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



Wren (Susan Berman) is determined to become famous in Susan Seidelman’s SMITHEREENS

SMITHEREENS (Susan Seidelman, 1982)
7 Ludlow St. between Canal & Hester Sts.
July 29 – August 4

I’m a little worried about Metrograph’s weeklong presentation of Susan Seidelman’s underground cult classic, the one and only Smithereens. The Lower East Side art house is proclaiming that it is showing a new 35mm print, but a lot of the charm of the low-budget wonder is its gritty, less-than-polished attitude. I’m afraid it could be like when you hear a crystal-clear old album on CD that sends you back to the vinyl LP so you can hear every beloved scratch and pop. Regardless, Smithereens, the first American indie to be shown in competition at Cannes, is a fab tale set in the East Village punk / new wave scene of the late 1970s, as a tough-talking young woman from the New Jersey suburbs seeks to find her place in the burgeoning city subculture. Susan Berman, who was discovered in the audience at an off-Broadway play, makes her film debut as Wren, an annoying, unlikable wannabe desperate to become part of the music business. Wearing ever-more-fashionable punky get-ups, she wanders the streets seeking fame, plastering Xeroxes of her face all over and claiming to be on the guest list at the Peppermint Lounge. The innocent Paul (Brad Rijn), recently arrived from Colorado and living in his cool van in a postapocalyptic abandoned courtyard, immediately falls for Wren, but she has her eyes set on Eric (Richard Hell), the leader of a band who has plans to make it big in California. Wren is an unapologetic user, taking advantage of Paul, Eric, her landlady, her family, and her few friends, but Berman imbues her with just enough sublimated tender charm to keep you glued to her trainwreck of a life.


Wren (Susan Berman) latches on to punk musician Eric (Richard Hell) in underground cult classic

Seidelman made Smithereens over the course of eighteen months on a shoestring budget of $40,000, employing fellow NYU students and editing the film during several breaks in production that led to important recasting. The screenplay was written by Peter Askin, who later directed the original off-Broadway version of Hedwig and the Angry Inch, and Ron Nyswaner, who went on to write Swing Shift and The Painted Veil. Cinematographer Chirine El Khadem shot the film on the fly in 16mm, giving it a guerrilla feel that matches the pulsating soundtrack by Glenn Mercer and Bill Million of the Feelies (in addition to songs by the Raybeats and Richard Hell and the Voidoids). Berman, who prepared for the role by watching Federico Fellini’s Nights of Cabiria at Seidelman’s request, is a whirlwind in her first movie of what would be a sparse career, playing Wren with a freewheeling abandon, little caring who she steps on as she desperately seeks some kind of stardom. “I just wanna be in a swimming pool, eating tacos, and signing autographs — that’s all,” she says. You might not like Wren, but you won’t be able to take your eyes off her. Watch out for bit parts played by Amos Poe and Chris Noth. Smithereens will be screening in a new 35mm print at Metrograph July 29 to August 4, with Seidelman (Desperately Seeking Susan, Making Mr. Right) in attendance at the 7:00 show on opening night to talk about this seminal work.


Matt Damon reprises his role as Jason Bourne in reunion with Paul Greengrass

Matt Damon reprises his role as Jason Bourne in reunion with Paul Greengrass

JASON BOURNE (Paul Greengrass, 2016)
Opens Friday, July 29

Perhaps Universal named the fifth Jason Bourne film Jason Bourne because The Bourne Idiocy would probably not have made for very good box office. The fifth entry in the action-espionage series based on the Robert Ludlum character is a lackluster, repetitive bore. Oh, there are plenty of chases, fistfights, and shootouts in locations around the world, but there is rarely any legitimate drama to fill in the gaping plot holes. After skipping The Bourne Legacy, Matt Damon is back as the mysterious government killing machine, still on the run from the CIA, which is now headed by Robert Dewey (an incredibly craggy-faced Tommy Lee Jones). Dewey has hired the Asset (Vincent Cassel) to take out Bourne, who is digging into his past, trying to uncover his father’s (Gregg Henry) role in the top- secret Treadstone program in order to find out more about himself.

