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


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,” and bounced around in Future Wife’s “Visceral Recess.” Interactive installations such as Gabriel Pulecio’s “Infinite Wall” and Red Paper Heart’s “The Art of Pinball” 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.



Rupert Crosse, Hugh Hurd, and Lelia Goldoni examine racism in John Cassavetes’s seminal underground film SHADOWS

SHADOWS (John Cassavetes, 1959)
7 Ludlow St. between Canal & Hester Sts.
Saturday, July 23, 5:00
Series runs July 15-24

John Cassavetes’s directorial debut, Shadows, is a landmark moment in the history of independent cinema and one of the most influential films ever made. Shot in black-and-white with a 16mm handheld camera on a modest budget of $40,000, much of which was raised following Cassavetes’s appearance on Jean Shepherd’s radio show — the credits include the line “Presented by Jean Shepherd’s Night People” — Shadows is a gritty, underground examination of race in New York City, one of the first major anti-Hollywood American movies. Although the script is credited to Cassavetes, the film is primarily improvised by a group of mostly nonprofessional or first-time actors using their real first names, set to a jazzy, moody score by Charles Mingus saxophonist Shafi Hadi. Lelia Goldoni stars as twenty-year-old Lelia, a confused young woman who loses her virginity to Tony (Anthony Ray), who thought it was a one-night stand but then decides they should start dating after she becomes clingy. However, Tony freaks out when he meets one of Lelia’s brothers, singer Hugh (Hugh Hurd), who is black. Meanwhile, their other brother, trumpeter Ben (Ben Carruthers), spends his nights with his two buddies, Dennis (Dennis Sallas) and Tom (Tom Reese), bumming money and trying to pick up chicks. Amid Bohemian parties, street fights, and visits to Central Park, Port Authority, Grand Central Terminal, and MoMA’s sculpture garden, Cassavetes and the cast explore life, love, and racism in realistic ways, even if some of the actors are a lot better than others and certain scenes fall flat. Gordon is particularly annoying through much of the film; the most interesting relationship exists between Hugh and his devoted agent, Rupert (Rupert Crosse, who spent the next thirteen years appearing in myriad television series). Look for Cassavetes in the scene in which a stranger harasses Lelia in Times Square. Shadows, which comes alive with the rhythm and energy of late 1950s New York, is screening July 23 at 5:00 at Metrograph in the series “Cassavetes/Rowlands,” celebrating the king and queen of independent cinema by showing all twelve of Cassavetes’s films. Cassavetes died in 1989 at the age of fifty-nine, leaving behind quite a legacy. The series continues through July 24 with such other works as Love Streams, Faces, and The Killing of a Chinese Bookie.


(photo by Carol Rosegg)

Evelyn (Estelle Parsons), Evvie (Judith Ivey), and Janice (Angelina Fiordellisi) don’t like what they see in OUT OF THE MOUTHS OF BABES (photo by Carol Rosegg)

Cherry Lane Mainstage Theatre
38 Commerce St.
Last performance July 6; closing announced July 14

Four women gather in a Paris apartment to mourn the death of the hundred-year-old love of their lives in Israel Horovitz’s hilarious comedy Out of the Mouths of Babes. (The show’s very successful run had been extended at the Cherry Lane through July 31 but abruptly closed after one of its stars, Estelle Parsons, fell ill on July 6. Parsons was later declared to be in good health but was advised by her doctor not to continue in the show.) Eighty-eight-year-old Evelyn (Parsons), sixty-eight-year-old Evvie (Judith Ivey), and fifty-eight-year-old Janice (Angelina Fiordellisi) arrive one by one at the elegant Paris apartment where each used to live with the never-named Don Juan, a professor at the Sorbonne, and are soon joined by thirty-eight-year-old Marie-Belle (Francesca Choy-Kee), who was his current lover. As the funeral approaches, Evelyn and Evvie lace into each other in a skillful heavyweight verbal boxing match while the dour, depressed Janice considers jumping out the window again and the bright and cheery Marie-Belle claims that the deceased keeps visiting her, plying her with kisses and tickles. “Uh uh. Never got married,” the perpetually single Evvie says, to which Evelyn responds, “Nobody ever asked?” Evvie: “That’s kinda bitchy, don’t you think? Or did you mean it in a bitchy way?” Evelyn: “No, I meant it in a bitchy way.” The four women share various stories about their relationships with the dead man, which get a wee uncomfortable since Evvie had a long-term, on-and-off affair with him during his marriages to both Evelyn and Janice; meanwhile, his first wife, whom he called Snookie, his nickname for Evvie as well, committed suicide after finding out that he was cheating on her with Evelyn. Evelyn, Evvie, and Janice want to hate him, but they just can’t, especially with all of the positive energy emanating from Marie-Belle. “I’m getting zero sleep! What is this screaming match?” Evelyn cries out at one point. “I didn’t fly halfway around the world to die from no sleep before his funeral! This is a funeral I plan to enjoy!”

