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



Four women are trapped in a horrific nightmare in Lucio A. Rojas’s Trauma, screening at Kew Gardens fest

TRAUMA (Lucio A. Rojas, 2017)
United Artists Midway 9
108-22 Queens Blvd.
Friday, August 10, $15, 11:59 pm
Festival continues through August 12

Lucio A. Rojas’s Trauma opens with a brutal, extraordinarily difficult-to-watch scene that is severe torture porn, daring viewers to look away as it goes places I won’t even begin to describe here. If you stick around to see what happens next, you might just feel dirty and shameful and maybe even hate yourself for doing so. That said, Rojas doesn’t hide what he has done; he has made a ferociously savage film that the opening credits say was inspired by real events, initiated by the ruthless barbarity of the Pinochet regime toward its own people in Chile. The trailer itself is NC-17, and the film is described as “extreme horror.” It has been awarded honors at the Mórbido Film Festival (Special Mention), Horrorant Fright Nights (Best Cinematography), and Vancouver Badass Film Festival (Best Actress). And now it’s the Midnight Madness Grindhouse selection on Friday night at the Kew Gardens Festival of Cinema. The first scene, which involves a mother and son in a grisly, gruesome situation, takes place in 1978; thirty-three years later, four young women — Andrea (Catalina Martin), her sister, Camila (Macarena Carrere), Camila’s girlfriend, Julia (Ximena del Solar), and Camila and Andrea’s cousin Magdalena (Dominga Bofill) — are going on vacation to a remote house that, little do they know, has quite a history, one that even local cops Pedro (Eduardo Paxeco) and Diego (Claudio Riveros) choose not to share with them. Soon they are at the mercy of Juan (Daniel Antivilo), a monster of a man — the 1978 child grown up — and his son, Mario (Felipe Rios), whose relentless evil knows no bounds.


Torture and terror take center stage in Trauma, screening in the Kew Gardens Festival of Cinema this week

Evoking such genre favorites as Saw, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and Hostel, Rojas outdoes all of them in his depiction of depravity, gore, and mayhem. Rojas (Sendero, Perfidia) is a skillful filmmaker and a brash manipulator; Trauma is not for the mere horror aficionado but for those fans who thirst for more. The movie reaches down dark and deep, showing things that really don’t need to be seen, even if they happened exactly as Rojas depicts, however unlikely that is. (There are numerous flashbacks as the story shifts between 1978 and 2011.) I have no problem with terrifying films filled with lots of blood and guts; however, Rojas’s attempts to relate the destruction and repression wrought by Pinochet get lost in all the abhorrent torment, while his biblical theme concerning the sins of the father gets overplayed. It’s essentially an exploitative women-in-danger flick — yes, there is nudity and sex because, well, you know — taken to another level. There’s a reason the Kew Gardens Festival of Cinema advises, “Absolutely no refunds will be given under any circumstances, including walk-outs.” Consider yourself warned.


Dennis Hopper found himself in Hollywood exile after making The Last Movie

Dennis Hopper found himself in Hollywood exile after making The Last Movie

THE LAST MOVIE (Dennis Hopper, 1971)
7 Ludlow St. between Canal & Hester Sts.
August 3-8

