Saturday, January 31, 2009

Bushwick: A Neighborhood that I may someday travel to

While I'm a snob when it comes to dismissing hipsters (is that a hypocritical statement?) I always found going to Williamsburg over the last few years to be fairly invigorating and fun, many a good night. With shows at Europa as well, I've gotten to see a bit of Greenpoint as well, and it's definitely a cool little neighborhood. The G train now sits well with me as I can at least make it to Lorimer (Union Pool, Pete's Candy Shop), and GP in about 15-20 minutes which is nice.

I've never made it to Bushwick. For me it's a bit out of the way, but nevertheless, it's been "the new Williamsburg" ever since I could remember, so I've always been a bit skeptical. More hipsters isn't my idea of a good time, but for me it's always one of those things where I know that when I come out of an evening among them, I'm the normal one. I think. It's like Mad Men season 1, where Mr. Don "suit" Draper gets to hang with the cool but pretentious EV kids.

Brooklyn Paper has a nice, albeit a bit wide-eyed-wonder skip/hop through some notable social establishments in the Bushwick this week, and it's definitely worth checking out if you have a day/evening to spare. Check out the article here.

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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Speaking of Fah Q'ing the subways, tell it to the MTA tomorrow evening in person!

Think scaling back and raising prices doesn't make sense either? Especially when the numbers are in the hundreds of millions?

The Daily News is reporting that the MTA is holding an open (probably slightly open) forum from 6pm to 9pm tomorrow, Jan. 29th, at the Marriott Hotel in downtown Brooklyn.

Hooah! I might just take a look, or take a minute to voice that R train ear stabbing. Not that it'll be a problem because we'll be going over the bridge in the evenings from now on folks...

Check out the story here.

Can't picture it? Here you go: You see the Marriott from the outside (it'll be darker out, less light, etc. etc. than this picture)

Then! You'll be yelling at the MTA...INSIDE the building, in the nice lobby before the shindig and then in the conference room ballroom whatever room (hotel room if she's really a cougar). That guy is rushing in this picture by the way:

Then! After all the headaches acquired from yelling and howling (as my dad would exclaim), you want to jump off here:

Yup there are the bridges, so nice and lovely at night.

Fah Q: Stupid R Train Between City Hall and Rector Street

So on my way home each day, I wonder, all those weekends that they cancel service in lower Manhattan and the first couple stops in Brooklyn, couldn't they just douse Tribeca with a little of Rachel goddamn Ray's E-V-O-O? I try to close my eyes and picture nice things, and then between these two stops, I get an earful of shrieking screeching until my ears start to bleed.

If I want that noise I'll go to the green line stop at Union Square, bub. Can someone fix that noise before I go deaf on the high end?

Monday, January 26, 2009

I Love Me Some Hoodies - Champion "Hoodie Remix" contest

I'm all about the hoodies, I don't even collect them (or buy the really snazzy ones that all the hip kids are wearing) but I love their versatility and scrappy nature. I have about 7 myself, and I'm hoping to add to that by winning a custom designed one at Champion's new Hoodie Remix contest.

You can design as many as you like which is great, and we all know that Brooklyn is the place to be when it comes to serious hoodies. You can choose from different patterns and colors (although you can't change the patterns' colors. It's like that "you can pick you friends, and you can pick your nose, but you can't pick your friend's nose" kind of logic).

Check out my designs so far here and vote for me (one I messed up, the other is incredibly amazing): Kings County Bop Hoodie Designs

Traditional, Gentle Country from Williamsburg

I was catching up with a lovely couple, Jimmy Sullivan (no not the dude from awful Avenged Sevenfold) and Mary Bragg, Jimmy a very congenial fellow, and Mary a bright, smiling star, the other night at the Yelp Inaugural Ball. It's rare that you find two hospitable Southerners in Williamsburg, but they've been making music together for years now and I was fortunate enough to chat with them about it and some recent gigs like their January 7th gig at The Bitter End and upcoming headliner at Living Room on February 12th.

