Saturday, March 22, 2008

"The Gods Of Times Square" DVD

This simultaneously enlightening and puzzling documentary by Richard Sandler observes an alarming part of America, centered in the heart of New York's Times Square. Filmed in the late 90's, this startling double-DVD set gets up close and personal to a staggering amount of religious fanatics and street preachers who took hold of these bustling streets before Disney and corporate America wiped it all away. Here are the homeless, the delusional, the cranks, creeps, drunks, transvestites, zealots, revolutionaries, fundamentalists, and the just plain mental. Sandler interviews and observes these people, all of whom seem to subscribe to a different system of spiritual beliefs. There's some truly nightmarish visions here, of intolerant bigots and lost souls, all interspersed with flickers of enlightened wisdom. Sandler provides a fairly unbiased (and often humorous) counterpoint to some of the more, uhm, challenging of the street preachers, and the film(s) here show him befriending certain Times Square regulars, like the endearing James or the misguided Jimmy. A fine work, but not something for the squeamish. (Brink DVD via MVD Visual)

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