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

COMPOSING FOR THE SUN: A CONVERSATION WITH PHILIP GLASS

(photo © Richard Hubert Smith / English National Opera)

Philip Glass will be at Japan Society on November 6 to talk about Akhnaten (photo © Richard Hubert Smith / English National Opera)

Who: Philip Glass, Tom Hare, Anthony Roth Costanzo
What: Conversation, performance, reception
Where: Japan Society, 333 East 47th St. at First Ave., 212-715-1258
When: Wednesday, November 6, $28, 6:30
Why: On November 8, the Met is premiering a new production of Philip Glass’s Akhnaten, directed by Phelim McDermott, conducted by Karen Kamensek, and featuring countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo as the monotheistic title pharaoh and mezzo-soprano J’Nai Bridges as Nefertiti. On November 6, Japan Society is hosting “Composing for the Sun: A Conversation with Philip Glass,” in which the eighty-two-year-old Glass, whose other operas include Einstein on the Beach, In the Penal Colony, Satyagraha, and The Civil Wars: A Tree Is Best Measured When It Is Down, will sit down with Princeton professor Tom Hare to talk about the opera; as a bonus, Costanzo will perform an excerpt from the work, and there will be a post-event reception with the artists. Tickets are sold out, but a waitlist will start one hour before the start time. The presentation is part of Japan Society’s Emperor Series, celebrating Emperor Naruhito’s ascension to the Chrysanthemum Throne in May.

PERFORMA 19

Sarah Friedland: CROWDS,

Sarah Friedland’s CROWDS will attract crowds at La MaMa as part of Performa Biennial

Multiple locations
November 1-24, free - $50
performa19.org/tickets

The eighth annual Performa Biennial kicks off today, celebrating the hundredth anniversary of the Staatliches Bauhaus, the German art school founded in 1919 by Walter Gropius that set in motion a major movement in art, architecture, and design around the world. There will be dozens of performances across disciplines, including film, dance, theater, music, installation, and unique hybrids, often incorporating architectural and sculptural elements, as well as conversations and panel discussions through November 24. The price for ticketed events range from $10 to $50, with most around $15-$25; among the highlights are artist Nairy Baghramian, dancer-choreographer Maria Hassabi, late modernist designer Janette Laverrière, and architect Carlo Mollino’s Entre Deux Actes (Ménage à Quatre), taking place on two floors of a Fifth Avenue town house; Lap-See Lam’s Phantom Banquet, a multimedia performance piece about ghosts and Chinese restaurants in Sweden; Pat’s You’re at Home, a one-night-only collaboration between Jacolby Satterwhite and Nick Weiss; Yvonne Rainer’s restaging of her seminal 1965 work Parts of Some Sextets, with new choreography and a recording of the original score; Huang Po-Chin’s Heaven on Fourth, which tells the story of a Chinese immigrant sex worker who committed suicide in Flushing in 2017; and the grand finale, Radio Voices, led by David J of Bauhaus and Love & Rockets with special guests Curse Mackey, Rona Rougeheart, Vangeline, and Heather Paauwe. But there are also dozens of free shows in cool locations, from museums and art galleries to outside on the street, most of which do not require advance RSVP; the full list is below.

Friday, November 1, 4:00 - 8:00
Saturday November 2, 4:00 - 8:00
Sunday, November 3, 2:00 - 6:00

Zakaria Almoutlak and Andros Zins-Browne: Atlas Unlimited: Acts VII–X, with the voices of Ganavya Doraiswamy and Aliana de la Guardia, 80 Washington Square East

Friday, November 1
through
Sunday, November 24

Ylva Snöfrid: Nostalgia — Acts of Vanitas, daily painting performance ritual, fifth-floor loft at 147 Spring St.

