This Week in New York Insider's Guide to Arts & Culture in New York City Since 2001



A pair of sisters contemplate their miserable lives in Mike Leigh’s first film, BLEAK MOMENTS

Film Society of Lincoln Center, Walter Reade Theater
165 West 65th St. between Eighth Ave. & Broadway
Monday, September 22, 6:30
Series runs September 19-25

British master filmmaker Mike Leigh’s feature debut, 1971’s Bleak Moments, is just that, a series of grim scenes involving five main characters who are not exactly the most scintillating of conversationalists. But slowly, the dark, dreary opening evolves into a wickedly funny black comedy about different sorts of relationships (familial, sexual, professional), comprising episodes that help define the film’s alternate title, Loving Moments. It would be hard for Sylvia (Anne Raitt) to live a more boring life. A typist at an accounting firm, she spends most of her free time at home taking care of her sister, Hilda (Sarah Stephenson), who suffers from a kind of autism. Hilda works with Pat (Joolia Cappleman), a strange bird obsessed with movies, Maltesers, and Hilda. Meanwhile, teacher Peter (Eric Allan), who seems terrified of people, shows interest, if you can call it that, in all three women. And Norman (Mike Bradwell), a wannabe singer-songwriter, has moved into Sylvia’s garage, where he plays music that intrigues Hilda. Over a short period of time, the three women and two men sit around, go for walks, eat, drink, and, mostly, say very little to one another, their tentativeness palpable, each one terribly frightened in his or her own way of what life has to offer, of connecting. But Leigh isn’t making fun of them; instead, Bleak Moments is a lovingly drawn story of real life, where people don’t always know exactly what to say or do or how to react in various situations.


Peter (Eric Allan) and Sylvia (Anne Raitt) go on a date to remember in BLEAK MOMENTS

Originally mounted as a stage production, Bleak Moments transitioned to the big screen with the financial help of Albert Finney. As became his trademark, Leigh, who would go on to make such highly regarded fare as High Hopes, Life Is Sweet, Naked, Secrets & Lies, Topsy-Turvy, and Happy-Go-Lucky, had the actors first embody the roles in rehearsals and preparation, giving the film a believability despite the absurdity of it all. The overwhelming despair and hesitation demonstrated by the characters becomes painfully funny, especially when Peter takes Sylvia to a Chinese restaurant and, afterward, she tries to ply him with sherry. (Might the man who stares at them in the restaurant be a forerunner of the man who mocks Rupert Pupkin in the diner in The King of Comedy?) In January 2013, Leigh discussed Bleak Moments with the Guardian, at first comparing it to watching paint dry and acknowledging that some people thought it was “the most boring film in the world” while also explaining, “From this distance, I cautiously feel I’m allowed to feel a touch of paternal pride in my young self. With such brief life experience, did I really invent this painful, tragic-comic tale of a beautiful but suppressed young woman, tied to her elder, mentally challenged sister? I guess I’m astonished at the maturity and sophistication of my achievement, not to mention its pathos and irony. . . . I’ve tried to vary my films considerably, but I would have to admit that Bleak Moments remains, in some ways, the mother of all Mike Leigh films. And I’m very proud of it.” As well he should be.

Bleak Moments is screening September 22 at 6:30 as part of the Film Society of Lincoln Center series “NYFF Opening Acts,” a collection of early films by eleven directors showing new works at this year’s New York Film Festival, including Abel Ferrara’s Body Snatchers, Mia Hansen-Løve’s All Is Forgiven, Olivier Assayas’s Cold Water, and Alain Resnais’s Love Unto Death.


