Every Labor Day, millions of people line Eastern Parkway, celebrating the city’s best annual parade, the West Indian American Day Carnival, waving flags from such nations as Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago, Barbados, the Bahamas, Grenada, the Cayman Islands, Antigua, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Aruba, Curaçao, and many more. The festivities actually begin on August 28, with special events (listed below) every day leading up to the parade. The Labor Day partying commences at 2:00 am with the traditional J’Ouvert Morning, a precarnival procession featuring steel drums and percussion and fabulous, inexpensive masquerade costumes, marching from Grand Army Plaza to Flatbush Ave. and on to Empire Blvd., then to Nostrand Ave. and Linden Blvd. The Parade of Bands begins around 11:00 am, as truckloads of blasting Caribbean music and groups of ornately dressed dancers, costume bands, masqueraders, moko jumbies, and thousands of others bump and grind their way down Eastern Parkway to Grand Army Plaza, participating in one last farewell to the flesh prior to Lent. This year will feature a special tribute to Nelson Mandela. Don’t eat before you go; the great homemade food includes ackee and saltfish, oxtail stew, breadfruit, macaroni pie, curried goat, jerk chicken, fishcakes, rice and peas, and red velvet cake. The farther east you venture, the more closed in it gets; by the time you get near Crown Heights, it could take you half an hour just to cross the street, so take it easy and settle in for a fun, colorful day where you need not hurry. In addition, be prepared to see a whole lotta twerkin’ going on.
Thursday, August 28
Caribbean Woodstock: A Celebration of Light, with Tarras Riley, Skinny Banton, Ricardo Drue, Adrian Dutchin, Mr. Famous, Surrette Bon Bon, Statement, Mikey, Boodoosingh Tassa Drummers, Problem Child, Zouk & the Gang, DJs After Dark, Barrie Hype, and an Ole Mas costume contest, hosted by Susan Kennedy, Dr. Bob Lee, and Jemma Jordan, Brooklyn Museum, $30, 7:00
Friday, August 29
The Official Stay in School Fest, with live performances and college fair, Brooklyn Museum, free, 11:00 am - 2:00 pm
Brass Fest 2014, with Machel Montano HD, Patrice Roberts, Lyrikal, Mr. Killa, Rayzor, Skinny Fabulous, Teddyson John and the TJ Project, Blakk Rasta, Red Fyah Band, Farmer Nappy, Da Big Show, DJ Sounds 4 Life, DJ Stephen, DJ After Dark, and DJ Spice, and Boodoosingh Tassa Drummers, hosted by Gizelle D Wassi One and MC Wassy, Brooklyn Museum, $55, 8:00
Saturday, August 30
Junior Carnival Parade, St. John’s Place between Kingston & Brooklyn Aves. to Brooklyn Museum at Washington Ave., 9:00 am - 3:00 pm
Steelband Panorama 2014, showdown between steel orchestras from New York and Toronto, with Cross Fire Steel Orchestra Inc., Despers USA, Adlib Steel Orchestra, Metro Steel Orchestra, CASYM, Sonatas Youth Committee, D’Radoes, Sesame Flyers/Steel Explosion, Pan Fantasy, Harmony Music Makers, Pantonic, DJ One Plus, MC Godfrey Jack, and Jemma Jordan, Brooklyn Museum, $45, 8:00
Sunday, August 31
Diamanche Gras: The Legends Are Coming! with the Mighty Sparrow, Lord Nelson, David Rudder, Leon Coldero, Lennox Picou, Lima Calbio, Something Positive Dance Troupe, Sunshine Band, Kings and Queens of the Bands, and others, Brooklyn Museum, $40, 7:00
Staging a retrospective of a late performance artist whose work was very much of the moment can be a daunting, difficult task, but curators Klaus Biesenbach, Anna-Catharina Gebbers, and Susanne Pfeffer have done a terrific job with the simply titled “Christoph Schlingensief,” MoMA PS1’s exciting exploration of the career of the German multidisciplinary artist who died in 2010 at the age of forty-nine. Over the course of thirty years, Schlingensief produced experimental films, cutting-edge operas, radical theater pieces, and public actions and interventions that shattered the boundaries between audience and performer and challenged the social and political status quo of his native country and beyond. The expansive exhibition examines Schlingensief’s working process and the reaction to his pieces through film and video clips, photographs, documentation, installation, related paraphernalia, and lots of wall text that puts his oeuvre in context. For “Chance 2000,” Schlingensief formed a political party that fought for the rights of the marginalized; for one event, Schlingensief called for people to bathe in a lake at Chancellor Helmut Kohl’s summer home, hoping to get enough participants to flood the house. In “Please Love Austria — First Austrian Coalition Week,” Schlingensief mocked right-wing anti-immigration zealots by placing twelve supposed asylum seekers in containers and filming them Big Brother-style. For Parsifal, Schlingensief reimagined Richard Wagner’s opera at the Bayreuth Festival, incorporating contemporary religious symbolism and a decomposing rabbit.
