STRAY DOG (Debra Granik, 2014)
Film Society of Lincoln Center, Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center
144 West 65th St. between Amsterdam & Columbus Aves.
Opens Friday, July 3
Shortly after meeting Ron “Stray Dog” Hall at the Biker Church in Branson, Missouri, writer-director Debra Granik (Down to the Bone) cast the Vietnam vet as Thump Milton in her second feature, the Oscar-nominated Winter’s Bone. Upon learning more about him, she soon decided that he would be a great subject for a documentary, so she took to the road, following him across the country in the engaging and revealing Stray Dog. Nearly always dressed in black, including his treasured leather jacket covered in medals and patches — when he puts it in a suitcase for a trip, it’s a ritual like he’s folding the American flag — Hall is a wonderfully grizzled old man with a fluffy white beard. At home, he is learning Spanish online so he can communicate better with his new wife, Alicia, a Mexican immigrant, and her two sons (who still live across the border). He visits with his teenage granddaughter, who is making some questionable decisions about her future. In Missouri, he owns and operates the At Ease RV Park, where he gives breaks to fellow vets who can’t always afford to pay the rent. And when he goes on the road, participating in the Run for the Wall, joining up with thousands of other bikers heading for the annual service at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC, he stops along the way at other ceremonies honoring soldiers who have gone missing, are POWs, or were killed in action in Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, and other wars.
Hall is a gregarious, gentle man who people instantly flock to and gather around — a scene in which two of his cats sit on each of his knees is absolutely heartwarming — but he is also haunted by some of the things he did in Vietnam, suffering from nightmares that sometimes have him screaming out loud while sleeping in bed. And he wears one of his mottoes right on his arm: “Never Forgive Never Forget.” At one point he sits comfortably on a couch and says, “Just kind of being free, don’t hurt nobody, do what you want to do — a nice thing, ain’t it? You know, I’d rather live as a free man for a year than a slave for twenty.” Granik simply follows Hall as he experiences life with his surprisingly refreshing point of view; no one ever turns to the camera to make any confessions, and no talking heads are brought on board to evaluate what we’re seeing. Granik just lets this beautiful piece of Americana unfold at its own pace while also touching on such hot-button topics as immigration reform, gun control, the economic crisis, and PTSD, making no judgments as we follow the captivating exploits of a man who is part Buddha, part Santa, and all patriot. Stray Dog returns to Lincoln Center, where it was shown at the 2014 New York Film Festival, for a theatrical run beginning July 3 at the Francesca Beale Theater, with Granik participating in Q&As following the 6:45 screening on Friday and the 4:30 show on Sunday.
4KNOTS MUSIC FESTIVAL
Pier 84, Hudson River Park
West 44th St. at Twelfth Ave.
Saturday, July 11, general admission $25 (buy 3 GA tickets, get one free), VIP $50, 12 noon - 10:00
For the first time in its five-year history, the Village Voice 4Knots Music Festival, which grew out of the beloved Siren Festival in Coney Island, is charging admission, and the music will be held on one stage instead of two. The event, which is moving to Pier 84 in Hudson River Park, is reaching into its past, as two Siren veterans will be taking part in 4Knots this year, Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks (2008) and Screaming Females (2010). General admission tickets are $25, but for a limited time you can get one free with every three you buy, which essentially reduces the cost of each ticket to $18.75. VIP tickets ($50) give you access to the Hornblower Cruise Ship on the dock. (Proceeds benefit the Friends of Hudson River Park.) There will also be a food court on the pier, with such booths and trucks as Dos Toros, Papaya King, Crafty ’Cue BBQ, Harlem Public, Luzzo’s Pizza, and Ti Amo Gelato. The final lineup and set times have been announced and are as follows:
Surfbort — 12:00
Heaven — 12:40
Heaters — 1:25
Meatbodies — 2:05
Happyness — 2:45
Screaming Females — 3:45
Mikal Cronin — 4:45
Twin Peaks — 5:45
Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks — 6:45
Super Furry Animals — 8:30
Who: The Unbearables, Great Weather for Media, InDigest, Seven Stories Press, Three Rooms Press
What: The Monthly @ Cornelia Street Cafe, hosted by Peter Carlaftes & Kat Georges
Where: Cornelia Street Cafe, 29 Cornelia St. between Bleecker & West Fouth Sts.
When: Friday, July 3, $8 (includes a free drink), 6:00
Why: “It’s a strange time in the world of publishing,” writes Three Rooms Press cofounder Kat Georges on her company’s website. “The giant publishers continue to merge. Independent bookstores continue the struggle to keep their doors open. New technology has made it easy for authors to publish their own books. Yet, somehow, independent publishers are thriving. . . . If one thing unites the small presses, it is their dedication to their unique vision.” You can find out more about that unique vision on July 3, when five small presses come together at the Cornelia Street Cafe to discuss their publishing philosophy and present some of their authors to read from their work. Thomas Jefferson would be proud.
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
RUINED HEART: ANOTHER LOVE STORY BETWEEN A CRIMINAL AND A WHORE (Khavn, 2014)
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.
LATE SPRING (BANSHUN) (Yasujirō Ozu, 1949)
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.
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.