Saturday, November 2
Shu Lea Cheang, Matthew Fuller: SLEEP1237, Performa Hub, 47 Wooster St., 5:50 pm - 6:25 am

Gaetano Pesce: WORKINGALLERY, Salon 94 Design, 3 East Eighty-Ninth St., 2:00 - 4:00

Saturday, November 2
through
Sunday, November 24

Yu Cheng-Ta: “Fameme,” live and filmed performances about reality television, Wallplay, 321 Canal St.

Tuesday, November 5
Tara Subkoff: Deepfake, the Hole, 312 Bowery, 7:00

November 6, 13, 16, 20
Luca Veggetti with Moe Yoshida: From Weimar to Taipei (Roland Gebhardt-Mercedes Searer’s Selfdom, Luca Veggetti’s Fourth Character, Chin Chih Yang’s Black Hole, Rolando Peña’s Less Is More), WhiteBox Harlem, 213 East 121st St., 7:00

Thursday, November 7
Yahon Chang: Untitled, Performa Hub: Deitch Projects, 18 Wooster St., 5:00

Sarah Friedland: CROWDS, three-channel video installation of durational dance, La MaMa La Galleria, 47 Great Jones St., 6:00

Saturday, November 9
Pia Camil and Mobile Print Power: Screen Printing Workshop, Queens Museum, 1:00

Niels Bolbrinker and Thomas Tielsch: Bauhaus Spirit: 100 Years of Bauhaus, Goethe-Institut New York, 30 Irving Pl., 3:00

Duke Riley: Non-Essential Consultants, Inc., Red Hook Labs, 133 Imlay St., 6:00

LAP-SEE LAM, PHANTOM BANQUET, 2019. PRODUCTION STILL. COURTESY THE ARTIST AND GALERIE NORDENHAKE, STOCKHOLM.

Lap-See Lam’s Phantom Banquet takes place at Deitch Projects (photo courtesy the artist and Galerie Nordenhake, Stockholm)

Sunday, November 10
Glendalys Medina: No Microphone, Participant Inc., 253 East Houston St. #1, 4:00

Sunday, November 10, 17, 24
Glendalys Medina: The Shank Live, Participant Inc., 253 East Houston St. #1, 8:00 am

Monday, November 11
Nkisi: Listening Session, Performa Hub, 47 Wooster St., 6:00

Monday, November 11
through
Sunday, November 17

Dimitri Chamblas, Sigrid Pawelke: UNLIMITED BODIES, Performa Hub: Deitch Projects, 18 Wooster St., 12:00 and/or 1:00

Tuesday, November 12
Huang Po-Chih, Su Hui-Yu, Yu Cheng-Ta: “The Afterlife of Live Performance” Panel Discussion, Performa Hub, 47 Wooster St., 6:00

Adam Weinert: Monuments: Echoes in the Dance Archive, the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, Bruno Walter Auditorium, 111 Amsterdam Ave., 6:00

Tuesday, November 12, 19
Glendalys Medina: Dear Me, Participant Inc., 253 East Houston St. #1, advance RSVP required, 4:00 - 9:00

Wednesday, November 13
Paul Maheke, Ligia Lewis, Nkisi: Levant, Goethe-Institut Cultural Residencies, Ludlow 38, 38 Ludlow St., 6:00

Thursday, November 14
The New Blockheads: The Brotherhood of the New Blockheads, the Mishkin Gallery, 135 East Twenty-Second St., 6:00

Friday, November 15
Bauhaus at the Margins: Gender, Queer, and Sexual Politics, Performa Hub, 47 Wooster St., 6:00

Heman Chong, Fyerool Darma, Ho Rui An, and Erika Tan: As the West Slept, Silver Art Projects, 4 World Trade Center, twenty-eighth floor, 7:00

Glendalys Medina: Dear Me, Participant Inc.,

Glendalys Medina’s Dear Me plays to one visitor at a time (photo courtesy the artist)

Saturday, November 16
“A School for Creating Humans”: Bauhaus Education and Aesthetics Revisited, Performa Hub, 47 Wooster St., 1:00

