Who: Erric Solomon and Kyabgön Phakchok Rinpoche
What: Radically Happy
Where: Helen Mills Theater, 137 West 26th St. between Sixth & Seventh Aves.
When: Wednesday, September 7, $20-$45, 7:00
Why: Last August, I attended the talk “Being Radically Happy”in a SoHo gallery, where Tibetan yogi practitioner and Buddhist teacher Kyabgön Phakchok Rinpoche and Boston-born former Silicon Valley guru Erric Solomon discussed the radical nature of happiness. Three months later, I found myself in Kathmandu, taking two weeks of classes with Phakchok and one of his uncles, Chökyi Nyima Rinpoche. On September 7, Phakchok and Solomon will be back in New York City, at the Helen Mills Theater, for “Radically Happy.” “Everyone wants to be happy and live a meaningful life, yet the way we usually go about it can only bring a very temporary happiness at best and, at worst, leads to extreme dissatisfaction and suffering,” the Nepal-based Phakchok and Solomon, who lives in France, explain. “By making a slight but radical shift in the way we live our lives, a subtle sense of satisfaction and well-being can be ours even when things really aren’t working out.” The two friends take a common-sense approach to life, concentrating on two main elements: “slightly shifting our way of relating to ourselves and slightly altering how we relate to the world around us.” The talk is a prelude to Phakchok’s week-long teachings at the Rangjung Yeshe Gomde Meditation Center in Cooperstown, during which he will focus on “Mahāmudrā and 9 Yānas Retreat and Empowerments.”
In Dani Menkin’s Is That You?, young film student Myla (Naruna Kaplan de Macedo) is making a documentary, asking strangers what they regret. If she asked me, I might just have told her that I regret having watched Is That You? Nominated for an Israeli Academy Award for Best Picture and winner of Best Indie Film, Dani Menkin’s Is That You? is a convoluted road-trip movie that manipulates its paper-thin plot until almost none of it makes sense. Israeli film, television, and stage favorite Alon Aboutboul (London Has Fallen, The Dark Knight Rises) stars as Ronnie, an outdated analog man in an ever-more-digital world. After losing his job as a projectionist in an Israeli art house, Ronnie heads to the States, determined to find his lost love, Rachel, who he has not seen in nearly forty years. He picks up an old used car (no fancy new styles for him) from his brother, Jacob (Rani Bleier), and sets out on his mission. The lemon soon breaks down, and Ronnie is offered help by Myla, whose film is called The Road Not Taken. Moved by Ronnie’s story, Myla joins him on his journey, taking her brother’s SUV, without permission. As Ronnie and Myla try to track down Rachel, who can’t seem to settle down in one place for very long, they stop along the way so Myla can interview people on the street and in their homes, getting them to share what they would change in their lives if they could. But the hardest person to get to open up is Ronnie himself.
Is That You? is a narrative mess from the start, as Menkin (39 Pounds of Love, Dolphin Boy) keeps trying to force square pegs into round holes; if a plot development doesn’t quite work, he forges ahead anyway, leaving viewers scratching their head in disbelief. Aboutboul (Out of the Blue, One of Us) is a wonderful actor, but Ronnie is just too dour and withdrawn, too uncommunicative, while Kaplan de Macedo, a real-life documentary filmmaker in her acting debut and a dead ringer for Zooey Deschanel, is fun to watch, although her character is overly quirky. Even the opening credits are a disappointment; Menkin uses the font associated with Woody Allen films, but there’s nothing in Is That You? that shares any of the wit and intelligence in even the Woodman’s lesser works. There are some interesting ideas in the film, but it probably would have worked better as a short instead of an eighty-three-minute feature. Is That You? opens August 26 at Cinema Village, with Menkin, Aboutboul, and other members of the cast and crew participating in several Q&As over the weekend.
