Mondo New York (1988)
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Critic Reviews for Mondo New York
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Audience Reviews for Mondo New York
The only bracing I was given for this film was that Joe Coleman does the Bad Thing. Ok, I know about the Bad Thing. I once discussed the Bad Thing with Joe at a rooftop party, and he said he felt badly about it in retrospect. (Apparently since he's given money to rat rescue and keeps a few as loved pets.) Ok, you can point out to me that various chickens meet unhappy fates in this film as well(more on that in a bit) and while I'm not down with cockfighting either, I AM the Mad Rat Girl so... Anyway, the film begins as a bit of self back-patting for the NYC underground art scene of the late 80's. Here's all our friends who are cool hot shots on The Scene! Yeah, I know there are many other notables of the time who are conspicuously absent, but here's Lydia Lunch and Joe Coleman and Joey Arias and Karen Finley! And Ann Magnuson from Bongwater dressed like that chick from the hot cocoa box for some damn reason or other! Basically the film follows a suburban looking girl who wanders in and out of these scenarios, apparently lost on her way to the Bon Jovi concert, I dunno. She never really speaks or reacts, we are never really given an idea of why she's there or what she's looking for. Is she supposed to represent "you the viewer?" I wasn't like her in the 80's. Among the scenarios she encounters are Joe Coleman's aforementioned performance, a beginner circle at the Hellfire Club, a couple of street performers drawing big laughs with the kind of ethnicity-based humor that would get any comedian less streetwise crucified (take note, guy-who-played-Kramer.) She enters an art salon run by a big stupid twat and a performance where we get a glimpse of the even bigger stupider twattier rapist brother involved in the audience. (It should be noted the performance itself, by Karen Finley, is good. She can't help who happened to be in the audience.) She also wanders in on a Puerto Rican cockfight, a human trafficking auction in Chinatown, and a Voudoun ritual where the Houngan invokes by biting the head off a live chicken. More purpose, at least to the humans involved, than what Joe did I guess. Which brings me to some of my biggest critiques of the film. The NYC it presents to outsiders is a very segregated one, which wasn't entirely true, and one where non-white cultures are portrayed in their most brutal aspects, while the white bohemians are portrayed as artists and intellectuals. I don't mean the Voudoun ceremony. That's there religion and it's better than more global religions that cover up for pedophiles while restricting women's health, for example. The cockfight and the human auction however--yes, those things do happen (though I've been assured by someone tangentially involved with the production of the film that the auction was staged.) But seriously are those the ONLY things they could show us to represent aspects of those cultures in NYC? Where are the Boricuan artists and poets of the LES and Spanish Harlem? Where are the Chinatown gong and drum street ceremonies that sometimes seem to break out at random? Do you blancos even know that there are those of us in Latino culture who DON'T think cockfighting or even bullfighting are all that great? And though I'm relieved to hear than the auction was staged here, A)why is this the only representation of Asian culture in New York, and B) why is it portrayed so indifferently, as just one more freaky far out thing the suburban girl sees? FFS, Ashton Kucher treats this topic with more gravitas than it's given here! I'd say if you're interested in that era, skip this film and hunt up other woks and writings by the personalities involved.
This film follows a teenage girl as she makes her way around new york city in the late eighties. she ends up in very bizzare places such as a voodoo ritual where the heads are being bitten off of chickens, a prostitute sale, and an anit-yuppie speach which includes the speach giver to get naked and pour smashed up easter eggs on herself, then decorates her breasts with confetti as she screams about the yuppies on avenue A. This film shows things you will never believe, and what makes it all so bizzare, is that everything is real. unfortinatly, this film is very hard to come by and is extremly rare, but if you find a copy, you should deffinatly watch it.
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