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


Vince Giordano

Vince Giordano shows off his remarkable collection of Jazz Age arrangements in THERE’S A FUTURE IN THE PAST

VINCE GIORDANO: THERE’S A FUTURE IN THE PAST (Dave Davidson & Amber Edwards, 2016)
Cinema Village
22 East 12th St. between University Pl. & Fifth Ave.
Through Thursday, January 26

Vince Giordano has an infectious glee throughout most of Vince Giordano: There’s a Future in the Past, a lively documentary that celebrates his dedication and passion for keeping the music of the 1920s and 1930s alive. “He’s totally consumed by his mission,” one member of his band, the Nighthawks, explains. “He’s meant to be a bandleader,” another one says. Director-producers Dave Davidson and Amber Edwards follow the youthful Giordano, who will turn sixty-five in March, as the band plays at the Newport Jazz Festival, with Garrison Keillor on A Prairie Home Companion, at Sofia’s in the Edison Hotel, at Lincoln Center’s Midsummer Night’s Swing, and at the New York Hot Jazz Festival at the Players club as well as recording a tune in the studio with David Johansen for Boardwalk Empire. The Grammy-winning Giordano and the Nighthawks have performed music for nearly two dozen films, including several by Woody Allen. But leading a Jazz Age band in the modern era is no easy task; Giordano, who plays the tuba, the string bass, and the bass saxophone and handles the vocals, has no roadies and no agent, so he and partner Carol Hughes are seen lugging equipment around, scrambling for gigs, and getting the orchestrations just right, testing Giordano’s gleeful onstage demeanor. “When I first met him, I thought he was very unusual and a nice person, but I didn’t think he was exceptional and crazy like he is,” Hughes says. The Brooklyn-born Giordano is also a music historian and archivist, having collected some sixty thousand arrangements, with twenty-five hundred brought to any single show, making for a wide range of setlists. Among those singing Giordano’s praises are many members of the eleven-piece Nighthawks, some of them who have been part of the band since the 1970s; sharing fun stories are reed players Mark Lopeman and Dan Levinson, trumpeters Jon-Erik Kellso and Mike Ponella, violinist Andy Stein, pianist Peter Yarin, trombonist Jim Fryer, and guitarist Ken Salvo.

The heart of the film is watching the remarkable band play such songs as “Stampede,” “Shake That Thing,” “The Moon and You,” and a glorious “Rhapsody in Blue” at Town Hall, by such legendary composers and bandleaders as George Gershwin, Fletcher Henderson, Paul Whiteman, Bix Beiderbecke, and Duke Ellington. One of the most poignant parts occurs when Sofia’s, where Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks played every Monday and Tuesday night for five years, closes, so Giordano must find a new home, which he does, at Iguana NYC. (You can also catch them at the “Highlights in Jazz” forty-fourth annual gala on February 9 at BMCC’s Tribeca Performing Arts Center with Ms. Vinnie Knight and Cynthia Sayer & Her Joyride Band.) Vince Giordano: There’s a Future in the Past is a poignant tale of a New York City treasure whose obsession brings great joy to the rest of us.


Fritz Weaver

The life and career of Tony-winning, Emmy-nominated, Theatre Hall of Fame inductee Fritz Weaver will be honored at Symphony Space on January 23

Symphony Space, Peter Jay Sharpe Theatre
2537 Broadway at 95th St.
Monday, January 23, free, 6:30

One of the very first actors I felt a real bond with was Fritz William Weaver, the Pittsburgh-born star of stage, screen, and television who passed away in November at the age of ninety. On January 23 at 6:30, a very informal memorial service will be held at Symphony Space, the Upper West Side institution where he was a regular participant in the “Selected Shorts” series and the annual “Bloomsday” reading of James Joyce’s Ulysses. Speakers will include Sherrill Milnes, Jay O. Sanders, Barbara Barrie, Peter Maloney, Harold Holzer, and several family members. I first saw Weaver in such films as The Day of the Dolphin, Marathon Man, and Black Sunday before being blown away by his Emmy-nominated performance in 1978’s Holocaust, which, following on the heels of 1977’s Roots, helped redefine what a miniseries could be. In 1979, I was breathless with anticipation at seeing Weaver on Broadway in Arthur Miller’s The Price, in which Weaver portrayed Walter Franz. I even stuck around to have him sign the program. Comfortable with being the star or as a character actor, in a Shakespeare play or strange films (Demon Seed, The Maltese Bippy), the Tony winner (Child’s Play) and Theatre Hall of Fame inductee appeared in more than one hundred movies and television shows, from Rawhide, The Fugitive, and Gunsmoke to The X-Files, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and Murder, She Wrote. He also starred in two of the best Twilight Zone episodes, Third from the Sun and The Obsolete Man. The late Isaiah Sheffer, one of the founders of Symphony Space, referred to Weaver as “Symphony Space’s leading man,” so it is only fitting that the celebration will occur there, where he also made his last public appearance.


