HIROSHIMA MON AMOUR (Alain Resnais, 1959)
Film Society of Lincoln Center, Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center, 144 West 65th St., October 17-30, 212-875-5050
Film Forum, 209 West Houston St., October 17-28, 212-727-8110
In July 1959, Cahiers du cinéma published a roundtable discussion with Eric Rohmer, Jean-Luc Godard, Jacques Rivette, and others about Alain Resnais’s Hiroshima Mon Amour, in which Rohmer said, “Hiroshima is a film about which you can say everything. . . . Perhaps Hiroshima really is a totally new film. . . . I think that, in a few years, in ten, twenty, or thirty years, we shall know whether Hiroshima was the most important film since the war, the first modern film of sound cinema. . . . In any case it is an extremely important film, but it could be that it will even gain stature with years.” Some four and a half decades later, Rohmer’s prediction has come true, as a stunning new 4K digital restoration reveals Hiroshima Mon Amour to indeed be one of the most important films in the history of cinema, redefining just what the medium is capable of, as fresh and innovative today as it was to Rohmer, Godard, Rivette, et al. upon its initial release. As the black-and-white film opens, two naked, twisted bodies merge together in bed, first covered in glittering ashes, then a kind of acid rain. The woman (Emmanuelle Riva) is a French actress who is in Hiroshima to make a movie about peace. He (Eiji Okada) is a Japanese architect, a builder working in a city that has been laid to waste. Both married with children, they engage in a brief but torrid affair; as her film prepares to wrap, she gets ready to leave, but he begs her to stay. Theirs is a romance that could happen only in Hiroshima.
Director Alain Resnais (Last Year at Marienbad, Same Old Song) was meticulous with every detail of the film, from the casting to Marguerite Duras’s stirringly poetic, Oscar-nominated script and dialogue, from Georges Delerue’s and Giovanni Fusco’s powerful, wide-ranging score to crafting each shot as a work of art in itself, using two cinematographers, Michio Takahashi in Japan and Sacha Vierny in France, to emphasize a critical visual difference between the contemporary scenes in Hiroshima and the woman’s past with a German soldier (Bernard Fresson) in Nevers. Hiroshima Mon Amour is a haunting experience, examining love and loss among the ruins of war as two people, at least temporarily, try to create something new. Riva (Three Colors: Blue, Thomas the Impostor) is mesmerizing as the confused, unpredictable woman, her eyes so often turned away from the man, unwilling to face the future, while Okada (Woman in the Dunes, The Yakuza) can’t keep his eyes off her, desperate for their romance to continue. Riva bookended her long career by starring in two of the most unusual yet beautiful love stories ever made, as more than fifty years after Hiroshima she would be nominated for an Oscar for her hypnotizing performance as an elderly woman debilitated by a stroke in Michael Haneke’s Amour. The glorious restoration of Hiroshima Mon Amour,, supervised by Renato Berta, who was Resnais’s chief cameraman on four projects, makes it, to use the words of Eric Rohmer, feel like a totally new film, like we’re experiencing it for the very first time all over again. Following its sold-out screening at the New York Film Festival, Hiroshima Mon Amour opens October 17 at Film Forum and the Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center. Resnais, who passed away on March 1 at the age of ninety-one, was also represented at the festival with his final work, Life of Riley. In conjunction with the theatrical release of the restoration, the Film Society of Lincoln Center will also host the series “By Marguerite Duras” October 15-22.
Advertising itself with the deliciously cringeworthy phrase “It’s kind of a big dill,” Pickle Day returns to the Lower East Side on Sunday, October 19, promising its annual mix of food, fashion, and fun. Among the fifteen purveyors of pickled items will be McClure’s, Guss’, the Pickle Guys, Brooklyn Brine, Mrs. Kim’s Kimchi, and Sour Puss as well as more than two dozen other food vendors, including Georgia’s BBQ, Brooklyn Taco, Blue Ribbon Sushi Izakaya, Mimi and Coco, Melt Bakery, the Meatball Shop, Russ and Daughters, and Doughnut Plant. We’ve never really equated pickles with fashion, but at this festival you’ll also find clothing from Pull In, Yaf Sparkle, Fox and Jane, Grit N Glory, and Realife. Throughout the afternoon, music will be blasting from two stages, featuring Fantasy Grandma, Ellen Kaye and the Moscow 57 Band, Gil K, and DJs Hurrikeen, Bruce Tantum, and Kai Song, in addition to face painting, dancing, a home pickling contest, cat Bingo, a Pickle Day Pun-Off, a photo booth, workout demonstrations, a brine dunk tank, and animal adoptions.
