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John Rad’s Biker-Flick Passion Project ‘Dangerous Men’ Almost Lives Up to His Name

Anthropologists thrill to discover a cargo cult, isolated tribes who, upon discovering that the modern world exists, attempt to lure the sky-gods to their island by building decoy planes out of reeds. Cineastes get that tingle from finding a cargo cult’s film equivalent, a truly outsider movie made by a lone auteur who, like the natives, has no understanding of the gears and switches that make a thing work.

These movies are never good, yet the effort is astonishing. Director/writer/producer/composer/production designer/editor John Rad moved from Iran to California in 1979 to make the brutal biker flick Dangerous Men. It took him over twenty years, and when the film finally paid its way into theaters in 2005, no one went. Two years later, Rad died of a heart attack at 70 years old.

The movie he left behind is a bizarre proof of Eisenstein’s Theory of Montage. We’re anxious to assemble these truncated kisses, screams, and stabbings into a plot, even though the actors don’t even breathe believably. This thriller about a shell-shocked sweetheart who avenges herself on rapists after thugs murder her man is a fascinating replicant of a real film. Regardless of what’s onscreen, the score is Eighties slap-bass. Men seduce ladies by chowing on their legs like an ear of corn, and in a romantic flashback, a girl crawls toward her fiancé and meows.

Yet to Rad, Dangerous Men was a life’s work, and to sit through it feels like honoring the dreamers of the world who at least get shit done. Is it terrible? Of course. Is there belly-dancing? Duh.

Dangerous Men
Written and directed by John Rad
Drafthouse Films
Opens November 13, Videology

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Sion Sono’s ‘Tokyo Tribe’ Is Gloriously Unhinged but Also Full of Hype

Tokyo Tribe is Japanese bad boy Sion Sono’s most unhinged film, which is saying a lot in a career that spans serial-killing pet shop owners, yakuza snuff flicks, and a four-hour drama about an upskirt panty photographer.

This anarchic hip-hop musical circles Lord Buppa (Riki Takeuchi), the would-be king of Tokyo thuglife and a face-tattooed cannibal in a brocade suit, plus his two sons, pigtailed Yosuke Kubozuka and peroxided Ryohei Suzuki, as the family so outrages the local gangs that they cease petty wars and rise up against the family.

With his eyes rolled back like a tongues-speaking preacher’s, Takeuchi’s Buppa would dominate any other movie. Here, he’s got too much competition: sweat-shirted brutes in samurai helmets, bikini babes with Gatling guns, vans with chandeliers, goons with horizontal mohawks, sex slaves posed like furniture from A Clockwork Orange, a diner who reacts to a sword fight by running around the restaurant with a tangle of ramen in his mouth.

Yet the film is all preamble, no plot. Before battle, each Japanese gang introduces, and reintroduces, itself with a rap (“N-Town doggz, baby — Nerimuthafuckaz!”) that’s more attitude than skill. A few do a convincing imitation of Snoop Dogg, but the nearly two-hour runtime starts to feel like a concert where the hype men won’t get off the stage. Meanwhile, an innocent named Erika (Nana Seino), owner of what her father, a Satanic High Priest, calls “the world’s most pristine pussy,” demands someone — anyone — take her virginity. When that fails she takes to ass-kicking in a flippy skirt that keeps eyes on her white underwear.

Tokyo Tribe
is Sono cackling hysterically while smashing a keytar. Sure, there are a few sour notes, but he’s made a great blast of noise.

Tokyo Tribe
Directed by Sion Sono
XLrator Media
Opens October 23, Videology

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Best Bar Trivia

Wednesday through Monday, Videology is a relaxed but impressive movie-and-TV-themed hangout, a downbeat bar that serves a tasty, affordable drink named after Don Draper, stages themed bingo nights, and occasionally books a screening or a talk. Tuesday is different. Tuesday is trivia night. All the seats are taken well before the competition gets under way, and by the time the games begin, entire five- or six-member teams — with punny names like Jah Rules of the Game, Satantango and Cash, and the 400 Bros. — are forced to stand. Populated by film students, critics, and workaday moviegoers, trivia night has attracted an impressive group of regulars yet always manages to pull in curious first-timers. It’s the only place in New York where you can watch as people openly brag that they know how to spell Apichatpong Weerasethakul or proudly put their knowledge of cult rock films and Polish movie posters to the test. Questions are of the sort you would expect — naming movies based on clips, co-stars, or marred descriptions — but can veer to arithmetic when you must tote up the number of films in various franchises. Even the guest rounds — infuriatingly difficult or narrow as they may be — add to the fun. How often do you get to say you were hanging out at a bar with the guy who did the voiceover in The Big Lebowski? (That’d be Sam Elliott, but of course you knew that.) 308 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn 11211, 718-782-3468, videologybarandcinema.com

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Mark Duplass Elevates Found-Footage Horror Flick ‘Creep’

Superior found-footage horror film Creep tellingly loses steam after it stops being a rote but tense game of chicken between a normcore derangoid (he likes hikes, hugs, and pancakes) and his wary victim.

Creep falls apart after amateur filmmaker Aaron (co-writer/director Patrick Brice) stops passively taking orders from Josef (Mark Duplass), a disturbingly upbeat cancer patient who pays Aaron to make a video diary for his unborn son. Until then, Duplass’s fantastically unhinged performance establishes what Brice fails to convey through lame dialogue during the overheated finale: Josef’s spastic behavior may lead you to expect the worst from him, but his pathetic tics also humanize Josef enough to make you want to see what he’ll do next to Aaron.

