Surely anyone under the age of 30 has, at one point, been subjected to a diatribe on the glory of New York City in the late ’70s and early ’80s. The Lower East Side is crawling with middle-aged musicians desperate to wax nostalgic about catching Television at CBGB. But Celine Danhier’s new documentary Blank City offers irrefutable proof of the neighborhood’s (formerly) decayed splendor, adopting a wide scope that examines the intersection of film, performance art, and music that blossomed in downtown New York and became known as No Wave. While post-hoc analysis rarely captures the electricity of its subject, Danhier recruits enough heavy-hitting scenesters to make the viewed wish they were there—this was the epoch that sculpted a deeply influential array of diverse talents, including Jim Jarmusch, John Waters, Lydia Lunch, and Steve Buscemi. Though many of the movement’s artists have since moved on—their walk-up apartments now replaced by luxury condos—Blank City is a reminder of the artistic vitality that thrived during the city’s bleakest years.
The film shows all week at E Street Cinema, 555 11th St. NW. $10.