Guy Maddin and Evan Johnson’s The Forbidden Room is a deliriously mesmerizing epic tone poem, a crafty, complex avant-garde ode to cinema as memory, and memory as cinema. An homage to the lost films of the silent era, it is the illegitimate child of Bill Morrison and David Lynch, of Jack Smith and Kenneth Anger, of D. W. Griffith and Josef von Sternberg. The impossible-to-describe narrative jumps from genre to genre, from submarine thriller to Western adventure to murder yarn, from romantic melodrama and crime story to war movie and horror tale, complete with cannibals, vampires, poisoned leotards, “valcano” eruptions, caged lunatics, butt obsession, squid theft, explosive jelly, a fantastical mustache, and skeletal insurance defrauders. Intertitles that often fade away too soon to decipher help propel the plot, contain lines from John Ashbery and the Bible, and blast out such words as “Deliverer of Doom,” “Diablesa!” and “Trapped!” Text in intricate fonts announces each new character and actor, including Maddin regular Louis Negin as the Sacrifice Organizer, Slimane Dazi as shed-sleeper and pillow-hugger Baron Pappenheim, Lewis Furey as the Skull-Faced Man, and Roy Dupuis as a “mysterious woodsman” determined to rescue captured amnesiac Margot (Clara Furey) from the evil clutches of the Red Wolves. Also involved in the bizarre festivities are Udo Kier, Geraldine Chaplin, Mathieu Amalric, Charlotte Rampling, and Maria de Medeiros.
Although shot digitally, the film explores photographic emulsion and time-ravaged nitrate while treating celluloid as an art object unto itself, looking like Maddin (Tales from the Gimli Hospital, My Winnipeg) and Johnson stomped on, burned, tore up, and put back together the nonexistent physical filmstrip. Thus, major kudos are also due Maddin’s longtime editor, John Gurdebeke, and music composers Galen Johnson, Jason Staczek, and Maddin himself for keeping it all moving forward so beautifully. The film was photographed by Benjamin Kasulke and Stéphanie Anne Weber Biron in alternating scenes of black-and-white, lurid, muted color, and sepia tones that offer constant surprises. The Forbidden Room might be about the magic of the movies, but it is also about myth and ritual, dreams and fantasy as it explores storytelling as psychodrama. Oh, and it’s also about taking baths, as Marv (Negin) so eagerly explains throughout the film. But most of all, The Forbidden Room is great fun, a truly unpredictable and original work of art that is a treat for cinephiles and moviegoers everywhere. Following its recent screenings at the New York Film Festival, The Forbidden Room is opening theatrically on October 7 at Film Forum, with Maddin present on October 12 for a Q&A after the 7:00 show (moderated by Jonathan Marlow) and to introduce the 9:30 show.
Atlantic Theater Company
Linda Gross Theater
336 West 20th St. between Eighth & Ninth Aves.
Tuesday - Sunday through November 1, $20-$65
Caryl Churchill skewers British colonialism, patriarchy, and sexual oppression and obsession while examining intricate issues of gender identity and personal freedom in Cloud Nine, her 1979 play being wonderfully revived at the Atlantic. The first act, in which several characters are played by members of the opposite gender, takes place in the late nineteenth century, in an unnamed African nation where the natives are growing more than a little restless, the threat of revolt against their occupiers in the air. Set designer Dane Laffrey (the new Spring Awakening and Fool for Love revivals) has transformed the space into a theater-in-the-round, with several rows of uncomfortable steep wooden bleachers circling the center stage area. (A limited amount of cushions are available, or you can bring your own.) The play opens with Union Jack-waving British administrator Clive (Clarke Thorell) leading his family in a song praising jolly old England, during which he introduces his oddball clan in rhyme. He is married to Betty (Chris Perfetti, in a spectacular off-white gown, courtesy of costume designer Gabriel Berry), a shy, reserved woman who explains, “I live for Clive. The whole aim of my life / Is to be what he looks for in a wife. / I am a man’s creation as you see, / And what men want is what I want to be.” Their son, Edward (Brooke Bloom), prefers playing with dolls to playing catch, while the aptly named baby, Victoria, is an actual doll that the characters toss around. The children are cared for by Ellen (Izzie Steele), the young governess who is extremely dedicated to Betty. Betty’s mother, Maud (Lucy Owen), is a stern woman who thinks that her daughter has married beneath her. And their servant, Joshua (Sean Dugan, a white man playing a black man), goes about his duties with a blank, deadpan look that is fraught with impending danger; “My skin is black but oh my soul is white. / I hate my tribe. My master is my light. / I only live for him. As you can see, / What white men want is what I want to be,” he says without conviction. The family is visited by intrepid explorer and adventurer Harry Bagley (John Sanders), who apparently has never met a person, man or woman, adult or child, he doesn’t want to have sex with, and the widowed Mrs. Saunders (Steele), an independent, plucky sort. The first act plays out like a twisted comedy of manners with a Monty Python edge as most of the characters reveal their hidden sexual desires while arguing over what is proper in society. It’s both funny and poignant, wacky and incisive, but Churchill turns everything around marvelously in the second act.