As Josef, Duplass has a boyishly skittish quality that makes his character’s unwittingly desperate attempts to bond with Aaron that much more upsetting. You can anticipate that Josef’s about to pull some dopey prank on Aaron in a couple of scenes, like when Josef pounces on Aaron and then lectures him about having the kind of “near-death experience” that Josef has every day. But Duplass’s self-serious tone makes this unpredictable and exciting.

Duplass also messes with viewers’ expectations just by changing the pitch of his voice into an affect-less monotone when Aaron puts the lens cap on his camera, and records Josef telling a disturbing story about his wife Angela. It will be a great year for horror movies if another found-footage movie accomplishes as much in one scene as Duplass and Brice do with Josef’s disturbing monologue.

Creep
Directed by Patrick Brice
Opens September 2, Videology, Brooklyn

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BONDS OF LOVE

With anticipation starting to brew for the November release of Spectre, the 24th James Bond movie — and the $1 billion-plus worldwide gross earned by director Sam Mendes’s previous Skyfall suggests much anticipation indeed — Videology has orchestrated “From Brooklyn With Love,” a monthly series that sketches the history of the screen franchise. This first gathering, scheduled for the 007-appropriate date of March 7, focuses on 2006’s Casino Royale, the project that inaugurated Daniel Craig’s brooding, muscular take on the character. In addition to presenting clips and choice bits of trivia from earlier Bond entries, each event concludes with a GoldenEye tournament. Formal attire is not required — unless you want to look as classy as the martini specials on offer.

Sat., March 7, 10:30 p.m., 2015

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THE SPACE BETWEEN US

Astronomy on Tap does New York the
service of bringing presenters from local research institutions, like the AMNH, Princeton, CUNY, and others, to local institutions of drunken revelry, like Videology. Why do some stars twinkle? Why does shrimp cocktail taste so good in space? Does the universe really smell like burnt cookies, as some astronauts claim? Here is the place to ask. You’ll get real answers, because the lively and irreverent presenters of “Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey” are real scientists who package facts and theories in a way that’s as, if not more, engaging than pop science. Movie theater snacks like popcorn and nachos are served, poised to mollify that small part of you that doesn’t want to let go of your beloved, Hollywood-rinsed notions of space. DJ Carly Sagan spins tunes while games with special prizes test your newfound astrophysical genius. The universe abides.

Thu., Feb. 26, 9 p.m., 2015

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PIZZA PARTY

We learned a lot of things from Donald Petrie’s 1988 sister act: That it’s OK not to want to get married, even if you love the guy. That a certain type of man can’t tell the difference between “babysitter” and “mistress,” despite his Ivy League education. That beating the boys at pool is just about the coolest thing you can do, ever. But, curiously enough, not what was in Leona’s special sauce. BUST magazine and Strong Female Lead host this screening of Mystic Pizza, in which Julia Roberts, Lili Taylor, and Annabeth Gish play the fierce and frustrated Arujo sisters, a trio of ladies dating and waitressing in small-town Connecticut, fending off guys who are unworthy of their whip-smart quips. Over 25 years later, it’s still one of the most feminism-forward rom-coms on the market. Grab a slice and enjoy it with your gals.

Thu., Feb. 5, 9:30 p.m., 2015

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OLD SAINT NICK

Remember the tearjerker where Arnold, ever the do-gooder, helps his neighbor reunite with a long-lost daughter for Christmas? How about Tommy’s dad’s turbocharged menorah? And who could forget the greatest Yaksmas special ever on television? Instead of snow, rejoice as slime falls from the sky this holiday. At A Very Nickelodeon Christmas Party, watch yuletide specials of your favorite ’90s Nicktoons like Hey Arnold!, Rugrats, and Ren and Stimpy with fellow seasonal nostalgists. Brush up for trivia before engaging in themed drinking games and dancing to silly Christmas carols. And just for the heck of it, an ugly-sweater contest to boot. The party’s Facebook page is taking requests — “Rocko’s Modern Christmas,” anyone?

Fri., Dec. 19, 9:30 p.m., 2014

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FEAST OF FLESH

What better way to attain post-Thanksgiving catharsis than with a grindhouse double feature in which large numbers of characters are outrageously dispensed with on the cherished day of feasting? This is precisely the event Videology — working in collaboration with the NY Horror Movie Group and NYC Grindhouse — has in store, and the two movies scheduled to screen could hardly be more appropriate. Home Sweet Home (1981), directed by Nettie Peña (who edited the 1978 porn flick Dracula Sucks), follows a PCP-addled escaped mental patient (played by Jake Steinfeld, of Body by Jake fame) as he mows down a group of people at a secluded ranch. The second selection, ThanksKilling, boasts an even more absurd premise: a homicidal turkey preying on a lineup of college students. You know if you’re the target audience for these movies — and if you are, you’ll have a blast.

Fri., Nov. 28, 7:30 p.m., 2014

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DIRTY MINDS

The now familiar platform of the TED Talk is one that’s loveably academic and incredibly earnest — and its been ripe for parody quite some time now. Enter TEDxxx — Ideas Worth Dreading, a series of tongue-in-cheek lectures given by passionate, knowledgeable and very drunk writers and comedians. Examples of some of the slated presentations include Jezebel’s Culture Editor Julianne Escobedo Shepherd on “Get Off My Dick: How Masculinist Fashion Trends Like Health Goth and Athleisure are Pillaging the Streets and Destroying America’s Youth,” and plenty of others. It’s a great bridge between hearing intelligent, funny people talk seriously about subjects they know well, and getting drunk with said people. There will be power points and assuredly, plenty of puns. Space is limited so RSVP for guaranteed entry until the capacity has been reached.

Sat., Nov. 29, 9:30 p.m., 2014