Museum of the Moving Image, 35th Ave. at 36th St.
Kaufman Astoria Studios backlot, 36th St. between 34th & 35th Aves.
Sunday, September 21, free, 11:00 am - 5:00 pm
On September 21, the Museum of the Moving Image is hosting “New York on Location,” a cinematic street fair and celebration, taking visitors behind the scenes of the filmmaking process in New York City, in conjunction with Theatrical Teamsters Local 817 and Kaufman Astoria Studios. During the all-day free event, people will be invited into more than twenty working movie trailers and trucks, meet film professionals, and find out just what the best boy and key grip are responsible for. You can even eat the same catered food the stars do — and use the same bathrooms as well. (Among the other vendors will be Papaya King, Jiannetto’s, Fun Buns, Brooklyn Popcorn, and Andy’s Italian Ice & Espresso Bar.) In addition, there will be demonstrations of stunts and special effects, including high falls, weather effects, street fighting, and driving, featuring such big-time pros as Frank Alfano Jr., Chris Colombo, Chris Barnes, Tim Gallin, Tony Guida, and Chazz Menendez. As a bonus, the museum will be open for free as well, so be sure to check out such exhibitions as “Behind the Screen,” “What’s Up, Doc? The Animation Art of Chuck Jones,” “Plymptoons: Short Films and Drawings by Bill Plympton,” “In Memory of Astoria,” and “Lights, Camera, Astoria!”
Brooklyn Borough Hall and Plaza
209 Joralemon St.
Sunday, September 21, free, 10:00 am - 6:00 pm
Woody Allen, Isaac Asimov, Paul Auster, Margaret Wise Brown, Moss Hart, Joseph Heller, Ezra Jack Keats, Norman Mailer, Arthur Miller, Henry Miller, S. J. Perelman, Maurice Sendak, Wendy Wasserstein, and, of course, Walt Whitman — those are only some of the many writers who were either born and/or raised in Brooklyn or spent important, formative years living in the world’s greatest borough. So it should come as no surprise that the annual Brooklyn Book Festival is a major event, with nearly one hundred talks, signings, discussions, readings, and other presentations with hundreds of authors, taking place in and around Brooklyn Borough Hall, and it’s all free. Below are only some of the many highlights. (For a list of bookend programs scheduled for September 18-22, go here.)
This Changes Everything: A Conversation with Naomi Klein, presented by The Nation, with Naomi Klein and Betsy Reed, Mainstage, 10:00 am
The Hilarity of Death and Deadlines, with Roz Chast and Robert Mankoff, moderated by Hillary Chute, St. Francis College Auditorium, 11:00 am
It’s the Little Things that Count, with Annie Baker, Owen Egerton, Sam Lipsyte, and Rivka Galchen, moderated by Rob Spillman, Brooklyn Historical Society Library, 12 noon
Eat Drink and Prosper, with Steve Hindy, Matt Lewis, and Renato Poliafito, moderated by Carlo Scissura, Brooklyn Historical Society Library, 1:00
Thurston Moore in Conversation with Lewis Warsh and Anne Waldman, St. Ann & the Holy Trinity Church, 2:00
Storytelling and the Black Experience, with Greg Grandin, Herb Boyd, and Ilyasah Shabazz, moderated by Marlon James, Brooklyn Historical Society Library, 2:00
Influence of the Real, with Francine Prose, Paul Auster, and Joyce Carol Oates, moderated by Hirsh Sawhney, St. Ann & the Holy Trinity Church, 3:30
Virtuosos: Comics Creators that Defy Classification, illustrated discussion with Charles Burns, Eleanor Davis, and Paul Pope, moderated by Lisa Lucas, St. Francis College Auditorium, 3:00
Comedians as Authors, with Bob Saget, John Leguizamo, and Susie Essman, moderated by Sara Benincasa, Mainstage, 4:00
Jonathan Lethem and Jules Feiffer in Conversation, moderated by Ken Chen, St. Francis College Auditorium, 4:00
A Sense of Place: Writing from Within and Without, with Joseph O’Neill, Amit Chaudhuri, and Assaf Gavron, moderated by Dave Daley, Borough Hall Media Room, 5:00
The Writer’s Life, with Salman Rushdie, Siri Hustvedt, and Catherine Lacey, moderated by Steph Opitz, St. Ann & the Holy Trinity Church, 5:00
BLEAK MOMENTS (LOVING MOMENTS) (Mike Leigh, 1971)
Film Society of Lincoln Center, Walter Reade Theater
165 West 65th St. between Eighth Ave. & Broadway
Monday, September 22, 6:30
Series runs September 19-25