More recently their collaborations turned into Mary's 2007 album, Sugar. You can find several tracks on Mary's MySpace page currently. Full of older, well worn Americana/country songs, Mary's voice has a real lift and air to it, a pristine quality that is at the forefront of a subdued, lean production. A wonderful cut, "Let Me", really has a nice build from a gentle spareness to a softly rumbling finish. There are changes of pace, like the whaling guitar and Jimmy's funkified, bopping basslines in a song like "Sweet Skin".

The state of pop country has always been thriving no doubt; it's efforts from people like Jimmy and Mary that help round out things with a less less over the top, excessiveness and a real focus on arranging effective songs.

You can check out Mary on the MySpace link above or her official site where you can purchase both her CDs. You can also download Sugar on Amazon here. For more on Living Room in the Lower East Side, go here.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Fah Q: Scarlett Johansson

You had a such a great start to a career! Indie darling with Manny & Lo, then following up a few years later with The Man Who Wasn't There, Ghost World, and Lost in Translation, working with top talent and garnering some nominations.

Umm, but we should have seen it coming when you were in Home Alone 3. We should have. Versatility, I can give you that (a different role much of the time, except when you're playing with Rebecca Hall), but range? We mistook your low key charm for some real chops, but please don't do comedies anymore...and don't sing anymore...I have your record on vinyl and it's more authentically unnecessary I guess.

Damn your huge boobs...

Friday, January 23, 2009

Scooter Smiff - Wish He Was From Brooklyn

Our friends (or with a z?) at Marvelous Observations posted recently about Scooter Smiff, a 13 year old rapper who is under the wing of Chris Brown (as many young ladies would) and is honing his skills in anticipation of his first album, Head of My Class. Check out his video below. Marvelous doesn't like him, but you know what, if I was that cool when I was 13, I'd be making fun of the person who would one day run Marvelous Observations....

The beat is kind of tired, but as most hooks go, it's kind of catchy (although who threw in that line "I don't need a hall pass"? I'm all for saying things with conviction but c'mon)

Monday, January 19, 2009

From the Apatow Clan, even less plot, still as many laughs

The weird thing is, a film like this might actually be less high concept than people make it out to be. Sure it has outrageous dialogue, but I can't help but think some of the films coming from this pool of actors, writers, and directors has a hint of dialogue-driven, character-focused verve. The movie seems to be about a guy trying to find a best man, which is a simple idea but in the end it's about unleashing an inner energy that seemingly only another man can get out. A mano love story. Is it trying to say something about the sexes? Possibly. But I think before people outright say this group of dudes is a bunch of sexist pervs, I think it's simply films that take a "male perspective" on things but the female characters in the films are always smarter and essentially better people and just as funny.

I Love You, Man comes out March 20th to cure any post-St. Patrick's Day blues, and has a huge cast including Paul Rudd, Jason Segel, Rashida Jones (from the American The Office, and apparently, 7 other TV shows), J.K. Simmons, Jaime Presley, etc.

Check it out on IMDb.

Dancing Doesn't Cost Anything

How many people missed their train due to spontaneous dancing? I dunno, but Perez Hilton has linked to a great YouTube video (a T Mobile) commercial filmed at a Liverpool station. Kind of reminds me of Improv Anywhere based right here in New York (no pants day, Frozen Grand Central, etc.). There's a lot of joy in this one, I'm stoked already for the work day. From the folks at Improv Britain, here's some dancing. More than some, more like lots.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Walking Home From Court Street Station or Montague, now easier!

So I always wondered why that bit of space (Columbus Park, sort of similar to that one in the Manhattan Chinatown, but not really) that connects through Borough Hall and the courthouse around the Court Street station was blocked off (check out the photo to familiarize yourself) to cars and I had to dilly dally down the steps to the left, etc.

The walkway is now free again to pedestrians, because state Supreme Court judges who were parking there finally have their even-more-secure parking lot back. The stroll might not be that much better, but it's nice to know that the space made for pedestrians can keep on being for pedestrians. It's New York, it's Brooklyn, give us the walking power!

Picture this, but without the 'no-walking' sign. And that woman on the cell phone might be walking through it.

