GLOBUS FILM SERIES: SUMMER VACATION 1999 (SEN-KYUHYAKU-KYUJU-KYU-NEN NO NATSUYASUMI) (Shusuke Kaneko, 1988)
333 East 47th St. at First Ave.
Thursday, March 13, $12, 7:00
Series runs March 13-29
The first part of Japan Society’s tribute to Ohio-born writer, critic, scholar, curator, and filmmaker Donald Richie, who died in February 2013 at the age of eighty-eight, consisted of five classic dramas from Japan’s cinematic elite (Akira Kurosawa, Kenji Mizoguchi, Yasujiro Ozu, Mitsuo Yanagimachi, and Hirokazu Kore-eda). “Richie’s Fantastic Five” is now being followed by “Richie’s Electric Eight: The Bold & the Daring,” comprising eight cutting-edge works by emerging filmmakers. The seventeen-day festival begins March 13 with a rare screening of Shusuke Kaneko’s gender-bending Summer Vacation 1999. Based on Moto Hagio’s shōjo manga The Heart of Thomas, the 1988 film takes place in a boarding school in the near future, as three friends, Kazuhiko (Tomoko Otakara), Naoto (Miyuki Nakano), and Norio (Eri Fukatsu), who are spending the summer alone in their all-boys boarding school, try to recover from the suicide of Yu (Eri Miyajima), who jumped off a cliff after being rejected by Kazuhiko. When a new student, Kaoru (Miyajima), shows up, looking and acting just like Yu, the other boys are forced to face their innermost fears and desires.
Beautifully shot in a lush, dreamy 1970s-style palette by Kenji Takama, Summer Vacation 1999 is a prime example of the Japanese yaoi, or boys love, subgenre, focusing on homoeroticism among adolescent boys. Kaneko, who had previously made a pair of Nikkatsu Roman Porno films and would go on to direct monster movies featuring Godzilla, Gamera, and Mothra as well as Death Note and its sequel, explores the students’ growing love and attraction for one another in desexualized yet fetishistic ways, especially in a tender scene in which one boy gives mouth-to-mouth CPR to another, while incorporating elements of the Japanese ghost story as Kaoru continues to evoke Yu. Kaneko also twists the Noh and Kabuki tradition of men performing all the roles, as the four characters are played by females. “One watches these young people, so young that a degree of androgyny is expected, and it is as though one is watching adolescence for the first time,” Richie wrote in his 1988 New Japanese Cinema report for Japan Society. “Given the entire nature of the endeavor, it cannot but help to occasionally teeter on the edge of kitsch (the production looks too French, the music is too Faure, the whole idea also has a flavor of outré) but it never falls in, is never sentimental, and manages to increase its beauty (and our wonder) to the very end.” Plus, the hairstyles are worth the price of admission all by themselves. Summer Vacation will be introduced by MoMA film curator emeritus Laurence Kardish and will be followed by a yaoi party with Ideal Orkestra in which guests are encouraged to dress androgynously. (The Globus Film Series tribute to Richie continues with such other eclectic works as Yoshitaro Nomura’s Chase, Kazuhiro Soda’s Campaign, and Shohei Imamura’s Profound Desire of the Gods.)
Aperture Gallery and Bookstore
547 West 27th St. between Tenth & Eleventh Aves.
Wednesday, March 12, suggested donation $5, 6:30
Exhibition continues through March 27
In such series as “Screen Lives,” “Time Frame,” and “City Stages,” French-born photographer Matthew Pillsbury has taken pictures of New York and other urban locations (London, Paris, Vancouver, Las Vegas, San Francisco, Miami) with a black-and-white eight-by-ten camera, using exposures ranging from a few minutes to an hour. The results are mysterious, mesmerizing photos that capture several moments in time at once, a kind of past, present, and future rolled together in an often ghostly evocation of an alternate reality mimicking our own. “City Stages” features such locales as Zuccotti Park, the High Line, the Main Reading Room in the New York Public Library, and Washington Square Park in addition to such events as the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, the Village Halloween Parade, and the Lunar New Year Parade, while “Time Frame” goes to the Guggenheim, Grand Central, and the American Museum of Natural History; “Screen Lives” features more personal interiors, with shots of people in rooms with a television on. In conjunction with his current show at Aperture, Pillsbury will be at the Chelsea gallery on March 12 at 6:30 to lead a tour of the exhibition and to sign copies of his first monograph, City Stages (Aperture, October 2013, $55.25), which contains works from all three series. The “City Stages” exhibit will remain on view through March 27 at Aperture; in addition, Pillsbury’s “Nate and Me,” which focuses on the photographer and his former partner who still works with him, is running at Sasha Wolf on Orchard St. through April 20.
