Thu

8/16

Fri

8/17

Sat

8/18

Sun

8/19

Mon

8/20

Tue

8/21

Wed

8/22

Today

Thu

8/16

Theater

Hunter John and Jane

Photo: Ed Forti

If you’re not already fascinated by Amina Henry’s Hunter John and Jane — a love story with scary undertones — you’ll probably start paying close attention when the squirrel guts come out. That’s right: Henry’s play features the consumption of slimy, dark-red living matter, yanked from the interior of a pretty cute stuffed squirrel by the bow-and-arrow–wielding John of the title. This swerve from charming to unabashedly gory is representative of larger conflicting currents running through Henry’s sprawling new work, directed by Sash Bischoff and running at Jack through August 18.

—Miriam Felton-Dansky

Dance

Battery Dance Festival

Nothing quite matches sitting alongside New York Harbor, regarding Lady Liberty in the distance; magnificent sunsets; and, closer by, on a platform stage, any of twenty-plus troupes, from New York City (Douglas Dunn + Dancers and more) and as far afield as Botswana, Canada, Gabon, Kazakhstan, Macedonia, and Spain, including great practitioners of the percussive Kathak form from all over India. Closing night of this 37th edition of the festival is a VIP reception on August 18, featuring Macedonia’s Skopje Dance Theater, Botswana’s Mophato Dance Theatre, and festival hosts Battery Dance performing Jonathan Hollander’s Secrets of the Paving Stones. The $65 tickets get you a 6 p.m. curtain, an indoor location at Pace University’s Schimmel Center, and a post-show party; all the other shows are free.

—Elizabeth Zimmer

Film

Falbalas

Process is at the heart of Jacques Becker’s fashion-industry melodrama Falbalas (1945), which tracks acclaimed designer and noted womanizer Philippe Clarence (Raymond Rouleau) as he falls for the woman whose wedding dress he’s designing. That’s the basic story outline, but what the film really winds up being about is the way Clarence’s obsession feeds on and clashes with the busy hubbub of his fashion house. He treats like dirt the women who work round-the-clock to make his creations real, and he seems incapable of seeing people as people. “The soul of a dress is the body of a woman,” he likes to say, but we may wonder if he can even conceive of a woman with a soul; they’re just vessels for his designs.

Bilge Ebiri

Film

Antoine and Antoinette

A brisk, proletarian marriage comedy (similar to Preston Sturges’s Christmas in July), in which hardship and daily indignity is faced with hard-won good humor — until a glimpse at an improved station in life turns everything upside-down. Director Jacques Becker, who co-wrote the screenplay with Maurice Griffe and Françoise Giroud, packs a ton of dizzying detail into the Borzagean life of one Parisian couple (Roger Pigaut and Claire Mafféi) and the community around them. With a touch more like a lathe than a hammer, Becker frequently relies on allusion and insinuation to deflect the onset of any single incident that might destabilize the spinning gyro. The film is also, despite its appearance of frivolity, surprisingly mature for the era; it’s quite plain that the newlyweds keep a busy bedroom, while, on the flip side, workplace sexual harassment and lopsided power dynamics are the stuff of dismaying routine. A sterling cast is rounded out by Noël Roquevert, Annette Poivre, and the great Gaston Modot.

—Jaime N. Christley

Music

Big Heart Machine

Saxophonist Brian Krock writes arrangements for his kaleidoscopic new Big Heart Machine that transform backgrounds into foregrounds and vice versa. The nineteen-piece jazz big band’s eponymous debut was produced by Darcy James Argue, another big-band leader who robustly triangulates the worlds of jazz, rock, and contemporary classical music; the album couldn’t sound more luminous or robust. The centerpiece is “Tamalpais,” a five-part suite that translates natural beauty into an impressionistic, almost hallucinogenic weather report involving cloud patterns, percussive pointillism, jagged canyons, and Finnish musician Olli Hirvonen’s expressively granular electric guitar. “As most people are aware,” Krock notes in his publicity material, “nobody participates in a big band for any reason other than completely naïve idealism.” Fortunately, naïveté plays no part in the detailed arrangements and solid soloing of this colossal combo.

Richard Gehr

Fri

8/17

Music

Mark Ernestus’s Ndagga Rhythm Force

Photo: Kris Serafin

Berlin EDM meets deep Wolof percussion when Mark Ernestus’s Ndagga Rhythm Force makes its American debut Friday. Enthralled by the skittering mbalax music he heard in Gambia, the dub-techno pioneer released singles credited to the Senegalese ensemble Jeri-Jeri before recruiting the first iteration of his revolving Ndagga Rhythm Force — named after Wackies Rhythm Force, the Bronx dub sessioneers — in 2014. Ernestus electronically augments an octet comprising traditional sabar drums, talking drum, traps, keyboard, guitar, and vocals. The trancey totality of tracks like “Lamb Ji” can easily stretch out to twenty minutes, while choreographed wrestling moves pay tribute to Senegambia’s national sport. Less ornate, but no less loud, than its folkloric antecedents, Ernestus’s Ndagga rhythms are a force to be reckoned with.

