The Seven Five

The Seven Five was the first of two from last night’s session of the Arthouse Film Festival. It’s a documentary detailing corruption in the NYPD in the 1980s. It follows the case of Michael Dowd and Ken Eurell, officers in the 75th precinct of Brooklyn.

This part of Brooklyn was tough, claiming hundreds of murders in the 80s. There was a lot of decay in the city’s infrastructure, and people were finding ways to survive, many of which included less-than-legal means. Corruption is rampant within the police, all across the city. Dowd, and more than a few officers at the 75th, decide that they can earn more than just their paycheck by ‘other means’, such as skimming off the top of any money and drugs confiscated during all the busts that were occurring.

The documentary starts with Michael Dowd and his partner, Ken Eurell. There’re rumors about Dowd, and Eurell doesn’t want to be paired with him. There’s a mistrust between Michael and Ken, but over time, they build a bond that makes them thick as thieves. Trust between officers, especially partners, is vital to their ability to skim and steal. Their bond builds over time. Eventually, they decide they can make more money by going to the source – the druglords themselves. Initially, they reach out to the owner of a car audio shop that works on the expensive cars owned by the criminal element, and through him, make contact. They offer ‘protection’ services, meaning that they’ll tip off the people who run the storefronts where drug sales are taking place, for a fee. They’ll also work to bring down the competition, thus guaranteeing stability. Information is passed, both ways, and money changes hands.

Michael and Ken get over confident. They live it up on the extra income. Both are married and have children, so they share the wealth. Then involve other officers and former officers in their doings. They get bolder and become careless. The stories they tell were better, in my opinion, than some of the stories you hear in Scorcese movies, but not as lucrative.

Speaking of Scorcese, even though this is a documentary, it was told in Scorcese’s signature style, as much as a documentary could be. Vintage footage is used, and events unfold. Internal Affairs and the DEA are involved in the film, and their stories are told from the participants. It’s a very compelling story, and I do recommend it.

Here’s a link to the official Teaser Trailer for the movie.

Some spoilers of the outcome are discussed below, so you can stop reading if you don’t want to see them.






— keep scrolling —








As a follow-on to the screening, the host, Chuck Rose, brought a special guest – Michael Dowd. He was arrested, and served 10 1/2 years in federal prison, and survived. The interview was quite strange, as I think everyone in the audience was a little taken aback by his presence. He claimed the documentary was mostly true, but left out key components. He felt the story made him more of a mastermind than he actually was, and his partner Ken shared more of the guilt. You got the sense that he felt Ken should have suffered as much as he, but didn’t. He indicated he has realized the error of his ways, but audience members were not inclined to believe him. I’m not sure if I was, either. His life was forever changed by all this, and it’s up to him to demonstrate that he’s on the right path, now. His said his decision to participate in the documentary was so he could indicate how criminals like him could be caught. The documentary was originally going to be about the Mollen Commission, which was formed after Dowd was arrested to investigate corruption in the NYPD. After initially speaking to Dowd, the filmmakers realized they should do the story of the downfall of the 75th precinct instead, so that’s what this became.

Dowd also indicated that he’s in the process of writing a book about his experiences, which should clear up a few things.

Only time will tell.

El Critico

El Critico was the second film screened at the Arthouse Film Festival this week. It’s an Argentinian movie from 2013 that we finally got to see. It’s in Spanish and French, with English subtitles.

Victor Tellez is a joyless man. He is also a film critic for a newspaper. His life is more or less drudgery. He hates most movies, and hasn’t given any film a 5 star review in years. His editor starts implying that if his behavior continues, he could be out of a job. He commiserates with Ágatha, his niece, who runs a video store that’s really a front for a loanshark. She loves movies, especially romantic comedies. Victor calls them unrealistic, unimaginative and uninspired. He rattles off the essentials of all romcoms and is unmoved and unfazed by the American movies she rattles off, dismissing them all. He is never satisfied.

After one movie screening, Victor is having coffee with the other critics, and is confronted by a director whose film Victor has recently eviscerated. The man will not let him be.

Meanwhile, Victor is being forced out of his apartment. His landlords are remodeling, which will eventually displace him. His real estate agent has shown him place after place, but he finds nothing worth living in. Eventually, he does find a perfect place, but someone else has beaten him to the punch – a mysterious woman named Sofîa, and he tries to convince her to relinquish her claim to the place. During this, his life starts to become surreal, and we, as the audience begin to notice that their relationship is starting to take the shape of those romcoms he finds abhorrent.

This is a lighthearted film, for the most part. There is some unpleasantness, but I rather enjoyed it. There were quite a few bits in the movie that went unstated, but were obvious to the audience. If they had been explained, it would have ruined what turned out to be an enjoyable experience. Recommended.


Iris is the last documentary created by Albert Maysles, whose previous works included Grey Gardens, Gimme Shelter, and others of note. He passed away earlier this year.

Iris tells some of the story of Iris Apfel, a “geriatric debutante” who became a style maven in the middle of last century. She is mostly known for her unique sense of style, and her overuse of accessories – baubles, necklaces, bracelets, etc – is her strongpoint. Her style is her own, and drives her even today. She learned that’s her strength, and she plays to it well. She’s still very active, and has a way of combining things that you wouldn’t consider. She is supported by her husband, who’s turned 100.

The energy this woman has puts many to shame. Despite her age, she’s always engaged in what she’s involved in, and doesn’t show any signs of letting up.

While fashion isn’t my thing, this documentary was certainly an interesting watch. You don’t get too much of her history, but instead, get a sense of how she does things her own way. Impressive, for anyone. Recommended.

This movie is premiering soon in NYC, and will be in more theaters soon enough. Here’s a link to the Official Trailer.

The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared

The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared is the latest film shown at the Arthouse Film Festival this evening. The film is from Sweden, and is based on a book of the same name, that’s sold over 6 million copies. The movie opens in NYC soon.

The story revolves around Allan Karlsson, and man who is in a nursing home, and has turned 100 years of age. He is momentarily distracted by a kid setting off fireworks, she he skips out on his birthday party, and wanders out to investigate. He decides to just leave the home, so he heads down to the local bus station and buys a ticket on the first bus out. While there, a punk forces him to watch his suitcase, but Allan’s bus arrives, so he takes the luggage. Little does he know what’s inside…

The chase begins. Allan meets people who join him on his “flight”. The film intersperses that story with flashbacks of Allan’s life, from birth onward. Allan has a meager upbringing, but after the deaths of his parents, he develops a wanderlust, never staying in any given place for long. He manages to stumble upon several world-changing events, like the Spanish Civil War, The Manhattan Project, and so on. If you’re thinking of Forrest Gump, add a touch of Being there, and you’ve got it. This movie plays like a farce, with a mix of black comedy, and, like those two films I mentioned, there are convenient coincidences aplenty.

Almost all of it is played for laughs. He rubs elbows with world leaders who befriend him and then want him to do things for them, but he can’t seem to be fully engaged or really let himself get distracted by the situation, even when things start crashing down on him. He has a sort of mellowness that evens him out. Allan is a “smarter” Chauncey Gardner, who never lets the circumstances affect what he wants to do.

This film has some occasional brutal violence, and is therefore not for the lighthearted. DO NOT watch the trailer for the film, it gives far too much away. The film is half in English, the rest in subtitled Swedish.

I wouldn’t rate it as a ‘must see in the theaters’, mainly because it’s a film focused on interpersonal relationships, but it’s worth watching nonetheless.