Blank City Reviews
Nothing in this assemblage of clips will convince anyone not already sold on the enduring artistic importance of these movements beyond the world bounded by 14th Street and the Holland Tunnel.
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.
The real reason to see Blank City is to catch snatches of the now-decades-old films - priceless DIY numbers that capture all the wild energy, humor, and rage of, if not a more innocent time, then certainly a cooler one.
As maddeningly undisciplined as the movie community she's exploring, but it still stands as a worthy historical document of NYC's recent past and the birth of a new way of making films.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 Celine Danhier has reassembled many of the era's crucial players.
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.
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.