Marie-Belle (Francesca Choy-Kee) shares her stories of love and sex in OUT OF THE MOUTHS OF BABES (photo by Carol Rosegg)

Marie-Belle (Francesca Choy-Kee) shares her stories of love and sex in OUT OF THE MOUTHS OF BABES (photo by Carol Rosegg)

Out of the Mouths of Babes was commissioned by Cherry Lane founding artistic director Fiordellisi and written specifically for Ivey (Hurlyburly, Steaming) and Parsons (Bonnie and Clyde, Miss Margarida’s Way), who have an absolute field day hurling biting insults at each other. (Two-time Tony winner Ivey was also nominated for her performance in Horovitz’s Park Your Car in Harvard Yard, while five-time Tony nominee and Oscar winner Parsons starred in Horovitz’s 2014 play My Old Lady, which with Babes forms the first two parts of a trilogy about Americans in Paris.) Longtime Horovitz director Barnet Kellman wisely just stands back and lets the two stars go at it, and it’s a joy to behold, which makes it even sadder that the production had to close early. Choy-Kee’s (Disgraced) and Fiordellisi’s (Zorba, Nunsense) characters tend to veer into caricature, not feeling quite as real as Evelyn and Evvie. Neil Patel’s Paris apartment set is filled with competent artwork by some relatively famous people, including Rosie O’Donnell, Joel Grey, Tina Louise, Billy Dee Williams, Clive Barker, Eve Plumb, and Patel himself (as well as two pieces by noted French artist Sonia Delaunay). A bit of physical comedy involving Evelyn and Evvie holding Marie-Belle out a window doesn’t quite work, but just about every other moment is utterly delightful, from Joseph G. Aulisi’s costumes to the loud French rap music that blasts out between scenes. The play also has an intriguing subtext about doubling, from character names and nicknames to subtle parallels (involving suicide, twins, and mirrors), as if everyone has another side that they keep hidden. It’s no coincidence that the first Snookie wrote a popular book called The Voice Inside. Now seventy-seven, Horovitz (The Indian Wants the Bronx, Sunshine), who lives in New York City but spends a lot of time in Paris, does not present many plays here anymore, preferring the less-hectic pace out of town, so it’s unfortunate that this fabulous world premiere, one of the best, and funniest, new plays of the year, had to cut short its run. “We love Estelle and want her to have the rest and peace of mind she needs,” Fiordellisi said in a statement about the closing. We couldn’t agree more.


Who: Antfood, Dave and Gabe, Dirt Empire, Emilie Baltz and Philip Sierzega, Future Wife, Gabriel Pulecio, Invisible Light Network, Red Paper Heart, the Mountain Gods, VolvoxLabs, Zach Lieberman
What: Panorama: Music • Art • Technology
Where: Randall’s Island Park, the Lab
When: July 22-24, $125 per day ($230 VIP), $369 for three-day pass ($699 VIP), ferry $25 per day, shuttle $30 per day
Why: In addition to featuring such performers as Arcade Fire, Kendrick Lamar, LCD Soundsystem, Alabama Shakes, Sia, the National, FKA twigs, and Grace Potter and some big-time food vendors, the Panorama Music • Art • Technology festival, taking place this weekend on Randall’s Island, where the popular Frieze fair is held, will host the Lab, a collection of interactive and immersive art installations by New Yorkers that offers a respite from what should be large crowds fighting potential rain. Invisible Light Network, Dirt Empire, and Antfood have collaborated on a 70-foot dome with a 360-degree virtual reality theater. Dave & Gabe’s “Hyper Thread” is a 3D soundscape where you can create your own sounds using silk cocoons. Emilie Baltz and Philip Sierzega turn the making of cotton candy into an orchestral experience with “Cotton Candy Theremin.” Future Wife’s inflatable playground, “Visceral Recess,” allows festivalgoers to bring out their inner child. Gabriel Pulecio’s “Infinite Wall,” consisting of mirrors, lights, and sounds, reacts to visitors’ individual movements. Red Paper Heart’s “The Art of Pinball” reimagines the analog arcade game as a virtual digital wonderland. “Gigantic Gestures,” by the Mountain Gods (Charlie Whitney and Sierzega), invites people to tap and swipe a large-scale smartphone to investigate body language. Kamil Nawratil’s VolvoxLabs has created “The Façade,” which transforms the outside of the Lab into a projection screen. And hacker Zach Lieberman uses refraction and caustics in an interactive light table in “Reflection Study.”



