Four weird no-wave films
The no-wave movement of film-making, which used ultra-low budgets and a punk sensibility to produce films heavily steeped in mood but with generally incoherent story-lines, had a big impact: Besides being heavily influential for directors like Jim Jarmusch and David Lynch, it pretty much single-handedly launched the career of Steve Buscemi, who arguably wouldn't have even been possible without it. But like most avante-garde movements whose hallmarks are later absorbed into the mainstream, early no-wave cinema was also fucking weird. In advance of Blank City, a no-wave retrospective that screens at the Denver FilmCenter/Colfax starting tomorrow, here's a handfull of early no-wave films that will baffle you.
Directed by Amos Poe
Poe was one of the earliest and most well known of the no-wave filmmakers, and in fact is most of the inspiration from Blank City name; his 1976 film Blank Generation, featuring some of the most iconic bands of the late '70s Lower East Side, was a badly produced hallmark of the punk scene, in part owing to its bad production. Two years later, Poe would try his hand at a narrative in The Foreigner, which follows European secret agent Max Menace as he walks around New York and gets sung to by Deborah Harry.
Directed by Vivienne Dick
In her 1978 no-wave staple Guerillere Talks, director Vivienne Dick combines eight reels of unedited footage of, well, people talking, differentiated one from the next with different filter colors. In the segment above, Bowery icon Lydia Lunch discusses how it sucks to be a teenager these days and, after a strange, lengthy shot of a guy just squatting there looking at the camera, ends up with her microphone dangling suggestively and somewhat disturbingly between her legs.
Directed by Jim Jarmusch
Although his more well known fare like Dead Man and Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai softened his odd edges considerably for the mainstream, Jim Jarmusch is and will probably always be a no-wave director at hear, and nowhere is that more apparent than in his early works. In 1980's Permanent Vacation, his first feature film, literally nothing happens.
They Eat Scum
Directed by Nick Zedd
Not all no-wave cinema was so restrained and subtle, though, as evidenced by Nick Zedd's 1979 sleaze classic They Eat Scum, a gleefully disgusting look into the weirdest corners of pre-Giuliani New York, which was then one of the worst places on earth. Clearly inspired at least in part by some of John Waters' earliest and most perverted flicks (see: Pink Flamingos), They Eat Scum opens with a clown-faced retard being spoon-fed gruel to Mr. Rogers and closes with a montage set to the Village People's "YMCA" and featuring some of the most poorly rendered mutants ever.
Don't miss Blank City at the Denver FilmCenter/Colfax tomorrow. Tickets are $9.75, and it plays through May 12.