Mariano (Noé Hernandez) rules a bizarre underground lair in WE ARE THE FLESH

The very strange Mariano (Noé Hernandez) rules a bizarre underground lair in Emiliano Rocha Minter’s WE ARE THE FLESH

WE ARE THE FLESH (TENEMOS LA CARNE) (Emiliano Rocha Minter, 2016)
Cinema Village
22 East 12th St. between University Pl. & Fifth Ave.
Opens Friday, January 20

In his debut feature, twenty-five-year-old writer-director Emiliano Rocha Minter paints a horrifying vision of modern-day Mexico in We Are the Flesh. The film, a hit at festivals around the world, takes place in a kind of surreal, postapocalyptic underground hellmouth ruled by lunatic ogre Mariano (Noé Hernandez), who is delighted when siblings Lucio (Diego Gamaliel) and Fauna (María Evoli) come stumbling into his lair. As the three of them build a bizarre womblike structure, they engage in taboo acts that can best be described as foul, vile, disgusting, putrid, and demented — as well as strangely beautiful and maddeningly erotic — luridly photographed by Yollótl Alvarado on eerie sets designed by Manuela García. Esteban Aldrete’s threateningly pulsating score is interrupted by moans, screams, and occasional songs, several of which transform into oddly beguiling music videos. Minter also edited the film, with Yibran Assuad, maintaining a steady, sinister pace in which the audience awaits the next bit of craziness with both gleeful revulsion and terrifying excitement. Dialogue is limited and eccentric but gets the point across: “You were chosen by chance,” Mariano says, “and remember that chance is the most dangerous criminal who has roamed the earth.”


Mexican filmmaker Emiliano Rocha Minter’s debut feature is a violent, erotic fairy tale where anything can happen, and does

The film, which deals with various kinds of hunger as well as birth and rebirth, was inspired by the stories and pictures in sensationalist rags that are sold at newsstands throughout Mexico. “These newspapers remain unmatched as a gaze into a country that finds its pleasures in Hell,” Julio Chavezmontes explains in his producer’s statement. “This is the reality that Tenemos la Carne has dared to address. This is a film that is in total synchrony with its time and the ravaged country that gave it birth. It is a fearless, unprecedented vision of Mexico.” It’s also a film that goes where few films venture — with good reason, of course; watching it is like reading one of Charles Bukoswki’s more depraved stories: You know you should stop and put the book down, but you just can’t, in the same way you can’t turn away from Minter’s film. The dark tale evokes the work of such auteurs as Alejandro Jodorowsky, Kenneth Anger, Gaspar Noé, Dario Argento, and Carlos Reygadas, yet it’s unlike anything you’ve ever seen, a hallucinatory adult fairy tale with a twist ending that brings it all home. Opening January 20 at Cinema Village, We Are the Flesh packs a whole lot of punch into its maniacal eighty minutes.


Culadasa in New York

Tibet House
22 West Fifteenth St. between Fifth & Sixth Aves.
Wednesday, January 25, free with advance RSVP, 7:00

The Three Jewels
61 Fourth Ave. between Ninth & Tenth Sts.
Saturday, January 28, $45 suggested admission, 2:00

The Path at Primary
26 Broadway, eighth floor
Tuesday, January 31, $24, 7:00

The combination of Buddhism and neuroscience is a heady one, as it were, and there’s no dearth of investigators and writers helping us understand our brain and our mind. Writers on the subject, from the Dalai Lama to Mingyur Rinpoche to B. Alan Wallace to Robert Thurman, have talked about the overlap between discoveries about consciousness in neuroscience and millennia-old Buddhist teachings on consciousness, the self, and reality. One of the latest authors working with these insights, John Yates, PhD (aka Culadasa), will be in New York City this month presenting his fascinating five-hundred-plus-page work, The Mind Illuminated: A Complete Meditation Guide Integrating Buddhist Wisdom and Brain Science for Greater Mindfulness (Simon & Schuster, January 2017, $25.99), written with Matthew Immergut, PhD, and Jeremy Graves. Dr. Yates, the director of the Dharma Treasure Buddhist Sangha in Tucson, studied deeply and intensively with both Theravadin and Tibetan Buddhist teachers and is a former professor of neuroscience. Prior to coming to New York City for three special events on January 25 (discussion, Q&A, and book signing at Tibet House), 28 (lecture, Q&A, and signing at the Three Jewels), and 31 (meditation and meal at the Path), he was happy to answer questions from a longtime twi-ny editor and meditator about his work and long-awaited first book.

twi-ny: The Mind Illuminated presents meditation as an everyday, evidence-based training activity for the mind that really works. If a reader sits down and practices with the first instructions in your book for six months, what results could they expect?

