Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall
881 Seventh Ave. at 57th St.
Monday, October 27, $44-$52, 7:30
For more than twenty years, South African visual artist William Kentridge has been collaborating with South African musician and composer Philip Miller, from such short films as Felix in Exile, Monument, and Weighing and Wanting to such multimedia installations as “Breathe Dissolve Return” and “The Refusal of Time.” On October 27, Kentridge and Miller will present their latest work, “Paper Music: A Ciné Concert,” at Zankel Hall as part of Carnegie Hall’s UBUNTU Music and Arts of South Africa festival. The evening will be introduced by Kentridge and consist of screenings of several short films with live accompaniment by vocalists Joanna Dudley and Ann Masina, pianist Idith Meshulam, and Miller as the gramophone DJ (on electronic sampler and Foley). Among the works being shown are Felix in Exile, Tide Table, and Other Faces along with suites from Carnets d’Egypte, The Refusal of Time, and Paper Music, which features excerpts from Kentridge’s marvelous 2012 Norton Lectures. In the program notes, Kentridge promises, “New music for old drawings. Recent music with recent films. New music written for films yet to be made,” while Miller explains, “The animated films of Kentridge allow a composer the space to suggest alternative narratives — emotions that may not even have been in his thought process when he drew these images. This gives an exhilarating but challenging sense of freedom not often found in the collaboration between composer and artist.” The UBUNTU festival continues through November 5 with performances by Kesivan and the Lights, Dizu Plaatjies and Ibuyambo, Angélique Kidjo and Friends in a tribute to Miriam Makeba, an exhibition of Kentridge’s works at the nearby Marian Goodman Gallery, and a satellite exhibition at David Krut Projects in Chelsea with works by Kentridge, Diane Victor, Stephen Hobbs, Senzo Shabangu, Vusi Khumalo, and Sam Nhlengethwa, among other events.
VERTIGO (Alfred Hitchcock, 1958)
209 West Houston St.
Alfred Hitchcock was perhaps never so fetishistic as in his 1958 psychological thriller, Vertigo. Based on Boileau-Narcejac’s 1954 novel, D’entre les morts, the film delves deep into the nature of fear and obsession. Jimmy Stewart stars as John “Scottie” Ferguson, a police detective who retires after his acrophobia leads to the death of a fellow cop. An old college classmate, wealthy businessman Gavin Elster (Tom Holmore), asks Scottie to look into his wife’s odd behavior; Elster believes that Madeleine (Kim Novak) is being inhabited by the spirit of Carlotta Valdes, her great-grandmother, a woman who committed suicide in her mid-twenties, the same age that Madeleine is now. Scottie follows Madeleine as she goes to Carlotta’s grave, visits a portrait of her in a local museum, and jumps into San Francisco Bay. Scottie rescues her, brings her to his house, and starts falling in love with her. But on a visit to Mission San Juan Bautista, tragedy strikes when Scottie can’t get to the top of the tower because of his vertigo. After a stint in a sanatorium, he wanders the streets of San Francisco where he and Madeleine had fallen in love, as if hoping to see a ghost — and when he indeed finds a woman who reminds him of Madeleine, a young woman named Judy Barton (Novak), he can’t help but try to turn her into his lost love, with tragedy waiting in the wings once again.
Vertigo is a twisted tale of sexual obsession, much of it filmed in San Francisco, making the City by the Bay a character all its own as Scottie travels down Lombard St., takes Madeleine to Muir Woods, stops by Ernie’s, and saves Madeleine under the Golden Gate Bridge. The color scheme is almost shocking, with bright, bold blues, reds, and especially greens dominating scenes. Hitchcock, of course, famously had a thing for blondes, so it’s hard not to think of Stewart as his surrogate when Scottie insists that Judy dye her hair blonde. Color is also central to Scottie’s psychedelic nightmare (designed by artist John Ferren), a Spirographic journey through his mind and down into a grave. Cinematographer Robert Burks’s use of the dolly zoom, in which the camera moves on a dolly in the opposite direction of the zoom, keeps viewers sitting on the edge of their seats, adding to the fierce tension, along with Bernard Herrmann’s frightening score. Despite their age difference, there is pure magic between Stewart, forty-nine, and Novak, who was twenty-four. (Stewart and Novak next made Bell, Book, and Candle as part of the deal to let Novak work for Paramount while under contract to Columbia.) The production was fraught with problems: The screenplay went through Maxwell Anderson, Alec Coppel, and finally Samuel A. Taylor; shooting was delayed by Hitchcock’s health and vacations taken by Stewart and Novak; a pregnant Vera Miles was replaced by Novak; Muir Matheson conducted the score in Europe, instead of Herrmann in Hollywood, because of a musicians’ strike; associate producer Herbert Coleman reshot one scene using the wrong lens; Hitchcock had to have a bell tower built atop Mission San Juan Bautista after a fire destroyed its steeple; and the studio fought for a lame alternate ending (which was filmed). Perhaps all those difficulties, in the end, helped make Vertigo the classic it is today, gaining in stature over the decades, from mixed reviews when it opened to a controversial restoration in 1996 to being named the best film of all time in Sight & Sound’s 2012 poll to the latest digital restoration that is playing at Film Forum October 24-30, a great way to get ready for Halloween. (And don’t be late, as even the opening credit sequence is beautifully creepy.)
