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Blank City2011

  • 4.4
BLANK CITY is an "absorbing snapshot of a daring time" (Los Angeles Times) when a disparate crew of renegade filmmakers emerged from an economically bankrupt and dangerous moment in New York history. From the late 1970s through the mid-'80s, when the East Village was still a wasteland of cheap rent and cheap drugs, these directors created bold works that would go on to profoundly influence the development of independent film as we know it today. Made on DIY shoestring budgets with the pioneering musicians, visual artists, performers and derelicts that ruled Downtown, the films surveyed in BLANK CITY are fitting documents of an exhilarating cultural landscape. Director Céline Danhier 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 and Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth. Crafted with rare extraordinary footage and first-person testimony, BLANK CITY is a poetic love letter to New York and its artists, an intimate portrait conjuring "a glorious and grungy bygone past." (New York Times)

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"...well-researched doc on the No Wave and Cinema of Transgression scenes of late-'70s/early-'80s New York." - Melissa Anderson, Village Voice


4 members like this review

Very well made and truly inspiring documentary. Proof that you don't need anything but vision to make a film - a fact that is even more true today. New York City in the late 70's and early 80's must of been one hell of an exciting place to be - but today that scene could be any town, in any state across the country. I say now is the time for a new group of artists to unite and forge their own vision of whats going on, and how they see things. And if your not going to try and change the world, than really, what's the point?

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top reviewer

Member Reviews (13)

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top reviewer

Very well made and truly inspiring documentary. Proof that you don't need anything but vision to make a film - a fact that is even more true today. New York City in the late 70's and early 80's must of been one hell of an exciting place to be - but today that scene could be any town, in any state across the country. I say now is the time for a new group of artists to unite and forge their own vision of whats going on, and how they see things. And if your not going to try and change the world, than really, what's the point?

4 members like this review
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top reviewer

This is a great look at a moment in time when a lot of artists — if not society as a whole — felt that they had nothing left to lose. Nothing worked anymore. Nothing mattered anymore. The only thing to do was pick up the remnants of that sad world, the shards and ruins of America, and make art.

What I find fascinating about that time — and the documentary does a nice job of showing — is how art, music, and film were not mutually exclusive from one another. In the world of hip-hop, graffiti and DJing went hand in hand. So it went for the No Wave scene: painters and photographers and musicians and filmmakers all worked together and interchanged titles and positions.

And like all good cultural documentaries, it acts as a wonderful stepping stone for discovering new music and movies. Seeing all the movies mentioned would be a wonderful way to spend the next year!

2 members like this review

waxing nostalgic for a less complicated world

1 member likes this review

Totally fascinating and seeing the creativity and great music coming out of NYC in the 70s/80s is inspirational - gritty, cool, and so much fun. LOVED it.

1 member likes this review

BLANK CITY is a look at a bygone New York before Times Square became a tourist trap--cum-sidewalk Disneyland. In the '70s, artists could make the city's landscape their art. They filmed a city that just doesn't exist any longer, and they developed a guerrilla aesthetic that's, thankfully, moved beyond New York to wherever there are people with the desperation to get their picture made.

1 member likes this review
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An excellent overview of some films that few watched then and fewer still watch today. The soiled sinema blog barbarically skewers these film movements, but like punk musicians, the NYC filmmakers covered in this doc were visually and aurally vomiting a reaction against the bland culture of the 70s and 80s left in the aftermath of a counterculture that mostly fled to the hills, or became a collection of marketable goods/services, sometimes both. These films might be seen as a cultural palate cleanser. They had their day and have influence following filmmakers and culture, so this is worth viewing for that reason if no other. If you're a fan or was part of that scene, so much the better.

yes

This movie fucking rocked.

amazing,amazing film! gives you so much insight to the transgressive movements of the 70's and 80's while maintaining entertainment value.highly recommended.

Fantastic!

NYC the 70s...I was there; this is it.

Captures the sense of living in NYC without enough money, really, to live anywhere, and yet having an imperative to make art. While a few of those souls -- Cookie Mueller, Basquiat, others -- are gone, there's a remarkable number of survivors here to tell the tale.

answered so many questions answered - what is there not to love about this - so great to see all of these maestros of visual theatre ...

Great Documentary! Carries the arc of the storyline of indie(?) film making in NY in a great detail, while capturing the spirit,hustle, and drama of the period.