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


(photo by Brigitte Lacombe, 2010)

Julie Taymor will talk masks at the Rubin with Morgan Stebbins on July 9 (photo by Brigitte Lacombe, 2010)

Rubin Museum of Art
150 West 17th St. at Seventh Ave.
Thursday, July 9, $30, 7:00

The Rubin Museum exhibition “Becoming Another: The Power of Masks” is a splendid collection of religious, cultural, and theatrical faces that people throughout the centuries have worn, from Japan, India, Bhutan, Alaska, British Columbia, Russia, Nepal, and other locales. Not part of the collection are the classic Greek comedy and tragedy masks, so essential to Western drama, depicting Thalia and Melpomene, but on July 9, they will all come together for “Julie Taymor: Removing the Mask,” when award-winning theater veteran Julie Taymor sits down with Jungian Analyst and archetypal symbols specialist Morgan Stebbins for an illustrated talk. Taymor has directed many a Shakespeare adaptation for stage and screen in addition to The Lion King on Broadway and the films Frida and Across the Universe; the New York-based Stebbins has previously been at the Rubin for talks with Meredith Monk and Billy Corgan. Also in conjunction with the exhibition, the Rubin’s Cabaret Cinema series “Movie Masks” will screen such films as The Princess Bride, Phantom of the Paradise, The Face of Another, and Witness for the Prosecution on Friday nights, with an all-day art workshop and tour on July 11.



Married mother Margaret Jones (Charlotte Rampling) is madly in love with a monkey in Nagisa Ôshima’s surprisingly tame MAX, MON AMOUR

CinéSalon: MAX, MON AMOUR (Nagisa Ôshima, 1986)
French Institute Alliance Française, Florence Gould Hall
55 East 59th St. between Madison & Park Aves.
Tuesday, July 7, $13, 4:00 & 7:30
Series continues Tuesdays through July 28

It’s rather hard to tell how much Japanese auteur Nagisa Ôshima is monkeying around with his very strange 1986 movie, Max, Mon Amour, a love story between an intelligent, beautiful woman and a chimpanzee. The director of such powerful films as Cruel Story of Youth; Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence; Taboo; and In the Realm of the Senses seems to have lost his own senses with this surprisingly straightforward, tame tale of bestiality, a collaboration with master cinematographer Raoul Coutard, who shot seminal works by Truffaut and Godard; screenwriter Jean-Claude Carrière, who has written or cowritten nearly ninety films by such directors as Pierre Étaix (who plays the detective in Max), Luis Buñuel, Volker Schlöndorff, Philippe Garrel, and Miloš Forman; and special effects and makeup artist extraordinaire Rick Baker, the mastermind behind the 1976 King Kong, the Michael Jackson video Thriller, Ratboy, Hellboy, and An American Werewolf in London, among many others. Evoking Bedtime for Bonzo and Ed more than Planet of the Apes and Gorillas in the Mist, Max, Mon Amour is about a well-to-do English family living in Paris whose lives undergo a rather radical change when husband Peter Jones (Anthony Higgins) catches his elegant wife, Margaret (Charlotte Rampling), in bed with a chimp. Margaret insists that she and the chimp, Max, are madly in love and somehow convinces Peter to let her bring the sensitive yet dangerous beast home, which confuses their son, Nelson (Christopher Hovik), and causes their maid, Maria (Victoria Abril), to break out in ugly rashes. Peter, a diplomat, works for the queen of England, so as he prepares for a royal visit to Paris, he also has to deal with this new addition to his ever-more-dysfunctional family.

