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

ESTER KRUMBACHOVÁ — UNKNOWN MASTER OF THE CZECHOSLOVAK NEW WAVE: VALERIE AND HER WEEK OF WONDERS

Valerie and Her Week of Wonders

Valerie (Jaroslava Schallerová) comes of age rather early in Valerie and Her Week of Wonders

VALERIE AND HER WEEK OF WONDERS (VALERIE A TÝDEN DIVŮ) (Jaromil Jireš, 1970)
Film Society of Lincoln Center, Francesca Beale Theater
144 West 65th St. between Broadway & Amsterdam Aves.
Saturday, May 25, 6:30, and Monday, May 27, 8:30
Series runs May 24-29
212-875-5050
www.filmlinc.org

The Film Society of Lincoln Center’s “Ester Krumbachová: Unknown Master of the Czechoslovak New Wave” series, presented in collaboration with the Czech Center New York, pays tribute to the career of writer, director, set designer, and costume designer Ester Krumbachová (1923-96), who was blacklisted by the communist government for her work. The six-day festival consists of ten films by such directors as Karel Kachyňa (Coach to Vienna, The Ear), Vojtěch Jasný (All My Compatriots), Věra Chytilová (Fruit of Paradise, Daisies), and Jan Němec (Diamonds of the Night), Krumbachová’s onetime husband and muse. On May 25 and 27, Jaromil Jireš’s Valerie and Her Week of Wonders will be shown, an extremely strange, totally hypnotic film on which Krumbachová served as writer and production designer. (Producer and curator Irena Kovarova will introduce the latter screening.) Based on the 1945 Gothic novel by Vítězslav Nezval (which was written ten years earlier), Valerie is a dreamy adult fairy tale, inspired by “Little Red Riding Hood,” “Alice in Wonderland,” and other fables, about the coming of age of Valerie, a nymphette played by thirteen-year-old Jaroslava Schallerová in her film debut. Valerie lives with her icy, regal grandmother, Elsa (Helena Anýzová), in a remote village, where visiting missionaries and actors are cause for celebration. In addition, Valerie’s best friend, Hedvika (Alena Stojáková), is being forced to marry a man she doesn’t love. Valerie, who is in possession of magic earrings, is being courted by the bespectacled, bookish Eaglet (Petr Kopriva) as well as the Constable (Jirí Prýmek), who just happens to be an evil, ugly vampire who has a mysterious past with Elsa. Also showing an untoward interest in the virginal Valerie is the local priest, Gracián (Jan Klusák).

But don’t get too caught up in the hallucinatory narrative, which usually makes little sense. Characters’ motivations are inconsistent and confusing (especially as Jireš delves deeper and deeper into Valerie’s unconscious), plot points come and go with no explanation, and the spare dialogue is often random and inconsequential. And don’t try too hard looking for references to the Prague Spring, colonialism, and communism; just trust that they’re in there. Instead, let yourself luxuriate in Jan Curík’s lush imagery, Lubos Fiser and Jan Klusák’s Baroque score, Krumbachová’s enchanting production design, and Jan Oliva’s weirdly wonderful art direction. Valerie’s white bedroom is enchantingly surreal, a private world in a darkly magical Medieval land beset by incest, rape, fire, murder, self-flagellation, paganism, and monsters, everything dripping with blood and sex. No, this is most definitely not a fantasia for kids. “Ester Krumbachová: Unknown Master of the Czechoslovak New Wave” runs May 24-29 and also includes Zbyněk Brynych’s . . . and the Fifth Horseman Is Fear in addition to all the films listed above as well as Krumbachová’s own The Murder of Mr. Devil, the only film she directed, screening with introductions May 24 and 27.

FLEET WEEK 2019

Fleet Week will feature celebrations, commemorations, and memorials May 24-30 in all five boroughs (photo courtesy Fleet Week New York)

Fleet Week will feature celebrations, commemorations, and memorials May 22-28 in all five boroughs (photo courtesy Fleet Week New York)

Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum and other locations in all five boroughs
Pier 86, 12th Ave. & 46th St.
May 22–28
www.intrepidmuseum.org
militarynews.com

The U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard will be pouring into New York City for Fleet Week, which takes place May 22-28 at the Intrepid, in Times Square, and at other locations. The annual celebration, which began in 1982, leads into Memorial Day weekend, reminding everyone that the holiday is not just about barbecues and beaches. Below are only some of the highlights, all free and open to the public. Admission to the museum, which is hosting many indoor demonstrations, exhibitions, and performances, is $24-$33 but free for all U.S. military and veterans.