Flying high off his international success with Easy Rider in 1969, cowriter, director, and star Dennis Hopper was given carte blanche by Universal for his next film, 1971’s The Last Movie, a controversial picture that, despite winning the Critics Prize at the Venice Film Festival, led to Hopper’s unofficial exile from Hollywood for nearly a decade. The Last Movie has now been released in a gorgeous 4K digital restoration made by Il Cinema Ritrovata from the original 35mm camera negative, screening at Metrograph through August 8. As documented in Nick Ebeling’s 2017 Along for the Ride and elsewhere, The Last Movie was a longtime labor of love for Hopper and his cowriter, Stewart Stern (who had penned Rebel without a Cause, in which Hopper played a key role), but it ended up being a critical and financial flop. Over the years, there have been occasional rare screenings as the film’s legend grew, and the restoration proves that the mythos was fully justified. Hopper stars as Kansas, a movie wrangler working on a Western about Pat Garrett (Rod Cameron) and Billy the Kid (Dean Stockwell) in Chinchero, Peru, directed by one of the toughest auteurs of them all, the great, cigar-chomping Samuel Fuller (Pickup on South Street, Shock Corridor). Kansas is with former prostitute Maria (Stella Garcia), but he is instantly attracted to the fur-wearing Mrs. Anderson (Julie Adams), the wife of a wealthy factory owner (Roy Engel). Kansas’s best friend, Neville Robey (Don Gordon), wants Mr. Anderson to invest in his gold mine while both Anderson and Maria become jealous of Kansas’s romantic interest in Mrs. Anderson. In addition, following the accidental death of a stunt man during a dangerous scene, the local community of Chinchero blames Kansas and begins making their own movie directed by the vengeful Tomas Mercado (Daniel Ades), using real violence and fake equipment, creating a kind of passion play with Kansas at the center, much to the chagrin of the concerned priest (Tomas Milian), who was never in favor of Hollywood bringing its decadence to his town. It all leads to a stunning, unforgettable finale that questions much of what has come before.

last movie 2

Hopper, who was also a photographer and painter, said about the film, “The Last Movie is something that I made in Peru. I won the Venice Film Festival with it, and Universal Pictures wouldn’t distribute it. You should think about [Jean-Luc] Godard a little when you watch it. I made it because I’d read him say that movies should have a beginning, a middle, and an end — but not necessarily in that order. I was trying to use film like an Abstract Expressionist would use paint as paint. I’m constantly reminding you that we’re making a movie — I’m constantly making references to the fact that maybe you’re just being silly sitting in an audience, being sucked into a movie and starting to believe it — and then I jar you out of it. It’s not a very pleasant experience for most audiences.” But things have changed significantly over the last half-century, and audiences are now more attuned to watching nonlinear, more unorthodox films that merge fiction and reality and challenge them with purposely confusing plot twists and character development. Some scenes repeat, while others might have been lost — several times a title card identifies that a scene is missing, but it is impossible to know whether that is true or Hopper is playing with the viewer yet again. (The film was edited by David Berlatsky, Antranig Mahakian, and Hopper.) In fact, Tomas and the priest regularly refer to moviemaking as a game. It’s also not always clear when we’re watching the film, the film-within-a-film, or even a different film as Hopper explodes genre tropes to continually defy expectations. At one point the soundtrack features Kris Kristofferson singing “Me and Bobby McGee,” but the camera soon finds Kristofferson himself, guitar in hand, warbling away. Thus, when we later hear a song by John Buck Wilkin, we look for him as well.

Beautifully photographed by László Kovács, The Last Movie turns Kansas into a kind of Jesus figure. Both text and image often reference various stories from the Bible, directly and indirectly, including Jesus being whipped, his relationship with prostitute Mary Magdalene, a celebration around a golden calf, Jesus rising from a cave, and Christ being led to the cross. All seven deadly sins — gluttony, lust, greed, sloth, wrath, envy, and pride — enter the narrative. The color red plays a significant role, as if staining the land with blood, from fake movie blood to the color of Kansas’s truck. Everyone ends up guilty of something, with some paying a higher price than others; as the original 1971 production notes explain: “Every character in the film is an innocent. Only as they are tarnished by their participation in the games do they become agents of their own destruction. The dreams that they succumb to are all encompassed in or produced by the American dream. Their sin, however, is the movies.” Hollywood has done them in, as it will Hopper himself, who filled the cast with such nonconventional, mostly non-Hollywood actors as Henry Jaglom, Toni Basil, Severn Darden, Sylvia Miles, Warren Finnerty, Peter Fonda, Clint Kimbrough, John Phillip Law, Russ Tamblyn, and Michelle Phillips, who was married to Hopper for eight days. The two-time Oscar-nominated Hopper went on to direct such films as Out of the Blue, Colors, and The Hot Spot and appear in such works as Apocalypse Now, Blue Velvet, Hoosiers, True Romance, and Speed before passing away in May 2010 at the age of seventy-four. His legacy is now cemented with the restoration of The Last Movie, a masterpiece that should finally get the due it, and Hopper, deserves.