Following intermission, the play moves to a London park in 1979, the red gravel of Africa replaced by fake green grass. A century might have passed, but the characters have aged a mere twenty-five years. The full cast and most of the characters are back, but they’re played by different actors; Churchill leaves this doubling up to each new production, and her longtime director, James MacDonald (Love and Information, Cock), recasts the second act ingeniously, adding multiple layers to the already complex story. Bloom (You Got Older), who played the effeminate Edward in the first act, is now playing his mother, Betty, a stronger, more determined woman who is considering a life on her own. Owen (The Village Bike), who was the serious, suspicious Maud, now plays her granddaughter, Victoria, formerly a doll, now a modern woman who is thinking about leaving her husband for Lin, a lesbian played by Steele (What I Did Last Summer), who, as Ellen in the first act, declared her love for Betty. Thorell (Annie, Hairspray), previously Clive, the staunch defender of Mother England, is now Lin’s baby daughter, Cathy, prancing around in pigtails and smearing himself in paint, as if Great Britain has not yet grown up, making the same mess as always. Sanders (Peter and the Starcatcher), who was the brave Harry, has become Martin, Victoria’s very practical husband who simperingly supports anything she wants to do. And Edward, now played by Perfetti (Sons of the Prophet), who was Betty in the first act, has come out of the closet, a park worker in love with the gruff Gerry, portrayed by Dugan (Next Fall). Got all that? It makes for a whole lot of curious, surprising, and at times mind-blowing pairings (Freud would have a field day with the shenanigans) if you really delve into what’s happening between the actors and the characters. The latter have been thrust into an era that has witnessed the civil rights and women’s liberation movements and free love, and they’re ready to move on with their lives, determining their own places in the world rather than being limited by societal norms and what is expected, or demanded, of them. They still have their secrets and are haunted by ghosts, and there’s plenty of difficult work ahead for them, but there’s no need to play hide-and-seek again, as they did in the first act. Even when the story turns extremely serious and you, and many others, are shifting around in your cramped seat, you will have a blast trying to follow who is who, and who was who, and what it all says about the state of our world, then and now.
655 W 34th St. at 12th Ave.
October 8-11, sold out
So you’re one of the lucky ones who got a ticket to New York Comic Con before they sold out. Now what? Navigating among the thousands of panels, signings, screenings, booths, cosplay contests, writing workshops, and fan meet-ups can be absolutely staggering, enough to send any relatively sane attendee off screaming onto Thirty-Fourth St. So we’ve done some of the work for you; below is a handful of our recommendations for each day. In addition, throughout the weekend, there will be autograph sessions with the following special guests: Danny Glover, Carl Lumbly, Keisha Castle-Hughes, Phil LaMarr, Kevin Conroy, Ron English, Grumpy Cat, Terry Brooks, David Mack, Finn Jones, Natalie Dormer, Todd McFarlane, John Hodgman, Nathan Fillion, Gina Torres, Andrea Romano, John Rhys-Davies, Orlando Jones, Greg Rucka, Jerry “the King” Lawler, Cassandra Clare, Tim Bradstreet, Billie Piper, Doug Jones, Walter Simonson, Jewel Staite, Jose Feliciano, John Leguizamo, Frank Miller, R.L. Stine, Ann M. Martin, Raina Telgemeier, Chip Kidd, Ruben Bolling, and hundreds more.
