A WAR (KRIGEN) (Tobias Lindholm, 2015)
Landmark Sunshine Cinema
143 East Houston St. between First & Second Aves.
Opens Friday, February 12
Danish writer-director Tobias Lindholm puts you right in the middle of the action in The War, his searing portrait of the modern state of battle as seen through the eyes of a dedicated family man who makes a decision in the heat of the moment that jeopardizes his future. The first part of the film takes place in Afghanistan, where the Danish army, which has not been involved in its own war in more than 150 years, is supporting the efforts of the United States and England. A small company, led by Claus Michael Pedersen (Pilou Asbæk), is protecting a desert area where the Taliban is believed to be infiltrating a nearby village. Lindholm and cinematographer Magnus Nordenhof Jønck, who have previously worked together on R and A Hijacking, make the audience feel like it’s right there as a soldier is blown up by an IED, the men encounter an Afghan family that might or might not be collaborating with the Taliban, and a terrorist uses children as a human shield. The story occasionally shifts back home, where Pedersen’s wife, Maria (Tuva Novotny), is caring for their three children by herself. The two worlds come crashing together after Pedersen makes a judgment call while trying to rescue Lutfi “Lasse” Hassan (Dulfi Al-Jabouri), who’s been shot by a sniper as their compound is under attack. It’s all far more subtle, and more believable, than, say, the opening of Steven Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan or Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper; it’s not so much about the horrors, violence, and heroism of war in general but its potential after-effects in an ever-more-complex politically correct climate.
Lindholm was determined to make the film as realistic as possible, and he succeeds marvelously. In crafting and casting A War, he met with refugees, Afghanistan veterans, and members of the Taliban to get things right. (Most of the cast are nonprofessional actors, including many actual Danish soldiers.) Asbæk, who has starred in Lindholm’s previous two films as well as the popular Danish television series Borgen (and will play Euron Greyjoy in the sixth season of Game of Thrones), is superb as the conflicted soldier and father who faces a crisis of conscience as he gets caught up in a tangled web that has major ramifications; at times his eyes seem almost vacant as he wonders just what it is all about. Nominated for an Oscar for Best Foreign Language film — Lindholm also cowrote Thomas Vinterberg’s The Hunt, which was up for the same award two years ago — A War features fine performances by Novotny (Nobel, Jalla! Jalla!), Dar Salim (A Hijacking, Submarino, another collaboration between Lindholm and Vinterberg) as Najib Bisma, Pedersen’s trusted right-hand man, and Søren Malling (A Hijacking, Borgen) as lawyer Martin R. Olsen. A War is a poignant, insightful look at one man’s experience of war — and how it relates to all of us. The film opens February 12 at the Landmark Sunshine; the 7:00 screenings on Friday and Saturday nights will be followed by a Q&A with Lindholm.
Who: Carol Burnett
What: Carol Burnett: An Evening of Laughter & Reflection
Where: Beacon Theatre, 2124 Broadway between West 74th & 75th Sts.
When: Friday, September 16, and Saturday, September 17, $59.50-$179.50, 8:00
Why: Tickets go on sale Thursday, February 11, at 10:00 am for two special appearances by legendary comedian extraordinaire Carol Burnett, who will be at the Beacon Theatre on September 16 & 17 for two evenings of conversation built around audience questions, based on the opening minutes of The Carol Burnett Show, so every night will be different. “I love the spontaneity of these evenings. I never know what anybody is going to say or do or ask, so it keeps me on my toes,” the eighty-two-year-old Burnett said in a statement announcing the event. In addition to starring in her hugely influential variety series, the Texas-born Burnett has also appeared in such films as A Wedding, The Four Seasons, and Annie, starred onstage in such shows as Once Upon a Mattress, Plaza Suite, and Love Letters, and written such books as One More Time and This Time Together: Laughter and Reflection. Be sure to keep a look-out for that famous earlobe tug.
PUBLIC ENEMIES (Michael Mann, 2009)
BAMcinématek, BAM Rose Cinemas
30 Lafayette Ave. between Ashland Pl. & St. Felix St.
Monday, February 15, 5:00 & 8:00
Series continues through February 16
In the early years of talkies, around the time of the Great Depression, Hollywood — and America — fell in love with gangsters and gangster pictures. Edward G. Robinson, Paul Muni, and James Cagney became stars in such films as Little Caesar, Scarface, and Public Enemy. In 1967, right around the Summer of Love, the ultraviolent, highly stylized Bonnie and Clyde reinvigorated the genre, casting the notorious thieves as the can’t-miss glamorous duo of Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty, followed two years later by the can’t-miss glamorous duo of Paul Newman and Robert Redford as the title characters in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Then, in 2009, with the country deep into a recession and hot off the success of Ridley Scott’s American Gangster, powerhouse writer-director-producer Michael Mann (Thief, Miami Vice) went back to the 1930s for Public Enemies, a superb, exciting retelling of legendary bank robber and people’s hero John Dillinger.
