Hey, the Jets are 2–0, baby! Sure, it’s only preseason, but ya gotta take ’em wherever you can get ’em. Yes, we freely admit that we are longtime Gang Green fans, which is like living in a state of perpetual dental surgery without anesthesia, only worse. (However, there’s always lots of nitrous oxide, because it tends to get pretty funny. Of course, we only laugh when it hurts.) We might always have Super Bowl III, but that was forty-five years ago. Since then it’s been a parade of, well, you can insert your own phrase here. But we’re not about to give up, not with Geno Smith behind center, Michael Vick on the bench, and the best defense in the NFL. (At least that’s what Rexie and the team keep telling us. They’re nothing if not optimistic.) Anyway, the Jets will be getting ready for their annual preseason showdown with the Giants this weekend at MetLife Stadium by participating the day before in Jets Fest at their old home base of Hofstra University on Long Island. (You can print out your free advance tickets here.) On Thursday from 3:30 to 5:00, fans can go on rides, get alumni autographs, listen to live music, get their face painted in team colors, and scarf down plenty of football food. At 5:30, the Flight Crew and Aviators will kick off game-day festivities, including player introductions in which the Jets will enter through a tunnel lined with lucky Kids Club members, followed by a field-goal contest. And then the Jets will hold an open practice prior to their final home preseason game, when they take on Big Blue on August 22. (Let’s not mention what happened at last year’s battle.) The Jets will head to Philadelphia on August 28 for their last preseason game; the regular season begins September 7 against the Raiders at MetLife Stadium. What will this year bring? Butt fumbles or the playoffs? Intercepted shovel passes or the Super Bowl? All we can say is, bring out the nitrous oxide. Now.
Both MoMA PS1 director Klaus Biesenbach and multidisciplinary artist Patti Smith had close ties to the Rockaways prior to the destruction wrought by Hurricane Sandy in October 2012, each having homes there that were affected by the disaster. As part of the continuing recovery effort, the two have teamed up with the Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy, the Rockaway Artists Alliance, and the National Park Service for the free public arts festival “Rockaway!” Held in conjunction with the reopening of Fort Tilden, a former U.S. Army Coast Artillery Post established nearly a century ago and a place that Smith visited often with Robert Mapplethorpe back in the 1970s, “Rockaway!” consists of several projects spread throughout the vast acreage. In the military chapel, which is undergoing restoration, Janet Cardiff has installed her delightful audio piece “The Forty Part Motet,” which has previously been shown at MoMA PS1’s home base in Long Island City and at the Cloisters, the first contemporary artwork ever presented at the Met’s medieval-themed outpost in Fort Tryon Park. “The Forty Part Motet” consists of forty speakers on stands arranged in a circle, each speaker playing the voice of one of the forty members of the Salisbury Cathedral Choir as they perform Thomas Tallis’s sixteenth-century choral composition “Spem in Alium Nunquam habui,” the English translation of which is “In no other is my hope,” a title that is particularly appropriate given the location. First walk around to hear each unique voice, then sit in the middle and let the glorious full music envelop you. “The Forty Part Motet” is on view through August 17; the rest of the show is up through September 1.
In another building, Smith and her daughter, Jesse, pay tribute to one of Patti’s heroes, Walt Whitman, with the short film The Good Gray Poet, in which Patti reads the New York-born writer’s “Country Days and Nights,” “Mannahatta,” and “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry” (“Flood-tide below me! I see you face to face! . . . On the ferry-boats the hundreds and hundreds that cross, returning home, are more curious to me than you suppose”) while wandering through the Camden cemetery where he is buried. The film also includes shots of other places related to Whitman’s life, and there are various historical items in a display case and a bookshelf where visitors are invited to read more by and about the Bard of Democracy.