(Tommy Lee Jones) and (Alicia Vikander) hunt for Jason Bourne in latest franchise flick

CIA director Robert Dewey (Tommy Lee Jones) and agent Heather Lee (Alicia Vikander) hunt for Jason Bourne in latest franchise flick

A wooden Julia Stiles is back as Nicky Parsons, while Alicia Vikander is new as CIA agent Heather Lee. Every character is one note, lacking any depth, wearing the same pout, frown, or scowl through the whole film. Written by Greengrass (Bloody Sunday, Captain Phillips) and editor Christopher Rouse, the film tries to be clever by including subplots that directly and indirectly reference Julian Assange, Edward Snowden, and Apple’s fight with the FBI over gaining access into locked iPhones, as social media tech guru Aaron Kalloor (Riz Ahmed) questions his dealings with Dewey, and Bourne meets Christian Dassault (Vinzenz Kiefer), a cyberterrorist hacking into any information he can get his hands on. As the film travels to Greece, London, Berlin, Washington, DC, and, ultimately, Las Vegas, the story grows more convoluted and ridiculous. At one point we thought that maybe it was a parody and we were misreading it, but alas, it seems to be serious, which is a shame, because Damon is a riveting screen presence but has nowhere to go in this disappointing mess of a film.


NFL hero Steve Gleason takes a new look at life after being diagnosed with ALS

NFL hero Steve Gleason takes a new look at life after being diagnosed with ALS

GLEASON (Clay Tweel, 2016)
Landmark Sunshine Cinema, 143 East Houston St. between First & Second Aves., 212-330-8182
AMC Loews Lincoln Square 13, 1998 Broadway at 68th St.
Opens Thursday, July 28

“It’s not gonna be easy but it’s gonna be awesome,” Steve Gleason promises his unborn child in the extraordinary documentary Gleason, a heartbreaking yet uplifting tale about dedication, family, and never giving up. On September 26, 2006, scrappy New Orleans safety and special teams stalwart Gleason became an all-time inspirational Saints hero when, on Monday Night Football, he blocked Atlanta Falcon Michael Koenen’s punt less than a minute and a half into the Saints’ first home game in the Superdome following the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina the previous summer. The play, which resulted in a touchdown when the ball was recovered by Curtis DeLoatch in the end zone, has been memorialized with a statue titled “Rebirth” in front of the stadium. But Gleason became a different kind of hero five years later when the undrafted free agent was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), better known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, a generally fatal neuromuscular disease. Right after that, the Washington State native, who at the age of thirty-four was given three to five years to live, found out that his wife, artist and free spirit Michel Varisco, was pregnant with their first child, a boy. Determined to pass on as much of a legacy as he could to his unborn baby, Gleason began a vlog, a series of deeply personal five-minute videos in which he spoke openly and honestly about how they would never have the traditional father-son relationship but he wanted the boy to know that he was loved and cherished. But that is only the beginning of an incredible story that is poignantly told in Gleason.

Directed and edited by Clay Tweel (Make Believe, Print the Legend), the film features powerful clips from Gleason’s video journal; intimate footage shot by Ty Minton-Small and David Lee, who lived with Gleason, Varisco, and their son, Rivers, for two years; and interviews with family members and friends as Gleason’s physical conditions worsens but his heart and will grow stronger. “People will say, ‘Oh, it’s such a sad, tragic story,’ Gleason explains in the film. “It is sad, and so they’re right, but it’s not all sad. I think there is more in my future than in my past.” Gleason, with Michel’s father, Paul Varisco, form Team Gleason, a grass-roots nonprofit organization dedicated to helping people with ALS have a better quality of life, taking them on adventure vacations and giving them access to cutting-edge technology that increases their ability to communicate as the disease destroys their speech and movement. Among Steve’s famous friends and supporters are Saints quarterback Drew Brees and his wife, Brittany, and Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready and singer Eddie Vedder. Steve and Michel hold nothing back, sharing their deepest fears and insecurities while his condition deteriorates. As he tries to get the most out of his limited time with Rivers, Gleason also reexamines his troubled relationship with his father, Mike, a born-again Christian who is often at odds with his son. The real superstar of the film, however, is the brave and courageous Michel, who devotes her life to her husband and son despite increasing difficulties. In a statement about the film, Michel said, “I hope people who need a good laugh or a heavy cry can get that from this film. I hope people who need to be reminded to love their kids or their friends can get that from this movie. I hope people with ALS who want to use this film to show others what their lives really are like can get that from this movie. I hope people who have strained relationships with their parents will want to work on those relationships after they watch this movie. I hope people who have wanted to do something great in life will go ahead and do it after seeing this movie. People have told me that they have gotten all of these things from watching Gleason. And I think that’s pretty awesome.” Gleason, which is not always easy to watch, achieves all that and more, and indeed, that’s pretty awesome. The Sundance hit opens July 28 at Loews Lincoln Square and the Landmark Sunshine, with Tweel and Michel Varisco participating in a Q&A after the 4:45 screening at Landmark on July 30.


