Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Zack Snyder Defends 'Man Of Steel' Finale, Ben Affleck Reveals Bruce Wayne Knew People Who Died In That Battle Zack Snyder Defends 'Man Of Steel' Finale, Ben Affleck Reveals Bruce Wayne Knew People Who Died In That Battle New Book Contends Eric Stoltz Was “Difficult” & The Cast Wasn’t Shocked He Was Replaced On ‘Back To The Future’ New Book Contends Eric Stoltz Was “Difficult” & The Cast Wasn’t Shocked He Was Replaced On ‘Back To The Future’ Watch: Scott Lang Wants To Call The Avengers In New International 'Ant-Man' Trailer Watch: Scott Lang Wants To Call The Avengers In New International 'Ant-Man' Trailer Zack Snyder Reveals The Easter Egg Idea He Pitched Christopher Nolan And David Goyer For 'Man Of Steel' Zack Snyder Reveals The Easter Egg Idea He Pitched Christopher Nolan And David Goyer For 'Man Of Steel' New Images Of Bruce Wayne, Lex Luthor, More In 'Batman v. Superman,' Ben Affleck Compares Batman To Hamlet New Images Of Bruce Wayne, Lex Luthor, More In 'Batman v. Superman,' Ben Affleck Compares Batman To Hamlet Mads Mikkelsen And Hugh Dancy Released From Their 'Hannibal' Contracts Mads Mikkelsen And Hugh Dancy Released From Their 'Hannibal' Contracts Paul Thomas Anderson To Write And Possibly Direct Warner Bros' ‘Pinocchio’ For Robert Downey Jr. Paul Thomas Anderson To Write And Possibly Direct Warner Bros' ‘Pinocchio’ For Robert Downey Jr. Tom Cruise Still Gearing Up For 'Top Gun 2,' Story Will Involve Drone Warfare Tom Cruise Still Gearing Up For 'Top Gun 2,' Story Will Involve Drone Warfare Watch: First Trailer For Oliver Stone’s ‘Snowden’ Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Shailene Woodley & Nicolas Cage Watch: First Trailer For Oliver Stone’s ‘Snowden’ Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Shailene Woodley & Nicolas Cage Review: ‘Terminator: Genisys’ Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Emilia Clarke, Jai Courtney & Jason Clarke Review: ‘Terminator: Genisys’ Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Emilia Clarke, Jai Courtney & Jason Clarke 'Thor: The Dark World' Director Alan Taylor Says His Marvel Experience Was "Particularly Wrenching" 'Thor: The Dark World' Director Alan Taylor Says His Marvel Experience Was "Particularly Wrenching" Watch: Anna Paquin Is Rescued In Clip From 'X-Men: Days of Future Past - The Rogue Cut' Watch: Anna Paquin Is Rescued In Clip From 'X-Men: Days of Future Past - The Rogue Cut' Kevin Feige Says 'Spider-Man 2' Is "One Of The Best Superhero Movies Ever," Talks John Hughes Influence On New Spidey Kevin Feige Says 'Spider-Man 2' Is "One Of The Best Superhero Movies Ever," Talks John Hughes Influence On New Spidey Watch: Live Your Ultimate Fantasy With The First NSFW Trailer For Gaspar Noe's 'Love' Watch: Live Your Ultimate Fantasy With The First NSFW Trailer For Gaspar Noe's 'Love' Review & Recap: ‘True Detective’ Season 2, Episode 2, ‘Night Finds You’ Review & Recap: ‘True Detective’ Season 2, Episode 2, ‘Night Finds You’ The 25 Best TV Shows Of The 2014/2015 Season The 25 Best TV Shows Of The 2014/2015 Season The 25 Best Animated Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Animated Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 50 Best Films Of The Decade So Far The 50 Best Films Of The Decade So Far The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season

DOC NYC: 'Lost Bohemia' Is A Failed Attempt At Capturing Artistic History

Photo of Christopher Bell By Christopher Bell | The Playlist October 27, 2010 at 11:45AM

