Bladerunner. Bitches. #film #movies #Ridley #Scott #scifi #future #LA #Harrison #Ford (Taken with Instagram)
[I wrote this article months ago for a magazine that failed to make it off the ground.]
THE CITY’S FIVE BEST PLACES TO WATCH FOREIGN FILM
When you’ve tired of Hollywood’s headache-inducing 3D blockbusters and films of budgets trumped only by their exorbitant price of entry, seek solace in the beauty of foreign and independent film. Here are the five best places to do so:
This stately 586 seat single screen art house theater has maintained a policy of showing just one film per week since opening in 1948, when Marlene Dietrich cut the ribbon with the French ambassador. A microscopic lobby opens to a cavernous, plushly-appointed interior with balcony intact. A substantial portion of the film schedule is fittingly French, enjoyed by the loyal graying clientele minus any onscreen advertising. The Paris has enjoyed a recent surge in patronage thanks to Sex and the City’s Carrie Bradshaw, who lovingly lilted, “Any time you can go to Paris.”
4 West 58th Street, 212-688-3800, www.theparistheatre.com
Anthology Film Archives
Looking more like a decrepit gymnasium from the outside, this unassuming East Village courthouse-turned-theater is a relic of all but forgotten cinephilia, and one of the largest archives of experimental and avante-garde film in the world, boasting a collection of over 11,000 titles, from which over nine hundred titles are selected and shown annually. Aside from their ongoing Essential Cinema series, a must for film aficionados, and festivals like The New York Underground Film Festival, Anthology has been known to host live musical performances, including Sonic Youth performing to the films of Stan Brakhage.
32 Second Avenue, 212-505-5181, www.anthologyfilmarchives.org
The oversized thick-rimmed glasses-wearing youthful dilettantes smoking cigarettes in front of the box office, which opens directly onto the south side of Houston Street, speak of the seriousness of this theater; renowned for tiny screens, cool staff, first-come seating and reliably superb selections of foreign and indie/artsy films, Film Forum is the real deal, with 4,500 members and a quarter of a million annual admissions.
143 East Houston Street, 209 West Houston St.,212-727-8110, www.filmforum.org
Opened in 2005 after a four year renovation in the former Waverly Theatre by Rainbow Media as an extension of its popular cable channel, IFC Center is a passionate and accommodating state-of-the-art five screen facility. Loved by its patrons for quirks like the Short Attention Span Cinema, often bizarre short films preceding the previews on all screenings, and Friday and Saturday midnight screenings of films such as Lars von Trier’s Antichrist, IFC also boasts an exhibition of vintage movie posters, and exclusively serves David Lynch’s organic coffee roast.
323 Sixth Avenue at West Third Street, 212-924-7771, www.ifccenter.com
This Lower East Side former Yiddish vaudeville house, dating back to 1898, was shuttered and left to serve as a hardware warehouse for over fifty years. Now, under the operation of the preeminent Landmark Cinemas circuit, Sunshine displays often rare independent and foreign films on five large screens in a clean, subtle space. Widely regarded as serving the city’s best theater popcorn (waiting to be spruced up by thirteen different flavor shakers), this theater also houses a Japanese rock garden and a glass annex offering views of Lower Manhattan possibly as inspiring as the esoteric indie films on rotation underneath.
143 East Houston Street, 212-330-8182, www.landmarktheatres.com/market/newyork/sunshinecinema.htm
Man Push Cart, Ramin Bahrani 
just watched this film last night- for the most part it was excellent. Sex made quite a stir when it was released in 1989, taking best screenplay and best actor for James Spader’s excellent Graham, along with a slew of other awards. Evidently Steven Soderbergh (the man behindThe Informant, starring Matt Damon, now in theaters) penned the script over the course of a seven day road trip to LA, and the energy and inspiration is evident (along with a slight naivety in character development and lack of polish). A dark human drama based on sex, secrets and secret desires, this film was certainly unique and well-conceived (truly wonderful performances by the four leads outshine any roughness in the script), and a must-see for fans of American New Wave Cinema and tight human dramas in general.
