Wed

4/25

Thu

4/26

Fri

4/27

Sat

4/28

Sun

4/29

Mon

4/30

Tue

5/1

Today

Wed

4/25

TV

The Handmaid’s Tale

Photo: George Kraychyk/Hulu

The second season of Hulu’s Margaret Atwood adaptation The Handmaid’s Tale — which earned the streaming service its first-ever Emmy award, for best drama, in its first — faces the dual challenges of living up to the outsized hype of season one, and extending the narrative further beyond the scope of the 1985 book. Hopefully guest stars Cherry Jones, Marisa Tomei, Clea DuVall, and Bradley Whitford are up to the challenge.

Lara Zarum

Film

Blowin’ Up

“It’s called blowin’ up when you leave a pimp,” explains former sex worker Kandie, and it’s easier said than done: “You can’t just walk away. There is no walking away.” This insightful and informative documentary from director Stephanie Wang-Breal intertwines two strands: women like Kandie, telling their simple yet devastating stories, intercut with fly-on-the-wall footage of the human trafficking intervention court in Queens, where sex workers are brought — not to be charged and sentenced, but to receive help and forgiveness. Wang-Breal exhibits a Wiseman-esque institutional curiosity, fascinated by the process of this court and the people who spend their days there. She’s also interested in the exploitation of these young women (all of them Asian American or African American) and in the question of why police so often opt for quick arrests of workers, rather than an actual investigation of their exploiters. The characters are riveting and the photography is casually stylish, but the real highlight is the urgency of the work Wang-Breal captures.

—Jason Bailey

Film

Jellyfish

Her name is Liv Hill, and, holy shit, you’ll want to remember it. She’s in every single scene of James Gardner’s wrenching British drama, carrying this entire tricky movie on her shoulders, and she never falters. It’s a land mine of a role: a fifteen-year-old girl who, over the course of its ninety-odd minutes, is pushed past her considerably high breaking point. She’s failing in school, has a terrible part-time gig that she supplements with dispiriting tasks (e.g. back-alley hand jobs), and is taking care of what are essentially three children: her sister, her brother, and her mother, who is perpetually “not feeling well.” It sounds like pretty miserable viewing, and it’s often tough to watch. But Hill is a surefire dynamo, wresting control of the screen; her work is fierce, bitter, funny, and heartbreaking.

—Jason Bailey

Film

We the Animals

This adaptation of Justin Torres’s novel about the troubles of a Puerto Rican family in upstate New York is energized by a raucous, youthful vigor right from the jump. Director Jeremiah Zagar supplements the tale’s keenly observed around-the-house storytelling with tiny, vivid moments: the sound of parents fighting on the other side of a door; the sight of children bouncing off the walls when left to their own devices; the way things just happen to you when you’re a kid, because your parents haven’t invited you into the discussion. It’s an expressionistic film, but one in which that approach makes narrative sense — this is, after all, a story told from the perspective of a youngest child who often has to piece things together on his own. Zagar has a gift for capturing a character’s essence in an image or two, via simple compositions occasionally augmented by spellbinding snatches of animation. And he imbues the entire enterprise with a fascinating feeling of maybe-memory. It’s either set in the past, or in a place where time stopped, and both approaches play.

—Jason Bailey

Film

United Skates

Directors Dyana Winkler and Tina Brown helm this affectionate tribute to roller-rink culture and, more specifically, the African-American skate community, which gathers on “adult nights” (coded language, we’re told, for “black night”) that prove to be raucous celebrations of skating, dancing, and style. But this is a culture that’s disappearing, with skating rinks closing across the country, thanks to declining interest and increasing land values. So the mostly joyful picture is permeated by a sense of decline — that it’s documenting a phenomenon that may not be with us much longer. As such, it’s full of fascinating stories and inside-baseball jargon (“slippery wheels,” “JB style,” throws, snapping, slow-walking), all of which is wittily assembled to capture the movement and athleticism on the floor. Charming, informative, and a little heartbreaking.

—Jason Bailey

Dance

Acosta Danza

Around the turn of the millennium, Carlos Acosta was part of a wave of brilliant Cuban ballet dancers who passed through American Ballet Theatre and other world-class troupes. After a long stint with London’s Royal Ballet, he’s now in his forties and directing his own ensemble, Acosta Danza, here making its U.S. debut headlining a weeklong festival of Cuban arts. For three nights on the City Center Mainstage, see Spanish choreographer Goyo Montero’s Alrededor No Hay Nada and Cuban choreographer Marianela Boán’s intense two-man duet El Cruce Sobre el Niágara. Raúl Reinoso’s Nosotros features live musical accompaniment from cellist Cicely Parnas and pianist José Gavilondo, and Acosta himself performs in a new duet by Belgium-based Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Mermaid, about a tipsy encounter between strangers. Closing the program is Twelve from Madrid’s Jorge Crecis — a fast-paced frenzy that utilizes glow sticks, water bottles, and immaculate timing to explore the limits of the human body.

