WEEKEND CLASSICS: TROUBLE IN PARADISE (Ernst Lubitsch, 1932)
323 Sixth Ave. at West Third St.
April 18-20, 11:00 am
Series continues through May 4
“Beginnings are always difficult,” suave thief Gaston Monescu (Herbert Marshall) says at the beginning of Trouble in Paradise, but it’s not difficult at all to fall in love with the beginning, middle, and end of Ernst Lubitsch’s wonderful pre-Code romantic comedy. It’s love at first heist for Gaston and Lily (Miriam Hopkins) as they try to outsteal each other on a moonlit night in Venice. Soon they are teaming up to fleece perfume heir Madame Mariette Colet (Kay Francis) of money and jewels as the wealthy socialite takes a liking to Gaston despite her being relentlessly pursued by the hapless François Filiba (Edward Everett Horton) and the stiff Major (Charles Ruggles). Displaying what became known as the Lubitsch Touch, the Berlin-born director has a field day with risqué sexual innuendo, particularly in the early scene when Gaston and Lily first meet (oh, that garter!) and later as Madame Colet’s affection for Gaston grows, along with Lily’s jealousy. Loosely based on the 1931 play The Honest Finder by Aladár László, which was inspired by the true story of Romanian con man George Manolescu, the 1932 film remained out of circulation for decades during the Hays Code, and it’s easy to see why. Trouble in Paradise is screening April 18-20 at 11:00 am as part of the IFC Center series “American Hustlers: Grifters, Swindlers, Scammers & Cheats” series, which continues April 25-27 with Preston Sturges’s The Lady Eve before concluding May 2-4 with Stephen Frears’s The Grifters.
SWEETGRASS (Lucien Castaing-Taylor, 2009)
Film Society of Lincoln Center, Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center
Francesca Beale Theater, 144 West 65th St. at Amsterdam Ave.
Thursday, April 17, 6:30
Festival runs April 11-26
Husband-and-wife filmmakers Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Ilisa Barbash follow a flock of sheep herded by a family of Norwegian-American cowboys on their last sojourns through the public lands of Montana’s Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness in the gorgeously photographed, surprisingly intimate, and sometimes very funny documentary Sweetgrass. In 2001, Castaing-Taylor, director of the Sensory Ethnography Lab at Harvard, and Barbash, a curator of Visual Anthropology at Harvard’s Peabody Museum, found out about the Allestad ranch, an old-fashioned, Old West group of sheepherders who still did everything by hand, including leading hundreds of sheep on a 150-mile journey into the mountains for summer pasture with only a few dogs and horses. Director Castaing-Taylor uses no voice-over narration or intertitles, instead inviting the viewer to join in the story as if in the middle of the action, offering no judgments or additional information. The film begins with shearing and feeding, then birthing and mothering, before heading out on the long, sometimes treacherous trail, especially at night, when bears and wolves sneak around, looking for food. Slowly the focus switches to the men themselves, primarily an old-time singing grizzled ranch hand and a cursing, complaining cowboy. Castaing-Taylor and Barbash spent three years with the sheepherders and in the surrounding areas, amassing more than two hundred hours of footage and making to date nine films out of their experiences, mostly shorter works to be displayed in gallery installations or for anthropological reasons; Sweetgrass is the only one that has been released theatrically, offering a fascinating look at something that is destined to soon be gone forever. Sweetgrass is screening April 17 at 6:30 in the Focus on the Sensory Ethnography Lab section of the Film Society of Lincoln Center series “Art of the Real,” held in conjunction with the Whitney Biennial, and will be followed by a Q&A with Barbash. The inaugural festival runs April 11-26, featuring more than three dozen works that push the boundaries of documentary film.
NITEHAWK BRUNCH SCREENINGS: THE ART OF THE STEAL (Don Argott, 2009)
