DIRECTED BY ANDREI TARKOVSKY (Michal Leszczylowski, 1988)
Museum of Arts & Design
2 Columbus Circle at 58th St. & Eighth Ave.
Friday, August 28, $10, 7:00
Series continues Friday nights through August 28
After seven consecutive Friday nights presenting all seven of Soviet auteur Andrei Tarkovsky’s feature-length films (Solaris, Stalker, Ivan’s Childhood, Andrei Rublev, The Mirror, Nostalghia, and The Sacrifice, each one a masterpiece in its own right), the Museum of Arts & Design — it’s affectionately known as MAD for a reason — is concluding its “Andrei Tarkovsky, Sculpting in Time” series on August 28 with the 1988 documentary Directed by Andrei Tarkovsky. During the shooting of what would be Tarkovsky’s last film, The Sacrifice, coeditor Michal Leszczylowski kept his own camera going, filming Tarkovsky as he collaborated with cinematographer Sven Nykvist, production designer Anna Asp, star Erland Josephson, and others, carefully orchestrating each shot, anxious about the lighting, the angles, the position of a table. Yes, that is the job of all directors, but Tarkovsky takes it to whole ’nother level, sometimes worried about the slightest hair flip, then barely concerned about a specific piece of dialogue. It is fascinating watching him in action, working with a translator to sift through the Russian, English, and Swedish being spoken on the set. The Sacrifice is about a man who is willing to suddenly give up everything to save himself; it looks like there’s not much that Tarkovsky wouldn’t sacrifice to make sure his film is perfect. Leszczylowski supplements the behind-the-scenes footage with stories from Tarkovsky’s wife, assistant director Larisa Tarkovskaya (Larisa Kizilova), as well as narration by Brian Cox, reading from Tarkovsky’s book Sculpting in Time, his poetic defense of cinema as art melding beautifully with images of the great director creating some of the most artistic cinema ever put on celluloid.
Lincoln Center, Josie Robertson Plaza
Columbus Ave. at 63rd St.
August 28 - September 7, free, starting time between 7:30 and 8:00
Catching an opera at the Met can be a tough ticket, but you’ll have no such worry at the fabled institution’s annual Summer HD Festival, ten days of free screenings of works that graced the opera house’s stage between 2007 and 2015, now shown outside by the fountain in Josie Robertson Plaza. The series kicks off August 28 with a bonus film, Robert Wise’s West Side Story, much of which was filmed in the pre-Lincoln Center neighborhood. There will be 3,100 first-come, first-served seats available each night, featuring such “The Met: Live in HD” presentations as Bizet’s Carmen, conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin and starring Elīna Garanča and Roberto Alagna; Verdi’s Macbeth, with Anna Netrebko as Lady Macbeth and Željko Lučić as her ill-fated husband; Puccini’s Il Trittico, a triple bill directed by Jack O’Brien and conducted by James Levine; and Mozart’s Don Giovanni, directed by Michael Grandage and conducted by Fabio Luisi.
Who: The PrimaDonna Reeds
What: CD release concert & party
Where: SPiN, 48 East 23rd St. between Park & Madison Aves., 212-982-8802
When: Saturday, August 29, $10 in advance, $14 at the door, 7:30
Why:Lower East Side six-piece the PrimaDonna Reeds are celebrating the release of their debut CD, Red Stilettos, in the kind of style that would probably make Oscar-winning namesake Donna Reed proud. On Saturday night, singer Karena Reiter, guitarists JC Ryder and Quinn Sheppard, bassist John Sheppard, drummer Slamin’ George Morales, and backup vocalist Christa McNamee will be at SPiN NYC on East Twenty-Third St. highlighting the record, which includes such tracks as “Planetary City Soldier,” “Cell Phone Funk,” and “Give Me the Key.” Attendees will receive a free three-song preview disk consisting of “Red Stilettos,” “Cell Phone Funk,” and “To Feel You.” (You can check out a handful of PrimaDonna Reeds songs here.) Also on the bill are Sylvana Joyce & the Moment, the Vinyl Plane, the Dave Fields Band, and Gusher. And at midnight, an after-party fashion show will feature such models as Ali Bukhari, Starlana Johnson, and Angelina Torreano.
The Pershing Square Signature Center
The Alice Griffin Jewel Box Theatre
480 West 42nd St. between Tenth & Eleventh Aves.
Tuesday - Sunday through June 28, $25-$55
A. R. (Pete) Gurney says farewell to WASP culture in the disappointing Love & Money, the third and final work in his Signature Theatre residency that began with revivals of The Wayside Motor Inn and What I Did Last Summer. The octogenarian Gurney, whose Love Letters had an unfortunately abbreviated run on Broadway last year and whose Sylvia is coming to the Great White Way this fall, visits familiar territory in the ever-so-slight Love & Money, a drab seventy-five-minute look into wealth, legacy, and the irrelevance of the Social Register. Gurney veteran Maureen Anderman (Ancestral Voices, Later Life) stars as Cornelia Cunningham, an erudite aging woman who has decided to donate the majority of her impressive fortune to various charities, which does not make her grandchildren very happy, nor her lawyer, Harvey Abel (Joe Paulik), a stuffed shirt with no sense of humor. “And your specialty is difficult old ladies?” Cornelia asks. “My specialty is Trusts and Estates,” he says, to which she responds, “I once knew a lawyer whose specialty was Murders and Impositions.” Harvey has come to Cornelia’s swanky Upper East Side brownstone to warn Cornelia that a man is falsely claiming to be the love child of her late daughter and is after her money, but when Walker “Scott” Williams (Gabriel Brown) arrives, he instantly charms Cornelia with his detailed story as he attempts to worm his way into her life. The “Is he or isn’t he” plot line is straight out of John Guare’s Six Degrees of Separation, and just because Gurney refences that play in this one, that’s no excuse him for treading on old ground. He also adds a peripheral character, Juilliard student Jessica Worth (Kahyun Kim), as a forced way to inject some Cole Porter tunes into the play, as well as a love interest for Scott that strains credulity. It all leads to a grand finale that is surprisingly amateurish for such a well-respected playwright, a silly love letter to the theater that falls completely flat.