Based on the book by Bryan Burrough, who praised Mann in the L.A. Times for getting so many — if not all, of course — of the facts, details, and even nuances right, Public Enemies begins with a prison break engineered by Dillinger in 1933, revealing him to be a sly, clever, and extremely smooth criminal, a violent villain impossible not to love, especially as played by Johnny Depp. (Dillinger has previously been portrayed by such actors as Warren Oates, Lawrence Tierney, and even Mark Harmon.) Dillinger puts together his crew, which includes John “Red” Hamilton (Jason Clarke), Harry Pierpont (David Wenham), and Homer Van Meter (Stephen Dorff), and falls in love with coat-check girl Billie Frechette (Marion Cotillard) as he proceeds on his well-publicized crime wave. A blustery J. Edgar Hoover (Billy Crudup) sics master G-man Melvin Purvis (Christian Bale) on Dillinger, and the two play a cat-and-mouse game through the Midwest, with appearances by such other notorious gangsters as Pretty Boy Floyd (Channing Tatum), Frank Nitti (Bill Camp), Baby Face Nelson (Stephen Graham), and Alvin Karpis (Giovanni Ribisi). The bullets keep flying as Dillinger grows bolder and bolder and Purvis gets closer and closer. Public Enemies is a classy, handsome gangster picture for the modern age, a fun trip back to a time before billion-dollar bank bailouts, when certain thieves were more like Robin Hood than Bernie Madoff. Public Enemies is screening February 15 at 5:00 & 8:00 in the BAMcinématek series “Heat & Vice: The Films of Michael Mann,” a twelve-film, twelve-day tribute to the Chicago-born producer, director, and screenwriter, who turned sixty-three on the first day of the festival, February 5. The Emmy-winning, Oscar-nominated Mann will be at BAM on February 11 ($30, 7:30) for “An Evening with Michael Mann,” a conversation moderated by Bilge Ebiri at the BAM Harvey. The series continues through February 16 with such other Mann films as Ali, Manhunter, The Insider, and The Keep.
CinéSalon: LE COMBAT DANS L’ÎLE (FIRE AND ICE) (Alain Cavalier, 1962)
French Institute Alliance Française, Florence Gould Hall
55 East 59th St. between Madison & Park Aves.
Tuesday, February 9, $14, 4:00 & 7:30
Series continues Tuesdays through February 23
FIAF’s wide-ranging “Lhomme Behind the Camera” CinéSalon series continues February 9 with a double rare treat: a visit by the man himself, master cinematographer Pierre Lhomme. The eighty-five-year-old Lhomme, who has shot more than sixty films for such directors as Jean-Pierre Melville, Robert Bresson, William Klein, Marguerite Duras, James Ivory, Ismail Merchant, Benoît Jacquot, Patrice Chéreau, and Volker Schlöndorff, will be at Florence Gould Hall on February 9 for a Q&A following the second of two screenings of Alain Cavalier’s ravishing debut, the rarely shown and underappreciated 1962 neonoir Le combat dans l’île. The gripping French New Wave film, which was rediscovered in 2009, combines a crime thriller with a love triangle, shot in shadowy, smokey black-and-white by Lhomme. Jean-Louis Trintignant (The Conformist, A Man and a Woman) is stoic as Clément Lesser, a member of a small, right-wing radical group determined to change things in France by any means necessary. Romy Schneider (Purple Noon Mädchen in Uniform) is warm and charming as Anne Lesser, Clément’s wife, a party girl who is growing tired of her husband’s cold, controlling nature and his secret rendezvous with the group, which is led by mastermind Serge (Pierre Asso). After an assassination attempt goes awry, Clément and Anne hide out at the isolated home of Clément’s childhood friend, Paul (Jules et Jim’s Henri Serre), a left-wing idealist who prints political material. When Clément has to set out on his own, Anne and Paul become close, setting up both a philosophical and romantic battle between the two old friends.
Cavalier (Thérèse, Un étrange voyage) and Lhomme (Army of Shadows, The Mother and the Whore) create a tense, claustrophobic atmosphere in Le combat dans l’île, with Lhomme’s slowly moving camera — a Cameflex that was so noisy that all of the dialogue had to be dubbed in later — closing in on his characters in small rooms, where they sometimes emerge from complete darkness. The story is a kind of parable about French politics in the 1960s, following the landslide victory of Charles de Gaulle, who would survive several assassination attempts during his ten years as president. Le combat dans l’île also boasts quite a pedigree, with Cavalier’s mentor, Louis Malle, serving as producer, dialogue written with Jean-Paul Rappenau, and an outstanding score by French composer Serge Nigg; Cavalier said the film’s father was Bresson and mother was Jean Renoir. The solid cast also includes Jacques Berlioz as Clément’s wealthy and powerful industrialist father, Maurice Garrel as left-wing politician Terrasse, and Diane Lepvrier as Cécile, Paul’s young housekeeper. The FIAF series continues February 16 with Chris Marker and Lhomme’s Le Joli Mai and concludes February 23 with Rappenau’s Cyrano de Bergerac, starring Gérard Depardieu.