Cobblestone Streets - Really, Really, Like Them

DUMBO is getting a little facelift, and with that, I might trip over to Superfine more often to see what an artsy fartsy party looked like in the movie Tough Guys with Burt Lancaster and Kirk the 80s. Owning that movie on VHS is a wonderful, fun addition to any VHS library. Jake from Body by Jake, Darlanne Fluegel, and Dr. Ruth? AND Charles Durning? AND Eli Wallach? AND Dana Carvey in a serious role? Get outta town.

Anywho, everyone is reporting from this past week that a 20 million+ project by the city to restore, level a bit, and make a little less treacherous, the streets of DUMBO (Water and Washington) by redoing the cobblestone streets (I can see the horse carriages now stopping in front of Pete's or something and people saying "indeed" a lot more).

It'll take two years but if I stick with it my heart may just melt. I really enjoy cobblestone streets; they automatically put words like 'quaint' and 'lovely' and 'charming' into my head. The cobblestone streets are the reason why I walk around DUMBO in the first place really. It's old school. Now could millions of dollars go to something else (check out the whole scoop on this DUMBO Walentas building) but hey, for this neighborhood, it's a particular characteristic and would make it more accessible (considering that you have to walk at least a few blocks to really get into the area from the F stop at York, or if you're walking north from Brooklyn Heights).

I like the word cobblestone as well. It chugs well. Below is a picture of a cobblestone street in Estonia. It's not DUMBO (or should that be the other way around), but you get the idea.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Fah Q: A.C. Newman (still love ya!)

(photo provided by friends at Bumpershine, oddly enough, this is the basement level of Union Hall)

You were totally stoked when I gave you my Borat pin (my only one too, although I still have that bumper sticker so I'm good I guess) at CMJ at Union Hall two years ago. I was with MISTER film critic Chris Cabin, of, and thusly quoted by Roger Ebert. He actually remembers it too. We chatted briefly amongst the playlist downstairs that either you or some other smart person made.

You were at Union Hall again almost a year later, this time on a Thursday (bless you, Union Hall), with the man from Destroyer. He was staring through my soul I swear to Satan.

I drank enough, so I had the courage to come up to you and ask you how you were doing and if you remembered the Borat pin. You said no and the conversation was suffice to say, somewhat cold.

Still dig the music...I guess Elia Kazan is a good analogy?

Newman's new album comes out next week on the 20th, called Get Guilty. From the site: "You can get $3 off of the CD version and download an exclusive, pre-order only B-side immediately. The B-side is A.C.’s take on the Go-Betweens’ “Love Goes On”."

Learn more about Newman at his official site, and also check out Matador Records who is releasing this newest shindig.

New President Means New Excuse to Party - Dekalb Ave. Inaugural Celebration Jan. 16th to the 20th

I love good deals on assorted merchandise and alcoholic beverages. Since it'll be cold as shit this weekend, why not stay local and get your butt to Dekalb Avenue in Fort Greene (from Ashland to Vanderbilt), where Barack Obama = discounts and even free stuff all along the way to the White House. This starts tomorrow and ends on the night of inauguration on the 20th, which I'm sure will start the constant headache in Obama's head and possibly see some conception action with several couples in the neighborhood.

Oh and this "event" (more like week-long binge) is happening on Facebook here. Not that anyone is counting, but show love anyway and pretentiously tell people that you'll be there like I did.

You really don't want to miss some of these deals, there's two for 1 drink specials, affordable restaurant prix fixes, discounts on merchandise, and on the night of the inauguration, places to watch history happen for the forty-something'th time. There are 29 businesses participating, and the full list (with locations and their specials) can be seen at this link here. It's a PDF, so your computer will undoubtably slow for a second.

I have an idea where my Saturday afternoon into evening will be spent, and then walk home easily schnockered.

From the Facebook invite:

Obama-inspired special menus, drinks, discounts and other offers.
Friday, January 16-Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Brooklyn, NY-January 8, 2009 Twenty-eight restaurants, cafes, boutiques and retail
stores of the Dekalb Avenue Merchants' Association in Fort Greene, (a Brooklyn
neighborhood long known for its multi-cultural diversity) invite you to "Celebrate the
Inauguration on Dekalb" and continue the electrifying celebration that began in the streets
on election night and continues right through Inauguration Weekend, Friday, January 16-
Tuesday, January 20, 2009.

