Shot on 16 mm for the shoestring sum of forty thousand dollars, Susan Seidelman’s 1982 debut feature, Smithereens, is a remarkably unvarnished time-capsule view of downtown New York City in all its grungy glory. The film’s heroine, a narcissistic young woman named Wren (Susan Berman), leaves behind her native New Jersey to chase rock-and-roll fame, sneaking into shows at the Peppermint Lounge, papering the city with flyers featuring her face, and trying to pal around with the leading lights of the fading underground (including a musician played by punk icon Richard Hell). In this clip from a supplement on our new edition of Smithereens, Seidelman and Berman recall what it was like shooting on location, without permits, in neighborhoods such as the East Village and SoHo, and how the empty lots and crumbling buildings of a city that had just come out of a bankruptcy crisis became key to the film’s scrappy texture.
Donald Richie Uncovers the Traces of a Lost Japan
In collaboration with director Lucille Carra, the renowned writer brought his impressionistic travelogue The Inland Sea—an unusual choice for a film adaptation—to the big screen.
A Palette That Sizzles On-Screen
Filmmaker Darnell Martin and writer Nelson George discuss how vividly Do the Right Thing captures the heat of a Brooklyn summer and the diverse skin tones of its cast of color.
A Genius of French Cinema Delivers a Career-Defining Performance
Raimu is at his subtle best in one of the most moving scenes in The Baker’s Wife, a moment in which the actor channels the collective despair of France’s working class.