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



The glory, passion, and mystery of La Sagrada Familia is explored in documentary

Film Society of Lincoln Center, Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center
Francesca Beale Theater
144 West 65th St. between Eighth Ave. & Broadway
December 19 – January 1

Barcelona’s La Sagrada Familia is perhaps the most spectacular long-running architectural work-in-progress in the world, and arguably the most beautiful and inspiring. Construction began on the cathedral, which sits in the center of the cosmopolitan city, in March 1882, under diocesan architect Francisco del Paula del Villar, but a young man named Antoni Gaudí took over at the end of 1883 and spent the next forty-three years designing and building the expiatory church, incorporating a unique mix of styles as well as a whole new architectural philosophy. Swiss filmmaker Stefan Haupt (Elisabeth Kübler-Ross: Facing Death, The Circle) takes viewers behind the scenes of this ongoing project in the dry but elegant documentary Sagrada: The Mystery of Creation. Haupt delves into the history of the grand building and looks into its future as he speaks with chief architect Jordi Bonet, sculptors Etsuro Sotoo and Josep Subirachs, stained-glass artist Joan Vila-Grau, priest Lluís Bonet, religious studies professor Raimon Panikkar, and others about the house of worship, most of them singing the praises of the proud Catalan Gaudí, who also built such dazzling structures in his home region as Casa Batlló, Park Güell, and La Pedrera. “We owe it to him to finish this temple and show the world his genius,” foreman Jaume Torreguitart says. The film features extended sections in which cinematographer Patrick Lindenmaier lovingly shoots the inside and outside of the basilica, lingering over the intricate beauty of the myriad details, from the Nativity and Passion Facades to the spires, nave, apse, transept vaults, and Gaudí’s own crypt. La Sagrada occasionally feels like a clever way to raise money to continue work on the project, as it was made with the full support of the Sagrada Família Foundation, which needs funds to finally finish the ornate structure, and the narration (spoken by Hanspeter Müller-Drossaart) lacks the poetry of the visuals. But even as beautiful as the visuals are, it’s still difficult to capture, in words and pictures, the captivating essence of La Sagrada Familia, which overwhelmed me when I visited it a few years ago. The Film Society of Lincoln Center is screening Sagrada: The Mystery of Creation from December 19 to January 1; as a bonus, they are also showing Hiroshi Teshigahara’s 1984 documentary, Antoni Gaudí, December 19-25.


Who: Judy Gold
What: A Jewdy Gold Christmas
Where: Carolines on Broadway, 1626 Broadway, 212-757-4100
When: Wednesday, December 24, and Thursday, December 25, $31.25, 7:30
Why: Star of The Judy Show — My Life as a Sitcom and 25 Questions for a Jewish Mother spends Christmas in New York City telling jokes about being a tall, gay Jewish comedian


Who: David Broza and friends
What: Nineteenth annual Not Exactly Christmas Eve Concert
Where: 92nd St. Y, Kaufmann Concert Hall, 1395 Lexington Ave. at 92nd St., 212-415-5500
When: Wednesday, December 24, $59-$92, 7:30
Why: Israeli superstar troubadour David Broza performs on Christmas Eve in New York City with guitarists Julio Fernandez and Yonatan Levi, saxophonist Jay Beckenstein, bassist Uri Kleinman, and drummers Yoni Halevi and Yuval Lion in support of his latest album, East Jerusalem / West Jerusalem (S-Curve, January 14, 2014) and the forthcoming documentary about the making of the record


Humphrey Bogart and Jennifer Jones star as would-be married lovers in film noir parody

Humphrey Bogart and Jennifer Jones star as would-be married lovers in film noir parody

BEAT THE DEVIL (John Huston, 1953)
Film Society of Lincoln Center, Walter Reade Theater
165 West 65th St. between Eighth Ave. & Broadway
Saturday, December 20, 4:00, Thursday, December 25, 10:15, and Friday, December 26, 4:45
Festival runs December 19 - January 11