Josef Birdman Astor's exposé on Carnegie Hall's artist evictions, "Lost Bohemia," is less successful than his profound middle name suggests. The famous concert hall had studios above it, catered to artists and housed greats such as Marlon Brando and Paddy Chayefsky, much as creator Andrew Carnegie had intended. When Birdman moved in, he felt not only honored to be part of this exclusive clique, he decided to capture the unique living experience by filming all tenants in their respective spaces. It's a portrait of various aging artists, but also a good look at artistic history. For instance, Editta Sherman, a photographer who has taken pictures for Cecil B. DeMille, recounts a cute story of a phone call she had with DeMille where he confessed that she was his favorite photographer. One tenant was a concert pianist that has played with various singers, namely Duke Ellington, and another was an acting coach for the previously mentioned Brando and Robert Redford. The pleasant trip-down-memory-lane atmosphere grinds to a halt when it is discovered that the landlord is planning to renovate, disposing of the studios and instead building office space and classrooms for a proposed educational program. The team try to fight back by starting legal cases (of which we never see), even recruiting John Turturro (who studied with the acting coach) for some publicity. They spread the word but it's all for naught, and residents begin dropping one by one like flies.
2


Josef Birdman Astor's exposé on Carnegie Hall's artist evictions, "Lost Bohemia," is less successful than his profound middle name suggests. The famous concert hall had studios above it, catered to artists and housed greats such as Marlon Brando and Paddy Chayefsky, much as creator Andrew Carnegie had intended. When Birdman moved in, he felt not only honored to be part of this exclusive clique, he decided to capture the unique living experience by filming all tenants in their respective spaces. It's a portrait of various aging artists, but also a good look at artistic history. For instance, Editta Sherman, a photographer who has taken pictures for Cecil B. DeMille, recounts a cute story of a phone call she had with DeMille where he confessed that she was his favorite photographer. One tenant was a concert pianist that has played with various singers, namely Duke Ellington, and another was an acting coach for the previously mentioned Brando and Robert Redford. The pleasant trip-down-memory-lane atmosphere grinds to a halt when it is discovered that the landlord is planning to renovate, disposing of the studios and instead building office space and classrooms for a proposed educational program. The team try to fight back by starting legal cases (of which we never see), even recruiting John Turturro (who studied with the acting coach) for some publicity. They spread the word but it's all for naught, and residents begin dropping one by one like flies.

Select residents each get a rather detailed back story in a short amount of time, and while the efficiency of their history is commendable and more than satisfactory, it feels more like their "Greatest Hits" on the big screen. And despite the fact that they've all lived together for a few decades, there's a complete lack of communal feeling in the film, as there are a few eccentric characters filmed separately rather than an interesting clique of neighbors. Rarely is anyone ever documented together. There's no camaraderie felt, and this all might be due to the director's insistence to place himself in the film, with the camera strictly focused on his POV. While it's understandable that the director is part of this tragic situation, a fly-on-the-wall approach would've served the film better as it would've allowed the subjects to interact more.

Birdman does a decent job, depressingly enough, at contrasting what the spaces looked like pre and post takeover. Beginning introductions have the residents in their respective spaces, and each home is bloated with wonderful decorations and personal belongings. When he returns to these places in the second half of the film, the studios are stripped bare and the lack of life is really felt. In place of people, there are various garbage bins lining the hallways and rooms, giving it a sense of foreboding doom. A voiceover by a resident poet, who sounds an awful like Todd Solondz adds a very wise but pessimistic tone as shots of the former studios are shown. Perhaps this idea could be driven home more — the atmosphere is there, but where are these older folks to go, and why isn't this focused on?

Which brings us to the real heart of the film, the one that is unfortunately too lightly touched upon, "out with the old, in with the new." Birdman rarely shows much of what each tenant is currently working on, leaving a feeling of artists that are past their prime. When he does display one continuing their work — such as an aging dancer — it's fleeting yet beautiful, very poignant. A few questions, such as what it means to continue art when you're past your prime, are raised but never pressed (big surprise). Another great way to delve more into this topic would be to show the new classes with young, fresh new faces, highlighting the new generation of artists that replaced the older tenants. While it's a bit out of line for to suggest completely new sequences to make the film better, the fact that a potentially deep layer of the subject is completely overlooked is a major fell stroke.

As it is now, "Lost Bohemia" doesn't explore anything intriguing, it doesn't succeed as a "Damn the man!" piece, and doesn't delve deep enough into the people or their relationships for a connection to be made. It's about as hollow as those empty studios are after the tenants moved out, which is a shame, because there is so much potential for this film to really flourish. Birdman opts to document the experience in the space during its last few months to a tee, and what was meant to be a portrait of a century of artistry in New York is utterly forgettable. [D]


The Playlist

The obsessives' guide to contemporary cinema via film discussion, news, reviews, features, nostalgia, movie music, soundtracks, DVDs and more.


E-Mail Updates