This month, it’ll be a year since Other Music closed after two decades in business, and yet its storefront still sits sadly empty near the corner of East 4th and Lafayette. Which is why it was kind of surreal to see the indie record shop back in action in Landline, a new dramedy making its New York premiere at BAMcinemafest next Saturday. Like Gillian Robespierre’s previous film, Obvious Child, this one stars Jenny Slate. But this time, she plays a denizen of mid-’90s NYC, a land of Rollerblades, frozen hot chocolates at Serendipity (the cronuts of their day), and references to Helen Hunt’s “full-frontal wedgie” on Mad About You.
Wearing the requisite stonewashed, boot-cut denim and Doc Martens, Slate plays Dana, a layout designer at Paper magazine who, despite having the coolest job since Hannah Hovath worked at GQ, is suffering from a quarter-life crisis. She’s engaged to a man (Jay Duplass) who’s hotter for the Hammacher Schlemmer catalogue than he is for her, and her parents (John Turturro and Edie Falco) aren’t exactly giving her faith that it gets better. Their marriage is going south as they try to control their younger daughter (Abby Quinn) from snorting heroin at raves. Remember raves?
One day, Dana picks up a payphone next to Tompkins Square Park (yes, kids, there used to be phone booths in the East Village that didn’t lead to cocktail speakeasies) and calls in sick to “Kim and David” (Paper publishers Kim Hastreiter and David Hershkovits, in case you didn’t know). What does she do on her day off? Head over to Other Music, where Pavement’s “Range Life” is playing. (The soundtrack also includes ’90s cuts from PJ Harvey, Natalie Merchant, and Sebadoh. Which is funny, because we were just talking about Jason Loewenstein.)
I won’t spoil anything by telling you what happens after Dana bumps into an old college flame while dancing to world music at Other’s listening station (“I think it’s good to like music from our world,” she says.) I’ll just say it was bittersweet to see the record store back in business. I had to keep myself from reaching into the screen and digging around for the latest Tortoise LP.
If you want a blast from the past, lock down tickets to see Landline at BAMcinemafest on June 17. Robespierre, Slate, Quinn, and Falco will be doing a Q&A after the screening. The film opens July 21.