Wednesday, May 22
Parade of Ships, New York Harbor, Pier 86, 8:00 am

Musical Performance: U.S. Fleet Forces “Brass Band,” South Street Seaport, 12 Fulton St., 12:30

Musical Performance: Navy Band Northeast’s “Ceremonial Band,” Washington Square Park arch, 4:00

Thursday, May 23
USNA Yard Patrol Squadron, visiting ship tour, Pier 86, 10:00 am - 3:00 pm

USCGC Lawrence Lawson, visiting ship tour, Pier 86, 10:00 am - 3:00 pm

Musical Performance: U.S. Fleet Forces “Brass Band,” Union Square Park, noon

Thursday, May 23
through
Saturday, May 25

Navy Dive Tank, Military Island, Times Square, 10:00 am - 5:00

Friday, May 24
USNA Yard Patrol Squadron, visiting ship tour, Pier 86, 10:00 am - 3:00 pm

USCGC Lawrence Lawson, visiting ship tour, Pier 86, 10:00 am - 3:00 pm

USCG Silent Drill Team, Military Island, Times Square, 2:30

USMC Martial Arts Program demonstration, Military Island, Times Square, 3:15

Summer Movie Night: Top Gun (Tony Scott, 1986), Intrepid Flight Deck, 7:00

Musical Performance: U.S. Fleet Forces “Brass Band,” Military Island, Times Square, 7:30

Saturday, May 25
U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Air Force Auxiliary/Civil Air Patrol, LEGOLAND New York Resort, U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, Intrepid Education, American Red Cross, Restored and Antique Military Vehicle Clubs, Guide Dog Foundation/America’s Vet Dogs — The Veterans K-9 Corp, American Legion and FDNY, Pier 86, 10:00 am - 6:00 pm

USCGC Lawrence Lawson, visiting ship tour, Pier 86, 10:00 am - 6:00 pm

Musical Performance: RamCorps, University of Mobile, Pier 86 main stage, noon

Facepainting: Faces by Derrick, Pier 86, noon - 4:00

Musical Performance: Latin Giants of Jazz, Pier 86 main stage, 1:00

USCG Silent Drill Team, Rockefeller Center Plaza, 2:00

Musical Performance: USMC Battle Color Detachment, including the USMC Silent Drill Platoon and Drum and Bugle Corps, Marine Day at Prospect Park, 3:30

Musical Performance — America's Sweethearts: Vintage Vocal Trio, Pier 86 main stage, 3:00 & 5:00

Musical Performance: 78th Army Band, Pier 86 main stage, 4:00

Musical Performance: Navy Band Northeast’s Rock Band “Rhode Island Sound,” Military Island, Times Square, 6:00

Musical Performance: USMC Battle Color Detachment, including the USMC Silent Drill Platoon and Drum and Bugle Corps, Father Duffy Square, Times Square, 8:00

Sunday, May 26
U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Air Force Auxiliary/Civil Air Patrol, U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, Intrepid Education, American Red Cross, Restored and Antique Military Vehicle Clubs, Guide Dog Foundation/America’s Vet Dogs — The Veterans K-9 Corp, LEGOLAND New York Resort, American Legion, and FDNY, Pier 86, 10:00 am - 6:00 pm

USCGC Lawrence Lawson, visiting ship tour, Pier 86, 10:00 am - 6:00 pm

Facepainting: Faces by Derrick, Pier 86, noon - 4:00

Musical Performance: RamCorps, University of Mobile, Pier 86 main stage, noon & 2:00

Musical Performance — America's Sweethearts: Vintage Vocal Trio, Pier 86 main stage, 1:00 & 3:00

Musical Performance: singer, songwriter and Marine Corps veteran Laura Rice, Pier 86 main stage, 4:00

Musical Performance: Navy Band Northeast’s Rock Band “Rhode Island Sound,” Military Island, Times Square, 5:00

Monday, May 27
U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Air Force Auxiliary/Civil Air Patrol, Intrepid Education, LEGOLAND New York Resort, and FDNY, Pier 86, 10:00 am - 6:00 pm

Memorial Day Ceremony, Pier 86, 11:00 am

Facepainting: Faces by Derrick, Pier 86, noon - 4:00

USCGC Lawrence Lawson, visiting ship tour, Pier 86, noon - 6:00 pm

USCGC Silent Drill Team Performance, Pier 86, 2:00

Gazillion Bubble Show: Interactive Bubble Garden, Pier 86, 2:00 - 6:00

American Cornhole League: Games and Challenges, Pier 86, 2:00 - 6:00

USCGC Search and Rescue Demonstration, West End Pier 86, 3:00

MoCA FILMS PRESENTS THE LOST ARCADE WITH IRENE CHIN

THE LOST ARCADE

The Lost Arcade follows the story of the rise and fall of the last old-fashioned arcade in New York City

