The Bar Is a Beautiful Place

by |
04/11/2012 4:00 AM |

My Mars Bar Movie
Directed by Jonas Mekas

My Mars Bar Movie is Jonas Mekas’s tribute to his home away from home away from home: the legendarily fly-spackled dive on Second Ave and East 1st Street, down the block from Anthology Film Archives, likewise a holdover from the 80s. (The film gets an abbreviated for three days at the venue which the venerable film diarist Mekas was instrumental in founding.) With a camera often resting on the bar, peeking around shot glasses in the extreme foreground, Mekas films chance encounters with foreign tourists and other daytime drinkers with difficult-to-make-out accents (especially over the Cure and Buena Vista Social Club songs playing on the jukebox). Italian poetry is recited, names are carved into the bar, pants are dropped (“It looks the same every time you get it out,” one regular complains), and a friend, old or new, occasionally grabs Mekas’s camera and turns it around, catching a glimpse of his wizened smile and ever-present ever-present floppy-brimmed fedora.

The enthusiastically aimlessness vignettes and smeary digital textures bathe the bar, and the movie, in a happy, boozy, nonchronological haze. The Mars Bar is “my idea of paradise,” Mekas rhapsodizes at the midpoint; the East Village gentrification which last year finally shuttered the bar is barely more visible out of the glazed, graffiti’ed windows than the changing of the seasons, which for Mekas and other holdouts, is very much the point.

Opens April 13 at Anthology Film Archives