This Week in New York Insider's Guide to Arts & Culture in New York City Since 2001



LA SAPIENZA feature glorious sights and sounds as a couple tries to rekindle their spark

LA SAPIENZA (THE SAPIENCE) (Eugène Green, 2014)
Film Society of Lincoln Center
Saturday, September 27, Alice Tully Hall, 3:00, and Sunday, September 28, Francesca Beale Theater, 12:15
Festival runs September 19-25

New York City-born French filmmaker Eugène Green equates humanity and architecture in the lush, rich film La Sapienza. Named for the concept of gaining wisdom as well as Italian architect Francesco Borromini’s seventeenth-century Roman Catholic Baroque church Sant’Ivo alla Sapienza, the film follows an older couple who rediscover their personal and professional passion after meeting a young pair of siblings. Architect Alexandre Schmidt (Fabrizio Rongione) and his wife, sociologist Aliénor (Christelle Prot Landman), are walking through a park in Switzerland when they see a teenage girl (Arianna Nastro) nearly collapse into the arms of a slightly older boy (Ludovico Succio). It turns out that Lavinia is suffering from incapacitating dizzy spells and is cared for by her brother, Goffredo, who is interested in studying architecture. Aliénor becomes involved in Lavinia’s situation while Alexandre, an intense, cynical man, returns to the book he is writing on Borromini (who famously worked in the shadow of Bernini) and travels to Italy with Goffredo as the boy’s reluctant mentor. Green’s (Toutes les nuits, Le monde vivant) first digital feature opens with the glorious sounds of Claudio Monteverdi accompanying cinematographer Raphaël O’Byrne’s magisterial shots of statuary and architecture in Rome. The acting at the start, particularly Rongione’s, is purposefully stiff and mannered, cold and stonelike, but it warms up as the characters learn (or relearn) about the myriad possibilities life offers. Green uses the metaphor of Baroque architecture’s role in the Counter-Reformation as a symbol for Alexandre and Aliénor’s relationship, as they finally face long-held emotions and reconsider their future, all while Green lingers on magnificent structures. La Sapienza will have its U.S. premiere at the New York Film Festival on September 27 at 3:00 and September 28 at 12:15; both screenings will be followed by a Q&A with Green, who also appears in the film as the grizzled Chaldean.


New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center
40 Lincoln Center Plaza
Monday - Saturday through October 25, free
Thursday, September 25, “Three Choreographers Celebrate,” free with advance RSVP, 6:00

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Peter B. Lewis Theater
1071 Fifth Ave. at 89th St.
October 5 – December 15, $30-$35

For three decades, the Guggenheim has been presenting illuminating performances and discussions in its groundbreaking program Works & Process, in which emerging and established dancers, musicians, composers, and choreographers share their creative inspiration with glimpses at upcoming productions. The New York Public Library is honoring the series with “Works & Process at 30: Artists at Work, Artists in Process,” a collection of photographs, costumes, and printed ephemera from past events featuring some of the greatest directors, choreographers, and performers of the last thirty years. On September 25, the library will host “Three Choreographers Celebrate” in the Bruno Walter Auditorium (free with advance RSVP), bringing together a trio of W&P veterans, Karole Armitage, Larry Keigwin, and Pam Tanowitz, to talk about the importance of the program with Dance Theatre of Harlem artistic director Virginia Johnson; the event will also include footage from the library’s archives of nearly five hundred W&P performances. Meanwhile, tickets are now on sale and going fast for the fall 2014 W&P season, which continues October 5 with “The Kennedy Center: Little Dancer with Susan Stroman” (with Stroman, Boyd Gaines, Rebecca Luker, Tiler Peck, Lynn Ahrens, and Stephen Flaherty) and also includes Brian Brooks Moving Company on October 19-20, “Harlem Stage: Makandal” on October 27 (with Carl Hancock Rux, Yosvany Terry, Edouard Duval-Carrié, and Lars Jan), “In Process with Pam Tanowitz and David Lang” on November 2, and “Jerome Robbins: Fancy Free to On the Town” on November 9-10 (with Robert LaFosse, John Rando, Joshua Bergasse, Phyllis Newman, and Jamie Bernstein, moderated by Amanda Vaill).