136 Metropolitan Ave. between Berry St. & Wythe Ave.
Saturday, April 19, 12 noon
Director Don Argott details a very different kind of art theft in the gripping documentary The Art of the Steal. But in this case, it’s not a famous painting that disappears from a museum in the middle of the night but an entire collection, as well as a man’s legacy, absconded with in full view of the art world. In 1922, Dr. Albert C. Barnes established the Barnes Foundation, displaying his remarkable collection of post-Impressionism art in an arboretum in Merion, Pennsylvania, outside of Philadelphia. His goal was to share his magnificent works — including a stunning array of paintings by Cézanne, Renoir, Matisse, Picasso, Seurat, and Van Gogh — with bona fide art lovers and students, setting up a school and denying access to the general public, the mass media, and the rich and powerful. He adamantly refused to let any single piece ever be loaned, sold, or moved, outlining the demand very specifically in his will. After his death in 1951, Violette de Mazia continued to carry out his wishes as the Arboretum School expanded, but when she died in 1988, the trust was put in the hands of small Lincoln University and suddenly the Barnes Foundation, which had treasured its privacy, was put into play as politicians, charities, collectors such as the Annenbergs, the press, and the public at large descended on the Barnes like vultures, everyone wanting a piece of the action. Argott follows the money with archival footage and photographs and new interviews with many of those involved on both sides of the caper — although several of the more prominent “thieves” refused to participate. The Art of the Steal is a fascinating glimpse into the inner workings of the ritzy art world, a must-see for art lovers who get to peek behind the scenes of a multibillion-dollar heist going on in plain sight. The Art of the Steal is being shown April 19 at noon, preceded by the frieze magazine video Audience Appreciation, as part of two Nitehawk Cinema series, “Art Seen” and “Brunch Screenings.” “Art Seen” returns May 5 with Jamie Shovlin’s Rough Cut, while “Nitehawk Brunch Screenings” continues April 26-27 with the Coen brothers’ unstoppable The Big Lebowski.
Brooklyn by way of San Francisco quartet the Men have a special relationship with their fans. First, they turn to them to make a video for the second single from their latest album, Tomorrow’s Hits (Sacred Bones, March 2014), then they post on their blog that they are in need of a van to use for their spring tour, which takes them from Cleveland on April 10 to DC on June 7. “Do you have a dependable van for rent or for sale?” they ask, promising, “The Men will return your van in great shape.” Guitarists Marius Atherton and Alex Rather-Taylor, bassist Paul Hanna, and drummer Danny Kendrick certainly do a lot of hard driving on their fourth full-length, a collection of eight songs recorded live in a Brooklyn studio that would sound great blasting out of a van speeding down the highway. (You can currently stream the album, the follow-up to such earlier albums as We Are the Men and Le Bonheur, here.) On Tomorrow’s Hits, the band mixes surf pop, garage rock, psychedelia, and even a little country, evoking Neil Young and Crazy Horse (“Dark Waltz”), Jerry Garcia (“Sleepless”), a frantic Bob Dylan (“Pearly Gates”), and even the Traveling Wilburys with the Velvet Underground (“Settle Me Down”), while ramping up some horns on the wild and crazy “Another Night.” German photographer Helge Mundt won the “Different Days” video contest; you can see his prize-winning entry above. We don’t know what happened with the van. The Men, who sparkled at last summer’s 4Knots Music Festival at the South Street Seaport, will be playing the Wick in Brooklyn on May 10 with the Obits and Nude Beach.
Union Square Theatre
100 East 17th St.
Thursday - Monday through June 1, $37.95 - $127.95
If you don’t like La Soirée, well, then you just don’t know how to have fun. The raunchy, risqué mixture of burlesque, cabaret, vaudeville, circus, and Coney Island sideshow that has been touring the world for the last several years — an earlier iteration called Absinthe ran in the Spiegeltent at the South Street Seaport back in 2006 — is playing at the misty Union Square Theatre, where the audience is seated in the round, centered by a small circular platform where most of the often mind-blowing action takes place. Hosted by emcee Aidan O’Shea (among others, depending on which night you go), the two-hour evening features a core group of performers along with special guests. Singer-comic Amy G gets intimate with audience members and uses an unusual part of her body to play an instrument. Rhythmic gymnastics champion Lea Hinz contorts her arms and legs while suspended in the air in a hoop. The self-deprecating Marcus Monroe juggles a home-made combination of dangerous items. Jeans-wearing Joren “Bath Boy” Dawson splashes plenty of water while engaging in acrobatics in and around a claw-footed tub.
