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Blank City tells the long-overdue tale of a disparate crew of renegade filmmakers who emerged from an economically bankrupt and dangerous moment in New York history. From the late 1970's through the mid 80's, when the city was still a wasteland of cheap rent and cheap drugs, these directors crafted daring works that would go on to profoundly influence the development of independent film as we know it today. Directed by French newcomer Céline Danhier, BLANK CITY weaves together an oral history of the "No Wave Cinema" and "Cinema of Transgression" movements through compelling interviews with the luminaries who began it all. Featured players include acclaimed directors Jim Jarmusch and John Waters, actor-writer-director Steve Buscemi, Blondie's Debbie Harry, hip-hop legend "Fab 5 Freddy", Thurston Moore of "Sonic Youth", photographer Richard Kern as well as Amos Poe. Fittingly, the soundtrack includes: Patti Smith, Television, Richard Hell & The Voidoids, Sonic Youth and many more.
Movie Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes
- Reviews Counted: 38
- Fresh: 30
- Rotten: 8
- Average Rating: 6.8/10
Top Critics' Reviews
Fresh: Somehow Ms. Danhier manages to conjure a glorious and grungy bygone past without fetishizing it as a golden age.
Fresh: The doc flags toward the end, but it remains an absorbing snapshot of a daring time.
Fresh: Above all, the film is a poignant valentine to an era when artists could afford to live and work on the island of Manhattan, and the cultural ferment goosed by their low-rent lifestyle.
Rotten: Nothing in this assemblage of clips will convince anyone not already sold on the enduring artistic importance of these movements beyond the world bounded by 14th Street and the Holland Tunnel.
"Blank City" may seem alien to viewers who don't have an affinity with punk culture, but this documentary is an engrossing look at the late-'70s, underground cinema that rose alongside New York's No Wave/CBGB's musical movements. Building on Andy Warhol's "Everybody is a director, everybody is a star" ethic, a clique of rebellious street characters grabbed Super 8 cameras and began making movies. The results were raw, amateurish and often controversial, but had a refreshing directness and lack of artifice. Few of the discussed works are well-known or readily available today (prime exceptions: Susan Seidelman's "Smithereens" and Jim Jarmusch's "Stranger Than Paradise"), so "Blank City" is bound to include fresh information for even hardcore film buffs. Filmmakers like Richard Kern, Eric Mitchell, Amos Poe, Beth B, Nick Zedd, Charlie Ahearn and Vivienne Dick are featured, and participating actors such as Steve Buscemi, Deborah Harry, Lydia Lunch and John Lurie are interviewed. Thurston Moore (inevitably), James Chance, Ann Magnuson, Jim "Foetus" Thirlwell and John Waters add further soundbites. less
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