Dark Days: A Decade Later, Back Down Into the Subway Tunnels

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Dark Days
Directed by Marc Singer
Oscilloscope
Opens July 1, Cinema Village

Returning briefly to theaters (or a theater, anyway) prior to a deluxe anniversary DVD release later this month, Marc Singer’s feted 2000 doc about a Manhattan subterranean community has lost none of its power since its debut. Singer, a Londoner, famously spent several months in an unused access tunnel beneath Penn Station chronicling the lives of the homeless men and women living there. Most were current or former crack addicts in varying states of personal decay, but Dark Days is anything but a scolding cautionary tale. What shines through amid the murk, filth, turf squabbles, and tearful reflections of disastrous choices is the persistence of human intergrity—even the most shambolic of the undergrounders exhibits a moving dedication to companionship and autonomy. (On the inhuman side, Amtrak evicts them all late in the shoot, leading to a counterintuitively happy ending.) Oscilloscope’s upcoming multi-disc set offers loads of extras, including a featurette that catches up with the erstwhile tunnel dwellers 10 years on. The film stands on its own, of course, and Singer’s uniquely tactile 16mm black-and-white photography is worth experiencing projected. But without a clue as to what has happened to the movie’s subjects in the intervening decade, this fleeting theatrical resurrection feels a bit like a marketing tease, though a highly palatable one.

 
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