Throughout the film, it’s almost impossible to figure out when Ôshima is being serious, when he is being ironic, when he is trying to make a metaphorical point about evolution, or when he is commenting on the state of contemporary aristocratic European society. When Margaret puts on a fur coat, is that a reference to her hypocrisy? Is her affair with a zoo animal being directly compared to Peter’s dalliance with his assistant Camille (Diana Quick)? Even better, is Ôshima relating Max to Her Royal Highness? We are all mammals, after all. Or are Ôshima and Carrière merely riffing on Buñuel’s 1972 surrealist classic The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie, which Carrière cowrote? Perhaps Max, Mon Amour is about all of that, or maybe none of it, as Ôshima lays it all out very plainly, as if it is not a completely crazy thing that a woman can have an affair with a chimp and have him become part of the family. Regardless, the film is just plain silly, although it looks pretty great, particularly Rampling wearing gorgeous outfits and a Princess Di do and Quick in hysterically hideous haute couture gone terribly wrong. Meanwhile, Michel Portal’s score mines Laurie Anderson territory. You can decide for yourself whether Max, Mon Amour is a misunderstood masterpiece or an absurd piece of trifle when it is shown on July 7 in the French Institute Alliance Française’s CinéSalon series “Jean-Claude Carrière: Writing the Impossible.” (The 7:30 show will be introduced by Japan Society film programmer Kazu Watanabe, who will attempt to shed more light on this, and both the 4:00 and 7:30 shows will be followed by a wine reception.) The two-month festival consists of a wide range of films written by two-time Oscar winner Carrière, who, at eighty-three, is still hard at work. The series continues through July 28 with such other Carrière collaborations as Andrzej Wajda’s Danton, Louis Malle’s May Fools, and Jonathan Glazer’s Birth.



Ron “Stray Dog” Hall takes his wife, and viewers, on a marvelous ride into the heart of America in Debra Granik’s charming documentary

STRAY DOG (Debra Granik, 2014)
Film Society of Lincoln Center, Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center
144 West 65th St. between Amsterdam & Columbus Aves.
Opens Friday, July 3

Shortly after meeting Ron “Stray Dog” Hall at the Biker Church in Branson, Missouri, writer-director Debra Granik (Down to the Bone) cast the Vietnam vet as Thump Milton in her second feature, the Oscar-nominated Winter’s Bone. Upon learning more about him, she soon decided that he would be a great subject for a documentary, so she took to the road, following him across the country in the engaging and revealing Stray Dog. Nearly always dressed in black, including his treasured leather jacket covered in medals and patches — when he puts it in a suitcase for a trip, it’s a ritual like he’s folding the American flag — Hall is a wonderfully grizzled old man with a fluffy white beard. At home, he is learning Spanish online so he can communicate better with his new wife, Alicia, a Mexican immigrant, and her two sons (who still live across the border). He visits with his teenage granddaughter, who is making some questionable decisions about her future. In Missouri, he owns and operates the At Ease RV Park, where he gives breaks to fellow vets who can’t always afford to pay the rent. And when he goes on the road, participating in the Run for the Wall, joining up with thousands of other bikers heading for the annual service at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC, he stops along the way at other ceremonies honoring soldiers who have gone missing, are POWs, or were killed in action in Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, and other wars.

Hall is a gregarious, gentle man who people instantly flock to and gather around — a scene in which two of his cats sit on each of his knees is absolutely heartwarming — but he is also haunted by some of the things he did in Vietnam, suffering from nightmares that sometimes have him screaming out loud while sleeping in bed. And he wears one of his mottoes right on his arm: “Never Forgive Never Forget.” At one point he sits comfortably on a couch and says, “Just kind of being free, don’t hurt nobody, do what you want to do — a nice thing, ain’t it? You know, I’d rather live as a free man for a year than a slave for twenty.” Granik simply follows Hall as he experiences life with his surprisingly refreshing point of view; no one ever turns to the camera to make any confessions, and no talking heads are brought on board to evaluate what we’re seeing. Granik just lets this beautiful piece of Americana unfold at its own pace while also touching on such hot-button topics as immigration reform, gun control, the economic crisis, and PTSD, making no judgments as we follow the captivating exploits of a man who is part Buddha, part Santa, and all patriot. Stray Dog returns to Lincoln Center, where it was shown at the 2014 New York Film Festival, for a theatrical run beginning July 3 at the Francesca Beale Theater, with Granik participating in Q&As following the 6:45 screening on Friday and the 4:30 show on Sunday.


