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BLESS THE VHS

VHS tapes are a lot like booty calls. You hastily throw them out when you feel that they’re past their prime, but you can’t help but miss them on a lonely Saturday night. Luckily, the good folks over at 92Y Tribeca won’t ever let you forget about the one-night stand you had with the Mighty Joe Young VHS back in ’99, or the torrid love affair you shared with your Bonanza box set. Understanding the unrequited cinematic flirtation, the 92Y hosts a panel of raunchy-film pundits for another installment of the VHS Trailer Show, a presentation of the experts’s favorite film trailers featuring plenty of Vidmark classics and schmaltzy erotic thrillers. Audience members are encouraged to BYOVHS, so make sure to cue up your favorite Indecent Behavior III or Leprechaun trailer.

Thu., Aug. 18, 8 p.m., 2011

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The Strange Stuff: Cinemania at Tribeca 2011

At Tribeca’s Cinemania program, the weirder, the better. A diverse collection of eight horror, crime, and sex films, the fest’s genre slate features a few too many retreads this year, including two found-footage Blair Witch Project knockoffs in Grave Encounters and The Trollhunter. But its three best selections, all unhinged and going for broke, deliver the gory and gonzo goods.

Beyond the Black Rainbow

Panos Cosmatos’s sci-fi saga is a head-scratcher, a patience-tester, and a mind-bender. Set in an alterna-reality 1983, its tale—of a lunatic research doctor, his young female patient/captive, and happiness-producing pills that lead to alien madness—is unadulterated oblique insanity told via a pastiche style indebted not just to famed auteurs like Kubrick and Argento but also ’70s and ’80s future-fantasy B-movies. Whether it all makes sense is irrelevant; it’s a dystopian nightmare of inkblot hellholes, psychic powers, and bald demons into which one doesn’t enter so much as plummet.

Underwater Love
A musical variation of a Japanese soft-core porn pink film shot by famed cinematographer Christopher Doyle (In the Mood for Love, Hero) with a stylized naturalism that amplifies the material’s absurdity, Shinji Imaoka’s ode to eternal love marries surreal whimsy and earnest empathy. The story of a fish-factory worker whose life is complicated by the arrival of a dead high school crush who’s now a kappa—a mythical man-creature with a beak, tortoise shell, and hairless scalp—this bizarro romance randomly indulges flights of song-and-dance fancy set to tunes by French-German duo Stereo Total, as well as serves up multiple bouts of explicit interspecies eroticism.

Saint

Dick Maas’s Santa Claus slasher film repurposes genre conventions to amusing ends, imagining Holland’s version of the jolly old soul as a Freddy Krueger fiend who, burned alive for heinous crimes centuries earlier, returns to wreak havoc on the naughty and nice. If never outright frightful, it remains a jokey and reverential Wes Craven–via–John Carpenter riff fit for a midnight bill.

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GIRLFRIEND IN A BOX

Artist Laurie Simmons has certainly worked with her share of dummies over the years. If you saw Lena Dunham’s film Tiny Furniture, you’re familiar with the work of Simmons, Dunham’s mother, who starred in the film, more or less as herself, photographing tiny figurines in her Tribeca home. For her new solo show, The Love Doll: Days 1–30, Simmons ordered two lifelike “love dolls” from a Japanese factory and posed them lounging around her estate in Connecticut: playing with a dog, climbing a wall, and diving into a swimming pool. Simmons makes them look so real, you might just have to do a double take.

March 5-26, 2011

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MIRACLE ON HUDSON STREET

Special thanks goes out to 92Y Tribeca for saving us from having permanent couch marks on our faces on Christmas Day. The venue has perfected the Jewish tradition of Chinese and a Movie by serving up an all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet along with two great Leslie Nielsen movies: Airplane! and The Naked Gun. Eerily, organizers of the event had programmed their double feature long before Nielsen passed away. Raise a cup of oolong to him today at this unofficial tribute.

Sat., Dec. 25, 2 p.m., 2010

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Loft in Former Warehouse

Location Tribeca

Price $40,000 in 1994 ($2000/mo.)

Square feet about 2000

Occupant Reno (comedian)

The first time I saw you was Tuesday, the morning of the horror. You’d left your home, eight blocks north of the World Trade Center. You were sitting on the stoop of your good friend Pat’s house on Sixth Avenue waiting to meet up with more friends, surrounded by giant water bottles and a confused crowd who’d heard there was a bomb scare near the apartment building that has Souen, the macrobiotic restaurant, downstairs. It’s the next day, Wednesday, and we’re talking again. You’ve made your way north to the Village apartment of your friend, photographer Lisa Silvestri. Describe your journey from Tribeca to the Village. I’m in bed, me and my dog Lucy, and I heard a noise and I said to Lucy, Oh, it’s just a suicide bomber, a little joke. Two minutes later I heard my answering machine—I never get up until noon—the Trade Center blew up. Everybody ran outside; we knew we had to get money and water. Well, the Korean deli near me—we boycotted it last spring because they exploited their workers. And what I hated about them, after Kennedy Jr.’s death, the deli owner was bringing in trucks of flowers and selling them right off the trucks. Anyway, so we have this fucking, fucking emergency, and me and my neighbors have to get big things of water, get them to people, get to Saint Vincents to help. And I have to go to him to buy saltines.

So the incomprehensibly giant nightmare tragedy didn’t soften your feelings, like a friend of mine who is no longer mad at her mother? Hah! Let me tell you about Robert De Niro and the newsstand on Hudson where we gathered after the first plane hit—the only personal store left in the neighborhood, run by Mary and Fred, two old Commies. De Niro’s bought a bunch of spaces around here, like that fuckin’ TriBeCa Grill. For weeks we’ve been huddled in a ball because we hear De Niro wants the newsstand out by September 20, and we’ve been fighting it, writing letters, and it’s our only place left in a neighborhood marched over by millionaires. So after the first plane crash yesterday, where are we? We’re all gathered at the newsstand—our last moments of neighborly love.

Then, you get north to Lisa’s apartment in the Village, all your friends come over to Lisa’s to eat and sleep. [Lisa] It was like Noah’s Ark, dogs and cats and animals. [Reno] Our friend, Lisa P., she was so freaked out, she’s our big-deal tough defense attorney. [Lisa] But cooking was her way of dealing with things. [Reno] She made us this genius meal.

Later, like Odysseus, you’re going to try to make your way back, though you said you aren’t sure what you want to go back to. [Reno] I don’t know what to go back to. It’s just a damn apartment. [Lisa] We’re not throwing our arms around our buildings. [Reno] Our friends—we’re trying to decide whether to get together and leave town, but I don’t feel I can leave my home.

This whole thing brought up the question of what is the sense of home, is it being inside one’s actual apartment? With every bomb scare, every new development, it removes a sense of a center, causes a panic about where to go. My TV friend lives in Astoria, and he said, “I don’t know anyone in my neighborhood. I went to be with my friends in Manhattan.” I went to stay with a friend, though we fought over the one telephone, over the e-mail, whether to stay inside and be claustrophobic and informed or go out and be part of life. I talked to a man from Australia who has a fancy loft facing the Trade Center and who saw, from his window, the hundreds of bodies jumping and falling. I asked him, “Will you be able to feel that this is still your home with the memories of what you saw from it?” He said, “No, that’s not the issue so much. My wife is in California right now. She’s an actress. We just want to be together, there or here. That’s our sense of home.”