CHOOSE ME (Alan Rudolph, 1984)
34 West 13th St. between Fifth & Sixth Aves.
Thursday, August 10, 9:00, and Sunday, August 13, 1:00
Series runs August 10-16
The Quad is celebrating French-Canadian actress Geneviève Bujold’s seventy-fifth birthday with the wide-ranging fourteen-film retrospective “The Beguiling Bujold,” running August 10-16. The Montreal native was on the cusp of becoming a major star after a 1968 Emmy nomination for playing Joan of Arc in Saint Joan and an Oscar nod the next year for her portrayal of Anne Boleyn in Anne of the Thousand Days, but she opted for a more quirky career of small, independent films, dotted with a handful of bigger pics. One of her best roles is Dr. Nancy Love in 1984’s Choose Me, the first of three consecutive films she made with Alan Rudolph. Nancy hosts a popular radio talk show about love and sex, two things she doesn’t enjoy much of herself until she meets Eve (Lesley Ann Warren), a lounge owner who goes home with a different person every night and is a regular caller into her program under a fake name. Among the men enamored of Eve are her bartender, Billy Ace (John Larroquette); the mean-spirited, married, well-connected Zack (Patrick Bachau); and the new guy in town, Mickey (Keith Carradine), who has lived a rather complicated life. Meanwhile, barfly Pearl (Rae Dawn Chong) has the hots for Mickey too. As part of her “research,” Nancy moves in with Eve, but neither knows that they actually talk to each other almost daily on the radio. Bujold is an intoxicating adult ingénue in Rudolph’s darkly comic tongue-in-cheek noir that features a riotous soundtrack by Teddy Pendergrass and Luther Vandross and lurid photography by Jan Kiesser. Choose Me is screening August 10 and 13 as part of both “The Beguiling Bujold” and “Quadrophilia,” the latter consisting of films relating to the LGBTQ community.
Bujold comfortably settles into the background in her second film with Rudolph, 1988’s The Moderns, a wickedly sly riff on the Lost Generation in post-WWI Paris. Bujold is gallery owner Libby Valentin, the guiding conscience among the self-important literati, including Ernest Hemingway (Kevin J. O’Connor), who speaks in hysterical quotations that would wind up in The Sun Also Rises and other books; Gertrude Stein (Elsa Raven), and Alice B. Toklas (Ali Giron), who host high-falutin’ salon gatherings; gossip columnist Oiseau (Wallace Shawn), who never a met a story he couldn’t make up; wealthy art collector Nathalie de Ville (Geraldine Chaplin), who has more up her sleeves than she initially lets on; powerful, jealous businessman Bertram Stone (John Lone) and his wife, the sexy, troublesome Rachel (Linda Fiorentino); and expatriate painter Nick Hart (Keith Carradine), who has little time for nonsense as he homes in on Rachel. The beginning of the film is annoying, pretentious, and self-indulgent, but once it kicks into high gear, it wonderfully pokes fun at itself, especially via Oiseau, played to a comic T by Shawn — who likes to hang out at Bar Sélavy, owned by Rose (Marthe Turgeon), in a sweet homage to Marcel Duchamp. Cinematographer Toyomichi Kurita slowly switches from black-and-white to color as scenes change and the backstabbing heats up. The plot centers around forgeries, referencing the phoniness that resides within every character. The only one who remains steady throughout is Libby, who is played with just the right touch of mystery by Bujold. The Moderns is screening at the Quad on August 10 at 6:45.
