Wed

8/22

Thu

8/23

Fri

8/24

Sat

8/25

Sun

8/26

Mon

8/27

Tue

8/28

Today

Wed

8/22

Art

John Akomfrah: Signs of Empire

Photo: John Akomfrah, "Vertigo Sea" / SMOKING DOGS FILMS

Since the early 1980s, the Ghanaian-born, British artist John Akomfrah has been making films and video collages that examine the violent legacy of colonialism. For many viewers, his breakthrough came in the 2015 Venice Biennale, where he presented Vertigo Sea, an unsettling three-channel video that portrayed the oceans as sites of true savagery. In one extended section, there is horrific documentary footage of whalers destroying an animal with harpoons. This summer’s “John Akomfrah: Signs of Empire” will be his first U.S. survey. Akomfrah is an artist of real power. Compared to the various exhibitions from other artists hitting New York in the coming months, Akomfrah’s show has the most potential to overwhelm.

Pac Pobric

Film

Surrender

On paper, this 1950 western melodrama is strictly routine: The designs of a callous gold digger (Vera Ralston) threaten the friendship of two pals, gambling-house kingpin Gregg Delaney (John Carroll) and rich boy John Hale (William Ching). Opening obliquely with back-alley skullduggery in progress, Surrender moves with deck-shuffling pace that scarcely lets up for more than a minute or so at a time, under the guiding hand of director Allan Dwan, squarely in his wheelhouse with a James Edward Grant story. It’s not, strictly speaking, a comedy, but it’s timed like one, it thinks like one, and beneath its familiar surface there runs a rich vein of cheek. Dwan’s customary methods for hurrying the business along don’t always entail solving problems or mending split seams, but the deluge of his personality against the material produces miraculous effects. Everything seems to break Dwan’s way — as with his best films, the most exciting passages in Surrender transform narrative sawdust into a sea of galvanized, ornate bric-a-brac, dancing on the head of a pin.

—Jaime N. Christley

Thu

8/23

Film

Lords of Chaos

Photo: Courtesy of Sundance Institute.

Jonas Åkerlund’s Lords of Chaos, like a black-metal Sunset Boulevard, opens with the death of producer and musician — and our narrator — Øystein Aarseth, a/k/a Euronymous (Rory Culkin). The film rewinds to the start of his flirtation with the raucous lifestyle and characters who wound up killing him in the most horrible way.

—Scout Tafoya

Film

Madeline’s Madeline

“In all chaos there is a cosmos. In all disorder a secret order.” Experimental theater director Evangeline (Molly Parker) says this to her troubled teenage star Madeline (Helena Howard) early on in Josephine Decker’s Madeline’s Madeline, and it’s a sentiment the movie both takes to heart and persistently questions. Decker’s film, the best thing I saw at Sundance earlier this year, is built around tension and chaos. Its unruly scenes emerge out of disorder, out of chants and shrieks and fractured images, and always threaten to fade back into abstraction.

—Bilge Ebiri

Film

The Spook Who Sat by the Door

This 1973 adaptation of Sam Greenlee’s novel (co-scripted by the author) is a martini-dry political fable, in which the first-ever black CIA agent abruptly quits and uses his acquired knowledge to plan and build a large-scale, anti-authoritarian insurrection. Crisply directed by TV veteran Ivan Dixon, and edited by Michael Kahn, who would go on to be Spielberg’s cutter of forty years, The Spook Who Sat by the Door is a superb example of having one’s cake and eating it, as it indulges the perspectives of the outsider and the insider as one. Blissfully divested of the kind of equivocation that kneecaps some of our contemporary discourse, the movie bears the thrills usually associated with banned art, making no bones about advocating for direct action. If it’s a fantasy, it’s in the same family as The Red Shoes, which still inspires people to strap on ballet slippers.

—Jaime N. Christley

Music

Here Lies Man

Antibalas and Daktaris founder-guitarist Marcos García got the notion for his spin-off group Here Lies Man when he realized that a certain Fela Kuti guitar part sounded a whole lot like a metal riff played over one of the Afro-Cuban rhythm patterns known as claves. The Fela traveler has churned out Tony Iommi–esque heaviosity over a stripped-down Afrobeat pulse on two albums — You Will Know Nothing is the most recent — characterized by head-banging spleen and interlocking congas. It gets even better when Garcia abandons hard psych-rock for bulbously hovering instrumentals like “Floating on Water” and “You Ought to Know,” whose liquid atmospheres and Eno-esque guitar Fripp-ery transcend style and geography. Garcia’s music, like Fela’s, integrates soul and funk gestures. Also: Mick’s Jaguar, Somnuri.

Richard Gehr

Fri

8/24

Film

Phantom Thread

Photo: LAURIE SPARHAM/FOCUS FEATURES

Set in the 1950s, Phantom Thread follows the life of British fashion designer Reynolds Woodcock (Daniel Day-Lewis), a man intensely devoted to his work. He draws and patterns, a small army of seamstresses actually creates the dresses, and his disciplinarian sister Cyril (Lesley Manville) keeps things moving and drama-free. Then into Reynolds’s life comes Alma (Vicky Krieps), who serves him at a café while he’s driving to his country cottage, and he’s immediately smitten. Phantom Thread unfolds so quietly that the questions it’s asking about the nature of desire and attraction, and its delicately confrontational back and forth between Alma and Reynolds, may not register immediately. The film has the air of a chamber drama, an intimate and deliberate affair where emotions are played out in hushed whispers and subtle glances.

