A number of indie projects opened on big screens in New York City this weekend, including visual director Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water and Oren Jacoby’s biographical documentary Shadowman. Both are expected to see nationwide expansions as we get into the New Year, and both definitely belong on your ‘To-See’ list for 2018.
Guillermo del Toro, a visual director known for projects like Pan’s Labyrinth, Hellboy, and Pacific Rim, is once again taking audiences on an imaginative fantasy adventure in The Shape of Water, a Cold War-era drama that won the Golden Lion – Best Film award at this year’s Venice Film Festival. The script, which he co-wrote with Vanessa Taylor, follows a lonely high-security government laboratory employee named Elisa who, along with her co-worker Zelda, discover a mind-blowing, top-classified experiment that changes both of their lives forever. Actresses Sally Hawkins (Layer Cake, Blue Jasmine) and Octavia Spencer (The Help, Hidden Figures) star as Elisa and Zelda, respectively, who are joined on-screen by actors Michael Shannon (Man of Steel, Nocturnal Animals), Richard Jenkins (Step Brothers, Burn After Reading), Michael Stuhlbarg (A Serious Man, Steve Jobs), and del Toro regular Doug Jones. If you’ve ever seen Pan’s Labyrinth then you’re likely familiar with del Toro’s mesmerizing, albeit eccentric method of storytelling, so be sure to check this one out on the big screen if you get a chance.
If you’re more of a down-to-earth kind of movie fan, then Oren Jacoby’s Shadowman may be a more fitting night out for you. It’s a biographical documentary that follows the life of Canadian artist Richard Hambleton. Hambleton gained some degree of prominence in New York City during the late 70’s and early 80’s, along with artists like Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat. His most famous work(s) is a series of paintings known as the “Shadowman.” Created with black paint, and using only brush-stroke and splashing techniques, these silhouette paintings appeared on all manner of buildings across New York City in alleyways and on street-corners to surprise unsuspecting passersby. Following the success of the project, Hambleton went on to do series of “Shadowman” paintings in cities like London, Paris, and Rome before famously traveling to Germany to paint 17 “Shadowmen” on the East side of the Berlin Wall in 1983, and then on the West side of the Wall in 1984. Hambleton famously told People Magazine in 1984, “I painted the town black. They could represent watchmen or danger or the shadows of a human body after a nuclear holocaust or even my own shadow.” Mr. Hambleton passed away this last October at the age of 65, but his work will be forever remembered among gallery and conceptual artists and New Yorkers for long into the 21st century.