Cemetery Man (1994)
aka DellaMorte DellAmore
Directed by Michele Soavi
When tragedy befalls a small Italian town, Buffalora, a dozen coffins arrive at the local graveyard. The caretaker turns to his assistant and says, "We're going to need more bullets." That's because this little boneyard has a nasty habit of rebirthing those that are buried there, and he's taken it upon himself to be their Angel of Re-death. This episodic zombie comedy is alternately zany, gory, gross-out and just downright surreal, often all at once. But it's more than just a wacky horror movie; it's a poignant and poetic portrait of a provincial person oppressed by his provincialism, so desperate to escape Buffalora he's starting to lose the ability to tell the difference between the dead and the living. (Plus, like Vertigo's Scottie Fergusson, he's repeatedly visited/haunted by different characters all played by the same beautiful actress.) It's a classic nutty 90s art-house foreign film, the kind you only used to be able to see on pre-reality TV Bravo—or for a few weeks at the Angelika. (Oct 31 and Nov 4. More info here.)
Blue is the Warmest Color
Directed by Abdellatif Kechiche
Ever since this Palme d’Or winner debuted in spring, passions have flared regarding its graphic lesbian sex scenes, in which the two main characters feverishly demonstrate the variety of ways they might join their bodies. One of these sequences in particular—the film’s several-minutes-long centerpiece—just keeps going, giving audience members ample time to contemplate why the bedroom lights are on and the window is open. In other words, cowriter-director Kechiche (loosely adapting a graphic novel by Julie Maroh, who has called the movie’s depiction of lesbian sex “a brutal and surgical display”) does not make narrative economy a priority; this story of first love is intimate in scale but, at three hours, epic in length.
Kechiche follows his protagonist, Adèle (newcomer Adèle Exarchopoulos), all the way from high school through her early years as a teacher, a period defined by her romance with the more poised and sophisticated painter Emma (Léa Seydoux). In particular, Exarchopoulos’s portrayal of the struggle to contain the grand passion in navigating the demands of professional and family life is frequently moving. Adèle (broadly receptive, but prone to making safe choices) and Emma (more privileged, and more fiercely devoted to a creative life) are not perfect in themselves—or, necessarily, for each other—but they are people you come to admire. Their gradual self-realization, both helped and hampered by their relationship, feels distinctly hard-won.
Blue might often be so perceptive, but it’s not particularly well-proportioned. Much of the criticism has run along the lines of Maroh’s, focusing on Kechiche’s purportedly leering male-gaze setups, but less remarked upon has been the awkwardness of his attempts to sustain an atmosphere sensitive to sensual delights, so that the film’s open style takes its cues from Adèle’s achingly visceral, head-on engagement with the world as she grows into it. The lingering close-ups proliferate: Adèle sleeping in bed, splayed out on her stomach; Adèle surrendering herself to the music on the dance floor; Adèle scarfing down spaghetti and slurping oysters. Kechiche spends far too much time simply reaffirming this resilient young woman’s coming of age as a banquet that’s constantly careening off course, both for better and for worse. It’s off-putting that a film of such emotional energy should so often feel adrift.
Opens October 25
Now, it's not like I have so much cred here. I never went to even the sad early-2000s days of CBGB, or, for that matter, set foot in the Lower East Side before it had already turned into a place where I feel totally safe walking alone at night and can acquire an $8 cone of fries with wild mushroom mayo, if I choose to do so. Still, I know a painful, lame, inaccurate mistake of a movie when I see (the trailer for) one, and CBGB is it.
It doesn't require a wild imagination to picture a terrible version of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty starring Ben Stiller. For starters, James Thurber's original short story isn't much of one: a gimmicky wisp better suited to the series of Chuck Jones cartoons it inspired than a full-on feature. Stiller, for his part, is a hugely talented guy who nonetheless makes time for workaday lazy-comedy franchises like the Fockers and Night at the Museum series; Mitty could easily be synthesized from the two, placing the put-upon everyschmuck Greg Focker in the fantastical, family-friendly, little-guy-with-a-dream context of Museum.
I'm very sad I haven't been following this the last month. For one, we could use a little levity in the wake of the several massive political and cultural traumas we've endured—and are still enduring—the last couple of weeks. But acknowledgments are due: I only heard about this amazing artifact of pop culture through Brooklyn Vegan, which reported on this five days ago: William Shatner's new prog rock record, a collaboration with members of Yes. It is titled Ponder the Mystery, and it is awesome.
Photo credit: Abigail Clark
BRIC has come a long way since its founding in 1979, and it's about to go a lot farther. BRIC Arts | Media House, BRIC's new 40,000 square foot arts and cultural center, opens today and we're taking you inside to see the new building and what it used to be.
The Strand Theater. Image courtesy of Theater Talk
Leeser Architecture just completed the $35 million renovation of the old Mark Strand Theater, which will be a home for all Brooklyn-based artists and art lovers. The four Ionic columns, one of the building's most striking architectural features, serve as a reminder of BRIC House's past as one of Brooklyn's best vaudeville theaters. Charlie Chaplin and Harry Houdini both performed there. After major movie studios like Fox and Paramount claimed their place in Brooklyn, the Strand fell out of favor. The building became a print shop and a bowling alley long before BRIC took it over.
The Strand Theater. Image courtesy of Theater Talk.
Today, BRIC House is bringing the glory back to the building with its state-of-the-art performance space, TV studios, classroom space, café, and of course, the 3,000 square foot gallery and interior stoop, which anchor the space. The new building was designed to be flexible enough to serve whatever programming BRIC's organizers and artists could dream up.
Merry Muthafuckin' Christmas - Eazy-E is def my favorite These two dudes hanging Christmas lights…
In my defense, it works either way, & I love your stuff...
Ha - never mind, just re-read it properly for the 1st time (LOL)