Culadasa: There is some variation, of course, but if a meditator diligently follows the instruction in a daily practice, they should achieve at least Stage Four — stable, continuous attention on the meditation object without episodes of forgetting or mind wandering. At this stage, our meditator can do something very few people can ever do: They can keep their attention focused on a chosen object, regardless of the intrinsic interest of the object, for very long periods of up to an hour. But even more importantly, they can simultaneously sustain a broad, open awareness of everything around them and of what is going on in their own mind as well. This allows them to begin observing and investigating their mind, which is a rich and wonderful experience. Some meditators will achieve higher stages: five, six, perhaps even seven. This is especially true of those who have been meditating according to some other method for a long time.

the mind illuminated

twi-ny: Now that the book is complete and published, out in the world, do you see your own teaching practice developing around it? What’s next?

Culadasa: Now that the book is available to a wider audience, I am finding a lot of people and organizations asking for my time. Due to my age and health, it’s simply impossible for me to respond to these requests. So over the last three years, I have been intensively training a brilliant group of people who will have a deep understanding of everything in the book and more. They will take over from me, so no, I don’t see myself building my teaching around it. I’ll be doing that initially, as I am now, but the baton will soon be passed to a younger generation.

As for myself, I am currently working on another book, one that I consider potentially even more important than The Mind Illuminated. I am hoping to present the Dharma to the world in terms that are understandable and acceptable to people everywhere, regardless of their religious affiliations or lack thereof. It is a book that I hope will transform the attitudes of people toward each other, and the dominant global culture, in time for us to save ourselves from ourselves.

twi-ny: As a meditation student and teacher myself, I appreciate the secular, neuroscience-based approach because it makes meditation available to so many who won’t try older styles of meditation training due to aversion to Eastern religion or “woo-woo.” But like many others, I’m skeptical that meditation training divorced from ethical training can actually be transformative. And ethics, whether religion-based or secular, is a very loaded subject. How would you explain your approach to this in the book?

Culadasa: You are absolutely right. Meditation divorced from the practice of virtue is quite limited in value and can only very rarely be transformative. But the West, and global culture in general, is fascinated by technology. Meditation is a kind of technology, so it’s a great way of getting people interested in the Dharma, and can make them aware of how much more it has to offer than just stress reduction, increased productivity, and better relationships. The practice of virtue in the Buddha’s teaching goes far beyond ethics. It is a powerful method in itself, contributing enormously to the arising of Insight and to the Awakening we all seek. The Eightfold Path has three parts: Wisdom, Virtue, and Meditation. They mutually support each other, and no one or even two of them can ever stand for long by itself. That is part of the reason I am working on my new book. It will provide the other two legs of the tripod.



A wealthy woman (María Onetto) looks the other way after she might have run over someone in THE HEADLESS WOMAN

7 Ludlow St. between Canal & Hester Sts.
Saturday, January 21, 2:00 & 9:00

Since 2011, Prada’s Miu Miu brand of women’s clothing and accessories, named for founder Miuccia Prada, has been sponsoring “Women’s Tales,” fashion-themed short films by such female directors as Ava DuVernay (Selma), Agnès Varda (Vagabond), Zoe R. Cassavetes (Day Out of Days), Alice Rohrwacher (The Wonders), and Crystal Moselle (The Wolfpack). The Metrograph series “Certain Women” pairs six of the commissioned works with a feature film made by the director (indicated in parenthesis above). The brief series concludes this week with Lucrecia Martel and Miranda July. Inspired by nightmares she has in which she commits murder, Martel’s The Headless Woman details a woman’s emotional and psychological reaction after having possibly killed someone. María Onetto gives a mesmerizingly cool, distant performance as Veronica, a middle-aged, upper-class wife and mother whose biggest worry appears to be the turtles that have infested the new pool built behind a veterinary office. But one afternoon, while out driving carelessly in her Mercedes along a twisting, barren road, she hits something. Not sure if it was a child, an adult, or an animal, she decides to continue on, telling no one what she has done. But when a poor, local boy goes missing, she begins to suspect that she might have killed him. An intriguing mix of Luis Buñuel’s class-consciousness and Edgar Allan Poe’s flair for suspense, The Headless Woman is an unusual kind of murder mystery. In Veronica, Argentine writer-director Martel (La Cienaga, The Holy Girl) has created a compelling protagonist/villain, played with expert calm and faraway eyes by Onetto. The Headless Woman is screening at Metrograph on January 21 at 2:00 and 9:00, preceded by Martel’s 2011 seven-minute Miu Miu short, the highly stylized, dialogue-free Muta.

