Back to The Brig


Back in the late beatnik era, the Living Theatre was the public face of the downtown vanguard—offering a club, a crusade, and a cause célébre. Anthology Film Archives, which can trace its own origins back to that period, celebrates the 60th anniversary of the Living Theatre‘s founding, as well as its new home and the current restaging of its 1963 production, The Brig. Jonas Mekas filmed a performance of Kenneth H. Brown’s no-frills evocation of life in an American military prison as though making a documentary (and, in fact, the movie did win the prize for Best Documentary at the Venice Film Festival); Storm De Hirsch filmed Mekas filming. Both The Brig and Jonas in the Brig are showing Thursday at 7 p.m., and at 9 p.m., Anthology will screen Shirley Clarke’s celebrated 1961 film of the Living’s most notorious early production, Jack Gelber’s junkie drama The Connection—a play that, like The Brig, grounded Theater of the Absurd thematics in a naturalistic, albeit shocking, milieu.


Tony Richardson was the key director in Woodfall Film Productions, which he co-founded in 1956 with playwright John Osborne and American producer Harry Saltzman, but the company also produced early features by Richard Lester (The Knack. . . and How to Get It, 1965) and Ken Loach (Kes, 1969). The series Leading the Charge: Woodfall Film Productions in ’60s British Cinema opens with The Charge of the Light Brigade (1968), Richardson’s antiwar evocation of Tennyson’s poem, to be introduced by Vanessa Redgrave (who appears in the film and was then married to the director). Other Richardson films include Look Back in Anger (1958), with Richard Burton; The Entertainer (1960), with Laurence Olivier; Ned Kelly (1970), with Mick Jagger; and A Taste of Honey (1961), which introduced Rita Tushingham. July 13 through 26, Walter Reade Theater.

Premiere Brazil!, the fifth edition of MOMA’s annual survey of new Brazilian cinema, is haunted by the memory of the corrosive slum drama Pixote. A new documentary, Pixote in Memoriam, revisits the cast of Hector Babenco’s 1981 film, particularly Fernando Ramos da Silva, who played the eponymous street urchin and met a similar fate. Pixote itself is screening, as are plenty of music docs: Cartola—The Samba Legend concerns the great Brazilian composer; Fabricating Tom Zé focuses on the legendary tropicalia artist. The themes come together with AfroReggae: No Reason Explains the War, in which music serves as an alternative to gang culture, and also in the series opener Antônia, Tata Amaral’s story of four young women who struggle to make it as musicians in the face of Sao Paulo’s poverty and violence. July 12 through 23, MOMA.