—Bilge Ebiri

Film

The Magnificent Ambersons

A conversation I had with a friend about Lancelot du Lac planted the idea in my head that that film was, in a manner of speaking, “greater than Bresson,” or at least somehow beyond him. The same could be said of The Magnificent Ambersons (1942), Orson Welles’s sophomore directorial feature, produced at RKO and, tragically, seized by the studio’s know-nothing butchers. Ambersons was made during an infinitesimally brief moment in cinema when it seemed as if the man who would turn out to be the greatest American director would ride a train of prosperity for a hundred years; hindsight intimates that the movie could also have foreshadowed the circumstances that would cast him out of paradise. Yet, damn the Fred Fleck reshoots, it remains our greatest film, an angelic thing that floats serenely aloft while reflecting back to us the fullest expression of a lost time, a fading memory, the jingle-jangle of sleigh bells over the rise.

—Jaime N. Christley

Sat

8/25

Dance

Beach Sessions

Photo: Arnaud Falchier

Don your walking shoes, pack your sunscreen and your water bottle, and hop a ferry or the A train for this fourth season of outdoor performances at Rockaway Beach. This year, more than a dozen artists, under the zany umbrella of the somewhat anarchic collective AUNTS, take over three locations — the beach, the boardwalk, and the handsome, white Castle — necessitating a stroll from Beach 110th Street to Beach 117th Street and Newport Avenue starting at 5 p.m. on Saturday afternoon, and in the opposite direction, starting at the Castle, at 2 p.m. on Sunday. Anything can happen and probably will, with a roster that includes Biba Bell, Tatyana Tenenbaum, Jasmine Hearn, and others.

—Elizabeth Zimmer

Sun

8/26

Music

Music Against Mass Incarceration 3

Photo: Erica Eso / NNA Tapes

Boasting an all-day lineup for a significant cause, the third “Music Against Mass Incarceration” installment benefits Just Leadership USA, an organization dedicated to halving the U.S. correctional population by 2030. I’m guessing the prime movers here are the manifesto-generating Sunwatchers, whose free-jazz-meets-Thai-psych sound slams you up against the wall. Dave Shuford’s electric saz likewise drives the Middle Eastern–tinged rock of New York trio Rhyton. TV on the Radio’s Kyp Malone is no stranger to kicking against the pricks, while vocalist Kassie Carlson and Guerilla Toss evoke the ecstatic vitality of experimental female-fronted bands like Melt-Banana, Deerhoof, and Ponytail. Whether Colin Langenus arrives in his “DubEverything” or heady singer-songwriter guise is TBD, but he’s in good company on a lineup with either crooner Erin Durant or electropop weirdos like Erica Eso and Kevin Wynd.

Richard Gehr

Dance

Beach Sessions

Don your walking shoes, pack your sunscreen and your water bottle, and hop a ferry or the A train for this fourth season of outdoor performances at Rockaway Beach. This year, more than a dozen artists, under the zany umbrella of the somewhat anarchic collective AUNTS, take over three locations — the beach, the boardwalk, and the handsome, white Castle — necessitating a stroll from Beach 110th Street to Beach 117th Street and Newport Avenue starting at 5 p.m. on Saturday afternoon, and in the opposite direction, starting at the Castle, at 2 p.m. on Sunday. Anything can happen and probably will, with a roster that includes Biba Bell, Tatyana Tenenbaum, Jasmine Hearn, and others.

—Elizabeth Zimmer

Film

Phantom Thread

Set in the 1950s, Phantom Thread follows the life of British fashion designer Reynolds Woodcock (Daniel Day-Lewis), a man intensely devoted to his work. He draws and patterns, a small army of seamstresses actually creates the dresses, and his disciplinarian sister Cyril (Lesley Manville) keeps things moving and drama-free. Then into Reynolds’s life comes Alma (Vicky Krieps), who serves him at a café while he’s driving to his country cottage, and he’s immediately smitten. Phantom Thread unfolds so quietly that the questions it’s asking about the nature of desire and attraction, and its delicately confrontational back and forth between Alma and Reynolds, may not register immediately. The film has the air of a chamber drama, an intimate and deliberate affair where emotions are played out in hushed whispers and subtle glances.

—Bilge Ebiri

Music

Eddie Palmieri + Tony Vega

To pronounce piano colossus Eddie Palmieri Latin music’s greatest keyboardist sounds almost constraining. His thundering chords, inventive claves, and cosmic harmonies suggest the kind of effects artist Jack Kirby might have achieved if he’d taken up the piano rather than the pencil. At 81, Palmieri remains a keyboard Galactus, a perfectionist with entire worlds at his fingertips. His horn-enhanced, multi-percussionist lineups sound downright experimental even while providing irresistible dance music, and the recent Full Circle finds him revisiting classic jams like “Vamonos Pa’l Monte” (“Let’s Go to the Mountain”) and “Azúcar” (“Sugar”) in a robust big-band environment. Introduced to Palmieri by Giovanni Hidalgo, singing-salsa smoothie Tony Vega joined the pianist’s band before going solo in 1988 — so maybe expect a reunion?

Richard Gehr

Mon

8/27

Art

Through a Different Lens: Stanley Kubrick Photographs

Photo: COURTESY OF THE MUSEUM OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK / SK FILM ARCHIVE, LLC

Between 1945 (when he was only seventeen!) and 1950, Stanley Kubrick was first a contributor to, then an apprentice at, and finally staff photographer for Look magazine, a scrappier variant of Life. Kubrick’s first photo for them was of a dejected newspaper vendor surrounded by headlines about FDR’s death; it was staged, the subject asked to look more depressed than he was. Presented in linear order, the exhibit “Through a Different Lens: Stanley Kubrick Photographs” — on display through October at the Museum of the City of New York — tracks Kubrick from mere technical precociousness to the development of a distinct Weegee-inflected, noir-oriented style that led directly to Fear and DesireKiller’s Kiss, and The Killing, and whose increasingly obvious compositional principles and eccentricities informed everything to come after.

Vadim Rizov