The Gods Of Times Square

  • 2000
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Documentary

Filmmaker Richard Sandler's point — and he does have one — emerges haphazardly from this loosely-structured homage to the bad old days of Times Square. Starting around 1993, Sandler took his video camera to the 42nd Street area, filming street preachers of all persuasions and degrees of lucidity. The militant, African-American Sons of Yahawah,...read more

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Filmmaker Richard Sandler's point — and he does have one — emerges haphazardly from this loosely-structured homage to the bad old days of Times Square. Starting around 1993, Sandler took his video camera to the 42nd Street area, filming

street preachers of all persuasions and degrees of lucidity. The militant, African-American Sons of Yahawah, who claim they're the true Jews and rail against "white devils." Faith-healers and born-again Christians, who assert confidently that the Dalai Lama will burn in Hell unless he accepts

Jesus Christ as his personal savior. James, an older man dressed like a Catholic priest, carrying a copy of the Koran and preaching a solipsistic faith in which whatever you believe is true for you. Jews for Jesus and the militantly Orthodox crew of the Chabad Lubavitcher "mitzva tank." Jimmy, a

wan, soft-spoken 32-year-old who looks a bit like Neil Young and believes he's Jesus, come to save the world through grunge rock stardom, magic tricks and marrying Madonna. Sandler also captures the last day of Hakim's diner, a nostalgic dump nestled beneath the marquee of the Selwyn movie

theater; a Jimi Hendrix imitator; and the antics of a bubbly young woman shilling for a strip joint. Hovering over them all are enormous billboards depicting inhumanly flawless models, whose reflections Sandler catches in every puddle and pane of glass, speckled with multicolored neon lights. His

unsubtle thesis is clear: The vibrant, authentic Times Square of the past has become a corporate theme park, in which Mickey Mouse, models and celebrities have replaced the scruffy old "gods." But his argument is undermined by the fact that by the time Sandler started shooting, the ruins (human

and otherwise) of the old Times Square were so squalid that it's sadly easy to see why a squeaky-clean Disney mall seemed preferable.

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  • Released: 2000
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: Filmmaker Richard Sandler's point — and he does have one — emerges haphazardly from this loosely-structured homage to the bad old days of Times Square. Starting around 1993, Sandler took his video camera to the 42nd Street area, filming street p… (more)

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