428 Lafayette St. between Astor Pl. & East Fourth St.
Thursday - Sunday through November 1, Le Galerie $65, Le Court $105
Austin McCormick’s Company XIV is inaugurating its intimate new home along Colonnade Row on Lafayette St. with Rococo Rouge, a Late Baroque-inspired evening of dance, music, acrobatics, sexy humor, and classy cocktails. The two-hour extravaganza is hosted by bawdy and buxom chanteuse Shelly Watson, who never met a double entendre she didn’t like, or an audience member she wouldn’t want to caress and grab. Channeling Bette Midler and Mae West, Watson riles up the crowd, telling jokes and expertly working the interstitials between the extravagantly costumed and elegant yet unusual acts. Performers include Allison Ulrich teaming with Steven Trumon Gray on the aerial hoop known as a lyra while Watson sings Dvořák’s “Song to the Moon”; the mustachioed Courtney Giannone twisting around on the Cyr wheel while Watson sings Rossini’s “La Danza”; soprano Brett Umlauf performing Lorde’s “Royals” while Davon Rainey, Cailan Orn, and Gray get down and dirty; Ulrich swinging around a pole while Umlauf, who has a lovely, ethereal voice, sings Julie London’s “Go Slow” with six-string virtuoso Rob Mastrianni on guitar; and Laura Careless dancing a sharp, striking solo while Katrina Cunningham sings Britney Spears’s “Toxic.” (Careless was also a standout in Company XIV’s Lover. Muse. Mockingbird. Whore., a burlesque play about Charles Bukowski and two of the women in his life.) Yes, it’s not all exactly from the time of Louis XIV, although Zane Pihlstrom’s gorgeous costumes, mostly in red with some black and white, reference bustiers and bustles, but there’s just too much fun to be had to worry about historical anachronisms and narrative lapses.
There are two intermissions, and the audience can either head into the front bar area, where Giannone might sit down at the piano and play some classical music (followed by her father, going the jump-and-jive route), or remain in the theater, where Mastrianni will do the entertaining. Among the specialty drinks ($14-$16 each) are the Opera Diva, the Maria Theresa, the Guillotine, and the Revolution, along with the Fountain of Versailles ($120), for “four to six drunkards.” Choreographed, conceived, and directed by McCormick, Rococo Rouge is a refreshing frolic through another time and place, an engaging spectacle that is like a French version of the Kit Kat Klub from Cabaret (without the dangerous edge) mixed with the variety of La Soirée. And everyone’s invited to stick around after the show, when bands such as Mastrianni’s Beatbox Guitar take the stage. Rococo Rouge runs Thursday to Sunday through November 1 and will be followed by Company XIV’s popular seasonal romp, Nutcracker Rouge.
ROCKS IN MY POCKETS: A CRAZY QUEST FOR SANITY (Signe Baumane, 2014)
Symphony Space, Leonard Nimoy Thalia
2537 Broadway at 95th St.
Sunday, October 19, $14, 7:00
The recent suicide of Robin Williams shook the nation, once again pointing out that depression is no laughing matter. But Latvian-born, Brooklyn-based writer-director-producer-animator Signe Baumane takes a unique approach to depression and suicide in the darkly twisted animated film Rocks in My Pockets: A Crazy Quest for Sanity. Influenced by such animation giants as Jan Švankmajer and Bill Plympton in addition to Lithuanian-Polish illustrator Stasys Eidrigevicius and Russian animator Yuri Norstein, Baumane, a self-described “Master of Self Pity,” incorporates hand-drawn animation, papier-mâché constructions, and stop-motion animation in telling the story of her family’s long history of mental illness and suicide. Inspired by her own thoughts of ending it all, Baumane (Teat Beat of Sex), in her feature-length debut, divides the film into segments about her suicidal relatives. She narrates the tales of Indulis, an entrepreneur and failed counterfeiter with an “idea-generating brain”; Anna, a university graduate and secretary who falls in love with Indulis, her married boss; Miranda, who looks at the world as if everything were a work of art; Linda, a medical student with big dreams; Irbe, a lonely music teacher who hears voices in her head; and herself as they all experience various aspects of severe depression while facing the trials and tribulations of everyday life in a changing sociopolitical climate in Eastern Europe.