THE ACT OF THE HEART (Paul Almond, 1970)
34 West 13th St. between Fifth & Sixth Aves.
Saturday, August 12, 5:45
Series runs August 10-16
Bujold made three films with her husband, Paul Almond, during their six-year marriage. In between 1968’s Isabel and 1972’s Journey is the very strange, ultimately unsatisfying The Act of the Heart, which earned Bujold a Canadian Film Award for Best Actress. The low-budget 1970 film hints at being a horror movie, which would have been much better than the rather drab drama it turns out to be, save for a bizarre finale. Bujold is Martha, a shy, devout young woman who has arrived in a small town on the North Shore of Quebec to be a nanny to Russell (Bill Mitchell), a boy being raised by his widowed mother, Johane (Monique Leyrac). Martha auditions for the church choir, which is conducted by Augustinian monk Father Ferrier (Donald Sutherland). As she becomes deeply involved in Billy’s life, which includes his getting seriously injured in a hockey game, she and Father Ferrier take a liking to each other, severely testing their faith. Bujold excels as Martha, as she grows from a church mouse to a woman filled with desire, but Sutherland sleepwalks through the first half of the film, and the subplot with Russell and Johane turns soapy. Still, watching Bujold work her magic is always worth it. Winner of six Canadian Film Awards (Best Director, Best Actress, Best Art Direction, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound, and Best Musical Score), The Act of the Heart is screening August 12 at 5:45 at the Quad. “The Beguiling Bujold” also boasts such other diverse Bujold films as the Michael Crichton medical thriller Coma with Michael Douglas, the Brian De Palma Hitchcock homage Obsession with Cliff Robertson, David Cronenberg’s creepy Dead Ringers with Jeremy Irons, Michael Cacoyannis’s Euripides adaptation The Trojan Women with Katharine Hepburn and Vanessa Redgrave, and Alain Resnais’s The War Is Over with Yves Montand. And as a bonus, the Quad is showing Mark Robson’s Earthquake, starring Bujold with Charlton Heston, Ava Gardner, George Kennedy, Lorne Greene, Richard Roundtree, Walter Matthau, Victoria Principal, et al., on August 20 and 21 in the upcoming “Disasterpieces” series.
The New York Botanical Garden
2900 Southern Blvd., Bronx
Chillin’ with Chihuly: Saturday, August 12, and Sunday, August 13, 1:00 - 4:00
Chihuly Nights: Thursday, August 10, 17, 24, $35, 6:30
Jazz & Chihuly: Friday, August 18, $40, 6:00
Exhibition continues Tuesday – Sunday through October 29, $10-$28
The New York Botanical Garden’s “CHIHULY” exhibition, his first new show in New York in a decade, features colorful and extravagant site-specific glass-blown works by Dale Chihuly spread throughout the grounds, including at the Native Plant Garden, the Lillian and Amy Goldman Fountain of Life, the Leon Levy Visitor Center, the Arthur and Janet Ross Conifer Arboretum, and the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory Courtyard’s Tropical Pool, as well as works on paper and early works on view in the LuEsther T. Mertz Library Building. There are special bonuses during the month of August to enhance the oeuvre of the Washington State native, whose NYBG pieces were partially inspired by a 1975 Niagara Falls group show he participated in. On August 12 and 13 from 1:00 to 4:00, accordionist Tony Kovatch, Spanish guitarist David Galvez, and saxophonist Keith Marreth will play acoustic music at various locations in the garden, joined by steel drummer Earl Brooks Jr. and cellist Laura Bontrager on Saturday and steel drummer Mustafa Alexander and oboist Keve Wilson on Sunday. Meanwhile, Brooklyn-based UrbanGlass will host flame-work demonstrations at Conservatory Plaza and the visitor center. There will also be ice-cold treats available for purchase to keep everyone cool. On August 19, the NYBG Summer Concert Series presents “Jazz & Chihuly: Songs of Protest & Reconciliation,” with live music by pianist Damien Sneed and an all-star ensemble, along with special guest trumpeter Keyon Harrold, followed by a late-night viewing of the exhibition. You can also see short films about Chihuly’s creative process on Saturdays and Sundays from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm or check out “Chihuly Nights,” with Fulaso, Richard & Ashlee, and Mustafa Alexander on April 10, Mandingo Ambassadors, Almanac Dance Circus Theater, and Alexander on August 17, and Samba New York! and Alice Farley on August 24. “I want people to be overwhelmed with light and color in a way they have never experienced,” Chihuly says about his work; these programs enhance that experience in unique ways.
