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


Brooklyn Museum
200 Eastern Parkway at Washington St.
Saturday, November 1, free, 5:00 - 11:00

For its November edition of its free First Saturdays program, the Brooklyn Museum is looking at its home borough. Crossing Brooklyn will feature live performances by the PitchBlak Brass Band, Meridian Lights, John Robinson & PVD, and Norte Maar; a screening of the UnionDocs collaborative web documentary the Living Los Sures about the south side of Williamsburg; a book reading and talk by Bridgett M. Davis, author of Into the Go-Slow; a collage workshop; and a talk by assistant curator of contemporary art Rujeko Hockley on the exhibition “Crossing Brooklyn: Art from Bushwick, Bed-Stuy, and Beyond.” In addition, you can check out such other exhibitions as “Judith Scott — Bound and Unbound,” “Revolution! Works from the Black Arts Movement,” “Killer Heels: The Art of the High-Heeled Shoe,” and “Judy Chicago’s Feminist Pedagogy and Alternative Spaces.”


Latham Smith

Tugboat captain Latham Smith participated in the massive cleanup needed after explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico

THE GREAT INVISIBLE (Margaret Brown, 2014)
Village East Cinema
181-189 Second Ave. at 12th St.
Opens Wednesday, October 29

Shortly after the fatal Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion on April 20, 2010, dumped more than two hundred million gallons of BP oil into the Gulf of Mexico, Alabama native and award-winning documentarian Margaret Brown (The Order of Myths, Be Here to Love Me: A Film about Townes Van Zandt) returned to the Gulf Coast, where she was raised, in order to make a very personal film about the disaster. But she ended up with so much more in The Great Invisible, a powerful, infuriating exploration of the tragedy and its lingering effects on the environment and local communities in Alabama, Louisiana, and Texas. Showing that the calamity is far from over, Brown speaks with survivor Douglas Brown, the chief mechanic on the rig who talks poignantly about what happened, sharing footage he took of the rig prior to the explosion; survivor Stephen Stone, a roustabout on the rig who now suffers from PTSD; attorney Keith Jones, whose son, Gordon, was one of the eleven workers killed in the explosion, and is now leading the fight to get justice for the victims in court; Latham Smith, a tugboat captain who was called in to help with the cleanup; oil and gas industry veteran Bob Cavnar, author of Disaster on the Horizon: High Stakes, High Risks, and the Story Behind the Deepwater Well Blowout; Roosevelt Harris, who volunteers for the Hemley Road Church of Christ Mobile Food Pantry, delivering food and emotional support to families whose livelihoods have been impacted by the disaster; a group of oil industry executives chatting among themselves; and Kenneth Feinberg, the dispute resolution specialist in charge of administering the BP Deepwater Horizon Disaster Victim Compensation Fund, which has not exactly made much of a difference. BP refused to participate in the film.

Residents of Hardluck City seem resigned to their fate in THE GREAT INVISIBLE

Residents of Hardluck City are facing a bleak future in THE GREAT INVISIBLE

Brown supplements the film with devastating footage of the oil spill itself, maps that detail the breadth of the disaster, clips from congressional hearings that have gone nowhere, and news reports that have gotten fewer and fewer more than four years after the explosion. “Generally, it takes some kind of a traumatic event to change people’s behavior,” Cavnar says. “I’d hoped that the Deepwater Horizon was going to raise everybody’s consciousness, but it didn’t. And that’s the tragedy.” Winner of the Grand Jury prize at the SXSW Film Festival, The Great Invisible is the kind of documentary that you hope will raise people’s consciousness, especially that of the oil industry itself and the government, but, as the film shows, that appears to be highly unlikely as wealthy corporations once again trump regular citizens. The Great Invisible opens October 29 at the Village East; Brown will participate in Q&As after screenings on October 29 & 30 at 7:40 and November 1 at 2:00.


CLIMATES is part of MoMA focus on Turkish filmmaker Nuri Bilge Ceylan

CLIMATES is part of MoMA focus on Turkish filmmaker Nuri Bilge Ceylan

CLIMATES (IKLIMLER) (Nuri Bilge Ceylan, 2006)
MoMA Film, Museum of Modern Art
11 West 53rd St. between Fifth & Sixth Aves.
Thursday, October 30, 7:30, and Wednesday, November 5, 4:00
Series runs October 29 - November 5
Tickets: $12, in person only, may be applied to museum admission within thirty days, same-day screenings free with museum admission, available at Film and Media Desk beginning at 9:30 am

