Welcome to our weekly column Staff Picks, in which we ask the staffers at our favorite book, music, and movie stores around to town to share with us what they're reading, listening to, and watching this week. We figure they're good people to ask. Today we're checking in Cristina Cacioppo, the director of film programming at 92YTribeca, to find out what she's been watching lately.
Attack the Block: Running somewhat below the radar among this summer's blockbusters, Attack the Block came highly recommended to me by multiple people whose taste I trust. This is an alien movie from the UK, and it manages to work in a social undertone without making it schmaltzy. In the first scene we find a mousy girl cautiously approaching a group of teenage boys on bikes on a dark street. They surround her and mug her, then suddenly something plummets into a car nearby. For the rest of the film, the boys and the girl have to band together to fight these nasty creatures that are hunting them. Great characters and a perfect balance of humor and thrills.
Querelle: Rainer Werner Fassbinder's last film proves that he was a master of the form right up to the end. Here we have Brad Davis as Querelle, a sailor who is desired by men as much as he somewhat-secretly desires them. Franco Nero is his voyeuristic superior, constantly chronicling his adoration for Querelle with his ever present tape recorder. Jeanne Moreau is thrown in mainly to observe that what all men really want is each other. Golden-colored and shot on a meticulously art-directed set, Querelle is a soap opera for an alternate universe.
Abby: Released one year after The Exorcist, Abby was pulled from theaters due to a lawsuit and accusations that it “borrowed” too heavily from the former film. A blaxploitation underground gem, Abby has its own merits beyond a rip-off, with an impish Carol Speed as the titular character. When Abby is possessed by a demon that her father-in-law inadvertently releases on an archaeological dig in Nigeria, she begins throwing her husband around and gallivanting through night clubs. The necessary exorcism blends in ancient African mysticism with the familiar brand of Christian devil-expulsion. Truly entertaining—and I don't mean so-bad-it's-good. [Note: 92YTribeca will be screening Abby on September 16]