Who doesn’t love the Film Forum? The autonomous, non-profit institution first started showing films (foreign, art house, independent, repertory) back in 1970, in a space with 50 folding chairs on the Upper West Side. It moved downtown two years later, and, after a couple of temporary homes in western Soho, settled into its current residence on Houston Street some 28 years ago. So even if you don’t make it over there as much as you’d like to anymore–those cramped seats am I right, ugh!–just the fact that it exists is enough to give you faith that NYC isn’t dead yet, right?
Well, sorry, that’s not going to cut it. Institutions, especially autonomous, non-profit ones like Film Forum, need your physical presence (and money) as well as your affection from afar. And now, thanks to a respectfully-conceived, extremely well-executed renovation of this cultural treasure–it’s been closed for construction since the spring–you can get excited again about actually going here and sitting through a two-plus-hour feature. Here are all the details on this near-miraculous, $5 million transformation:
There’s a whole new theater, upping the Film Forum’s total screen count from three to four. And they didn’t cut into any existing theaters, or the lobby, to build it; what’s now Theater Four used to be a loading dock. The new screen will be used for movies with longer-running commitments as well as holdovers of popular titles. This fourth screen will allow the Film Forum to increase its overall number of selections each year by a third.
The new seats–more than 500 of them, in all four theaters–are amazing! Made by Spanish design firm Figueras, they’re firm (but comfy), and much wider than their at-times-tortuous predecessors. The spacious, cushioned arm rests, too, are now places upon which you’d actually want to rest your arm. And there’s none of that fuzzy, vaguely disconcerting cloth material going on here anymore; soft, easily-cleaned vinyl is now where it’s at. Also, and crucially, the leg room in each row has been lengthened to a noticeable degree.
Just as crucial for your viewing pleasure, each of the old theaters have been re-raked, steepening the grade of the floor to a more stadium-style seating situation. This increases the number of “good” seats in each theater by a large margin.
There are two new additions to the lobby, most notably a 10′ x 5′ digital screen hung over the ticket-taker. This will show, among other things, silent, short, specially commissioned “lobby movies” by the likes of David Byrne and Cindy Sherman which you can watch while you wait in line for your theater to open. There’s also new carpeting, which is always nice.
Good things that have NOT changed at the new Film Forum: the layout of the lobby, and that funky, zig-zagging standing table; the generous slate of member benefits (their subscription-based model means they never have, nor ever will, accept MoviePass); the commitment to both new and classic movies; and, perhaps most important, the popcorn.
The Film Forum is located at 209 West Houston Street, between Sixth Avenue and Varick Street. Tonight is the grand re-opening, with a full schedule of movies daily from here on out.
Summer’s most joyous dance party lit up Fort Greene Park yesterday with the first of two Soul Summit Music Festivals, as thousands of people packed into the area around the Prison Ship Martyrs’ Monument for an afternoon and evening of sweat, sexiness, food, nutcrackers, amazing outfits, and most all, dancing with abandon to a non-stop mix of classic house music. The Soul Summit crew have been throwing this party for 15 years now, and it just keeps getting bigger, with picnickers spread out in all directions.
The second Fort Greene Soul Summit will be on Sunday, August 12. If you want to dance, it’s best to come early, even right at 3pm when things get under way, and stake out a spot on the shaded dance plaza. The music goes until 8pm, but by 6:30pm or so there are so many people that it’s difficult to even get close to the action. Local vendors sell food, beverages, and various merchandise. Soul Summit is also headlining MoMA PS1’s Warm Up dance party this year, on Saturday, August 25.
The Giglio Feast, a Williamsburg tradition since 1903, is going on now in the streets around Our Lady of Mount Carmel church on Havemeyer. And while most of Giglio will be familiar to anyone who’s ever been to any NYC Italian street feast–there are lots of cigars, fried sausages, zeppole, carnival rides, and sucker games–it’s the crazy spectacle of the highly ritualized “lifts” that makes the Williamsburg festival so special.
MoMA PS1 has once again brought their crack aesthetic instincts and curatorial muscle out to Fort Tilden for the summer, this year hosting a fantastic installation by one of the most popular artists of our time, Yayoi Kusama’s “Narcissus Garden.”
Arriving, amazingly, with almost zero hype, a four-story contemporary art museum opened over the weekend on one of the busiest corners of the East Village, news that feels more 1978 than 2018, when even global chains aren’t willing to pay the rent around these parts. Admission is completely free, it’s open to everyone, and there’s even a lovely little sculpture garden on the roof!
South Williamsburg’s Domino Park is finally finished and open to the public, and it is a gleaming example of what approximately $50 million can do with six acres of prime waterfront property. Funded entirely by Brooklyn mega-developers Two Trees Management, who are also responsible for the mini-city of luxury apartments springing up where the Domino Sugar Factory once stood, this undeniably lovely quarter-mile park and esplanade amounts to a fantastic amenity to all new and future residents of site. Fortunately for the rest of us, it’s one amenity that they have to share with the public.
Then on Sunday evening Driver and a coterie that included the likes of her partner Jim Jarmusch, Lee Quinones, Rosie Perez, Katie Taylor Legnini, Jimmy Webb, Henry Chalfant, Jeffrey Deitch, Luc Sante, and Alexis Adler crammed into the opening of a big group exhibition at the Howl! Happening space. A line to get in formed early and extended all the way over to Bowery for much of the night.
If it smelled a bit more skunky than usual in the city on Saturday, you probably were walking within wafting distance of the annual Cannabis Parade and Rally, which started up in Koreatown and ended with an afternoon of politics and music and getting high in Union Square Park. Because what the march may have lacked in size, it more than up for in number of giant joints smoked.
The Hester Street Fair kicked off its ninth outdoor season on Saturday, with more than 20 food and crafty vendors setting up in the usual Seward Park spot under glorious, about-goddamn-time springtime skies. The scene, as always, was plenty festive but also pleasantly low key, because unlike Smorgasburg, which is great for different reasons, Hester Street never really gets uncomfortably mobbed. Even after all these years, this remains very much a neighborhood hang.
Do you remember the Museum of Ice Cream? That not-really-a-museum pop-up thing that drew massive lines of selfie-seekers to the Meatpacking a few years back? Made a ton of money here, and is now touring the country?