Hamish Linklater and Miranday July contemplate their future

Hamish Linklater and Miranda July contemplate their future in THE FUTURE

THE FUTURE (Miranda July, 2011)
7 Ludlow St. between Canal & Hester Sts.
Sunday, January 22, 2:00

Multimedia performance artist and indie darling Miranda July scored a major breakthrough with her 2005 cinematic debut, the utterly charming romantic comedy Me and You and Everyone We Know. While her follow-up, The Future, lacks many of the endearing qualities that made her first film such a success, it is still a quirky, beguiling drama that offers a bittersweet breath of fresh air. July stars as Sophie, a children’s dance teacher living with Jason (Hamish Linklater), a work-at-home IT dude. The slackers spend their time sitting on the couch, both on their laptops, having offbeat conversations and pretending they can stop time. But when they are told that the sick cat they want to adopt won’t be well enough to leave the veterinary hospital for another month, they decide that this will be their last thirty days of freedom, thinking that the arrival of the feline will confer upon them the responsibilities of adulthood they have been so good at avoiding up to now. Given this last bastion of hope, they quit their jobs to pursue their dreams: Jason starts going door-to-door selling trees, while Sophie sets out to perform a dance a day and post them on YouTube. No, this oddball, somewhat freakish couple doesn’t exactly dream big. And, of course, their idea of freedom doesn’t turn out to be exactly what they had hoped.

Miranda July’s Miu Miu short, SOMEBODY, will screen with THE FUTURE at Metrograph on January 22

Miranda July’s Miu Miu short, SOMEBODY, will screen with THE FUTURE at Metrograph on January 22

The Future veers off in way too many directions, some good, some bad, but it is held together by July’s bright eyes and lanky, comedic body even as she explores the horrors of mainstream suburban living. As with much of her performance art, she challenges the audience to stay with her as she defies standard narrative conventions and turns to the surreal, including a talking moon. The film is nearly stolen by Joe Putterlik, an elderly man whom Jason meets through a Pennysaver ad for a three-dollar used hair dryer; Putterlik, who also is the voice of the moon, was actually discovered by July through a Pennysaver ad, and much of his dialogue is improvised and set in his own apartment as he talks about his real life. Sadly, he died immediately after shooting was concluded. The film is narrated by the ill cat, Paw Paw (voiced by July in a creepy monotone), who dreams of her own freedom, wanting desperately to get out of her cage and be taken in by people who will love her. And after all, isn’t that what we all want? The Future is screening at Metrograph on January 22 at 2:00, preceded by July’s 2014 ten-minute Miu Miu short, Somebody, about a messaging app in which strangers participate in people’s personal situations.


Guillermo de Toro creates a mystical fairy-tale world in PAN’S LABYRINTH

Guillermo de Toro creates a mystical fairy-tale world in PAN’S LABYRINTH

Nitehawk Cinema
136 Metropolitan Ave. between Berry St. & Wythe Ave.
Saturday, January 21, and Sunday, January 22, 11:15 am

The closing night film of the 2006 New York Film Festival and an Oscar nominee for Best Foreign Language Film, Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth is a breathtaking fairy tale set in 1944 Spain, shortly after the Spanish Civil War. When her mother, Carmen (Ariadna Gil), marries Captain Vidal (Sergi Lopez), young Ofelia (Ivana Baquero) must move to the middle of the woods, where Vidal and his small group of soldiers are defending the last vestiges of Franco’s Fascist regime against a group of resistance fighters seeking peace and freedom for all. Led by a mysterious flying creature, the adventurous Ofelia makes her way through an ancient underground labyrinth, where she meets the Faun (Hellboy’s Doug Jones), who tells her that she just might be the reborn, long-missing princess they’ve been waiting centuries for — but first she’ll have to perform three tasks to prove that she has returned to claim her throne. As Vidal shows more concern for the baby that Carmen is carrying than for Carmen herself — and also brutally tortures and kills anyone who gets in his way, whether it is one of the revolutionaries or one of his own people — Ofelia meets a dangerous yet engaging series of beings as she hopes for her fairy-tale dreams to come true and erase the nightmares of the real world. In Pan’s Labyrinth, del Toro (Cronos, The Devil’s Backbone) has cleverly balanced fantasy and reality, alternating between scenes of horror and graphic violence aboveground and below as seen through the eyes of a brave young girl trapped in both. Nominated for six Academy Awards and winner of three (for Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography, and Best Makeup), Pan’s Labyrinth is being shown January 21 and 22 at 11:15 am in the Nitehawk Cinema series “Nitehawk Brunch Screenings” and “The End Is the Beginning,” the latter consisting of movies in which the ending is told at the beginning. Inspired by Billy Wilder’s Sunset Boulevard, the series, which also featured Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction, concludes January 28 and 29 with Sam Mendes’s Oscar-winning American Beauty.


