In a cultural handshake that brought hundreds of present-day disaffected youth to bare witness to a film that celebrates early- and mid-nineties disaffected youth, Summersceen kicked off last week with a showing of Reality Bites in the McCarren Park ballfields.
Most of those in attendance couldn’t have been nostalgic for the 1994 cult classic—being generally not old enough to legally see the PG-13 film in theaters. Still, the fresh-out-of-undergrad crowd gathered in droves, carving out their seats on beach towels and sheets spread out on most uncomfortable concrete, quaffing Sixpoint ales and anonymous drinks in big Styrofoam cups from the nearby Turkey’s Nest Tavern and munching on tacos at the L Magazine-sponsored event.
The free movie screenings (L advertises the selections as “classic.” See below for a full schedule) take place every Wednesday night this summer through mid-August. It’s a seasonal tradition that goes back years at the Williamsburg/Greenpoint public space. The difference in 2009 is, the movies are no longer at the McCarren Park Pool, but on the “ballfields” area adjacent to Automotive High School. The pool is shuttered while the city secures funding for a pool sponsor and official reopening. Some spectators last week bemoaned the venue change.
“It’s much more fun at the pool,” said Claire Typaldos, who confessed to having an ancient crush on Realty Bites star Ethan Hawke. Typaldos, a 24-year-old jewelry design assistant and Greenpoint resident, wondered at the new screening location. Why didn’t they at least stage the films across Bedford Avenue, in the more floral section of the park? “I wish there was grass, and a hill,” she said.
Despite likely sit-bone grief caused by hours hunkered down on the unforgiving concrete surface, the new location was not without its amenities. Sixpoint provided a beer tent, Open Up some wine and Van Leeuwen some artisanal ice cream for sale. A raffle gave out free Fandango movie tickets and sneakers.
Local bands the Kittens Ablaze and the Wild Yaks performed well-appreciated pre-screening sets of music. The Yaks provided some fun-times rock music as spectators filed in through the single entrance on North 12th Street. “They kinda sound like Modest Mouse,” Typaldos said approvingly. A dense crowd nearly surrounded the Yaks, playing in front of the projection screen near the tennis courts, but the music could be heard by all. It felt in keeping with the theme of the night, with the Yaks’ frontman Robert Bryn (Bronco) acting as a kind of jovial, more balls-out foil to Hawke’s character, Troy, who is an aspiring grunge-rock musician in Realty Bites.
As dusk turned to night the film began to play, and the post-college-age Williamsburg and Greenpoint residents watched broad-stroke caricatures of their cultural ancestors play out their own version of the 20-something melodrama their neighborhoods have become famous for. Fittingly, many attendants seemed only minimally interested in the substance of the film, it was more about soaking up the ambiance.
“I’ve never even heard of it,” Bethany Anglim, 21, said of the movie. Anglim had arrived early to catch her coworker perform with the Wild Yaks. One of her companions, who wore Christian Dior sunglasses, refused to be identified in this story by name or by age. And where did Anglim work?
Full Summerscreen schedule
July 15: Evil Dead 2
July 22: 24 Hour Party People
July 29: Wild At Heart
August 5: Fame
August 12: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
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