Richard Gehr

Dance

Battery Dance Festival

Nothing quite matches sitting alongside New York Harbor, regarding Lady Liberty in the distance; magnificent sunsets; and, closer by, on a platform stage, any of twenty-plus troupes, from New York City (Douglas Dunn + Dancers and more) and as far afield as Botswana, Canada, Gabon, Kazakhstan, Macedonia, and Spain, including great practitioners of the percussive Kathak form from all over India. Closing night of this 37th edition of the festival is a VIP reception on August 18, featuring Macedonia’s Skopje Dance Theater, Botswana’s Mophato Dance Theatre, and festival hosts Battery Dance performing Jonathan Hollander’s Secrets of the Paving Stones. The $65 tickets get you a 6 p.m. curtain, an indoor location at Pace University’s Schimmel Center, and a post-show party; all the other shows are free.

—Elizabeth Zimmer

Film

First Reformed

Paul Schrader’s First Reformed comes before us freighted with expectations. At last, one of the living American greats (writer of Taxi Driver, co-writer of Raging Bull, director of Hardcore and Affliction) has returned to dissect The Ways We’re Going Mad Today, in a preacher drama so dead serious — so rigorously hair-shirted — that you might guess ahead of time that it’s shot in the boxy, old-fashioned Academy ratio. That asceticism is thematic: Our preacher, Ernst Toller (Ethan Hawke), declares in voiceover in the first frames that he’s going to be keeping a journal, longhand, analog, for the next year of his life as the reverend of a 250-year-old wooden church with a congregation of about a dozen. He’s boxed in, you see, in a past he prefers to the world outside, and it’s only polite for viewers to meet him halfway by denying themselves the full use of our screens.

Alan Scherstuhl

Sat

8/18

Theater

Trainspotting Live

Photo: TRAVIS EMERY HACKETT

Having parted with 55 bucks for the privilege, Trainspotting Live attendees can expect to be variously insulted, spat upon, shouted at, drizzled with the contents of a shit-smeared toilet, and forced into extreme proximity to both male asshole and uncut Scottish dong. You will, if you choose to insert yourself among the forty or so willing captives cloistered within the airless confines of Roy Arias Stages’ slender black box above Eighth Avenue, be menaced by a madman with a shiv and subjected to seizure-level strobes; in one especially harrowing passage, you’ll endure the sight and up-close shrieks of a pregnant woman battered with fists and choked with a belt. When the makers of this thing warn you that it’s an “immersive” interpretation, you’d better damn well take them at their word.

—Mike Laws

Film

What Keeps You Alive

Colin Minihan’s ruthlessly gripping What Keeps You Alive details the exacting arrangements made by a sociopath to get the upper hand on her intended quarry, currently vacationing at a remote cabin. Minihan’s point-by-point revelations may spell out the villain’s plan, but they do nothing to alleviate the unbearable tension. The movie plays dirty and trusts that you think you know what might happen next. That’s when you realize there’s something behind you.

—Scout Tafoya

Dance

Battery Dance Festival

Nothing quite matches sitting alongside New York Harbor, regarding Lady Liberty in the distance; magnificent sunsets; and, closer by, on a platform stage, any of twenty-plus troupes, from New York City (Douglas Dunn + Dancers and more) and as far afield as Botswana, Canada, Gabon, Kazakhstan, Macedonia, and Spain, including great practitioners of the percussive Kathak form from all over India. Closing night of this 37th edition of the festival is a VIP reception on August 18, featuring Macedonia’s Skopje Dance Theater, Botswana’s Mophato Dance Theatre, and festival hosts Battery Dance performing Jonathan Hollander’s Secrets of the Paving Stones. The $65 tickets get you a 6 p.m. curtain, an indoor location at Pace University’s Schimmel Center, and a post-show party; all the other shows are free.

—Elizabeth Zimmer

Sun

8/19

Theater

The House That Will Not Stand

Photo: Joan Marcus

There’s a corpse onstage for the entirety of Marcus Gardley’s The House That Will Not Stand: an old white guy, suited up and laid out like a stuffed turkey on the dining-room table. He’s totally inert, yet his gravitational reach — and that of other white men we never see onstage — is all-encompassing, pulling like undertow on the fates of Gardley’s living characters, all women of color. House impresses on a number of levels: as a funny, sorrowful parable of nineteenth-century Creole New Orleans; an interrogation of complex racial histories; a tour de force of creative and verbose insults, delivered at breakneck speed. Lileana Blain-Cruz, with characteristic elegance and precision, directs an excellent cast in its New York premiere for New York Theatre Workshop.