I watched Tokyo! last night on DVD, after planning to see it in the theaters (more correctly “theater,” as this private French film only showed at one location in Manhattan) with a Japanese friend but never making it. Tokyo! is a compilation of three short films, two by French directors Michel Gondry and Leos Carax and one by South Korean director Bong Joon-Ho. The films really only share one thing in common, location- all are set in Tokyo. Each of the directors lovingly critique and exclaim the city and its inhabitants; as a cohesive work, this film is a triumph of the human spirit. I had planned to write an indepth review, but I just read a fantastic one by Bill Gibron at Pop Matters: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/post/102313-tokyo-2008-blu-ray/ I’d certainly recommend this film to fans of foreign and independent film and to those who’ve visited/lived in Tokyo. This film made me think and left a strong impression on me (not to mention stirring up nostalgia in this three year inhabitant of the world’s largest city), signs of a good film.
just watched A Day in the Life, written, directed and starring rapper Sticky Fingaz alongside Omar Epps, Mekhi Phifer and other notable talent. it’s a gangsta hip hop musical that plays out like a tragedy- kinda the typical gangster downfall story, but it’s all wittingly penned by Sticky Fingaz, a longtime narrative hip hop talent. all dialogue, every line, is rapped, and a concrete soundtrack with individual tracks with hooks allows the actors to flow in and out on the chill, thuggin’ East Coast beats. most of the black actors have nasty flow (Omar Epps’ verse on the golf course if fucking tight), and white boy Michael Rapaport (not new to crime or gangsta television and film) displays a keen sense of timing and skillful flow when he raps in his role as a thoughtful detective. there are a few hot actresses who flow great in this as well. other characters sometimes rattle their lines off to the tempo, but still convincingly and well-timed. i think Sticky Fingaz chopped a lot because all the lines come off so smoothly.; either way, the rap musical form is done very effectively here; i actually think it will be difficult for those who aren’t fans of hip hop music- even for hip hop fans who haven’t actually sat down and listened to a gangsta hip hop album start to finish- to sit through this whole movie if they actually pay attention. not to say it’s not accessible- it’s straight gangsta hip hop though, and the film plays out like visual reenactment of a Notorious B.I.G. album (or a Sticky Fingaz album). to fans of hip hop, crime film, or musicals, give it a try.
Just watched Last Tango in Paris, a 1972 film by Bernardo Bertolucci starring Marlin Brando as a recently widowed American expatriot who makes an anonymous lover out of a playful young French girl (Maria Schneider) after his wife’s suicide. In constructing an impersonal yet extremely animalistic, profane and even violent sexual relationship with the easily-frightened, childish girl, Brando captures her heart and body while losing himself in the process (if he wasn’t lost already). This Italian film was extremely controversial when it was released, achieving an X rating in the US when it came out. It’s easy to see why- the film breaches vulgar notions of sexual convention, and Brando’s behavior and language are extremely vulgar and offensive in parts (i.e. the famous butter scene, for which Maria Schneider would be forever teased). Brando and Schneider have an incredible tension between them, which they communicate in lilting bilingual French and English, in endearing little accents (which they tease each other about) on the backdrop of an abandoned, old, beat-up apartment, making love on a mattress or up on the radiator.
The film achieves an incredible mood, and the story plays out with great New Wave Cinema style cinematography, gorgeous panoramic scenery shots and long, sweeping cuts intact.
Last Tango may not be everyone’s cup of tea- certainly not romance light for the Hugh Grant crowd. But for fans of Brando and good film in general, and movie-viewers who don’t mind getting a little freaky, it’s definitely worth two hours of your time.
i watched Le Samourai last night, a 1967 Jean-Pierre Melville film starring the very nice looking Alain Delon as Jef Costello, a lonely, calculating assasin; incidentally, his baby momma in real life, Nathalie Delon, plays his girlfriend in this film- she’s cute- seductive but steely. There’s enough tension in the plot to allow Melville to indulge in some great, long shots in beautiful Paris- usually of Jef Costello walking briskly or sprinting around, jacking cars and evading police in supreme style (did I mention all the gorgeous suits? totally conservative). it felt kinda fatalist to me, but that was great about it- like Bushido itself.
