September 5-7, free, 8:00
The Public Theater’s high-profile outdoor summer season might have come to a close when King Lear starring John Lithgow and Annette Bening ended its run on August 17 (following on the heels of Hamish Linklater and Lily Rabe in Much Ado About Nothing), but there’s more free Shakespeare to be had this weekend when the Public Works community initiative program brings The Winter’s Tale to the Delacorte. Last year, the project was initiated with a musical version of The Tempest, directed by Lear deBessonet, choreographed by Chase Brock, and with music and lyrics by Todd Almond; that same trio is back with the Bard’s mysterious romance, featuring a wide-ranging cast that combines professional actors with members of community organizations from all five boroughs. “We believe that theater has a specific role to play; it always has,” Public Theater artistic director Oskar Eustis says in the above promotional video. “It’s a democratizing impulse, it’s an empowering impulse, it’s a participatory impulse, and what we’re trying to do is spread the glory of that so that everybody in the city has the chance to have that experience.” The musical, which will have some two hundred people onstage in total, stars Almond (Girlfriend, Melancholy Play) as Antigonus, Christopher Fitzgerald (Wicked, Young Frankenstein) as Autolycus, Isaiah Johnson (Peter and the Starcatcher, The Merchant of Venice) as Leontes, Lindsay Mendez (Wicked, Dogfight) as Hermione, and David Turner (Arcadia, Sunday in the Park with George) as the Clown, along with men, women, and children from the Children’s Aid Society, the DreamYard Project, the Fortune Society, the Brownsville Recreation Center, and Domestic Workers United. In addition, there will be group cameos by Sesame Street, the New York Theatre Ballet, DanceBrazil, Rosie’s Theater Kids, the Shinbone Alley Stilt Band, the Staten Island Lions, and AATMA Performing Arts. The show runs September 5-7, and free tickets are available the same day in Central Park and through the Public’s online virtual ticketing lottery or by advance donation of $75.
At the beginning of Eric Merola’s Second Opinion: Laetrile at Sloan-Kettering, a 1970s news reporter says, “Dr. Robert Good, president of the Sloan Kettering Institute, one of the world’s biggest and richest cancer research centers, said Laetrile does not prevent cancer, nor cure cancer, nor stop cancer from spreading.” For the next seventy-five minutes, Ralph W. Moss, PhD, the public affairs science writer for the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center from 1974 to 1977, talks about what lay behind that statement and the furor that followed. He tells the captivating story of what went on behind the scenes as Laetrile, a form of amygdalin used in tumor treatment, was coveted by cancer patients but demonized by the medical establishment. The controversy over the drug, which was eventually banned in America, forced patients to go to Mexico in search of the palliative care medicine while the FDA, the National Cancer Institute, and several high-profile MSK doctors considered it to be quackery. MSK’s own top researcher, Dr. Kanematsu Sugiura, had exciting success treating mice with the drug, hopeful that the positive effects would be proven in humans as well. But when Dr. Good, MSK vice presidents Dr. Lloyd J. Old and Dr. Chester Stock, and MSKCC president Dr. Lewis Thomas decided that Laetrile was not the future of cancer treatment, despite what some of them had previously stated in public, Moss was confused and distressed. Others were as well; the documentary reveals that the political dimension of the debate eventually brought even the ultra-right-wing John Birch Society into the fray. Moss eventually became a whistleblower, writing numerous books on the subject, including The Cancer Industry, Cancer Therapy: The Independent Consumer’s Guide to Non-Toxic Treatment & Prevention, and the brand-new Doctored Results: The Suppression of Laetrile at Sloan-Kettering Institute for Cancer Research, which spurred the documentary.