Elizabeth Zimmer

Film

Irezumi

This short, prickly, unabashedly sexualized 1966 revenge thriller (a/k/a The Spider Tattoo) is one of the better films I’ve seen by the brilliantly prolific Yasuzô Masumura, in which a woman (Ayako Wakao, who made many films with the director) embarks on a program of bloody vengeance after enduring several rounds of exploitation and abuse. Masumura’s approach to the material is strange — everything feels dirty, but he doesn’t seem interested in punching up moments of sadism or prurience. The summary effect is a weird egalitarianism, even in the face of pulpy horrors. Masumura’s frenetic work tempo (averaging four pictures a year at his peak) might explain this casual attitude: no time to hold the audience’s hand. Just the same, the film’s relatively slow burn, painstakingly establishing narrative layers around a rather pro forma revenge plot, points to a more cosmic fetish: the death drive, emblemized midway through with a painting of haunting eroticism, that of a killer queen.

Jaime NChristley

Film

No Greater Law

At long last, here is a documentary about religious fanatics that, while certainly critical, doesn’t treat any of its subjects with a trace of condescension. Tom Dumican’s No Greater Law registers like a riff on Inherit the Wind; this time, it’s religious doctrine versus life-or-death health risks, rather than mere scientific theory. In a small Idaho town, a prominent Followers of Christ pastor and his congregation are unwaveringly anti-medicine, relying on ointment healing for their fatally sick children, whose maladies could easily be cured. Detractors of the faith and a determined sheriff take the matter to the state senate but find that the majority of local politicos are in favor of vast protections for the Followers, even going so far as to exempt their dead from autopsies. The film is a must-see for anyone concerned with First Amendment and child-abuse laws; it’s also the most thoroughly engrossing doc of its kind since Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky’s Brother’s Keeper.

—Sam Weisberg

Film

Tiny Shoulders: Rethinking Barbie

It would be easy to imagine (and, frankly, to make) a didactic anti-Barbie documentary, so entwined is the fifty-year-old-plus fashion doll in our ongoing conversations about gender roles, body image, and white supremacy. And director Andrea Nevins wants to have those conversations, but she doesn’t want to stop there. She runs through Tiny Shoulders’ history of the doll with an astute understanding of how its swings in popularity have reflected the moods of American culture. Running parallel to this look-back lesson is a survey of the development, production, and rollout of “Project Dawn” — a risky initiative to redesign the notoriously unrealistic Barbie body. It’s a tricky balance that Nevins handles ingeniously, focusing on the women who now run the company and their conscious efforts to change the brand and its perception. The result is a thoughtful, nuanced portrait of (for better or worse) an American icon.

—Jason Bailey

TV

My House

Vice is bringing back the Nineties with this insider’s guide to New York City’s hypercompetitive underground queer ballroom scene, and I’m billing it as an excellent companion to Drag Race. The reality show will feature Tati 007, Alex Mugler, Jelani Mizrahi, Lolita Balenciaga, Relish Milan, and finally, and most importantly, Precious Ebony, who will guide us through the scene, the art, and, of course, the voguing.

Laura Beck

Thu

4/26

Theater

Symphonie Fantastique

Photo: Richard Termine

Two decades ago, when puppeteer Basil Twist and his team made the first iteration of Symphonie Fantastique, large flat-screen televisions were only just becoming a common fixture in the American visual landscape. Twist, then 28, was experimenting in a 500-gallon aquarium with the notion of “abstract puppetry,” to a recording of Hector Berlioz’s florid 1830 composition. Twist’s canvas has since grown into a 1,000-gallon tank — here gussied up with steampunk-like projections of theatrical curtains and positioned above a grand Steinway at which a vicar-like Christopher O’Riley plays Franz Liszt’s piano arrangement of the Berlioz orchestral score. In 2018, Symphonie takes on a new challenge: to make viewers understand that we are not, as we might surmise, watching an animated film on a large screen. The dazzling show is a 55-minute live performance, engineered by wet-suited puppeteers who sprawl on a platform above the tank and dangle their arms into it to create a panoply of special effects, using feathers and silk and other materials. When it’s over, they invite you backstage to observe how it all works.

