Things are liable to get even hotter when Tyler Ashley premieres his latest work, Kidnap Me, at the twenty-third annual HOT! Festival: The NYC Celebration of Queer Culture. Last summer, the Brooklyn-based choreographer and dancer shed his clothes for Swadhisthana: The Event at NYPAC; the multidisciplinary genderqueer artist has also presented pieces on the High Line and Times Square while also dancing with STREB, Walter Dundervill, and others. His first evening-length work, the ninety-minute Kidnap Me, is a durational performance, inspired by Béla Tarr’s 2011 film The Turin Horse and the music of the late African American composer and performer Julius Eastman, that examines hunger, family, and stardom, focusing on the creative process. In his artist statement for New York Live Arts, Ashley explains, “I conduct experiments in desire, endurance, vulnerability, and determination by creating image-based dances inspired by sport, nightlife, physical labor, and excessiveness. . . . I work to push myself closer to the audience, challenging what they may expect and unsettling the performance space. I exploit the chaos present in the search for resolution.” Kidnap Me premieres July 21 at Dixon Place and will be performed by Ashley, Aranzazu Araujo, Sarah McSherry, Diego Montoya, Shane O’Neill, Rakia Seaborn, and Gillian Walsh. HOT! continues at Dixon Place through August 5 with such other programs as Lucas Brooks’s Cootie Catcher, Vincent Caruso’s Clueless, Joe Castle Baker’s Just Let Go, Anna/Kate’s Fear City / Fun City, Jack Feldstein’s Three Months with Pook, and J. Stephen Brantley’s Chicken-Fried Ciccone: A Twangy True Tale of Transformation.
A MEMORIAL CONCERT FOR PETE AND TOSHI SEEGER / NEW SONGS OF JUSTICE: AN EVENING HONORING PETE SEEGER
A MEMORIAL CONCERT FOR PETE AND TOSHI SEEGER
Lincoln Center Out of Doors, Damrosch Park Bandshell
Sunday, July 20, free, 4:00
NEW SONGS OF JUSTICE: AN EVENING HONORING PETE SEEGER
SummerStage, Rumsey Playfield, Central Park
Monday, July 21, free, 6:00
Five years ago, more than fifty musicians paid tribute to Pete Seeger on the occasion of his ninetieth birthday at an all-star concert at Madison Square Garden, highlighted by several appearances by Pete along with some of his family members; the setlist featured such classic folk songs as “If I Had a Hammer,” “Where Have All the Flowers Gone,” “There’s a Hole in My Bucket,” “Goodnight Irene,” “Bring ’em Home,” and “This Land Is Your Land.” Last July, his wife of nearly seventy years, filmmaker and activist Toshi Seeger, passed away at the age of ninety-one. Six months later, Pete died at ninety-four. Over the next few days, their legacies will be celebrated in a pair of free concerts in Manhattan. On Sunday, July 20, Lincoln Center Out of Doors is presenting “A Memorial Concert for Pete and Toshi Seeger,” beginning at 4:00 at the Damrosch Park Bandshell. The impressive lineup that will be singing the praises of the longtime couple includes Judy Collins, Peter Yarrow, Holly Near, the Paul Winter Consort, Martha Redbone, Dar Williams & Dan Zanes, Guy Davis, Tom Chapin & the Chapin Sisters, David Amram with Adira & Alana Amram, Mike + Ruthy with Penny Bossom-Seeger, Sarah Lee Guthrie & Johnny Irion, the Hudson River Sloop Singers, and others, along with such speakers as Harry Belafonte, George Wein, and Michael Moore; the show will be hosted by Pete and Toshi’s grandson Kitama Cahill-Jackson. (If you can’t make it to the show, you can watch the live stream here.) On Monday, July 21, SummerStage and WFUV are honoring the legendary folksinger and activist with “New Songs of Justice: An Evening Honoring Pete Seeger” at Rumsey Playfield in Central Park at 6:00, hosted by Gina Belafonte and Cahill-Jackson. Scheduled to perform are Steve Earle, Sarah Lee Guthrie & Johnny Irion, James Maddock, Anti-Flag, Toni Blackman, the Chapin Sisters, Rebel Diaz, Elizabeth Mitchell & Dan Zanes, Mike + Ruthy, Nyraine, the Tony Lee Thomas Band, and Amanda Palmer, with DJ sets by Kool Herc. Pete loved sing-alongs, so be sure to come with your best voice for these two very special programs.