Longtime Gurney director Mark Lamos (Our Country’s Good, Seascape) does what he can with the musty tale, and Anderman is wonderfully classy in a role she clearly enjoys playing, an engaging woman who declares, “I’ve committed the major crime of having too much money.” Pamela Dunlap (Yerma, The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940) adds some humor as Cornelia’s astute, cynical maid, and Michael Yeargan’s library set is lovely, but Brown (The Mystery of Love & Sex, The City of Conversation) overdoes the smarm as the ambitious Scott, who is looking to break out of his mundane life. Gurney pays tribute to his hometown of Buffalo, name-checks his earlier hits The Cocktail Hour and The Dining Room, shares his thoughts on Charles Dickens and F. Scott Fitzgerald, and injects too much Porter as he points out again and again that money can be a curse and that WASP culture is dying. But as Cornelia repeatedly says, “Whatevah.”
Who: Jung Uk Yang
What: “A Man Without Words”
Where: Doosan Gallery, 533 West 25th St. between Tenth & Eleventh Aves.
When: Through Thursday, August 27
Why: Korean artist Jung Uk Yang’s first solo show in the United States is an intriguing collection of four kinetic sculptures that incorporate movement with light, shadow, and/or sound in fun, mesmerizing ways. Referencing people’s basic, everyday lives, Yang constructs mechanical installations using wood, thread, and motors. On entering Doosan Gallery in Chelsea, visitors are met by “Be of One Same Mind,” an ovular piece that flutters in greeting. On the other side of the wall, “The Hardship Is Whispering Hope” sits on the floor, casting a large shadow, moving ever so slowly until ringing a bell. The intricately designed “Only the Turtle Does Not Know about Our Weekends” features a bevy of moving parts and abstract faces behind a wooden frame, as if a kind of living portrait of humanity. And the centerpiece of the exhibit, the eye-catching “A Fatigue Always Comes with a Dream,” bathes the back room in stunning shadows, a solitary lightbulb in the middle of moving parts including empty bottles held by thread, honoring South Korean apartment security guards who work overnight, confined to their little glass booths.
L’ARMÉE DES OMBRES (ARMY OF SHADOWS) (Jean-Pierre Melville, 1969)
209 West Houston St.
August 26 - September 1
Based on the novel by Joseph Kessel (Belle de Jour), Jean-Pierre Melville’s 1969 WWII drama Army of Shadows got its first theatrical release in America in 2006, in a restored 35mm print supervised by the film’s cinematographer, Pierre Lhomme, who shot it in a beautiful blue-gray palette. The film centers on a small group of French resistance fighters, including shadowy leader Luc Jardie (Paul Meurisse), the smart and determined Mathilde (Simone Signoret), the nervous Jean-François (Jean-Pierre Cassel), the steady and dependable Felix (Paul Crauchet), the stocky Le Bison (Christian Barbier), the well-named Le Masque (Claude Mann), and the unflappable and practical Gerbier (Lino Ventura). Although Melville, who was a resistance fighter as well, wants the film to be his personal masterpiece, he is too close to the material, leaving large gaps in the narrative and giving too much time to scenes that don’t deserve them. He took offense at the idea that he portrayed the group of fighters as gangsters, yet what shows up on the screen is often more film noir than war movie. However, there are some glorious sections of Army of Shadows, including Gerbier’s escape from a Vichy camp, the execution of a traitor to the cause, and a tense Mission: Impossible–like (the TV series, not the Tom Cruise vehicles) attempt to free the imprisoned Felix. But most of all there is Ventura, who gives an amazingly subtle performance that makes the overly long film (nearly two and a half hours) worth seeing all by itself. Army of Shadows is once again back at Film Forum for a special one-week return engagement August 26 - September 1.
American consumerism run amok has got Hulk Baby angry! Street art legend and political activist Ron English has wheat-pasted an enormous American flag on the Houston Bowery Wall, the stars centered with skulls, the stripes consisting of fake supermarket deals (selling such products as “Corn Fed Cow Corpse,” “Rainbow Tinted Unicorn Flesh,” and “Aged Deceased Sheep”) and advertising signs (promoting such items as “Kiss Kids on Coke” and “Morrison Marijuana Cigarettes: Baby we couldn’t get much higher”). Other signs proclaim, “Evolution: It’s Not for Everyone,” “Jesus Returns 06-06-06: Look Religious,” and “The Poor: What Are They Good For?” depicting a boy in clown gear and makeup, wearing an army helmet and holding an assault rifle. English also takes shots at breakfast cereal (from his “Cereal Killers” series), Starbucks, McDonald’s, Wal-Mart, Marlboro, Wall Street, credit cards, oil companies, and U.S. currency — easy targets all, but well deserving of their place on this flag. He also hypes such freak-show characters as Poultry Rex, Multi-Brained Brodmann, Otto Topsy the Internal Alien, and Cathy Cowgirl. Standing in front of it all is English’s trademark Temper Tot, a giant green Hulk Baby with his eyes shut, his face scrunched, his fists tightening, preparing to throw a major tantrum, and you’re not going to want to be around when that happens. Other versions of Temper Tot can be seen in various places around the city, in both green and pink, but this fella on Houston is the one to watch out for. The Dallas-born, culture-jamming English pulls no punches with this large-scale mural, another potent example of his theory of POPaganda.