British master filmmaker Mike Leigh’s feature debut, 1971’s Bleak Moments, is just that, a series of grim scenes involving five main characters who are not exactly the most scintillating of conversationalists. But slowly, the dark, dreary opening evolves into a wickedly funny black comedy about different sorts of relationships (familial, sexual, professional), comprising episodes that help define the film’s alternate title, Loving Moments. It would be hard for Sylvia (Anne Raitt) to live a more boring life. A typist at an accounting firm, she spends most of her free time at home taking care of her sister, Hilda (Sarah Stephenson), who suffers from a kind of autism. Hilda works with Pat (Joolia Cappleman), a strange bird obsessed with movies, Maltesers, and Hilda. Meanwhile, teacher Peter (Eric Allan), who seems terrified of people, shows interest, if you can call it that, in all three women. And Norman (Mike Bradwell), a wannabe singer-songwriter, has moved into Sylvia’s garage, where he plays music that intrigues Hilda. Over a short period of time, the three women and two men sit around, go for walks, eat, drink, and, mostly, say very little to one another, their tentativeness palpable, each one terribly frightened in his or her own way of what life has to offer, of connecting. But Leigh isn’t making fun of them; instead, Bleak Moments is a lovingly drawn story of real life, where people don’t always know exactly what to say or do or how to react in various situations.
Originally mounted as a stage production, Bleak Moments transitioned to the big screen with the financial help of Albert Finney. As became his trademark, Leigh, who would go on to make such highly regarded fare as High Hopes, Life Is Sweet, Naked, Secrets & Lies, Topsy-Turvy, and Happy-Go-Lucky, had the actors first embody the roles in rehearsals and preparation, giving the film a believability despite the absurdity of it all. The overwhelming despair and hesitation demonstrated by the characters becomes painfully funny, especially when Peter takes Sylvia to a Chinese restaurant and, afterward, she tries to ply him with sherry. (Might the man who stares at them in the restaurant be a forerunner of the man who mocks Rupert Pupkin in the diner in The King of Comedy?) In January 2013, Leigh discussed Bleak Moments with the Guardian, at first comparing it to watching paint dry and acknowledging that some people thought it was “the most boring film in the world” while also explaining, “From this distance, I cautiously feel I’m allowed to feel a touch of paternal pride in my young self. With such brief life experience, did I really invent this painful, tragic-comic tale of a beautiful but suppressed young woman, tied to her elder, mentally challenged sister? I guess I’m astonished at the maturity and sophistication of my achievement, not to mention its pathos and irony. . . . I’ve tried to vary my films considerably, but I would have to admit that Bleak Moments remains, in some ways, the mother of all Mike Leigh films. And I’m very proud of it.” As well he should be.
Bleak Moments is screening September 22 at 6:30 as part of the Film Society of Lincoln Center series “NYFF Opening Acts,” a collection of early films by eleven directors showing new works at this year’s New York Film Festival, including Abel Ferrara’s Body Snatchers, Mia Hansen-Løve’s All Is Forgiven, Olivier Assayas’s Cold Water, and Alain Resnais’s Love Unto Death.
Forest Hills Stadium
West Side Tennis Club
Friday, September 19, $35-$59.50, 6:30
When the Replacements announced they were going on a reunion tour, shows in their hometown, Minneapolis, sold out in minutes. Strangely enough, there are still tickets to be had for their September 19 concert at Forest Hills Stadium. Perhaps it’s because only two of the original members are still in the band: songwriter, vocalist, and guitarist Paul Westerberg and bassist-guitarist Tommy Stinson. Chris Mars departed over creative differences when the band was making 1990s All Shook Down; lead guitarist Bob Stinson, who was known to perform in diapers, left the band in 1986 and died from a drug overdose at the age of thirty-five in 1995; replacement Replacement Slim Dunlap suffered a stroke in 2012; and drum replacement Steve Foley died in 2008 at the age of forty-nine. Paul and Tommy are now out on the road with guitarist Dave Minehan and drummer Josh Freese, playing songs from throughout the ’Mats too-short career, as well as Westerberg solo tracks and covers. We’ve gotten into discussions with friends whether these can really be considered Replacement shows; it certainly doesn’t have the same feel as when we saw the group play their legendary frantic, packed gigs back in August 1985 at Irving Plaza and in February 1986 at the Ritz.
