Unimpeachably good year for movie goers

Scorsese’s “The Irishman” closes the book of the Hollywood gangster genre.

By Ken Chanko

With everything else going on in the country right now it’s gratifying to report that 2019 turned out to be an unimpeachably good year for discerning movie-goers.

Before getting to this year’s remarkably robust ten-best list, it must be noted that 2019 saw the full impact of Netflix, for better and for worse. Quality mid-range films are getting squeezed between a rock — Hollywood’s reliance on Marvel-style formulaic franchise fare — and a hard place — the popularity of Netflix, which keeps folks increasingly on their sofas, in turn making studio execs even less willing to green-light more box-office risky (i.e., non-sequel superhero) films in the first place.

Then there was the dispute between the nation’s movie theater chains and officials at Netflix over Martin Scorsese’s “The Irishman,” the year’s best film. On the one hand, the movie’s shortened window in theaters before Netflix streamed it bodes ill for those still wanting to see worthy films get vigorous distribution at their local theaters; on the other hand, Netflix, as opposed to studios like Paramount or Universal, was the only “distributor” willing to pony-up the $150 million Scorsese needed to make his classic mob epic in the first place.

        So, there you have it. And here are my best films of the year:

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Subway musicians take their act to Madison Square Park

Bands working the subway, including Bandits on the Run (above), are featured in the Madison Square Park Conservancy’s new concert series, “Above Ground.” Photo by Dave Fitz)

Bands working the subway, including Bandits on the Run (above), are featured in the Madison Square Park Conservancy’s new concert series, “Above Ground.” (Photo by Dave Fitz)

By Sabina Mollot

At Madison Square Park, one of the surest signs that summer has officially arrived is not with the Shake Shack line snaking halfway around the park—since it’s like that even in the winter — but with the start of its various events.

For years now, summers in the park have included Thursday morning concerts and theater for kids as well as Wednesday night concerts for adults — and they’re all free. The evening “Oval Lawn” concert series has been going for 13 years and another concert series, “The Studio,” which runs at the park in the fall, and is the domain of Americana/bluegrass bands, is now in its tenth year.

This year, however, the Madison Square Park Conservancy has launched yet another series, this one featuring the best of what the city’s subway platforms have to offer.

Called the “Above Ground” series, the concerts have been running at 12:30 p.m. on Wednesdays since June 24 with buskers headlining. The series will continue for three more Wednesdays with performances by Bandits on the Run (July 15), Mariachi Flor de Toloache (July 22) and Underground Horns (July 29).

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