My Mars Bar Movie


“A lot is going on, as usual, at Mars Bar . . .” So pronounces Anthology godfather Jonas Mekas in his years-in-the-making video document of the venerable East Village dive, and though it’s neither strictly true in his film nor in the physical realm (the place was razed last year to make way for the yuppie version of a shithole), it’s not just the tequila talking, either. With its drifting, tumbler’s-eye-view shots of chatty regulars, sublimely lovely (and sublimely detached) barmaids, and a full-frontal-naked outburst for punctuation, My Mars Bar Movie nails both the dozy vibe of a Village watering hole and the slow fade of NYC’s down-market downtown. It’s hardly an urban-NIMBY rant, though: An unsentimental romantic, Mekas displays a keen, almost offhandedly disciplined interest in time passing and passing time, and his bittersweet final shot of the shuttered saloon suggests that there’s something as vital in death as there is in low life. Mars Bar might leave you wondering why you didn’t just go to a bar instead (tip: consider watching it half in the bag), but as a poetic evocation of drunken loafing and an ode to the optimal—and, in Gotham, ever-dwindling—setting in which to indulge in the practice, it’s almost required viewing.

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