TRISTANA (Luis Buñuel, 1970)
BAMcinématek, BAM Rose Cinemas
30 Lafayette Ave. between Ashland Pl. & St. Felix St.
Saturday, July 19, 2:00 & 6:45, and Sunday, July 20, 2:00, 4:15, 6:30 & 8:45
Series runs through August 14
Luis Buñuel’s adaptation of Benito Pérez Galdós’s 1892 novel Tristana is an often underrated, deceivingly wicked psychological black comedy. A dubbed Catherine Deneuve stars as the title character, a shy, virginal young orphan employed in the household of the aristocratic, atheist Don Lope (Fernando Rey), an avowed atheist and aging nobleman who regularly spouts off about religion and the wretched social conditions in Spain (where the Spanish auteur had recently returned following many years living and working in Mexico). Soon Don Lope is serving as both husband and father to Tristana, who allows the world to pile its ills on her without reacting — until she meets handsome artist Horacio (Franco Nero) and begins to take matters into her own hands, with tragic results. Although Tristana is one of Buñuel’s more straightforward offerings with regard to narrative, featuring fewer surreal flourishes, it is a fascinating exploration of love, femininity, wealth, power, and a changing of the old guard. Deneuve is magnetic as Tristana, transforming from a meek, naive, gorgeous girl into a much stronger, and ultimately darker, gorgeous woman. Lola Gaos provides solid support as Saturna, who runs Don Lope’s household with a firm hand while also taking care of her deaf son, Saturno (Jesús Fernández), yet another male who is fond of the beautiful Tristana. The film is one of Buñuel’s most colorful works, wonderfully shot by cinematographer José F. Aguayo, who photographed Buñuel’s 1961 masterpiece Viridiana, which was also based on a novel by Galdós and starred Rey. Tristana is screening July 19 & 20 as part of BAMcinématek’s five-week tribute to the master filmmaker, who passed away in 1983 at the age of eighty-three. The series continues through August 14 with such other Buñuel works as The Milky Way, The Phantom of Liberty, Wuthering Heights, Belle de Jour, The River and Death, El Bruto, and the superb double-feature pairing of The Exterminating Angels and Simon of the Desert.
Museum of the Moving Image
35th Ave. at 36th St., Astoria
Saturday, July 19, 1:00 & 2:30, and Sunday, July 20, 1:00, free with museum admission
Some people learn about life from their parents, others from books and movies, and still others from religion. We discovered everything we ever wanted to know about the world from one primary source: Warner Bros. cartoons. And the mastermind behind it all was one of our heroes, Charles Martin “Chuck” Jones, who was a director at Warner Bros. from 1939 to 1962. The Spokane-born Jones ended up making more than 250 films, earning eight Academy Award nominations and three wins as well as an honorary Oscar in 1996, presented to him by Robin Williams. “Like my contemporaries Wile E. Coyote and Daffy Duck, I have little time and no inclination to find fault or failure in others, for I have too many abundant and stimulating faults and failures of my very own,” Jones explained in his 1999 memoir, Chuck Amuck, offering words to live by that continued, “Recognition of my own ineptitudes has always led me to better understanding of my trade. Jumblings, mistakes, and errors in judgment are the essence, the very fabric of humor.” There will be plenty of humor, and no noticeable faults or failures, this Saturday and Sunday at 1:00 when the Museum of the Moving Image presents “Chuck Jones Matinees: Duck Amuck and Other Cartoons,” a program of eight of Jones’s best animated works, being shown in conjunction with the exhibition “What’s Up, Doc? The Animation Art of Chuck Jones,” which opens July 19 and runs through January 19. And what a lineup of seven-minute classics they are. In Rabbit Seasoning, Bugs and Daffy confuse Elmer Fudd as to which of them it’s legal to hunt. In Feed the Kitty, big, tough dog Marc Anthony can’t help but be charmed by a cute but devious little kitten. Bugs ends up in the ring taking on an angry toro in Bully for Bugs, in which he famously declares, “I knew I should have taken that left turn at Albuquerque” and “Of course you realize this means war.” Someone is having an awful lot of fun drawing and erasing Daffy in the masterpiece Duck Amuck as Jones gets right to the heart of his creative process. Bugs meets Marvin the Martian and the Illudium PU-36 Explosive Space Modulator in Hare-Way to the Stars. The Road Runner keeps getting the best of Wile E. Coyote in Zoom and Bored. Michigan J. Frog belts out, “Hello, my baby / Hello, my honey / Hello, my ragtime gal,” but only at certain times, in One Froggy Evening. And Bugs and Elmer do Wagner in What’s Opera, Doc?, one of the greatest short films ever made, wonderfully displaying Jones’s take on high and low culture, his sly humor, and his contagious exuberance.
Since their 1984 debut feature, Blood Simple, Coen brothers Joel and Ethan have tackled numerous genres with dazzling originality, resulting in such fresh, unusual, and intelligent fare as Barton Fink (1991), Fargo (1996), The Big Lebowski (1998), No Country for Old Men (2007), and A Serious Man (2009). They’ve had some hiccups along the way, but their only true dud was also their only remake, 2004’s The Ladykillers, an unwatchable version of the 1955 Alec Guinness original. Now they’re revisiting the 1969 classic Western True Grit, which earned Johny Wayne his only Oscar and has held up poorly over the years. For the 2010 reboot, the Coens turned to Jeff Bridges to step into the Duke’s shoes as U.S. marshal Reuben J. “Rooster” Cogburn, an aging lawman with a thing for the bottle, as well as for killing. He’s hired by determined fourteen-year-old Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld) to hunt down her father’s murderer, a man named Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin), who’s also being tracked by ever-faithful Texas Ranger La Boeuf (Matt Damon) for other crimes against humanity. Instead of merely remaking the previous film, which was directed by Henry Hathaway (Kiss of Death, Airport) and also starred musician Glen Campbell as La Boeuf and Kim Darby as Mattie, the Coens went back to Charles Portis’s 1968 novel, with the most important difference being the change in point of view; the new True Grit is told from Mattie’s perspective, including voice-over narration from the adult Mattie (Elizabeth Marvel), which breathes new life into the tired old horse. While Wayne played Cogburn with his tongue firmly in cheek, adding bits of silly comic relief, Bridges imbues the marshal with more seriousness and less hulking bravado as he continually — and more and more drunkenly — tells stories from his past. By going back to the book, the Coens also get to add more violence, especially near the end, as well as a coda about Mattie’s future. While the original featured a bombastic, overreaching score by Don Black, longtime Coen brothers composer Carter Burwell ratchets things down significantly, using the old hymn “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms” as his central musical theme. As much as the Coens want the new film to be viewed in its own right, there are still too many similarities to avoid comparisons with the original, but their True Grit does turn out to be a better executed, less predictable, and more entertaining genre piece. Nominated for ten Oscars and winner of none, True Grit is screening July 19 as part of the South Street Seaport “Front/Row Cinema: See/Change” series, which continues Wednesday and Saturday nights through August 31. For a day-by-day listing of free summer movie screenings throughout New York City, go here.
THE PASSION (JUNAN) (Ryoko Yoshida, 2013)