Ryuhei Sasaki (Teruyuki Kagawa) has trouble facing his sudden unemployment in Kiyoshi Kurosawas Tokyo Sonata

Ryuhei Sasaki (Teruyuki Kagawa) has trouble facing his sudden unemployment in Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s Tokyo Sonata

TOKYO SONATA (Kiyoshi Kurosawa, 2008)
Walter Reade Theater, Film Society of Lincoln Center
165 West 65th St. between Broadway & Amsterdam Aves.
Tuesday, August 7, 6:45
Festival runs through August 9

Winner of the Un Certain Regard Jury Prize at Cannes, Tokyo Sonata serves as a parable for modern-day Japan. Ryuhei Sasaki (Teruyuki Kagawa) is a simple family man, with a wife, Megumi (Kyōko Koizumi), two sons, Takashi (Yu Koyanagi) and Kenji (Kai Inowaki), and an honest job as an administration director for a major company. When Ryuhei is suddenly let go — he is being replaced by much cheaper Chinese labor — he is so ashamed, he doesn’t tell his family. Instead, he puts on his suit every day and, briefcase in hand, walks out the door, but instead of going to work, he first waits on line at the unemployment agency, then at an outdoor food kitchen for a free lunch with the homeless — and other businessmen in the same boat as he is. Taking out his anger on his family, Ryuhei refuses to allow Kenji to take piano lessons and protests strongly against Takashi’s desire to join the American military. But then, on one crazy night — which includes a shopping mall, a haphazard thief (Koji Yakusho), a convertible, and some unexpected violence — it all comes to a head, leading to a brilliant finale that makes you forget all of the uneven missteps in the middle of the film, which is about a half hour too long anyway.

Kagawa (Sukiyaki Western Django, Tokyo!), is outstanding as the sad-sack husband and father, matched note for note by the wonderful pop star Koizumi (Hanging Garden, Adrift in Tokyo), who searches for strength as everything around her is falling apart. And it’s always great to see Yakusho, the star of such films as Kurosawa’s Cure, Shohei Imamura’s The Eel, Rob Marshall’s Memoirs of a Geisha, and Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Babel, seen here as a wild-haired, wild-eyed wannabe burglar. Tokyo Sonata, which is warmly photographed by Akiko Ashizawa, is screening August 7 at 6:45 in the Film Society of Lincoln Center series “The Female Gaze,” consisting of nearly three dozen films shot by women, investigating whether they bring something different to cinematic storytelling than men do. The series continues through August 9 with such other works as Céline Sciamma’s Tomboy, photographed by Crystel Fournier; Wim Wenders’s Pina in 3D, photographed by Hélène Louvart; Babette Mangolte’s The Camera: Je or La Camera: I, photographed by Mangolte; and Jacques Rivette’s Around a Small Mountain, photographed by Irina Lubtchansky.


Black Panther

Black Panther is screening for free in Cunningham Park on August 6

The free summer arts & culture season is under way, with dance, theater, music, art, film, and other special outdoor programs all across the city. Every week we will be recommending a handful of events. Keep watching twi-ny for more detailed highlights as well.

