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How often does a new movie by Hou Hsiao-hsien get a commercial run in New York? (Never.) This technopop-fueled homage to starlet Shu Qi isn’t his best—seemingly designed to complement a jumbo tapioca-bubble tea—but the electric palette is a source of wonder, and the lightweight heroine gives the movie a vertiginous spin. It’s like a Warhol Edie Sedgwick film, without the angst. HOBERMAN

Opens today, Cinema Village, 22 East 12th Street, 212.924.3363



If heat, sweat, and recreational-chemistry-inspired chaos are on your agenda this evening, look no further than this brawny and oceanic improv-rock quartet—then brace yourself for a marathon. Songs often begin as bittersweet anthems before taking off into techno, dub, breakbeat, blues, and countless other elsewheres—e.g., the improvised soundtrack to Akira that was the highlight of a previous NYE show. GEHR

At 9, Hammerstein Ballroom, 311 West 34th Street, 212.485.1534


To hear his phat and furious trumpet let loose in a comparatively tiny room like this is a sure way of getting your joy on. He has absorbed Cuba and lived hip-hop, and he keeps a nasty little band that trades in funk and go-go. That makes for a rather elaborate mélange, but fear not, swing fans: He’s always just a step away from the blues. MACNIE

At 8, 10:30, and 1:30 a.m., Jazz Gallery, 290 Hudson Street, 212.242.1063


Seen those green Hulk Hands being marketed to the kids these days? Strap ’em on and it’s clout city. The pianist is all about such vigor. He’s responsible for some of jazz’s most creative turbulence. Bobby Hutcherson and Joe Lovano (Wednesday and Thursday) turn the brawny band into an even feistier outfit, long on grace and soul. Michael Brecker (Friday through Sunday) conjures a few echoes of you-know-who when he takes the stand in search of spontaneity. MACNIE

At 7:30, 11:15, and 1 a.m., Thursday through Sunday at 8 and 10, Friday and Saturday also at 11:30, Iridium, 1650 Broadway, 212.582.2121


New Year’s 2004, they’re an act as soulful-smart as mainstream country or edgy Americana Nashville has—as they were when playing lost venues City Limits and the Lone Star, here, unnoticed, in 1980. The rocking Millers, as in-love as George and Gracie, grace this stage at year’s turn, annually. Maybe they can channel the power to keep this venue from becoming one more lost one. MAZOR

At 9:30, Bottom Line Cabaret, 15 West 4th Street, 212.502.3471



New Year’s is all about partying, right? Well, what better way to ring in 2004 than with the three sexy ladies behind one of the illest party jams in recent years, Northern State’s “At the Party”? Kick out the white-girl hip-hop jams all night with a champagne toast and DJ set by NS backing musicians the Groove Brothers. PHILLIPS

At 10:30, Southpaw, 125 Fifth Avenue, Brooklyn, 718.230.0236


Greater Gotham’s most beloved band were bohemian pioneers across another river when Williamsburg was the name of a free bridge, and it’s in their beloved Hoboken that they throw their best parties. This one comes with a buffet, a champagne toast, and—I’m guessing, but betting—at least one cover you’ve never heard before. CHRISTGAU

At 10, Maxwell’s, 1039 Washington Street, Hoboken, New Jersey, 201.653.1703



Gianettino, who died last year at 45, made color portraits of toy animals—an alligator, a chipmunk, a pink panda, a whole gaga menagerie of bug-eyed, fuzzy things. Seen at such close range that they could rub noses with the lens, these critters fairly vibrate with a manic energy that ricochets off their acid-hued backdrops. Full of hilarious, passive-aggressive neediness, Gianettino’s toys want to be loved, but, barring that, they might just take over the world. ALETTI

Through January 10, Ricco/Maresca Gallery, 529 West 20th Street, 212.627.4819






ICP included Renaldi’s portraits of sleek Madison Avenue shoppers in its recent “Strangers” show, but these pictures, taken in Newark and Fresno, would have made an even more arresting point. Posed casually in the center of broad, evocative streetscapes, Renaldi’s mostly young, strikingly self-possessed subjects represent a rich range of ethnicities, none of them reduced to types. Like Joel Sternfeld’s similarly reserved and equally engaging environmental portraits, these pictures capture the changing face of America without pretending to define it. ALETTI

Through January 10, Debs & Co., 525 West 26th Street, 212.643.2070





The 3-D craze was over by the time Alfred Hitchcock finished, and the movie was released flat. Seen as it should have been, it’s a revelation. While others assaulted audiences with hurtling tomahawks or Jane Russell’s bosom, Hitch made actors recede behind a clutter of monumentalized bric-a-brac—a canny restraint allowing the stereo image to assert its own uncanny characteristics. HOBERMAN