A close-knit improv group dreams of bigger things in Mike Birbiglia’s DON’T THINK TWICE

DON’T THINK TWICE (Mike Birbiglia, 2016)
Landmark Sunshine Cinema
143 East Houston St. between First & Second Aves.
Opens Thursday, July 21

Massachusetts-born, Brooklyn-based actor, comedian, writer, and director Mike Birbiglia turns to the improv scene in the bittersweet and very funny Don’t Think Twice. The follow-up to his 2012 indie hit Sleepwalk with Me, which was adapted from his one-man show of the same name, Don’t Think Twice focuses on a close-knit group of friends who have been performing together as the Commune for eleven years, always holding on to the dream that they will be discovered and asked to join the cast of Weekend Live, a Saturday Night Live-style network sketch comedy program. Miles (Birbiglia), who still sleeps in a bunk bed like he’s a college student, is the ersatz leader of the troupe, which also includes Sam (Gillian Jacobs) and Jack (Keegan-Michael Key), who are in love; Allison (Kate Micucci), who also wants to be a graphic novelist; Bill (Chris Gethard), who lives in the shadow of his tough-as-nails father (Seth Barrish); and Lindsay (Tami Sagher), the only one for whom money is not a problem, supported by her wealthy family. Just as the Commune finds out that it is losing its lease and will have to find a new home, talent scouts from Weekend Live watch a performance and ask two of the six members to audition for the show, creating friction within the group, which only gets worse when one actually gets the gig. Jealousy, ego, and envy threaten to end long-held friendships while the six comics reevaluate their lives and careers, trying to figure out what they really want and whether there’s a real chance to achieve those goals.


Improv group struts its stuff in Mike Birbiglia’s sophomore film

Inspired by real-life events (but not a true story), Don’t Think Twice is an honest and poignant look at the fragility of love and friendship. Birbiglia transfers the playful feeling of the hysterical onstage improv comedy scenes — which were filmed at the Lynn Redgrave Theater, where his latest one-man show, Thank God for Jokes, recently completed a successful run — to the offstage drama as the remaining members of the aptly named Commune consider their future as individuals and as a unit. Jacobs (Community, Love), the only one of the protagonists who did not have previous improv experience (the others were part of either Second City or the Upright Citizens Brigade), takes to the comedic form with an intoxicating glee, fitting in exceptionally well with the veterans and particularly with Key (Key and Peele); they share a tender chemistry that propels the film. Birbiglia, who has toured with Gethard (The Chris Gethard Show), plays the schlumpy Miles with a natural ease that keeps it all real. Cinematographer Joe Anderson (Simon Killer, The Benefactor) weaves in and around the comedians as they perform (the improv scenes were filmed twice, once scripted, once not), putting viewers onstage instead of in the audience, resulting in a more cathartic experience. The film features several cameos, from Richard Masur and Richard Kline to — well, we wouldn’t want to spoil the surprises. Don’t think twice about seeing Don’t Think Twice, which is opening July 21 at the Landmark Sunshine, with Birbiglia and producer Ira Glass — Birbiglia is a regular contributor to Glass’s NPR show, This American Life — participating in Q&As after multiple screenings July 21-24, but they’re selling out quick.



Japanese punk culture explodes in Sogo Ishii’s mind-blowing BURST CITY

FESTIVAL OF NEW JAPANESE FILM: BURST CITY (BAKURETSU TOSHI) (爆裂都市) (Sogo Ishii, aka Gakuryū Ishii, 1982)
Japan Society
333 East 47th St. at First Ave.
Saturday, July 23, 10:00
Series runs July 14-24

“These streets have calmed down quite a bit, sir,” a man tells his yakuza boss at the beginning of Sogo Ishii’s crazy, nonstop thrill ride, Burst City, which is screening July 23 at 10:00 in Japan Society’s tenth annual Japan Cuts Festival. Conceived as a platform to showcase several early 1980s Japanese punk bands, including the Battle Rockers, the Roosters, the Stalin, and Inu, the film is a fast-paced, psychotic journey through a postapocalyptic nightmare world where disenchanted youth gather for hard-driving music and car races while they protest the construction of a nuclear facility on the outskirts of what’s left of Tokyo. It’s a crazy conflagration of Mad Max, The Warriors, A Clockwork Orange, Quadrophenia, Koyaanisqatsi, Streets of Fire, Rebel without a Cause, Star Wars, and Rude Boy, with lots of screaming, violence, and singing and very little dialogue or plot. It’s essentially a two-hour free-for-all, an explosive release of urban angst where there are no rules, no winners, and no losers (save for one unfortunate couple). And the music, produced by Roosters leader Shozo Kashiwagi, kicks some serious ass.

The large, spectacularly costumed cast features such longtime character actors as Takanori Jinnai and Shigeru Muroi, but aside from a minor subplot about an unwilling prostitute, the film is not driven by narrative or Method acting. Art director Shigeru Izumiya, who also appears in the film, creates sinister sets that promise the coming destruction, photographed by Norimichi Kasamatsu (Face, Villain) in an ever-changing cycle of lurid color and grainy black-and-white and lunatic editing that makes MTV videos of the time look like home movies of boring families. The art/decoration is credited to Katsuro Ogami and Junji Sakamoto; Sakamoto went on to become a successful director in his own right, making such films as My House, Someday, Face, and Danchi; the latter two are being shown at the 2016 Japan Cuts festival as well. Sogo Ishii, who recently changed his name to Gakuryū Ishii, has also directed such works as Panic in High School, Electric Dragon 80.000V, and Isn’t Anyone Alive? Bursting with a high-powered energy that never lets up, Burst City is screening in the “Flash-Back / Flash-Forward” section of Japan Cuts, along with Ishii’s latest film, Bitter Honey, in which a young woman (Fumi Nikaido) embodies a human-size goldfish.