The New School, Marcus Garvey Park, Tompkins Square Park
August 24-28, free
“Music is your own experience, your own thoughts, your wisdom. If you don’t live it, it won’t come out of your horn,” saxophone great Charlie Parker once said. “They teach you there’s a boundary line to music. But, man, there’s no boundary line to art.” The Kansas City native, known as Bird and Yardbird, blew away all boundaries on his sax during a career that was cut short by his death in 1955 at the age of thirty-four. His legacy will once again be celebrated at the annual Charlie Parker Jazz Festival as part of the City Parks Foundation free SummerStage programming. This year’s tribute begins indoors on August 24 at 7:30 (free with advance RSVP here) with a screening of N. C. Heikin’s documentary Sound of Redemption: The Frank Morgan Story at the New School, followed by a Q&A with alto sax player and Morgan protégée Grace Kelly and Morgan manager Reggie Marshall. On August 25 at 7:30 (RSVP here), the New School will host a screening of Bruce Spiegel’s Bill Evans: Time Remembered, followed by a discussion with Spiegel. The live music gets cooking August 26 at 6:00 in Marcus Garvey Park with performances by Jason Lindner: Breeding Ground, Antoinette Montague, and DJ Greg Caz, followed the next day in the Harlem park by a 2:00 master class with Samuel Coleman and a 3:00 concert with the Randy Weston African Rhythms Sextet, Cory Henry & the Funk Apostles, the Artistry of Jazzmeia Horn, and Charles Turner III. The festival concludes on August 28 at 3:00 in Tompkins Square Park with the great lineup of DeJohnette - Holland - Moran, Allan Harris, the Donny McCaslin Group, and Kelly.
West 135th St. between Malcolm X Blvd. & Frederick Douglass Blvd.
Saturday, August 20, and Sunday, August 21, free, 12 noon – 10:00 pm
Festival continues through August 27
The annual Harlem Week festival continues August 20 with “Summer in the City” and August 21 with “Harlem Day,” two afternoons of a wide range of free special events along West 135th St. Saturday’s festivities include the Higher Education Fair & Expo, New Yorkers Are “Dancing in the Street” (with Alvin Ailey instructor Robin Dunn teaching a hip-hop ballet and African dance class, with WBLS DJs), the Fabulous Fashion Flava Show, the first day of the NYC Children’s Festival (with a parade, sports clinics, health testing, arts & crafts, and more), Harlem Honeys & Bears swimming activities for seniors in the Hansborough Recreation Center, an International Vendors Village, the Uptown Saturday Concert paying tribute to Nina Simone, and the Imagenation Outdoor Film Festival screening in St. Nicholas Park of Leon Gast’s Oscar-winning 1996 documentary When We Were Kings, about Muhammad Ali and George Foreman’s Rumble in the Jungle. Sunday’s Harlem Day celebration features the “Harlem and Havana Classics” Upper Manhattan Auto Show, tennis clinics, the “Village within Our Village” health village, the second day of the NYC Children’s Festival (with a Back to School theme), an “International Roots of Jazz” program, the Upper Manhattan Small Business Expo & Fair, live music, dance, and spoken-word performances, a kids fashion show, and musical tributes to Prince and Earth, Wind & Fire leader Maurice White.
SculptureCenter, one of the coolest places to see art in the five boroughs, is hosting the annual LIC Block Party on August 20 in Queens. The free afternoon, taking place inside and outside the gallery, will include live performances by Erin Markey, Daisy Press, OTIUM, Jessica Lang Dance, and Bianca Benson, DJ sets by Tygapaw, activity booths by Schuyler Tsuda, Jeannine Han & Eliza Fisher, Sam Stewart, Lauren Halsey, Jan Mun & Gil Lopez, Sydney Shen, Emma Banay & David Scanlon’s Quilt Music, Other Means, and Diamond Stingily, and an artists market with booths by American Chordata, Desert Island, Fastnet, Mixed Media, Packet Biweekly, the Perfect Nothing Catalog, Peradam, Sanguis Ornatus, and Workaday Handmade. There will also be food and drink available from such local restaurants as Bartleby & Sage, Doughnut Plant, Hibino LIC, Rockaway Brewing Co., and Stolle USA. Among the partners in the block party are the American Folk Art Museum, the Museum of the Moving Image, the Noguchi Museum, Sculpture Space NYC, and Socrates Sculpture Park.