Through Thursday, Film Forum, 209 West Houston Street, 212.727.8110







In about 20 years or so, when they’re writing about the ascent of the hip-hop underground, they’ll look at this mini-tour as evidence of its potency. Just two years ago, the Roots were backing Jay-Z on his Unplugged expedition, and now they’re supporting a who’s who of future major-label stars (don’t hate—it’s true): politico-funkster Mr. Lif, Can Ox refugee Vast Aire, baddest twitch Jean Grae, and schoolteacher J-Live, as well as Aesop Rock, Skillz, Little Brother, and more. With Pete Rock & CL Smooth and Dice Raw. CARAMANICA

At 8, Irving Plaza, 17 Irving Place, 212.777.6800






Carrying dance genes from both of her parents—Graham dancers David Wood and Marnie Thomas—Wood with her all-female ensemble, shows two works in progress: Joan in the Mud, which filters the struggles of Joan of Arc through the medieval elements of air, fire, earth, and water; and a new solo, A Spirit Serves a Small Breakfast. A Q&A with the artists will follow. ZIMMER

At 3, Harkness Dance Center, 92nd Street Y, 1395 Lexington Avenue, 212.415.5500



Goethe’s hyper-expanded reading of the old tale about the academic who sold his soul to the devil, and got into both physical and metaphysical trouble as a result, gets a new redaction in this Target Margin production. Douglas Langworthy adapts Part I of Goethe’s epic; David Herskovits directs, and that devilishly clever multiple Obie winner David Greenspan plays Mephisto. Expect bright lights and buzzers. FEINGOLD

Previews today, opens Tuesday, HERE, 145 Sixth Avenue, 212.868.4444





To kick off the new year, the Unterberg Poetry Center is featuring Brooklynite Jonathan Lethem, author of VLS fave The Fortress of Solitude; Colson Whitehead, who followed his philately-inspired John Henry Days with 13 meditations on the Big Apple (The Colossus of New York); and the lesser-known (but not for long) Edgardo Vega Yunqué. In recent months, Yunqué has vaulted into prominence with his epic No Matter How Much You Promise to Cook and Pay the Rent You Blew It Cauze Bill Bailey Ain’t Coming Home Again, chronicling a Puerto Rican-Irish teenager’s search for her father amid the chaos of city life. A night designed expressly for those who are still inspired by the city, or those who want to be. REIDY

At 8, 92nd Street Y, 1395 Lexington Avenue, 212.415.5500



The lineup for this tribute to the long-running radio show looks more like Woody’s metaphorical siblings, nieces, nephews, and grandchildren’s boyfriends, but with the revisionist right showing new enthusiasm for re-evaluating the 1950s and rehabilitating Joe McCarthy, maybe our extended folkie family will cohere around the old theme of resistance. Most interesting are the three guys and a gal of the newly formed Weavers Imitators-Revivalists-Chroniclers. 35th Anniversary Concert with Oscar Brand, Tom Chapin, Christine Lavin, Odetta, Pete Seeger, and Work o’ the Weavers. SMUCKER

At 8, Merkin Concert Hall, 129 West 67th Street, 212.501.3330





Thrusting right through the glass wall into the lobby, “Urban Myths Part II (Return of the Hypenaholics)” grafts platinum chains and schematic wall drawings onto a sprawling plywood construction. It’s big, bold, raw, and utterly banal until you sit down, feel the pounding music in your bones, and tap into Gispert’s baroque hip-hop tactics. Alluding to boom boxes, bling-bling, and minimalist design, he’s addressing class, the economics of excess, and consumer addictions. LEVIN

Through March 12, Whitney Museum at Altria, 120 Park Avenue, 917.663.2453



A smaller festival—fewer artists, shorter runs, two weeks instead of three—nevertheless promises both old favorites and new surprises. Leading off is a 20-year retrospective of work by that master of disguises John Kelly, whose The Skin I’m In features new material as well as excerpts from such dazzlers as Pass the Blutwurst, Bitte and Love of a Poet. Coming in subsequent weeks are dances by Rebecca Stenn, Peter Pucci, Margie Gillis, and Ben Munisteri. ZIMMER

At 8, and other artists, dates, and times through January 18, Joyce Theater, 175 Eighth Avenue, 212.242.0800



Making a clean start for the new year, the Pearl Theatre Company begins the second half of its season with the oldest piece of dramatic literature extant, Aeschylus’s elegiac drama of defeat in battle as seen from the home front—by a compassionate poet who fought on the winning side. The scene is adjacent to the land we call Iraq today; attentive theatergoers can compare artistic director Shepard Sobel’s Pearl production to the one staged last summer by Tony Randall’s National Actors Theatre. FEINGOLD


In previews, opens January 11, Pearl Theatre, 80 St. Marks Place, 212.598.9802

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