Sunday, November 17
Bodybuilding: Architecture and Performance Book Launch, including a lecture-performance by New Affiliates (Ivi Diamantopoulou and Jaffer Kolb), Performa Hub, 47 Wooster St., 4:00

Lap-See Lam in conversation with Charlene K. Lau, Performa Hub, 47 Wooster St., free with advance RSVP, 4:00

Tuesday, November 19, 6:00
through
Sunday, November 24, 8:00

Éva Mag: Dead Matter Moves, production of clay bodies, the Gym at Judson Memorial Church, 243 Thompson St., 1:00 - between 5:00 & 8:00

Tuesday, November 19, 6:00
Friday, November 22, 8:00

Torkwase Dyson: I Can Drink the Distance: Plantationocene in 2 Acts, multimedia performative installation, Pace Gallery, 540 West Twenty-Fifth St.

Thursday, November 21
Machine Dazzle, Narcissister and Rammellzee: Otherworldly: Performance, Costume and Difference, Aronson Gallery, Sheila Johnson Design Center at Parsons School of Design, 66 Fifth Ave., 6:00

Sarah Friedland: CROWDS — Conversation with Tess Takahashi, La MaMa La Galleria, 47 Great Jones St., 7:00

Thursday, November 21, 6:00
Saturday, November 23, 1:00 & 3:00
Sunday, November 24, 1:00 & 3:00

Tarik Kiswanson: AS DEEP AS I COULD REMEMBER, AS FAR AS I COULD SEE, featuring eleven-year-old children reading his writings, Alexander Hamilton US Custom House, 1 Bowling Green, free with advance tickets

Friday, November 22
Tarik Kiswanson: AS DEEP AS I COULD REMEMBER, AS FAR AS I COULD SEE: In Conversation with Performa Curator Charles Aubin, Performa Hub, 47 Wooster St., 5:00

Saturday, November 23
Cecilia Bengolea, Michèle Lamy: Untitled Performa Commission, featuring boxers and ballet, dancehall, vogue, and contemporary dancers, Performa Hub: Deitch Projects, 18 Wooster St., 4:00

Sunday, November 24, 8:00
Éva Mag: Dead Matter Moves — In Conversation with Camilla Larsson and Yuvinka Medina, the Gym at Judson Memorial Church, 243 Thompson St., 3:00

FIRST SATURDAYS: CROSSING ASIAN AMERICA

Xu Bing, Square Word Calligraphy: Crossing Brooklyn Ferry, Walt Whitman, ink on paper, 2018

Xu Bing, Square Word Calligraphy: Crossing Brooklyn Ferry, Walt Whitman, ink on paper, 2018 (photo courtesy of the artist)

Brooklyn Museum
200 Eastern Parkway at Washington St.
Saturday, November 2, free (some events require advance tickets), 5:00 - 11:00
212-864-5400
www.brooklynmuseum.org

The Brooklyn Museum parties with Asian pride in the November edition of its free First Saturday program. There will be live performances by the Brooklyn Symphony Orchestra (playing works by Mastora Goya and Chen Yihan, featuring such instruments as the koto, erhu, guzheng, and pipa), Hong Kong-born, Brooklyn raised singer-songwriter Reonda, the Metropolitan Opera (previewing Philip Glass’s Akhnaten with countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo, the Brooklyn Youth Chorus, Gandini Juggling, and the Philip Glass Institute at the New School’s College of Performing Arts), Collective BUBBLE_T (with DJ sets by Tito Vida and Stevie Huynh, Clara Lu performing “The Butterfly Lovers” on guzheng, and Walang Hiya NYC), Miho Hatori’s New Optimism, and comics Fumi Abe, Karen Chee, Saurin Choksi, Aidan Park, and Irene Tu; a screening of Mountains That Take Wing (C. A. Griffith & H. L. T. Quan, 2009), followed by a talk with community organizer Akemi Kochiyama, granddaughter of one of the film’s subjects; poetry readings by Diannely Antigua, Mark Doty, and Jessica Greenbaum, hosted by Jason Koo, celebrating Walt Whitman, the inspiration behind the exhibition “One: Xu Bing”; teen pop-up talks in the Arts of Japan galleries; a curator tour of the Arts of China galleries and “One: Xu Bing” with Susan L. Beningson; a hands-on art workshop in which participants can make works on paper with brushpens inspired by the calligraphy in Arts of Asia galleries; and a community talk with the W.O.W. Project about the future of Chinatown. In addition, the galleries will be open late so you can check out “Garry Winogrand: Color,” “Nobody Promised You Tomorrow: Art 50 Years After Stonewall,” “JR: Chronicles,” “Pierre Cardin: Future Fashion,” “Infinite Blue,” and more.

