BLANK CITY

BLANK CITY (2010)

Running Time: 94 mins.                      Rating: 4 Stars/5 Stars

MPAA Rating: NR

Director: Celine Danhier

Genre: Documentary

Country: USA

Language: English

Distributor: Insurgent Media

Oh it was a time… BLANK CITY, a new doc by first time filmmaker Celine Danhier studiously explores the history of the No Wave filmmaking of New York in the 70’s.  BLANK CITY takes its title from one of its stars, filmmaker Amos Poe whose pivotal BLANK GENERATION let the punk cat out of the bag, rough and ready and uninhampered by technique and budget.  Celine clearly has fallen in love with this period of New York, much in the way, Americans before her felt and feel about the New Wave in France.

Her film is carefully researched and covers the aesthetics that ranged from BORN IN FLAMES, Lizzie Borden’s feminist work to films like, Cinema of Transgression Richard Kern’s sexual romp FINGERED, starring downtown queen Lydia Lunch. Did the time have attitude? Yes, and it’s the same attitude that Ms. Danhier brings to the interviews, giving well known artists like Debbie Harry and Steve Buscemi the opportunity to share their memories along side people who may be a new discovery for a younger generation…like Beth and Scott B.  That it romanticizes the unromantic art makes it all the more interesting.  And to remember New York before gentrification is a real treat.

I was in Zinman/Fishelson’s CITY NEWS, which came a little late in the game and was rough, but in retrospect sweet; we shot in 16mm and the only on camera drugs were cigarettes.

As Amos Poe says, ‘all filmmakers must have an obsessional quality to finish their work, no matter what’ and the films of those times were about ‘defining oneself.’ What I particularly liked was the idea that the work was about the moment…no one was concerned with audition films for Hollywood.  Not that several artists didn’t move on…Basquiat became a super star, Anne Magnuson tried television and Susan Seidelman worked with Madonna. But for the most part, like Jim Jarmusch, they never lost their edge.

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