Winner of the FIPRESCI Prize at the Cannes Film Festival and a selection of the New York Film Festival, Climates is a beautifully elegiac look at a desperate relationship set in modern-day Turkey. The film opens with Isa (writer-director Nuri Bilge Ceylan) and Bahar (Ebru Ceylan, Nuri’s real-life wife) visiting desert ruins. As he walks among ancient pillars, taking photos, she watches him from a distance; the silence is deafening. Later, on a beach, they agree to part ways; while he heads back into the arms of Serap (Nazan Kesal), a friend’s lover, she takes a job on a faraway television program, set in the bitter cold and snow. But Isa still can’t get the younger Bahar out of his mind. Climates features long scenes of little dialogue, with cinematographer Gökhan Tiryaki alternating extreme close-ups with gorgeous, nearly empty landscapes, shot in HD digital video, with a haunting piano-based score. Ceylan’s follow-up to Distant, which won the 2003 Jury Grand Prix at Cannes, Climates is a wrenching, challenging tale that will leave audiences emotionally exhausted. Climates is being shown at MoMA on October 30 at 7:30 and November 5 at 4:00 as part of the “Filmmaker in Focus” look at Ceylan, who will introduce the the October 30 screening with actor Mehmet Eryilmaz. The week-long festival runs October 29 to November 5 and also includes Ceylan’s latest film, Kis uykusu (Winter Sleep), in addition to 2011’s Bir Zamanlar Anadolu’da (Once Upon a Time in Anatolia), 2008’s Üç maymun (Three Monkeys), 2002s Uzak (Distant), 1999’s Mayis sikintisi (Clouds of May), and 1997’s Kasaba (The Small Town).


(photo by Jean-Louis Fernandez)

Théâtre de la Ville production of Luigi Pirandello absurdist classic will search for the meaning of existence in Brooklyn (photo by Jean-Louis Fernandez)

Brooklyn Academy of Music
BAM Harvey Theater
651 Fulton St. between Ashland & Rockwell Pl.
October 29 - November 2, $20-$75

“Unfortunately, there always has to be a third, unavoidable element that intrudes between the dramatic author and his creation in the material being of the performance: the actor,” playwright, novelist, and poet Luigi Pirandello wrote in his 1908 essay “Illustrators, Actors, and Translators.” That tenet is central to one of his most famous works, 1921’s Six Characters in Search of an Author, which is being presented at the BAM Harvey Theater October 29 to November 2 by Théâtre de la Ville, Paris, last at BAM in October 2012 with another absurdist classic, Eugène Ionesco’s Rhinocéros, Described by the playwright, who was born in Agrigento, Italy, in 1867, as a comedy “without acts or scenes,” Six Characters questions the very nature of its own being as a dramatic work as a half dozen abandoned characters appear onstage in need of a new author to define their existence. Adapted and translated by François Regnault and directed by Théâtre de la Ville head Emmanuel Demarcy-Mota, with set and light design by Yves Collet, music by Jefferson Lembeye, and costumes by Corinne Baudelot, this production once again stars Hugues Quester, who won the Critics’ Award for Best Actor for his performance in the play back in 2001. In conjunction with the show, BAM is teaming up with the Onassis Cultural Center NY for the discussion “On Truth (and Lies) in Authorship,” with Demarcy-Mota and host Simon Critchley, being held on October 30 at 6:00 at BAM Fisher Hillman Studio ($15), as part of the Hellenic Humanities Program.


Sally Timms and Jon Langford fight the curse of the Mekons in stirring documentary

Sally Timms and Jon Langford fight the curse of the Mekons in stirring documentary

Film Forum
209 West Houston St.
October 29 - November 4

Called “the most revolutionary group in the history of rock ‘n’ roll” by Lester Bangs, the Mekons have been making some of the best music on the planet for more than thirty-five years. But despite a rabid fan base and constant critical adoration, the band, which formed at the University of Leeds back in 1977, has never quite made the big time. Joe Angio captures the wild, DIY spirit of this unique music and art collective in the stirring documentary Revenge of the Mekons. Angio (How to Eat Your Watermelon in White Company [and Enjoy It]) follows the self-deprecating band — the members of which are quick to joke about their lack of financial and popular success, especially when they’re onstage and learn from fans that an upcoming gig has been canceled — as they celebrate their thirtieth anniversary and record their most recent excellent album, Ancient and Modern. Angio talks with the current Mekons lineup, which includes cofounders Tom Greenhalgh and Jon Langford along with Susie Honeyman, Rico Bell, Lu Edmonds, Sarah Corina, Steve Goulding, and Sally Timms, as well as such former members as Kevin Lycett, Mark “Chalkie” White, Andy Corrigan, and Dick Taylor, as they recount the band’s rollicking history, beginning with its Leeds days as a socialist punk band battling over shows with Gang of Four through its mid-1980s transformation into alt-country folk rockers.