The centerpiece of the exhibition is Smith’s “Resilience of the Dreamer,” a gilded four-poster canopy bed positioned in the middle of building T9, a former locomotive repair facility that has been filled with junk and detritus since Sandy. The piece, which calls to mind the destruction of so many homes along the beach, their facades ripped away during the storm, exposing people’s lives, has been decaying since its installation in June; the canopy is ripping, the sheets turning yellow, dirt collecting on the bed as the elements lay waste to it through the broken windows and battered roof. In a heavily graffitied side room, Smith has collected white stones and placed them in a large birdbath, where people are encouraged to pick one out and place it somewhere else — there are rocks in virtually every nook and cranny, from light switches and windowsills to holes in the wall and floor — or even take one home as a memory. In addition, in the sTudio 7 Gallery, Smith is displaying more than one hundred small-scale black-and-white photos primarily of possessions of friends, colleagues, and influences as well as gravesites. Among the images are Robert Graves’s hat, William Burroughs’s bandanna, Virginia Woolf’s cane, Mapplethorpe’s star mirror, and the Rimbaud family atlas, as well as beds belonging to Woolf, Victor Hugo, John Keats, Vanessa Bell, and Maynard Keynes and the tombs and headstones of Susan Sontag, Herman Hesse, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and Jim Morrison. There is also a stage in the room where musical performances are held on Sunday nights; the next one will be the Jammin Jon Birthday Concert Bash on August 17 at 6:00, with fusion trio Dream Speed and experimental guitarist and Brooklyn native Jammin Jon Kiebon.
Scattered throughout Fort Tilden, which is part of the Gateway National Recreation Area, are five granite cubes on which Smith has put Whitman quotes (“O madly the sea pushes upon the land, with love, with love”; “Passing stranger! You do not know how longingly I look upon you”) in addition to a dozen small mud-and-straw nests from Adrián Villar Rojas’s “Brick Farm” series, which evoke both home and protection. There’s a map to help locate these objects; wear long pants and closed-toe shoes because several of the passageways are laden with poison ivy. And be sure to walk to the top of the battery for a spectacular view, then make your way down a winding path to the beach. “Rockaway!” is a not only an exciting artistic venture but a terrific exploration of the past, present, and future of the area, so decimated by Hurricane Sandy but even more determined to rebuild its way of life.
(The exhibition is supplemented by a satellite show of works by more than seventy artists — from Marina Abramović and Ryan McNamara to Michael Stipe and Laurie Simmons, from Doug Aitken and Olaf Breuning to Olafur Eliasson and Ugo Rondinone — at Rockaway Beach Surf Club. There are several ways to get to Fort Tilden, all of which involve multiple modes of transportation. You can take the $3.50 Rockaway ferry from Pier 11 downtown to Beach 108th St., then get on the Q22 bus, or take the A train to Broad Channel, switch for the shuttle, then get the Q22 at 116th St. None of the options are quick and easy, but the ferry ride does go past Coney Island and the Statue of Liberty and under the Verazzano-Narrows Bridge. Yes, it’s a hassle, but it’s well worth it.)
ODDS AGAINST TOMORROW (Robert Wise, 1959)
Film Society of Lincoln Center, Walter Reade Theater
165 West 65th St. between Eighth Ave. & Broadway
Sunday, August 17, 1:15
Series runs through April 10
“I want a safe thing,” Dave Burke (Ed Begley) tells Earl Slater (Robert Ryan) near the beginning of Robert Wise’s 1959 crime drama Odds Against Tomorrow. “This is a one-time job. One roll of the dice and then we’re through forever.” But it’s never that easy, either in real life or in film noir. At first Slater, a hard and fast old-time racist, doesn’t want in on the job because the third man is Johnny Ingram (Harry Belafonte), a smooth-talking black nightclub singer trying to support his ex-wife, Ruth (Kim Hamilton), and their young daughter, Eadie (Lois Thorne), while in debt to a local mobster (Will Kuluva). But Slater has problems of his own; he’s tired of being supported by his devoted girlfriend, Lorry (Shelley Winters), and helping out their extremely flirtatious neighbor, Helen (Gloria Grahame). Soon they are converging on a bank in the small upstate town of Melton, New York, thinking that one big score will settle all of life’s ills. But things rarely work out that way, especially in black-and-white heist films.
