SNOWPIERCER (Bong Joon-ho, 2014)
MoMA Film, Museum of Modern Art
11 West 53rd St. between Fifth & Sixth Aves.
Sunday, November 30, 6:00
Series runs through January 16
Tickets: $12, in person only, may be applied to museum admission within thirty days, same-day screenings free with museum admission, available at Film and Media Desk beginning at 9:30 am
Korean director Bong Joon-ho, who had a huge international hit in 2006 with The Host and a major critical success with 2009’s Mother, makes his English-language feature debut with Snowpiercer, a nonstop postapocalyptic thrill ride that takes its place with such other memorable train films as The Great Train Robbery, From Russia with Love, The Train, and Murder on the Orient Express. It’s 2031, seventeen years after the chemical C7, which was supposed to end climate change, instead froze the earth, killing all living beings except for a group of survivors on board a train run by a perpetual motion machine. In the rear of the train, men, women, and children are treated like prisoners, beaten, tortured, dressed in rags, their only food mysterious gelatin blocks. Soldiers led by the cold-hearted Mason (Tilda Swinton) and the yellow-clad Claude (Emma Levie), whose outift brings virtually the only color to this dark, dank, deeply depressing setting, violently keep the peace as the two women heartlessly dictate orders and abscond with the children. But Curtis Everett (Chris Evans) and Edgar (Jamie Bell) hatch a plan to get past the guards and make their way to the front of the train in order to find out just what is really going on and to meet with Wilford, the wealthy entrepreneur running the engine. With the help of defiant mother Tanya (Octavia Spencer), elder statesman Gilliam (John Hurt), train engineer Namgoong Minsu (Bong regular Song Kang-ho), and Namgoong’s daughter, Yona (Go Ah-sung), Curtis attempts to lead a small revolution that is seemingly doomed to failure.
Inspired by the French graphic novel Le Transperceneige by Jean-Marc Rochette and Benjamin Legrand (who both make cameos in the film), Snowpiercer is a tense, gripping thriller that unfolds as a microcosm of contemporary society, intelligently taking on race, class, poverty, drug addiction, education, and corporate greed and power. Evans (Captain America, Push) is almost unrecognizable as Everett, a flawed hero trying to make things right, followed every step of the way by cold-blooded killer Franco the Elder (Romanian star Vlad Ivanov of Police, Adjective and 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days). The film features splendid production design by Ondrej Nekvasil; each train car offers a completely different look and feel as Curtis heads toward the front, leading to a finale that is everything the conclusion to the Matrix trilogy wanted to be. Bong (Memories of Murder), who cowrote the film with Kelly Masterson (Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead), doesn’t shy away from violence in telling this complex story – of course, it doesn’t hurt that one of the producers is Korean master Park Chan-woo (the Vengeance trilogy, Thirst), who recently made his first English-language film as well, last year’s Stoker. A fantastically claustrophobic chase film, Snowpiercer is screening November 30 at 6:00 in MoMA’s annual series “The Contenders” and will be followed by a Q&A with Swinton. The series, which consists of films the institution believes will stand the test of time, continues with such other 2014 works as Richard Linklater’s Boyhood (followed by a discussion with Linklater and costar Ethan Hawke), Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice, Mike Leigh’s Mr. Turner, and Isao Takahata’s The Tale of Princess Kaguya.
ALTERNATE ENDINGS (multiple directors, 2014)
SVA Theatre (and other locations)
333 West 23rd St between Eighth & Ninth Aves.
Monday, December 1, free, 7:00
In honor or the twenty-fifth anniversary of World AIDS Day’s Day with(out) Art on December 1, Visual AIDS is presenting a screening of the specially commissioned Alternate Endings, an omnibus of seven short films that examine AIDS in both personal and public ways. Alternate Endings consists of Rhys Ernst’s Dear Lou Sullivan, Glen Fogel’s 7 Years Later, Lyle Ashton Harris’s Selections from the Ektachrome Archive 1986-1996, Hi Tiger’s The Village, Tom Kalin’s Ashes, My Barbarian’s Counterpublicity, and Julie Tolentino’s evidence. The screening, taking place at 7:00 at the SVA Theatre in Chelsea, will be followed by a panel discussion with Kalin, Ashton Harris, and Hi Tiger’s Derek Jackson, moderated by VOCAL-NY’s Wanda Hernandez-Parks and SVA profesor and film critic Amy Taubin. On December 1, Alternate Endings will also be shown at BRIC in Brooklyn and at Hunter College’s Bertha and Karl Leubsdorf Art Gallery, as well as on December 4 at the New School, December 5 at the New Museum (followed by a Q&A with Fogel, Kalin, and My Barbarian’s Malik Gaines, Jade Gordon, and Alexandro Segade), December 6 at the Queens Museum (accompanied by a series of workshops, presentations, discussions, and performances) and the Brooklyn Museum (with Jackson and Fogel), and December 7 at the Studio Museum in Harlem (with Kalin).
Over the next few weeks, Christmas trees and menorahs will be lit all over the city, accompanied by live performances, seasonal treats, special guests, and family-friendly activities, all free. Below are only some of the many highlights as the Big Apple prepares for the holidays.
