3/10/17

"PANIC IN NEEDLE PARK": ODE TO BROADWAY & 70-SOMETHING STREET



Yesterday I had the pleasure and honor of interviewing filmmaker and photographer Jerry Schatzberg for my upcoming podcast series "Movies Til Dawn" (inventive title, right? But it is the age of 'branding' so...)

Our conversation centered primarily on one of the great 70s counterculture films and certainly the starkest look at drug addiction ever made ,"Panic In Needle Park". Above I've posted a longish (three minute) trailer for the film which will give you a basic starting knowledge of what this extraordinary film is all about. If you've never seen it I urge you to find it on Netflix. (There's also a Youtube posting of the entire movie but the image is squeezed for some reason). In his first starring role, Al Pacino completely makes you forget that you're watching an actor play a drug addict. Much of this is directly attributable to Schatzberg's direction, which crosses the boundary from narrative film into verite documentary waters. The film uses no score whatsoever, though Jerry told me Ned Rorem actually composed a score but that bit by bit they kept eliminating cues until they got the idea that any music was too much music. Much like this year's Oscar winning "Moonlight", the film is so good that you kind of can't wait to get out of it and back to a civil world. It's also a portrait of New York in the Lindsey years and of an Upper West Side that is no longer. I remember that New York a bit--I was a six/seven year old--and the film brought back the smells of a darker, trashier city, one in which my mother gripped my hand tightly in hers as we walked those very streets.

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