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Lower East Side Heritage Film Series: the Eighties - "Smithereens" (1982)


I went to high school in the EastVillage from 1983 to 1987. This might sound kind of punk rock. Unfortunately, I totally missed out on CBGB in the late Seventies (see also: Punking Out) and early Eighties. And let's face it, I didn't go inside any real club for most of the Eighties either — I was underage, and too busy studying for the SATs. But I remember how the outsides looked. The streets and lines. The cars, still squared off boats from the Seventies. Of course, three-card monte. And lots and lots of vacant lots. Dirty, over-painted apartment facades with broken front doorknobs. Vinyl miniskirts. Wanting to look like Debbie Harry, not Madonna.

Susan Seidelman hits every Lower East Side nerve in Smithereens. It's so repetitively evocative of the sights and sounds of outside-looking-in LES punk rock, you'd think it was filmed as a time capsule. Music by The Feelies hits every dirty, after hours beat. The story: abrasive Jersey girl with no talent wants desperately to break into punk rock. Lives in a crap heap. Hangs on to anyone remotely connected to the scene. What happens really doesn't matter. Come just to see (or remember) exactly what it looked like.

We are pleased to offer the following film on Tuesday evening, May 15, 2012, at 6:30 p.m. First part in the series:


Smithereens (1982, 89 min., VHS)

Susan Seidelman directs her first feature film: Wren is nineteen and determined to break into punk rock. The pieces of her world are scattered over Lower Manhattan: a grungy Lower East Side apartment, the abandoned train yards along the Hudson River, and the helter-skelter world of East Village rock clubs. It doesn't matter that Wren can't sing, write songs, or play an instrument. She's desperate to make the scene, and desperation makes people do dangerous things.

Starring Susan Berman, Bran Rjin, and Richard Hell. With music by The Feelies, ESG, and Richard Hell and the Voidoids.

courtesy of the Reserve Film and Video Collection of The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts.

This is a FREE monthly series held at Seward Park Library. Feature-length films (16mm, VHS, and DVD) shot on location in lower Manhattan are presented the third Tuesday of every month.

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Wow this tugs on my punk-rock

Wow this tugs on my punk-rock heartstrings...

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