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USA 2010
Directed by
Celine Danhier
94 minutes
Rated MA

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
4 stars

Blank City

I think it was in Don Lett’s doco Punk: Attitude that someone observed that the British punk scene had it roots in real social despair whilst the New York punk was essentially an art house phenomenon. This broad distinction is certainly borne out in Celine Danhier's excellent documentary on the New York D-I-Y film-making movement of the 70s and 80s scene out of which emerged today well-known people like Jim Jarmusch, John Lurie and Steve Buscemi.

New York in the late 70s was on the brink of bankruptcy and the upside to this was that the Lower East Side was a no-sane-man's land of creative energy and general waywardness. Focussing principally on the films that came out of this scene with side trips into the music Blank City follows a chronological journey from Amos Poe's pioneering film Blank Generation until the inevitable appropriation of the scene by commercial interests and the enforced gentrification of the area brought it all down in a welter of drug abuse and AIDS.

The film is thorough-going and informative although it perhaps jumps too quickly from one short soundbite and snippet of footage to the next. Notwithstanding, if you are interested in the period this is compulsory viewing.




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