Forest Hills Stadium
West Side Tennis Club
Friday, September 19, $35-$59.50, 6:30

When the Replacements announced they were going on a reunion tour, shows in their hometown, Minneapolis, sold out in minutes. Strangely enough, there are still tickets to be had for their September 19 concert at Forest Hills Stadium. Perhaps it’s because only two of the original members are still in the band: songwriter, vocalist, and guitarist Paul Westerberg and bassist-guitarist Tommy Stinson. Chris Mars departed over creative differences when the band was making 1990s All Shook Down; lead guitarist Bob Stinson, who was known to perform in diapers, left the band in 1986 and died from a drug overdose at the age of thirty-five in 1995; replacement Replacement Slim Dunlap suffered a stroke in 2012; and drum replacement Steve Foley died in 2008 at the age of forty-nine. Paul and Tommy are now out on the road with guitarist Dave Minehan and drummer Josh Freese, playing songs from throughout the ’Mats too-short career, as well as Westerberg solo tracks and covers. We’ve gotten into discussions with friends whether these can really be considered Replacement shows; it certainly doesn’t have the same feel as when we saw the group play their legendary frantic, packed gigs back in August 1985 at Irving Plaza and in February 1986 at the Ritz.

(photo © 2014 by Kelly Shee)

Craig Finn lets it all out at Hold Steady show last week (photo © 2014 by Kelly Shee)

For those of you heading out to the renovated Forest Hills Stadium, be sure to get there on time, because the Replacements are only one-third of a hot triple bill. Born and raised in Minneapolis before moving to Brooklyn, the Hold Steady is an inspired choice to play with the ’Mats. “They were the first band I saw that made me think I could be in a rock band,” lead singer and songwriter Craig Finn says on the DVD of 2011’s Color Me Obsessed, a documentary about his all-time-favorite group. A truly great live band that plays with energy and passion, after a brief hiatus the Hold Steady are back with Teeth Dreams, the exciting follow-up to the disappointing Heaven Is Whenever. The 2014 disc is a return to form for the group, filled with clever wordplay, inventive hooks, and Finn’s quirky, inviting voice, the sound of a man who loves that he’s in a rock-and-roll band. From the powerful drive of “Hope I Didn’t Frighten You” and “Spinners” to the epic ballad “Oaks,” the Hold Steady again sound like the band they were meant to be, living up to the promise of their breakthrough records, Separation Sunday and Boys and Girls in America. And when Finn sings, “You came back to us / South Minneapolis / Said ’revenge exists outside of space and time’ / Out behind the Ambassador / Man, it feels kinda magical / I guess your friend can really move things with his mind” on “The Ambassador,” it’s as if he’s singing about Westerberg and the Replacements.

Deer Tick will open show for the Hold Steady and the Replacements at Forest Hills Stadium on September 19

Deer Tick will open show for the Hold Steady and the Replacements at Forest Hills Stadium on September 19

Opening the show is Providence’s Deer Tick, whose most recent album, Negativity, came out in 2013, following a 2012 EP the band had the audacity to name Tim. Led by singer and songwriter John McCauley, the five-piece has been known to play a fiery cover of the Replacements classic “Can’t Hardly Wait,” which features one of the sweetest guitar lines in the history of alternative music. During this tour, Deer Tick has also been covering the Hold Steady, and the Hold Steady has been covering Deer Tick, so it’s all become a kind of mutual admiration society. (You can also find Finn and fellow Steady Holder Tad Kubler covering the ’Mats’ “Within Your Reach,” “Color Me Impressed,” and “Hootenanny” here.) But it all starts and ends with the Replacements, who once famously proclaimed, “Children by the million sing for Alex Chilton when he comes ’round / They sing, ‘I’m in love. / What’s that song? I’m in love / with that song.” The same can be said for Westerberg, whether you consider this a welcome reunion or not.


dave chappelle block party

BAMcinématek, BAM Rose Cinemas
30 Lafayette Ave. between Ashland Pl. & St. Felix St.
Saturday, September 20, $14, 9:45
Series runs September 19-20