The life and legacy of Lou Reed will be celebrated on July 30 with free all-day festival at Lincoln Center

The life and legacy of Lou Reed will be celebrated on July 30 with free all-day festival at Lincoln Center

Damrosch Park Bandshell, Josie Robertson Plaza, Hearst Plaza,
Alice Tully Hall lobby, Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center Amphitheater
Saturday, July 30, free, 10:15 am - 12 midnight

I think I took Lou Reed for granted. I’d see him regularly, either performing onstage, wandering through downtown art galleries, seeing shows at BAM, or grabbing a cab with his wife, Laurie Anderson. He was just one of those icons you thought would always be around, but it was not to be. On October 27, 2013, he succumbed to liver disease at the age of seventy-one. Less than three weeks later, on November 14, Lincoln Center hosted a low-key tribute to the Godfather of Punk at the Paul Milstein Pool & Terrace, three hours of his recorded music, with no speeches and no live performances. On July 30, Lincoln Center Out of Doors will be putting on a much bigger and broader festival in honor of Reed’s influential life and career with “The Bells: A Daylong Celebration of Lou Reed,” curated by Anderson and Hal Willner. The party gets under way at 10:15 on Josie Robertson Plaza with a tai chi lesson with Master Ren GuangYi; Reed recorded six original songs with Sarth Calhoun for the master’s Power and Serenity instructional DVD. From 11:00 to 4:00, the immersive sound installation “Lou Reed DRONES,” consisting of six guitars and amps emitting feedback, will continue in the Alice Tully Hall lobby. At 11:30 in the Damrosch Park Bandshell, the house band of Don Fleming, Sal Maida, Kenny Margolis, Lee Ranaldo, Steve Shelley, and Matt Sweeney will be joined by vocalists Joan as Police Woman, David Johansen, Lenny Kaye, Jesse Malin, Kembra Pfahler, Felice Rosser, Harper Simon, Jon Spencer, Bush Tetras, JG Thirlwell, and the Willie Mae Rock Camp for Girls for some rock & roll. From 12 noon to 7:00, the Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center Amphitheater will present Reed’s 2010 documentary, Red Shirley (12 noon & 3:00), about his one-hundred-year-old cousin; A Night with Lou Reed (1:30 & 5:30), a video document of his 1983 Bottom Line stand; and the American Masters program Lou Reed: Rock and Roll Heart (4:00). At 2:00 in Hearst Plaza, Master Ren GuangYi will give a tai chi chuan and weapons demonstration, along with an eagle claw weapons demonstration by Masters Emmanuel Sam and Paul Lee. At 3:00, “Pass Thru Fire: Lyrics of Lou Reed” features Elizabeth Ashley, Steve Buscemi, Anne Carson, Kim Cattrall, Willem Dafoe, A. M. Homes, Natasha Lyonne, Julian Schnabel, Fisher Stevens, and Anne Waldman reading Reed’s words. At 7:00, Anderson, Anohni, Emily Haines, Garland Jeffreys, David Johansen, Mark Kozelek, Bill Laswell, John Cameron Mitchell, Maxim Moston, Jenni Muldaur, Jane Scarpantoni, Victoria Williams, Jim White, John Zorn, and others will gather at the bandshell for live performances of “Lou Reed’s Love Songs,” showing off his gentler side. The celebration, named after his 1979 album The Bells, concludes with a 10:30 screening (with headphones) of Julian Schnabel’s film Lou Reed’s Berlin, a concert film of Reed’s performance of the 1973 album at St. Ann’s Warehouse in 2006. It should be quite a day and night; try not to take it for granted.

