Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Two New York Documentaries by Richard Sandler

Brave New York
Look at the various people in the East Village and how they and the neighborhood were affected by the building boom in Manhattan. Its an interesting but kind of wearing look at the people and the neighborhood that director Richard Sandler calls home The wearing part of the film comes from his off the cuff shoot from the hip style that Sandler uses. I’m guessing that like Sandler’s Gods of Times Square he wandered around on odd days with his camera and just shot what he ran across. The film is an interesting but really jagged slice of life that I think is going to be of interest more for those from the neighborhood than for any sort of wide audience. The DVD is more of interest when you consider it’s extras are two short documentaries that also give a flavor of the East Village in the “bad” old days (nether of which would be worth seeing on their own)

Gods of Times Square
Dizzying seemingly randomly shot film documenting the various street people, and the street preachers in particular that in habited Times Square before it was Disney-fied. Shot over the 1990’s the film shows the various people who haunted- and in some cases still haunt the area. We have the evangelical preachers, the nuns, the black militants who feel anyone white is a devil, Buddhists, Jews for Jesus and just people on the street. Its a wicked trip back to the end days of the bad old days (kind of). While I find seeing the area in transition interesting (I’ve spent a great deal of time in that part of the city over the last 15 years) I find the film daunting and exhausting. The weird camera angles and ragged editing style wear you down and give you no sense of anything. Interviews run from stray comments to lengthy with no rhyme or reason. Actually the film has no rhyme or reason since there is no sense to time to any of it. We jump back and forth through time with interviews taking place in the same changed spot at differing times. Unless you know the area or the time (the movie posters) you’ll think that Times Square was a hot bed of religious fervor on the order of what you’d get if Jersulselum, Mecca and Rome all mashed together in a Baptist church in the American South during a particularly fervent service. Half an hour in I was done, not because it was bad, rather because it was so jumbled it turned an interesting subject into drek.

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