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Dark Days

( 4 )

Overview

Novice filmmaker Marc Singer lived in the bowels of a midtown Manhattan railway station for two years to shoot this harrowing account of the day-to-day existence of the homeless. Shot in noirish black and white, Singer shows how society's discarded and disenfranchised fashion a community of sorts in the sunless labyrinth of the station's transit tunnels. Though told without narration, a dozen or so individual stories emerge. Dee the sole woman depicted in the film lost all her children in a house fire while she ...
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Overview

Novice filmmaker Marc Singer lived in the bowels of a midtown Manhattan railway station for two years to shoot this harrowing account of the day-to-day existence of the homeless. Shot in noirish black and white, Singer shows how society's discarded and disenfranchised fashion a community of sorts in the sunless labyrinth of the station's transit tunnels. Though told without narration, a dozen or so individual stories emerge. Dee the sole woman depicted in the film lost all her children in a house fire while she was high on crack; Ralph remains inconsolable after his five-year old's rape and mutilation during a stint in prison. In the final reel, Amtrak sends in armed police to clean out the tunnels, citing health concerns. However, the subterranean tenets happen upon a stroke of luck, as an NYC social worker discovers a cache of previously unclaimed public housing. Featuring a sparse soundtrack by DJ Shadow, Dark Days won the Grand Jury prize for cinematography, the Freedom of Expression award, and an audience award at the 2000 Sundance Film Festival.
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Jonathan Crow
Recalling the films of Robert Frank, Dark Days is a compassionate and haunting portrait of a subterranean community of the homeless. The two years director Marc Singer spent living in the catacombs of New York's train tunnels dumpster-diving for food clearly paid off: Singer's documentary boasts a surprising intimacy between his homeless subjects and the camera -- on numerous occasions they banter as freely with Singer as they do with each other. The director manages to draw out some exchanges that are both funny --as when Lee gives a rambling but impassioned speech about his decreased pets -- and horrific -- as when Ralph recalls his child's rape and dismemberment. The past for many of the tunnel people is a constant source of torment, be it Dee's loss of her children to a house fire or the disintegration of Ralph's marriage due to crack. In spite of the bad air, perpetual darkness, and rats, most subterranean dwellers argue that life in the tunnel is infinitely preferable to the streets, where they are prey to crime and the elements. Beneath Manhattan, they have constructed shanties out of lumber and cardboard and furnished them with TVs, powered straight off the city's grid. Their daily life makes up a large part of the film's structure: we see how they eat, shower, and kill time. One character points out the best dumpster in which to find good food, arguing that the grub is not only clean, but kosher too, while another has managed to construct a shower of sorts from a leaking water main. Thanks to Singer's stark black and white cinematography, Dark Days has the claustrophobic quality of the bottom of the ocean, which adds to its taunt intensity. Although its ending is oddly mushy and seemingly inconsistent with the rest of the work, Dark Days is a powerful document of humanity's will to survive and a first-rate piece of urban ethnography.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 8/26/2003
  • UPC: 031398828723
  • Original Release: 2000
  • Rating:

  • Source: Lions Gate
  • Presentation: Wide Screen / Black & White
  • Sound: Dolby Digital Stereo, Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • Time: 1:24:00
  • Format: DVD

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Marc Singer Interviewee
Technical Credits
Marc Singer Director, Cinematographer, Producer
DJ Shadow Score Composer
Ben Freedman Co-producer
Peter Levin Sound Editor
Melissa Neidich Editor
Barbara Parks Sound Editor
Paolo Seganti Executive Producer
Morton Swinsky Executive Producer
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 4 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(3)

4 Star

(1)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 1, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Great Documentary

    If you enjoyed this movie and found your interest peaked, try reading "The Mole People" by Jennifer Toth.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Great movie

    After a recommendation from a friend I picked this up. I was unprepared for the humanity that showed through the ''darkness''. The characters were surprisingly well-developed. This movie is for someone who believes that most people are basically good, some with bad circumsatances, who need a hand up.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    in-depth and soul searching

    Marc and his crew did a fantastic job. They captured the nitty gritty of the time and personalities of the homeless pictured.I loved the lighting and the way they didn't try to sugar coat their lives.Great film-making.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 27, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews