THE BLUE ROOM (LA CHAMBRE BLEUE) (Mathieu Amalric, 2014)
Film Society of Lincoln Center
Monday, September 29, Alice Tully Hall, 9:00 pm
Tuesday, September 30, Francesca Beale Theater, 9:00 pm
Festival runs September 26 - October 12
Real-life partners Mathieu Amalric and Stéphanie Cléau strip Georges Simenon’s short 1955 novel The Blue Room to its bare essentials — and we do mean bare — in their intimate, claustrophobic modern noir adaptation, which makes its North American premiere at the New York Film Festival September 29 and 30. In addition to being one of the world’s most talented actors, starring in such films as Kings and Queens, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, A Christmas Tale, and Venus in Fur, Amalric has directed several previous works, including On Tour, which earned him the Best Director prize at Cannes. In The Blue Room, Amalric plays Julien Gahyde, a successful agriculture equipment salesman whose passionate affair with a local pharmacist’s wife, Esther Despierre (Cléau, who cowrote the script with Amalric), appears to have ended in murder. The film opens with Grégoire Hetzel’s lush, sweeping music as the camera makes its way to a blue hotel room where Julien and Esther have just made love offscreen. “Did I hurt you?” she asks. “No,” he responds. “You’re angry,” she says. “No,” he repeats as she laughs and a drop of blood falls on a creamy white sheet. Only then do we see the naked, sweaty couple, whose lurid tale has been succinctly revealed by this highly stylized, beautifully orchestrated scene. Next we hear Julien being interrogated by a magistrate (Laurent Poitrenaux) about a suspicious death, and soon we see Julien in handcuffs in the police station. We don’t know exactly what crime he has been accused of, nor do we know the victim — it could be Julien’s wife, Delphine (Léa Drucker), Esther’s husband, Nicolas (Olivier Mauvezin), or maybe even Esther herself. But as director Amalric, cinematographer Christophe Beaucarne, and editor François Gedigier cut between the past and the present, the details slowly unfold — although that doesn’t mean they ever become completely clear.
Amalric fills The Blue Room with bold splashes of color amid all the darkness and muted skin tones, from the red towel that signals Julien and Esther’s illicit rendezvous to Delphine’s blue bikini to the strikingly red hair of Nicolas’s mother (Véronique Alain) and the shiny green and yellow John Deere equipment he sells. Amalric and Cléau trim so much out of the original story that it too often feels overly cold and calculating, the manipulation too clear and obvious. The nudity also lacks subtlety; Amalric and Cléau might be comfortable with each other sans clothing, but it seems to be a bit of an obsession with Amalric the director. Nonetheless, The Blue Room, shot in the old-fashioned aspect ratio of 1:33 and running a mere seventy-six minutes, is a gripping yarn, a lurid tale of sex and murder, pain and passion, and femmes fatale, told from the point of view of a relatively quiet, reserved man who never thought his world could just fall apart like it does. With such plot elements as adultery and murder and even the presence of a young daughter (Mona Jaffart), the story cannot fail to call to mind French author Gustave Flaubert’s classic novel of provincial France and misplaced passion, Madame Bovary, but the near-echoes never become too loud, merely adding a somewhat puzzling flavor to the film, like a dream half remembered. Amalric will participate in a Q&A following the September 29 screening at 9:00 at Alice Tully Hall; in addition, he will sit down for a free HBO Directors Dialogue that same day at 6:00 in the Walter Reade Theater, where he’s sure to discuss such influences as Alfred Hitchcock, François Truffaut, Claude Chabrol, Otto Preminger, and Fritz Lang.
Atlantic Ave. between Hicks St. & Fourth Ave.
Sunday, September 28, free, 12 noon - 6:00 pm
Brooklyn’s most popular street fair, Atlantic Antic, turns forty this year, and it’s doing it in style with an extensive lineup of special guests and live performances, along with games, family-friendly activities, art exhibitions, book readings, dozens of vendors, and plenty of politicos. There will be live music from the Windsor Terrors, Junior Rivera and Charanga Soleil, the Black Coffee Blues Band with Popa Chubby, the Dysfunctional Family Jazz Band, Dead Leaf Echo, Le Sans Culottes, and headliner Brown Rice Family World Roots Band, a welcome-ceremony dance by the Brooklyn Ballet, and the presentation of the Ambassador Award to Assembly Member Joan L. Millman. And for the twenty-first year, the New York Transit Museum is hosting the Bus Festival on Boerum Pl. between State St. & Atlantic Ave., featuring vintage buses (Betsy, Bus 2969, Bus 3100, Tunnel Wrecker), workshops, free tours, and other fun things, with admission to the museum only one dollar.
Rubin Museum of Art
150 West 17th St. at Seventh Ave.
Wednesday - Monday through February 2, $10-$15 (free Fridays 6:00 - 10:00)
Over the last four decades, Italian artist Francesco Clemente has spent a significant amount of time living in India, collaborating with local artists and artisans to create works that explore the culture in unique ways. A small sampling of these works is now on view at the Rubin Museum in “Francesco Clemente: Inspired by India.” Consisting of four large-scale paintings from 1980 and one from 1985, two watercolor series from 1989 and 2012-13, and a quartet of corner sculptures made specifically for this show, the exhibit is set up to evoke an Indian temple. “Building on the plan, orientation, and personality of the Rubin Museum gallery — and corresponding loosely to the concept of vastu (sacred proportion) in ancient Indian texts known as shastras — the exhibition was designed to reflect metaphorically the experience of visiting an Indian temple,” curator Beth Citron writes in the catalog. “Building a dialogue between the architecture of the gallery and the art within it also speaks to Clemente’s great sensitivity to environment and his deep understanding of Indian visual, material, and spiritual cultures.” The 1980 works, composed of gouache on sheets of handmade Pondicherry paper joined with handwoven cotton strips, include the powerful “Moon,” in which a nude man is being dragged away from (or perhaps into) a swirling moon by a rock tied around his neck, and “Hunger,” in which a man is taking a bite out of an Ouroboros, a snake devouring itself in a circle. The recent series “Sixteen Amulets for the Road” features depictions of men in chains, clocks showing different times, twisted ladders reaching toward the sky, and birds surrounded by graphic arrows, with one unlucky creature pierced by one of the sharp symbols. Most impressive is “The Black Book,” sixteen intensely beautiful, small, dark watercolors of men and women in the midst of heated passion; the longer you look at them, the more you can make out what is going on in these otherwise abstract images. The sculptures have similar names as the paintings — “Moon,” “Earth,” “Sun,” “Hunger” — each one set on a makeshift bamboo pedestal, at the top such repurposed objects as a vase, a suitcase, a mystery box, and a flag with quotations from Debord’s The Society of the Spectacle on either side.
But it’s the related programming that takes this exhibition to another level. For “Clemente x 8,” the artist will engage in onstage conversations with multimedia performer Patti Smith (October 1), theater innovator Robert Lepage (October 5), hip-hop star Nas (October 7), Tibetan monk Gelek Rimpoche (October 8), chef Eric Ripert (October 22), architect Billie Tsien (October 29), Sopranos creator David Chase (November 5), and writer-director Alfonso Cuarón (November 9); all tickets are $45 and include admission to the exhibition before and after the talk. In addition, Clemente has selected the films for the museum’s Friday-night Cabaret Cinema series; “My Formative Years” consists of ten works introduced by special guests, pairing Stella Schnabel with Luis Buñuel’s Viridiana, daughter Chiara Clemente with Bernardo Bertolucci’s Before the Revolution, Philip Glass with Conrad Rooks’s Chappaqua, Neil LaBute with Peter Fonda’s The Hired Hand, and Karole Armitage with Pier Paolo Pasolini’s Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom, among other screenings through December 5. (Admission is free with a minimum $10 purchase in the K2 Lounge.) And finally, exhibition curator Citron will speak with contemporary artists on select Friday nights at 6:15; the impressive “Artists on Art” lineup boasts Fred Tomaselli on September 26, Julian Schnabel on October 3, Philip Taaffe on October 17, Sandeep Mukherjee on October 24, David Salle on November 7, Terry Winters on November 14, and Swoon on November 21. (Free tickets are distributed beginning at 5:45.)
Multiple venues in DUMBO
September 27-29, free
The annual DUMBO Arts Festival is one of the most fun events of the year, as live performances, art installations, gallery shows, pop-up parties, and just about anything else can be found in nearly every nook and cranny all around the district Down under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass. The eighteenth annual event takes place September 26-28, with hundreds of artists participating in solo and group exhibitions, open studios, site-specific public art projects, interactive presentations, family-friendly activities, and much more, with a few hundred thousand people expected to attend. And yes, it’s all free. Below are only some of the highlights.
Friday, September 26
Saturday, September 27
DiscoTransformer, by Thomas Stevenson, mobile music and light system in street vendor cart, roaming throughout DUMBO, 7:00 - 10:00 pm
Friday, September 26
Saturday, September 27
Sunday, September 28
Digital Being, by Taezoo Park, evolving kinetic installation made from electronic waste, with people invited to manipulate the sculpture in various ways, St. Ann’s Warehouse, 29 Jay St., Friday 6:00 to 9:00, Saturday 12 noon - 9:00, Sunday 12 noon - 6:00
Rub Me the Wrong Way, by Traci Talasco, immersive installation in which gallery space has been covered with sandpaper to represent societal expectations of women, BAC Gallery, 111 Front St., Suite 218, Friday 6:00 to 9:00, Saturday 12 noon - 9:00, Sunday 12 noon - 6:00
Borges: The Complete Works, by Daniel Temkin & Rony Maltz, word search of every palabra ever written by Jorge Luis Borges, in Spanish and English translation (borgeslibrary.com), Manhattan Bridge, Adams Street side, 7:00 pm - 12:00 midnight
Saturday, September 27
Art Is Me, Art Is You: NYC Series #2, by Yikwon Kim, outdoor procession with artists marching in wearable art, including Yikwon Kim, Eleanor Bailey, Mike Brenner, Cyril Bullard, Bill Cromar, Vinson Houston, Richard Jochum, Grant Johnson, Scot Kaylor, Minny Lee, Yvonne Love, Courtney Morgan, Gabrielle Russomagno, Inyoung Seoung, Insook Soul, Graeme Sullivan, and Jay Sullivan, 12 noon - 4:00
The Imaginary Truck, by chashama, visitors invited to put on blindfold and be led through art truck, corner of Plymouth & Adams Sts., 12 noon - 6:00
I ____ a Dollar, by Jody Servon, public intervention exploring the value of a dollar, Main St. between Plymouth & Water Sts., 12 noon - 6:00
Saturday, September 27
Sunday, September 28
Barter Town (Trading Post XVI: Mesh & Lace), by Heather Hart Experience, interactive sharing economy in which visitors can barter for palm reading, massage therapy, costume making, face painting, and other services, no money allowed, 12 noon - 6:00
BEAUTY, interactive performance art by the South Asian Women’s Creative Collective (SAWCC), with Shahnaz Habib, Rachel Kalpana James & Svetlana Swinimer, Sunita Mukhi, Qinza Najm, Nooshin Rostami, Reya Sehgal, and Purvi Shah, Parul Shah, and Deesha Narichania, Main St. between Plymouth & Water Sts., 12 noon - 6:00
Sunday, September 28
Dreams for Free, by Jody Servon, in which visitors can share their dreams in exchange for a lottery ticket, Main St. between Plymouth & Water Sts., 12 noon - 6:00
Kling Klang, by Xiu Xiu, live music performance incorporating Danh Vo’s “We the People” installation, Pier 3 Greenway Terrace, Brooklyn Bridge Park, 1:00 - 4:00
The Imaginary App, by Paul D. Miller (aka DJ Spooky) and Svitlana Matviyenko, celebration of publication of anthology The Imaginary App, the powerHouse Arena, 37 Main St., 5:00 - 7:00
LA SAPIENZA (THE SAPIENCE) (Eugène Green, 2014)
Film Society of Lincoln Center
Saturday, September 27, Alice Tully Hall, 3:00, and Sunday, September 28, Francesca Beale Theater, 12:15
Festival runs September 19-25
New York City-born French filmmaker Eugène Green equates humanity and architecture in the lush, rich film La Sapienza. Named for the concept of gaining wisdom as well as Italian architect Francesco Borromini’s seventeenth-century Roman Catholic Baroque church Sant’Ivo alla Sapienza, the film follows an older couple who rediscover their personal and professional passion after meeting a young pair of siblings. Architect Alexandre Schmidt (Fabrizio Rongione) and his wife, sociologist Aliénor (Christelle Prot Landman), are walking through a park in Switzerland when they see a teenage girl (Arianna Nastro) nearly collapse into the arms of a slightly older boy (Ludovico Succio). It turns out that Lavinia is suffering from incapacitating dizzy spells and is cared for by her brother, Goffredo, who is interested in studying architecture. Aliénor becomes involved in Lavinia’s situation while Alexandre, an intense, cynical man, returns to the book he is writing on Borromini (who famously worked in the shadow of Bernini) and travels to Italy with Goffredo as the boy’s reluctant mentor. Green’s (Toutes les nuits, Le monde vivant) first digital feature opens with the glorious sounds of Claudio Monteverdi accompanying cinematographer Raphaël O’Byrne’s magisterial shots of statuary and architecture in Rome. The acting at the start, particularly Rongione’s, is purposefully stiff and mannered, cold and stonelike, but it warms up as the characters learn (or relearn) about the myriad possibilities life offers. Green uses the metaphor of Baroque architecture’s role in the Counter-Reformation as a symbol for Alexandre and Aliénor’s relationship, as they finally face long-held emotions and reconsider their future, all while Green lingers on magnificent structures. La Sapienza will have its U.S. premiere at the New York Film Festival on September 27 at 3:00 and September 28 at 12:15; both screenings will be followed by a Q&A with Green, who also appears in the film as the grizzled Chaldean.
WORKS & PROCESS AT 30: ARTISTS AT WORK, ARTISTS IN PROCESS
New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center
40 Lincoln Center Plaza
Monday - Saturday through October 25, free
Thursday, September 25, “Three Choreographers Celebrate,” free with advance RSVP, 6:00
WORKS & PROCESS
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Peter B. Lewis Theater
1071 Fifth Ave. at 89th St.
October 5 – December 15, $30-$35
For three decades, the Guggenheim has been presenting illuminating performances and discussions in its groundbreaking program Works & Process, in which emerging and established dancers, musicians, composers, and choreographers share their creative inspiration with glimpses at upcoming productions. The New York Public Library is honoring the series with “Works & Process at 30: Artists at Work, Artists in Process,” a collection of photographs, costumes, and printed ephemera from past events featuring some of the greatest directors, choreographers, and performers of the last thirty years. On September 25, the library will host “Three Choreographers Celebrate” in the Bruno Walter Auditorium (free with advance RSVP), bringing together a trio of W&P veterans, Karole Armitage, Larry Keigwin, and Pam Tanowitz, to talk about the importance of the program with Dance Theatre of Harlem artistic director Virginia Johnson; the event will also include footage from the library’s archives of nearly five hundred W&P performances. Meanwhile, tickets are now on sale and going fast for the fall 2014 W&P season, which continues October 5 with “The Kennedy Center: Little Dancer with Susan Stroman” (with Stroman, Boyd Gaines, Rebecca Luker, Tiler Peck, Lynn Ahrens, and Stephen Flaherty) and also includes Brian Brooks Moving Company on October 19-20, “Harlem Stage: Makandal” on October 27 (with Carl Hancock Rux, Yosvany Terry, Edouard Duval-Carrié, and Lars Jan), “In Process with Pam Tanowitz and David Lang” on November 2, and “Jerome Robbins: Fancy Free to On the Town” on November 9-10 (with Robert LaFosse, John Rando, Joshua Bergasse, Phyllis Newman, and Jamie Bernstein, moderated by Amanda Vaill).