LOU REED’S BERLIN (Julian Schnabel, 2007)
Damrosch Park Bandshell
Saturday, July 30, free, 10:30

In December 2006, Lou Reed resurrected his 1973 masterwork, Berlin, a deeply dark and personal song cycle that was a critical and commercial flop upon its initial release but has grown in stature over the years. (As Reed sings on the album’s closer, “Sad Song”: “Just goes to show how wrong you can be.”) The superbly staged adaptation, directed by Academy Award nominee Julian Schnabel (Basquiat, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly), took place at Brooklyn’s intimate St. Ann’s Warehouse, featuring Rob Wasserman and longtime Reed sideman Fernando Saunders on bass, Tony “Thunder” Smith on drums, Rupert Christie on keyboards, and guitarist extraordinaire Steve Hunter, reunited with Lou for the first time in three decades. The band is joined onstage by backup singers Sharon Jones and Antony, the Brooklyn Youth Chorus, and a seven-piece orchestra (including cello, viola, flute, trumpet, clarinet, and flugel). Amid dreamlike video montages shot by Schnabel’s daughter, Lola, depicting Emmanuelle Seigner as the main character in Berlin, as well as experimental imagery by Alejandro Garmendia, Reed tells the impossibly bleak story of Caroline, a young mother whose life crashes and burns in a dangerously divided and debauched Germany. “It was very nice / It was paradise,” Reed sings on the opening title track, but it’s all downhill from there. “It was very nice / It was paradise” might also now serve as a kind of epitaph for one of the most important poets of the last fifty years. Berlin is being shown at Damrosch Park Bandshell at 10:30 on July 30, with headphones available.



Divine is the star of “Cavalcade of Perversions” in John Waters’s splendidly lurid MULTIPLE MANIACS

MULTIPLE MANIACS (John Waters, 1970)
IFC Center
323 Sixth Ave. at West Third St.
Friday, August 5, 7:20 & 9:40
Other screenings to be announced August 1 at 6:00

John Waters will be at IFC Center on August 5 for two special screenings of a newly restored version of one of the Baltimore-born auteur’s craziest early works, Multiple Maniacs, made when the King of Bad Taste, serving as writer, director, producer, cinematographer, and editor, was only twenty-four. The extremely low budget romp begins with barker Mr. David (David Lochary) inviting people into “Lady Divine’s Cavalcade of Perversions,” proclaiming, “This is the show you want. . . . the sleaziest show on earth. Not actors, not paid imposters, but real, actual filth who have been carefully screened in order to present to you the most flagrant violation of natural law known to man.” Of course, that serves as the perfect introduction to the cinematic world of Waters, one dominated by the celebration of sexual proclivities, fetish, salaciousness, indecency, violence, and marginalized weirdos living on the fringes of society. Lady Divine, played by Divine, turns out to be a cheat, the freak show just a set-up for a robbery. Soon Divine is jealous of David’s relationship with Bonnie (Mary Vivian Pearce), hanging out with her topless daughter, Cookie (Cookie Mueller), and being led into a church by the Infant of Prague (Michael Renner Jr.), where she’s brought to sexual ecstasy by Mink (Mink Stole). There’s also rape, murder, Jesus (George Figgs), the Virgin Mary (Edith Massey), and the famed Lobstura. Shot in lurid black-and-white, Multiple Maniacs is a divine freak show all its own, an underground classic that redefined just what a movie could be, a crude, disturbing tale that you can’t turn away from. Waters will participate in a Q&A following the 7:20 show and will introduce the 9:40 show; more screenings of this restored version, from Janus Films, will be announced on August 1 at 6:00 pm.


The Lab hosts interactive installations using cutting-edge technology (photo by twi-ny/mdr)

The Lab hosts interactive installations using cutting-edge technology (photo by twi-ny/mdr)

Randall’s Island Park
July 22-24, $125 per day

It was a beautiful day on Randall’s Island for the first day of the inaugural Panorama: Music • Art • Technology festival. It did get rather hot — sweat poured off many of the performers as well as the dancing crowd — but the rains never came, and the sunset cast a brilliant glow over the festivities. Goldenvoice, the company that runs Coachella, tried to bring a world-class alternative music festival to New York City with All Points West in 2008 and 2009, and they’re giving it another shot with Panorama, which opened on Friday with a warm vibe. There were bathrooms everywhere — including numerous cans that were a major step up from standard Porta Potties — and the food and drink lines were fairly manageable. The layout is excellent, leaving room to feel the comfort of green grass and shady trees. Live bands play at three locations, the giant outdoor Panorama Stage and the smaller Pavilion and even smaller Parlor, which are under tents, protected from the blazing sun. DJs also perform in the Parlor as well as the Despacio, a dark, pounding dance space where you can really let go.

