$7 Member $12.50 Regular
Directed by CHARLES LANE
(1989) On a wintry Greenwich Village street (Sixth Ave., between 3rd and 4th — steps away from Film Forum), street portrait artist Charles Lane (the writer/director himself) battles a bullying, giant fellow artist, strokes attractive businesswoman Sandye Wilson’s cheek a little more than needed to get those proportions right, then gets stuck with adorable tot Nicole Alysia when her gambler dad gets knifed — all in b&w silence... and without the use of a single intertitle. An homage to Chaplin’s The Kid (and other movies) set in a then-tough Village environment (Lane squats in a wreck slated for demolition) and clearly capturing the plight of the homeless, Sidewalk Stories retains a magical sense of the fable, until a final, startling switch to... Winner of the Prix du Public at the Cannes Film Festival, where it received a 15-minute ovation, Sidewalk Stories became a hit independent film around the world, but then disappeared: it’s never been on DVD or home video. Approx. 97 min. DCP, restored by Cineteca di Bologna at L’Immagine Ritrovata.
A CARLOTTA FILMS U.S. RELEASE
"IMAGINATIVE AND ENJOYABLE! Inspired by Charlie Chaplin and Harold Lloyd, the film moves with a clean, well-paced narrative… The diminutive, wide-eyed Lane is an expressive physical comedian, while his relationship with the toddler is especially moving. Michel Hazanavicius cited [this] largely forgotten film as a key inspiration for his Oscar-wining The Artist."
– Ashley Clark, Film Comment
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"AS EMBLEMATIC A NEW YORK FILM AS THERE IS! Charles Lane's 1989 indie doesn't just hark back to The Kid; it formally revives the Chaplin classic in the street theater of Dinkins-era Greenwich Village. Lane's follies are enmeshed within bigger pictures of reality, reestablishing the film's thesis of comedy as a mode of survival; diverting his viewers time and again from the grimness of the film's scenario, Lane actually manages to reinforce it, driving the stakes higher. His frames create a wild spontaneity that can morph from riveting to fun to tense and alien in the space of a half-block."
– Steve MacFarlane, Slant
“A GREAT, LOVABLE, MONUMENTAL FILM THAT’LL FINALLY GET ITS DUE! It’s guffawsome but also touching—and all without a single title card, with the help of a versatile nonstop score by Marc Marder. Sidewalk Stories received a 15-minute ovation at Cannes, had a limited release, turned up on TV, and then basically disappeared, which is tragic. You might never have heard of it, but thanks to this rediscovery, restoration and rerelease, that’ll never be the case again.”
– Henry Stewart, The L Magazine
“Honors the the traditions of silent-film comedy! In the sweet, brisk film, Lane plays a spry and plucky caricature artist working a grim patch of Sixth Avenue sidewalk. The location shooting is a joy, all authentic street life, long-gone businesses, and richly wistful bustle… laughs, romance, and even something of an adventure flower in Lane's New York.”
– Alan Scherstuhl, Village Voice
“Opens with a long, elaborate tracking shot past a row of sidewalk entertainers — jugglers, pavement artists, magicians, three-card-monte shills — and because the film is silent, we do not assume that they are all clones of Travis Bickle. They seem like gentler, more universal characters, like people we would meet in a film by Chaplin. That’s a strange assumption, since the movie is set in an area of present-day Greenwich Village where drug dealers and other vermin are always present, and yet the silent film somehow mythologizes the characters... Lane is endlessly inventive in the ways he finds to create humorous situations and tell his story through images, and the soundtrack music, by Marc Marder, reinforces everything that happens.”
– Roger Ebert (1989)
“Mr. Lane has flown quite fearlessly in the face of fashion, and done this so confidently that any comparisons with Chaplin deserve to be appreciative.”
– Janet Maslin, The New York Times
“Charming, Chaplinesque fantasy film that, in its own modest way, boldly comments on the plight of the homeless in America... Marc Marder’s evocative score adds immeasurably to the film’s mood. Don’t miss this sweet, gentle sleeper.”
– Leonard Maltin