WAVERLY MIDNIGHTS: STAFF PICKS — BORAT: CULTURAL LEARNINGS OF AMERICA FOR MAKE BENEFIT GLORIOUS NATION OF KAZAKHSTAN
BORAT: CULTURAL LEARNINGS OF AMERICA FOR MAKE BENEFIT GLORIOUS NATION OF KAZAKHSTAN (Larry Charles, 2006)
323 Sixth Ave. at West Third St.
Friday, August 11, and Saturday, August 12, 12 midnight
Believe the hype. Sacha Baron Cohen holds a mirror up to America, and you might not like what you see — although you’ll laugh your head off while watching it. Cohen stars as bushy haired Kazakhstan journalist Borat Sagdiyev, a role he created for Da Ali G Show, the 2001 series in which he interviewed such luminaries as Newt Gingrich, Boutros Boutros-Ghali, Andy Rooney, and Norman Mailer while pretending to be a British hip-hop wigger (Ali G); he also disguised himself as a German fashionista (Bruno) and Borat, a reporter who likes to talk about sex, especially with his sister. In Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, Borat leaves his little village in Kazakhstan and travels across the United States with his producer, the rotund Azamat (Ken Davitian), in search of his true love, Baywatch’s Pamela Anderson. Along the way, he is making a documentary about the American way of life, turning a revealing lens on racism, anti-Semitism, sexism, misogyny, homophobia, blind patriotism, fundamentalism, and southern hospitality, with a healthy dose of toilet humor (literally).
The people he speaks with — a feminist group, gun and car dealers, rodeo cowboys, conservative politicians Bob Barr and Alan Keyes, etiquette and humor experts, Christian evangelicals at a revivalist tent meeting, drunk frat boys in an RV — believe he is really a Kazakh journalist, and Cohen holds nothing back, unafraid to ask any question or kiss any man, often risking his personal safety in hysterical ways. He’s got the biggest cojones we’ve ever seen — and you nearly get to see them when he and Azamat chase each other naked through a hotel, ending up fighting onstage at a mortgage bankers convention. Borat is more Easy Rider than Jackass and Beavis and Butt-Head Do America, a road trip movie that captures the state of the nation in frightening yet very funny ways. Curiously, the only Oscar nomination it received was for Best Screenplay, despite much of it being improvised. A film that probably couldn’t be made today, Borat is screening on August 11 and 12 at midnight in the IFC Center series “Waverly Midnights: Staff Picks,” selected by Andrew M. of the floor staff. The series continues with such other flicks as David Cronenberg’s Crash, James Cameron’s Aliens, and Jim Sharman’s Shock Treatment.
When I was in Copenhagen earlier this summer, I saw an outstanding and important exhibition in historic Town Hall, “100% Foreign?,” portraits by Maja Nydal Eriksen of one hundred men and women who have escaped from twenty-nine countries and sought refuge in Denmark over the last fifty years, with statements focusing on how Danish they have come to feel. At the same time, an interactive installation arrived in New York City, Afghan-American artist Aman Mojadidi’s “Once Upon a Place,” in which visitors can listen to seventy prerecorded immigrant stories told by men and women who left their home nations to make a new life in New York. Continuing through September 5, the installation consists of three old-fashioned telephone booths, harking back to a time before cell phones, when many immigrants would use pay phones to call home and talk to the family members they left behind. The booths stand like beacons in what is famously called “The Crossroads of the World,” where people from across the globe gather to take in the wonder of New York City. The oral histories, some in English, others in the participant’s native tongue, last between two and fifteen minutes each, related by immigrants from Bangladesh, Belgium, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, China, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Egypt, Gambia, Ghana, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Liberia, Mexico, Nigeria, Philippines, Puerto Rico, Russia, Sierra Leone, Spain, Sri Lanka, Tibet, and Yemen. Mojadidi’s previous site-specific work includes “Commodified” at the Imperial War Museum in Manchester, England, which introduced such products as Conflict Bling and a Waterboarding Play Set in addition to pro-Palestinian items; “Squatters” in Dubai; and “What Histories Lay Beneath Our Feet” in Kerala, India.