Oscar-winning director John Huston pokes fun at some of his previous films in the sly, dry crime noir parody Beat the Devil. Written by Huston and Truman Capote, who furiously typed out pages every day on set, the 1953 black-and-white film teams Huston with Humphrey Bogart for the sixth and final time, following such successes as The Maltese Falcon, Key Largo, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, and The African Queen, elements from all of which can be found in this jumbled tale of a gang of crooked men looking to score big in the uranium mines of Kenya. Bogart stars as Billy Dannreuther, a cool customer married to Italian firebomb Maria (Gina Lollobrigida). They are stranded in an Italian port town while waiting for a ship to take them and his associates — Peterson (Robert Morley), O’Hara (Peter Lorre), Ravello (Marco Tulli), and Major Jack Ross (Ivor Barnard) — across the Mediterranean to Africa. Also along for the ride is the prim and proper Harry Chelm (Edward Underdown) and his hotsy-totsy wife, Gwendolen (Jennifer Jones), who quickly falls for the smooth, confident Billy. Throw in a murder, a drunk captain (Saro Urzi), and some neat twists and turns and you have yourself an amusing little exercise, even if it does have its share of plot holes, story jumps, and inconsistencies.

Robert Morley and Humphrey Bogart get down to business in BEAT THE DEVIL

Robert Morley and Humphrey Bogart get down to business in BEAT THE DEVIL

Morley (subbing for the late Sydney Greenstreet), Lorre, and Tulli are like the Three Stooges of film noir, while Bogart riffs on himself as a leading man and Jones has a ball chewing the scenery as a blonde beauty. It’s a confusing film, randomly mixing humor with pathos, but even if it’s the least successful of the Huston-Bogart canon, it’s still more than just an interesting trifle. Beat the Devil is screening December 20, 25, and 26 as part of the Film Society of Lincoln Center series Let There Be Light: The Films of John Huston, which runs December 19 to January 11 and consists of forty films directed by the master, from The Maltese Falcon and The Night of the Iguana to Key Largo and Moby Dick, from Prizzi’s Honor and Sinful Davey to The Treasure of the Sierra Madre and The List of Adrian Messenger, in addition to a handful of other works he either appeared in (Tentacles!) or that demonstrate his lasting influence (There Will Be Blood.)


Free smartphone app turns High Line walk into an audio adventure

Free smartphone app turns High Line walk into audio adventure

Who: Composers Laine Fefferman, Jascha Narveson, and N. Cameron Britt and software developer Daniel Iglesia
What: Make Music Winter festival
Where: The High Line, Gansevoort & Washington Sts. to West 30th St.
When: Sunday, December 21, free, 5:00 – 6:30 pm
Why: Free downloadable app turns walk along the High Line into an unusual soundscape; portable speakers encouraged (first one hundred participants can borrow a wearable speaker for free); among the other free Make Music Winter events on December 21 are Tom Peyton’s “Bell by Bell,” the Nick Horner Family’s “Flat Foot Flatbush,” J. C. King’s “Kalimbascope,” Hiroya Miura’s “Lightmotif,” Malcolm J. Merriweather’s “Pilgrimage,” James Holt’s “Prelude,” Daniel Goode’s “Soho Gamelan Walk,” and Nissim Schaul’s “Wheels”


Who: Matisyahu
What: 2014 Festival of Light concert with Judith Hill
Where: Best Buy Theater, 1515 Broadway, 212-930-1940
When: Saturday, December 20, $29.50 - $35, 8:00
Why: Matisyahu plays annual Hanukkah show in New York City in support of his latest album, Akeda (Elm City, June 2014), which includes such tracks as “Reservoir,” “Watch the Walls Melt Down,” “Ayeka (Teach Me to Love),” and “Vow of Silence (Shalom)”


Who: Kelli Maroney (Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Night of the Comet), Tony O’Dell (Head of the Class), Russell Todd (Another World), Barbara Crampton (Re-Animator, Castle Freak), and Paul Bartel and Mary Woronov (Eating Raoul, Rock ‘n’ Roll High School) in cult classic
What: Chopping Mall (Jim Wynorski, 1986)
Where: Nitehawk Cinema, 136 Metropolitan Ave. between Berry St. & Wythe Ave., 718-384-3980
When: Friday, December 19, and Saturday, December 20, $11, 12:15 am
Why: Nitehawk Cinema’s December Midnite: Xmas Chopping series concludes with a premonition of the future that became Black Friday