Sunday, August 5
Movies Under the Stars: Escape to Witch Mountain (John Hough, 1975), Beach 94th St. off Shorefront Parkway in Rockaway Beach, 8:00

Monday, August 6
Movies Under the Stars: Black Panther (Ryan Coogler, 2018), Cunningham Park, Queens, 8:00

Tuesday, August 7
signs & symbols: artists & allies, group exhibition opening featuring work and discourse, with live performances and discussions continuing every Thursday night through September 7, signs & symbols, 102 Forsyth St., 6:00

Wednesday, August 8
Hip to Hip Free Shakespeare in the Park: All’s Well That Ends Well, directed by Owen Thompson, Flushing Meadows Corona Park at the Unisphere, continues in repertory with King Lear at various parks through August 25, Kids & the Classics workshop at 7:00, show at 7:30

Wild Style will celebrate its thirty-fifth anniversary with special guests on August 9

Wild Style will celebrate its thirty-fifth anniversary with special guests on August 9 in East River Park

Thursday, August 9
SummerStage: Wild Style 35th Anniversary Reunion at the Amphitheater with special guest DJ Funk Flex, with Almighty Kay Gee, Busy Bee, Charlie Ahearn, DJ Grand Wizzard Theodore, DJ Tony Crush, Eclipse, EZ AD, Grand Master Caz, Patti Astor, and Rodney C and preshow hip-hop dance workshop with Fabel, East River Park Amphitheater in John V. Lindsay East River Park, 6:00

Friday, August 10
Lincoln Center Out of Doors: West Side Story Reimagined, with Bobby Sanabria Multiverse Big Band and poetry by La Bruja and Rich Villar, Damrosch Park Bandshell, 7:30

Saturday, August 11, 18, 25
Norte Maar’s Dance at Socrates, with Kristina Hay and Hilary Brown | HB² PROJECTS and Gleich Dances with Sarah Louise Kristiansen on August 11, Movement Migration | Blakeley White-McGuire and Project 44 | Gierre Godley with Janice Rosario & Company on August 18, and Kyle Marshall Choreography and Kathryn Alter and Dancers with Thomas/Ortiz Dance and konverjdans on August 25, Socrates Sculpture Park, 4:00

Sunday, August 12
Blues Brunch with Bill Sims Jr., Bryant Park Southwest Porch, 12 noon



Marek (Paul Kirill Emelyanov), Boss (Danil Vorobyev), and Daniel (Oliver Rabourdin) get involved in a dangerous game in Eastern Boys

EASTERN BOYS (Robin Campillo, 2013)
Walter Reade Theater, Film Society of Lincoln Center
165 West 65th St. between Broadway & Amsterdam Aves.
Saturday, August 4, 4:45
Festival runs through August 9

Robin Campillo takes a genuinely compassionate look at immigration, home invasion, and sexual obsession in the compelling, always surprising Eastern Boys. Seeking out companionship, middle-aged Daniel (Olivier Rabourdin) spots young Marek (Kirill Emelyanov) and cruises him at the Gare du Nord station in Paris. They set up a paid rendezvous at Daniel’s apartment for the next day, but Marek’s arrival is preceded by that of his primarily male friends from Eastern Europe, illegal immigrants who begin taking things from Daniel’s place as they dance and drink; it’s a heartbreaking party scene, with Daniel not knowing how to react, an implicit if not overt threat to his physical well-being hovering over the thick atmosphere. But when Marek eventually does show up, Daniel is desperate for his attention, still determined to be alone with him, an attraction that has dangerous consequences.

Employing a cinéma vérité style with Jeanne Lapoirie as cinematographer, writer, director, and editor Campillo, whose previous, debut feature was 2004’s Les Revenants and has written several films with Laurent Cantet, including The Class and Heading South, tells the intimate story of Daniel and Marek’s complicated relationship with grace and subtlety as they both balance fear with desire, knowing that the unpredictable and violent Boss (Danil Vorobyev), the leader of the gang, is lurking around them. The opening scene has a documentary, neo-Realist quality, but it’s all fiction, the characters portrayed by actors. Campillo divides the film into four chapters based on location and thematic elements, with the home invasion set in his own apartment so he could feel like he himself was being invaded while making it. Nominated for three César Awards (Best Picture, Best Director, and Emelyanov as Most Promising Actor) Eastern Boys goes from a dark romance to a gripping thriller in the final section, but Campillo never reverts to purely good and evil characters, and he provides no straightforward answers, especially in the open-ended finale, while raising important questions about society. It’s a deeply affecting film, one that seeps into your system, an often uncomfortable experience that mirrors Daniel’s fascination with Marek; you’ll squirm in your seat, but you won’t be able to turn away. Eastern Boys is screening August 4 at 4:45 in the Film Society of Lincoln Center series “The Female Gaze,” consisting of nearly three dozen works shot by women, investigating whether they bring something different to cinematic storytelling. The series continues through August 9 with such other films as Ryan Coogler’s Fruitvale Station, photographed by Rachel Morrison; Bertrand Bonello’s House of Tolerance, photographed by Josée Deshaies; Gus Van Sant’s Paranoid Park, photographed by Rain Li; and Todd Haynes’s Velvet Goldmine, photographed by Maryse Alberti.