Marawa the Amazing shimmies with a vast array of Hula hoops. Scrawny, wild-haired Ringling Bros. Clown College graduate Manchego offers a different take on the male striptease. The English Gents (the dapperly dressed — and undressed — Denis Lock and Hamish McCann) dazzle with breathtaking feats of skill and strength, balancing on each other’s bodies; the highlight of the night might just be McCann’s gravity-defying one-man “Singing in the Rain” pole dance. Burlesque star Julie Atlas Muz somehow gets inside a large balloon bubble. Other performers you might catch at La Soirée, which was first presented by Brett Haylock, Mark Rubinstein, and Mick Perrin in London in 2010, include Bret Pfister, Scotty Blue Bunny, Miss Ekaterina, Mooky Cornish, Le Gâteau Chocolat, Ursula Martinez, Cabaret Decadanse, Meow Meow, Jess Love, Miss Behave, and Mario, Queen of the Circus. There’s also free popcorn, a bar that remains open throughout the show, lots of audience participation, and surprises galore in this randy, very adult romp that isn’t afraid to go too low, or too high, to get a laugh, a smile, a gasp, or even a groan.
Tribeca Film Festival
Multiple downtown locations
April 16-27, free - $33.50
Started by Robert De Niro, Craig Hatkoff, and Jane Rosenthal in 2002 as a way to help rebuild Lower Manhattan, the Tribeca Film Festival continues to mature as it reaches toward adolescence. The 2014 edition runs April 16-27 with world premieres, panel discussions, street fairs, workshops, and plenty of red carpet arrivals. Below is a guide to twenty highlights, beginning with ticket information. Hot items go fast, so, on your mark, get set...
Sunday, April 13
Individual tickets go on sale to downtown residents at ticket outlets only, proof of residence below Canal St. required, 11:00 am
Monday, April 14
Individual tickets go on sale to general public, all methods, 11:00 am
Monday, April 14
Thursday, April 17
Advance free tickets available for Film for All Friday (April 25), consisting of free screenings of thirty-five festival films at multiple locations (follow instructions here)
Thursday, April 17
Tribeca Drive-In: Mary Poppins (Robert Stevenson, 1964), Brookfield Place (World Financial Center), free, 8:00
Friday, April 18
CANCELLED: Tribeca Talks Directors Series: Lee Daniels with Robin Roberts, SVA Theater 1 Silas, 3:00
Tribeca Drive-In: Splash (Ron Howard, 1984), Brookfield Place (World Financial Center), free, 8:00
Saturday, April 19
Tribeca Talks After the Movie: Champs (Bert Marcus, 2014), screening followed by discussion with Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield, and Lou DiBella, SVA Theater 1 Silas, $33.50, 3:00
Tribeca Drive-In: Next Goal Wins (Mike Brett & Steve Jamison, 2014), Brookfield Place (World Financial Center), free, 8:00
Saturday, April 19
Sunday, April 27
Meet the Filmmakers, workshops and discussions, Apple Store, SoHo and West 14th St., free, times and schedule to be announced
Sunday, April 20
Tribeca Talks Pen to Paper: Calling the Shots, with Marshall Curry, Ira Sachs, Orlando von Einseidel, and Sofia Norlin, moderated by Eric Kohn, Union Square B&N, free, 1:00
Monday, April 21
Tribeca Talks After the Movie: Now: In the Wings on a World Stage (Jeremy Whelehan, 2014), screening followed by discussion with Jeremy Whelehan, Kevin Spacey, and other members of the Richard III troupe, BMCC Tribeca PAC, $33.50, 6:00
Tuesday, April 22
Future of Film: Your Brain on Story — The Technologies of Immersion, with Jason Silva, and Future of Film: Your Brain on Story — Part Two: Psychos We Love, with Bryan Cranston, Terence Winter, and James Fallon, moderated by Cynthia McFadden, SVA Theater Two Beatrice, $33.50, 2:30
Thursday, April 24, 12 noon
Saturday, April 26, 6:00
Journey to the West at MoMA PS1: Journey to the West (Tsai Ming-Liang, 2014), MoMA PS1 geodesic VW Dome, free with museum admission
Friday, April 25
Possibilia: Endless Paths for Interactive Filmmaking: live interactive screening of Possibilia (Daniels) and screening of The Gleam (Daniels & Billy Chew), followed by discussion with members of the cast and crew, SVA Theater Beatrice, free with advance ticket, 2:30
Film for All Friday, free screenings of thirty-five festival films at multiple locations, advance tickets available April 14-17 (follow instructions here)