You can come out and play with the Warriors as they head to Brooklyn for BAM festival kickoff

THE WARRIORS (Walter Hill, 1979)
BAMcinématek, BAM Rose Cinemas
30 Lafayette Ave. between Ashland Pl. & St. Felix St.
Friday, September 26, 3:00, 5:00, 7:30 & 9:45

At a huge gang meeting in the Bronx (actually shot in Riverside Park), the Warriors are wrongly accused of having killed Cyrus (Roger Hill), an outspoken leader trying to band all the warring factions together to form one huge force that can take over the New York City borough by borough. The Warriors then must make it back to their home turf, Coney Island, with every gang in New York lying in wait for them to pass through their territory. This iconic New York City gang movie is based on Sol Yurick’s novel, which in turn is loosely based on Xenophon’s Anabasis, which told of the ancient Greeks’ retreat from Persia. Michael Beck stars as Swan, who becomes the de-facto leader of the Warriors after Cleon (Dorsey Wright) gets taken down early. Battling Swan for control is Ajax (Dexter’s James Remar) and tough-talking Mercy (Too Close for Comfort’s Deborah Van Valkenburgh). Serving as a Greek chorus is Lynne (Law & Order) Thigpen as a radio DJ, and, yes, that young woman out too late in Central Park is eventual Oscar winner Mercedes Ruehl. Among the cartoony gangs of New York who try to stop the Warriors are the roller-skating Punks, the pathetic Orphans, the militaristic Gramercy Riffs, the all-girl Lizzies, the ragtag Rogues, and the inimitable Baseball Furies. Another main character is the New York City subway system itself, which is why it is kicking off the BAMcinématek series “Retro Metro” on September 26, ten days of sixteen films with key scenes set underground, including the original Taking of Pelham One Two Three; Leslie Harris’s indie breakthrough Just Another Girl on the I.R.T.; Larry Peerce’s cult favorite The Incident, with a superb, subtle all-star cast; and such pairings as Vincente Minnelli’s The Clock with Stan Brakhage’s The Wonder Ring and Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly’s On the Town with D. A. Pennebaker’s Daybreak Express (as well as Saturday Night Fever, Speedy, Beat Street, and more).


Prepare to dive into some pretty hot chocolate at Chile Pepper Festival (photo by Jason Gardner)

Prepare to dive into some pretty hot chocolate at Chile Pepper Festival (photo by Jason Gardner)

Brooklyn Botanic Garden
900 Washington Ave.
Saturday, September 27, $15-$20 (children under twelve free), 11:00 am - 6:00 pm

The Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s twenty-second annual Chile Pepper Festival, a celebration of all things spicy and hot, takes place Saturday, September 27, promising “sizzling sounds,” “fiery delights,” and “7 hours of chocolate debauchery,” which certainly gets our attention. Beginning at 11:00 and continuing through 6:00, the festivities include live performances by Talavya, Tipsy Oxcart, Shiro & the Raw Dogs, Cumbiagra, Tee Chaoui Social Club, and Alidu; food from more than three dozen culinary artisans, from Brooklyn Delhi and the Jam Stand to La Newyorkina Mexican Ice & Sweets and Pelzer’s Pretzels, from Beyond the Spice and Queen Majesty Hot Sauce to Holy Schmitt’s Homemade Horseradish and TorchBearer Sauces; chile tours with BBG curator Maeve Turner; hot books for sale; chile pepper paintings by Jonathan Blum; and pepper plants for kids to pot and take home.



