Starting tonight, BAMcinématek is screening over two dozen quintessential, or simply shot in Brooklyn films on the last Monday of every month until December 2012. Every movie in “Brooklyn Close-Up” showcases specific Brooklyn neighborhoods or the borough in general (and to complete the theme, each screening is followed by Brooklyn Brewery beers in the lobby). Some, like William Lustig’s Vigilante (1983), I’ve never heard of. Others fall into the category of films I feel like I should have seen by now, but haven’t, and am kind of embarrassed to admit I haven’t yet seen them. Like tonight’s inaugural film in “Brooklyn Close-Up,” The Warriors.
How I missed this—despite listing Warriors screenings on the Tip Sheet more than a few times–is a little inexcusable. But it’s also such a cult classic that I feel like I have seen it. It’s kind of like what writer Lynn Harris calls Elmosis—the process by which little kids just “know” Elmo, even if they’ve never actually seen him. After hearing countless Warriors references from friends, I’ve gotten the gist—something about gangs, Coney Island, and that sing-songy line, “Warriors, come out to play-ay!”
So this weekend, just to end the suspense, I rented it. And honestly, after an initial few minutes of wariness (You mean we’re supposed to take these long-haired/Afro-ed gangs in retarded outfits, and lines like ‘Can You Dig It?,’ seriously?) the movie becomes an awesome work of camp. The Warriors, despite their silly leather vests, suddenly act like a group of bad-asses who square off with every weird gang in New York on what must be the world’s longest ride to Coney Island. That a good chunk of the film is set in New York City’s pre-Metrocard, pre-Giuliani, graffitied subways, and soundtracked by spooky, synthesized riffs, just makes this an even more excellent relic from the 70s. (Plus the Warriors’ “Warchief,” Swan, is totally hot.) It’s the perfect film to see on the big screen on Halloween, and if you catch the 7:30 screening, you get to see David Patrick Kelly, who plays the the super mean, Cyrus-killing Luther, in his first public appearance ever for The Warriors.
After tonight, the rest of the films in “Brooklyn Close-Up” will be screened as double-headers. As part of the series, BAMcinématek asked film lover and illustrator Nathan Gelgud to create this cool, commemorative limited edition poster (click on it to see a larger version). It’s on sale at BAM Rose Cinemas, and the Greenlight Bookstore kiosks in the BAM Howard Gilman Opera House and BAM Harvey Theater for $25, but we’re giving away a poster to one random reader. Just take a look at the list of films in the series below, and tell us the one Brooklyn film you should have seen by now, but haven’t, via twitter (we’re @brooklynbased). We’ll pick a winner by Friday, Nov. 4, at noon.
Films scheduled in “Brooklyn Close-Up,” and the neighborhoods in which they’re set:
• Bay Ridge: John Badham’s Saturday Night Fever (1977)
• Bedford-Stuyvesant: Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing (1989); William Friedkin’s The French Connection (1971); Michael Campus’ The Education of Sonny Carson (1974) Pivotal scenes shot in Fort Greene Park
• Bensonhurst: Paul Morrissey’s Spike Of Bensonhurst (1988)
• Brighton Beach: James Gray’s Two Lovers (2008)
• Brooklyn Heights: Peter Yates’ For Pete’s Sake (1974), Michael Winner’s The Sentinel (1977)
• Brownsville & East New York: Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas (1989) Also Gowanus, under the Smith/9th St. overpass
• Carroll Gardens: Norman Jewison’s Moonstruck (1987) Also Brooklyn Heights; Ronald Bronstein’s Frownland (2007) Actually, the “Columbia St. Waterfront District”
• Coney Island: Harold Lloyd’s Speedy (1928); Morris Engel’s The Little Fugitive (1953); Eugène Lourié’s The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (1953); Walter Hill’s The Warriors (1979)
• Crown Heights: Jim McKay’s Our Song (2000)
• DUMBO: Sergio Leone’s Once Upon A Time in America (1982)
• Flatbush: Alan J. Pakula’s Sophie’s Choice (1982)
• Fort Greene: Ryan Fleck’s Half Nelson (2007) Also Gowanus and East New York; Spike Lee’s She’s Gotta Have It (1986)
• Gravesend: Sidney Lumet’s Dog Day Afternoon (1975) But shot in Windsor Terrace
• Park Slope: Hal Ashby’s The Landlord (1970); Wayne Wang’s Smoke (1995); Noah Baumbach’s The Squid and the Whale (2005) Also a block in Prospect-Lefferts Gardens aka “the fillet of the neighborhood”; Aaron Katz’s Quiet City (2007)
• Red Hook: William Lustig’s Vigilante (1983) Also Greenpoint; Uli Edel’s Last Exit to Brooklyn (1989)
• Williamsburg: Elia Kazan’s A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1945); Andrew Bujalski’s Mutual Appreciation (2005)
• Neighborhood Unidentified: Wes Craven’s Vampire in Brooklyn (1995)