—Miriam Felton-Dansky

Film

First Reformed

Paul Schrader’s First Reformed comes before us freighted with expectations. At last, one of the living American greats (writer of Taxi Driver, co-writer of Raging Bull, director of Hardcore and Affliction) has returned to dissect The Ways We’re Going Mad Today, in a preacher drama so dead serious — so rigorously hair-shirted — that you might guess ahead of time that it’s shot in the boxy, old-fashioned Academy ratio. That asceticism is thematic: Our preacher, Ernst Toller (Ethan Hawke), declares in voiceover in the first frames that he’s going to be keeping a journal, longhand, analog, for the next year of his life as the reverend of a 250-year-old wooden church with a congregation of about a dozen. He’s boxed in, you see, in a past he prefers to the world outside, and it’s only polite for viewers to meet him halfway by denying themselves the full use of our screens.

Alan Scherstuhl

Film

Hell’s Half Acre

A woman (played by Evelyn Keyes) travels to Honolulu in search of a husband who may not have died in the attack on Pearl Harbor, as she’d been told. The man she finds (Wendell Corey, characteristically ramrod-handsome yet haunted by the world’s ugly truths) is a small-time operator scraping by on a handful of treacherous underworld connections. Before long, his bad business becomes hers. John H. Auer’s typically atypical genre entry (1954) builds its noir framework in an exotic location, resulting in a movie that feels as much like early-days Imamura as the iconic work of stateside leaders such as Joseph H. Lewis and Jules Dassin. There’s seedy lean-to architecture aplenty, and stray cats scrambling from tumbling garbage cans, right up against the inescapable beauty of the yawning Pacific. One would be remiss, too, not to mention the grand dame Elsa Lanchester in an offhand role as a Honolulu cab driver, peaked cap and all.

—Jaime N. Christley

Film

The Witch in the Window

Andy Mitton’s pastoral yarn The Witch in the Window introduces a spectral presence sitting in the second floor of a Vermont fixer-upper; it’s only a matter of time before she’ll be reckoned with. Mitton has…well, maybe not fun, but he certainly milks the scenario for all the hysterics it’s capable of producing, without breaking his focus. The doting father (Alex Draper) and precocious son (Charlie Tacker) who aim to flip the house must do something about their ghastly tenant, but it’s an open question which party is in control of the situation. The movie is frightening and shockingly emotional, given how doggedly rational Mitton’s script is about the rules of this haunting. Knowing what’s happening doesn’t necessarily mean feeling any safer.

—Scout Tafoya

Mon

8/20

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

Film

Await Further Instructions

Johnny Kevorkian’s Await Further Instructions looks like it’s going to be a Christmas movie, but almost immediately a laudable ugliness emerges. A dysfunctional family beset by ideological differences — many of the members harbor racist feelings and can’t stomach young Nick (Sam Gittins) dating and introducing to them an Indian woman (Neerja Naik) — find their troubles amplified after their house is suddenly quarantined and locked down. They can’t leave, and any attempts to pry the strange bars off the doors and windows result in severed appendages. Those instructions of the title do come, and they get increasingly grim, testing the family’s mettle and slowly guiding them toward their worst instincts and prejudices.

—Scout Tafoya

Tue

8/21

Film

The Trace We Leave Behind

Photo: courtesy of J.C. Feyer

In J.C. Feyer’s The Trace We Leave Behind, a doctor in Rio (Rafael Cardoso) treats a girl who soon vanishes (or was she only a figment of his imagination?). Searching for her means stalking the halls of a condemned hospital and discovering clues regarding a major conspiracy launched against the poorest patients. Naturally, no one believes João, or wants to help him: There’s too much hideous truth to be found where he’s going. A disturbing coda involving organ transplants works as well as (or better than) any of the film’s myriad jump scares; knowing what pieces of the least fortunate were used to fertilize the ground off of which the rest live is more chilling than a movie ghost popping up out of thin air.

—Scout Tafoya

Film

Tigers Are Not Afraid

Issa López’s poetic Tigers Are Not Afraid concerns the untold scores of “disappeared” during Mexico’s war on drugs, who emerge here in the form of plastic-coated corpses with accusing fingers extended at guilty survivors. A gang of children (shades of Guillermo del Toro’s The Devil’s Backbone) roam the streets unaccompanied thanks to the murder of their parents by the cartels, looking to stay alive long enough to achieve justice.

—Scout Tafoya

Music

Bill Frisell

Guitarist Bill Frisell, the cowlick on the towhead of jazzy Americana, begins a five-night residency devoted to duets with drummers. It’s a smart move: His floating, twanging, looping, and harmonically allusive style provides the perfect background for percussive pageantry. Frisell begins Tuesday alongside Gerald Cleaver, a drummer rooted in Detroit’s hard-bop heritage who can go just about anywhere. Kenny Wollesen, Frisell’s exquisitely laid-back drummer in a longtime trio with bassist Tony Scherr, joins him Wednesday for a set that may include some of Wollesen’s own percussion inventions. Expect fireworks August 23, when Andrew Cyrille brings his pioneering outside handiwork to the table. Johnathan Blake, who’s played with everyone from Robert Glasper and Oliver Lake to rapper Q-Tip and singer Monday Michiru, and man-machine Mark Guiliana, who played on Bowie’s Blackstar, fill out this ingenious week of strings and things that go bump in the night.

Richard Gehr

Wed

8/22

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