Despite the serious topics and events — and the regular appearance of nooses tempting the protagonists — Rocks in My Pockets is filled with clever jokes, imaginative visual puns, beautiful imagery, and a playful score by Kristian Sensini; Baumane refers to it as “a funny film about depression,” and that’s just what it is. The animated characters make their way through lush forests, across a real chess board, and past other colorful backgrounds as reality strikes them hard. The personal nature of the film is enhanced by Baumane’s own narration, in her thick Latvian accent. (Her mother attempted to talk her out of doing the narration, thinking it was a bad idea.) “I want to survive, but I don’t want to live,” Baumane says halfway through the film. “When my brain is idle, it starts eating itself.” Fearing that depression and suicide are part of her DNA, she’s unsure how she can get away from it — and prevent it from affecting future generations of her family. Winner of the International Critics (FIPRESCI) Prize at the 2014 Karlovy Vary Film Festival and financed in part by a Kickstarter campaign (where you can learn more about the making-of process), Rocks in My Pockets will be screening October 19 at 7:00 as part of Symphony Space’s Thalia Docs series and will be followed by a Q&A with Baumane.
INFLATABLE SEX DOLL OF THE WASTELANDS (KOYA NO DATCH WAIFU) (Atsushi Yamatoya, 1967)
333 East 47th St. at First Ave.
Saturday, October 18, 7:00
Festival runs monthly October 18 - February 20
As if the title of Atsushi Yamatoya’s rarely shown 1967 cult flick wasn’t enough — it doesn’t get much better than Inflatable Sex Doll of the Wastelands — the fetishistic Japanese noir pink film has intriguing echoes of Welles’s Touch of Evil, Godard’s Alphaville, Marker’s La Jetée, Teshigahara’s Woman in the Dunes, and Dalí and Buñuel’s Un Chien Andalou. Yamatoya, who also directed Season of Betrayal, The Pistol That Sprouted Hair, and Trap of Lust and cowrote Branded to Kill (among many others), merges the crime genre with shaky, surreal flourishes courtesy of cameraman Hajime Kai, but the result is a violently misogynistic film that is often hard to watch, filled with rape, abuse, and impossible-to-decipher plot twists. In the middle of the desert, Naka (Masayoshi Nogami), a real estate agent, has hired Jō, a hitman (Yūichi Minato), to rescue his lover and employee, Sae (Noriko Tatsumi), and kill a gang of thugs who are sexually terrorizing her. Jō is soon facing his old enemy Kō (Shōhei Yamamoto) in a showdown that happens every day at three o’clock. There are enough phone calls and crawling ants to make Dalí proud, plenty of excess nudity, a great jazz score by Yōsuke Yamashita, and a hysterical moment that at first appears to be a still shot but turns out to be the characters trying to freeze, but it’s hard to get past the outright brutal treatment and victimization of every woman in the film. Inflatable Sex Doll of the Wastelands is screening October 18 at 7:00 at Japan Society, opening the series “The Dark Side of the Sun: John Zorn on Japanese Cinema,” and will be followed by a reception commemorating filmmaker Koji Wakamatsu, one of Yamatoya’s regular collaborators, who passed away in October 2012.
