September 14, 2007

Viva La Eee Vee

The New York Times on our nabe in today's paper: Paths of Resistance in the East Village.

Posted by karen at 11:55 AM | East Village | Comments (0)

September 5, 2007

Deliciously LoFi on a Wednesday Night

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.

September 26, 2006

Not As Down As We Thought

Even though the Cinecultist lives deep in the East Village, spends much time with various indie music bloggers and recently started offering a downtown tour guide service,* according to a quiz on CNN, we're only moderately down with the scene. Their special report on Inside the Indie Scene features tutorials on the hip and happening, plus this quiz that wanted to show up our skillz.

Here was the smack down we got with our results:

You got 6 out of 10 correct on your first attempt.
Moderately down: You can certainly hang, but can you hang with the best of them? Not quite yet. Keep doing what you're doing, though, and soon you'll be quoting obscure movie and song lyrics in everyday life like it's going out of style.

This is so humiliating! We can defend all of our four supposedly sub-par responses with dissertations! Surely this is further fodder for the uber downtown criticism that every time mainstream media latches on to our culture, it's always about three years too late. So there, CNN. [via Jane]

*Our most recent client from Boston was making snarky remarks about St. Marks in under three days. We should start offering a money back guarantee.

Posted by karen at 9:00 PM |

September 13, 2006

Dipping Into the Canon

ugetsu_monogatari.jpgYesterday, Cinecultist and our friend the Art Flick Chick Kristi did a little movie viewing of the healthy vegetable variety. Film Forum has been running a series of Kenji Mizoguchi movies and we caught an early evening screening of Ugetsu. A medieval Japanese ghost story and war profiteering cautionary tale, Ugetsu is about two close peasant families who each try to make a social order change during a civil war. There's so much of this movie that is amazingly atmospheric, despite the obvious constraints of making a period, supernatural story in a 1953 movie studio. Also, the actors of this era like Machiko Kyo, who was in Rashomon also, or Masayuki Mori, another big actor during that time, are incredibly expressive. Even the barest glance communicates so much unease. Here was a movie going experience that CC expected to be "good for us" and happily, it was.

Ugetsu is available on a Criterion Collection disc, though obviously Cinecultist always recommends seeing films like this projected when possible, rather than on a small, home screen. By the way, Ugetsu was one of Time magazine's All Time 100 Best Movies. Richard Corliss thinks it has "one of the great tracking shots in cinema history." That's not faint praise.

The Film Forum series runs all of next week as well, with a different Mizoguchi playing almost every day. Cinecultist is going to try to squeeze a few more in to our busy viewing schedule and we recommend you do the same.

Posted by karen at 4:34 PM |

May 27, 2004

What'd He Say?

daysofbeing2.jpgThough Cinecultist did find our lack of Asian languages a hinderance at the Zhang Yimou event frusterating, but this isn't the first time in our week of movie watching that we've hit this wall. Last Sunday CC headed to Brooklyn for a screening of Wong Kar-Wai's Days of Being Wild at BAM Cinematheque, and while we always enjoy an evening gazing at the lovelies Maggie Cheung, Leslie Cheung, Andy Lau and in a brief but sigh inducing cameo, Tony Leung, the print shown left something to be desired to say the least.

See a good print and all you see is the movie; watch a bad print and all Cinecultist can notice is the scratches, the fading, the poor splices, the popping soundtrack and the faded subtitles. It brings out the geeky former archivist/projectionist in CC to discuss it but, this print blew. Most intrinsically, it seemed to be missing some essential subtitles, in particular a final voice-over performed by Leslie Cheung's character as we watch the lush Singapore trees glid by. The mostly white hipster kids around CC found this grumble inducing, and it did seem that the movie lacked some closure because of this omission. It appeared also that the film hadn't been well stored because the ends of each reel had excessive scratching, and there were visible jumps in the image which usually signals that the archivist had to trim off particularly damaged frames. All of this sad decay on a print from a film made only in 1991? It's enough to turn CC into some kind of crusading Martin Scorsese-Save-the-Orphans-of-the-Storm sort of person! How obnoxious would that be?

Posted by karen at 8:36 AM |

January 16, 2004

File It Under...

Scary Thought For The Day: According to, last year over the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday weekend the largest draw at the box office was (wait for it) -- Kangaroo Jack. The movie where (quoted from's plot outline) "two childhood friends, a New York hairstylist and a would-be musician, get caught up with the mob and are forced to deliver $50,000 to Australia, but things go haywire when the money is lost to a wild kangaroo." It made $21.9 million dollars over the three days. TWENTY-ONE POINT NINE MEEELION DOLLARS. Think about that people long and hard as you plunk down your $10.25 for Torque on Monday afternoon.

Posted by karen at 8:41 AM |

May 30, 2003

Anna Karina Winks

There's something comforting to this Cinecultist to know that New York contains more people besides CC and friend, E, who would attend a screening of Jean-Luc Godard's A Woman Is A Woman on a Thursday night. Actually, the theater was packed, although the really big line snaking around Film Forum was for Spellbound.

CC's been a little self conscious about her art house film watching after seeing Cinemania last week, so it was nice to run into E at the theater. Somehow knowing other (seemingly) sane people who find the thought of Anna Karina on screen lure enough on a Thursday night rationalizes CC's fandom.

Something new CC learned recently which influenced the viewing this time: when Godard started out he was quite the MacMahonist. According to J. Hoberman's Midnight Movies book, the MacMahonists were '60s French cinema cultists just like the Bazin disciples at Cahiers du Cinema but they were a bit sexist, to say the least. Godard actually wanted Jean Seberg to pick Jean-Paul Belmondo's pocket after she turned him into the police at the end of Breathless.

Watching A Woman Is A Woman, you could see how Godard might not have the best opinion of women with Anna Karina harping on her husband to get her pregnant then cheating on him with Jean-Paul. Yet, Anna Karina's complete charm and effervescience wins out over any trace of misogyny. Her final wink to the camera is so lacking in malice, we can't help but fall for her. How could Godard hate women when Anna's in the world as our representative?

Posted by karen at 1:32 PM |