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


Macy’s Fourth of July Fireworks return to the East Side this year (photo by twi-ny/mdr)

America turns 239 this year, and you can celebrate Independence Day in New York City with live music, storytelling, baseball, comedy, dancing, and plenty of fireworks all over town. Below are only some of the highlights.

Festival of Tall Ships: Voyage of L’Hermione, New York Harbor, free, 9:00 am - 3:00 pm

Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest, Sweikert Alley, 1310 Surf Ave. at Stillwell Ave., 212-627-5766, free, 10:00 am

Stories at the Statue of Hans Christian Andersen, with Therese Plair telling “The Pumpkin Rider,” Dovie Thomasen telling “Iktomi Saves the People,” and Laura Simms telling “The Empress of Fairies,” Central Park, near Seventy-Fourth St. & Fifth Ave., free, 11:00 am

Warm Up, with Nicky Siano, Virgo Four, Cut Copy DJs, Galcher Lustwerk b2b DJ Richard, and Bobbito Garcia a.k.a. Kool Bob Love, MoMA PS1 courtyard, $18-$20, 3:00 – 9:00

Country Music Night: Brooklyn Cyclones vs. Williamsport Crosscutters, MCU Park, with postgame fireworks display, $10-$17, 6:00

Freedom Fest, with open bar, BBQ buffet, VIP viewing of fireworks, and dance party with live DJs, Pier 15, 78 South St., $109-$179, 6:30

Midsummer Night Swing: Dr. K’s Motown Revue, Lincoln Center, $17-$25, 7:30 & 9:00

Festival of Independence: Prince Rama and Salt Cathedral, Fulton Stall Market, 207A Front St., South Street Seaport, free, 8:00

Rob Stapleton’s July 4th Weekend Takeover, Carolines on Broadway, 1626 Broadway, $35-$105.75, 8:00 & 11:00

Hot Summer Nights: The George Gee Swing Orchestra, featuring vocalists Hilary Gardner and John Dokes, with special guest Lindy Hoppers, Lighthouse Bandshell, Kingsborough Community College, 8:00

Macy’s Fourth of July Fireworks: Brave, East River, free, 9:20



Tadanobu Asano and Nathalia Acevedo star as lovers on the run in Khavn’s visually stunning RUINED HEART

Film Society of Lincoln Center, Walter Reade Theater
165 West 65th St. between Eighth Ave. & Broadway
Thursday, July 2, 10:15
Festival runs June 26 - July 8

If you’re in the mood for something very different at the fourteenth annual New York Asian Film Festival, look no further than Khavn de la Cruz’s Ruined Heart: Another Love Story Between a Criminal & a Whore. Expanding his fifteen-minute 2012 short, Khavn has created a visually arresting film that weaves its way through the gritty streets of an almost postapocalyptic Manila slum bursting with flashes of red, yellow, blue, and green. Using virtually no dialogue — the only words are from occasional poetry and several songs, and the very few times that characters speak, no translation is offered — Khavn tells the story of a Criminal (Japanese star Tadanobu Asano) on the run with a Whore (Mexican actress Nathalia Acevedo), attempting to get away from the Godfather (Filipino poet and playwright Vim Nadera). The multinational cast also includes the Friend (Andrew Puertollano) and the Lover (Russian-born actress Elena Kazan, who grew up in Berlin and now lives in Mumbai), but the real stars are Khavn’s mesmerizing score, Frances Grace Mortel’s art direction, Frances Soeder’s production design, Carlo Francisco Manatad’s frantic editing, and Christopher Doyle’s dizzying cinematography, which at times has Asano doing the camerawork himself as he runs through small passageways and back alleys.

The film feels like an intriguing blend of Wong Kar-wai, Kenneth Anger, Derek Jarman, Takashi Miike, and David Lynch, a punk opera tone poem with images that range from the beautiful to the extremely disturbing, a treat for the eyes and ears while confounding the mind, from the opening credits until the screen goes black. The soundtrack features songs by Stereo Total, Bing Austria & the Flippin’ Soul Stompers, the Radioactive Sago Project, and Scott Matthew, but it’s Khavn’s hauntingly gorgeous theme that will stay with you. (Khavn, an award-winning Filipino digital filmmaker and author, also appears in the seventy-minute flick as the Pianist.) Ruined Heart is screening at the Walter Reade Theater on July 2 at 10:15; the New York Asian Film Festival continues at Lincoln Center through July 8 with more than three dozen new and old films from China, Korea, Japan, Cambodia, and other Southeast Asian countries, including Li Ruijin’s River Road, Kiki Sugino’s Taksu, Hong Seok-jae’s Socialphobia, Yim Soon-Rye’s The Whistleblower, and Kinji Fukasaku’s Cops vs. Thugs.