For those of you heading out to the renovated Forest Hills Stadium, be sure to get there on time, because the Replacements are only one-third of a hot triple bill. Born and raised in Minneapolis before moving to Brooklyn, the Hold Steady is an inspired choice to play with the ’Mats. “They were the first band I saw that made me think I could be in a rock band,” lead singer and songwriter Craig Finn says on the DVD of 2011’s Color Me Obsessed, a documentary about his all-time-favorite group. A truly great live band that plays with energy and passion, after a brief hiatus the Hold Steady are back with Teeth Dreams, the exciting follow-up to the disappointing Heaven Is Whenever. The 2014 disc is a return to form for the group, filled with clever wordplay, inventive hooks, and Finn’s quirky, inviting voice, the sound of a man who loves that he’s in a rock-and-roll band. From the powerful drive of “Hope I Didn’t Frighten You” and “Spinners” to the epic ballad “Oaks,” the Hold Steady again sound like the band they were meant to be, living up to the promise of their breakthrough records, Separation Sunday and Boys and Girls in America. And when Finn sings, “You came back to us / South Minneapolis / Said ’revenge exists outside of space and time’ / Out behind the Ambassador / Man, it feels kinda magical / I guess your friend can really move things with his mind” on “The Ambassador,” it’s as if he’s singing about Westerberg and the Replacements.
Opening the show is Providence’s Deer Tick, whose most recent album, Negativity, came out in 2013, following a 2012 EP the band had the audacity to name Tim. Led by singer and songwriter John McCauley, the five-piece has been known to play a fiery cover of the Replacements classic “Can’t Hardly Wait,” which features one of the sweetest guitar lines in the history of alternative music. During this tour, Deer Tick has also been covering the Hold Steady, and the Hold Steady has been covering Deer Tick, so it’s all become a kind of mutual admiration society. (You can also find Finn and fellow Steady Holder Tad Kubler covering the ’Mats’ “Within Your Reach,” “Color Me Impressed,” and “Hootenanny” here.) But it all starts and ends with the Replacements, who once famously proclaimed, “Children by the million sing for Alex Chilton when he comes ’round / They sing, ‘I’m in love. / What’s that song? I’m in love / with that song.” The same can be said for Westerberg, whether you consider this a welcome reunion or not.
DAVE CHAPPELLE’S BLOCK PARTY (Michel Gondry, 2006)
BAMcinématek, BAM Rose Cinemas
30 Lafayette Ave. between Ashland Pl. & St. Felix St.
Saturday, September 20, $14, 9:45
Series runs September 19-20
In September 2004, comedian Dave Chappelle put on a surprise block party in Bedford-Stuyvesant, sort of a mini-Brooklyn version of Wattstax, Mel Stuart’s seminal L.A. concert film in which Richard Pryor teamed up with a host of black musicians, including Isaac Hayes, Albert King, the Staples Singers and Carla and Rufus Thomas. Directed by Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The Science of Sleep) and photographed by Ellen Kuras (Neil Young: Heart of Gold, Blow) Block Party is Chappelle’s Wattstax for the twenty-first century. Gondry and Chappelle take viewers on a very funny trip as the comedian wanders around his hometown of Dayton, Ohio, handing out golden tickets like a black Willy Wonka, offering everyone free transportation to Brooklyn, loading buses up with a fascinating mix of people of all races. When he bumps into a college marching band, he invites them to play at the party, joining such big names as Kanye West, the reunited Fugees, Big Daddy Kane, Common, John Legend, the Roots, and Dead Prez. Gondry cuts between the preparation for the block party and the actual festivities, an infectious blend of music and comedy that makes you feel like you’re right in the middle of it all. Musical highlights include West performing “Jesus Walks” with Legend and Common, Jill Scott and Erykah Badu backing the Roots on “You Got Me,” and Talib Kweli, Common, and Fred Hampton Jr. rapping with Mos Def on “Umi Says.”