Gavin Brown’s enterprise
620 Greenwich St.
Through Saturday, October 25, free, 10:00 am- 6:00 pm
Rob Pruitt displays the profuse output of his mind and the many sides of his artistic vision in “Multiple Personalities,” continuing through October 25 at Gavin Brown’s enterprise. The DC-born, New York City-based provocateur has divided the solo show into four distinct parts. In the front office, a year of framed monthly calendars feature notes and drawings for every day, from birthday reminders to deadlines to the release of the Beatles’ Yellow Submarine, complete with a miniature version of the title object. The next room is filled with Ikea love seats (displayed atop black-and-white tiled bases) and standing tabletops that have been completely covered by Pruitt’s studio assistants with colorful doodles and sayings, a wry and often goofily pornographic take on pop culture and societal norms that features various familiar cartoon figures, Hollywood celebrities, and politicians engaging in wild sex (don’t miss Bart Simpson, Ned Flanders, Beavis and Butt-Head, and the Pink Panther in a chain next to John and Yoko) as well as tributes to Cy Twombly, Pop Rocks, and Pruitt and longtime partner Jonathan Horowitz.
In the third room, several of Pruitt’s acrylic on linen “Suicide Paintings” hang on white walls, with Hamptons sand forming a small shore around them. The gradient works, in shades of blue, green, and purple, are a kind of melding of Mark Rothko (who committed suicide) with James Turrell and Hiroshi Sugimoto (who are both very much alive), like peaceful, inviting windows onto the sea. In the final room, small cats are checking out Pruitt’s “Therapy Paintings,” large canvases based on automatic-writing doodles the artist made during therapy sessions, using ballpoint pens and then blown up onto canvases primed with white impasto. With “Multiple Personalities,” Pruitt, who’s been hosting “Rob Pruitt’s Art Awards” at the Guggenheim since 2009 and whose “Andy Monument,” a silver sculpture of Andy Warhol, graced Union Square back in 2011, has created an impressive display of his wide-ranging talent, ingenuity, and, of course, unique sense of humor.
The thirty-fourth annual CMJ Music Marathon comes to a roaring close on Saturday with a full slate of shows beginning at noon and running well past midnight. One of the highlights is the BirdDog Promo Showcase at Piano’s with Roman a Clef (7:00), Orchestra of Spheres (7:45), Little Racer (8:30), Native America (9:15), Future Punx (10:00), Beverly (10:45), Splashh (11:30), and the Love Supreme (12:15 am). Another hot one should be the free Sounds Australia Aussie BBQ, featuring three dozen bands and DJs playing the Delancey from 2:00 pm to 4:00 am, including the Cairos, Bad//Dreems, the Lazys, the Delta Riggs, Dune Rats, and Goodbye Motel. Below are other suggestions to fill up your Saturday calendar.
Red Baraat, Le Poisson Rouge, 7:30
Heliotropes, Cake Shop, 7:45
Cymbals, Piano’s Upstairs, 9:00
Team Spirit, Brooklyn Bowl, 9:15
The Shackeltons, Muchmore’s, 10:15
Paws, Knitting Factory, 11:00
Simian Ghost, Arlene’s Grocery, 11:30
Julia Weldon, Rockwood Music Hall Stage 3, 12 midnight
A Place to Bury Strangers, Rough Trade, 1:30
For twenty years, the Godlight Theatre Company has been specializing in stage adaptations of modern classic literature that has already been turned into well-known films. Among their previous works are One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, In the Heat of the Night, Slaughterhouse-Five, Fahrenheit 451, and The Third Man. They are now taking on James Dickey’s Deliverance, in a superb, stripped-down production making its world premiere at 59E59. In telling this harrowing story, playwright Sean Tyler and director Joe Tantalo have gone back to the source, Dickey’s 1970 novel, not John Boorman’s Oscar-nominated 1972 film, which starred Burt Reynolds, Jon Voight, Ned Beatty, and Ronny Cox as four friends whose Georgia canoe trip goes seriously wrong. So don’t expect to hear “Dueling Banjos” (Tantalo uses the Carter Family’s “Wildwood Flower,” from the book) or anyone squealing like a pig. But do expect to be chilled to the bone by this ever-insightful examination of what lurks in the pit of men’s souls.