Craig Anderson seeks to accomplish his dream of making a feature film in Horror Movie

Craig Anderson seeks to accomplish his dream of making a feature film in Horror Movie

Queens Museum Block 3
Flushing Meadows Corona Park, New York City Building
Sunday, August 5, $10, 12 noon
Festival continues through August 12

“The only thing I ever wanted to do was make a movie, and somewhere along the line I got confused and made television. Now I’m thirty-eight, and I’m old, and parts of my life have just fallen by the wayside,” a distraught Craig Anderson says at the beginning of the terrific documentary Horror Movie – A Low Budget Nightmare. “What I don’t want to be is the guy who dies not having done what they should have done. So, I’m gonna make a movie,” he adds, tearing up. His determination to make a feature-length motion picture is documented in all its gory guts and glory by award-winning director and producer Gary Doust, who captures intimate and revealing footage of one man trying to live out his dream against seemingly insurmountable odds. Anderson, an Australian television regular behind and in front of the camera, spent two years polishing the script for Red Christmas, which he explains is “about an aborted foetus that survives its abortion, grows up, and kills its family.” Doust shows the somewhat jolly, extremely self-deprecating, apparently very single Anderson sleeping on the floor of a warehouse, trying to get more money out of his brother, sneaking around at night doing questionable location scouting, and failing to fill out all the proper union paperwork that would allow his otherwise ready, willing, and able star, horror movie fixture and Daytime Emmy nominee Dee Wallace — who’s had major roles in E.T. the Extraterrestrial, Cujo, The Howling, and the original The Hills Have Eyes as well as such other fright flicks as Alligator 2: The Mutation, The Lords of Salem, and Apparitional — to come to Australia and act in the movie. Anderson’s crew consists primarily of friends and relatives, very few of whom have any experience whatsoever doing the jobs they’ve been hired for, including Bryan Moses as first assistant director, Douglas James Burgdorff as cinematographer, and his father, Rob Anderson, as the sheriff in the movie. Craig has also set up quite a schedule, planning to shoot 336 scenes in 16 days in order to stay on budget and allow him to edit and finish the film in time to submit to festivals. But as problems increase, Anderson is inordinately troubled as he sees his deepest desire possibly fade away forever.

Horror Movie – A Low Budget Nightmare is not just about one man attempting to find out whether he’s Steven Spielberg or Ed Wood Jr. It’s about any person chasing their dreams, seeking to get past catastrophe after catastrophe to achieve their goals, no matter how ridiculous or crazy they might seem. We root for Anderson, both a mensch and a schlemiel, to succeed because it is like rooting for ourselves; if he can make it, then we can too, or at least give it a legitimate shot. Watching Anderson interact with Wallace and O’Dwyer in particular is utterly cathartic while also being uncomfortable enough that we feel his trepidation and self-doubt as we continue to cheer him on to gain more knowledge and confidence in the process. Fan favorite Wallace brings respect and dignity to the set, challenging Anderson to do his best and not embarrass himself in front of a genre star. Doust (Making Venus, Blue Zoo) and editor Julie-Anne de Ruvo expertly guide us through Anderson’s follies and foibles, making the film a kind of procedural thriller, while composer John Gray ably jumps around multiple genres, including paying homage to John Carpenter (as does Anderson on one of his T-shirts). At its heart, the documentary is supremely enjoyable because Anderson is such a pathetic yet likable doofus of a guy, a man who is desperate to accomplish this one major thing in his life before he dies, even though he is only thirty-eight, and it’s almost impossible for everyone not to relate to him in one way or another while also feeling empathy and compassion for his endless, charming ineptness. Horror Movie – A Low Budget Nightmare is screening August 5 at the Kew Gardens Festival of Cinema and will be preceded by Josephine Massarella’s seven-minute experimental Canadian short 165708, featuring a score by Graham Stewart. The festival continues at the Queens Museum and the United Artists Midway on Queens Boulevard through August 12.