Although often stiff, overwrought, and lacking nuance, there’s a lot to like about Odds Against Tomorrow, the first film noir to feature a lead black actor. Belafonte, who also helped finance the film, is particularly compelling, playing a strong black man who is not going to give in to anyone. The rest of the cast is excellent, from the primary trio through the supporting characters, with excellent cameos by Cicely Tyson, Mae Barnes, Carmen de Lavallade, and Wayne Rogers. There’s a wonderful scene in Central Park, where Johnny spends a day with Eadie, and the musical soundtrack is exceptional, composed by John Lewis and performed by the Modern Jazz Quartet. Wise (The Day the Earth Stood Still, West Side Story) keeps things mostly straightforward, the racist angle always threatening, a kind of lurid Asphalt Jungle meets The Defiant Ones. Based on a novel by William P. McGivern, the film has quite a pedigree: The script was written by blacklisted writer-director Abraham Polonsky (Body and Soul, Force of Evil) and Nelson Gidding, and the film was photographed by Joseph Brun (Edge of the City, Hatari!) and edited by one of the best ever, Dede Allen (The Hustler, Bonnie & Clyde, Dog Day Afternoon). Odds Against Tomorrow is screening August 17 at 1:15 as part of the Film Society of Lincoln Center series “Red Hollywood and the Blacklist” and will be introduced by Red Hollywood codirector Thom Andersen; the festival runs August 15-21 and also includes Joseph Losey’s The Big Night, Cy Endfield’s Hell Drivers, Frank Tuttle’s I Stole a Million, and Polonsky’s Tell Them Willie Boy Is Here.
SUNSET EDGE (Daniel Peddle, 2014)
Museum of the Moving Image
35th Ave. at 36th St., Astoria
Saturday, August 9, $10, 7:30
Series runs August 8-10
In Daniel Peddle’s debut feature narrative, Sunset Edge, four disaffected teens go slumming in a supposedly abandoned North Carolina trailer park and run into an unexpected part of its sordid past, with the park itself serving as a character all its own, a constant threat always lurking right below the surface. Just looking for something to do, Jacob (Jacob Kristian Ingle), Blaine (Blaine Edward Pugh), Will (William Dickerson), and Haley (Haley Ann McKnight) hang around the dilapidated park and the surrounding woods, riding their skateboards, shooting paint-ball rifles, and making an enormous, vile mixture of soda and sickeningly sweet candies, trapped between childhood and adulthood. Meanwhile, unbeknownst to them, local boy Malachi Smith (Gilberto Padilla) is slowly uncovering terrible things about his family history as a mysterious old woman in white (Liliane Gillenwater) appears and disappears in the background. As the two tales begin to intersect, an uncertain immediate future awaits them all.
North Carolina native Peddle, who is also a high-fashion casting director and documentarian (The Aggressives, Trail Angels), was inspired to make Sunset Edge after his parents showed him the deserted trailer park; Peddle served as writer, director, producer, production designer, and casting director, sharing that last credit with his nephew, Jacob, who plays Jacob and brought along his real friends to play his cinematic ones, all of whom are nonprofessional actors. Peddle does an excellent job of developing the dark, foreboding atmosphere, evoking a kind of mix of Larry Clark’s Kids and Eduardo Sánchez and Daniel Myrick’s Blair Witch Project. The creepy film looks and sounds great, courtesy of cinematographer and editor Karim López and sound designer and engineer Ian Hatton, who also composed the moody score with James Corrigan. The sparse dialogue works well, but the ending is an anticlimactic letdown. Sunset Edge is having its world premiere August 9 at 7:30 at the Rural Route Film Festival at the Museum of the Moving Image, preceded by J. Christian Jensen’s White Earth and Àlex Lora and Antonio Tibaldi’s Godka Cirka (A Hole in the Sky) and followed by a Q&A with Peddle and members of the cast. Celebrating its tenth anniversary, the Rural Route Film Festival runs August 8-10 and includes such other place-centric films as Matjaž Ivanišin’s Karpotrotter, Josephine Decker’s Butter on the Latch, and Sergei Parajanov’s Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors.
CABARET CINEMA — THE BLIND SWORDSMAN: ZATOICHI (Takeshi Kitano, 2003)
Rubin Museum of Art
150 West 17th St. at Seventh Ave.
Friday, August 8, free with $10 K2 minimum, 9:30
Now we’re talking. Hardboiled action director and comic Takeshi Kitano takes on the Zatoichi legend that was a Japanese favorite from 1962 to 1989 (starring Shintaro Katsu), updating the story of the blind swordsman, gambler, and masseuse magnificently, adding a lot of blood while staying true to the heart of this classic tale. Beat Takeshi, the name Kitano uses as an actor, stars as the unlikely platinum blonde superhero who shuffles across the countryside battling the bad guys and rescuing damsels in distress. This is the first period film of Kitano’s career, which has included such bloodfests as Violent Cop, Brother, and Boiling Point and such moving dramas as Sonatine and Kikijuro. He has combined all the elements of his previous work to create this unforgettable masterpiece, a thrilling, beautifully shot, and wonderfully realized cinematic achievement that suffers only at the very end with a silly coda that is just way too out of place. Zatoichi is screening August 8 as part of the Rubin Museum Cabaret Cinema series “Movie Medicine: A Film Series about the Healing Factor in Cinema,” being held in conjunction with the “Bodies in Balance: The Art of Tibetan Medicine” exhibition, and will be introduced by Stephen Globus. The series continues August 15 with John Cromwell’s Of Human Bondage, introduced by psychiatrist and psychopharmacologist Harvey Roy Greenberg, and August 22 with Shohei Imamura’s Dr. Akagi, introduced by Gregory Hosho Abels.