In September 2004, comedian Dave Chappelle put on a surprise block party in Bedford-Stuyvesant, sort of a mini-Brooklyn version of Wattstax, Mel Stuart’s seminal L.A. concert film in which Richard Pryor teamed up with a host of black musicians, including Isaac Hayes, Albert King, the Staples Singers and Carla and Rufus Thomas. Directed by Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The Science of Sleep) and photographed by Ellen Kuras (Neil Young: Heart of Gold, Blow) Block Party is Chappelle’s Wattstax for the twenty-first century. Gondry and Chappelle take viewers on a very funny trip as the comedian wanders around his hometown of Dayton, Ohio, handing out golden tickets like a black Willy Wonka, offering everyone free transportation to Brooklyn, loading buses up with a fascinating mix of people of all races. When he bumps into a college marching band, he invites them to play at the party, joining such big names as Kanye West, the reunited Fugees, Big Daddy Kane, Common, John Legend, the Roots, and Dead Prez. Gondry cuts between the preparation for the block party and the actual festivities, an infectious blend of music and comedy that makes you feel like you’re right in the middle of it all. Musical highlights include West performing “Jesus Walks” with Legend and Common, Jill Scott and Erykah Badu backing the Roots on “You Got Me,” and Talib Kweli, Common, and Fred Hampton Jr. rapping with Mos Def on “Umi Says.”

Dave Chappelle invites everyone to his Bed-Stuy block party

Dave Chappelle invites everyone to his Bed-Stuy block party

Unfortunately, the songs are not seen in their entirety, one of the film’s only drawbacks. Behind the scenes, Chappelle tickles the ivories to “Misty” and “Round Midnight,” hangs out with the bizarre white couple who live in the Broken Angel house across the street, and jokes around with Mos Def. The film avoids any overt political messages, although some of the songs deal with controversial topics. One of the sweetest moments is when Wyclef Jean plays “President” for the marching band, letting the members know they can be anything they want to be. Block Party is a shining, defining moment for Chappelle, who shortly after walked away from a $50 million Comedy Central contract, succumbing to the pressure of fame and expectation. Dave Chappelle’s Block Party is screening September 20 at 9:15 as part of BAMcinématek’s “The Source360” series, honoring the twenty-fifth anniversary of the influential magazine. The two-day festival also includes George Tillman Jr.’s Notorious, a biopic about Biggie Smalls; One9’s Time Is Illmatic, a documentary about Nas; The Man with the Iron Fists, followed by a Q&A with director and star RZA; and Peter Spirer’s Rhyme & Reason, which follows the history of rap music. In addition, Pass the Mic: Ladies First — A Night of Women Emcees, with Nitty Scott, Rajé Shwari, Roxanne Shanté, and Sweet Tee, takes place in the BAMcafé on September 19 and International Hip-Hop Night, with Amkoullel, Gokh Bi System, Rebel Diaz, Shokanti, AYoinmotion, and Bocafloja, hosted by Toni Blackman, is scheduled for September 20.


Harold and Kumar and Neil Patrick Harris are on a mission not quite from God as they search for White Castle

Harold, Kumar, and the NPH are on a mission not quite from God as they search for a White Castle to feed their buzz

IFC Center
323 Sixth Ave. at Third St.
Friday, September 19, and Saturday, September 20, 12 midnight

Harold (John Cho) is a hardworking Asian who is taken advantage of by the men in his office, forced to do their work and have no fun while having no idea how to talk to hot neighbor Maria (Paula Garcés). Kumar (Kal Penn) comes from a family of doctors and is expected to follow in the same direction. But all Kumar likes to do is get blasted on beer and pot and chase girls. So one night he convinces the much more straitlaced Harold that they have to go to White Castle to fill their craving for major munchies. Unfortunately, the nearest White Castle branch is no more, so they set out on a rowdy all-night adventure in search of the next WC, in Cherry Hill, and on the way they get sidetracked by college parties, strange bathroom incidents, the ugliest man in the world, a team of extreme idiots, cops with attitude, and Doogie Howser. Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle knows exactly what it is, and it does it extremely well, expertly directed by Danny Leiner, who also brought us the unforgettable classics Dude, Where’s My Car? and Balls Out: Gary the Tennis Coach. The film also features a bevy of cool cameos, including David Krumholtz as Goldstein and Eddie Kaye Thomas as Rosenberg, Harold and Kumar’s drug-addled sloth friends; Fred Willard as Dr. Willoughby, who has one hell of an interview with Kumar; Ryan Reynolds as a male nurse; Anthony Anderson as a fast-food employee; Christopher Meloni and Malin Åkerman as Mr. & Mrs. Freakshow; and, yes, Neil Patrick Harris as the ultimate Neil Patrick Harris. You’ll start out hating yourself for laughing so much, but eventually you’ll just come around to accepting that this is just a damn funny movie that you understand far too well. Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle — which led to a pair of lesser sequels, Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo and A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas — is screening in a tenth anniversary 35mm print September 19-20 as part of the IFC Center’s Waverly Midnights: High Art series, which continues through November 8 with such other highbrow drug-related fare as Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Dazed & Confused, True Romance, and Reefer Madness.