THE LOST ARCADE (Kurt Vincent, 2015)
The Museum of Chinese in America
215 Centre St.
Thursday, May 23, $15 (includes museum admission), 6:30
855-955-MOCA
www.mocanyc.org
www.arcademovie.com

New York City has seen a dramatic rise in the closing of long-beloved institutions in the twenty-first century as gentrification and rent hikes soar. When filmmaker Kurt Vincent heard rumors that the Chinatown Fair arcade game haven was on the way out, he brought his camera to the Mott St. spot to document what it meant to him and the community that has been built around it since it opened back in 1944. “After all these years, the path to the arcade was ingrained, even in dreams,” he narrates at the beginning of The Lost Arcade, describing a dream he had. “As I stood in front of the doors, I could smell the arcade. The smell was a primordial memory hidden deep in my mind, somewhere beyond time and space, and somehow, in my dream, I connected with this distant and abstract memory.” Director-producer-editor Vincent and producer-writer Irene Chin, who previously collaborated on the experimental short The Bachelorette Party, have created a love letter to Chinatown Fair, affectionately known as CF, which has seen its ups and downs over the years, including a boom during the golden age of arcades in the 1980s and a problematic drop in the 2000s as kids stayed home to play video games on their computers and televisions. Vincent speaks with Anthony Cali Jr., who practically grew up in CF; former CF employees Henry Cen, Norman Burgess, Derek Rudder, and Akuma Hokura and their boss, Sam Palmer, who bought the place after visualizing it in a dream; and Lonnie Sobel, who attempted to resurrect it after its initial closure.

Teenagers and adults went to CF to play such old-fashioned games as Pac-Man, Ski Bowl, Space Invaders, Defender, Frogger, and Centipede, marvel at the dancing, tic-tac-toe-playing chicken, and visit the so-called museum in the back. Ol’ Dirty Bastard even filmed his 1995 “Brooklyn Zoo” video there. “All my pride and my disappointment and my joy was held in that quarter,” Hokura says, describing the importance of playing arcade games, which used to cost twenty-five cents. The film also has a very cool video-game-inspired score by Gil Talmi. Much like the analog games that lined each side of the narrow CF, the film has an analog feel to it, along with a sweet-natured sentimentality for the way things used to be in an ever-changing New York City. The Museum of Chinese in America is screening The Lost Arcade on May 23 at 6:30, followed by a Q&A with Chin; the evening also includes wine and admission to the museum, which currently has on display the exhibits “With a Single Step: Stories in the Making of America” and “The Moon Represents My Heart: Music, Memory and Belonging.”

CAREFULLY TAUGHT: UNDERSTANDING AND INTERRUPTING CYCLES OF OPPRESSION IN TODAY’S CULTURE

CBS Sunday Morning contributor Nancy Giles will host New Group Now panel

CBS News Sunday Morning contributor Nancy Giles will host New Group Now panel on May 20

Who: Alina Das, Tahir Carl Karmali, Dr. Kevin Leo Yabut Nadal, Nancy Giles
What: New Group Now public forum
Where: The Alice Griffin Jewel Box Theatre at the Pershing Square Signature Center, 480 West 42nd St. between between Ninth & Tenth Aves.
When: Monday, May 20, free with advance RSVP, 7:00
Why: In conjunction with Jesse Eisenberg’s latest play for the New Group, Happy Talk, which opens May 16 at the Signature Center with the stellar cast of Marin Ireland, Tedra Millan, Daniel Oreskes, Nico Santos, and Susan Sarandon, the theater company is hosting “Carefully Taught: Understanding and Interrupting Cycles of Oppression in Today’s Culture” on May 20 at 7:00. The free panel discussion explores the oppression experienced by exploited, vulnerable, and underrepresented people in America, specifically immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers. (In the play, Ireland portrays an undocumented immigrant taking care of a sick elderly woman.) The talk features NYU School of Law professor Alina Davis, New York-based Kenyan visual artist Tahir Carl Karmali, and psychology professor Dr. Kevin Leo Yabut Nadal; writer, actress, and political pundit Nancy Giles moderates.