Thursday, October 8
We Need More Diverse Comics, with Ivan Velez, Alex Simmons, Eric Dean Seaton, and Karen Green, moderated by Christian Zabriskie, Room 1AO5, 11:15 am
Andre the Giant: The Man Behind the Legend, with Robin Christensen-Roussimoff, Shannon Eric Denton, Jarrett Williams, and Michael Kingston, Room 1A24, 12:30
Gamera 50th Anniversary Event, NYCC Live Stage, Booth #656, 1:00
Nerdist Writers Panel, with Aaron Cohen, Ben Blacker, Brian Koppelman, and Craig Engler, Room 1A10, 3:00
Sean Bean Brings Legends to NYCC, with Sean Bean and Kenneth Biller, Empire Stage 1-E, 7:00
Friday, October 9
75 Spirited Years: Will Eisner & the Spirit, with Denis Kitchen, J. C. Vaughn, Karen Green, Melissa Bowersox, Michael Solof, and Paul Levitz, Room 1B03, 11:00 am
In Conversation with Seth Meyers: Late Night Host Discusses His Career in Comedy with Vulture.com’s Jesse David Fox, Room 1A10, 1:45
The Adventure Continues: A Justice League Reunion Event, with Andrea Romano, Carl Lumbly, George Newbern, Kevin Conroy, Maria Canals-Barrera, and Phil LaMarr, Empire Stage 1-E, 2:00
A Fireside Chat with Comedy’s First Couple Samantha Bee + Jason Jones, Room 1A10, 3:00
Wicked Reads, with Zac Brewer, April Genevieve Tucholke, Kim Liggett, Jake Halpern, Danielle Vega, Michael Buckley, and Danielle Paige, WORD Bookstore 1-B, 4:00
Pop Surrealism: Behind the Scenes with Top Artists and Galleries, with Camilla d’Errico, Carlo McCormick, Jonathan LeVine, Mab Graves, Tara McPherson, and Travis Louie, Room 1B03, 6:30
Saturday, October 10
Chicks Kick Ass — the Ongoing Epic, with Daniel Jose Older, Hannah Moskowitz, Kim Harrison, Melissa Grey, Rachel Vincent, and Sara Raasch, Room 121, 11:00
Firefly Reunion, with Nathan Fillion, Gina Torres, and Jewel Staite, Main Stage 1-D, 11:30
Sexy, Scary and Seriously Funny: Rachel Rising and the Horror Comic Tradition, with Ben Saunders and Terry Moore, Room 1B03, 12:15
The X-Files, advance screening of first new episode and Q&A, with Chris Carter and David Duchovny, Moderated by Kumail Nanjiani, Main Stage 1-D, 1:15
The Last Witch Hunter, with Breck Eisner, Elijah Wood, Rose Leslie, and Vin Diesel, Main Stage 1-D, 3:15
Comics Creators Consuming Coffee: Where Food & Comics Collide, with C. B. Cebulski, Amy Chu, Steve Orlando, Justin Jordan, Regine Sawyer, Ryan Dunlavey, and Grady Hendrix, Room 1A05, 4:15
The Cyanide and Happiness Group Sketch Jam Panel, with Joel Watson, Kris Wilson, Rob Denbleyker, and Shawn Coss, Room 1A10, 8:00
Sunday, October 11
Goosebumps & The Baby-Sitters Club Revisited: A Conversation with R.L. Stine, Ann M. Martin, Raina Telgemeier, and Dave Roman, Room 1A10, 10:45 am
Lucasfilm Presents: Star Wars: A Galactic Reader’s Theatre, with Michael Siglain, Adam Gidwitz, Alexandra Bracken, Chuck Wendig, Ian Doescher, and Tom Angleberger, Room 1A21, 12 noon
Darryl DMC McDaniels Presents: Boom! Bap! Pow! Hip-Hop & Comics! with Alan Ket, Chuck Creekmur, Kwame Holland, Bio, and Darryl DMC McDaniels, Room 1A18, 1:15|
Warner Bros. Television Takeover Featuring Gotham, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, Blindspot, Supergirl, and Person of Interest, with Amy Acker, Arthur Darvill, Ashley Johnson, Audrey Esparza, Ben McKenzie, Brandon Routh, Caity Lotz, Ciara Renée, Cory Michael Smith, Glen Winter, Jaimie Alexander, James Frain, Jessica Lucas, Jim Caviezel, John Stephens, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Martin Gero, Michael Emerson, Phil Klemmer, Rob Brown, Robin Lord Taylor, and Sullivan Stapleton, Empire Stage 1-E, 1:30
Mad about MAD, with John Ficarra, Sam Viviano, Jonathan Bresman, Peter Kuper, and Tom Richmond, Room 1A21, 2:30
The 8 Doctors of Classic Doctor Who, with Andre Tessier, Barnaby Edwards, Deborah Stanish, Kathleen Schowalter, Ken Deep, and Lanaia DuBose, Room 1A10, 4:00
NEW YORK FILM FESTIVAL: HEART OF A DOG (Laurie Anderson, 2015)
Film Society of Lincoln Center, Walter Reade Theater
Thursday, October 8, $15, 6:00
Festival runs through October 11