The audience became protesters in Rocky Dutschke ’68, following Schlingensief into the street as he re-created a famous shooting while declaring, “No Power for Anyone.” MoMA PS1 visitors can get involved themselves in several interactive installations. You can take a seat in a comfy living-room set to watch Schlingensief’s unique television show Talk 2000, which challenged the conventions of the genre. You most definitely should walk all around “The Animatograph,” a rotating multimedia house of bizarre horrors with surprises at every turn. And in “Stairlift to Heaven,” individuals strap themselves into a chairlift that takes them up past a projection of excerpts from Schlingensief’s 2007 film, The African Twin Towers, and to a private viewing booth. Schlingensief’s legacy continues with “Opera Village Africa,” an “artistic reservoir for the future” that is an actual village he and his wife, Aino Laberenz, built in Burkina Faso, complete with a hospital, a primary school, a theater group, a birthing clinic, and more, overseen by Laberenz since her husband’s death from lung cancer in 2010. “What kind of art is it that no longer has any access, no longer lets anyone in, and also doesn’t step out of itself?” Schlingensief asked. “Here the idea is to finance an art platform which is to serve as a basis for children and teenagers. So we can learn again how creativity comes about and develops. That’s the idea of the Opera Village.” It’s also the central focus of most of his work, the intersection of art and activism, producing public actions and interventions — with a wicked sense of humor and an anarchic distaste of authority — that can impact complacency and conventionality potentially on a global scale, even after his death. “Nothing is certain because I show it. Everything describes itself, overwrites and dissolves,” he once said. “This is not fatalism; this is my principle of pleasure.” There is much pleasure to be found in this dazzling display, especially for those who invest the time to soak in all the thrilling details.
MANHATTAN (Woody Allen, 1979)
MoMA Film, Museum of Modern Art
The Lewis B. and Dorothy Cullman Education and Research Building
4 West 54th St. between Fifth & Sixth Aves.
August 27-29, 1:30
Tickets: $12, in person only, may be applied to museum admission within thirty days, same-day screenings free with museum admission, available at Film and Media Desk beginning at 9:30 am
Woody Allen’s Manhattan opens with one of the most beautiful tributes ever made to the Big Apple, a lovingly filmed black-and-white architectural tour set to the beautiful sounds of George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue.” Once again collaborating with screenwriter Marshall Brickman, master cinematographer Gordon Willis, and Oscar-winning actress Diane Keaton, Allen’s tale of a nebbishy forty-two-year-old two-time divorcee who takes up with a seventeen-year-old ingénue (Mariel Hemingway) is both hysterically funny and romantically poignant, filled with classic dialogue (Yale: “You think you’re God.” Isaac: “I gotta model myself after someone.”) and iconic shots of city landmarks. After quitting his job as a successful television writer, Isaac moves to Brooklyn, where he has to cope with brown water and expensive taxi rides, among other dispiriting things. Meanwhile, against his better judgment, he develops a liking for the elitist snob Mary Wilkie (Keaton), who is seeing his best friend, the married Yale (Michael Murphy); calls her therapist Donnie; and counts among the overrated Carl Jung, Lenny Bruce, Norman Mailer, and van Gogh, which she pronounces “van Goch.” And then he has to deal with one of his ex-wives (Meryl Streep), who left him for another woman (Ann Byrne) and is writing an intimate account of their failed marriage. Of course, it’s impossible to watch Manhattan without thinking about Allen’s relationship with Soon Yi (they’ve now been together for nearly two dozen years), but if you get past that, you’ll rediscover a wonderful, intelligent comedy about men and women neatly wrapped up in a gorgeous love letter to Gotham. “He adored New York City, he idolized it all out of proportion — no, make that, he romanticized it all out of proportion,” Isaac says at the beginning of the film, which was nominated for two Oscars (Hemingway as Best Supporting Actress and Allen and Brickman for Best Original Screenplay).
