The birth of hip hop is a curious thing. It’s both hotly disputed (which borough ‘created’ it, who really invented scratching, etc.) and remarkably well documented. The creation of an entirely new culture inside the cultural capitol of, well, the world, created a weird feeding frenzy of lovers and opportunists setting upon, photographing, supporting and co-opting the burgeoning b-boys, mc’s, dj’s and graffiti artists.

And one of the undoubted lovers and champions was Jamel Shabazz, a Brooklyn photographer right in the eye of the hip hop storm. In Street Photographer, director Charlie Ahearn (another giant champion of early hip hop) tells Shabazz’s story and the stories he captured, stories that so many of early hip hop documenters missed.

Jamel Shabazz:Street Photographer
Monday, March 24: 7, 8:45
Tuesday, March 25: 7, 8:45
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In 1978, Minnesota native John Hanson, along with collaborator Rob Nilsson, wrote, produced, edited this stark, humanist portrayal of  farm life and the leftist agrarian history of North Dakota. This debut film won the Caméra d’Or at Cannes.

Starring non-professional actors and shot in a winter even colder than the much-feared Polar Vortex, Hanson and Nilsson’s passion for North Dakota and early American leftist politics shine through the obvious difficulties they had in making the film.

The film, in a brand-spanking-new 35 mm print, is the obvious star of the weekend. But we’re doubly honored to have co-director John Hanson with us at the 7pm show on Friday, January 17th. Be sure to ask him about that Vortex, so that he can tell you what a real winter is like.

Normally I’d give you a trailer or clip of the film to whet your appetite, but the Internet is coming up empty. However there is a fantastic article about the film over at Film Comment. Enjoy!

Northern Lights

Friday, January 17th: 7pm (sold out), 9pm
Saturday, January 18th: 7pm (selling fast!), 9pm
Sunday, January 19th 5pm, 7pm

Lancastic rolls on this weekend and Burt finds himself trapped in two very different situations. In Birdman of Alcatraz, he’s trapped by prison walls. In The Train, he’s trapped between the French resistance and a Nazi train laden with stolen art. Both are directed by John Frankenheimer, whose career was given a huge boost by Lancaster after the two worked on The Young Savages in 1961.

Frankenheimer wasn’t supposed to direct either of these films. Birdman began under Charles Chrichton (The Lavender Hill Mob, a bunch of other stuff), but Lancaster brought in Frankenheimer to take over. A perhaps over-ambitious prestige bio-pic (the first cut was over 4 hours long), it was still quite the success, earning Lancaster his 3rd of 4 best actor nominations — which he lost to Gregory Peck for To Kill A Mockingbird, no shame in losing to that performance.

The Train is more in the Frankenheimer mode, a tense, action-filled thriller. But Arthur Penn (Bonnie and Clyde, Night Moves, other classics) was the initial director, until Lancaster fired him and brought in Frankenheimer to make the film more action-packed. Lancaster does his own stunts, real trains are crashed, real dynamite blows up real good. It’s a style of action mostly unseen since special effects took over the world.

See? Isn’t that great? Real humans did that stuff. Not a computer.

Birdman of Alcatraz
Friday, November 22nd: 7pm
Saturday, November 23rd: 9:30pm
Sunday, November 24th: 7:30pm
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The Train
Friday, November 22nd: 9:30pm
Saturday, November 23rd: 7pm
Sunday, November 24th: 5pm
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Huty1586437It was early in my days with the Trylon when I feel in love with Lancaster when we showed The Sweet Smell of Success, a movie so dark, so mean, so grim that it’s hard to believe it was ever made. Shortly thereafter I went on a noir bender and saw Lancaster in both The Killers and Criss Cross, which only cemented my love of Lancaster.

So imagine my excitement when we announced a whole month of Lancaster! 11 films, 9 of which were new to me. Now that we’re half-way through the month, I thought I’d offer a brief summary of what we’ve shown so far and what we have coming up. If you’ve missed the films so far, there’s still plenty of great movies coming up.

Tonight and tomorrow we’ll be showing Ulzana’s Raid, which Trylon regular John Bloomfield has already introduced quite well. But I’m interested in seeing it as a companion piece to The Professionals. That earlier film straddled the line between straightforward western and the darker, introspective westerns that began to appear in the 60s. For all its attempts at grimy characters with questionable morals, The Professionals remained a bit too glossy and clean. But by the time Ulzana was made, all that sheen had been stripped from the western, and I’m very excited to see how Lancaster approaches a truly dark Western.

This weekend is double dose of Lancaster/Frankenheimer. The Train is what I expect from the pairing, a stunt-heavy action film, with the physically amazing Lancaster doing all his own stunts. The Train falls nicely in line with films like The Swimmer and Trapeze as a film that highlights Lancaster’s intense physicality, and I’m very excited to see how Frankenheimer puts Lancaster to use.

On the utter opposite end of the spectrum is Birdman of Alcatraz a biopic set almost entirely in a prison cell, a weird work in both of Lancaster and Frankenheimer’s careers. The subject of Robert Stroud seems so far from Lancaster’s usual wheelhouse of energetic, charming characters. But as he showed in The Killers, he had the ability to play quiet, internal men as well. So, while much of Birdman looks like a prototypical “Prestige Picture”, I’m interested in seeing it for a restrained (in more than ways than one) Lancaster.

On the Monday and Tuesday before Thanksgiving we show Run Silent, Run Deep, another film that constrains the effervescent Lancaster, this time by both the walls of a submarine and the laws of his captain, Clark Gable. Made right after Sweet Smell of Success, the film looks to be a more traditional studio product after that paradigm-smashing masterpiece. The pairing of Lancaster and Gable is the big draw for me, as this is the only film we’re showing in this series where Lancaster share’s the screen with a ‘classic’ star, someone just as able of dominating the screen as he was.

Our final Lancaster film is one of his best known, From Here to Eternity. Known as a soapy romance, the film also focuses on darker, repressed fears. While I don’t expect anything like the existential horror of The Swimmer, I’m excited to see this classic for another Lancaster performance as a man running from his past.

The Trylon microcinema offers up a rare treat this Halloween — the classic grandfather of the modern zombie genre, Night of the Living Dead, with a brand new soundtrack, played live by frequent Trylon collaborators The Poor Nobodys.

The film won’t be completely silent, so you’ll still be able to hear the dialog, but since every subsequent zombie movie has copied NotLD‘s plot, the story should be familiar. But the chilling live music will haunt your soul and invade your dreams!

These shows are going to be popular, so get your tickets early!

Night of the Living Dead with The Poor Nobodys
Friday, October 25: 7pm, 9pm
Saturday, October 26: 7pm, 9pm
Sunday, October 27: 5pm, 7pm
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