WALKING ON WATER

Christo takes a spin around his massive project in Andrey M Paounov’s Walking on Water

Christo takes a spin around his massive project in Andrey M Paounov’s Walking on Water

WALKING ON WATER (Andrey M Paounov, 2018)
Film Forum
209 West Houston St.
Opens Friday, May 17
212-727-8110
filmforum.org

Andrey M Paounov’s Walking on Water, opening this weekend at Film Forum, reveals a lot about large-scale installation artist Christo, and you can find out even more when the Bulgarian-born eighty-four-year-old curmudgeonly religious icon / rock star participates in Q&As with Paounov on Friday and Saturday at 7:00 and Sunday at 4:45. In 1961, Christo and his wife and artistic partner, Jeanne-Claude, started creating massive public works, wrapping fabric around the entire Reichstag in Berlin, placing hundreds of yellow umbrellas in Tokyo and blue umbrellas in California concurrently, and lining the pathways of Central Park with dozens of saffron-colored gates, among other impressive spectacles that gave a pop art sheen to land art, which had been the preserve of Robert Smithson, James Turrell, and Walter De Maria, among others. In 1969, Christo and Jeanne-Claude began trying to realize The Floating Piers project, an expansive walkway that would make visitors feel like they were strolling on the water itself. Jeanne-Claude passed away in 2009, and five years later Christo became determined to make The Floating Piers a reality.

The film follows him as he finds his location — Lake Iseo in Northern Italy — adamantly chooses his materials, meets with local politicians, and has something to say about each step of the process, giving Paounov near-total access as Christo experiences bumps and bruises and gets his eyelashes trimmed. He argues with his nephew and right-hand man, Vladimir Yavachev, over numerous details; gets frustrated with computers; complains about the cover of a catalog (“This is horror story,” he says); is thwarted by bad weather; and nearly has a meltdown when crowd control gets out of hand. He approaches everything with the exacting eye of an artist, taking in the beauty of nature while seeking perfection, and nothing less, from the large crew working for him.

Christo is worshipped everywhere he goes; not only does his name evoke Jesus’s but so does the purpose of The Floating Piers, inviting men, women, and children to traverse the lake on foot similarly to what Jesus did on the Sea of Galilee. Christo even has long (white) hair that flaps in the wind. His eyes light up when he visits the Vatican and marvels at Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel ceiling and when he takes a helicopter ride to survey the installation, providing filmgoers with breathtaking views. There is also a terrific score by Danny Bensi and Saunder Jurriaans that ranges from sweet and gentle to percussive and pulsating. As ornery as Christo seems to be, he smiles when he needs to, like when he stops by a party loaded with rich collectors, is stopped by fans for selfies, or gazes lovingly at the rich natural landscape surrounding Lake Iseo; it’s all part of his genius.

Paounov (Georgi and the Butterflies, The Mosquito Problem and Other Stories) put the film together with seven hundred hours of footage that had already been recorded before he was hired in 2016, adding to that what he then shot, wisely eschewing talking heads and interviews and instead presenting Christo and his captivating world uncensored and unfiltered, which is a real treat. “Art is not a profession. You don’t work from nine to five,” Christo tells a classroom of small children in his broken English. “To be artist, you are all the time artist. There is no moment when you are not artist.” Walking on Water is an intimate fly-on-the-wall documentary about the creative process and one man’s intense determination to make the planet a better place, one work of art at a time.

COLIN DAVEY: THE AMERICAN MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY AND HOW IT GOT THAT WAY

Colin Davey

Colin Davey will launch his new book about the American Museum of Natural History on May 20 at Shakespeare & Co.

Who: Colin Davey
What: Author talk and book launch
Where: Shakespeare & Co., 2020 Broadway at 70th St., 212-738-0001
When: Monday, May 20, free with advance registration, 7:00
Why: Scientist, martial artist, and software engineer Colin Davey celebrates the 150th anniversary of the American Museum of Natural History with the extensively researched, fully illustrated new book The American Museum of Natural History and How It Got That Way (Fordham University Press/Empire State Editions, $34.95, May 2019), written with Thomas A. Lesser. Davey (Learn Boogie Woogie Piano) will be at Shakespeare & Co. on May 20 to launch the book, which details the history of the museum in such chapters as “The Jesup Years (1881–1908) and the Seventy-Seventh Street Facade,” “The Akeley African Hall: From the Elephant in the Room to the Seven-Hundred-Pound Gorilla,” “The Golden Age of Spaceflight and the Hayden Planetarium,” “The Evolution of the Dinosaur Exhibits,” and “Robert Moses and the Norman Bel Geddes Report.” In the foreword, Kermit Roosevelt III, the great-great-grandson of President Theodore Roosevelt, whose statue resides in front of the institution, writes, “What the museum has done, in different ways, through the different stages of its life, is to feed the human sense of wonder at the universe.” Among the figures who appear in the tome are “Boss” Tweed, Clyde Fisher, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Morris K. Jesup, Carl Akeley, Robert Moses, and many others as Davey, a regular visitor to the museum since he was a child, shares fascinating historical details about the museum from its beginnings on Manhattan Square through the Hayden Planetarium, the Rose Center for Earth and Space, and the future Gilder Center for Science, Education, and Innovation.