Park Slope Holiday Tree Lighting
Fifth Ave. at Third St.
Saturday, November 29, 6:30
Live music by Amy Miles, carols by Opera on Tap, crafts, puppet shows, cookies, marshmallows, hot chocolate, popcorn, children's activities, Santa and Frosty the Snowman
Fifteenth Annual Winter’s Eve at Lincoln Square
Dante Park, Broadway between 63rd & 64th Sts., Time Warner Center, David Rubenstein Atrium
Monday, December 1, 5:30 - 9:00
Emcee Billy Porter, ice sculpting, live performances by Arlo Guthrie and family, Alice Farley Dance Theater, Golem, Spuyten Duyvil, Batala NYC, the Lucky Chops Brass Band, M.A.K.U. SoundSystem, the N’Harmonics, Uptown Vocal, the Cafe Wha? House Band, the Jazzmeia Horn Quartet, Bach Vespers, Annika, Hungry March Band, Raya Brass Band, Shinbone Alley Stilt Band, Dylan Meek, Elena Ayodele Pinderhughes, the Hot Sardines, Yaz Band, Mariachi Real De Mexico, the Suzi Shelton Band, the Big Apple Circus, Chinese Lion Dancers, Kinky Boots, Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella, dance groups, WNET characters, a screening of Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, food tastings ($1-$4), Sesame Street’s Digital Playground & Walkaround Abby Cadabby
The South Street Seaport’s Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony
Fulton St. at Front St.
Tuesday, December 2, 5:45
Live music, family-friendly activities, more
Winter Village Tree Lighting
40th - 42nd Sts. between Fifth & Sixth Aves.
Tuesday, December 2, 6:00
Details to be announced
Eighty-Second Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting
Rockefeller Plaza, between West 48th and West 51st Streets and Fifth and Sixth Avenues
Wednesday, December 3, 7:00 - 9:00
Musical guests to be announced; tree will remain lit through January 7
Central Park Conservancy’s Eighteenth Annual Dana Holiday Lighting
Charles A. Dana Discovery Center inside the park at 110th St. & Malcolm X Blvd.
Thursday, December 4, 5:30 - 6:30
Flotilla of more than twenty illuminated trees on Harlem Meer, live ice carving, photos with Santa and his elves, Christmas carols, and hot cocoa and cookies
Christmas in Richmond Town: Traditional Tree Lighting
Historic Richmond Town, Staten Island
441 Clarke Ave.
Sunday, December 7, 5:00
Festivities begin at 11:00 am ($2 per person, six and under free) with shopping village, carolers, storytelling, Santa Claus, tours, Bell Choir, horse & carriage rides ($2, two and under free), free Christmas tree lighting at 5:00
Carl Schurz Park Holiday Tree Lighting
East 86th St. at East End Ave.
Sunday, December 7, 5:00
Christmas carols, Cantori choir, Orbital Brass, candlelight, candy canes, and hot chocolate
The Park Avenue Tree Lighting
Outside Brick Presbyterian Church, Park Ave. at 91st St.
Sunday, December 7, 6:30
Annual lighting of trees along Park Ave. Malls between 54th & 97th Sts., starting with tree outside Brick Presbyterian Church
Mad. Sq. Holiday 2014
Madison Square Park
23rd - 26th Sts. between Madison & Fifth Aves.
Tuesday, December 9, 3:30
Live performances by Audra Rox and cast members of Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella, horticultural workshop with a red twig dogwood planting led by Gardener Steph, Reading Rangers storytelling, Gingerbread Boulevard, seasonal treats from Hill Country Chicken, SD26, and Frittering Away, tree lighting at 5:00
The Washington Square Park Tree Lighting
Washington Square Park Arch at Fifth Ave.
Wednesday, December 10, 6:00
Live music by the Rob Susman Brass Quartet, songbooks for caroling, Santa Claus
Holiday on the Hudson
West Harlem Piers Park, West 125th & Marginal Sts.
Saturday, December 13, 5:00
Live music by the All-City High School Chorus, holiday decorations workshop, more
Zuccotti Park Holiday Lighting
Broadway & Liberty St.
Saturday, December 13, 5:30
Live music by the Manhattan Dolls and Metropolitan Klezmer, sweet treats, more
World’s Largest Menorah
Grand Army Plaza, Brooklyn
December 16-23, 6:00
Live music, hot latkes, gifts for kids
World’s Largest Hanukkah Menorah
Grand Army Plaza, Manhattan
Fifth Ave. between 58th & 59th Sts.