Award-winning actor and playwright Jim Brochu pays tribute to the Broadway character actors of old in his charming one-man show, Character Man. Brochu, who won a Drama Desk Award for his previous solo presentation, Zero Hour, in which he portrayed Zero Mostel, this time tells his own story, about growing up in the theater surrounded by such character actors as Jack Gilford, Lou Jacobi, Jack Albertson, George S. Irving, Barney Martin, Jack Klugman, Robert Preston, and his mentor and longtime friend, two-time Tony winner Davy Burns. As Brochu shares intimate tales of his childhood and career, with a focus on his relationship with his father — including how Joan Crawford almost became his stepmother — old photos and video appear on three screens hanging from the ceiling. Brochu moves across the small stage, relaxing in a red theater seat (that matches his tie and pocket square), sitting at a dressing-room makeup table, or walking to the back, where he mimics selling orange drink at the Alvin Theatre, his first job in show business. Each vignette features a related Broadway tune accompanied by Carl Haan on piano, among them “Everybody Ought to Have a Maid” from A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, “(Ya Got) Trouble” from The Music Man, the haughty “The Butler’s Song” from the ill-fated So Long, 174th Street, and, perhaps most appropriately, “Mr. Cellophane” from Chicago, in which he sings, “And even without clucking like a hen / Everyone gets noticed, now and then / Unless, of course, that personage should be / Invisible, inconsequential me!” Such is the character man’s fate, never to be the famous star, although Brochu has crafted a witty and poignant little musical memoir that deservedly puts him front and center. Character Man continues at Urban Stages through March 30; there will be post-show spotlights the next three Wednesdays, looking at David Burns with Sondra Lee and Lee Roy Reams on March 12, Jack Gilford and Zero Mostel with Joe Gilford and Josh Mostel on March 19, and current character actors with Richard Kind and Tony Sheldon on March 26.
“OK, I think Fun is my F word. I think it can be a big no-no in the avant-garde world,” choreographer Faye Driscoll told us last week in our twi-ny talk with the new Guggenheim Fellow. “And isn’t really good fun also a little bit dangerous?” The creator of such innovative works as You’re Me, 837 Venice Boulevard, and There is so much mad in me reaches new heights (literally) with her latest evening-length piece, Thank You for Coming: Attendance. The title is no mere cliché; Driscoll really means it, since the audience is intrinsically part of the show as she transforms Danspace’s room in St. Mark’s Church in-the-Bowery into a dazzling, participatory happening in which you never know what’s going to take place next. Upon entering the religious-like space, everyone must hang up their coat and take off their shoes, then choose a seat either on the floor or on benches surrounding an elevated center stage. After having walked around the room several times, the five dancers (Giulia Carotenuto, Sean Donovan, Alicia Ohs, Brandon Washington, and Nikki Zialcita) and Driscoll appear on the balcony, singing the rules of the show in harmony. The dancers then make their way to the stage, where their bodies meld into one, colliding, pushing, embracing, kicking, and supporting one another in breathtaking, seemingly impossible, and often humorous configurations, the only sound coming from their movement on the cloth atop the stage. Once Driscoll slides underneath the stage, just about anything can and does happen as she deconstructs and reconstructs Nick Vaughan and Jake Margolin’s visual design, Sarah Thea Swafford’s costumes come off and on, Michael Kiley’s acoustic music gets personal, and audience members can choose to become just about as involved as they want to be as the piece builds to its swirling finale. This first section of the Thank You for Coming trilogy, very appropriately titled “Attendance” (a word that of course includes “dance”), with “Play” and “Space” to follow, evokes the work of such giants as Anna Halprin and Pina Bausch as well as such contemporaries as Emily Johnson while still being completely Driscoll’s as she continues her exploration into the complex, ever-developing relationship between choreographer and dancer, performer and audience, consistently challenging expectations while defying classification. Although advance tickets are sold out, there’s a wait list at every show beginning at 7:15, with a few dozen additional lucky people likely to be able to get in each night to take part in this fun, certainly a little dangerous, and endlessly entertaining and surprising avant-garde happening.