During the 1970s, Bronx native Steven Ogburn began turning subway trains into his canvas. Taking the street name BLADE, he went on to tag more than five thousand cars between 1972 and 1984. The man also known as the King of Graffiti and the King of Trains is now coming to the Museum of the City of New York in conjunction with the exhibit “City as Canvas: Graffiti Art from the Martin Wong Collection.” On August 8, BLADE will sit down for an intimate conversation, accompanied by a slideshow, with Chris Pape, his cowriter on the new book Blade: King of Graffiti (Schiffer, June 2014, $39.99). “I was just developing my moral compass at the time,” BLADE writes near the beginning of the book, “and if there’s one thing I learned it’s that everyone drew the line in the sand somewhere.” BLADE will talk about the line and more as he examines his life and career; the discussion will be followed by a book signing. “City as Canvas” continues at MCNY through September 21.
PULP: A FILM ABOUT LIFE, DEATH & SUPERMARKETS (Florian Habicht, 2013)
SOUND + VISION
Film Society of Lincoln Center, Walter Reade Theater
144 West 65th St. between Broadway & Amsterdam Ave.
Wednesday, August 6, 8:30
Florian Habicht’s Pulp: A Film About Life, Death & Supermarkets is a brilliant inside look at the long-lasting relationship between a band and its hometown. In December 2012, British alternative band Pulp returned to the place of its birth, the rugged, working-class city of Sheffield in the north of England, for what was being billed as its last-ever concert on dry land. Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker hooked up with Habicht (Love Story, Woodenhead), conceiving a project in which the time and place, along with the fans, would be just as important as the band and its music, if not more so. In the nonchronological film, Habicht cuts between archival footage of Pulp, clips from the final concert, interviews on the street with old and young fans, and brief chats with Pulp tour manager Liam Rippon and the other band members: guitarist Mark Webber, keyboardist Candida Doyle, bassist Steve Mackey, and drummer Nick Banks, who are pretty much taking it all in stride. But at the center of it all is the soft-spoken, enigmatic Cocker, who founded Pulp back in 1978 when he was fifteen years old.
Habicht shows Cocker biking and driving through Sheffield, discussing his first job working for a fishmonger in a mall, and, most thrillingly, fixing a flat tire on his less-than-fancy car. The theme song of the documentary is Pulp’s “Common People,” in which a woman tells Cocker, “I want to live like common people / I want to do whatever common people do / I want to sleep with common people / I want to sleep with common people like you.” Is it possible for a rock star to be “common people”? It doesn’t really matter as Cocker reestablishes his connection to Sheffield. “We stopped playing in 2001 or 2002 or whatever it was, and I did feel that the way it finished was kind of a bit, I don’t know, not right,” he says in the film. “It didn’t feel like a good ending. . . . So I know that tidying up isn’t the greatest rock-and-roll motivation, but I did want to kind of tidy things up and give the story a happy ending.” It is all very happy indeed, as Habicht also delves into such Pulp favorites as “This Is Hardcore” and “Help the Aged” as well as “Disco 2000,” “Underwear,” and “Sheffield: Sex City.” The band, which released seven studio albums during its career, from 1983’s It through 2001’s We Love Life, has no arguments or complaints, just positive attitudes that make Pulp a thoroughly exhilarating experience. The film opens in November but is having two special screenings this week, first as the closing-night selection of the “Sound + Vision” festival at Lincoln Center on August 6, followed by a Q&A with Habicht, then the next night at Industry City in Sunset Park as part of the annual summer Rooftop Films series, preceded by a live set by Mondo and followed by a Q&A with Cocker and Habicht and a Pulp karaoke contest that the two men will judge at the after-party.