Mekons doc is one heckuva wild and crazy show

Mekons doc is one helluva wild and crazy ride, just like their long career

Angio mixes in amazing raw footage from the 1970s with more contemporary scenes as the Mekons, with their usual reckless abandon and utter joyfulness, play such songs as “Where Were You,” “The Hope and the Anchor,” “Ghosts of American Astronauts,” “Millionaire,” “Hello Cruel World,” “Hard to Be Human,” “Memphis, Egypt,” and “The Curse.” Sharing their love of all things Mekons are such wide-ranging pundits as Jonathan Franzen, Greil Marcus, Gang of Four’s Hugo Burnham and Andy Gill, Will Oldham, Greg Kot, Craig Finn, Luc Sante, Mary Harron, and performance artist Vito Acconci. Back in October 2011, we wrote that “a world that includes the Mekons is just a better place for everyone,” and that still holds true. So start by watching this wonderfully crazy documentary, about a group of crazy characters who have formed a crazy kind of family, then go out and pick up such seminal records as Fear and Whiskey, The Mekons Honky Tonkin’, So Good It Hurts, The Mekons Rock‘n’Roll, Natural, Ancient Modern, etc., and be sure to catch them live when they come anywhere near your town. Revenge of the Mekons had its world premiere last November as part of the “Sonic Cinema” section of the annual DOC NYC festival and opens October 29 at Film Forum. Angio, Langford, and Goulding will be on hand for the 7:15 screening on opening night, with Angio and Langford back the next night at 9:30. Craig Finn of the Hold Steady will introduce the 7:15 show on November 1, while Sante will do the same on November 3 at 7:15 and Marcus on November 4 at 7:15. In conjunction with the U.S. theatrical release of the film, there will be an opening-night after-party concert with Langford at the Bell House in Brooklyn ($10, 9:00), followed the next night at 7:30 by a free Mekons Symposium at Columbia University’s Buell Hall, Maison Française on October 30 with Langford, Acconci, Harron, Franzen, Marcus, and Sante.


powerHouse Arena
37 Main St. at Water St., Brooklyn
Friday, October 31, $30, 7:00

In Burnt Tongues: An Anthology of Transgressive Stories, which he edited with Richard Thomas and Dennis Widmyer, Chuck Palahniuk writes in his introduction, titled “The Power of Persisting,” “The worst thing you could do is read this book and instantly enjoy every word. This book, the book you’re holding, I hope you gag on a few words — more than a few. May some of the stories scar and trouble you. Whether you like or dislike them doesn’t matter; you’ve already touched these words with your eyes, and they’re becoming part of you. Even if you hate these stories, you’ll come back to them because they’ll test you and prompt you to become someone larger, braver, bolder.” Palahniuk could have just as well been referring to his own novels, intense tales that can provoke scarring and trouble, delighting and offending fans, often simultaneously. In works such as Rant: The Oral Biography of Buster Casey, Haunted, Invisible Monsters, and Fight Club, Palahniuk dares readers to keep turning pages even as the plots and characters he depicts go places no book has ever gone before. Palahniuk’s public events also go places no author has gone before, as he is known for throwing fake body parts into a costumed audience, as he did at New York Comic Con a few years back. (Chuck actually retweeted our posting of photos from that NYCC event, a seminal moment in our existence on Earth.) On Halloween, Palahniuk will be celebrating the release of his latest novel, Beautiful You (Doubleday, October 2014, $25.95), with a gathering at the powerHouse Arena in DUMBO, where it is demanded that fans come dressed in pajamas, referencing the new book, significant portions of which take place in the bedroom, “where a billion husbands are about to be replaced.” Palahniuk will also have an opening act, Fred Venturini, whose story “Gasoline” is featured in Burnt Tongues. Writing about last week’s San Francisco stop on the Better than Sex Tour, Burnt Tongues contributor Brandon Tietz explained, “There’s a proven formula for a Chuck Palahniuk reading, and he broke it down for me step-by-step: intro, candy toss, story reading, glowing beach ball rave, etc.,” in addition to a Q&A and a severed-arm giveaway. “Best. Reading. Ever,” he concluded. Tickets for the powerHouse extravaganza are $30 and include a presigned copy of Beautiful You. We can’t wait.


Central Park

Central Park Pumpkin Flotilla will float along Harlem Meer at dusk on October 26

Charles A. Dana Discovery Center
Inside the park at 110th Street between Fifth & Lenox Aves.
Sunday, October 26, free, 3:00 - 6:00

The annual Halloween Parade and Pumpkin Flotilla returns to Central Park on Sunday, offering an afternoon of family-friendly activities celebrating All Hallows’ Eve. In order to participate in the flotilla, you need to bring a precarved pumpkin, with top, that is approximately eight pounds, is no bigger than a soccer ball, and contains no artificial materials such as paint, glitter, marker, or food dye. (Be advised that you don’t get your pumpkin back once it makes its way across Harlem Meer.) There will also be live music, spooky storytelling, pumpkin carving demonstrations, and a costume parade.