'Lustre'

The late Bronx-born character actor Victor Argo, an Abel Ferrara standby, gives an elegiac walking tour of New York in Lustre. Playing a newly toothless loan shark, Argo trundles down the gentrified streets of Manhattan, bemoaning the billboards that dwarf the Howard Johnson in Times Square, presciently wondering when the legendary diner—a "stand up guy," as he calls it—will be sent packing. He thinks New York is losing its soul along with the cheap milk shakes. His panic at time's redecoration is of a piece with the dilapidation of his own body, one better profiled against the chipped paint and fading signs of his city of memory. Tired of the degradation, he escapes into the infinite with visions of angels and demons as he chats with the ghost of his murdered buddy at Gray's Papaya. These visions proving too fleeting, he seeks more mundane miracles, awakening in a dream of his daughter pirouetting down a hospital hallway—a filmic regeneration recalling Lee Chang-dong's Oasis. The film is marred by a reliance on cheap DV effects, but authenticity strains through in the performances. The supporting actors are engagingly amateur, and in one of his final turns Argo is a marvel of aggrieved resignation, mumbling uselessly against a present that has left him behind.

 
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