Father (Chishu Ryu) and daughter (Setsuko Hara) contemplate their future in Yasujirō Ozu masterpiece

LATE SPRING (BANSHUN) (Yasujirō Ozu, 1949)
IFC Center
323 Sixth Ave. at West Third St.
July 3-5, 11:00 am
Series runs weekends through September 27

Yasujirō Ozu’s Late Spring marked a late spring of sorts in the Japanese auteur’s career as he moved into a new, post-WWII phase of his long exploration of Japanese family life and the middle class. Based on Kazuo Hirotsu’s novel Father and Daughter, the black-and-white film, written by Ozu with longtime collaborator Kogo Noda, tells the story of twenty-seven-year-old Noriko (Setsuko Hara), who lives at home with her widower father, Shukichi Somiya (Chishu Ryu), a university professor who has carved out a very simple existence for himself. Her aunt, Masa (Haruko Sugimura), thinks Noriko should get married, but she prefers caring for her father, who she believes would be lost without her. But when Somiya starts dropping hints that he might remarry, like his friend and colleague Jo Onodera (Masao Mishima) did — a deed that Noriko finds unbecoming and “filthy” — Noriko has to take another look at her future. Late Spring is a masterpiece of simplicity and economy while also being a complex, multilayered tale whose every moment offers unlimited rewards. From the placement and minimal movement of the camera to the design of the set to the carefully choreographed acting, Ozu infuses the work with meaning, examining not only the on-screen relationship between father and daughter but the intimate relationship between the film and the viewer. Ozu, who never married, has a firm grasp on the state of the Japanese family as some of the characters try to hold on to old-fashioned culture and tradition while recovering from the war’s devastation and facing the modernism that is taking over.


LATE SPRING is part of summer-long festival at the IFC Center celebrating the work of director Yasujirō Ozu

Hara, who also starred as a character named Noriko in Ozu’s Early Summer and Tokyo Story, is magnificent as a young woman averse to change, forced to reconsider her supposed happy existence. And Ryu, who appeared in more than fifty Ozu films, is once again a model of restraint as the father, who only wants what is best for his daughter. Working within the censorship code of the Allied occupation and playing with narrative cinematic conventions of time and space, Ozu, who died on his birthday in 1963 at the age of sixty, examines such dichotomies as marriage and divorce, the town and the city, parents and children, the changing roles of men and women in Japanese society, and the old and the young as postwar capitalism enters the picture, themes that are evident through much of his oeuvre. In his 1977 book Ozu: His Life and Films, historian, director, and writer Donald Richie wrote, “For him the givens of his pictures were indeed so everyday that, once decided upon, he neither considered nor questioned their effect. This was shown by his surprise that anyone would want to ask questions about his material and his methods, and by his indifference, even obliviousness, to the many similarities among his pictures. Not in the slightest doctrinaire, he early found a way to show what he wanted and saw no reason to change.” A masterpiece from start to finish, Late Spring is screening in a 35mm print at the IFC Center July 3-5; the series continues through September 27 with such other Ozu works as What Did the Lady Forget?, Brothers and Sisters of the Toda Family, Record of a Tenement Gentleman, and Tokyo Twilight.



Televised live on NBC-TV beginning at 8:00 pm
Broadcast live on WINS 1010
Saturday, July 4, free, 9:20 pm (approx.)

Macy’s July Fourth extravaganza will honor the U.S. military this year with a fireworks show titled “Brave.” The thirty-ninth annual event consists of four barges between Twenty-Third and Thirty-Seventh Sts. on the East River, along with a fifth barge downtown by the South Street Seaport, setting off fifty thousand shells in twenty-two colors. The show, broadcast live on NBC and WINS 1010, will include live performances by Dierks Bentley, Kelly Clarkson, Flo Rida, Brad Paisley, Ed Sheeran, and Meghan Trainor, with Willie Geist and Tamron Hall sharing hosting duties. The twenty-five-minute fireworks explosion will combine patriotic favorites with original songs written for the Independence Day display; the soundtrack features Rodney Atkins, Cece Winans, the United States Air Force Band, and the debut of Gloria Estefan’s “America” with Brooklyn’s Park Place Community Middle School Choir. Among the best viewing points are along the elevated portions of the FDR Drive, with access at Houston, Twenty-Third, Thirty-Fourth, and Forty-Second Sts. as well as Broad St. Ground Level, Old Slip Upper Level, and Pearl & Frankfort, but you’ll need to get to some of those spots early because they fill up quickly and then will close to further visitors.



