07/05/16 11:33am
Labyrinth-Bowie_0

There is more than one free, outdoor screening of Labyrinth in Brooklyn this summer.

Welcome back from Fourth of July weekend. Here’s a little something to take the edge off the end of a glorious long weekend. For the next two months there is a free outdoor movie showing somewhere in Brooklyn almost every single night. With so many classic flicks and prime screening locations to choose from, it can be hard to keep track of what’s on offer week to week, so we’re back once again with our giant free outdoor movie calendar to take that annoying administrative task off your plate. You can download the whole enchilada into your Google calendar or just pick the individual movies that really call your name. Then simply add a few friends to the invite, designate who will bring the wine, beach blanket and snacks, and voila. . .you’ve got the makings of a perfect summer evening.
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06/09/16 12:28pm

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You probably don’t look at DVD covers much any more, or movie posters either. If you did, you’d notice that pretty much every movie that could plausibly be called “indie”–it was shot with just a premise and no script, the only camera used in filming was an iPhone, Ethan Hawke is in it–comes emblazoned with medallions announcing that it was featured in a whole pile of film festivals. The problem is that appearing in a festival is no guarantee that the movie is actually any good (just like having a $100 million budget isn’t a promise that a movie will even make sense).

Luckily we have BAM to sort through the festival scene and select the best, most thought provoking, most of-the-moment films to play at BAMcinemaFest, which kicks off next Wednesday, June 15.

Since it started in 2009, BAMcinemaFest has found its identity as a curated cut of movies that tap into some set of larger conversations happening in our culture. Past picks have included Boyhood, Tangerine and Ain’t Them Bodies Saints and each year’s program includes feature-length narrative films as well shorts programs and documentary. This year’s line-up is packed with movies that challenge ideas of identity, gender, adulthood, and what a film should accomplish. And yes, there’s some Ethan Hawke in the mix. Here are few that will keep you deep in conversation after the movie ends. (more…)

05/25/16 4:00pm

(Kickstarter)

From the Newport Jazz Festival and Woodstock, to Live Aid and Lollapalooza, music festivals once held historical and cultural importance—before the dizzying array of acts, foodtrucks, and selfie-happy audiences took over. The Memphis Country Blues Festival, which first started in 1966, is not as well known as some contemporaries, but was equally significant. Though it had a brief four-year run, as an integrated music festival during the Civil Rights movement in a city renowned for its blues history, it was a crucial cultural touchstone for Southern musicians. (more…)

05/05/16 9:53am
Alexander Olchs stands in front of Metrograph. Photo: @MetrographNYC via Instagram

Alexander Olch stands in front of Metrograph. Photo: @MetrographNYC via Instagram

Alexander Olch, didn’t “fall in love with movies watching them on my computer.” Instead, the founder of the new Metrograph theater on the Lower East Side grew up grew up going to New York City’s Art Deco movie palaces like The Ziegfield, The Paris, and The Beekman, places that, as he puts it, “When you walk in the door, you know something special happens here.”

I’ve been noticing people who come here who you never find at the Angelika or the Quad…now is a really good time to be a film buff in NYC.” –Tim Chung

While New York is lucky that arthouse stalwarts like the Film Forum, the Angelika and Anthology Film Archives are still showing films, the number of repertory theaters and movie houses in general hasdeclined significantly since the days of the Bleecker Street Cinema and the 8th Street Playhouse (which we have to thank for the tradition of midnight Rocky Horror screenings). First television, then multiplexes and now, Netflix have all played a part in the downward trend.

But a second wave of indie theaters is luring us off our couches. Through their brilliant curation, the social component of pairing cult classics with cocktails, and the draw of seeing works of art in their intended form, we’ve entered a new golden era of theaters that aims to elevate the movie-going experience.

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04/20/16 3:29pm

Equals-film-images-3458eea8-1d18-4d22-87bb-ab12ce1fc17It almost seems that writers and filmmakers have grown weary of weaving stories around human emotion—they’re become more interested in crafting worlds devoid of it. In Drake Doremus’ third feature film, Equals (which stars Kristen Stewart and Nicolas Hoult), we’re invited into a place called The Collective. The Collective is an idyllic society—its people (who are called Equals) go about their various jobs, eat nutritious meals, take a lot of showers, go to sleep, wake up, and do it all over again. They do all of this, always, with unwavering composure and pleasant attitudes—they’re a new breed of humans who have no emotions, and therefore exist in a mechanized world free of violence, depression, or any troubles at all.

Cue the hollow sounds of ambient electronica.

Silas (Hoult) is a young Equal who works as designer. He lives a sterile, normal life until he’s infected with SOS (Switched-On-Syndrome), a cancerous disease that activates a whole slew of emotions in people who have been bred to survive without them. In The Collective, SOS usually leads to suicide, or being shipped off to a mysterious clinic called The Den, where it seems people die anyway. It’s not long before Silas notices that his co-worker Nia (Stewart) shows signs of being infected as well, though she’s able to hide it, a difficult survival tactic. After a montage of inquisitive glances that quickly turn into palpable longing, Silas and Nia embark on a lustful, forbidden romance, often conducted in the dreamy neon lavatories where everyone is reduced to silhouettes. It’s not just skin they’re after—it’s more of an all-consuming desire to, well, be human, in all the ways we were meant to be human.
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04/14/16 9:30am
Jason Bateman as Baxter Fang and Nicole Kidman as Annie Fang in THE FAMILY FANG. Photographer: Alison Rosa

Jason Bateman and Nicole Kidman share the screen in The Family Fang. Photo: Alison Rosa

The Tribeca Film Festival begins today, celebrating its fifteenth year with a highly curated a slate of 101 films (handpicked from over 6,000 submissions), 77 of them world premieres. From a documentary about the Syrian refugee crisis to an indie film centered around a dysfunctional family of artists, here are five films definitely worth seeing at this year’s festival. Many screenings are sold out, but if you show up the day of a stand-by line forms about 45 minutes prior to screenings and tickets will be released starting 15 minutes before showtime, depending on availability. Or, skip the crowds and add these to your list of must-sees via your couch.

