GOOD MORNING, NIGHT (BUONGIORNO, NOTTE) (Marco Bellocchio, 2003)
MoMA Film, Museum of Modern Art
11 West 53rd St. between Fifth & Sixth Aves.
Friday, April 25, 4:00
Tickets: $12, in person only, may be applied to museum admission within thirty days, same-day screenings free with museum admission, available at Film and Media Desk beginning at 9:30 am
Series continues through May 7
Italian auteur Marco Bellocchio reimagines the kidnapping of Aldo Moro from the inside in Good Morning, Night, a taut, slow-paced drama that won the Little Golden Lion at the 2003 Venice Film Festival. Moro, a former Italian prime minister and president of the Christian Democratic Party, was boldly grabbed by members of the radical Red Brigades, who left a bloody mess in their wake. Bellocchio focuses on the three men and one woman who orchestrated the plot and kept Moro locked in a hidden room inside their large rented apartment. While Mariano (Luigi Lo Cascio), Ernesto (Pier Giorgio Bellocchio), and Primo (Giovanni Calcagno) take turns guarding Moro and Mariano spews Socialist rhetoric at him, Chiaras (Maya Sensa), who is Primo’s girlfriend but is pretending to be Ernesto’s wife as a cover, goes to work every day, buys supplies and newspapers, and dreams at night of Moro coming to her as a father figure. Chiaras is the moral conscience of the movie, and a complete invention on the part of Bellocchio, who has said, “I’m not interested in the factual truth.” Even so, much of the real story is still not known, and like the JFK assassination, there are lots of conspiracy theories out there about an event that shocked a nation. Pink Floyd fans get a bonus by Bellocchio’s powerful use of “The Great Gig in the Sky” and “Shine On You Crazy Diamond.” Good Morning, Night is screening on April 25 at 4:00 as part of the MoMA’s Bellocchio retrospective, held in conjunction with the upcoming U.S. release of his latest film, Dormant Beauty, which opens June 6 at Lincoln Plaza. The series continues through May 7 with such other Bellocchio works as Henry IV, The Devil in the Flesh, Fists in the Pocket, China Is Near, Vincere, and Dormant Beauty.
THE LADY EVE (Preston Sturges, 1941)
323 Sixth Ave. at West Third St.
April 25-27, 11:00 am
Series continues through May 4
Barbara Stanwyck delivers one of her most nuanced and beguiling performances as the tough-talking title character in The Lady Eve. Usually lumped in with her classic screwball comedies, Preston Sturges’s black-and-white film, based on an original story by Irish playwright Monckton Hoffe (who was nominated for an Oscar), is much darker and slower than its supposed brethren. A brunette Stanwyck is first seen as Jean Harrington, a con artist looking to trick a wealthy man on a cruise ship. At her side is her father, “Colonel” Harrington (Charles Coburn), a gambler and a cheat. As soon as Jean sees rich ale scion Charles Pike (a wonderfully innocent Henry Fonda), she digs her claws into the shy, humble man, challenging the Hays Code as she shows off her gams and leans into him with a heart-pounding sexiness. Pike of course falls for, but when his right-hand man, Muggsy (William Demarest), discovers that she regularly preys on suckers, Charles is devastated. However, in this case, Jean’s feelings might actually be real, forcing her to go to extreme circumstances to try to get him back. Stanwyck is, well, a ball of fire as Jean/Eve, determined to win at all costs. Fonda, not usually known for his comedic abilities, is a riot as poor Hopsie, as Jean calls him; the looks on his face when she ratchets up the sex appeal are priceless, and a later scene when he keeps falling down at a party displays a surprising flair for physical comedy. The opening and closing credits feature a corny animated snake in the Garden of Eden; in The Lady Eve, Stanwyck offers the apple, and Fonda can’t wait to take a bite. And there’s nothing shameful about that. The Lady Eve is screening April 25-27 at 11:00 am as part of the IFC Center series “American Hustlers: Grifters, Swindlers, Scammers & Cheats” series, which concludes May 2-4 with Stephen Frears’s The Grifters.