that independents

Who: The Unbearables, Great Weather for Media, InDigest, Seven Stories Press, Three Rooms Press
What: The Monthly @ Cornelia Street Cafe, hosted by Peter Carlaftes & Kat Georges
Where: Cornelia Street Cafe, 29 Cornelia St. between Bleecker & West Fouth Sts.
When: Friday, July 3, $8 (includes a free drink), 6:00
Why: “It’s a strange time in the world of publishing,” writes Three Rooms Press cofounder Kat Georges on her company’s website. “The giant publishers continue to merge. Independent bookstores continue the struggle to keep their doors open. New technology has made it easy for authors to publish their own books. Yet, somehow, independent publishers are thriving. . . . If one thing unites the small presses, it is their dedication to their unique vision.” You can find out more about that unique vision on July 3, when five small presses come together at the Cornelia Street Cafe to discuss their publishing philosophy and present some of their authors to read from their work. Thomas Jefferson would be proud.


Macy’s Fourth of July Fireworks return to the East Side this year (photo by twi-ny/mdr)

America turns 239 this year, and you can celebrate Independence Day in New York City with live music, storytelling, baseball, comedy, dancing, and plenty of fireworks all over town. Below are only some of the highlights.

Festival of Tall Ships: Voyage of L’Hermione, New York Harbor, free, 9:00 am - 3:00 pm

Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest, Sweikert Alley, 1310 Surf Ave. at Stillwell Ave., 212-627-5766, free, 10:00 am

Stories at the Statue of Hans Christian Andersen, with Therese Plair telling “The Pumpkin Rider,” Dovie Thomasen telling “Iktomi Saves the People,” and Laura Simms telling “The Empress of Fairies,” Central Park, near Seventy-Fourth St. & Fifth Ave., free, 11:00 am

Warm Up, with Nicky Siano, Virgo Four, Cut Copy DJs, Galcher Lustwerk b2b DJ Richard, and Bobbito Garcia a.k.a. Kool Bob Love, MoMA PS1 courtyard, $18-$20, 3:00 – 9:00

Country Music Night: Brooklyn Cyclones vs. Williamsport Crosscutters, MCU Park, with postgame fireworks display, $10-$17, 6:00

Freedom Fest, with open bar, BBQ buffet, VIP viewing of fireworks, and dance party with live DJs, Pier 15, 78 South St., $109-$179, 6:30

Midsummer Night Swing: Dr. K’s Motown Revue, Lincoln Center, $17-$25, 7:30 & 9:00

Festival of Independence: Prince Rama and Salt Cathedral, Fulton Stall Market, 207A Front St., South Street Seaport, free, 8:00

Rob Stapleton’s July 4th Weekend Takeover, Carolines on Broadway, 1626 Broadway, $35-$105.75, 8:00 & 11:00

Hot Summer Nights: The George Gee Swing Orchestra, featuring vocalists Hilary Gardner and John Dokes, with special guest Lindy Hoppers, Lighthouse Bandshell, Kingsborough Community College, 8:00

Macy’s Fourth of July Fireworks: Brave, East River, free, 9:20



Officer Pao (Lau Ching-wan) tries to stop a robbery in Ringo Lam’s FULL ALERT

FULL ALERT (KO DOU GAI BEI) (Ringo Lam, 1997)
Film Society of Lincoln Center, Walter Reade Theater
165 West 65th St. between Eighth Ave. & Broadway
Sunday, June 28, 2:00
Festival runs June 26 - July 8

