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Thread: Good films about NYC and urban decay

  1. #31



    I see 2 Columbus Circle survived the film but still got trashed.

  2. #32


    Quote Originally Posted by lofter1 View Post
    Decay doesn't get much more decadent than this ...

    Methinks this compilation shows that West Coast Desert Dwellers have lots of underlying issues with the better life available in NYC:

    Hollywood vs. New York

  3. #33
    NYC Aficionado from Oz Merry's Avatar
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    Oct 2002


    In a Cult Bronx Film, Hints of Hip-Hop


    In the summer of 1979, Gary Weis and six film crew members drove from Manhattan to the South Bronx every day for two weeks, a journey that each day left Mr. Weis in awe and despair.

    “It was almost like going to a foreign country,” said Mr. Weis, 63. Bombed-out buildings, heaps of rubble and stripped cars; he compared it to postwar Dresden.

    Mr. Weis, then a director of short films for “Saturday Night Live,” spent those days on the Grand Concourse, between 167th and 170th Streets, making a documentary film about two of the most ruthless gangs in the Bronx: the Savage Skulls and Savage Nomads.

    The result, a 60-minute documentary titled “80 Blocks From Tiffany’s,” was intended to fill one of “SNL’s” weekly time slots on NBC, open every third week that summer. But it was never broadcast. Executives found it too controversial, and after a screening at the Los Angeles Film Festival in 1980 and a limited VHS release in 1985, the film was shelved.
    Until now.

    On Tuesday, “80 Blocks” will be rereleased on DVD by Five Day Weekend and Traffic Entertainment and distributed to major retail locations, giving the documentary what some people believe is its proper due.

    “It’s a relic of culture that was hidden from us, and once all these people see it they’ll recognize just how important it is,” said David Hollander, a journalist for Wax Poetics magazine and a collector of films.

    Over the years, the VHS version of the film could be found in some libraries, and it would occasionally pop up in stores. As people came upon it, the film generated a cult following, mostly among hip-hop fans like Mr. Hollander.

    Enamored by the graffiti-covered trains rumbling by and the “yes, yes, ya’lls” on the micophone during a block party at the conclusion, many see it as a repository of the visual artifacts of hip-hop’s beginnings.

    Mr. Hollander discovered it 15 years ago, and he paid more than $300 for it — all worth it, he says. Other collectors and fans have also paid hundreds of dollars for the VHS version of the film, and used copies can be found on Amazon for $70.

    The underground following was news to Mr. Weis, who moved on to other projects after filming “80 Blocks.”

    “I had no expectations,” he said. “I made something and I hoped people would like it, but that’s as far as my expectations went.”

    Mr. Weis discovered the film’s following three years ago after coming across a version of it on YouTube, and he still remains somewhat confused about the attention it is getting.
    “It was a different time, a crazy time,” he said, “and I think people just find it nostalgic.”

    The film follows each gang around its turf and makeshift clubhouses, and cuts in interviews with members. The unintended consequence was a jarringly charming view of the gangs and their members.

    “I didn’t intend on making any kind of social commentary,” Mr. Weis said. “We just followed them around and let them speak their mind, and they happened to be very good on camera.”

    Though the police were also interviewed, often attaching criminal records to the film’s personalities, the film provides a less sobering portrait than the one depicted by John Bradshaw in an Esquire article in 1978, which graphically detailed some of the rapes, murders and other crimes attributed to the gangs.

    The 40-page article is included with the DVD, along with new interviews and other supplementary materials.

    “Werner warned us not to fall in love with them,” said Mr. Weis, recounting the advice of Detective Bob Werner, who guided Mr. Weis and crew during the two weeks, mediating interactions with each gang. “But sometimes it was hard not to like some of those guys.”

    According to Mr. Werner, 63, both gangs had been receiving a lot of publicity at the time and were very accustomed to the cameras and reporters.

    “Those guys loved the cameras — they got a kick out of all that,” said Mr. Werner, now a chief investigator at the New York State inspector general’s office, “but that doesn’t change the fact that they did some really horrible things.”

    In one scene of the film, a Nomad named DSR reveals a scrapbook of articles written about the gang, proudly displaying a full-page spread he received in “Psychology Today.”

    “We had fun with the attention, because we all thought we’d be dead pretty soon anyway,” DSR said in a recent interview.

    The prediction was mostly accurate. DSR said most of the members in the documentary were either in prison or suffered from “lead poisoning” — gunshot wounds.

    In fact, DSR, who refused to give his full name, is one of the few to survive to see the documentary’s public rerelease, something he calls a cruel joke.

    “I was supposed to be dead by now,” said DSR, who was 20 at the time of the documentary. “I never thought I’d make it to 21, but I did, and now I’m a different person who still has to live with this past.”

    DSR is now 52 and lives alone in an apartment on Melrose Avenue in the Bronx. He has a job at a health club and has not been a member of the Nomads since 1987. He spends his free time riding his motorcycle.

    “That time was a part of my life,” he said, “and this film shows me the way I was then and reminds me how much I don’t want to go back to that lifestyle.”

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