Writer, director, producer, and coeditor Merola (Burzynski) lets Moss share his tale while sitting in a chair in the middle of a room at the Aldrich House in Providence, an odd if somewhat comforting choice, supplemented by archival footage and brief comments from Moss’s wife, Martha, son, Ben, and daughter, Melissa, in addition to Dr. Alex Pruchnicki, the only medical professional to come out in support of Moss without being anonymous. Merola also often cuts between two cameras, one a disorienting shot that shows the subject from the side, as if he had to try something different since the film is mostly talking heads. It’s quite an amazing story, and one that continues today, as labs around the world test and question the effectiveness of Laetrile. But watching Second Opinion, it’s hard not to wonder just what might have happened had MSKCC allowed Dr. Sugiura’s research to go on and the government given the drug more of a chance. The film is playing at Cinema Village, with Merola and Dr. Moss participating in Q&As following several screenings over the weekend, concluding with the 3:10 showing on August 31.
French Institute Alliance Française and other locations
Florence Gould Hall, 55 East 59th St. between Madison & Park Aves.
FIAF Gallery, 22 East 60th St. between Madison & Park Aves.
September 8 - October 20, free - $35
One of the best multidisciplinary arts festivals every year, FIAF’s Crossing the Line is back for its eighth season, featuring another exciting lineup of dance, theater, music, installation, exhibitions, and hard-to-describe events. Cocurators Lili Chopra, Simon Dove, and Gideon Lester explain it thusly: “This year’s edition of Crossing the Line brings together fifteen extraordinary international artists and companies, each of them offering unique perspectives on the world we all share. We invite New Yorkers to explore their meticulous and deeply considered work, both the familiar and the unknown, and find inspiration, provocation, and pure pleasure.” Hosted by the French Institute Alliance Française and taking place there as well as several other locations, CTL offers numerous opportunities to “find inspiration, provocation, and pure pleasure.” Palais Galliera director Olivier Saillard gets seven former supermodels to open up in Models Never Talk, a world premiere at Milk Studios. Trajal Harrell continues his Twenty Looks or Paris Is Burning at the Judson Church with a week of special performances at the Kitchen. Justin Vivian Bond is joined by special guest Miguel Gutierrez for the one-night-only Love Is Crazy, consisting of songs and stories about love and romance.
Patti Smith, her daughter, Jesse, and Soundwalk Collective examine the death of Nico in unique ways in Killer Road at FIAF. Swiss choreographer Gilles Jobin and German visual artist Julius von Bismarck use motion-sensor technology and lighting to delve into physics in Quantum at BAM Fisher. Jessica Mitrani and Pedro Almodóvar regular Rossy de Palma pay tribute to Nellie Bly in Traveling Lady at FIAF. The audience is encouraged to participate in Aaron Landsman’s free Republic of New York: Perfect City Discussions at Abrons Arts Center. Fernando Rubio’s Everything by My Side is a fifteen-minute rotating performance on seven beds in Hudson River Park. The works of French choreographer Xavier Le Roy will be re-created at MoMA PS1. Prune Nourry’s “Terracotta Daughters” exhibition at 104 Washington St. challenges gender roles in China and the world. Julie Béna’s site-specific “T&T Consortium: You’re Already Elsewhere” at the FIAF Gallery puts visitors into a fantastical setting. The star of the festival is Japanese electronic artist Ryoji Ikeda, whose Park Avenue Armory installation “The Transfinite” dazzled New York back in 2011; the mathematical mastermind will present the immersive, multimedia Superposition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, a gallery exhibition at Salon 94, and “Test Pattern [Times Square],” which can be seen on nearly four dozen screens in Times Square as part of the “Midnight Moment” program each night in October from 11:57 pm to midnight. CTL is also one of the most affordable festivals, with nothing costing more than $35, so you have no excuse not to check out at least a few of these ultracool events.
46th St. between Sixth & Madison Aves.