“Once Upon a Place” also brings back the idea of the critical phone book — complete with the old Yellow Pages logo that meant, “Let your fingers do the walking” — where callers could look up the names and addresses of people, another ritual that has disappeared in the modern era. But in this case, the phone book supplies additional information about each speaker and their country of origin, a kind of mini-encyclopedia that sentimentally declares, “No matter where you are from, we’re glad you’re our neighbor.” Mojadidi recorded the stories across the five boroughs during his residency at Times Square Arts, in conjunction with the Times Square Alliance. “Beyond the immediate understanding that immigration, rather than some sort of social, cultural, economic, or political burden, is actually the foundation, the lifeblood, of great global cities such as New York,” Mojadidi explained in a statement, “for me the most important outcome of ‘Once Upon a Place’ is that no matter how different the experiences of migration might be among the storytellers, visitors will hear the common humanity in their voices that cannot, in fact should not, be confined by arbitrarily defined, historically drawn, and forcefully maintained geopolitical borders that will never truly reflect the realities of contemporary human experience.” The installation has gained even more power given the fierce current debate being waged in America and around the world over immigration and refugees since Donald Trump took office, particularly in the wake of White House political adviser Stephen Miller’s rejection of the value of Emma Lazarus’s “The New Colossus,” the poem that was added to the Statue of Liberty in 1903 and beautifully welcomed people to these shores: “Give me your tired, your poor, / Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, / The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. / Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, / I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” Mojadidi’s “Once Upon a Place” reminds us all what America once was, and what it might yet be again.
64 East Fourth St. between Second & Third Sts.
August 7 – September 3, readings free, shows $24
On August 20, FringeNYC will hold a fundraising variety show in which they will reveal the future of the popular summer theater festival, which will not be taking place this year. Stepping into the void is the debut of the Corkscrew Theater Festival, presented by the Brewing Dept. and Fortress Productions at Paradise Factory in the East Village. The festival consists of five world-premiere productions and five readings running August 7 through September 3 by early-career artists, most of whom identify as female; the readings are free and the shows are $24. “The plays featured in the inaugural Corkscrew Theater Festival center on the need to be seen. By the institution that won’t listen to you, by the sibling whose struggles affect both of you, or by the boyfriend who just doesn’t understand that you’re turning into a werewolf,” artistic director Thomas Kapusta said in a statement. “We’re proud to give these new artists and their stories – some joyful, some tragic, and some hilarious – the chance to be seen and heard in quality productions performed in repertory this summer.”
The plays, which tackle such subjects as mental illness, queer love triangles, millennial privilege, and, yes, werewolves, consists of Kaela Mei-Shing Garvin’s High School Coven, directed by Felicia Lobo; Robert Zander Norman’s All of My Blood, directed by Taylor Haven Holt; Nora Sørena Casey’s False Stars, directed by Jenny Reed; Lilla Goettler and Katie Hathaway’s Ex Habitus, directed by Lilla Goettler; and Morgaine Gooding-Silverwood’s Cradle Two Grave, directed by Gooding-Silverwood and choreographed by Raquel Chavez. The readings, about such topics as an interracial couple in a gentrifying neighborhood, amateur porn, nuclear holocaust, and an island of giant rabbits, comprise Uzunma Udeh’s A Day in the Life: A Performance Piece of Performance Pieces, directed by Udeh and Ann-Kathryne Mills; Ayo Edebiri and Nick Parker’s Mad Cool, directed by Diane Chen; the musical Hot Cross Buns, with book and lyrics by Julia Izumi and music and lyrics by Grace Oberhofer, directed by Logan Reed; Laura Winters’s Gonzo, directed by Noam Shapiro; and Ryan Bernsten’s The New Order, directed by Kristin Skye Hoffmann.
