The Museum of the Moving Image in Queens tends to present a fairly eclectic range of films, but it’s really upping the ante this summer. There are a number of worthwhile screenings and panels I would urge Shadow and Act’s NYC readers to check out, specifically in May and June.
Series: “Play This Movie Loud!” running May 4th – June 9th
From MOMI website: “This film should be played loud!” is the title card at the beginning of The Last Waltz, Martin Scorsese’s 1978 concert film featuring The Band. Scorsese raised the music film to a cinematic art form, with top-notch cinematography and a superbly crafted stereo sound mix. Other music films, such as D.A. Pennebaker’s Don’t Look Back, offer a more raw and spontaneous experience, capturing the excitement of live performance and the candid reality of backstage life. And some, such as Richard Lester’s Hard Day’s Night, put a real band into a fictional context. This series features all three of these types of films: concert films, vérité documentaries, and fiction films. What the movies all have in common is that each one focuses on a single performer or band… and all of them are meant to be seen—and heard—in a theater, played LOUD!”
The series notably includes a 35mm print of Perry Henzell’s 1972 film “The Harder They Come” (Jamaica’s first feature-length film) starring reggae icon Jimmy Cliff. The movie’s Criterion Collection release has been out of print for a while now, and I have to imagine it doesn’t screen often in theaters. The soundtrack is legendary, and it’s a gritty piece of classic 70s cinema. It screens Saturday, May 25th at 5:00pm.
Live Event: An Evening with Fab 5 Freddy
MOMI website: “Fab 5 Freddy is a cultural pioneer who played a key role in bringing hip-hop culture to audiences around the world. Born Fred Brathwaite in Bedford Stuyvesant, he was a graffiti artist who famously paid homage to Andy Warhol by covering a subway car in Campbell’s soup cans. He drew together New York’s downtown film, music, and art scenes and developing hip-hop culture in Harlem and the Bronx, and was immortalized by Debbie Harry in the lyrics for her song “Rapture,” “Fab 5 Freddy told me everybody’s fly…” He was the star of the 1981 film Wild Style, and the first host of Yo! MTV Raps. He is also a prolific director who has made dozens of groundbreaking music videos and commercials for artists like Queen Latifah, KRS-One, Nas, Snoop Doggy Dog, and many more. There will be plenty of great stories, and great videos, in what promises to be an unforgettable evening with Fab 5 Freddy, who will discuss his remarkable career as a central figure in hip-hop.” – Friday, May 17th at 7:00pm.
Live Show: The Soundtrack Series with Maura Johnston and hip hop artist Jean Grae in person
MOMI website: “The Soundtrack Series is a live show and podcast that celebrates music in our everyday lives—from the hilarious or heartbreaking stories and memories we forever tie to certain songs, to the debates we have over music’s most famous arguments. In conjunction with the exhibition Spectacle: The Music Video, this special edition features writers and performers telling personal stories about music videos—how one video made a mark on their lives. The event will hold a magnifying glass up to the influence that videos have had on our culture by zeroing in on the personal, specific ways that they have mattered to us. Dana Rossi is the creator and host of The Soundtrack Series, which is regularly presented live at The Gallery at Le Poisson Rouge. Flavorpill has called the series “the best rock and roll storytelling event in New York.” – Friday, June 14th at 7:00pm.
Panel Discussion: Hip-Hop in the YouTube Age
MOMI website: “How is the rise of Internet culture affecting hip-hop? Hip-hop journalist, activist, and radio host Harry Allen was an early proponent of the Internet and created an early online presence for Public Enemy in 1991. In this panel discussion, Allen and other guests will explore how online video has had a tremendous impact on hip-hop culture through enabling personal visions that do not fit traditional television formats, providing an outlet for direct communication with fans and hip-hop aficionados, and through reviving rare video content.” – Sunday June 9th at 5:00pm.
Screening & Discussion: “How to Make Money Selling Drugs” with Adrian Grenier in person
MOMI website: “Dir. Matthew Cooke. 2012, 96 mins. DCP. With Susan Sarandon, Woody Harrelson, Eminem. Executive producer, Adrian Grenier. A shockingly candid examination of the ways that a street dealer can rise to cartel lord with relative ease, How to Make Money Selling Drugs is an insider’s guide to the violent but extremely lucrative drug industry. Told from the perspective of former drug dealers, and featuring interviews with rights advocates Russell Simmons, Susan Sarandon, and Woody Harrelson, the film gives you the lessons you need to start your own drug empire while exposing the corruption behind the “war on drugs.” There will be a discussion after the screening with executive producer Adrian Grenier. Best known for his starring role on the HBO seriesEntourage, Grenier is the co-founder of SHFT, a multimedia platform devoted to progressive social and cultural change.”
Another series that will be running from May 24th – June 30th is See It Big!
MOMI website: “An ongoing series organized by Reverse Shot co-editors Michael Koresky and Jeff Reichert, and Chief Curator David Schwartz.
The Museum’s popular ongoing film series See It Big! celebrates the joys of large-scale moviegoing. It provides a chance to discover or revisit essential films in their full theatrical splendor in one of the finest film venues in the country. Great movies transport us into new worlds, and they immerse us visually and aurally. Despite the easy availability of movies on portable devices and small screens, there is only one way to really see a movie: BIG! The Museum always endeavors to show a film in the best available version, whether it is a stunning digital restoration, or a rare screening of a vintage Technicolor 35mm print. Projection formats are noted throughout.”
It features classics ranging from 1985’s “Ran,” Akira Kurosawa’s stunning, late-career adaptation of “King Lear,” to Nicholas Ray’s 1956 addiction-drama masterpiece “Bigger Than Life” (both of these are 35mm prints).
There are a variety of other unique offerings, so I suggest checking out the film section of the website (http://www.movingimage.us/films/). According to the site, just about everything is “free with museum admission on a first-come, first-served basis” and members can reserve tickets in advance. Out of the things listed here, only “How to Make Money Selling Drugs” is an exception to this, with tickets running “$20 public (includes Museum admission) / $12 Museum members / free for Silver Screen members and above.”