- fascinating film with a remarkable story behind it 5/1/2001 12:00:00 AM by utzutzutz
It's nigh-impossible not to be moved by Marc Singer's remarkable first film, about a community of homeless people living in a train tunnel beneath Manhattan. What's even more inspiring is how the film got made. Then-20-year-old Singer, who'd never before run a camera, lived underground with his subjects, recruited them as crew, convinced local merchants to donate equipment and even sold his own bed to buy film. His original goal in making the film was to fund its denizens' move out of the tunnel. The result is a fascinating slice of a part of life most of us have never considered. The characters are gritty, sometimes funny, sometimes tragic and always very real. Dark Days takes homelessness out of the realm of sociological phenomenon and into an almost-visceral engagement with these people and their lives. We look in as the characters decorate their scrap-metal shacks with discarded material, earn their livings, emotionally support each other and ultimately struggle with their homes' demise. Though clearly Singer roots for his subjects, he avoids the temptation to pity them; he simply calls it as he sees it - and has lived it. There's even a happy ending.
- Awesome first-time documentary 3/14/2000 12:00:00 AM by dillrod
Dark Days is an amazing first-time documentary project. I saw this last night and was blown away. The guy shot a huge amount of film before developing anything. He was lucky he got the light metering right under such challenging conditions!!! He also never checked the audio until all the shooting was done (more than 50 hours)- another small bit of luck! Mark lived in the tunnels under New York City with homeless people for two years while filming this documentary. He lived homeless in every aspect, even dumpster diving for food.
As for the content of the film, it's an incredibly compassionate look into the lives of a few of the many homeless people who lived under New York City in abandoned railway tunnels for decades. Up until recent years, there was a community of multiple thousands of people living down there. Having read the book the Mole People, I'd say this movie is a more compelling and insightful examination of this story.
- great stylized documentary 1/25/2006 12:00:00 AM by theoscillator_13
I just came across this gem of a movie on cable last night. I'm not a social activist and I don't particularly have a soft spot in my heart for the homeless. I lived in San Francisco for a while and I got pan handled by at least 20 people a day walking back and forth to the train...usually much more then 20 people , so that made disillusioned pretty quickly. But watching this movie did exactly what Marc Singer set out to do...made me sympathetic to these individuals in the film regardless of my preconceptions about the homeless in the United States. Yes, most of the people in this film certainly didn't make the right decisions in life, some were openly smoking crack on camera and most definitely were not educated. But it made me realize that we all make some mistakes and it is possible for some of those mistakes to spiral into their situations.
The "characters" in the film were all much more articulate then I would have expected from some homeless people. They all told their individual stories but none of them tried to make any excuses for things they've done in the past to get them where they were which is what I think ultimately made me feel sympathetic to them.
But it was the style of this film that really sucked me in before the characters and subject matter did. It was beautifully shot on B&W film which was impressive considering the lighting issues inside the tunnel. The soundtrack from DJ Shadow was also excellent and really added to the mood of this film. Overall, a great doc. I recommend it to everyone.
- god bless the homeless 4/11/2001 12:00:00 AM by bedazzle
This movie hits upon all the emotional movers: laughter, sadness, regret, hope. The alternative life style is like you've never seen or heard or could have understand through the usual stereotypes. The screen shots are well captured and the music of dj shadow neatly completes the puzzle.
The only part I didn't enjoy was the ending. Not that I have anything against those sorts of endings, but as Marc Singer himself told me after the movie, it was unrealistic. It was only possible because of the negative press associated with the issue and the particular homeless of the film. An all-too-real look into american subcultures shouldn't stray into fantasy in the end. I would have lengthened the beginning and middle, and simply left out the ending. BUT, the movie was still great, 9 of 10.
- Dark Days captures the consequences of human suffering and hardship 11/8/2005 12:00:00 AM by bijpatel
Dark Days is an excellent documentary highlighting the hardships faced by the homeless people of New York City. Castigated and mistreated by citizens and government officials on the streets, the homeless resort to living in the underground railway tunnels, where they will be left alone. Mark Singer does an excellent job of showing that the 'land of the free' is not so free when people are denied basic human rights. Singer allows his audience to partake in communication with the homeless, something we rarely take the time to do when we pass a homeless person on the streets. His documentary helps us understand their backgrounds and misfortunes and how they came to be homeless. Singer's documentary really compels one to fight the stereotypes and discomforts associated with the homeless. He captures human suffering in a place where we most often forget to look for it.