Jean-Luc Godard’s GOODBYE TO LANGUAGE speaks for itself

Film Society of Lincoln Center, Walter Reade Theater
165 West 65th St. between Eighth Ave. & Broadway
Saturday, September 27, 9:00, and Wednesday, October 1, 9:00
Festival runs September 26 - October 12

After the New York Film Festival advance press screening of Jean-Luc Godard’s 3D Goodbye to Language, a colleague turned to me and said, “If this was Godard’s first film, he would never have had a career.” While I don’t know whether that might be true, I do know that Goodbye to Language is the 3D flick Godard was born to make, a 3D movie that couldn’t have come from anyone else. What’s it about? I have no idea. Well, that’s not exactly right. It’s about everything, and it’s about nothing. It’s about the art of filmmaking. It’s about the authority of the state and freedom. It’s about extramarital affairs. It’s about seventy minutes long. It’s about communication in the digital age. (Surprise! Godard does not appear to be a fan of the cell phone and Yahoo!) And it’s about a cute dog (which happens to be his own mutt, Miéville, named after his longtime partner, Anne-Marie Miéville). In the purposefully abstruse press notes, Godard, now eighty-three, describes it thusly: “the idea is simple / a married woman and a single man meet / they love, they argue, fists fly / a dog strays between town and country / the seasons pass / the man and woman meet again / the dog finds itself between them / the other is in one / the one is in the other / and they are three / the former husband shatters everything / a second film begins / the same as the first / and yet not / from the human race we pass to metaphor / this ends in barking / and a baby’s cries.” Yes, it’s all as simple as that. Or maybe not.

Jean-Luc Godard has fun with 3D in GOODBYE TO LANGUAGE

Jean-Luc Godard has fun with 3D in GOODBYE TO LANGUAGE

Godard divides the film into sections labeled “La Nature” and “La Métaphore,” cutting between several ongoing narratives, from people reading Dostoyevsky, Pound, and Solzhenitsyn at an outdoor café to an often naked man and woman in a kitchen to clips of such old movies as Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and The Snows of Kilimanjaro to Lord Byron and the Shelleys on Lake Geneva. Did I say “narrative”? It’s not really a narrative but instead storytelling as only Godard can do it, and this time in 3D, with the help of cinematographer Fabrice Aragno. Godard has a blast with the medium, which he previously used in a pair of recent shorts. He has fun — and so do we — as he toys with the name of the film and the idea of saying farewell (he plays with the French title, Adieu au langage, forming such puns as “Ah, dieu” and “Ah, dieux,” making the most of 3D layering); creates superimpositions and fast-moving shots that blur the image, making the glasses worthless; changes from sharp color to black-and-white to wild pastel-like bursts of red, blue, and green; evokes various genres, with mystery men in suits and gunshots that might or might not involve kidnapping and murder; and even gets a kick out of where he places the subtitles. These games are very funny, as is the voiceover narration, which includes philosophy from such diverse sources as Jacques Ellul (his essay “The Victory of Hitler”) and Claude Monet (“Paint not what we see, for we see nothing, but paint that we don’t see”). And for those who, like my colleague, believe the film to be crap, Godard even shows the man sitting on the bowl, his girlfriend in the bathroom with him, directly referencing Rodin’s The Thinker and talking about “poop” as he noisily evacuates his bowels. So, in the end, what is Godard saying farewell to? Might this be his last film? Is he saying goodbye to the old ways we communicated? Is he bidding adieu to humanity, leaving the future for the dogs, the trees, and the ocean? Does it matter? A hit at Cannes, Goodbye to Language is screening at the New York Film Festival on September 27 at 9:00, followed by a Q&A with star Héloïse Godet, and October 1 at 9:00. You can check out the NSFW French trailer here.


Jared McNeill and Kathryn Hunter explore rather unusual properties of the human brain in THE VALLEY OF ASTONISHMENT (photo by Pascal Victor / ArtComArt)

Jared McNeill and Kathryn Hunter explore rather unusual properties of the human brain in THE VALLEY OF ASTONISHMENT (photo by Pascal Victor / ArtComArt)

Theatre for a New Audience, Polonsky Shakespeare Center
262 Ashland Pl. between Lafayette Ave. & Fulton St.
Tuesday - Sunday through October 5, $60-$75