Lafayette’s newly re-created “L’Hermione” will travel up the East Coast and lead the Parade of Ships on July 4

Pier 16, South Street Seaport
July 1-4, free (public tours available July 2-3, parade July 4)

The annual Parade of Tall Ships held in New York Harbor in conjunction with the July 4 festivities will have a special guest this year, as more than one hundred seaworthy vessels will be joined by an exact replica of L’Hermione, the eighteenth-century ship, commanded by Louis-René de Latouche, that brought Marie Joseph Paul Yves Roche Gilbert du Motier, better known as Marquis de Lafayette, the “Boy General,” to America in 1780 to help fight in the Revolutionary War. The blue, black, and gold ship is 117 feet tall and 210 feet long and features 3 masts, 19 sails, and 34 cannons. It’s re-creating its famous journey, making its way across the Atlantic and then north from Yorktown, Mount Vernon, Annapolis, and Philadelphia to Manhattan, Newport, Boston, and Nova Scotia. It will be on view at the South Street Seaport July 1-4, hosted by the South Street Seaport Museum, and will be celebrated with a Lower Manhattan Historical Society foot parade and flag raising on July 3, going from the Seaport to Bowling Green, followed on July 4 by the People’s Parade of Ships, sailing from the Verrazano Bridge to the Statue of Liberty and the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum before berthing at Governors Island and then continuing back to the Seaport. L’Hermione has been painstakingly reconstructed over twenty years by the Friends of the Hermione-Lafayette in America, which boasts honorary chairman Henry Kissinger and whose mission statement is “to evoke the spirit of ‘why not?’ and demonstrate that given determination, anything is achievable. Through this, to create a lasting educational legacy which will be accessible to generations of young Americans to come. To symbolize and rekindle through the Hermione the intimate ties between France and the United States, and the spirit of liberty that sustains them. . . . To bring to life the memory of Marquis de Lafayette, who embodied this spirit.”



Kanjani Eight superstar Subaru Shibutani stars as an amnesiac gangster-singer in Yamashita Nobuhiro’s LA LA LA AT ROCK BOTTOM

LA LA LA AT ROCK BOTTOM (MISONO UNIVERSE) (Nobuhiro Yamashita, 2015)
Film Society of Lincoln Center, Walter Reade Theater
165 West 65th St. between Eighth Ave. & Broadway
Thursday, July 2, 8:00
Festival runs June 26 - July 8

Nobuhiro Yamashita (Linda Linda Linda, Tamako in Moratorium) returns to the New York Asian Film Festival with La La La at Rock Bottom, a charmingly goofy story about a low-level amnesiac gangster (Kanjani Eight superstar Subaru Shibutani) who only comes alive when he is behind a microphone, singing. Shortly after getting out of prison, the unidentified man is severely beaten and loses his memory. Wandering through the streets, he hears live music, pushes aside the lead singer, takes the mic, and starts singing until he collapses. He is taken in by the group’s manager, Kasumi (Fumi Nikaidô), who names him “Pooch” after her recently deceased beloved dog. Pooch is like a lost puppy himself, with music the only thing that soothes this savage beast. But as he slowly begins remembering things from his past, he has to decide whether he will make things right or continue to run from his responsibilities. Shibutani gives a low-key performance as Pooch, a quiet man who is almost zombielike in his approach to life, an excellent complement for fashion model and actress Nikaidô’s (Himizu, Lesson of the Evil) eager, hopeful Kasumi. “Looks like the future won’t be as peaceful as I imagined,” one of the band members sings at a karaoke club, and that holds true as more of Pooch’s past comes to light, but Kasumi is not about to let that ruin her plans. Despite some melodramatic turns and plenty of silly J-pop, there’s a warm gentleness to the film, best exemplified in a sweet scene in which Pooch and Kasumi have a battle to see who can spit watermelon seeds farther. It might not be quite as offbeat and unusual as Yamashita wants it to be, but it’s still a fun and inviting little film.