The fourteenth annual New York Asian Film Festival is saluting legendary Hong Kong director Ringo Lam, presenting him with the Lifetime Achievement Award. Lam, who turns sixty this year, will be at Lincoln Center for screenings of two of his works, City on Fire on June 27 and Full Alert on June 28. In the latter, Lam’s follow-up to his disappointing Hollywood debut, the Jean-Claude Van Damme vehicle Maximum Risk, Lau Ching-wan stars as Officer Pao, a member of Hong Kong’s Special Crime Bureau who becomes involved in a case that turns deeply personal. After arresting explosives expert Mak Kwan (Francis Ng) for the brutal murder of an architect, Pao is determined to find the rest of Mak’s Taiwanese crew, which is led by mainland boss Jie (Jack Gao), and prevent the robbery of a mysterious vault. Pao and his team track Mak’s girlfriend, Chung Lai Hung (Amanda Lee), who knows more than she’s letting on, while Pao and Mak become immersed in a tense, psychological game of cat and mouse, exploring what it feels like to kill someone. There are numerous incredulous plot twists and a rather lame car chase, but the guerrilla filmmaking style of Lam and cinematographer Ardy Lam, ranging through the streets of a Hong Kong about to be handed over from the British to the Chinese, is supremely effective, as are the lead performances by Lau and Ng, evoking the relationships portrayed earlier by Robert De Niro and Al Pacino in Michael Mann’s Heat and later by Andy Lau and Tony Leung in Andrew Lau and Alan Mak’s Infernal Affairs. The use of mobile phones and surveillance technology feels much older than 1997, displaying how far we have come so fast. Lam saves the heavy violence for the spectacular finale, letting the emotions build before exploding. Nominated for five Hong Kong Film Awards, including Best Film, Best Director, and Best Actor (Lau), Full Alert is screening at the Walter Reade Theater on June 28 at 2:00, with Lam on hand to introduce it. The New York Asian Film Festival continues at Lincoln Center through July 6 with more than three dozen new and old films from China, Korea, Japan, the Philippines, Cambodia, and other Southeast Asian countries, including Sabu’s Chasuke’s Journey, Kinji Fukasuku’s Battles without Honor and Humanity, Im Sang-soo’s The President’s Last Bang, Wang Xiaoshuai’s Red Amnesia, Im Kwon-taek’s Revivre, and Sion Sono’s Tokyo Tribe.


Summer Heart will be at DROM for the New Music Seminar

Summer Heart will be at Pianos for the New Music Seminar

Wyndham New Yorker Hotel and downtown music venues
481 Eighth Ave. between 34th & 35th Sts.
Through June 23, registration $499, individual concerts free - $12

The New Music Seminar continues to offer industry panels and education programs through Tuesday — more than fifteen on Tuesday alone, including a morning A&R critique session and panels with COOs and CFOs from Warner, SiriusXM, Def Jam, and more talking about subscription music and new international markets — at the Wyndham New Yorker Hotel, but at night it’s time to hear the music. Four staple venues of the LES offer four different slates tonight, showcasing Artists on the Verge. On a steaming hot night one could do worse than drift into the cool, Swedish pop of Summer Heart at Pianos (hear their latest EP here) or dive into the heat and pump up New York’s own urban energy with DJ SANiTY from Queens at DROM.

Music Xray’s Live A&R Listening and Critique Sound Sessions, conducted by Mike McCready, with label managers and A&R scouts, Crystal Ballroom, 10:15 am

Label Heads: The Music, the Media, the Money, conducted by Ralph Simon, with Tom Corson, Avery Lipman, Craig Kallman, Steve Bartels, Dave Hansen, and Emmanuel de Buretel, Grand Ballroom, 12:30

The Developing World: Music Explosion, with Ralph Simon, Michael Abbattista, Julien Simon, Prashant Bahadur, Paramdeep Singh, Ed Peto, Ademola Ogundele, and Emmanuel Zuna, Sutton Place, 2:45

Frances Rose, Summer Heart, Chaos Chaos, Ayer, and HIGHS, Pianos, 158 Ludlow St., $8, 7:00

Frances Cone, ONWE, End of an Era, Phosphene, and Paper Fleet, Cake Shop, 152 Ludlow St., $8, 8:15

Janita, the Collection, City of the Sun, DJ SANiTY, and AOV Class of 2015 winner, DROM, 85 Ave. A., free, 8:15

Beecher’s Fault, Lilly Wolf, Fort Lean, and Dinner and a Suit, the Delancey, $8, 8:15