Comments, tips, mash notes and queries to karen [at] cinecultist DOT com, or AIM us [at] elysecritic.

Entries from Cinecultist tagged with 'Film Forum'

Chop Shop and Ramin Bahrani

chopshop-Polanco-Gonzales.jpg

A few weeks ago, Cinecultist got the opportunity to chat with director Ramin Bahrani again, this time for Metromix. Ramin is a cool guy and always a fun interview—he let CC veer the conversation off into Ingmar Bergman exaltations and he humored our questions about his favorite neighborhood haunts. He also is obviously and deeply passionate about cinema which tells the unlikely, untold narrative, as is evident in his wonderful new movie Chop Shop about two teenagers living above an auto body shop in Willet's Point, Queens. Cinecultist has been, at least once, to all five boroughs of Manhattan but we were unfamiliar with this industrial part of the city near Shea Stadium. Bahrani opens a window to this part of New York and the people living their lives there. His camera doesn't judge. It just appears to observe, and the performances he elicits from his primarily first time cast are wonderfully natural.
The film is playing now at Film Forum through March 11, be sure to check it out.

Deliciously LoFi on a Wednesday Night

thefrenchconnection.jpg
You can tell Gene Hackman's character is a real New Yawker because he eats a lot of pizza standing up or walking on the street.

Cinecultist was feeling the full brunt of our film history guilt because we'd never seen The French Connection. We know, we know, travesty. So CC bought a ticket online yesterday afternoon for a showing at the Film Forum tonight at 7:40 pm, so we'd have to go before the one week run of the new 35 mm print ends tomorrow. $11.75 already charged to the credit card is a great motivator. After work, we took the trusty 9 train downtown and grabbed a turkey burger at Grey Dog while we read this week's Entertainment Weekly. Mmmm Grey Dog and their delicious coffee. It was a gorgeous late summer evening and as we sauntered down Bedford with a to go chocolate chip cookie in our purse we were feeling good. The crowd at Film Forum was buzzing but not crazed and we got a seat near the front.

If you've never seen The French Connection, an understandable oversight that will be more easily remedied when it comes out soon on a new DVD, it's really simple and solid crime story. Gene Hackman and Roy Schneider play narcotics cops on the hunt for a big bust and discover a heroin deal going down between a local dude and a French supplier. The most striking thing about this movie was how deliciously lofi the whole thing is. The police use bully tactics and big boat patrol cars with black walkie talkie phones. We see the Pan Am building and watch Popeye Doyle grab a quick Orange Julius at the stand on the shuttle platform at Grand Central (Somebody bring that bad boy back, CC wants an orange juice during our cross town commute). There's a final shoot out and though the closing intertitles allude to the real life cases' unresolved conclusion, Cinecultist believes that Popeye gets his man. It's clear while you're watching The French Connection that more recent New York movies from Spider Man to The Bourne Ultimatum are deeply indebted to its suspenseful car chases. Some bits of the movie are dated like Popeye's blatant racism but Ol' Willie Friedkin has obviously made an Ur text in terms of cinema history.

On the walk home from Film Forum, CC had these thoughts and the beauty of Houston Street on a September night buzzing in our brain. On the iPod soundtrack was Vampire Weekend.* All was right and good in our world.

* If anyone has a hook up for tickets to their sold out show at the Williamsburg Music Hall on Saturday please email the Cinecultist. A rip off of '80s Paul Simon by Columbia grad students is exactly the kind of music we want to be listening to these days.

Monks Heart Hobbits

Cinecultist had heard from our friends over at Film Forum that Into Great Silence, the three hour nearly silent documentary about Carthusian monks, has been a huge hit for them but this week's Talk of the Town confirmed it. “We had to turn away a hundred people,” an employee told the New Yorker reporter. “It’s ridiculously popular.”

An even better bit in this piece than the always happy news of sell-out shows at FF was the detail that New York's only Carthusian monk Father Michael Holleran loves Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings. When commenting on the noisiness of the city and the quest for spiritual enlightenment in our modern age, Father Holleran totally geeked out thusly: “The battle, like fighting the Balrog in the dwarf caves, is defeating the noise inside you,” he said.

Spiritual dude, that Balrog was totally awesome. I feel you, man. BTW, CC still has in the freezer our novelty sample of Chartreuse*, the emerald green liquor made by the Carthusian monks and named after their home region in France, which we received as a publicity tie-in at the press screening of Into Great Silence. Maybe we should bust it out next time Frodo et al is on TBS, just to give Father Holleran the shout out.

*Fun fact: Quentin Tarantino also like Chartreuse. He name checked it in his section of Grindhouse, as the drink o' choice for his bartender character in Death Proof.

What To Do, What To Do?

Okay, so it's only Wednesday but Cinecultist is already thinking longingly of the weekend. There's something about being at mid-week that makes you itchy for a lazy Saturday at the movies, don'tcha think?

Manohla Dargis in today's NY Times reminds us that there are still some great choices coming up in the New Directors/New Films series at MoMA and Lincoln Center. [It runs through Sunday, Apr. 1.] CC joined in on drinks and general merriment at Josephina's this last Sunday night to celebrate the festival, so we'll feel extra guilty if we don't take in more of their excellent offerings.

Coming up this weekend, Cinecultist may also try to see a B Musical at Film Forum or an Edie Sedgwick movie at the Museum of the Moving Image. Singing and jazz hands or poor little It Girl—a tough choice, right?

grindhouseplanetterror.jpg

Damn this recent gorgeous weather in New York. 70 degrees, woohoo! It makes it so difficult to focus on the real task at hand, ie. movie-watching, when all you really want to be doing is wandering around outside with an iced coffee in hand. Hopefully on Friday night it will be less lovely as CC has committed to spending three hours in doors for a sneak peak at the highly anticipated Richard Rodriguez/Quentin Tarantino double feature, Grindhouse at a neighborhood theater. Full opinions (namely if our annoyance at QT's pretensions still burns with the fires of a thousand suns) will be forthcoming, as soon as our butt regains some feeling from spending so long in a movie seat.

P.S. If you haven't checked out the movie's incredibly self-indulgent and unnecessarily complicated official website yet, please do. You can make things explode AND listen to the sound of faux old movie projectors. It's over-the-topness is both really admirable and yet frustrating. Sort of like how CC often feels about QT's movies, actually.

P.P.S. A happy birthday to the Cinecultist's sister, Laurie, today. We'll always be the Waldorf to your Statler. "It's good to be heckling, again. It's good to be doing anything again!"

A Few Thursday Afternoon Links

* Bizarre, Anna Nicole Smith died. We'll probably need a whole miniseries to understand what happened in that woman's media saturated life.

* The Chinese Communist Party says in an editorial Zhang Yimou's Curse of the Golden Flower is too excessive. Morality, shmorality, this movie is just bad. Is it too much to ask that Party officials just object to the badness?

* This week in New York movie going is officially East German Secret Police themed. All Stasi, all the time. J. Ho liked The Lives of Others (as did CC) as well as the Film Forum docu, The Decomposition of the Soul. Make it a double feature! Then rejoice that we don't live in a totalitarian regime! Yet.

* Ian Buruma's great essay in The New York Review of Books reminded CC that we still need to see Flags Of Our Fathers, since we loved Letters From Iwo Jima so much. Maybe when we're not watching Stasi movies this weekend. It is on DVD now.