All Points West veterans Silversun Pickups returned to Randalls Island for Panorama festival (photo by twi-ny/mdr)

All Points West veterans Silversun Pickups returned to Randall’s Island for Panorama festival (photo by twi-ny/mdr)

It was the women who ruled day one, with standout performances from violinist Lindsey Stirling, FKA twigs (unveiling her new show, “Radiant Me²”), Brittany Howard of Alabama Shakes, Amy Millan of Stars and Ariel Engle duetting for Broken Social Scene, and Régine Chassagne of Arcade Fire killing it in a spectacular silver outfit. Amid all the joy and dancing, several bands made mention of the troubles going on in America. Howard introduced “Don’t Wanna Fight” by saying how important that song is to her right now, then sang, “My lines, your lines / Don’t cross them lines / What you like, what I like / Why can’t we both be right? / Attacking, defending / Until there’s nothing left worth winning / Your pride and my pride / Don’t waste my time.” Arcade Fire leader Win Butler, who was born in California (the band is based in Montreal), let forth some curse-strewn protests against Donald Trump. But Kevin Drew, from the Toronto-based Broken Social Scene, tried to ease the pains with some jammy fun-time music, expressing the band’s enduring love for its U.S. fans.

Amy Millan pumps up the volume with Broken Social Scene at Panorama (photo by twi-ny/mdr)

Amy Millan pumps up the volume with Broken Social Scene at Panorama (photo by twi-ny/mdr)

Art and technology were on display as well at Panorama. A Google Play cube featured live graffiti-making and, up the stairs, a great view of Randall’s Island; in addition, live HD video from the Panorama Stage was projected onto the facade. Concertgoers swung in silk cocoons in Dave & Gabe’s “Hyper Thread,” enjoyed cotton candy under a dome in Emilie Baltz and Philip Sierzega’s “Cotton Candy Theremin,” bounced around in Future Wife’s “Visceral Recess,” and lit up cool animation while playing Red Paper Heart’s “The Art of Pinball.” Interactive installations such as Gabriel Pulecio’s “Infinite Wall” work much better if you put away the cameras and just experience them.

(photo by twi-ny/mdr)

FKA twigs had the Panorama audience eating out of the palm of her hand (photo by twi-ny/mdr)

One major hiccup was the journey to get to the east box office from the ferry, a winding, unmarked trip through construction sites, streets with fast-moving cars but no sidewalks, cops who knew where to tell you not to go but not actually where to go, and other bizarre, at times scary, elements. Use the west entrance from the ferry, the east from the buses, and don’t try to walk around outside the venue. Otherwise, there was a happy feeling throughout Randall’s Island, with good food, good bathrooms, not too many long lines, and, best of all, great music. Saturday’s show features Kendrick Lamar, the National, Blood Orange, and Foals, among others, while Sunday is highlighted by Holy Ghost!, Grace Potter, Sia, and LCD Soundsystem, who played with Arcade Fire on Randall’s Island back in 2007.


Who: White Lung
What: Panorama festival
Where: Randall’s Island Park, Panorama Stage
When: Sunday, July 24, $125, 1:10
Why: A classic punk foursome, Canadian quartet White Lung features singer-songwriter Mish Barber-Way front and center in their latest video, “Dead Weight,” but she’s obviously anything but dead weight, as evidenced on the group’s outstanding fourth studio album, Paradise (Domino, May 2016). In a recent interview with the the Line of Best Fit, Barber-Way noted: “I write for a living, so I’m always reading and researching. I did studies about bestiality, gender politics of pedophiles, female murderers who help their spouses rape and torture, biology, motherhood. I picked the brains of sex therapists, psychologists, white supremacists, cosmetic surgeons (the most interesting doctors to interview), and gynecologists. I was all over the place. This work all informs my lyrics, obviously. It’s what I am thinking about.” Paradise, which was shortlisted for the prestigious Polaris Prize, contains such tracks as “Hungry,” “Below,” “Demented” (in which Barber-Way declares, “I hate all that I see”), and the furious “Kiss Me When I Bleed” and “Sister.” No stranger to New York, White Lung played a gleefully anarchic set at the 2013 4Knots festival at the South Street Seaport; singer-songwriter Barber-Way, guitarist Kenneth William, bassist Lindsey Troy, and drummer Anne-Marie Vassiliou will be back in the city for the Panorama music, art, food, and technology festival on Sunday, playing the Panorama Stage at 1:10; that day’s bill also includes, among others, the Black Madonna, Grace Potter, Kurt Vile & the Violators, and Holy Ghost! You can find the full schedule and set times for all three days here.