The series, curated by electronic music pioneer John Zorn, continues once a month through February with Teinosuke Kinugasa’s Crossroads (with live shamisen accompaniment by Yumiko Tanaka), Yoshimitsu Morita’s Top Stripper, Ishiro Honda’s Attack of the Mushroom People, and the U.S. premiere of the made-for-television Nagisa Oshima’s It’s Me Here, Bellett, preceded by eight shorts by Osamu Tezuka. “I had been a huge fan of Japanese music, art, and film since the early 1960s, but late night Tokyo TV provided a peek into an entirely different world outside the classic art film masterpieces of Ozu, Mizoguchi, Kurosawa, and Inagaki,” Zorn explains in his curator statement. “It was a revelation to discover that Oshima’s Cruel Story of Youth and The Sun’s Burial were not so much an isolated vision but actually two examples of an entire cinematic genre, and that directors like Seijun Suzuki, Kinji Fukasaku, Toshio Masuda, Yasuzo Masumura, Teruo Ishii, and others had made incredible and uncompromising films that spoke as much about the Japanese psyche as origami, noh theater, or the tea ceremony ever had. . . . For me, the experimental, adventurous, and uncompromising side of any society is often the home of the deepest truths, and these films each hold their truths to an often uncomfortable extreme. I hope you enjoy the (occasionally blinding) intensity of ‘The Dark Side of the Sun.’”
In the summer of 2011, Japanese multimedia artist Ryoji Ikeda dazzled New Yorkers with the immersive site-specific work the transfinite, which invited visitors to sit down in the Park Avenue Armory and merge with a two-sided monolithic wall, extended onto the floor, that came alive with a mind-blowing array of experimental digital music and mathematically based projections, as if welcoming people inside the mind of a cutting-edge computer. Things will be only slightly more contained for the U.S. premiere of superposition, Ikeda’s theatrical piece being presented October 17 & 18 in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium. Ticket holders may be sitting in seats, but what’s happening onstage will take them through mesmerizing sound and visuals that combine art and science, mathematics and human behavior in unique ways, exploring technology, philosophy, probability, and the future of existence, zeroing in on a single subatomic particle. The work is being presented as part of the French Institute Alliance Française’s annual Crossing the Line Festival, consisting of multidisciplinary projects and performances at locations throughout the city. In conjunction with superposition, Salon 94 on East Ninety-Fourth St. is hosting a solo exhibition of Ikeda’s work October 20-31, and his black-and-white test pattern [times square] is being projected on nearly four dozen digital screens in Times Square nightly from 11:57 to midnight for the October installment of “Midnight Moment,” the monthly program organized and supported by the Times Square Advertising Coalition in partnership with Times Square Arts; on October 16, the visuals will be accompanied by an Exclusive Sound Experience, with limited headphones available beginning at 11:00. (If you’re attending the October 17 performance of superposition, be sure to arrive at the museum early, as Icelandic cellist Hildur Guðnadóttir will be playing a special pop-up concert at 6:00 in the Carroll and Milton Petrie European Sculpture Court (Gallery 548) inspired by the Costume Institute’s upcoming “Death Becomes Her: A Century of Mourning Attire,” which opens October 21.)
The New York Botanical Garden, Everett Children’s Adventure Garden
2900 Southern Blvd., Bronx (easily accessible via Metro-North)
Tuesday - Sunday through October 31 (special events October 18-19, 24-26, 31), $20
The Haunted Pumpkin Garden opened last month at the New York Botanical Garden, featuring a vast array of pumpkins and gourds of all shapes and sizes. Continuing through All Hallow’s Eve, the display is accompanied by daily family-friendly activities in the Everett Children’s Adventure Garden, including interactive puppet shows, a pumpkin sprouting demonstration, a scavenger hunt, and parades (Tuesday – Friday, 1:30 – 5:30; Saturday & Sunday, 10:00 am – 5:30 pm). On October 18-19 and 25-26, there will also be a Creepy Creatures of Halloween picnic with live animals (12 noon & 2:00). On October 18 & 25, children (recommended eight and up) can participate in a Budding Masters Creepy Pumpkin Carving Adventure ($50, 10:00), while Spooky Nighttime Adventures take place October 18, 24-25, and 31 ($20, 6:30 & 7:15) with programs geared for children four to twelve; flashlights will be supplied as families encounter ghost stories at the Wild Wetland Trail gazebo, make trick-or-treat bags (and go trick-or-treating), decorate gourds, carve pumpkins, dissect owl pellets, and more. On October 18-19, pumpkin carver extraordinaire Ray Villafane will give demonstrations (10:00 am – 6:00 pm) and take part in Q&As with growers (12 noon – 4:00), while the giant pumpkins will make their way into the garden October 25-26.