333 East 47th St. at First Ave.
Friday, July 18, 6:30
Festival runs July 10-20
Former nun Frances-ko (Mayuko Iwasa) has problems with God and her vagina in writer-director Ryoko Yoshida’s bizarre, warped comedy The Passion, which has its international premiere July 18 at Japan Society’s Japan Cuts: The New York Festival of Contemporary Japanese Cinema. After getting hit by a car, the would-be model is possessed by a male spirit (Kanji Furutachi) who lives inside her nether regions and brutally insults her for remaining a virgin, unable to get any man to sleep with her. Somewhat of a simpleton who develops a special power in her right hand, Frances-ko can’t take control of her life, even when she sees the man she likes, Cus (Yasushi Fuchikami), hooking up with her best friend, With-me (Kumiko Ito). Meanwhile, the dude in her genitals, whom she names Mr. Koga, keeps letting her have it. Relatively nonplussed by the ridiculousness of it all, Frances-ko asks such questions as, “What does it mean to feel?” and “What does being loved feel like?,” trying to elude her deep loneliness and sense of utter and complete unworthiness. The oddities are also evident in Otomo Yoshihide’s wildly inventive score, which references traditional Japanese music as well as Jewish klezmer. Based on Kaoruko Himeno’s 1997 novel, The Passion, Yoshida’s follow-up to 2004’s Love Twisted regularly makes no sense at all, and its mannered abstruseness often becomes extremely frustrating, but there’s just something about it, about Iwasa, that keeps you watching, wondering just what the hell is going to happen next. Japan Cuts continues through July 20 with such other films as Aya Hanabusa’s Tale of a Butcher Shop, Keisuke Yoshida’s My Little Sweet Pea, Azuma Morisaki’s Pecoross’ Mother and Her Days, and Katsuhito Ishii’s Hello! Junichi.
46 Walker St. between Church St. & Broadway
Through August 9, $40 ($65 Gyre ticket package with Enter at Forest Lawn)
Amoralists cofounder and associate artistic director Derek Ahonen pays homage to Blake Edwards’s Days of Wine and Roses in his latest play, The Qualification of Douglas Evans. “Alcoholism isn’t funny,” Cara (Samantha Strelitz) says to Douglas (Ahonen), who responds, “I know, but it is when it is.” A moment later, she adds, “So booze is tragic,” to which Douglas replies, “Except when it’s not.” Writer and star Ahonen, who appeared in last year’s Rantoul and Die and has previously written and/or directed such works as The Bad and the Better and The Pied Pipers of the Lower East Side for the always adventurous Amoralists, plays a kind of alternate-universe Marcello Mastroianni from Federico Fellini’s City of Women and 8½ in the two-and-a-half-hour tragicomedy about a wannabe playwright and his involvement with a series of women. Tormented by his mother (Barbara Weetman) and father’s (Penny Bittone) confusing relationship, Douglas first meets Jessica (Kelley Swindall), his sexually liberated acting-school classmate who has a fondness for oral sex. Next up is the cute and tiny Kimmy (Mandy Nicole Moore), his best friend’s (Bittone) girlfriend, who introduces Douglas to the bittersweet pleasures of alcohol. Third in the procession is Cara, who is playing Kimmy in Douglas’s first play, in which Douglas is starring as himself. The second act opens with Douglas on a blind date with the cheery and chipper Robin (Agatha Nowicki). And finally there’s Holly (Weetman), an agent played by the same actress portraying his mother. (Now, that’s casting.)
The Qualification of Douglas Evans takes place on David Harwell’s sparse stage, featuring a single object surrounded by doorways: a bed that swivels around and turns into a bench. Directed by company cofounder and artistic director James Kautz, the play roams between heightened levels of surreality and scenes of intense believability as Ahonen struggles through his alcohol-fueled life. The narrative delves further and further into the self-reflexive nature of art and the creative process, as playwright and actor Ahonen plays playwright and actor Douglas Evans, who at one point is playing himself in a play he wrote. Not everything works; Douglas occasionally experiences random, perplexing lightning flashes that scream through his head—but are never explained to the audience—and Ahonen and Kautz don’t know quite how to end the story, as the play goes on about twenty minutes too long. But Qualification is another triumph for the Amoralists, a unique and compelling look inside the bottle, love and sex, and theater itself, performed by an engaging cast. “You wrote a masturbatory play about your stupid relationship with some stupid girl and then you stupidly starred in it and were equally as bad at playing yourself as you were at writing about yourself,” Cara tells Douglas, continuing, “What do you want me to say? The truth hurts.” It’s all very funny, insightful, upsetting, freakishly weird, thought-provoking, and damn entertaining. Yes, the truth hurts. Part of “The Gyre” — “a two play repertory exploring man’s vicious cycles” — The Qualification of Douglas Evans is being performed in repertory with Mark Roberts’s Enter at Forest Lawn at Walkerspace through August 9.