Participating Dekalb Avenue businesses will be offering discounts, coupons, reduced-
price prix-fixe menus, drink specials, vouchers for discounts on return visits or 2-for-1
specials all weekend long. Plus on the day of the Inauguration, locations with big screen
TVs will be opening early to broadcast the ceremony and will have live music, DJs and even
more specials throughout the day.

The list of participating merchants and their offers include... 20% discounts to celebrate
the 20th of January, 2009... 44% discounts to celebrate the Inauguration of our 44th
President... special menu creations reflecting President-elect Obama's multi-cultural
background... plus coupons, vouchers and other special offers.

ALSO: "Obama" posters created by students at Dekalb Avenue's Ronald Edmonds Learning
Center, Middle School 113, will be exhibited in windows up and down Dekalb during the
celebration weekend. Come see the work of these young artists who have been so
profoundly inspired. Plus students from the school's Academy of Performing Arts Choir
and Band will be performing at select locations on Inauguration Day.

This event re-launches the Dekalb Avenue Merchants' Association (DAM). The Association
covers Dekalb Avenue from Washington Avenue to Ashland Place, plus businesses on
intersecting side streets. The association is about businesses working together on issues
of mutual interest, connecting with the community and promoting this vibrant strip in the
heart of one of Brooklyn's great neighborhoods."

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

New Neko Case single!!

So as cold of a day as it is today (pretty damn chilly for the city), I was going to get udon noodles at Foodworks to cheer my body up. Upon return I see that for every blog post of Neko's new single, ANTI will donate 5 bucks to Best Friends Animal Society.

Donation not withstanding, there are few artists better for the cold, desolate weather (the cliched isolation even though you're in an urban environment). Seeing her in Central Park on an early summer evening was pretty awesome...

Here's the single, called "People Got A Lot of Nerve":

It's a heavenly song on the first couple listens so far, per usual. Her voice has such a fat tone to it.

Check out the EPK for her new album, Middle Cyclone (order on Amazon here), which comes out March 3rd.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Some new blood, I mean, red wine, in Brooklyn Heights

Brooklyn Paper is reporting that Community Board 2 is backing the bid for a liquor license for Mark Lahm and Jim Montemarano's new wine bar, which should open in February without a hitch at 50 Henry Street. Mr. Montemarano advantageously owns Cranberry's, a deli on the same block.

50 Henry used to be the site of an establishment run by everyone's favorite Dan Kaufman, the Busy Chef part owner and money stealer. The one time I called up Busy Chef because I was indeed too busy (actually too lazy) to eat, the service was incredibly rude and it was a good thing I didn't end up getting anything.

I'm kind of all for some extra verve in Brooklyn Heights, although I understand that its pristine residential quality would like to stay that way. However, all the low-key places are pretty nice and some extra boozing couldn't hurt (can't go to Henry Street Ale House EVERY time).

For more on the new digs, check out BP's article.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Poster Critique: Funny People

I immediately got what they were going for in this actually, and although I could see people not understanding it (due to a couple minor errors) I think it works; it reminds me of older, less flashy artwork, like Silkwood, or One True Thing. While those were dramas, and I believe this film is supposed to have more serious undertones than Apatow's earlier works, I think this is an effective, stripped down concept that works a bit better than the split screen-ish stuff of He's Just Not That Into You (the newest poster), The Family Stone or Wonder Boys.

The expressions are pretty good (although Mann's picture seems a bit too airbrushed) and the light coffee background is nice and neutral. Rogen seems like the young sidekick type, a content look with less responsibility. His head on the shoulder suggests a plutonic "hanging around" type character. Sandler, while his range has always been called into question but his performances harnessed in some really good movies (to me, Punch Drunk Love, and Spanglish), has a great, small blank smile, with a seemingly pensive nature underneath. He's got something on his mind, but puts on a face for the other characters, and you kind of see how the dynamics are going to take shape in the film. Mann might play the bright, positive energy that infuses Sandler's world, not only with her smile in the poster but the photo shows her with her arms around Sandler's arm, indicating some sort of love.

