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Blank City - Movie Review - 2010

Shooting Blanks

About.com Rating 2.5 Star Rating


A contemporary look at the free wheeling, do it yourself, 'no wave' cinema production that swept through New York's East Village during the 1970s.

Filmmakers Become Talking Heads in a Film They'd Never Make

Filmmaker Celine Danhier interviews an impressive roster of celeb-status 'no wave' film artists ranging from directors Jim Jarmusch, Amos Poe, Susan Seidelman, among others, to Steve Buscemi, Deborah Harry and other performers, all of whom were the creators of or on the periphery of the ultra low budget, do-it-yourself, make your own rules and style film production movement that flourished in the abandoned buildings and empty lots of New York's East Village during the 1970s.

Clips of various rarely seen 'no wave' films and of archival footage that illustrates the run down East Village's punk 'scene' are intended support comments made during on camera interviews and to contextualize the 'no wave' ethos.

Although Danhier has assembled a worthy cast of commentators, the film's frenetic pacing and jumpy editing make it all but unwatchable. Additionally, Blank City casts the 'no wave' film movement as a product of punk poverty and high energy, perhaps substance-induced capriciousness, and fails to contextualize it within the era's greater frame of highly individualized, vastly varied and seriously pursued avant garde artistic pursuits.

Blank City's interpretation of the 1970s 'no wave' cinema scene is superficial and contemporary rather than a satisfying and enlightening search for the movement's roots and analysis of it's full range of expression.

Celebrity Draw

If you're fascinated by any of the film's featured players and their work, however, you may find that access to their on camera commentaries makes Blank City a worthwhile watch for you. Similarly, if you've never seen a 'no wave' film, you might be sufficiently intrigued by the clips to track one down and watch it in its entirety. But do no look to this film to define or interpret an artistic era. It simply lacks sufficient smarts and gravitas.

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Film Details:

  • Title: Blank City
  • Director: Celine Danhier
  • Release Date: August 28, 2009 (New York), September 28 (Los Angeles)
  • Running Time: 94 mins.
  • Parents Advisory: Advisory for content
  • Location: New York City
  • Language: English
  • Official Website
  • Trailer

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