WHITE LIGHT FESTIVAL — ZAUBERLAND: AN ENCOUNTER WITH SCHUMANN’S DICHTERLIEBE

Soprano Julia Bullock plays a pregnant Syrian refugee in reimagined Schumann song cycle (photo copyright Patrick Berger)

Soprano Julia Bullock plays a pregnant Syrian refugee in reimagined Schumann song cycle (photo copyright Patrick Berger)

Gerald W. Lynch Theater at John Jay College
524 West Fifty-Ninth St. between Tenth & Eleventh Aves.
October 29-30, $35-$95
Festival continues through November 24
www.lincolncenter.org

English theater director Katie Mitchell transforms German composer and pianist Robert Schumann’s 1840 song cycle, Dichterliebe (“A Poet’s Love”), into a haunting tale about the European migrant crisis in Zauberland (“Magic Land”), making its New York premiere October 29-30 at Lincoln Center’s White Light Festival. A production of C.I.C.T. — Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord, the eighty-minute piece, staged in the Gerald W. Lynch Theater at John Jay College, features St. Louis-born rising star soprano Julia Bullock, the 2018-19 artist-in-residence at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the 2019-20 artist-in-residence at the San Francisco Symphony, as a pregnant Syrian refugee fleeing Aleppo for the safer confines of Cologne, leaving her family behind. The original Lieder, with words by German writer Heinrich Heine from his Lyrisches Intermezzo, has been expanded with new text by British playwright Martin Crimp and music by Belgian composer and conductor Bernard Foccroulle, specifically created for Bullock.

The cast also includes Ben Clifford, Natasha Kafka, David Rawlins, and Raphael Zari, with Cédric Tiberghien on piano, sets and costumes by Chloe Lamford, and lighting by James Farncombe. Bullock is best known for Perle Noire: Meditations for Joséphine, a work about Josephine Baker she conceived with Peter Sellars; she has also appeared in Terence Blanchard’s Fire Shut Up in My Bones, John Adams’s Girls of the Golden West, and Leoš Janaček’s The Cunning Little Vixen, among other productions around the world, in addition to being a community activist. Schumann wrote Dichterliebe in the span of a week during a particularly productive time, the year he married Clara Wieck. It takes on a whole new meaning in this contemporary reimagination.

WESTERN STARS

Western Stars

Bruce Springsteen takes a deep look into his life in Western Stars (photo courtesy Warner Bros.)

WESTERN STARS (Thom Zimny & Bruce Springsteen, 2019)
Opens Friday, October 25
brucespringsteen.net
www.warnerbros.com

Bruce Springsteen continues his very public deep dive into his psyche and sense of self with the documentary Western Stars, which opens in theaters on October 25. The movie is part of an unofficial trilogy that began with the 2016 memoir Born to Run and was followed by Springsteen on Broadway. Bruce’s (mostly) one-man show ran at the Walter Kerr Theatre for more than a year, concluding in mid-December 2018, and it earned him a special Tony; Western Stars premiered in early October at the Toronto International Film Festival. In June, Springsteen released his nineteenth studio album, Western Stars, a gorgeous collection of swirling California pop songs, paying tribute to the likes of Jimmy Webb, Burt Bacharach, and Glen Campbell, about characters from the West facing loneliness as they grow older. Bruce opted not to tour behind the album and instead decided to make a film highlighting the music while adding thoughtful, poignant narration, ruminating on character, faith, change, moving forward, and growing wiser with age.

