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Lower East Side Heritage Film Series: the Eighties, Part 3 - The Way it Is or Eurydice in the Avenues

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Pretend you’re just outside Tompkins Square Park. Enter the park on Avenue A, at 8th Street. Take the windy path through the park towards Avenue B. Okay, now sniff. What do you smell?

You smell dogs.

The Way it Is or Eurydice in the Avenues opens early morning summer in the Park. Three feckless dog walkers stand over the dead body of a girl in a polka-dot dress. Who else is going to find a dead body in Tompkins Square Park? Okay, drug-addicts, probably, but still. Dog walkers. Brilliant.

The girl is Eurydice to a troupe of actors rehearsing Cocteau’s Orpheus in Tompkins Square Park, with the handball courts for backdrop. Each was at least a little in love with her, and Eurydice alive stars in all their memories. All real-life dialogue has the exaggerated gravitas of Greek tragedy. Only Eurydice is lifeless, even in life. Everyone is serious as hell. Vincent Gallo plays his usual sinewy greaseball. Steve Buscemi, in his feature film debut, is plainly too natural for any direction to the contrary. Jessica Stutchbury as Vera is priceless — fabulously bored in elbow length gloves and leather-corseted wiggle dress as she struts past Love Saves the Day. Her cigarette holder should get cast billing. And all this in inky black and white, on 16mm, circa 1985.

We are pleased to offer the following film on Tuesday evening, July 17, 2012, at 6:30 p.m.

Third part in the series:
The Way it Is or Eurydice in the Avenues
(Eric Mitchell, 80 minutes, 1985)

A group of actors have been rehearsing Jean Cocteau's Orpheus in the East Village. On a warm summer day, the body of Eurydice, the lead actress, is found dead in Tompkins Sqare Park. At her funeral, the actors, each a suspect, examine their relationships with her in order to unravel the mystery of her demise. The actors' memories, the underworld of Cocteau's play, and the East Village milieu become inextricably linked.  The tragedy of Eurydice plays against the end of an era:  scorched tenements, the Mudd Club, and "new wave" punk.

The Way it Is or Eurydice in the Avenues courtesy of the Reserve Film and Video Collection of The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts.

This is a FREE monthly series held at Seward Park Library. Feature-length films (16mm, VHS, and DVD) shot on location in lower Manhattan are presented the third Tuesday of every month.

Previously: LES Heritage Film Series: The Eighties, Part 2
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