This could be a real great direct pairing of Sandler and Apatow, who have been good friends for years now. The poster to me indicates maybe an "indie"(oh you know that kind of vibe) approach in spirit, and there's something confessional about the concept, something that says "this is an actor's film". Even though Rogen and Sandler again aren't known for their range, it could prove promising. The dialogue is sure to be sharp, and Apatow knows his comedy terrain and his style.

I know marketing-wise it's good to mention Knocked Up and The 40 Year Old Virgin, but that's where it will probably throw a lot of people off, if they are looking for a film similar to that. Not saying that it won't be, but it doesn't seem cheeky or push witty copy. Maybe if they mentioned "from the creator of Freaks and Geeks" or something a little less well known, I would have been just as drawn in. The star power is there already.

The 'FUNNY PEOPLE' font is nicely, and almost abrasively, thrown in, with all caps and such. Something tells me that this is going to be a dryer film, and I'm intrigued by that as well. The characters could be funny, but the film about them could be coming from a different perspective.

Fah Q: Emile Hirsch

Ah, Emperor's Club. Ever since Shane told us the tale of your being a bully, and plus the smug performance, still not convinced, even after Milk.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Motorcycle Industry - I Frickin' Love These Guys

Cover art for the new album, Electric Education. Buy it on iTunes here.

V neck t shirt? Check. Flannel? Check. Cardigan? Check? Black-framed glasses? Check. Sports watch? Check-wait a second it better be a Thundercats watch...

"Fake friends will get you nowhere".

That part of the stanza in "Jesse" (not really a stanza, but let's just use that term to sound like a smart bitch) reminds me of that great part in Empire State Games' "Trivial Pursuit" where he goes, "why do you surrender your thoughts and emotions for limited surface acceptance".

You know how I love Oxford Collapse. These guys, so named The Motorcycle Industry, are like a less loud version of them. I think the one of the greatest things to describe a band is youthful, and not like your teen pop youthful, but much more brash, as if they're in the moment but not to be cute, but to say, "this is my hilarious self-awareness at this particular time and anything's game". It's a fun, snotty, awkward, punk-ish way of being when you're smarter than 16 but not settled down at 25. I love Brooklyn in this scrappy way as well. And that's where these guys call home.

MI's cuts basically are a lyrical adventure; there's a soft spot for me because I too went to the goddamn NYU bookstore as they lament on "Everything Sounds Better With". Singing with a drunk laziness (read: off key sometimes) but with a sly, abrasive, self-deprecating wit, John Langan sloshes through songs with a combination of vocal stylings from the Pogues, The Anniversary, Piebald, and a little bit of Say Anything. It's like a situation where you are drunk among friends making silly zingers and there's a sober acquaintance who just doesn't understand that some people actually get funnier the more drunk they get. I love the stream of consciousness in the stories spun, going from description to oh-SNAP judgements and back again without any rest. Because no matter, it's down to earth; calling other people out on their shit in very personal (and yet, almost objectively), specific instances is a great invitation to the listener to come into their world and see how they see in a fun way. The details are alluring in that way that they come so fast that you really are engaged to keep up with the thought process.

The music swings from Tosser's/Pixies type rumblings like "Blue Ribbon" to great little accents like the keyboard in "The Lost Weekend" breakdown, and the four piece seems to feel content and knows a thing or two about melody and mixing up between acoustic-heavy songs and adding doses of crunch here and there. Michael Weiss's mid-tempo guitar hooks and Ben Caruba's sometimes light, sometimes drudgy bass lay into the songs in a nice go-around-the-circle sort of way, like "here's my stuff, now it's his turn, and let's put it together now". Ryan Barnes rounds out the band with some Dave Grohl-in-Nirvana-Unplugged drumming; reasonable volume, rolling fills, a bit fluffy.

It's fist pumping with a clear conscience.

These guys are picking up some good shows as of late, including next Thursday, the 15th, at the Alphabet Lounge on Ave. C. Check out this flyer, with Ryan's chest hair prominently shown. Nice sunglasses indoors at night. Oh sophomore year NYU.