Bruce headed into his hundred-year-old barn on his Colts Neck farm in New Jersey and performed the album live for a small, intimate group of friends and relatives, who sit at small tables as if at a nightclub, politely clapping after some songs. Bruce is joined by his wife, Patti Scialfa, on acoustic guitar and vocals; backup singers including E Street Band violinist Soozie Tyrell; a horn section with regular Bruce sideman Curt Ramm; E Streeter Charlie Giordano on piano and accordion; and a thirty-piece string orchestra. The songs are not mere re-creations from the album but are given more life and breadth here, with dazzling, lush versions of “Hitch Hikin’,” “The Wayfarer,” “Tucson Train,” “Chasin’ Wild Horses,” “Hello Sunshine,” and others; he turns “Stones” and “Moonlight Motel” into powerful duets with Scialfa, who does not sing on the record. (He has called the film a “love letter” to Scialfa.) He also adds a bonus encore that is tremendous fun.

(photo courtesy Warner Bros.)

Bruce and Patti pose for the camera on their honeymoon in Western Stars (photo courtesy Warner Bros.)

In between each song, Bruce talks either on camera or in voice-over about the upcoming tune and/or his state of mind as cinematographer Joe DeSalvo films him around the farm and follows him as he visits with his horses and goes to Joshua Tree National Park in Southern California. Codirected by Springsteen and his longtime collaborator and videographer, Thom Zimny, the film features an inordinate amount of shots of Bruce driving around in cars, donning cowboy hats, examining himself in mirrors, looking out in the distance contemplatively, driving around some more, and putting on more cowboy hats amid close-up after close-up of his expressive face. “The older you get, the heavier that baggage becomes that you haven’t sorted through, so you run. I’ve done a lot of that kind of running,” he admits, waxing philosophic in his gravelly, distinctive voice. “Change — how do you change yourself?” he asks. “It’s easy to lose yourself or never find yourself.” he explains. Zimny intercuts vintage home movies from the Springsteen family archive, including Bruce as a child and, later, in a sweetly romantic moment with Patti at a picnic on their honeymoon, all with new instrumental music playing underneath.

Just as with his autobiography and Broadway show, Springsteen brings up personal flaws and his intense difficulty finding true and complete happiness, powerful stuff coming from an ultra-successful artist in a happy marriage with three apparently good kids. “We all have our broken pieces. . . . In this life, nobody gets away unhurt,” he opines. His vision of the mythological American male in the West is not John Wayne’s, and it’s not Sam Shepard’s or the Beach Boys’ either; in fact, in the title track, the narrator is a minor actor whose claim to fame is that he was shot by the macho Wayne at the end of a movie (“That one scene bought me a thousand drinks / Set me up and I’ll tell it for you, friend”). In the bright-sounding “Hello Sunshine,” Springsteen is not so much welcoming the sun but practically begging it to not go away. “Had enough of heartbreak and pain / Had a little sweet spot for the rain / For the rain and skies of gray / Hello sunshine, won’t you stay,” he sings, with more than a touch of desperation. As he noted on his 1988 Tunnel of Love Express tour, “It’s a dark ride,” but as always with Bruce, it’s another one worth taking.

