About Town With Slackjaw

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If you needed more proof that squatter kids and a lot of the people you see at protest marches are a bunch of self-absorbed, self-righteous, humorless children of privilege, look no further. The shot-on-video Exist tells the story of a group of kids forced out of their squat by the cops. One squatter was a Harvard dropout, another a cop's son. After they all scatter to various parts of the city, Mr. Harvard is involved in a scuffle that ends with a cop getting shot. Whether or not he's responsible is unclear, but he's sought as a cop-killer. Now the other kid faces a dilemmadoes he track down Mr. Harvard and rat him out to save several other squatter buddies? Does he track him down to try and protect him? Or does he ignore the whole mess because he's always hated this guy? Indie film hotshot Esther Bell describes her second film as (ahem) "a cinematic ode to activism and the humanity behind it."

Yeah, I suppose that's one way of looking at it. I'm not saying that it isn't realistic. I've known plenty of self-righteous squatter kids, and the movie's dead on. I just happen to find these characters insufferable, is all. The only character I had any sympathy for was the abusive alcoholic cop father. But maybe that says something about me. Two Boots Pioneer Theater, 155 E. 3rd St. (betw. Aves. A & B), 212-591-0434;9, $9.

The Passion of Joan of Arc

Sat., December 3

The story behind director Carl Theodor Dreyer's 1928 silent masterpiece about martyr torching is as strange as anything you're likely to find in film history.

After the film was completed, the master print was destroyed in a warehouse fire, forcing Dreyer to reconstruct the picture using rejected scenes and outtakes. Not long after this second version was completed, it, too, was destroyed in a fire. After that, it was simply assumed that the filmhailed as one of the greatest movies ever made by those few who had seen itwas gone forever. Then in 1981, 13 years after Dreyer's death, a pristine print of the original version of the film was discovered in a janitor's closet in an insane asylum in Oslo. It's the kind of thing that makes you go "hmm," ain't it?

Maria Falconetti, in her first and last film role, gave a legendary performance as Joanand in an unmistakable bit of typecasting, insane writer and theorist Antonin Artaud plays a mad monk. Even after almost 80 years and a whole lotta hoo-ha, the film remains breathtakingespecially on the big screen. Rubin Museum of Art, 150 W. 17th St. (betw. 6th & 7th Aves.), 212-620-5000 ext. 344; 7, free with museum admission ($7/$5 st. & s.c./under 12 free).

18th Annual Independent and Small Press Book Fair

Sat., December 3Sun., December 4

An oral history of underground filmmaking on the Lower East Side? What the hell is Random House's marketing department supposed to do with that? This question is why these days more than ever it's small independent publishers who are releasing the most interesting titles around. They're releasing a lot of crap, too, surebut also the more obscure, riskier titles the larger houses won't touch. This weekend, 100 publishers are getting together to throw a few seminars and sell a few books. Most of the biggies of the small-press industry will be thereSeven Stories, Akashic, Soft Skulleven Manic D Press (I didn't know they were still around). And there'll be seminars and talks about all sorts of things, from an interview with renowned plagiarist Luc Sante to the ubiquitous roundtable discussion about blogging. And there'll be books, toolots and lots of strange little books. The Small Press Center, 20 W. 44th St. (betw. 5th & 6th Aves.), 212-764-7021; Sat., December 3rd: 10 a.m.6 & Sun., December 4, 11 a.m.5, free, for more information go to smallpress.org.

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