HOLY MOTORS (Léos Carax, 2012)
MoMA Film, Museum of Modern Art
11 West 53rd St. between Fifth & Sixth Aves.
Tuesday, August 8, 7:00
Series runs through August 31
French writer-director Léos Carax (Boy Meets Girl, Mauvais Sang) has made only five feature films in his thirty-plus-year career, a sadly low output for such an innovative, talented director, but in 2012 he gave birth to his masterpiece, the endlessly intriguing, confusing, and exhilarating Holy Motors. His first film since 1999’s POLA X, the work is a surreal tale of character and identity, spreading across multiple genres in a series of bizarre, entertaining, and often indecipherable set pieces. Holy Motors opens with Carax himself playing le Dormeur, a man who wakes up and walks through a hidden door in his room and into a movie theater where a packed house, watching King Vidor’s The Crowd, is fast asleep. The focus soon shifts to Carax alter ego Denis Lavant as Monsieur Oscar, a curious character who is being chauffeured around Paris in a white stretch limo driven by the elegant Céline (Édith Scob). Oscar has a list of assignments for the day that involve his putting on elaborate costumes — including revisiting his sewer character from Merde, Carax’s contribution to the 2009 omnibus Tokyo! that also included shorts by Michel Gondry and Bon Joon-ho — and becoming immersed in scenes that might or might not be staged, blurring the lines between fiction and reality within, of course, a completely fictional world to begin with. It is as if each scene is a separate little movie, and indeed, Carax, whose middle name is Oscar, has said that he made Holy Motors after several other projects fell through, so perhaps he has melded many of those ideas into this fabulously abstruse tale that constantly reinvents itself.
The film is also a loving tribute to Paris, the cinema, and the art of storytelling, with direct and indirect references to Franz Kafka, E. T. A. Hoffman, Charlie Chaplin, Lon Chaney, Eadweard Muybridge, Georges Franju, and others. (Scob, who starred in Franju’s Eyes Without a Face, at one point even pulls out a mask similar to the one she wore in that classic thriller.) The outstanding cast also features Kylie Minogue, who does indeed get to sing; Eva Mendes as a robotic model; and Michel Piccoli as the mysterious Man with the Birthmark. Holy Motors is screening August 8 in the MoMA series “Future Imperfect: The Uncanny in Science Fiction,” which includes seventy films from around the world that question what is human; the festival continues through August 31 with such other unusual works as Felipe Cazals’s El año de la peste, David Cronenberg’s Shivers and Videodrome, Alex Proyas’s Dark City, the aforementioned Eyes Without a Face, and Geoff Murphy’s The Quiet Earth and Nozim To’laho’jayev’s Budet laskovyi dozhd (“There Will Come Soft Rains”), introduced by Neil deGrasse-Tyson.
Who: Staceyann Chin, Ntozake Shange, Sarah Kay
What: SummerStage program with Nuyorican Poets Cafe
Where: East River Park, FDR Drive between Jackson & Cherry Sts.
When: Wednesday, August 9, free, 7:00
Why: Any chance to see poet, playwright, activist, novelist, children’s book writer, and feminist Ntozake Shange is a special opportunity, so don’t miss her on August 9 when she comes to East River Park in a spoken-word SummerStage program held in conjunction with the Nuyorican Poets Cafe. Winner of Obie Awards for Mother Courage and Her Children and for colored girls who have considered suicide / when the rainbow is enuf, the Pushcart Prize, and a Guggenheim fellowship and nominated for a Tony, a Grammy, and an Emmy, Shange changed her given name from Paulette Williams while in graduate school, choosing one that means “she who comes with her own things” (Ntozake) and “who walks like a lion” (Shange), which represents her quite well. She’ll be joined at East River Park by Brooklyn-based, Jamaica-born Staceyann Chin, a self-described “out poet and political activist” and single mother who has appeared on and off Broadway and written a memoir, The Other Side of Paradise, as well as New York poet and Project VOICE founder and codirector Sarah Kay, who began reading her poetry publicly in the city when she was fourteen, has published such books as No Matter the Wreckage, b, and The Type, and gave the extremely popular TED talk “If I should have a daughter . . .” in 2011.