The Valley of Astonishment, a fascinating, often thoroughly entrancing tale that delves into the magical mysteries of the human brain, comes from the endlessly creative minds of Peter Brook and Marie-Hélène Estienne and their C.I.C.T. / Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord company. The spare, eighty-minute production, running at Theatre for a New Audience through October 5, evokes elements of their previous works The Conference of the Birds, based on the twelfth-century poem by Farid ud-Din Attar, and The Man Who, inspired by Oliver Sacks’s The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, while going to new, exciting places. The great Kathryn Hunter (Brook and Estienne’s Fragments, The Bee) plays Samy Costas, a character inspired by the real-life Russian mnemonist Solomon Shereshevsky; Samy is a rather ordinary woman except that she has an extraordinary memory, able to recall everything that anyone has ever said to her through synesthesia, a process in which she associates words with images. Theatre de Complicité cofounding member Marcello Magni (Fragments with Hunter, The Birds directed by Hunter) portrays one of the scientists who studies Samy; a man with no proprioception who has to use his brain a special way in order to move his otherwise paralyzed body; and a one-armed magician inspired by René Lavand. And Jared McNeill (Brook and Estienne’s The Suit, Life of Galileo) plays a second scientist; a music-hall impresario; and a painter who sees colors when he listens to jazz. The live score is performed by composer and pianist Raphaël Chambouvet and Toshi Tsuchitori on strings and percussion; each man also takes his turn at center stage.

Kathryn Hunter is once again astonishing in Peter Brook / Marie-Hélène Estienne production (photo by Pascal Victor / ArtComArt)

Kathryn Hunter is once again astonishing in Peter Brook / Marie-Hélène Estienne production (photo by Pascal Victor / ArtComArt)

The scenes that explore the blessing/curse of synesthesia are dazzling; Hunter is delightfully mesmerizing, Magni is superb as the man relearning how to walk, and McNeill excels as he imagines painting a canvas on the floor, with the help of lighting designer Philippe Vialatte. (The set includes several unpainted chairs, a rolling desk, and a coatrack, with the musicians off to one side.) One of the scientists refers to Samy’s ability as “tricks,” and soon Brook and Estienne (Je suis un Phénomène, Woza Albert!) give the show over to the one-armed magician, who performs card tricks for some of the other characters as well as a pair of audience members pulled onstage. While the tricks are cool, the scene goes on far too long and appears relevant only in its final moment, by which time the narrative thread has nearly been lost. However, it does come together for a moving finale, especially as Samy grapples with the possibility that her unique powers might be reaching an end. The Valley of Astonishment is, at times, indeed astonishing, an intelligent yet playful exploration of some of the wondrous capabilities of the human brain and how supposed experts react to them, turning them into sideshow attractions rather than using them for a greater purpose. In conjunction with the show, TFANA is hosting “Celebrating Peter Brook,” a two-day film series honoring the eighty-nine-year-old writer, director, and author, consisting of screenings of son Simon Brook’s 2012 documentary Peter Brook: The Tightrope (followed by a Q&A with Simon) and 2002 doc Brook by Brook on September 29 and Peter’s 1968 film Tell Me Lies (introduced by Simon) on September 30.


Outdoor artisanal food court is now open in Garment District (photo by twi-ny/mdr)

Outdoor artisanal food court is now open in Garment District (photo by twi-ny/mdr)

Broadway between 39th & 41st Sts.
Daily through October 17, 11:00 am - 9:00 pm

Those creative folks over at UrbanSpace, who “use markets as a way to give back to New York’s residents and tourists by stimulating economic growth and providing vibrant meeting places that draw millions of annual visitors,” are at it again, opening their latest outdoor artisan food court along Broadway in the Garment District. The sister to the current Mad. Sq. Eats and last fall’s Broadway Bites, this new market features some old standbys in addition to some newcomers to these en plein air culinary oases. Among the thirty-one booths are such favorites as Domo Taco, Roberta’s pizza, Red Hook Lobster Pound, Mighty Balls, Mimi and Coco’s takoyaki, Kicky’s Kitchen Caketails, and Wafels & Dinges as well as Black Iron Burger, Batter & Cream, Toast Monster, Zai Lai Chinese Grille, Frittering Away Lemonade, and Paella Shack by Barraca.