Be sure to check them out at Mercury Lounge as well on Feb. 1st; they are headlining the show and should show up sober around 10pm. I probably won't be. Won't be sober.

Other shows upcoming:
Feb. 18th - Bar 9 (where the bartenders can be slow during happy hour, but the jukebox is great).
Feb. 27th - The Delancey (where male go-go dancers will dance to their music)

Check out The Motorcycle Industry on MySpace, where they have a little vlog as well as 575 friends.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Fighting movie trailer - A Guide To Recognizing Your Fists

Lloyd Dobler was so right when he said kickboxing was the "sport of the future". At least partially.

I'm a pretty big mixed martial arts fan, my initial interest materializing as a child when I started learning Shotokan karate and watching first pro wrestling, then UFC when my friend Mark came to me with some VHS tapes of the first UFC events which featured our favorite at the time, Ken Shamrock.

Currently I favor guys like Lyoto Machida (who has a highly anticipated matchup later this month against Thiago Silva) and Cung Le (who is featured in this trailer, he's the Asian fighter in Tatum's first underground fight) who started with more traditional martial arts and branched into other facets.

With Never Back Down, Summitt Entertainment tried to branch into a real theatrically released film involving mixed martial arts, and this spring we have Fighting (what a boring title) which chronicles Tatum's character Sean Arthur as he battles poverty by getting involved in underground fights.

Cinematically it makes sense to seduce the audience into thinking that there's this dangerous and alluring underground system, a la Fast and the Furious. The story is typical, but with the twist being that the combat is something relatively newer.

The director, Dito Montiel, should be able to get some great footage of New York, as he is a native and used to be in a NY hardcore outfit. The other great thing it has going for it was Montiel directed A Guide To Recognizing Your Saints, also with Tatum, which was a terrific little slice of Queens way back when and had a great natural feel.

Strictly speaking from the perspective of say, someone who wants MMA to succeed in the mainstream as a legit sport (which it already is, and really is breaking ground), a film like this probably will not further that cause. Now technically, New York State has not sanctioned mixed martial arts, so the fact that the film revolves around underground fights makes sense. But the corruption and lack of rules and organization which the sport has managed to stay away from kind of doesn't bode well for someone coming in knowing nothing about MMA, if they don't like it, they might get the wrong impression. David Mamet's Redbelt took a story and used it within a legit fight circuit, which presented the idea of MMA as a sport rather than something for thugs to get into.

The movie had been filming all over the city last year, including some massive staging with some kick ass fake rain.

However, I'm sure Fighting will be entertaining. It's like Step Up (also with Tatum), but with fight fights, not dance fights.

For more on Fighting, IMDb it here. Or go to the official site. It releases on April 24th from Rogue Pictures.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Zero Bridge - Late Bloomer video (updated with new footage)

Occasionally you see bands that update or create entirely new videos for a song, always good as a DVD extra. New York's Zero Bridge, who just finished up some late night recording sessions on a new album, have added some footage to their "Late Bloomer" video, shot around the East Broadway F stop in Manhattan. Ch-Ch-Chinatown whud whud! Oh and the new girl in the video is hot, but that cake, it looked delicious.

Check them out on MySpace.

Late Bloomer

Recent Netflixing (Not Really 'Cuz I Own This on VHS Beeyotch!) - Laws of Gravity

"Mucka ferguson."

I don't even think it's out on DVD yet, and considering the budget and the quality of stock it's not really necessary (did I catch a boom in a shot?). I revisited this Brooklyn gem, from then first-time director Nick Gomez and featuring wonderful early performances from Edie Falco, Peter Greene (who I haven't seen in a WHILE) and Arabella Field (her first feature performance I think).

Adam Trese, who plays Jonny (similar to DeNiro's Johnny in Mean Streets, but in a more cutesy, baby-faced, modern version) has continued acting as well, but is also a successful real estate agent as well at Halstead! From his lips came one of the most ingenious non-profanity laced insults I've heard, which is why I started this post with it.

Gomez has since gone on to a very successful career as a TV director with shows like Brotherhood and earlier hits like Homicide: Life on the Street, after started off with 3 features (Laws of Gravity, New Jersey Drive, Illtown).