Saturday, April 26
Tribeca Family Festival Street Fair, with live performances, local food, games, and free screenings of The Wizard of Oz (Victor Fleming, 1939) at 11:00 am, shorts from the Tribeca Film Institute at 1:00, and Stories in Animation by StoryCorps at 3:00
Tribeca/ESPN Sports Day, with members of local professional sports teams, sports film screenings, athletic skill games, and more, North Moore St. between Greenwich & West Sts., free, 10:00 am - 6:00 pm
Tribeca Talks After the Movie: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Michel Gondry, 2004), tenth anniversary screening followed by discussion with Anthony Bregman, Daniella Schiller, and others, moderated by Ira Flatlow, SVA Theater 2 Beatrice, $33.50, 3:00
Tribeca Talks After the Movie: Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon (Mike Myers, 2013), screening followed by discussion with Michael Douglas and Shep Gordon, SVA Theater 1 Silas, $33.50, 5:30
Sunday, April 27
Tribeca Talks After the Movie: Compared to What: The Improbable Journey of Barney Frank (Sheila Canavan & Michael Chandler, 2014), screening followed by discussion with Barney Frank and Alec Baldwin, SVA Theater 1 Silas, $33.50, 2:30
Tired of the same old, same old? Try something rather different at the annual spring MATA Festival. A nonprofit organization founded in 1996 by Philip Glass, Eleonor Sandresky, and Lisa Bielawa, MATA showcases the work of composers and musicians under the age of forty. This year’s fest runs April 14-21 at the Kitchen and other venues, with free workshops and panel discussions (with advance RSVP) and concerts a mere twenty bucks. The lineup features thirty-four composers from seventeen countries, beginning with a sweet sixteen gala on April 14 at Paula Cooper Gallery with live performances by ICE and Matt Evans, a sound installation by Christopher Marianetti, and more. On April 16, Yotam Haber, Melissa Smey, Chris McIntyre, Amelia Lukas, and Mark Peskanov will discuss “On the Art of Curation” at BMI at 7 World Trade Center at 2:00, and the Kitchen will host “Between Noise and Silence,” with Helsinki music ensemble Uusinta playing works by Aaron Helgeson, Alexander Khubeev, Joan Arnau Pàmies, Hikari Kiyama, Ilari Kaila, and Sampo Haapamäki. On April 17 at 3:30, the workshop “The Business of Being a Composer Part 1” will bring together Cia Toscanini, Scott Winship, Paola Prestini, Steven Swartz, Richard Carrick, and Sarah Kirkland Snider at ASCAP at 1 Lincoln Plaza; at the Kitchen at 8:00, “That Which Remains” consists of Rubens Askenar García Hernández’s El Puerperio, André Damião Bandeira’s em_bruto, Natacha Diels’s A Is for Alphabet, a new work by Alex Weiser, and a new MATA commission by Carolyn Chen, performed by such musicians as pianist Vicky Chow, percussionist Matt Evans, and violinist Marina Kiff.
On April 18 at 11:00 am, Uusinta is back for an Afternoon Reading Session at BMI; that night, Talea Ensemble and Ekmeles team up on pieces by Šimon Vosecek, Edward Hamel, Clara Ianotta, Todd Tarantino, Martin Iddon, and Josep Sanz for the program “Lives in Miniature.” On April 19 at 8:00 at the Kitchen, Germany’s Neue Vocalsolisten and ICE will present the U.S. premiere of Oscar Bianchi’s Matra, with tubax, contrabass recorder, and bass flute, followed by a Q&A. On Easter Sunday at 1:00 at the Kitchen, the a cappella Neue Vocalsolisten will highlight works by American composers Georges Aperghis, Silvia Rosani, Brahim Kerkour, Zaid Jabri, Francesco Filidei, Gabriel Dharmoo, Lars Petter Hagen, and Jennifer Walshe. The festival concludes on April 21 with the workshop “The Business of Being a Composer Part 2” at BMI at 11:00 am with Ralph N. Jackson, Deirdre Chadwick, Bill Holab, Katie Baron, and Michael Geller; a pair of snare drummers will play David Bird’s Fields on the High Line between Nineteenth & Twentieth Sts. at 1:30 (free, no RSVP necessary); and MIVOS Quartet and Mantra Percussion combine for “Of Circles and Motions of the Others” at the Kitchen at 8:00, performing Lisa Streich’s Playtime, Daniel Wohl’s Progression, Yotam Haber’s Torus, Ansgar Beste’s Pelerinage Fantastique, Paula Matthusen’s The Days Are Nouns, and Ke Xu’s Tai Chi.