As Lewis Medlock (Gregory Konow), Ed Gentry (Nick Paglino), Bobby Trippe (Jarrod Zayas), and Drew Ballinger (Sean Tant) first set out on their country adventure, they have no idea what’s in store for them. When Griner (Eddie Dunn), a local mechanic, asks them why they’re planning on canoeing down the river, Lewis says, “Because it’s there,” to which Griner ominously replies, “It’s there, all right. But if you git in there and can’t git out, you’re goin’ to wish it wudn’t.” That prophecy comes true when they encounter two mountain men (Bryce Hodgson and Jason Bragg Stanley) who don’t take kindly to city folk, leading to tragedy that the four men might not be able to escape. Deliverance takes place on a shiny black twelve-foot-by-twelve-foot stage, with the audience sitting in two small rows on all four sides. Maruti Evans’s stark lighting and set design also includes dark walls (behind the audience) on which the characters’ reflections glow in the distance (below the biblical quote “The pride of thine heart hath deceived thee / thou that dwelleth in the clefts of the rock / whose habitation is high; that saith in his heart / Who shall bring me down to the ground?”). There are no props or projections, no water, no mountain imagery, no weapons — just the actors, who mimic drinking beer in a bar, paddling down the river, climbing over rocks, holding a rifle, and pulling back a bow. But it’s not gimmicky in the least; instead, it allows viewers to get immersed in the tale, using their imagination the way they would as if reading a book that comes alive in front of them. All of the actors are excellent, though the standout is Godlight regular Paglino, as the narrative unfolds from Ed’s perspective, especially during a long monologue during which he stares death in the face. At times you’ll think you are actually seeing the woods, the river, a deer, but it’s just your mind getting caught up in this thrilling, unique theatrical experience.
Charles A. Dana Discovery Center
Inside the park at 110th Street between Fifth & Lenox Aves.
Sunday, October 26, free, 3:00 - 6:00
The annual Halloween Parade and Pumpkin Flotilla returns to Central Park on Sunday, offering an afternoon of family-friendly activities celebrating All Hallows’ Eve. In order to participate in the flotilla, you need to bring a precarved pumpkin, with top, that is approximately eight pounds, is no bigger than a soccer ball, and contains no artificial materials such as paint, glitter, marker, or food dye. (Be advised that you don’t get your pumpkin back once it makes its way across Harlem Meer.) There will also be live music, spooky storytelling, pumpkin carving demonstrations, and a costume parade.
FORCE MAJEURE (Ruben Östlund, 2014)
Lincoln Plaza Cinema, 1886 Broadway at 63rd St., 212-757-2280
Angelika Film Center, 18 West Houston St. at Mercer St., 212-995-2570
Opens Friday, October 24
Ruben Östlund’s Force Majeure is one of the best films you’ll ever hear. Not that Fredrik Wenzel’s photography of a lovely Savoie ski resort and Ola Fløttum’s bold, classical-based score aren’t stunning in their own right, but Kjetil Mørk, Rune Van Deurs, and Jesper Miller’s sound design makes every boot crunching on the snow, every buzzing electric toothbrush, every ski lift going up a mountain, every explosion setting off a controlled avalanche a character unto itself, heightening the tension (and black comedy) of this dark satire about a family dealing with a crisis. On the first day of their five-day French Alps vacation, workaholic Tomas (Johannes Bah Kuhnke) and his wife, Ebba (Lisa Loven Kongsli), are enjoying lunch on an outdoor veranda with their small children, Harry (Vincent Wettergren) and Vera (Clara Wettergren), when a potential tragedy comes barreling at them, but in the heat of the moment, while Ebba instantly seeks to protect the kids, Tomas runs for his life, leaving his family behind. After the event, which was not as bad as anticipated, the relationship among the four of them has forever changed, especially because Tomas will not own up to what happened. Even Harry and Vera (who are brother and sister in real life) know something went wrong that afternoon and are now terrified that their parents will divorce. But with Tomas unwilling to talk about his flight response, Ebba starts sharing the story with other couples, including their hirsute friend Mats (Kristofer Hivju) and his young girlfriend, Fanni (Fanni Metelius), who are soon arguing in private about what they would do in a similar situation.
Winner of the Jury Prize in the Un Certain Regard sidebar of the Cannes Film Festival and the Swedish entry for the 2014 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, Force Majeure is a blistering exploration of human nature, gender roles, and survival instinct. The often uncomfortable and utterly believable tale, inspired by a real-life event in which friends of Östlund’s were attacked by gunmen, recalls Julia Loktev’s The Loneliest Planet, in which an engaged couple encounter serious trouble and their immediate, individual reactions change their dynamic. Östlund (Play, Involuntary), who was also influenced by statistics that show that more men survive shipwrecks than women and children on a percentage basis, often keeps dialogue at a minimum, revealing the family’s growing predicament by repeating visuals with slight differences, from the way they sleep in the same bed to how they brush their teeth in front of a long mirror to the looks on their faces as they move along a motorized walkway in a tunnel at the ski resort. The ending feels forced and confusing, but everything leading up to that is simply dazzling, a treat for the senses that is impossible not to experience without wondering what you would do if danger suddenly threatened you and your loved ones.