Unfortunately, the songs are not seen in their entirety, one of the film’s only drawbacks. Behind the scenes, Chappelle tickles the ivories to “Misty” and “Round Midnight,” hangs out with the bizarre white couple who live in the Broken Angel house across the street, and jokes around with Mos Def. The film avoids any overt political messages, although some of the songs deal with controversial topics. One of the sweetest moments is when Wyclef Jean plays “President” for the marching band, letting the members know they can be anything they want to be. Block Party is a shining, defining moment for Chappelle, who shortly after walked away from a $50 million Comedy Central contract, succumbing to the pressure of fame and expectation. Dave Chappelle’s Block Party is screening September 20 at 9:15 as part of BAMcinématek’s “The Source360” series, honoring the twenty-fifth anniversary of the influential magazine. The two-day festival also includes George Tillman Jr.’s Notorious, a biopic about Biggie Smalls; One9’s Time Is Illmatic, a documentary about Nas; The Man with the Iron Fists, followed by a Q&A with director and star RZA; and Peter Spirer’s Rhyme & Reason, which follows the history of rap music. In addition, Pass the Mic: Ladies First — A Night of Women Emcees, with Nitty Scott, Rajé Shwari, Roxanne Shanté, and Sweet Tee, takes place in the BAMcafé on September 19 and International Hip-Hop Night, with Amkoullel, Gokh Bi System, Rebel Diaz, Shokanti, AYoinmotion, and Bocafloja, hosted by Toni Blackman, is scheduled for September 20.
WAVERLY MIDNIGHTS: HAROLD & KUMAR GO TO WHITE CASTLE (Danny Leiner, 2004)
323 Sixth Ave. at Third St.
Friday, September 19, and Saturday, September 20, 12 midnight
Harold (John Cho) is a hardworking Asian who is taken advantage of by the men in his office, forced to do their work and have no fun while having no idea how to talk to hot neighbor Maria (Paula Garcés). Kumar (Kal Penn) comes from a family of doctors and is expected to follow in the same direction. But all Kumar likes to do is get blasted on beer and pot and chase girls. So one night he convinces the much more straitlaced Harold that they have to go to White Castle to fill their craving for major munchies. Unfortunately, the nearest White Castle branch is no more, so they set out on a rowdy all-night adventure in search of the next WC, in Cherry Hill, and on the way they get sidetracked by college parties, strange bathroom incidents, the ugliest man in the world, a team of extreme idiots, cops with attitude, and Doogie Howser. Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle knows exactly what it is, and it does it extremely well, expertly directed by Danny Leiner, who also brought us the unforgettable classics Dude, Where’s My Car? and Balls Out: Gary the Tennis Coach. The film also features a bevy of cool cameos, including David Krumholtz as Goldstein and Eddie Kaye Thomas as Rosenberg, Harold and Kumar’s drug-addled sloth friends; Fred Willard as Dr. Willoughby, who has one hell of an interview with Kumar; Ryan Reynolds as a male nurse; Anthony Anderson as a fast-food employee; Christopher Meloni and Malin Åkerman as Mr. & Mrs. Freakshow; and, yes, Neil Patrick Harris as the ultimate Neil Patrick Harris. You’ll start out hating yourself for laughing so much, but eventually you’ll just come around to accepting that this is just a damn funny movie that you understand far too well. Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle — which led to a pair of lesser sequels, Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo and A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas — is screening in a tenth anniversary 35mm print September 19-20 as part of the IFC Center’s Waverly Midnights: High Art series, which continues through November 8 with such other highbrow drug-related fare as Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Dazed & Confused, True Romance, and Reefer Madness.
September 18-21, $32.65-$272.19
There might be continuing controversy over the future of horse and carriage rides in and around Central Park, but the battle turns to the equestrians this week as the Central Park Horse Show comes to town. The four-day event begins September 18 with the $210,000 Grand Prix, a jumping competition boasting such top riders as Jessica Springsteen (yes, Bruce and Patti’s daughter), Georgina Bloomberg (yes, the former mayor’s offspring), Charlie Jayne, Laura Kraut, McLain Ward, and Kent Farrington. The next night, the $50,000 NYC vs. the World pro-am speed challenge pits the Land Rover of North America NYC Team, captained by Bloomberg, against the Suncast Corporation World Team, led by Farrington, preceded by the $5,000 NYC Amateur Challenge. On Saturday night, the Central Park Dressage Challenge features such international Olympians and World Equestrian Games medalists as Isabell Werth, Hans Peter Minderhoud, Lars Petersen, Tina Konyot, Lisa Wilcox, Jan Ebeling, Ashley Holzer, and Steffen Peters aboard Ravel, along with a U.S. vaulting team demonstration with Akiko Yamazaki. There will also be matinees on Saturday and Sunday before the show concludes on Sunday night with the Central Park Polo Challenge.