On the roof of El Museo Del Barrio
1230 Fifth Ave. at 104th Street, New York, NY 10029
6 to 103rd St. or 2/3 to 110th St.
|8:30||Live Music by Helado Negro|
|11:00||After-party on the roof: Open bar courtesy of Radeberger Pilsner|
The Man Next Door (El Hombre de al Lado) (Mariano Cohn & Gaston Duprat | Argentina | 103 min.)
As an outdoor urban festival that skitters across the tops of various buildings, Rooftop is a film organization particularly concerned with architecture. We understand the social value in the aesthetics of construction, and the psychological value in the logistics of urban planning. From up here on the roof, we have the unique opportunity to survey the constructed landscape, inviting an audience to interact with the city from a new perspective.
In the opening of The Man Next Door, Leonardo, a wealthy designer, is awoken one morning by the sound of a sledgehammer rattling through his signature home - cleverly shown in a light/dark mirror image split screen that acts as a metaphor for the themes of the film. Leonardo is immediately upset, and we appreciate his concern. His neighbor Victor is creating a window that will gaze right into Leonardo's Le Corbusier home - a sanctum prized for the purity of the privacy, in which the various rooms feature gorgeous open sight lines, but the entire interior space is shielded from the peering eyes of tourists . . . and neighbors. As we at Rooftop access unclaimed urban locations, we can certainly understand the desire to control the space around you.
Tellingly, the two men, despite living next to each other, had never met. Leonardo is the type of aesthete who appreciates the subtler points of an avant garde noise music recording, but is bothered to distraction by similar sounding construction noises. Victor, on the other hand, claims to be a simple working man just trying to catch some rays from the sun, but he also seems to delight in dirty exhibitionist displays. Neither man can be taken at their word, and the windows and walls between them are the only solid part of their interaction. Through negotiations that move from simple misunderstanding to passive aggressive to borderline violent, the film plays with the characters' perceived discrepancies in class and consciousness, as subtle comic scenarios and delightfully unexpected plot twists deconstruct our expectations. With a delectable sense of design, buoyantly off-kilter performances, and a sublimely simple story, The Man Next Door is a dark comedy about light. The film plays like a clever satire constructed in accord with Rooftop's blueprints, asking us all to open up our windows and get out to meet the neighbors.
-Mark Elijah Rosenberg