A beekeeping family tries to hold it all together in THE WONDERS

A beekeeping family tries to hold it all together in The Wonders

THE WONDERS (LE MERAVIGLIE) (Alice Rohrwacher, 2014)
Walter Reade Theater, Film Society of Lincoln Center
165 West 65th St. between Broadway & Amsterdam Aves.
Friday, August 3, 9:15
Wednesday, August 8, 3:45
Festival runs through August 9

Winner of the Grand Prix at the Cannes Film Festival, Alice Rohrwacher’s The Wonders is a sweet little gem of a movie, focusing on a German-Italian family that finds itself at a critical crossroads. Set in Rohrwacher’s (Corpo celeste) hometown in the countryside between Umbria-Lazio and Tuscany, the film follows the travails of a beekeeping family led by the gangly Wolfgang (Sam Louwyck), a grumpy ne’er-do-well from one of the Germanic countries who is trying to live some kind of back-to-the-land life away from authorities in an undeveloped backwater. His allegiance to old-fashioned tradition includes overworking his four young daughters while his wife, Angelica (Alba Rohrwacher, the director’s older sister), keeps at a distance and live-in friend Cocò (Sabine Timoteo) keeps stirring up the pot. At the center of it all is twelve-year-old Gelsomina (first-time actress Maria Alexandra Lungu, who was discovered in a catechism class), an exceptional beekeeper who wants her father to allow the family to participate in a television contest, Countryside Wonders, that could earn them much-needed money. But her father prefers taking care of things himself — though not very well, particularly when he acquires a camel for no apparent reason. Suspicious of the government and contemporary society, Wolfgang likes living in relative isolation; inviting strangers into their world could reveal the illegal working conditions, not to mention abuse of child labor laws. However, Gelsomina is determined to improve their existence, starting with the competition, which is hosted by the beguiling, fairy-tale-like Milly Catena (Monica Bellucci in a marvelous white head piece, partially poking fun at her own sex-symbol image).

Propelled by Lungu’s beautifully gentle performance, which captures the essence of so many basic childhood dilemmas, The Wonders is a warm, tender-hearted film, one that keeps buzzing even if it lacks a big sting, a coming-of-age drama not only for Gelsomina but for the family as a whole. Photographed in a neorealist style by Hélène Louvart, the film is about tradition and change, about the city and the country, about the old and the new, about what home means, and, yes, about bees and honey; there are no trick shots or special effects when it comes to the actors working with beehives and swarms. “The parents of Maria Alexandra Lungu were very happy,” the director states in the film’s press kit. “They said that if the film wouldn’t work out, at least their daughter learned a real skill and could become a beekeeper!” The Wonders, which was a selection of the fifty-second New York Film Festival, is screening August 3 at 9:15 and August 8 at 3:45 in the Lincoln Center series “The Female Gaze,” consisting of nearly three dozen films with women cinematographers, investigating whether women bring something different to cinematic storytelling. The series continues through August 9 with such other works as Kirsten Johnson’s Cameraperson, photographed by Johnson; Michel Gondry’s Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, photographed by Ellen Kuras; Claire Denis’s The Intruder, photographed by Agnès Godard; and Jacques Rivette’s Le Pont du Nord, photographed by Caroline Chametier.