The Gods of Times Square
Directed by Richard Sandler
Richard Sandler’s The Gods of Times Square is a Rouchian-styled documentary attempting to explore the various religious manifestations that exist in the Mecca of existentialism itself, Times Square. Through fly-on-the-wall observations of religious zealots preaching their own brands of dogma, coupled with first person interviews of the more delusional passersby, Sandler creates an interesting (though redundant) case study of how God has survived in the age of the conglomerate.
The material Sandler films is inherently cinematic, from the neon-tinged backdrops to the pathos exuding interviewees. The material is, in fact, so cinematic, that Sandler apparently couldn’t bear to leave any of it out, hence the redundancy of fairly obvious themes throughout the film.
However, Sandler also makes some rather astute and novel observations as well, making this film worthwhile. One particularly shrewd juxtaposition shows the ugly, God-fearing people on the street and the omnipresent, deity-like billboards of models tattooing the city. Is it these underwear-clad pseudo-idols, looked upon with such adoration who have ruined humanity? Maybe science didn’t kill God, Calvin Klein did.
However, the main message in Sandler’s case study is one of acceptance. Exclusionary ideologies (such as Black Jews) are depicted with brevity and distaste by Sandler. More time is devoted to those preaching subjectivity and individual choice. Whether you worship Jesus, Buddha, Elvis, Mickey Mouse or simply the almighty orgasm, if it works, then more power to you.
Or, as one passerby commented after mourning a publicly-defecating man’s lack of toilet paper, “Everybody is equal in shit.” Amen to that.
The Gods of Times Square makes its area premiere at Undercinema Tuesday, May 29. Screenings are at 8p.m. and 10p.m. at the Dinkytowner Cafe in Minneapolis.