World no. 3 equestrian Kent Farrington will lead riders into Central Park for a series of events September 18-21

Central Park
September 18-21, $32.65-$272.19

There might be continuing controversy over the future of horse and carriage rides in and around Central Park, but the battle turns to the equestrians this week as the Central Park Horse Show comes to town. The four-day event begins September 18 with the $210,000 Grand Prix, a jumping competition boasting such top riders as Jessica Springsteen (yes, Bruce and Patti’s daughter), Georgina Bloomberg (yes, the former mayor’s offspring), Charlie Jayne, Laura Kraut, McLain Ward, and Kent Farrington. The next night, the $50,000 NYC vs. the World pro-am speed challenge pits the Land Rover of North America NYC Team, captained by Bloomberg, against the Suncast Corporation World Team, led by Farrington, preceded by the $5,000 NYC Amateur Challenge. On Saturday night, the Central Park Dressage Challenge features such international Olympians and World Equestrian Games medalists as Isabell Werth, Hans Peter Minderhoud, Lars Petersen, Tina Konyot, Lisa Wilcox, Jan Ebeling, Ashley Holzer, and Steffen Peters aboard Ravel, along with a U.S. vaulting team demonstration with Akiko Yamazaki. There will also be matinees on Saturday and Sunday before the show concludes on Sunday night with the Central Park Polo Challenge.


ADVANCED STYLE (Lina Plioplyte, 2014)
City Winery
155 Varick St.
Monday, September 22, $15-$40, 8:00

Since August 2008, photographer Ari Seth Cohen has run his Advanced Style blog, focusing on the fashion trends of senior citizens in New York City. “I roam the streets of New York looking for the most stylish and creative older folks,” Cohen, who grew up in San Diego, writes on his blog. “Respect your elders and let these ladies and gents teach you a thing or two about living life to the fullest. Advanced Style offers proof from the wise and silver-haired set that personal style advances with age.” In May 2012, he released the Advanced Style book, and next up is a documentary that Cohen and Lithuanian-born director Lina Piloplyte financed via Kickstarter. On September 22, City Winery will host a celebration of the many aspects of Advanced Style, hosted by Barneys creative ambassador Simon Doonan, featuring a discussion, a slideshow of Cohen’s photographs, and an exclusive preview of the film, which follows seven fashionably eclectic New York women between the ages of sixty-two and ninety-five, with no topic off limits; the documentary opens in theaters September 26 and will be available on VOD and DVD October 7. Tickets for the City Winery event begin at $15; the $40 VIP seats earn you a gift bag complete with a DVD of the film. “The soul of Advanced Style is not bound to age, or even to style, but rather to the celebration of life,” Maira Kalman writes in the introduction to Cohen’s book. “These photos offer proof that the secret to remaining vital in our later years is to never stop being curious, never stop creating, and never stop having fun.”

TICKET GIVEAWAY: “A Celebration of Advanced Style” takes place at City Winery on September 22, and twi-ny has a pair of VIP seats to give away for free. Just send your name, daytime phone number, and all-time favorite stylish older woman to by Wednesday, September 17, at 5:00 to be eligible. All entrants must be twenty-one years of age or older; one winner will be selected at random.


