By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
Don't want to venture above 14th Street to entertain every relative in town? Downtown institution Joe's Pub has something for everyone. Start nasty, start drag, with Varla Jean Merman's I'm Not Paying for This (December 6 and 7), a one-woman (sorta) tour of the seven deadly sins. Lust, greed, gluttony, envy, pride, sloth, and anger are all addressed in this wicked little laugh-fest from actor Jeffery Roberson (a/k/a Varla Jean Merman) . Next up are pop rockers Betty, who bring their comical brand of musical merriment to the stage (December 8 through 10) with tunes like "Holiday Office Party Blues" and "Christmas Ain't Coming," from their album Snowbiz. Téada's Very Irish Christmas Show(December 11) promises to transport audience members to the Emerald Isle with step dancing, Irish harp, bagpipes, and guest vocalist Cathie Ryan. Dave Parker and the Bang Group's Nutcracked(December 15 through 18) proves the Nutcracker can indeed have some nuts when you add offbeat Duke Ellington and Glenn Miller recordings of Tchaikovsky's classic score, then throw Peter DiMuro and the Happy Hour Comedy Trio into the usual ballet. For a little rock 'n' roll with a hefty splash of burlesque, Los Straitjackets and the World Famous Pontani Sisters (December 20 and 21) welcome guest emcee Kaiser George to their circus-like Christmas pageant. New York punk-folkie Mike Erricocloses out the month with his annual Christmas show (December 21). The genre-bending singer is usually sedate but we get the feeling he's going to be in a festive mood this night. ABER
DVDs to stay inside with
With the arrival of cold weather, 'tis once again the season for New Yorkers to take shelter inside our apartments and catch up on those long movies we've been too busy for during warmer months. Terrence Malick's The New World may be the season's most anticipated new release, making this a good time to revisit the director's three-hour World War II reverie The Thin Red Line. A radical rethinking of the war movie, The Thin Red Line steers away from the problematic excitement of combat in favor of a more contemplative toneMalick may be the only director alive who would cut away from a battle scene for a shot of sunlight hitting a blade of grass.
The long form lends itself to certain genresthere aren't a lot of slapstick comedies or slasher flicks clocking in at three hours plus. Representing the costume drama is Stanley Kubrick's 1975 film Barry Lyndon, which chronicles the rise and fall of the titular nobleman (seldom a less appropriate label) back in the good old days when the pettiest of insults was reason enough for a duel to the death. The opulent sets and groundbreaking cinematography-by-candlelight provide all the standard period-movie pleasures, even as Kubrick's camerawork doggedly keeps us at a distance.
Is it a stretch to think of Twin Peaksas one long movie? Maybe not, particularly as the spotty second season remains unreleased on disc (the first-season DVD comprises seven hour-long episodes, not including the two-hour pilot, available separately). David Lynch's color palette and Angelo Badalamenti's moody score give Twin Peaks a cinematic ambience, even as its soap opera structure guarantees the compulsive watchability of TV.
Finally, on the nonfiction front, a long winter's day (or two) provides the ideal opportunity to watch Claude Lanzmann's masterful 566-minute Holocaust documentary Shoah, essential as much for its formal intelligence as for the enormity of its subject. Lanzmann's investigation of Nazi evil gains significantly in impact when viewed in one or two sittings, the compact time frame giving the purposeful repetition of key images a chance to sink in. LAND