December 16-23, 6:00
National Museum of Mathematics
11 East 26th St. between Madison & Fifth Aves.
Monday, December 8, $14, 6:30
One of the most exciting shows on Broadway right now is The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, the London import based on the award-winning 2003 novel by Mark Haddon, about a fifteen-year-old boy who is obsessed with prime numbers. On December 8, Alex Sharp, who gives an extraordinary performance as Christopher John Francis Boone, the teen with a kind of Asperger’s syndrome who is on the hunt for a canine murderer, will be at the National Museum of Mathematics next to Madison Square Park for the intriguing special program “Broadway Intersections: The Math Behind The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time.” Sharp will be joined by MoMath founder Glen Whitney for a discussion on the role of math in the play, followed by an audience Q&A. “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time brings math to life in an extraordinary fashion, and MoMath is thrilled to offer the opportunity for people to gain a deeper understanding of Christopher’s journey to self-discovery,” Whitney said in a statement. The show, running at the Ethel Barrymore, concludes with a wild postcurtain display of mathematics by Sharp that is certain to be a focus of this supercool event.
New York City’s Jane Lee Hooker, consisting of five women (from such bands as Nashville Pussy, Bad Wizard, Helldorado, and the Wives) who blast out traditional blues in a flurry of intoxicating aggression, will be celebrating the release of its debut album, No B!, on November 30 at Mercury Lounge with the Steepwater Band. The fast and furious No B! includes such hot tracks as the old spiritual “Wade in the Water,” Johnny Winter’s “Mean Town Blues,” Ray Charles’s “I Believe to My Soul,” the rollicking “In the Valley,” and Muddy Waters’s “Champaign and Reefer” and, appropriately enough, “Mannish Boy.” Lead singer Dana Danger Athens really lets it rip, with Tracy High Top and Tina T-Bone Gorin on guitars, Hail Mary Z on bass, and Melissa Cool Whip Houston on drums. Jane Lee Hooker is no mere novelty act with an ultra-cool name; this band knows the blues down to their souls, so get ready to have your ass kicked.
St. James Theatre
246 West 44th St. between Broadway & Eighth Aves.
Tuesday - Sunday through April 26, $49 - $145
Oscar-winning writer-director Bill Condon makes a rousing Broadway debut with Side Show, a wonderful revival of the Tony-nominated 1997 musical about real-life conjoined twins Daisy and Violet Hilton. In Depression-era Texas, the daring, outgoing Daisy (Emily Padgett) and the shy, reserved Violet (Erin Davie) are the stars of a freak show run by a controlling ringmaster they call Sir (Robert Joy), who considers them his daughters while also overseeing the rest of his wild menagerie, which includes the 3 Legged Man (Brandon Bieber), the Geek (Matthew Patrick Davis), Venus di Milo (Lauren Elder), Dog Boy (Javier Ignacio), Reptile Man (Don Richard), the Half Man/ Half Woman (Kelvin Moon Loh), the Bearded Lady (Blair Ross), the Fortune Teller (Charity Angel Dawson), and the small Cossack Male (Josh Walker) and Cossack Woman (Jordanna James). When talent agent Terry Connor (Ryan Silverman) sees the twins, who are joined at the hip, he instantly visualizes them becoming stars on the vaudeville circuit. He has his partner, Buddy Foster (Matthew Hydzik), teach them song-and-dance routines, but when they’re at last ready and willing to leave the side show, the dastardly Sir stands in their way, and a thrilling tabloid-tale court battle ensues, also involving Sir’s right-hand man, Jake (David St. Louis), who serves as the twins’ protector. After the court’s decision, Buddy is soon falling for Violet, who Jake also deeply admires, while Daisy sets her sights on Terry. The romantic pentagon comes to a climax at an extravagant New Year’s Eve celebration that has the talented twins wondering if they might just be better off living separately, risking all on a potentially deadly operation.
Padgett (Rock of Ages, Legally Blonde) and Davie (Grey Gardens, The Mystery of Edwin Drood) are terrific as Daisy and Violet, respectively, beautifully displaying the characters’ emotional hopes and fears as a new world opens up to them that threatens their unique relationship. Joy (The Nerd, Hay Fever) is deliciously dastardly as Sir, while Silverman (Passion) and Hydzik (West Side Story) make a fine duo, the former full of smooth-talking charm, the latter sweet melancholy. St. Louis (Rent, Jesus Christ Superstar) brings down the house early on with a powerful rendition of “The Devil You Know” that shakes the rafters. Bill Russell’s lyrics and Henry Krieger’s (Dreamgirls, The Tap Dance Kid) music flow nearly imperceptibly from the exemplary book, which was written by Russell with new material by Condon, wisely never overdoing the idea that’s it’s okay to be different. The score, which contains additions and subtractions from the original production, features such moving numbers as “Cut Them Apart / I Will Never Leave You,” “Stuck with You / Leave Me Alone,” and the gorgeous “Who Will Love Me as I Am?” while such words as “connected,” “ties,” “bind,” “join,” “glue,” etc., become sly nods to the conjoined-twins aspect of the tale. David Rockwell’s eye-catching set has a sweet Gothic touch, while Paul Tazewell’s costumes, from the Hilton sisters’ gowns to the freaks’ general appearance, are simply fab. Condon and choreographer Anthony Van Laast do a marvelous job of keeping the twins together through most of the show, except for one breathtaking, memorable moment. If you want to find out more about the Hilton sisters after seeing the show, seek out Leslie Zemeckis’s 2012 documentary, Bound by Flesh, which includes plenty of archival photographs and film footage.