Joaquin Phoenix stars in New York Film Festival Centerpiece, Paul Thomas Anderson’s adaptation of Thomas Pynchon’s INHERENT VICE

Joaquin Phoenix stars in New York Film Festival Centerpiece, Paul Thomas Anderson’s adaptation of Thomas Pynchon’s INHERENT VICE

Alice Tully Hall, 1941 Broadway at 65th St.
Walter Reade Theater, 165 West 65th St. at Amsterdam Ave.
Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center: Francesca Beale Theater, Howard Gilman Theater, Amphitheater, 144 West 65th St. between Broadway & Amsterdam Ave.
September 26 - October 12

Tickets are on sale for the 52nd edition of the New York Film Festival, a wide-ranging collection of film screenings, panel discussions, lectures, interactive presentations, video art, and more organized into nine different sections plus a preliminary event. It all gets under way September 19-29 with NYFF Opening Acts, fourteen early works by directors who have new films in the 2014 lineup, including Mike Leigh, Paul Thomas Anderson, Frederick Wiseman, Olivier Assayas, David Fincher, Albert Maysles, and Alan Resnais, taking place at the Film Society of Lincoln Center as well as the Maysles Cinema, Nitehawk Cinema, and UnionDocs. The festival itself, which runs September 26 through October 12, is divided into the following categories: Main Slate, Projections, Convergence, Revivals, Spotlight on Documentary, HBO Directors Dialogues, On Cinema, Special Events, and Joseph L. Mankiewicz: The Essential Iconoclast. Below are only some of the highlights; keep watching twi-ny as more highlights and select advance reviews are posted. You can also follow everything on the free NYFF app.

Friday, September 26
Main Slate Opening Night World Premiere: Gone Girl (David Fincher, 2014), 6:00, 9:00, 9:15

Saturday, September 27
NYFF52 Revivals: Once Upon a Time in America (Sergio Leone, 1984), 2:30

NYFF52 Convergence: A Brief History of Transmedia Worlds with Henry Jenkins, Keynote Address, 3:00

NYFF52 Convergence: Immigrant Nation (Theo Rigby, 2014), installation and interactive presentation, free, Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center, 1:00 – 7:00

Saturday, September 27, 9:00, and Wednesday, October 1, 9:00
Main Slate: Goodbye to Language (Jean-Luc Godard, 2014) in 3-D

Sunday, September 28
NYFF52 Convergence: Futurestates (ITVS, 2014), interactive presentation, 6:00

Monday, September 29
HBO Directors Dialogue: Mathieu Amalric, The Blue Room, 6:00

Tuesday, September 30, 6:00, and Wednesday, October 1, 9:00
NYFF52 Spotlight on Documentary: The Look of Silence (Joshua Oppenheimer, 2014), companion piece to The Act of Killing

Tuesday, September 30, 6:00, and Wednesday, October 8, 9:00
Main Slate: U.S. premiere of Hill of Freedom (Hong Sang-soo, 2014), Main Slate

Christopher Guest will be at the New York Film Festival for the thirtieth anniversary screening of Rob Reiner’s THIS IS SPINAL TAP

Christopher Guest will be at the New York Film Festival for the thirtieth anniversary screening of Rob Reiner’s THIS IS SPINAL TAP

Thursday, October 2, 6:00, and Friday, October 3, 9:00
Main Slate: U.S. premiere of Pasolini (Abel Ferrara, 2014)

Saturday, October 4
NYFF52 Projections: Sauerbruch Hutton Architects (Harun Farocki, 2013), 1:00

Main Slate Centerpiece World Premiere: Inherent Vice (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2014), 5:30, 5:45, 9:00, 9:15

Sunday, October 5
NYFF52 On Cinema: Paul Thomas Anderson, Inherent Vice, 12:30

HBO Directors Dialogue: Mike Leigh, Mr. Turner, 2:30

NYFF52 Spotlight on Documentary: National Gallery (Frederick Wiseman, 2014), 4:00

Tuesday, October 7
NYFF52 Retrospective – Joseph L. Mankiewicz: The Essential Iconoclast: 5 Fingers (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1952), 8:30

Wednesday, October 8
NYFF52 Special Events: 30th Anniversary Screening of This Is Spinal Tap (Rob Reiner, 1984), followed by a Q&A with Christopher Guest, 9:00

Friday, October 10
NYFF52 Revivals: Hiroshima Mon Amour (Alain Resnais, 1959), 6:00

Saturday, October 11
Main Slate Closing Night: Birdman or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance (Alejandro G. Iñárritu, 2014), 6:00, 9:15

Monday, October 13
NYFF52 Retrospective – Joseph L. Mankiewicz: The Essential Iconoclast: Cleopatra (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1963), 1:30