Saturday, August 30, and Sunday, August 31, free, 11:00 am - 4:00 pm
One of the best street festivals of the year is celebrating its thirtieth anniversary on Sunday with another afternoon of great food, music, dance, and more. Brazilian Day, which is being rebranded as BR Day New York, is a colorful celebration of the culture of the South American nation and of the many Brazilian immigrants who now live in the tristate area, believed to number more than 300,000. But first comes Saturday’s annual Lavagem da Rua 46, the ritual Cleansing of 46th St., a parade (don’t miss the Bonecos Gigantes de Olinda) from Times Square to Madison Ave., followed by a street fair, as part of Brazil Week NYC, with live performances by Alavontê, Lucy Alves, Chambinho do Acordeon, Del Feliz, Afoxé Filhas de Gandhy, Eu Sou do Sul, O Hierofante Cia de Teatro, Batala Band, França, Márcio Mendes, and Manhattan Samba, hosted by Monika Oliveira and George Roberts. The parade goes from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm, followed by the fair from 1:00 to 4:00. Sunday’s festivities in Little Brazil will include two stages of live entertainment, with music from Daniel, Carlinhos Brown, Ivete Sangalo, Saulo Fernandes, Tiago Abravanel, and others, hosted by hunky actor Cauã Reymond, as well as traditional Brazilian cuisine (keep a look-out for whole hog, feijoada, fresh sugarcane juice, and caipirinha), arts and crafts, information about traveling to Brazil, capoeira demonstrations, and more, with some 1.5 million people expected to attend what is always a blast of a party, with little pockets of music and dance liable to break out anywhere at any moment. In addition, the Brazil Expo continues at the HSA Gallery (4 West 43rd St.) through August 29, exhibitions and performances are taking place through August 30 at the New York State Office Building (163 West 125th St.), and the Brazil Week Pagode do Massa after-party will rock out at B. B. King’s on Sunday night with Grupo Samba Mais, Trio Open Bar, and DJ Bruno Goiano. “We are going to show the world the cheerfulness of the Brazilian people,” Daniel said at a press conference announcing the events and this year’s theme, “The Greenyellow Mood.” Just don’t mention the recently completed World Cup if you want that cheerful mood to continue.
THE CONFORMIST (Bernardo Bertolucci, 1970)
209 West Houston St.
August 29 - September 4
Based on the novel by Alberto Moravia, Bernardo Bertolucci’s gorgeous masterpiece, The Conformist, is a political thriller about paranoia, pedophilia, and trying to find one’s place in a changing world, and you can now experience it in all its glory in a new digital restoration at Film Forum. Jean-Louis Trintignant (And God Created Woman, Z, My Night at Maud’s) stars as Marcello Clerici, a troubled man who suffered childhood traumas and is now attempting to join the fascist secret police. To prove his dedication to the movement, he is ordered to assassinate one of his former professors, the radical Luca Quadri (Enzo Tarascio), who is living in France. He falls for Quadri’s much younger wife, Anna (Dominique Sanda), who takes an intriguing liking to Clerici’s wife, Giulia (Stefania Sandrelli), while Manganiello (Gastone Moschin) keeps a close watch on him, making sure he will carry out his assignment. The Conformist, made just after The Spider’s Stragagem and followed by Last Tango in Paris, captures one man’s desperate need to belong, to become a part of Mussolini’s fascist society and feel normal at the expense of his real inner feelings and beliefs. An atheist, he goes to church to confess because Giulia demands it. A bureaucrat, he is not a cold-blooded killer, but he will murder a part of his past in order to be accepted by the fascists (as well as Bertolucci’s own past, as he makes a sly reference to his former mentor, Jean-Luc Godard, by using the French auteur’s phone number and address for Quadri’s). Production designer Ferdinando Scarfiotti and cinematographer Vittorio Storaro bathe the film in lush Art Deco colors as Bertolucci moves the story, told in flashbacks, through a series of set pieces that include an erotic dance by Anna and Giulia, a Kafkaesque visit to a government ministry, and a stunning use of black and white and light and shadow as Marcello and Giulia discuss their impending marriage. The Conformist is a multilayered psychological examination of a complex figure living in complex times, as much about the 1930s as the 1970s, as the youth of the Western world sought personal, political, and sexual freedom.