Elizabeth Zimmer

Film

Tiny Shoulders: Rethinking Barbie

It would be easy to imagine (and, frankly, to make) a didactic anti-Barbie documentary, so entwined is the fifty-year-old-plus fashion doll in our ongoing conversations about gender roles, body image, and white supremacy. And director Andrea Nevins wants to have those conversations, but she doesn’t want to stop there. She runs through Tiny Shoulders’ history of the doll with an astute understanding of how its swings in popularity have reflected the moods of American culture. Running parallel to this look-back lesson is a survey of the development, production, and rollout of “Project Dawn” — a risky initiative to redesign the notoriously unrealistic Barbie body. It’s a tricky balance that Nevins handles ingeniously, focusing on the women who now run the company and their conscious efforts to change the brand and its perception. The result is a thoughtful, nuanced portrait of (for better or worse) an American icon.

—Jason Bailey

Film

General Magic

One of the whispered-about legends of Silicon Valley, General Magic was an early-Nineties spinoff of Apple tasked with developing what was, essentially, the technology (as well as the aesthetics and the ethos) of the smartphone. General Magic captures the company’s hype-filled rise and very quick fall — the latter a matter of timing, as the concept was introduced when the supporting technology and customer interest simply weren’t there yet. Directors Sarah Kerruish and Matt Maude stylishly combine previously unseen documentary footage from the company’s idealistic early days with archival clips and interviews both old and new. It’s all informative, but the biggest kick is giggling at the key players’ startlingly accurate predictions of the kind of world we’re now living in.

—Jason Bailey

Dance

Acosta Danza

Around the turn of the millennium, Carlos Acosta was part of a wave of brilliant Cuban ballet dancers who passed through American Ballet Theatre and other world-class troupes. After a long stint with London’s Royal Ballet, he’s now in his forties and directing his own ensemble, Acosta Danza, here making its U.S. debut headlining a weeklong festival of Cuban arts. For three nights on the City Center Mainstage, see Spanish choreographer Goyo Montero’s Alrededor No Hay Nada and Cuban choreographer Marianela Boán’s intense two-man duet El Cruce Sobre el Niágara. Raúl Reinoso’s Nosotros features live musical accompaniment from cellist Cicely Parnas and pianist José Gavilondo, and Acosta himself performs in a new duet by Belgium-based Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Mermaid, about a tipsy encounter between strangers. Closing the program is Twelve from Madrid’s Jorge Crecis — a fast-paced frenzy that utilizes glow sticks, water bottles, and immaculate timing to explore the limits of the human body.

Elizabeth Zimmer

Film

Duck Butter

Alia Shawkat (who co-wrote) co-stars in this shambling — in the best way — story of two girls who meet at a club, have great sex, and hit upon the notion of just spending the next 24 hours together, indulging in hourly intercourse while speeding right past the getting-to-know-you stages of the relationship. In the words of Sergio (Laia Costa), new paramour to Shawkat’s Naima: “We can fucking skip time!” The genius of co-writer/director Miguel Arteta’s latest is its recognition of the way the singular intensity of the flush of first love (and lust) might make this sound like a good idea, and how such idealization might ultimately prove regrettable. In scope, it’s a modest movie (and purposefully so), but the relationships and impulses it portrays are anything but minor.

—Jason Bailey

Fri

4/27

Film

Taxi Driver

Photo: Photofest

Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver hovers somewhere between realism and expressionism. It’s a vision of Hell — announced right there in its opening, as the cab emerges from the steam like some kind of automotive demon — that had the good fortune of being shot in a town actually turning hellish. Scorsese lets actors improvise, and his camera run, but the increasingly fractured editing structure fragments the story, at times even doubling back on itself. Bernard Herrmann’s score is both jazzy and operatic, with sax solos doing battle with thundering, brassy crescendos; it evokes both classic Hollywood and nerve-jangling horror.

Bilge Ebiri

Film

Little Woods

Nia DaCosta’s absorbing debut is laced with urgent dread, experienced by characters you care deeply about. Tessa Thompson and Lily James both give breathtaking performances as two estranged, troubled sisters — one of them adopted — who, following their mother’s death, tangle with foreclosing bankers, relentless parole officers, unkind healthcare professionals, and vicious drug dealers. Ollie (Thompson) desperately reenters the Oxycontin peddling trade, a week shy of completing her parole, to help save her mother’s house and pay for an abortion for Deb (James). DaCosta proves a wizard of suspense, particularly in a sequence where Ollie breaks into a towed-away RV to steal back drugs and cash. And the crisp dialogue between these vulnerable but shrewd sisters consistently simmers with equal parts resentment and love.