(photo by Ben Strothmann)

Jason O’Connell channels various Batmans and villains in intimate one-man show at Abingdon (photo by Ben Strothmann)

Dorothy Strelsin Theatre, Abingdon Theatre Company
Abingdon Theatre Arts Complex
312 West 36th St. between Eighth & Ninth Aves.
Tuesday - Sunday through January 29, $25

Jason O’Connell lets his inner geek rise in his intimate and entertaining one-man show, The Dork Knight, which opened last night at the Abingdon Theatre, where it runs through January 29 but deserves a longer engagement. O’Connell, who has appeared in such recent envelope-pushing Bedlam productions as Sense & Sensibility, Hamlet, and The Seagull as well as A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Pearl, shares his deep connection to the Batman superhero, which started for him as a child but really began taking off when Tim Burton’s Batman was released in 1989, starring Michael Keaton as the Caped Crusader and Jack Nicholson as the Joker. “That just seemed to combine everything I cared about at a very specific, formative moment in my life. And it was popular!” O’Connell, who was a high school senior in Commack when the film came out, says. “So for me, a kid who was never really on board with the popular thing — to suddenly see people loving something that I had always loved was . . . intoxicating. And from that moment on, for better or worse, the Batman movies became these touchstones in my life.” The Hofstra graduate shares personal details seen through the lens of Batman, Batman Returns, Batman Forever, Batman & Robin, the Dark Knight trilogy, and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, doing impressions of Michael Keaton, George Clooney, Val Kilmer, and Christian Bale as Batman, Nicholson and Heath Ledger as the Joker, Danny DeVito as Penguin, Arnold Schwarzenegger as Mr. Freeze, and Jim Carrey as the Riddler. “They say the world is divided into two groups: Superman fans and Batman fans. It’s kinda like cat people and dog people. You’re allowed to like both, of course, but usually you prefer one over the other, and that preference tends to say something true about you,” O’Connell explains. “Superman sees the good in all people. Batman distrusts everyone until they prove themselves worthy. Now, I try to keep a sunny disposition, I like to think I’m an optimist at heart, and yet . . . somehow . . . Batman has always exerted the stronger hold on me,” he adds, noting how Batman has no superpowers, that he is “just a scared little boy who transforms himself through the sheer power of his will. Batman could be anybody — with a billion dollars.”

(photo by Ben Strothmann)

Writer and star Jason O’Connell geeks out in funny and poignant solo show THE DORK KNIGHT (photo by Ben Strothmann)

The inaugural production in Abingdon’s Second Stage Series, The Dork Knight is playing at the tiny Dorothy Strelsin Theatre, where an audience of fifty-six sits on three sides of Jerry Marsini’s spare set, consisting of a chair and a table. O’Connell occasionally sits but usually stands, telling his story in a very personable way, making constant direct eye contact with the audience as if seeking its approval and understanding — which he receives, as members of the audience regularly nod in agreement, cathartically letting a little bit of their own inner geek out. There’s also a lot of laughter along with the self-deprecating and brutally honest O’Connell’s clever insight, which includes seeing plenty of Hamlet in Burton’s Batman. His Keaton impression is dead-on; with just a few facial gestures, he looks and sounds like the controversial Batman portrayer. His Ahnuld is excellent as well, faring better than some of his others. Directed by Abingdon artistic director Tony Speciale (The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey, Stet), The Dork Knight is a fun and involving eighty-minute confession about the effects pop culture has on us all. At one point, O’Connell discusses a would-be high school date in which he and “this beautiful athlete/artist/musician who drove a convertible and had long, blonde hair that smelled like strawberries” went to see Batman, and after the film, she declared, “‘That’s a classic. That’s our generation’s Star Wars. It’s our Wizard of Oz. This is, like, art.’ To which I said, ‘Marry me please we get married now!’ She didn’t. No one has yet. But that’s another one-person show.” Whenever that next one-person show is, we hope O’Connell sends out the Bat signal, because we’ll be there in a jiffy.