WHITE LIGHT FESTIVAL: EN MASSE

(photo © David Kelly)

The ten members of Circa Ensemble are trapped in a cube in En Masse (photo © David Kelly)

Gerald W. Lynch Theater at John Jay College
524 West Fifty-Ninth St. between Tenth & Eleventh Aves.
October 23-25, $55-$95
Festival continues through November 24
www.lincolncenter.org
circa.org.au

Australia’s Circa Ensemble returns to Lincoln Center’s White Light Festival for the first time in five years with the death-defying, awe-inspiring En Masse, continuing at the Gerald W. Lynch Theater through October 25. Incorporating acrobatics and gymnastics into contemporary dance with flashes of balletic structures, the Brisbane-based troupe, which presented How Like an Angel at the Union Theological Seminary in 2014, has nothing less than the end of the world on its mind — and what happens after. Created by director and stage designer Yaron Lifschitz with the company, the evening-length work is divided into two related parts. In the first half, the ten extremely talented and brave dancers — Caroline Baillon, Marty Evans, Piri Lee Goodman, Keaton Hentoff-Killian, Cecilia Martin, Hamish McCourty, Daniel O’Brien, Kimberley O’Brien, Jarrod Takle, and Sandy Tugwood — break apart and come together to alternating music by Franz Schubert, Lieders from Schwanengesang (“Ständchen,” “In der Ferne,” “Der Doppelgänger”) and Winterreise (“Der Leiermann,” “Gute Nacht,” “Die Nebensonnen,” “Frühlingstraum”), and electronic music and noise from twenty-six-year-old Swedish composer Klara Lewis (“Msuic I,” “Want,” “Too,” “Beaming”).

(photo © David Kelly)

Tenor Robert Murray beautifully sings Schubert Lieders in En Masse (photo © David Kelly)

The Schubert songs are marvelously sung by tenor Robert Murray, dressed like a vagabond with ratty clothing and carrying a tall, twisted walking stick (the costumes are by associate director Libby McDonnell), accompanied by Tamara-Anna Cislowska on a grand piano. The barefoot performers, wearing jeans and gray T-shirts, move in front of and behind a plastic curtain that comes down and raises again to reveal set changes. A woman crawls across the front of the stage, contorting her lower body into seemingly impossible positions. All ten dancers are trapped in a transparent inflated cube. A parade of solos, duets, and trios marches in the front. Three dancers build a precarious human pyramid, climbing on top of one another. The six men and four women run, jump, slide, get thrown, and threaten to fall against the hard floor — at one treacherous point the audience gasped loudly in unison as a man, fifteen feet in the air, falls, face forward. But Lifschitz has built in various fail safes to try to prevent any potential tragedies, unobtrusively using spotters, and the dancers, who have years of highly specialized circus and acrobatic training, are well-practiced at rolling into somersaults and other moves in case a lift, toss, or carry doesn’t go perfectly.

After intermission, the mood changes. Now that we’re familiar with Circa’s movement vocabulary and impressive skills, we’re not as worried about the safety of the performers, who have formed a kind of postapocalyptic community. All ten dancers are onstage for most of the second half, which is set to Igor Stravinsky’s Le sacre du printemps (“The Rite of Spring”), aggressively played by Cislowska and Michael Harvey on pianos that face each other at the back of the stage, and features dazzling lighting by Lifschitz and Richard Clarke. The situation is not quite as dire as the performers expand their repertoire, creating breathtaking formations, moving in unison, banding together to face the future. It’s no mere pie-in-the-sky hopefulness but a deep-seated belief in the innate instinct of humanity to forge ahead, to do whatever is necessary to survive and thrive. The first act is introduced by a quote from Italian philosopher Antonio Gramsci: “The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born,” while the second starts with a dictum from German philosopher Walter Benjamin: “There is no document of civilization that is not at the same time a document of barbarism.” En Masse is a document showing that something new can indeed be born, even in times of crisis and barbarism.