—Sam Weisberg

Film

Zatoichi and the Chest of Gold

This long-running series about the blind masseuse with the lightning sword boasted a built-in durability. The makers could throw on any stock plot, and, by dint of his unassuming cover story, the gallant Zatoichi could spend most of his time as a phony bystander, his own comic foil. The series, almost unavoidably a mixed bag, had few directors who were weird enough stylists to stand out. One exception was Kazuo Ikehiro, whose franchise entries are elevated by fleet storytelling and casually beautiful widescreen compositions. Zatoichi and the Chest of Gold (1964) might be the best cold start for newcomers: Attempting to visit the grave of an old nemesis, our hero is waylaid by the needs of a town struggling under a corrupt local governor. Without shorting the action, much of the film takes place in darkness, peppered by small pools of glowing beige and ivory — most memorably, when the enemy force carries a chain of lanterns to light their nighttime raid.

Jaime NChristley

Film

Charm City

Between Theo Anthony’s Rat Film (2016) and Marilyn Ness’s Charm City, Baltimore has emerged as a fertile subject for documentarians. Although conventional (talking-head interviews and contextual title cards pepper the film), Ness’s latest effectively charts the impact of violence on poor black neighborhoods within the city over the course of three years, from early 2015 to late 2017. A few principle players anchor the doc: city councilman Brandon Scott; Clayton “Mr. C” Guyton, a local leader and founder of a community center, seen conducting impromptu curbside meetings; and Alex Long, a youth coordinator and a kind of apprentice to Mr. C, who’s helping to keep his street free of gangs and drug dealers. It all adds up to an even-handed issue film featuring those who are working to change the face of one of the U.S.’s most violent cities.

—Tanner Tafelski

Film

Diane

Following a handful of documentaries on cinema (A Letter to EliaHitchcock/Truffaut), Kent Jones — a critic and the current director for the New York Film Festival — has now made his first narrative feature. Aside from a few flat moments of tepid acting (namely, from Jake Lacy), Diane is a strong work and one of the peaks of this year’s Tribeca slate. Diane (Mary Kay Place), the heroine, is under immense pressure. She tries to care for her resistant, erratic, drug-addicted son (Lacy). When not tending to him, she visits her dying cousin in the hospital. Diane is a haunting film about impending mortality. Its rigorous control is exemplified by its polished dialogue; the warm, earthy hues of western Massachusetts, captured by DP Wyatt Garfield; and the gentle, rhythmic editing, punctuated with lyrical shots of cars (taken from the perspective of the windshield) driving along curvaceous roads.

—Tanner Tafelski

Film

Ryuichi Sakamoto: Coda

Member of pioneering electronic band Yellow Magic Orchestra, composer of film scores (Merry Christmas Mr. LawrenceGohatto) and sixteen solo albums, cancer survivor, and prominent environmental activist: Ryuichi Sakamoto contains multitudes. Although director Stephen Nomura Schible touches lightly upon these facets of Sakamoto’s life, Ryuichi Sakamoto: Coda is mainly a portrait of an artist at work on his latest (and perhaps greatest) album, 2017’s async. And yet, by showing the different sides of Sakamoto, Schible enables the viewer to see how they influence this personal album. Schible frequently captures the articulate Sakamoto explaining his artistic and philosophical principles while also using an assortment of instruments (cymbals, pianos) and found objects (rain-pelted windows, jars, and buckets) scattered around his neatly cluttered Manhattan apartment for potential sounds on the record.

—Tanner Tafelski

Dance

Sarah Michelson

It’s been thirteen years since we saw a Sarah Michelson project at Performance Space — one of those that solidified her emergence here as a choreographer. A native of Manchester, England, Michelson brought nervy collaborations with visual and musical artists to PS and to the Kitchen, where she wound up co-curating the dance program for several years. She was one of the first choreographers to make her way into the Whitney Biennial, opening her startling, rigorous, athletic style to audiences who might not be tracking the downtown dance spaces. Now the Whitney itself is a downtown space, and Michelson’s completing a long residency with students at Bard upstate; fragments of that work, shown at the Kitchen last fall, confirm that her instincts are as compelling as ever. During this program, she’ll show a new piece that, according to a release, considers her own history with the East Village “organization, the building, and the community from which her work emanates.”