LOCKDOWN

(photo by Sandra Coudert)

C.O. McHenry (Eric Berryman) and Ernie (Zenzi Williams) wait for Wise (Keith Randolph Smith) in Lockdown (photo by Sandra Coudert)

Rattlestick Playwrights Theater
224 Waverly Pl. between Eleventh & Perry Sts.
Through May 19, $46-$61
866-811-4111
www.rattlestick.org

Cori Thomas’s Lockdown is a social justice story with a critical message that overwhelms the potent drama at its well-meaning heart, resulting in a didactic narrative that feels more educational than entertaining. The plot is torn from the headlines, evoking the current case of Judith Clark, a former Weather Underground activist who was convicted of murder in 1981 for her part in a robbery in which two security guards and two policemen were killed. Clark was sentenced to seventy-five years, but she turned her life around in prison and was released this month for good behavior, against loud and angry opposition. In Lockdown, which continues at Rattlestick through May 19, the longtime prisoner is the fictional James “Hakeem” Jamerson (Keith Randolph Smith), better known as Wise, who has been incarcerated for forty-six years, since the age of sixteen. Young writer Ernie Morris (Zenzi Williams) is volunteering at the prison and has been assigned to Wise, who is making the most of his time, earning a degree and mentoring fellow inmates. “I started a program in here to help the men understand that they don’t need to keep coming in and out and in and out of here. I’m trying to prevent as many as possible from becoming one more black man living they entire life in prison,” he tells Ernie.

Wise and Ernie meet regularly and form a bond, under the watchful eyes of C.O. McHenry (Eric Berryman), who makes sure that they follow the rules, commanding her, “Do not engage in any intimate form of physical contact with any of the inmates. Displays of affection are not allowed! For instance, hugging. Hugging will be cause for immediate termination of your volunteering activities. Overfamiliarity is not permitted. It will not be tolerated!” Meanwhile, Wise is having trouble getting through to young fellow prisoner Clue (Curt Morlaye), a rapper who believes the system is rigged. “Sitting here wishin i could climb this barb wire / Sippin on some pruno, maa-an, that shit is fire! / Scapin’ from living a life of non-sense / Life doing time now add up to no-sense / Doing time has got me feeling age-less / ’Cause in my head it’s all bout bein cage-less / Lil bro say he learnin from big bro / Pointing ya .38 aint the same thing though,” he rails.

(photo by Sandra Coudert)

Clue (Curt Morlaye) and Wise (Keith Randolph Smith) deal with life behind bars in world premiere at Rattlestick (photo by Sandra Coudert)

Thomas (Citizens Market, When January Feels Like Summer) and director Kent Gash (Barbecue, Langston in Harlem) wear their hearts on their sleeves as they push humane rehabilitation over inhumane incarceration and questionable parole regulations, never missing a chance to score political points that stop the action in its tracks. “Somebody should expose how unfair the process is,” Wise says about facing the parole board. “Writers always coming in here wanting to write about death row. How come nobody never want to write about somebody like me? I wish people on the outside could see us as individuals, ’cause then they might want to write about us.” Thomas was inspired to write the play after visiting San Quentin for a possible podcast and meeting an inmate named Lonnie Morris, an activist and role model who asked Thomas if she would help him with a play he was writing; Thomas quickly scrapped a play she was working on (about death row) and began Lockdown.

The talented cast of Berryman (The B-Side: Negro Folklore from Texas State Prisons, A Record Album Interpretation), Morlaye (Gotham, Blue Bloods), Smith (Jitney, Paradise Blue), and Williams (Henry V, School Girls; or, the Mean African Girls Play) is hampered by the play’s overstated and repetitive reform agenda. Thomas did extensive research in prisons, running all the scenes past incarcerated men and corrections officers, and it feels that way, as if any tension is a means to an end as opposed to an evolving, involving story as characters preach to the converted on Jason Sherwood’s effective, caged-in set. The message is also sent in the opening music, San Quentin inmate David Jassy’s “Freedom.” Each performance is followed by a community talkback, and the production has partnered with such organizations as Drama Club, the Fortune Society, NYC Together, Pen America, Project Liberation, and RTA (Rehabilitation Through the Arts). Lockdown has a lot of important things to say about how the system treats prisoners, particularly men of color, but it includes too many teaching moments instead of trusting the audience to get the point in a less dogmatic way.