Whenever I see Edie Falco, I really take myself back always to this film. It was one of the first films I ever bought, on VHS, right after Reservoir Dogs and a couple of John Woo movies. I had never heard of it but I was intrigued as it seemed like a modern day Mean Streets.

What surprises me about the film, considering it was made 16 years ago now, is not only is it documentary and realistic in feel, but it's down to earth. The drama is not forced, and the dialogue consists of lots of subtle shifts and hints that never are told, always shown. At the same time, it's a very straightforward movie: Jimmy (Greene) and Jonny (Trese) and their respective ladies Denise and Celia (Falco and Field) are Brooklynites where the men don't work but steal and hustle, and the women work late at jobs that can't afford much more than some beers and a bed. One of the great quotes, as character actor Paul Schulze's (24, Sopranos) Frankie asks about cable, Jimmy goes, "Nah we don't have cable, this is Brooklyn". Another great moment is when Jimmy relights an almost fully smoked cigarette bud to grab a couple extra drags. There's such a great street sense in this film; even though the tough guys have beefs sometimes, they have no problem either expressing it violently while still coming in constant contact with each other because it's a community here.

Sal (Saul Stein) is the local loan shark/muscle and Frankie is back from Florida under shady circumstances to sell guns and evade questions about being a rat. Jonny's temper gets the best of him EVERY time. In the middle of it all, Jimmy owes people here and there and isn't quite peaceful, but overall is the moderator of the whole sh-bang. The film does a great job in grabbing a sense of desperation, the sense that there are not a lot of resources for these characters to live on. Everything is driven by the characters' tempers, and the movie ebbs and flows on that, not on any coincidences or contrivances. The camera roams verite style and never veers or strays too far, giving everything a claustrophobic, intimate feel. The style is classic and showed cinematographer Jean de Segonzac's potential as a lenser for Law & Order and other TV series as recent as New York's Gossip Girl. The daily hustles that the men go through are both necessary for them to exist but stem totally from an antisocial mindset. And the performances are really top notch.

Greene actually makes for an interesting leading man; a heel in The Usual Suspects, Pulp Fiction, and The Mask, among other films, he has a calming presence and when he rages, it's of a righteous quality. His soft spoken nature and sleepy eyes get you behind him as he moves and shakes through the little world they have going. Trese makes good use of all the blow ups and tantrums; his lazy mouthed stare belies the anger-at-any-moment nature of his character and is fun to watch.

Falco shows you that she's going to be a force in the material she works on later in her career; a natural sarcasm flows out of her and she's the voice of reason in all of this. Field's tragic character, getting stomped on by Jonny, yet coming back to him out of pure love but almost destructively confrontational, has an interesting vocal rhythm and it brings flavor to the role in a movie centered on the men.

Each scene tends to have its own situational banter and at the same time works toward the overall story. It's that kind of down to earth feel that makes this film a winner. There are no artsy shots; no time for that. The dialogue flys around (people talk at the same time, oh Altman) and it breathes and brims. Shot in 12 days for less than 40k, you couldn't ask for a better hour and a half.

The bar where they filmed at was the Ship's Mast Pub (link to NY Times article) on North 5th in Williamsburg, which was shut down not too long after they filmed; John Gallagher, the owner, plays Bobby the bartender in the film. The rest of the film was shot in Greenpoint; it's great to see the difference then and now, especially considering that Williamsburg has evolved into something completely different from the rest of Brooklyn and at the time was still like many now upscaling 'hoods like parts of Park Slope, etc. suffering from lots of crime and social unrest.

One note: Bill Sage has an extremely small part as a friend of a harrassed patron at the bar. Turns out he has gone on to a serious TV and film career with recent stints on the short lived Cashmere Mafia.

Laws of Gravity was nominated for 4 Independent Spirit Awards including Best First Feature, Best Actress, Best Actor, and Best Cinematography. Gomez won the Wolfgang Staudte Award at the Berlin Film Festival in 1993 for this as well.

I love this movie; if you really want to see some great footage of a bygone Brooklyn, check this out.

