A History of Future Folk’s Subtle Sci-fi Best Served to the Burough in Which It Was Made


For a movie about a pair of aliens who crash-land in Brooklyn and start a folk band, the debut feature by J. Anderson Mitchell and Jeremy Kipp Walker, demands a comparatively small suspension of disbelief. Nils d’Aulaire and Jay Klaitz, who play officials of varying rank from the planet Hondo, are English-speaking, human-looking extraterrestrials set apart only by their repurposed bucket helmets. (Their superpowers are fuzzy at best.) D’Aulaire’s General Trius, aka “Bill,” so enamored by music on Earth, has settled down and started a family, working as a humble groundskeeper at a museum and moonlighting as a spaceman-themed club act that is, of course, only partly tongue-in-cheek. Rather than some high-tech space station, his secret command post is a cut-and-paste job operating out of a self-storage locker. When Future Folk, the banjo-heavy intergalactic duo, manage to hit it big, they still only play Grand Street’s unassuming Trash Bar—here owned by Dee Snider in a cameo that feels not only appropriate but actually necessary. Practicing the same restraint as some other indie sci-fis of late—think last summer’s Safety Not Guaranteed—the weird science is left ambiguous in lieu of the arguably weirder emotional phenomena. Even as an apocalyptic plot-pushing rescue mission unfolds, slapstick police chases keep the level of diverting quirk high, and the husband-wife/father-daughter dynamics remain central. This considered, Future Folk is best suited for an audience similar to the demographic that populates the modern, Manhattan-ized Brooklyn in which it was filmed—folk freaks, precocious children, and above all, families.