCP) was awful grainy. Lincoln did us all a favor and roped in a “meticulous new restoration” which “finally does justice to the haunting power and mysterious beauty of one of the masterpieces of world cinema that has been hardest to see in a decent print.” Super!

Though, honestly, I prefer my roommate’s description (sounding kinda stoned): “I looked up and realized, I’m staring at this shade of green, this color I’ve never seen before.”

Now through Thursday, May 18 at Film Society of Lincoln Center: $15

And as if you even had to ask, Solaris will be even prettier than before.

For this one, however, I’ll go with Criterion’s description: “Ground control has been receiving mysterious transmissions from the three remaining residents of the Solaris space station. When cosmonaut and psychologist Kris Kelvin is dispatched to investigate, he experiences the same strange phenomena that afflict the Solaris crew, sending him on a voyage into the darkest recesses of his consciousness.” Translation: dopeness.

Friday May 12, Monday May 20, Tuesday May 30 at Spectacle: $5 always

Meanwhile, Jack Harris is having the longest funeral ever over at Spectacle. Seriously, though, we’re wondering whether the “98 years” part of “98 Years: Jack Harris Tribute” meant nearly a century of death celebrations for the legendary low-budget director/B-movie producer/campy happy camper. But this is one of the very few cases in which that would actually be ok.

I mean, do I really have to sell you on a film called Dinosaurus!? Spectacle is well aware of the film’s power to draw a crowd too large to handle, so it’s only appropriate that their pitch does everything to convince you not to see the film. (Or, taken another way, it ensures that only the loyalest of homies will show up.) They quote a 1960 New York Times review (a curious artifact in and of itself since the film was so low-budge, and a testament to the shocking, sweeping success of  The Blob when it was released two years prior): “If ever there was a tired, synthetic, plodding sample of movie junk, it’s this ‘epic’ about two prehistoric animals hauled from an underwater deep-freeze by some island engineers.”

Gotta love Harris– if at some point in the next 97-odd years you need an easy way to rid your crew of traitors, lames, and hangers-on, just propose going to see one of his schlock-a-clock blockbusters. You’ll immediately know the Grey Ladies of the bunch.