The Family Fang
Jason Bateman and Nicole Kidman seem like an unlikely duo to see on the big screen together, but the premise of The Family Fang finds them in two acerbic art house roles. Based on the 2011 best selling novel of the same name by Kevin Wilson, the film tells the story of siblings Annie (Kidman) and Baxter (Bateman), an actress and a struggling writer who return to their childhood home in upstate New York for a bizarre reunion with their bizarre parents, a pair of celebrated performance artists played by Christopher Walken and Maryann Plunkett. With direction by Bateman, a score by the iconic Carter Burwell, and a truly stellar cast, this film seems poised to strike rich notes of tenderness (and dysfunction).

April 16 at Tribeca Performing Arts Center, April 17 at Regal Cinemas Battery Park, April 18 at Bow Tie Cinemas Chelsea


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04/07/16 10:58am
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The Fifth Element, remixed at House of Yes. Photo: Kamila Harris

If the idea of going to a midnight showing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show appeals to you, but you’re squeamish about all the stage directions and traditions, like throwing rice at the screen, or having to fake an orgasm in front of the whole theater if it’s your first time, then Little Cinema might be the immersive movie experience for you. The creative team behind Little Cinema pairs a film with live performances that may include dancers, aerialists, a live orchestra, actors and DJs–each movie is a different mix. I saw The Fifth Element last week, (previous nights have included Donnie Darko, Bird Man, and Labyrinth) and I never want to watch this gorgeous, but incredibly confusing movie any other way. (more…)

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03/17/16 12:13pm
How about a refreshing Lawnmower Man cocktail to go with a double feature? Photo: Kenneth Vanhooser

How about a refreshing Lawnmower Man cocktail to go with a double feature? Photo: Kenneth Vanhooser

Now that Bushwick has Syndicated, its very own restaurant-slash-movie-theater, there’s no reason to ever leave Bogart Street.

Right across from Roberta’s Pizza and steps from the Morgan stop on the L train, Syndicated has taken its cue from Williamsburg’s beloved Nitehawk theater (which was inspired, no doubt, by the Alamo Drafthouse theater, which is due to arrive in Brooklyn later this spring), and gone a bit flashier in attempts to keep you there for dinner AND a movie AND cocktails. First conceived of by former location scout Tim Chung, Syndicated resides in a massive converted warehouse space that boasts a dining room and bar area with 20-foot ceilings, recently packed wall-to-wall on Oscar night for a viewing party that was Bushwick’s answer to the Vanity Fair afterparty (ok, maybe not *quite*).

Chef Bret Marcis of Campanile and Rose Water has created a menu of upscale American comfort food, from greasy favorites like beer-battered mushrooms ($8) and loaded tater tots ($11) to proper meals like braised short ribs with horseradish creme ($26). Cinema-inspired cocktails like the Red Rum, with aperol and Peychaud’s bitters and The Lawnmower Man, vodka, green juice, carrot juice and chili syrup, are $13 apiece. (more…)

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03/03/16 11:28am

It’s still too early to tell whether this March will be more of a lion or a lamb (or just continue to rapid cycle between spring and winter), but one thing is for sure–there are plenty of cool cultural events to keep us occupied until spring officially arrives later this month. From films to flower shows to a West Coast composer ushering in an epic new wave of jazz, here are our 10 culture picks for the month ahead.

The Witch 2

If you plan to see The Witch at BAM this month, you might want to bring a spare pair of underwear. Photo: BAM

10. When my friend Scott suggested that we go watch The Witch at BAM this month, his main selling point was that the movie promised to be “pee-in-your-pants scary.” I’ve never seen pants-wetting used as a selling point with such aplomb, but in the case of Robert Eggers’ directorial debut, the description is spot on. The film follows the downward spiral of a Puritan family in 17th century New England whose witch hunt creates not only hysteria, but also one of the most widely praised horror films in recent history. Eggers won the Best Director Award at Sundance last year, and The Witch is playing at BAM through March 10. (more…)

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02/25/16 10:06am
Mavis Staples performing in 2015 (Photo Credit: Miikka Skaffari/Film First/Courtesy of HBO)

Mavis Staples performing in 2015. Photo: Miikka Skaffari/Film First/Courtesy of HBO

A few years ago, filmmaker Jessica Edwards went to Prospect Park to see the great Mavis Staples in concert. The show deeply inspired Edwards, so she went searching for a documentary about the singer, thinking there had to be one out there. She was familiar with Staples’ music through her work with the legendary Staple Singers, led by Mavis’ father Pops, and then later as a solo artist whose recent albums were produced by Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy, but Edwards wanted more.

“I wanted to know as much as I [could] about her,” Edwards says. “And then Netflix didn’t have anything and I was like, ‘Is it possible that’s nobody’s made this film yet?’ Filmmakers should make films they want to watch. I wanted to watch a movie about Mavis.”

So Edwards, whose company Film First is based in Brooklyn, made her own movie about the singer. (more…)

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