La La La at Rock Bottom is screening at the Walter Reade Theater on July 2 at 8:00 at the fourteenth annual New York Asian Film Festival, which continues at Lincoln Center through July 8 with more than three dozen new and old films from China, Korea, Japan, the Philippines, Cambodia, and other Southeast Asian countries, including Ryuichi Hiroki’s Kabukicho Love Hotel, Kazuhiko Hasegawa’s The Man Who Stole the Sun, Dodo Dayao’s Violator, Boo Ji-young’s Cart, Im Kwon-taek’s Wolves, Pigs and Men, and Teruo Ishii’s Abashiri Prison.


(photo by Joan Marcus)

A group of close-knit twentysomethings seek love and happiness in SIGNIFICANT OTHER (photo by Joan Marcus)

Laura Pels Theatre
Harold and Miriam Steinberg Center for Theatre
111 West 46th St. between Sixth & Seventh Aves.
Tuesday - Sunday through August 16, $79

Rising playwright Joshua Harmon has followed up his terrific Roundabout debut, Bad Jews, with Significant Other, an utterly engaging and delightfully bittersweet look at four close friends seeking love in modern-day New York. Inspired by Wendy Wasserstein’s Isn’t It Romantic, Significant Other is like an alternate version of Sex and the City, as twenty-seven-year-old college friends Kiki (Sas Goldberg), Vanessa (Carra Patterson), Laura (Lindsay Mendez), and Jordan (Gideon Glick) seek Mr. Right, one at a time. Kiki is the kooky one who is marrying the boring Conrad (John Behlmann) in Kentucky, Vanessa is the sexy, more adventurous viper who says that “death cannot come soon enough” when Kiki insists on setting her up with one of Conrad’s buddies at the wedding, Laura is a teacher who Kiki calls a school marm, and Jordan is a dreamer who obsesses over everything while trying to find true love. “I know life is supposed to be this great mystery, but I actually think it’s pretty simple,” Jordan says. “Find someone to go through it with. That’s it. That’s the, whatever, the secret.” “You make it sound so easy,” Laura responds, to which Jordan adds, “No, that’s the hardest part. Walking around knowing what the point is, but not being able to live it, and not knowing how to get it, or if I ever even will. . . .” As Kiki, Vanessa, and Laura find the one who might or might not be their respective soul mates (all played by either Behlmann or Luke Smith), Jordan falls hard for hot hunk Will (Behlmann), especially when he sees him in a bathing suit at the company pool party, an incident retold in a hysterically horny soliloquy describing nearly every inch of the Adonis’s bod. But Jordan can’t hide or control his feelings, a tendency that often leaves him hanging out with his grandmother (Barbara Barrie), who enjoys looking at old family photos and considering ways to kill herself. The possibilities of love and death keep cropping up as Jordan pines for his own significant other.

Laura (Lindsay Mendez) and Jordan (Gideon Glick) rely on each other in Joshua Harmon’s bittersweet play (photo by Joan Marcus)

Laura (Lindsay Mendez) and Jordan (Gideon Glick) rely on each other in Joshua Harmon’s bittersweet play (photo by Joan Marcus)

Glick (Spring Awakening, The Few) fully embraces Jordan, an endearing character who represents all of our fears and worries about putting ourselves out there for love, about taking a chance, ready to face the consequences, whatever they may be. His tenderhearted vulnerability is something we can all relate to, particularly when he composes an embarrassingly confessional e-mail to Will that his friends warn him not to send, while his finger hovers over his laptop, prepared to expose himself even though he knows better. (It reminded me of a time in high school when I kept dialing the first six digits of a high school classmate’s telephone number, wanting to ask her out on a date but terrified of hitting that final number and actually having to take that plunge.) Goldberg (Stunning, The Best of Everything), Mendez (Dogfight, Wicked), and Patterson (Little Children Dream of God, Luck of the Irish) are a hoot as Jordan’s besties, giving him advice and sharing personal details of their own lives while also representing parts of him that he keeps bottled up. Mark Wendland’s vertical set features different spaces on multiple levels, with Japhy Weideman’s inventive lighting cleverly announcing scene changes. Director Trip Cullman’s (Punk Rock, Murder Ballad) seamless staging maintains a sharp focus on the characters’ psyches while involving the audience with such playful touches as occasionally having blinking colored lights emanate throughout the audience, flashing on heads, hands, and clothing. As he showed in Bad Jews, Harmon has a sharp ear for dialogue and an infectious joy in his storytelling that pulls you in from the very start. “Do you think I’m dead inside?” Vanessa asks Jordan at one point. Significant Other, the second of three works by Harmon commissioned by Roundabout, is bursting with the joy of life, even as it contemplates some hard realities about loneliness.