Laws of Gravity on IMDb

I Need To Get My Ass Here

Curiously walking by Morton's which, opening recently by the Marriott, seeming to have a whiff of duplication, I wouldn't say chain, because well, it's a bit fancier than that, but being by the hotel I kind of pinned it as a neat little trap for those staying near there.

Not so fast says The Brooklyn Paper. Incredibly not so fast, as they purport that Morton's eclipses the mighty Peter Luger's. Since I'm close by, I repeat, I Need To Get My Ass here.

Then I realized paying 85 bucks for a steak with my appetite might not be too prudent at the moment. I could always drink at the bar and watch others eat.

A Little Jailhouse Rock? No Hip Swerving Yet on Atlantic

The Brooklyn Paper reported on the most recent development about the push (and furious reaction) to re-open the Brooklyn House of Detention on Atlantic by Smith for those awaiting trial. As many have said before, Atlantic is not what it once was, and the changing makeup is certainly cause enough for protest to populating it with possible criminals. Granted, the city in general always has hotspots for crime and also the grit of the legal system (check out any courthouse in downtown Brooklyn or Manhattan, not the friendliest place even with police presence).

I actually see the mayor's point about if there is enough security, having this open won't be a burden. The area itself though has enough bad blood floating around downtown that it shouldn't spill somewhere that is now much more residential than before. The idea is that many of these people awaiting the legal process live in Brooklyn and their families can be close by. Don't you love convenience?

Monday, January 5, 2009

Notorious Trailer - Nobody Produces like Brooklyn Roots

Hopefully this'll be better than Get Rich or Die Tryin', because that was a bad movie from a great director (Jim Sheridan) and a great cinematographer (Declan Quinn). Notorious comes from director George Tillman, Jr., who previous did Men of Honor, which was well made but kind of underwhelming, and the '90s hit Soul Food. What's somewhat interesting is Reggie Bythewood, who co-wrote the film, whose credits include episodes of New York Undercover as well as Get On The Bus which was very engaging. However he did write Biker Boyz. Hmm....

I don't have high hopes, but I'd definitely like to see if I can spot some great location shots (a couple of buddies saw them filming in Crown Heights this past year). What would be great is to get a real slice of Brooklyn rap history; I think Get Rich didn't have an organic or natural feel as to how an artist develops out of a particularly New York upbringing. Getting a cast that includes Derek Luke and Anthony Mackie with Angela Bassett as B.I.G.'s mother, that's a start. The problem with a biopic like this is it can get simplified and sometimes there's no depth. As far as hip hop dramas go, it could be another Get Rich, or it could be an 8 Mile.

Notorious opens wide on January 16th, so if you are celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr., maybe take two hours to represent!

Friday, January 2, 2009

People at BellTel Love Parking Too!

Recent literature (from those infamous dudes at Clipper Equity) has informed the denizens, those pioneers of Downtown (well not really unless they get an adequate grocery store, how about along Duffield since it's a ghost block?) in the BellTel Lofts that a full-service parking garage is finally in the last stages of completion in the basement level(s) and dibs are going to the most faithful (some who have been waiting many moons for a place their car can call home). Excitement is abound at least for the time being with this glimmer of hope. At the suggested $250 a month plus 24/7 valet service, it seems comparable for those who have that much pocket change (plus the high-level security of the Metrotech, it's like a security party around there).

Certainly a welcome value-add to the lofts, and with Albee Square getting a makeover (check out this recent Brooklyn Paper article), gentrified bliss, ridiculous prices, and the death of a mini-hood with a posher rebirth seems to be in the works.

Real World Brooklyn Trailer, premieres January 7th. There Goes The Neighborhood

Looks like Real World is trying to really get their serious back with a much heavier trailer than the previous what 10 seasons. What happens in Red Hook stays in Red Hook? Obviously there's not too much footage outside the house, but did two of the housemates introduce themselves in Coney Island? That's a bit of an inconvenience from Red Hook, maybe they got lost...

For more information and awkward photos on this probably insufferable yet intriguing season (transvestite? cute punk chick?), go to the official page at Real World Brooklyn or Nobody Let Us Film In Their Bars