The glorious Gershwin music is performed by the New York Philharmonic, conducted by Zubin Mehta, and the Buffalo Philharmonic, under the baton of Michael Tilson Thomas. Be on the lookout for cameos by Karen Allen, Mark Linn-Baker, David Rasche, Wallace Shawn, Michael O’Donoghue, Frances Conroy, Bella Abzug, Zabar’s, the Queensboro Bridge, the Empire Diner, the Hayden Planetarium, Bloomingdale’s, MoMA’s Sculpture Garden, the Russian Tea Room, the Dalton School, John’s Pizza, the Guggenheim, and Elaine’s, among so many others. Manhattan is screening August 27-29 at 1:30 as part of the MoMA series “An Auteurist History of Film,” concluding its current season.
Scott Organ’s Phoenix, a play about a one-night stand that gets rather complicated, has been extended for four more performances at the Cherry Lane through August 28, and we have a pair of tickets to give away to this poignant one-act drama. Julia Stiles stars as Sue, a traveling nurse who has set up a meeting with James (James Wirt) to let him know that there has been an unexpected result of their previous coupling. What follows is a verbal cat-and-mouse game as they each try to figure out who they are and what they want out of life — and whether there is any kind of future for them together. (You can find out more about the show here.)
TICKET GIVEAWAY: There are only a few nights left to see Phoenix, which concludes its limited engagement at the Cherry Lane on August 28, and twi-ny has a much-coveted pair of tickets to give away for free. Just send your name, daytime phone number, and favorite play with the name of a city in the title to firstname.lastname@example.org by Monday, August 25, at 3:00 to be eligible. (Yes, that’s today.) Please also include two preferred dates to see the show. All entrants must be twenty-one years of age or older; one winner will be selected at random.
ONE NITE ONLY: THE PASSENGER (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1975)
136 Metropolitan Ave. between Berry St. & Wythe Ave.
Tuesday, August 26, 9:30
Nominated for the Palme d’Or in Cannes in 1975, Michelangelo Antonioni’s existential suspense thriller is a fascinating character study of a lost, lonely man. Jack Nicholson stars as Locke, a successful, well-respected journalist who is researching a story on the guerrilla movement in Chad. Life isn’t as fun and exciting as it used to be for him, as witnessed by his utter helplessness after his car gets stuck in the sand. Upon returning to his hotel room, he discovers that his neighbor, Robertson (Chuck Mulvehill), is dead — and he decides to switch places with him, to stop being Locke and instead live a completely different existence. Even when he finds out that Robertson was involved in international espionage and gun running, Locke continues the deception, traveling dangerously through England, Germany, and Spain with a free-spirited young architecture student (Maria Schneider) while his wife (Jenny Runacre) and business associate (Ian Hendry) — and the police — try to find him. The Passenger is marvelously slow-paced, never in a hurry to make no point about just what the point of it all is. Nicholson glides through the film with an unease that is as unnerving as it is intoxicating as he struggles to find his way in life, a cinematic representative of something that is within each of us. The Passenger is screening in 35mm August 26 at 9:30 (followed by complementary Prym Rum drinks) as part of Nitehawk Cinema’s “One Nite Only” series and “Journalists in Film,” a collaboration with Vice News that continues September 30 with Billy Wilder’s Ace in the Hole and October 28 with Alan J. Pakula’s All the President’s Men.