Multimedia artist Laurie Anderson’s first full-length film in nearly thirty years, Heart of a Dog, is a deeply personal poetic meditation on death, yet it avoids being mournful and melancholy and is instead a wistful tribute to life. Anderson, who directed her concert film, Home of the Brave, in 1986, details the story of her beloved rat terrier, Lolabelle, as the “mall dog” ages, goes blind, and dies. Using clips from home movies, archival footage, animation, and re-creations, Anderson delves into the nature of time, memory, beauty, and the process of grieving, referencing Wittgenstein, Kierkegaard, and David Foster Wallace as she narrates the tale in her familiar dramatic voice. The film is also about communication and language, two of her favorite topics, which come to the fore when she describes going to the mountains in Northern California with Lolabelle. “The idea was to take a trip and spend some time with her and do a kind of experiment to see if I could learn to talk with her. Now, I’d heard that rat terriers could understand about five hundred words, and I wanted to see which ones they were.” The story takes a fascinating turn when Anderson recognizes that Lolabelle, who she identifies as a painter, a pianist, and a protector, understands that circling hawks are a threat to her, that the dog is prey to them, a direct reference to Americans’ fear in a post-9/11 world, where armed soldiers are everywhere to guard against terrorist attacks, especially from the sky. Anderson goes back to her past, talking about a horrific childhood accident that almost left her paralyzed and led her to realize “that most adults have no idea what they’re talking about.” She also discusses her awkward relationship with her mother, subversive software, her obsession with JFK, the Tibetan Book of the Dead, ghosts, dreams, and sadness, explaining that her Tibetan teacher, Mingyur Rinpoche, once told her that “you should try to learn how to feel sad without being sad,’” which, Anderson notes, “is actually really hard to do.”
Avoiding over-self-indulgence, Anderson tells this autobiographical “story about a story” with a diverse range of compelling imagery, from lovely scenes of snowy woods and birds in trees to scratched, distorted avante-garde footage and many scenes of rain, as if the camera is gently crying. The soundtrack, primarily Anderson on violin, is mostly elegiac, tinged with heartbreak as she philosophizes about life and death, though it is ultimately an uplifting experience. Anderson dedicates the film “to the magnificent spirit of my husband Lou Reed,” who makes a brief appearance as a doctor and is shown later on the beach, his bare feet in the sand; he also sings “Turning Time Around,” a song from his 2000 album, Ecstasy, over the closing credits, in which the punk godfather, who passed away in 2013 at the age of seventy-one, explains, “My time is your time when you’re in love / and time is what you never have enough of / You can’t see or hold it / It’s exactly like love.” Heart of a Dog is screening October 8 at 6:00 at the Walter Reade Theater as part of the Special Events program at the New York Film Festival, with Anderson, whose stunning immersive multimedia installation “Habeas Corpus” just finished its short run at the Park Avenue Armory, present to talk about the film, which will open theatrically October 21 at Film Forum.
Who: Leonard Lopate, Marcus Samuelsson, Maangchi, and Madhur Jaffrey
What: “Lopate and Locavores: Eating Around the World”
Where: The Greene Space at WNYC, the Jerome L. Greene Performance Space, 44 Charlton St. at Varick St., 646-829-4000
When: Wednesday, October 7, 14, 21, $25 (includes one drink), 7:00
Why: Three-time James Beard Award winner Leonard Lopate will host his annual food series this month at the Greene Space at WNYC, featuring three celebrity chefs joining him for a discussion, demonstration, and tasting. On October 7, the WNYC legend will welcome Marcus Samuelsson (Red Rooster Harlem, Streetbird Rotisserie, Marcus Off Duty: The Recipes I Cook at Home) to talk about Ethiopian and Swedish cuisine, followed by the Korean Julia Child, Maangchi, author of Maangchi’s Real Korean Cooking, on October 14, and Madhur Jaffrey, the Godmother of Indian Cooking and author of Vegetarian India: A Journey Through the Best of Indian Home Cooking, on October 21.