BACK TO THE FUTURE (Robert Zemeckis, 1985)
St. Patrick’s Gymnasium
268 Mulberry St.
Saturday, March 22, 7:00, $45
Sunday, March 23, 6:00, $38
Get that flux capacitor ready and prepare for 1.21 gigawatts of inspired fun at the Back to the Enchantment Under the Sea Dance. On March 22 & 23, BBQ Films, the team that turns movie screenings into interactive participatory events, are this time going back to the crazy days of 1985 — and 1955 — as Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) tries to save his family’s future without bedding his hot-to-trot mother (Lea Thompson) while attempting to pair him up with his ultra-nerdy father (Crispin Glover) by the time of the Enchantment Under the Sea high school dance. And the only way Marty can accomplish this desperate task is with the help of mad scientist Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd) and a specially outfitted DeLorean. Each night, the re-created prom will begin an hour before the screening of Robert Zemeckis’s runaway hit, Back to the Future, with appropriate 1950s attire recommended for all attendees. There will be live music from the Tee-Tones (no relation to Chuck Berry), beer from Brooklyn Brewery and wine from Vinos Libres (the first drink is free), a photobooth, a swing dance demonstration, futuristic 3D glasses, giveaways, an event poster, and gourmet popcorn in addition to an after-party with Mr. Nice, DJ sets from a place both wonderful and strange and GHOST COP, and freaky visuals courtesy of CHNNLS. Tickets go fast for all BBQ Films gatherings, so you might have to hit eighty-eight miles an hour to get them in time. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research.
The Green Building
452 Union St. at Bond St.
Tuesday, April 29, $55-$80, 5:30 – 9:00
In November 2012, Josh Ozersky wrote an article in the New York Observer tearing apart Brooklyn as a culinary destination. “Brooklyn, taken as a restaurant city, sucks,” he wrote in “The Truth about Brooklyn’s Overhyped, Undercooked Restaurant Scene.” Whether you agreed with Ozersky or not back then, you can judge for yourself on April 29 at the fourth annual Tasting Brooklyn gastronomic festival, taking place at the Green Building in Carroll Gardens. The evening will feature food and drink from some of the borough’s best and brightest, with tasty delights from 1 Knickerbocker, Benchmark, Dinosaur BBQ, Dosa Royale, El Born, Falansai, Hunter’s, Luke’s Lobster, Martha, Palo Santo, Taco Santo, Tchoup Shop, St. Austere, the Pines, Zona Rosa, Robicelli’s, Baked, Fabipops, and even sponsor Fairway, all competing for the Best Dish prize. Liquid libations will be provided courtesy of Alice’s Arbor, Brooklyn Oenology, Cacao Prieto, Huckleberry Bar, Lavender Lake, Owney’s Rum, Sixpoint Beer, White Pike, and Widow Jane, with the aptly named DJ Nutritious spinning tunes. Tickets are on sale now and range from $55 for a two-and-a-half-hour feeding frenzy to $80 for VIP admission, which includes an extra hour of eating as well as a VIP gift bag.
Anspacher Theater at the Public Theater
425 Lafayette St. below Astor Pl.
Through March 23, $40-$80
There’s a brief synopsis in the program of the Public Theater’s new presentation of Antony and Cleopatra, but that won’t help you make sense of this ill-conceived production. A collaboration with the Royal Shakespeare Company, Ohio State University and Miami’s GableStage, Tarell Alvin McCraney’s adaptation moves the tale of romance and power to eighteenth-century Saint Domingue, the Caribbean colony that would soon become Haiti, although you wouldn’t know it from Tom Piper’s set, mostly a bare stage with a series of Roman columns that block at least part of the action from nearly everyone in the audience. At the back of the stage, a small pool reflects light onto a sky-blue wall, while above a four-piece band contributes Haitian music. Jonathan Cake (Medea, Cymbeline) as Mark Antony and Joaquina Kalukango (Hurt Village, Godspell) as Cleopatra lack any chemistry as he attempts to maintain his alliance with Octavius Caesar (Samuel Collings adding Napoleonic touches) by marrying Caesar’s sister, Octavia (Charise Castro-Smith), which angers Cleopatra, her maidservants, Iras (Castro-Smith) and Charmian (Sarah Niles), and her eunuch soothsayer (Chivas Michael). But when Antony returns to Cleopatra, trying to have it both ways, yet more battles await, both personal and political. Public Theater artist in residence McCraney (The Brother/Sister Plays), who is credited as director and editor, drains the story of any passion, moving along the plot in a tedious, procedural manner, with Chukwudi Iwuji, the standout performer in the show, playing the narrator as well as Enobarbus. Bringing together a cast of actors from the United States and the U.K. portraying characters from Rome and the French Caribbean leads to further confusion as different accents fly off in all directions, leaving the audience to wonder just what it’s all about.