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 Lost Arcade opens at Metrograph on August 12, with Vincent and Chin participating in Q&As following the 7:00 screening on Friday night (followed by live music by Talmi and drinks in the downstairs bar) and the 8:30 show on Saturday. In conjunction with the theatrical release of the film, Metrograph is also hosting the series “Shall We Play a Game?” featuring such other game-related movies as Mortal Kombat, Tron, Existenz, The Last Starfighter, and WarGames.
DISORDER (Alice Winocour, 2015)
IFC Center, 323 Sixth Ave. at West Third St., 212-924-7771
Lincoln Plaza Cinema, 1886 Broadway between 62nd & 63rd Sts., 212-757-2280
Opens Friday, August 12
French director Alice Winocour follows up her 2012 Cannes hit, Augustine, with the pulse-pounding, heart-racing paranoid thriller Disorder. Matthias Schoenaerts is sensational as Vincent, a role Winocour wrote specifically for him. A veteran of special forces in Afghanistan, Vincent has been sidelined back in France, diagnosed with PTSD and awaiting medical clearance for a return to the field. He is distraught and frustrated, as his identity as a soldier is his life. While waiting to hear from the doctors, he is hired by his team leader, Denis (Paul Hamy), to join a security force for a party at a French Riviera estate, known as Maryland, owned by powerful Lebanese businessman Imad Whalid (Percy Kemp). During the party, Vincent witnesses an altercation involving Whalid, cabinet minister Pierre Duroy (Philippe Haddad), and some mysterious figures. Later, when Whalid suddenly has to leave on a business trip, Vincent comes back to the estate as a one-person security force protecting Whalid’s trophy wife, Jessie (Diane Kruger), and her young son, Ali (Zaïd Errougui-Demonsant). Vincent is instantly suspicious of everything and everyone, constantly looking over his shoulder and scanning for threats ahead, which disturbs Jessie — until it appears that Vincent just may be right.
Disorder is a deep, intense cinematic experience as Winocour, cinematographer George LeChaptois, editor Julien Lacheray, and composer Gesaffelstein create a dark world filled with unexpected twists and turns. The story was inspired by real-life interviews Winocour conducted with elite soldiers, while the different techniques she employs in crafting the film were influenced by filmmakers Michelangelo Antonioni and Alfred Hitchcock and photographers Philip-Lorca diCorcia and Gregory Crewdson, resulting in a taut, gripping thriller that never lets the audience take a breath. It’s an intense psychological journey that combines various genres, incorporating horror, home invasion, action-adventure, war, and politics into something unique and seductive. Schoenaerts (The Danish Girl, A Bigger Splash) is mesmerizing as Vincent; the entire film is shot from his frenzied point of view, and he pulls it off magnificently. (To get into the role, he embodied his character 24/7, sleeping only a few hours a day to attain the proper mind-set.) Kruger (Troy, Inglourious Basterds) is alluring as Jessie, who is cautiously skeptical of Vincent’s protection, refusing to acknowledge the situation she and her family are in; the scene in which Jessie and Vincent fall asleep on couches is a tender-hearted moment in their complex relationship. Winocour effectively turns the mansion into a war zone, one that exists inside Vincent’s head as well. It’s an exquisitely made, captivating film, as sharp as a knife edge, unyielding and unrelenting every step of the way. Disorder opens August 12 at IFC Center and Lincoln Plaza, with Winocour participating in Q&As at the latter after the 7:15 show and at the former following the 8:00 screening on opening night.