Growing up in the early ‘90s, I hated this city. I would count down the days to my 18th birthday, when I would make my grand escape for the promised land of New York City and its cultural cornucopia of architecture, art, theater, and film.
My plans didn’t pan out as expected. I wasn’t on a plane headed north the day I became a legal adult, and circumstances insured that I would be in servitude to my hometown for some time to come.
As the months and years passed, something remarkable happened: I really started to enjoy this place. Slowly, I found my groove and met people who were making inroads into different artistic disciplines and creating alternative communities that countered the lightweight glossiness Miami was known for. I began to notice a building energy from some die-hard Miamians who wanted the city to become more than a vapid playground, and I realized that I too could play a part if I wanted to — and I did want to.
Miami was fertile land where dedicated and innovative people could carve out a niche for themselves and have a positive impact on their community. It still is and I find that terribly fucking exciting.
One afternoon, hunched over a bowl of noodles at a much-missed South Beach Asian bistro, Vivian, my comrade in creative endeavors, and I were bitching about how the films we saw in New York, Toronto, and L.A. never came to Miami. We had to do something about this, we decided. If no one would bring the types of indie films we wanted to see to Miami, then we had to bring them here ourselves.
That’s the short explanation of how O Cinema came to be, though it would never have happened if not for the folks at the Knight Foundation, who agreed with us that Miami was ready and in need of an independent cinema and believed in Vivian and I from the very beginning.
Fast-forward to two weeks ago. Beached Miami co-editor Jordan Melnick and I are chatting about growing up in Miami, at Lester’s (a café around the corner from O Cinema in Wynwood), and Jordan offers up an opportunity to share my opinions about indie film with Beached Miami readers. I readily accept. I figure this will be a great way to engage in fun conversations about film, share my endless thoughts on independent cinema, or, at the very least, piss some people off. All favorite past times of mine.
This is my first post, a sort of “how d’you do” and fair warning about what to expect going forward. As co-Keeper of the Keys at O Cinema, Miami’s newest (and dare I say funkiest) venue for independent film, I may be biased when I speak about our films. After all, picking them is what I do. But my goal here is to engage in honest discussion about indie cinema, not merely sell you on our programming.
The column won’t deal solely with O Cinema. There are four other great independent cinemas that are doing wonderful things in their communities and for Miami at large, so expect to hear a lot about what our art house brethren are up to. I’ll also occasionally bring some mainstream Hollywood fare to the table (for better or worse) and recommend newly released DVDs.
This is going to be an editorial hodge-podge on the subject of cinema, a mixture of opinions and diatribes from a slightly self-absorbed film fanatic, love letters to filmmakers whose artistry and ouevre give me a hard-on, and death threats to the people I think are destroying movies, wasting our time, and stealing our money.
In short, my goal is to spark dialogue about the world that unfurls on the screen and resonates in our lives.
Naturally, I won’t introduce myself in each column. This being the first, it seemed the polite thing to do. In the future, I’ll focus primarily on what’s playing around Miami. Here’s what we’ve got this week.
ON SCREEN THIS WEEK IN MIAMI
While The Hangover II and X-Men: First Class duke it out on mainstream screens across Miami, two masters of the cinema grace the city’s indie theaters.
Jean-Luc Godard may be the greatest filmmaker France has ever produced (and that’s saying a lot). His most recent movie, Film Socialisme, opens this weekend at the Miami Beach Cinematheque. I haven’t seen the film, but I can’t think of a better place in town to experience Godard than the MBC. Its new venue has European sophistication without any pretense and creates an escape from the madness of South Beach’s Washington Ave.
The MBC is also (re)screening the documentary hit of the year, Bill Cunningham New York. I can’t make this any clearer: Go see this movie. (See Beached Miami review.)
Film Socialisme is playing through June 15th. Bill Cunningham New York screens on June 11 and June 12.
Across the causeway, O Cinema celebrates the life of one of the greatest cinematographers in the history of moving pictures in Craig McCall’s brilliant documentary, Cameraman: the Life and Work of Jack Cardiff. Spanning Cardiff’s 90-year career, Cameraman features high definition clips from Cardiff’s vast body of work and interviews with cinematic icons Martin Scorcese, Lauren Bacall, Kirk Douglas, and the late Charlton Heston. You can learn more about the film and see some stunning examples of Cardiff’s photography in this post from Tuesday, which includes a promo code for a discount ticket.
If you’re loooking for something contemporary, then you’ll be in hipster heaven with Lawrence Michael Levine’s Gabi on the Roof in July, a film about sibling rivalry, finding oneself, and learning how to be an adult. The film “evokes Woody Allen with a more generous heart and a lot more casual nudity,” says the Wall Street Journal.
Cameraman screens on June 11 and 12. Gabi on the Roof in July screens from June 9 to June 12.
The Bill Cosford Cinema at the University of Miami is screening In A Better World by director Susane Bier, whose star is rising much to the chagrin of fellow Dane and media-whore Lars Von Trier. The film won both the Golden Globe and the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.
The Cosford is also showing Wrecked, a survival film in its most basic and intense form starring Adrien Brody.
Both In a Better World and Wrecked play through June 12.
A short jaunt from the Cosford, the Coral Gables Art Cinema brings a story of repressed sexuality, fatal attractions, and what lengths we’re willing to go to for those we covet in Cracks, a new film by Jordan Scott (daughter of director Ridley Scott).
Cracks is screening through June 16 with an Opening Day event on June 10.
Finally, the Tower Theater holds over another film from Denmark. The drama Applause is a portrait of stage actress Thea, whose casting as embittered drunkard Martha in the play Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf is more than coincidence. When Thea loses custody of her children to alcoholism, she takes on the role of sober mother, a part she may not have the chops to pull off.
Applause is playing through June 12.
A Miami native, Kareem Tabsch is Co-Director and Co-Founder of O Cinema.