As the thirtieth anniversary of his company approaches, Angelin Preljocaj is keeping Ballet Preljocaj plenty busy these days. Born in 1957 in Paris to Albanian refugee parents, Preljocaj formed BP in December 1984 and has been melding classical ballet with contemporary dance on the cutting edge ever since, integrating movement, sound, and design in dynamic and unique works that dazzle the eyes and ears. Last November, he brought the thrilling And then, one thousand years of peace to BAM, examining the apocalypse as only he can, preceded in October by Spectral Evidence, which he choreographed for the New York City Ballet, a mesmerizing piece that examined the Salem Witch Trials, with music by John Cage; his previous work for NYCB, 1997’s La Stravaganza, is being performed as part of the “21st Century Choreographers II” program on April 30 and May 3. But first, Ballet Preljocaj will be at the David H. Koch Theater April 23-27 for the New York premiere of his widely hailed Snow White, presented in conjunction with the Joyce Theater Foundation. Preljocaj goes back to the original Brothers Grimm story, not the Disney fairy tale, instead intently focusing on the complicated relationship between the wicked stepmother — portrayed as a kind of dominatrix — and Snow White, incorporating the psychoanalytical ideas of Bruno Bettelheim. “The central motif of ‘Snow White’ is the pubertal girl’s surpassing in every way the evil stepmother who, out of jealousy, denies her an independent existence — symbolically represented by the stepmother’s trying to see Snow White destroyed,” the Austrian psychologist wrote in his 1976 book, The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales. “‘Snow White’ is one of the best known fairy tales. Its origins lie in the cycle of complexes described as ‘oedipal’ and date back to the Greek tragedies. . . . It is a story about the sometimes difficult relations due to jealousy and competition that arise amongst families. It is also about the warnings of what not to do, while not necessarily stating what to do.” There’s seemingly nothing Preljocaj won’t do in this 110-minute production, which features music by Gustav Mahler and 79 D, costumes by Jean Paul Gaultier, and sets by Thierry Leproust. Get ready to be amazed.
With social media, online digital platforms, and thousands of cable channels, there are more ways than ever for a new band to get noticed. But New York City’s Walking Shapes has found a unique method to share their music. On April 24, guitarists Nathaniel Hoho and Jesse Kotansky, keyboardist Jake Generalli, bassist Dan Krysa, and drummer Christopher Heinz will celebrate the release of their energetic debut album, Taka Come On (No Shame, April 8), by playing at twenty-four different locations in a twenty-four hour period. “A New York Love Letter” opens at 1:00 am at the Manhattan Inn and continues at such venues as the Kent Ale House (1:45 am), Shayz Lounge (2:15), McCarren Park (10:30), El Beit (11:00), MOSCOT eyewear (2:00 pm), Central Park (4:15), Pianos (6:00), Tompkins Square Park (7:30), and Union Square (8:45). They will also be playing in a church, outside on Bedford Ave., on the subway, in a library, and at an art studio. Sleep is included; they’ll be taking a much-needed break from 4:00 to 8:30 am. The whirlwind tour concludes at 10:00 pm with a show at Bowery Electric with Har Mar Superstar. In addition, Walking Shapes has created a video for each tune on the record; you can watch the full stream above and check out some of their previous songs here. Sure, it’s a stunt to get publicity, but it helps that the album kicks some ass, from catchy guitar-heavy tracks (“Woah Tiger,” “In the Wake”) to synth pop (“Winter Fell,” “Feel Good”) to the acoustic ballad “Find Me.” And on April 24, you can find them all over the place. [ed. note: the schedule has changed since this initial post; check the band’s Twitter and Instagram pages for further updates. Walking Shapes will also be playing the No Shame showcase at DROM on April 25 with Pompeya and Seasick Mama.)
New York Live Arts
219 West 19th St.
Last year, New York Live Arts presented its inaugural Live Ideas festival, honoring Dr. Oliver Sacks with a series of dance performances, special talks, and other programs. For the 2014 edition, as part of the citywide Year of James Baldwin celebration, NYLA is hosting “Live Ideas: James Baldwin, This Time!,” which runs April 23-27 at its home on West Nineteenth St. Every day at twelve o’clock, “Jimmy at High Noon” (free with advance RSVP) will feature actors, musicians, artists, and others reading from Baldwin’s works, which include Go Tell It on the Mountain, Giovanni’s Room, The Amen Corner, Another Country, and Jimmy’s Blues; among those scheduled to participate are Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Laurie Anderson, André DeShields, Kathleen Chalfant, Jesse L. Martin, Tonya Pinkins, Vijay Isher, and Toshi Reagon. In addition, Hank Willis Thomas’s free video installation, A person is more important than anything else…, will play continuously in the lobby, where the mural “Letter from a Region of My Mind,” incorporating the text of a piece Baldwin wrote for the November 17, 1962, issue of the New Yorker, will be on view. On April 23 at 2:30 ($15), Live Ideas curator Lawrence Weschler will moderate the discussion “Baldwin’s Capacious Imagination & Influence” with Roberta Uno and Margo Jefferson. That night the Opening Keynote Conversation ($40-$70, 8:00) brings together the impressive trio of choreographer and NYLA executive artistic director Bill T. Jones, photographer Carrie Mae Weems, and author Jamaica Kincaid. On April 23 at 5:00 and April 24 at 8:00 ($15-$40), director Patricia McGregor and actor Colman Domingo will premiere Nothing Personal, a stage adaptation of the collaboration between Baldwin and Richard Avedon, who went to high school together. The festival also includes “Baldwin & Delaney” (April 24, $10, 2:00), consisting of a reading by Rachel Cohen and a panel discussion about Baldwin’s encounter with painter Beauford Delaney; the multidisciplinary conversation “After Giovanni’s Room: Baldwin and Queer Futurity” (April 25, $10, 2:00) with Kyle Abraham, Rich Blint, Matthew Brim, Laura Flanders, and Jones; and “Jimmy’s Blues: Discussing the Poetry of James Baldwin,” comprising discussion and readings by poets Nikky Finney, Edward Hirsch, Yusef Komunyakaa, Ed Pavlić, Meghan O’Rourke, and Nathalie Handal.
