WORKS & PROCESS AT 30: ARTISTS AT WORK, ARTISTS IN PROCESS
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
WORKS & PROCESS
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).
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).
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.
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.
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.
A WALK AMONG THE TOMBSTONES (Scott Frank, 2014)
Opens Friday, September 19
Irish thespian Liam Neeson’s rebirth as an action star continues with the gritty New York City-set thriller A Walk Among the Tombstones. Based on Edgar Award winner Lawrence Block’s tenth of seventeen novels about Matthew Scudder, a former NYPD detective and recovering alcoholic, the film follows Scudder as he reluctantly gets hired to find a pair of killers who are kidnapping relatives of drug dealers, collecting large ransoms, and mutilating the bodies anyway, purely for pleasure. Fellow AA member Peter Kristo (Boyd Holbrook) introduces Scudder to his brother, stylish Brooklyn drug kingpin Kenny Kristo (Dan Stevens), who wants Scudder to find the two men who brutally cut up his wife. Soon the unlicensed private investigator is on the hunt for Ray (David Harbour) and Albert (Adam David Thompson), taking him from Red Hook to Green-Wood Cemetery to Washington Heights as he pursues the stealthy, dangerous madmen. He is occasionally accompanied by the young TJ (Brownsville-born rapper Brian “Astro” Bradley), a homeless teen he met in the library. (The story takes place in 1999 as Y2K approaches; ever old-fashioned and traditional, Scudder is looking for information in the library using microfiche.) But the game changes when Russian drug dealer Yuri Landau (Sebastian Roché) needs Scudder to help find his kidnapped daughter, reminding Scudder of the incident from his past that led to his quitting the force and the bottle.
A Walk Among the Tombstones is a gripping thriller in which Neeson and Frank (the screenwriter of Get Shorty and Out of Sight and writer-director of The Lookout) manage to get past at least three potential problems that could have dragged the film down to the level of the previous Scudder movie project, Hal Ashby’s 1986 dud Eight Million Ways to Die, in which Jeff Bridges portrayed the P.I. First, this is yet another film about men butchering women, with no fully developed female characters. Second, TJ’s necessity in the story is tenuous at best, especially when he becomes an annoying red herring. And third, the AA aspects threaten to derail the ending. But Neeson, fitting neatly in the action void between Tom Cruise and Harrison Ford (in fact, about a dozen years ago Ford was attached to the project), gives an unpredictable depth to Scudder, who seems to be merely passing through life, involved only when he feels like it, a lost loner with no friends or relatives that matter to him. He does what he wants and says what he thinks, with a rather limited sense of humor, though he is occasionally very funny nonetheless. It’s hard not to be transfixed by Neeson’s unflinching performance as he wanders the streets of the city, looking for answers that will never come.