The Best Old Movies on a Big Screen This Week: NYC Repertory Cinema Picks, July 27-August 2


Smithereens (1982)
Directed by Susan Seidelman
This first feature by Susan Seidelman (Desperately Seeking Susan) is an uncomplicatedly plotted time capsule of the peripheral punk scene in dirty early 80s New York, sharing a sensibility in common with the early indies of Amos Poe (who pops up as a bar hustler), Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains and Allan Moyle’s Times Square. The main character, a striving bullshitter (she self-promotes with flyers reading “WHO IS THIS?” over a Polaroid selfie) played by amateur Susan Berman, is kind of a pill, but her dogged pursuit of beds to sleep in after getting bounced from her apartment eventually wins empathy. Her marks include a sweet dunce from Montana (Brad Rijn) who lives in a van stuck in a vacant lot, and the frontman for the title band, played by Richard Hell. The three leads (appealingly) lack slick acting “chops,” to say the least, but there’s a marvel of a bit performance by Katherine Riley as a depressed prostitute who lists her offerings from priciest to cheapest, ending with five bucks to see a scar “that’s in a real interesting place.” Featuring music by The Feelies, there’s also a great running joke about moving to different parts of the country (“My parents told me a Xerox copy center opened downtown… someone’s got to live in Ohio.”). The film’s ending, however, forgoes comedy for a bleak grace note. Justin Stewart (July 29-August 4 at the Metrograph, showtimes daily; Seidelman in attendance at 7pm screening on Opening Night)


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