' ' Cinema Romantico: Some Drivel On…NYC 3/94

Tuesday, September 05, 2023

Some Drivel On…NYC 3/94

Hal Hartley’s 10-minute short from 1994 called “NYC 3/94” is a useful study in intent vs non-intent, or maybe what I’m just unfairly assuming is non-intent. I’m assuming it because to capture what is described as “the mundane circumstances of a city under siege” on a budget of grains, Hartley goes guerrilla, stealing shots of three actors in various forms of anguish on the streets of NY while gunfire, explosions, even the roar of planes is heard on the soundtrack, though it is never seen. Hartley rounds this out with a man giving her appears to be a radio interview, though he may as well be talking to us, filling in the blanks a little too overtly rather than letting us fill them in ourselves. No, more effective are the natural cityscapes, unwitting extras going about their day as Hartley’s three actors take evasive maneuvers, the most notable unintentional background player someone whizzing past on rollerblades. The image is maybe a half-second, but boy is it a striking contrast of obliviousness. Because even if images of rattling coffee cups and the terrified trio covering their ears feel a little labored, a little stagy, in opposition to our rollerblader, they also feel monumental. Not people hearing noises so much as people tuned to an apocalyptic frequency everyone around them is choosing to skip on the dial.

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