|DARK DAYS (director/writer: Marc Singer; cinematographer: Marc Singer; editor: Melissa Niedich; music: DJ Shadow; cast: Marc Singer (Himself), the Crew: Ralph, Dee, Henry, Tommy, Brian, Bernard, Lee, José, Clarence, Julio. Rick, Ronnie, Marayah, Mike, S. Henry, Esteban, Atoulio, Cathy, Joe, Tito, the Twins, Greg, Ozzy, Maria, Jasmine; Runtime: 84; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Marc Singer/Ben Freedman; Palm Pictures and Wide Angle Pictures in association with the Sundance Channel; 2000)|
documentary is amazing."
by Dennis Schwartz
British documentary filmmaker Marc Singer in the 1990s
lived for two years with his unusual subjects,
the 'mole people,' underground at Penn Station in
NYC. The untrained filmmaker, in his first film,
uses the homeless as his film crew, as he
sympathetically depicts how they survive in such a
dark, rat infested and inhospitable environment.
Singer tells the story of the subterranean dwellers in
their own words, without casting any aspersions on
their misfortune. It was his hope to call attention to
their plight and get them proper help. The only thing
unconvincing about this unique documentary was the
'happy ending,' that shows the tunnel dwellers
resettled with above ground accommodations and
seemingly willing to undergo a change of a lifestyle
they previously couldn't and wouldn't accept.
documentary is amazing because Singer commits himself
to living in the same harsh conditions as his 75
or so subjects, and uses a 16mm camera
he previously had no knowledge of to record the
experience. In the six years Singer spent trying to
get the film released, he ended up destitute himself.
While filming Singer lived in a makeshift shack in the
underground shantytown with mostly crack addicts,
runaways, hustlers and the homeless. Singer's
stark black-and-white photography and the
matter-of-fact direct responses to the interview
process of the outsider community, makes this an
unusual human condition film.
waste disposal, running water, and living amidst
garbage in a depressingly dark setting, the tunnel
dwellers point out that at least they're not
'hopeless.' Some rig up devices to tap into free
electricity and seem glad they have no bills to pay
for their residency. But the bleakness of the tunnel
dwellers' trip should be a lesson to stay off crack or
you might also be reduced to living in such squalor.
Dark Days covers up until the late '90s, just after Amtrak evicted the mole people and the Coalition for the Homeless found them housing in city apartments.
REVIEWED ON 4/27/2014 GRADE: B
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
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