Blank City (2011)
Average Rating: 6.8/10
Reviews Counted: 38
Fresh: 30 | Rotten: 8
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Average Rating: 7.1/10
Critic Reviews: 17
Fresh: 14 | Rotten: 3
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Average Rating: 3.6/5
User Ratings: 528
Before there was HD there was Super 8. Before Independent film there was Underground Cinema. And before New York there was...well, New York. Once upon a pre-Facebook time, before creative communities became virtual and viral, cultural movements were firmly grounded in geography. And the undisputed center of American - some would say international - art and film was New York City. In particular, downtown Manhattan in the late 1970's and 80's was the anchor of vanguard filmmaking. BLANK CITY tells
Apr 6, 2011 Limited
Feb 21, 2012
Insurgent Releasing - Official Site
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Celine Danhier combines talking heads with a flood of Super-8 and 16-millimeter film clips to create this entertaining 2010 documentary about the explosion of punk energy that propelled New York City's art, music, and cinema underground.
As maddeningly undisciplined as the movie community she's exploring, but it still stands as a worthy historical document of NYC's recent past and the birth of a new way of making films.
As well as unearthing flavourful clips from films only determined cineastes have seen (War Is Menstrual Envy, You Killed Me First), French filmmaker CÚline Danhier has reassembled many of the era's crucial players.
This doc is interesting and worthy, but it is unlikely to send you seeking most of the films sampled in it. That was then, this is now, and it was fun while it lasted.
The biggest shortcoming of "Blank City" is that, despite its vivid portrait of the time period, we never get much sense of what the actual movies are like.
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.
The films emerge as fascinating period pieces filled with too-cool-for-school 70s types; but the most potent figure in the film is New York itself, decrepit but glowering angrily in the background.
The film works best as a love letter to a grubbier, poorer era in Manhattan history.
There's no denying that the decaying New York of the late-'70s/early-'80s was a fascinating proving ground for starving artists. And Blank City is great arty eye candy. But you'll appreciate it best if the skinny-tie years were indeed your glory days.
Celine Danhier's vivid documentary recreates the dangerous energy of New York City in the late 70s and early 80s.
The grainy Super-8 and 16-mm esthetic invests the New York films with a bruised and distressed grandeur that is much more pleasing to the eye than the smoothness of the DIY no-budget movies of the current video era.
Contains some interesting and amusing 'No Wave' anecdotes, but director Celine Danhier doesn't form a cogent narrative spine from all of her interviews.
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