LUCKY THEM (Megan Griffiths, 2014)
Wednesday, April 23, SVA Theater 1 Silas, $20.50, 9:30
Saturday, April 26, Bow Tie Cinemas Chelsea, Rush, 12 noon
With the music magazine she works for facing financial difficulties, longtime rock writer Ellie Klug (Toni Colette) is assigned by her editor, Giles (Oliver Platt), the one story she doesn’t want to cover: the mysterious death of Seattle musician Matthew Smith, who made one highly influential album, then drove his car over a waterfall. The main problem is that the jaded Ellie, who has a penchant for sleeping with her subjects, had a relationship with Matthew, one she wants to keep buried. But soon she is on the road with former fling Charlie (Thomas Haden Church), a straitlaced, wealthy bore who decides to make a documentary about her search. At the same time, Ellie is pursued by singer-songwriter Lucas (Ryan Eggold), a younger man who has the hots for her. When she gets a tip that Matthew might actually still be alive, she has to decide whether holding on to her career is worth dredging up the past. Inspired by cowriter and producer Emily Wachtel’s real life as a singles columnist for the Fairfield County Weekly and a contributing writer for Westport magazine, for which she used the pseudonym Ellie Klug, Lucky Them can’t decide whether it’s Eddie and the Cruisers, Velvet Goldmine, or Almost Famous, resulting in a tedious drama filled with genre clichés and dull, predictable scenes. Even a supposed shock near the end ultimately feels trite and obvious. Haden Church’s character is so ludicrously unbelievable that it drags down the entire film by itself, but he gets no help from the overwrought script, mediocre music, and stagnant direction by Megan Griffiths (Eden, The Off Hours). The film is dedicated to Paul Newman, whose widow, Joanne Woodward, is one of the executive producers; Woodward and Wachtel previously teamed up with director Treva Wurmfeld on the documentary Shepard & Dark. But this disappointing follow-up is more like a vanity project that should never have seen the light of day.
DIOR AND I (Frédéric Tcheng, 2014)
Tuesday, April 22, Bow Tie Cinemas Chelsea, Rush, 9:00
Friday, April 25, AMC Loews Village 7, Rush, 9:00
After working on two previous fashion-related films, Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel and Valentino: The Last Emperor, Frédéric Tcheng makes his solo directorial debut with Dior and I. In April 2012, fashion designer Raf Simons was named the new creative director of Christian Dior, bringing along his right-hand man, Pieter Mulier. Tcheng goes behind the scenes to follow Simons as he prepares his first-ever haute couture collection, which is due in a mere two months. Tcheng zooms in on the Belgian designer’s working methods and general anxiety as he takes over at the legendary company, developing important relationships with Dior CEO Sidney Toledano, première atelier flou Florence Chehet, première atelier tailleur Monique Bailly, the seamstresses, the models, and other employees. Simons chooses to pay homage to Dior’s past with his new collection while attempting to rid himself of the designation of “minimalist designer.” One of his most fascinating directions is attempting to incorporate the work of artist Sterling Ruby into his designs. All the while he is haunted by the ghost of company founder and New Look creator Christian Dior, who is shown by Tcheng in archival footage accompanied by a voice-over of Omar Berrada reading from Dior’s memoirs. Dior and I is a slight but affecting race against time, as one man in the present honors the past while laying the groundwork for a bright future.