Just finished Gohatto, or “Taboo” by its English title.
Gohatto stars Beat Takeshi, Asano Tadanobu and a fifteen-year-old Matsuda Ryuhei as the beautiful son of a well-to-do merchant who joins the Shinsen Gumi militia in Kyoto for the “right to kill,” and ends up doing so both by his sword and his good looks. Gohatto explores themes of jealousy, madness and destruction within the context of bushido homoeroticism; not only does this violent love story play out within the bounds of same-sex relationships, but within a single militia.
The plot is focused, unfolding in the span of a quick 100 minutes on a beautiful, moody feudal Kyoto backdrop. Cinematography is effective and even playful at times, with rolling cut scenes reminiscent of Kurosawa. Ryuichi Sakamoto lends a tense, dark, tastefully-done soundtrack that sets the tone perfectly (I actually came to know this film through the soundtrack, being a longtime Sakamoto fan).
The script is well done with time/setting appropriate Language and well-acted by the crew; it’s refreshing to watch a samurai movie in which the actors can convey a sense of their personality and come off as real human players in the story, rather than stiff, stylized time period caricatures.
Homosexual relationships, or dousei ai in Japanese, are the vehicle for this story’s happenings, particularly chosen because of their power within the social context of code-laden samurai society. Beat Takeshi’s Captain Hijikata warns, “A samurai can be undone by the love of men.” As rumours spread within the militia about Sano’s liasons with his multiple suitors amidst ironic, if uncomfortable, jokes and chuckles, grave references are made to previous love affairs that led to the suicides or beheadings of Shinsen Gumi samurai. These love affairs were also homosexual, and Gohatto’s story refrains the theme. As Hijikata cuts a sakura tree in half (sacrilege in Japanese film? haha) at the end of the film, his sword gleaming in the mooonlight, he proclaims, “Sano, you were too beautiful.” The destruction around him ensued because of this young man’s beauty, and his power clearly derives from the fact that he’s a beautiful man. This theme is executed irrespective of the sexual identity of the characters; aside from Sano himself, the rest of the characters who become attracted to him have assumedly been with women before, and likely pursue Sano with no precedent of courting men. The sexuality in this movie is about action and consequences, and the consequences are grave in-so-much as they result from these men’s love for a beautiful boy.
Although director Nagisa Ojima clearly isn’t averse to skirting controversy, which Gohatto garnished much of in addition to countless awards and nominations, Gohatto’s English title is actually a bit misleading; hatto (the preceding go an honorific particle) translates closer to “codes” or “rules.” Although some of the men negate the question of their own predilection toward same-sex sex by explaining that they’re “not of that persuasion,” homosexuality is not taboo in 1860’s samurai Kyoto; indeed they talk and joke of it openly. Early on Tashiro and Sano sit side-by-side as fresh recruits looking up at a banner of the Shinsen Gumi code and lament how strict it is, a harbinger of what’s to come. It is not homosexuality, but rather the frivolous overstepping of the “code” as a result of the passion Sano arouses within the men which leads to destruction.
Gohatto is an unsettling yet riveting film. Just like the heated homosexual encounters at its crux, it is rife with machismo and beauty, dark secrets and ambiguity.
Matsuda Ryuhei as Sozaburo Sano, explaining why he joined the militia
this one’s the best
On the Waterfront 
into this movie recently. great cinematography and acting. i think Brando really created the indifferent, angst-filled sex symbol young male role that James Dean, Paul Newman, Jon Voigt and countless other actors would later play.
Marlon Brando & Marilyn Monroe \