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Blank City

Blank City (2011)



Average Rating: 7.1/10
Critic Reviews: 17
Fresh: 14 | Rotten: 3

No consensus yet.



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Average Rating: 3.6/5
User Ratings: 528

My Rating

Movie Info

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

Feb 21, 2012


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All Critics (38) | Top Critics (17) | Fresh (30) | Rotten (8) | DVD (3)

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.

July 26, 2011 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

As maddeningly undisciplined as the movie community she's exploring, but it still stands as a worthy historical document of NYC's recent past and the birth of a new way of making films.

July 15, 2011 Full Review Source: Toronto Star
Toronto Star
Top Critic IconTop Critic

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.

July 15, 2011 Full Review Source: Globe and Mail
Globe and Mail
Top Critic IconTop Critic

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.

July 10, 2011 Full Review Source: Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

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.

June 17, 2011 Full Review Source: Washington Post
Washington Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

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.

June 16, 2011 Full Review Source: Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

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.

March 1, 2012 Full Review Source: Guardian [UK]
Guardian [UK]

A dusty feature-length slideshow presented by aging hipsters.

March 1, 2012 Full Review Source: Little White Lies
Little White Lies

The film works best as a love letter to a grubbier, poorer era in Manhattan history.

February 20, 2012 Full Review Source: Total Film
Total Film

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.

July 15, 2011 Full Review Source: Jam! Movies
Jam! Movies

Celine Danhier's vivid documentary recreates the dangerous energy of New York City in the late 70s and early 80s.

July 15, 2011 Full Review Source: NOW Toronto
NOW Toronto

... Makes you nostalgic for a cultural experience you never had.

June 30, 2011 Full Review Source: The Ooh Tray
The Ooh Tray

You can't tell the urban hipsters without a scorecard.

June 17, 2011 Full Review Source: East Bay Express
East Bay Express

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.

June 13, 2011 Full Review Source: Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)
Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)

Contains some interesting and amusing 'No Wave' anecdotes, but director Celine Danhier doesn't form a cogent narrative spine from all of her interviews.

June 2, 2011 Full Review Source:

Blank City is not a great documentary. Too much is covered way too rapidly. Interviews are cut short, making room for samplings from No Wave movies.

May 19, 2011 Full Review Source: Boston Phoenix
Boston Phoenix

Audience Reviews for Blank City

Documentary covering the "no-wave" film movement in NYC circa 1977-1984, focusing on Jim Jarmusch, the Cinema of Transgression, and the connections to performance art and punk rock. Very informative if you're not aware of this period; very few of these amateurish art movies are ever screened (after the breakthrough film STRANGER THAN PARADISE, the next most famous example of the genre may just be GEEK MAGGOT BINGO!) Debbie Harry, Steve Buscemi and John Waters (of course) are also interviewed.
March 2, 2012
Greg S

Super Reviewer

"Blank City" is a spirited and informative documentary about a group of low budget filmmakers operating in New York City in the 70's and 80's. While I could point out that the documentary could have used a better organizational and chronological structure, I think at the same time that would have clashed with the punk music like aesthetic of the movies that were made using 8mm cameras that were bought, stolen or borrowed.(I'm no legal expert but I am pretty sure that the statute of limitations has expired on all the financing via petty larceny.) Of them, some of the names might seem familiar to the casual observer like Jim Jarmusch and Steve Buscemi. And it admittedly did take a few minutes to remember where I recognized Richard Kern, now mostly known for nude photography, from. So, it is perhaps ironic that success and money killed this nascent movement, especially the gentrifying of the Lower East Side of Manhattan, home turf for so many of these artists.
November 18, 2013
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

"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.
May 19, 2012
Eric Broome

Super Reviewer

A fascinating look at a New York City that is gone forever..some would say for the better, others for the worse. This is a tale of a City in decay..and the fantastic art motivated by that decay.
July 3, 2012
John Ballantine

Super Reviewer

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