Gōng xǐ fā cái! New York City is ready to celebrate the Year of the Monkey this month with special events all over town. The seventeenth New Year Firecracker Ceremony and Cultural Festival will explode in and around Sara D. Roosevelt Park on February 8 at 11:00 am, with live music and dance, speeches by politicians, drum groups, lion, dragon, and unicorn dancers making their way through local businesses, and more than half a million rounds of firecrackers warding off evil spirits and welcoming in a prosperous new year. Also on February 8, China Institute will host “A Taste of Chinese New Year” (free, 12 noon - 5:00 pm) featuring Mandarin classes, a China Ink workshop, and more; on February 13 (free, 12 noon - 5:00), China Institute invites everyone back for a family celebration including lion dances, kung fu demonstrations, arts & crafts, and dumplings.
The New York Philharmonic gets into the party spirit with Long Yu conducting a multimedia Chinese New Year Concert at David Geffen Hall on February 9 ($35-$110, 7:30) with violinist Maxim Vengerov and harpist Nancy Allen performing Li Huanzhi’s “Spring Festival Overture,” Chen Gang and He Zhanhao’s “The Butterfly Lovers Violin Concerto,” Kreisler’s “Tambourin Chinois,” and Tan Dun’s “Nu Shu: The Secret Songs of Women.” The Flushing Lunar New Year Parade takes place February 13 at 9:30. Dr. Hsing-Lih Chou has again curated a Lunar New Year Dance Sampler at Flushing Town Hall on February 14 (free, 12 noon). The seventeenth annual Chinatown Lunar New Year Parade and Festival will wind its way through Chinatown, Sara D. Roosevelt Park, and Columbus Park on February 14 starting at 1:00, with cultural booths in the park and a parade with floats, antique cars, live performances, and much more from China, Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore, and other nations. The annual family festival at the Queens Botanical Garden is set for February 20 ($2-$4, 1:00 - 3:00). The New York Chinese Cultural Center will present a Lunar New Year program with folk dances, paper cutting, calligraphy, and lion dances at the Bronx Museum of the Arts also on February 20 (free, 2:00 - 4:00).
The Museum of Chinese in America celebrates the holiday with its annual Lunar New Year Family Festival on February 20 ($10, 11:00 am – 4:00 pm) with live music and dance, demonstrations and workshops, storytelling, arts and crafts, and more. One of our favorite restaurants, Xi’an Famous Foods, will be hosting a Lunar New Year Festival concert at Terminal 5 on February 20 ($60-$200, 5:30) with Far East Movement, Kimberley Chen, Soft Lipa, and Kina Grannis, benefiting Apex for Youth. There will be a Hao Bang Ah Monkey Puppet Show by Chinese Theatre Works, calligraphy workshops, a zodiac-themed scavenger hunt, and arts & crafts at the Prospect Park Zoo and the Queens Zoo on February 27-28 ($6-$8). And finally, the Lantern Festival is set for February 28 (free, 11:30 am - 3:30 pm) in Sunset Park on Eighth Ave. between Fifty-Third & Fifty-Fifth Sts.
Who: Dave Stewart and Mick Rock
What: Conversation about new book
Where: Barnes & Noble, 150 East 86th St. at Lexington Ave., 212-369-2180
When: Wednesday February 10, free, 7:00
Why: “I love Dave’s constant creative search and his passion for making music; I love the fact that he’s constantly pushing the boundaries of what we think is possible,” Mick Jagger writes in the foreword to Dave Stewart’s memoir, Sweet Dreams Are Made of This: A Life in Music (New American Library, February 9, $27.95). “He creates a fertile environment in which it’s almost impossible not to be creative and innovative. This environment includes a compulsory martini at seven thirty in the evening, although by ten thirty, no one has gone home and everyone in the control room is dancing.” British songwriter, musician, and producer Stewart will be at the 86th St. B&N on February 10 to discuss his brand-new book, which details his life and times from a small child through his glory years with Annie Lennox in the Eurythmics to his collaborations with such superstars as Bob Dylan, Aretha Franklin, George Harrison, Stevie Nicks, Tom Petty, Jagger, and so many others. “I’ve had the chance to experience this wonderful state of being in the moment with some of the greatest artists on the planet,” Stewart, who also delves into his battle with pheochromocytoma, explains in the introduction. Legendary photographer Mick Rock, who has shot such musicians as Syd Barrett, Joan Jett, David Bowie, Alicia Keys, Lou Reed, Iggy Pop, Queen, Ellie Goulding, the Sex Pistols, Snoop Dogg, the Killers, Michael Buble, and Daft Punk, will host the conversation. Preferred seating is available for this wristband event with the purchase of the book at the store; no word yet on whether martinis will be served.