TINDER ROULETTE: A MUSICAL MEMOIR
13th Street Repertory Theater
50 West 13th St. between Fifth & Sixth Aves.
Fridays & Saturdays through October 24, $30 ($24 with code BOOKIE), 9:30
So you think you overshare on social media? Just wait till you get a load of Tinder Roulette: A Musical Memoir, Mel DeLancey’s seriocomic look at her life. The divorced daughter of two compulsive gamblers, DeLancey examines the choices she’s made and the risks she’s taken, using cabaret to tell her story. The show features cameos by her sisters, Jennifer and Joslyn, who are also joined by the curiously one-named Moose. The production is directed by Bryan Enk (The Big Bad, the stage serial Penny Dreadful), with Norma Jeanne Curley serving as musical director and arranger as well as accompanist.
TICKET GIVEAWAY: Tinder Roulette is playing Friday and Saturday nights at 9:30 through October 24 at the 13th Street Repertory Theater, and twi-ny has three pairs of tickets to give away for free. Just send your name, daytime phone number, and favorite play or movie about gambling or social media to firstname.lastname@example.org by Wednesday, October 7, at 3:00 to be eligible. All entrants must be twenty-one years of age or older; three winners will be selected at random.
CINÉSALON: CLOUDS OF SILS MARIA (Olivier Assayas, 2014)
French Institute Alliance Française, Florence Gould Hall
55 East 59th St. between Madison & Park Aves.
Tuesday, October 6, $14, 4:00 & 7:30 (later screening introduced by Florence Colombani)
Series continues through October 27
The related concepts of time and reality wind through Olivier Assayas’s beautifully poetic, melancholy Clouds of Sils Maria much like actual snakelike clouds slither through the twisting Maloja Pass in the Swiss Alps, as life imitates art and vice versa. Juliette Binoche stars as Maria Enders, a famous French actress who is on her way to Zurich to accept an award for her mentor, playwright Wilhelm Melchior, who eschews such mundane ceremonies. But while en route, Maria and her personal assistant, the extremely attentive and capable Valentine (Kristen Stewart), learn that Wilhelm has suddenly and unexpectedly passed away, and Maria considers turning back, especially when she later finds out that Henryk Wald (Hanns Zischler), an old nemesis, will be there to pay homage to Wilhelm as well, but she decides to go ahead after all. At a cocktail party, Maria meets with hot director Klaus Diesterweg (Lars Eidinger), who is preparing a new stage production of Wilhelm and Maria’s first big hit, The Maloja Snake, but this time Maria would play Helena, an older woman obsessed with ambitious eighteen-year-old Sigrid, the role she originally performed twenty years earlier, to great acclaim. Klaus is planning to cast Lindsay Lohan-like troublemaking star and walking tabloid headline Jo-Ann Ellis (Chloë Grace Moretz) as Sigrid, which does not thrill Maria as her past and present meld together in an almost dreamlike narrative punctuated by the music of Handel and cinematographer Yorick Le Saux’s gorgeous shots of vast mountain landscapes.
Clouds of Sils Maria resonates on many levels, both inside and outside of the main plot and the film itself. Assayas (Irma Vep, Demonlover) cowrote André Téchiné’s 1983 film, Rendez-Vous, which was Binoche’s breakthrough; Assayas and Binoche wouldn’t work together again until his 2008 film Summer Hours, similar to the relationship between Wilhelm and Maria. Meanwhile, the story of the play-within-the-film is echoed by the relationship between Maria and Valentine, who are having trouble separating the personal from the professional. It is often difficult to know when the two women are practicing lines and when they are talking about their “real” lives. Binoche (Blue, Caché) is simply extraordinary as Maria, a distressed and anxious woman who is suddenly facing getting older somewhat sooner than expected, while Stewart (The Twilight Saga, On the Road) became the first American woman to win a French César, for Best Supporting Actress, for her sensitive portrayal of Valentine, a strong-willed young woman who might or might not be holding something back. The scenes between the two are riveting as they venture in and out of the reality of the film, their onscreen chemistry building and building till it’s at last ready to ignite. Art, life, cinema, theater, fiction, and reality all come together in Clouds of Sils Maria, as Maria, Assayas, and Binoche take stock of where they’ve been, where they are, and where they’re going. The film is screening at 4:00 and 7:30 on October 6 in FIAF’s CinéSalon series “Theater & Cinema”; the later show will be introduced by Florence Colombani. The Tuesday festival continues through October 27 with such other stage-related dramas as Arnaud Desplechin’s Esther Kahn, Abdellatif Kechiche’s Games of Love and Chance, and François Truffaut’s The Last Metro.