MOUNTAINTOP

Neil Young

Neil Young goes behind-the-scenes of the recording of Colorado in new documentary

MOUNTAINTOP (Bernard Shakey, 2019)
IFC Center, 323 Sixth Ave. at West Third St., 212-924-7771, 7:30
Landmark at 57 West, 657 West 57th St. at Twelfth Ave., 646-233-1615, 7:30
Nitehawk Cinema Williamsburg, 136 Metropolitan Ave., 9:45
One night only: Tuesday, October 22
mountaintopthemovie.com

Neil Young invites viewers behind the scenes of the making of his latest album, Colorado, in the documentary Mountaintop, playing in theaters one night only on October 22 in advance of the October 25 release of the record, the first he’s done with his longtime band Crazy Horse since 2012’s Psychedelic Pill. Directed by Young’s filmmaking alter ego, Bernard Shakey, Mountaintop takes place over the course of eleven days in the Studio in the Clouds in the San Juan Mountains outside Telluride, about nine thousand feet above sea level, where four old white guys come together to make some grand rockin’ music about love and climate change. “You might say I’m an old white guy / I’m an old white guy / You might say that,” Young sings on “She Showed Me Love,” about the attempted murder of Mother Nature. The seventy-three-year-old Canadian legend is joined by seventy-five-year-old bassist Billy Talbot and seventy-six-year-old drummer Ralph Molina — the two surviving original Crazy Horse members, who first played with Young on 1969’s Everyone Knows This Is Nowhere — and sixty-eight-year-old guitar virtuoso Nils Lofgren, who was eighteen when he played guitar and piano on Young’s 1970 solo record, After the Gold Rush. (Coincidentally, Lofgren’s other boss, seventy-year-old Bruce Springsteen, is releasing his documentary about his latest album, Western Stars, on Friday.) Early on, the band says they are having an “oxygen party” to keep them going, passing around tanks like bongs. “It’s old guys; young souls still alive in old souls and the music they make together,” Young writes on his website about the film. It’s hard not to laugh when you see the size of the type on the lyric sheets these old guys are using.

“Right now it’s a piece of fucking gold. It’s original fucking greatness,” Young says of the big-sounding “Rainbow of Colors.” After the calmer “House of Love,” on which Young plays piano and harmonica and Lofgren tap-dances, he says, “It doesn’t have to be good; just be great. You know, just feel good.” Young lives up to his billing as the Godfather of Grunge on the punk-infused “Help Me Lose My Mind”; Lofgren refers to Young’s singing on the track as “reckless narration with pitch,” which gets a chuckle out of Young, who is serious and ornery most of the time, understandably unhappy with the monitors (ironically, mostly on the song “Shut It Down”) and other details of the recording process, and he lets his longtime producer and engineer, John Hanlon, know it again and again. Hanlon, a coffee addict who is suffering from poison oak on his hand, has a meltdown at one point, screaming, “This is the most fucked-up studio I’ve ever fucking worked in in my life. . . I’m about ready to leave this fucking project, okay?” He demands that all cameras be removed from the studio and that the scene of him yelling and cursing not appear in the film, but. . . .

mountaintop

Young, who as Shakey has directed or codirected Rust Never Sleeps, The Monsanto Years, Human Highway, Journey through the Past, and Greendale, and cinematographer C. K. Vollick leave the studio to show time-lapse shots of the snowy mountains, bright stars, and rolling clouds outside, primarily on “Green Is Blue,” a piano ballad about climate change. There are also snippets of Young performing at one of his solo acoustic concerts, where he surrounds himself with a circle of guitars. He employs split screens, a fish-eye lens (think the cover of Ragged Glory), a handheld camera, and one mounted on the floor to mix things up. Lofgren plays the pump organ and an accordion, Young plays the vibes and a glass harmonica, and the four men gather to sing lofty background harmonies. Amid all the technical problems — “I love singing in a wet sock,” Young says about the sound — he and Crazy Horse prove they still have it after half a century, particularly when they turn it up on the majestic “Milky Way,” which borrows generously from “Cowgirl in the Sands,” and the hard-rocking “She Showed Me Love.” “We’re gonna do it / Just like we did back then,” Lofgren, Molina, and Talbot sing on “I Do.” Mountaintop is an irresistible fly-on-the-wall doc about the creative process, about collaboration and genius, about all the little things that can go wrong — and delightfully right — in the making of great art, in this case by a bunch of old white guys trying to save the planet, one song at a time.