04/29/15 7:17am
04/29/2015 7:17 AM |


Mikey and Nicky (1976)
Directed by Elaine May
The camera presses in on the respectively Dionysian and repressed antics of John Cassavetes’s and Peter Falk’s small-time Philadelphia hoods like a sneering child placing a greasy nose on zoo glass to gawk at the tamed and emasculate dangerous creatures just on the other side. Scenes of petty belligerence, sexual rejection, and juvenile vulgarity paint an unsparing view of the inanity of male bonding. That’s nothing compared to May’s estimation of fundamentally masculine traits of self-reliance, which are rendered not as noble responsibility but blatant self-regard above all other considerations. New Hollywood was founded on macho seriousness and self-conscious artistry, and in pillorying the protagonists’ façade of strength, May excoriates her peers as much as her characters. Jake Cole (May 3-9 at MoMA; showtimes daily)

04/08/15 9:46am
04/08/2015 9:46 AM |


Sankofa (1993)
Directed by Haile Gerima
The Ethiopia-born Gerima’s films present slavery in different guises. Harvest: 3,000 Years, for instance, shows an impoverished clan in his homeland tending a wealthy white landowner’s farm, while Bush Mama lays out perils of wage slavery facing ghettoized African-Americans in contemporary Los Angeles. In Sankofa, Gerima (who has lived in the US for much of his life) tells the tale of an African-American fashion model (played by Oyafunmike Ogunlano) who goes to work at a white photographer’s beck and call on a shoot at a former slave trading site in Ghana, and who then finds herself sucked into the past and serving as a Louisiana plantation slave. The abuses she meets raise her awareness of how enforced captivity of black people has lasted well beyond slavery’s formally legalized end. The film’s name is an Akan word that means “reach back and get it”; that word is also the name of one of the film’s characters, an older Ghanaian musician (Kofi Ghanaba) encircling past-haunted sites who calls for slaves from every era to “step out and tell your story.” Aaron Cutler (Apr 12, 5pm, 8pm at BAM’s “Space is the Place: Afrofuturism on Film”)