Elizabeth Zimmer

Music

Tigue

While Tigue’s website boasts that “we hit things with other types of things,” that’s only about half the Brooklyn percussion trio’s equation. Like light itself, Tigue’s music is a combination of waves and particles, of percussive strikes and distended drones adding up to either abstractly challenging pop or accessible contemporary classical music, depending on your point of view. Ohioans Matt Evans, Amy Garapic, and Carson Moody have been playing together since 2012. Their 2015 debut, Peaks, featured bongos, frying pan, droning Shruti box, melodica, tin can, and electronic keyboards over a diverse array of tracks. Tigue’s new Strange Paradise, however, distills their sound down to three constantly evolving longer tracks inviting habitation, contemplation, and a groovy sort of meditation the band characterizes as “ecstatic complexity.”

Richard Gehr

Film

Netizens

Cynthia Lowen, who produced the disturbing 2011 doc Bully, scores another infuriating triumph with her directorial debut, Netizens, which follows three victims of online sexual harassment and defamation. Anita Sarkeesian, a feminist blogger who critiqued depraved depictions of female characters in video games, still gets bombarded with rape and death threats from armies of self-righteous male gamers. Carrie Goldberg, now a formidable internet-privacy and anti-revenge porn attorney, was herself stalked for months by a vengeful ex-lover. And Tina Reine struggles to find legitimate employment due to an ex’s discriminatory online screed, which, she discovers, is protected by First Amendment laws. Some scenes are almost too wrenching to bear, particularly when the women read aloud various violent texts and tweets from their tormentors. But all three are as optimistic and humorous as they are erudite; the movie ends on an unexpectedly hopeful note.

—Sam Weisberg

Music

A World in Trance

Spell-binding music from Afghanistan, India, and Iran are on tap during international-music impresario Robert Browning’s fifth annual A World in Trance festival. The three-night séance opens Friday with Homayoun Sakhi, the innovative Afghan virtuoso of the lute-like rubâb. Expect Indian ragas and Afghan folk music performed with unorthodox syncopation and sympathetic strings. Saturday, Indian sitarist Ustad Shavid Parvez Khan will dive even deeper into the Hindustani classical tradition. Accompanied, like Sakhi, by the great tablist Nitin Mitta, Parvez Khan shines particularly bright during the unaccompanied meterless alap section that introduces a raga. On Sunday, Iranian-born ney (bamboo flute) improviser Hossein Omoumi will be joined by the vocalist Jessika Kenney, Amir Koushkani (lutes), and Hamin Honari (percussion), and will concentrate on the Persian songs of Rumi and Attar.

Richard Gehr

Dance

Acosta Danza

Around the turn of the millennium, Carlos Acosta was part of a wave of brilliant Cuban ballet dancers who passed through American Ballet Theatre and other world-class troupes. After a long stint with London’s Royal Ballet, he’s now in his forties and directing his own ensemble, Acosta Danza, here making its U.S. debut headlining a weeklong festival of Cuban arts. For three nights on the City Center Mainstage, see Spanish choreographer Goyo Montero’s Alrededor No Hay Nada and Cuban choreographer Marianela Boán’s intense two-man duet El Cruce Sobre el Niágara. Raúl Reinoso’s Nosotros features live musical accompaniment from cellist Cicely Parnas and pianist José Gavilondo, and Acosta himself performs in a new duet by Belgium-based Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Mermaid, about a tipsy encounter between strangers. Closing the program is Twelve from Madrid’s Jorge Crecis — a fast-paced frenzy that utilizes glow sticks, water bottles, and immaculate timing to explore the limits of the human body.

Elizabeth Zimmer

Film

The Serengeti Rules

A school of bass fish are removed from an Oklahoma stream and, a week later, armies of minnows — normally devoured by the bass — have taken over the pond. In Mukkaw Bay, Washington, the starfish are separated from the mussels, who then overtake the tide pool. Is this an example of harmless prey finally reigning over the predators — a triumphant mutiny in a staunch and unfair food chain? Hardly. As Nicolas Brown’s exhilarating doc The Serengeti Rules proves, predators like starfish and bass are essential for the survival of ecosystems; when lesser animals prevail, overpopulation can kill plant life and, in turn, whole species. The movie tracks the globe-trotting, eye-opening journeys of five scientists profiled in Sean B. Carroll’s book of the same name. The photography is startling and gorgeous, and even the toughest naysayers will be hard-pressed not to admit that certain animals are essential for the protection of forests, oceans, and even endangered species.

—Sam Weisberg

Sat

4/28

Music

Astrid Hadad

Photo: Octavio Nava./SECRETARIA DE CULTURA

Not unlike the 110 eighteenth-century baroque works hanging in the Met’s current “Pinxit Mexici” show, Mexican performance artist Astrid Hadad was also “painted in Mexico.” Known for colorfully outrageous architectural costumes she changes for nearly every song, Hadad has been Frankenstein-ing her culture into satirical and politically incisive cabaret commentaries since mounting a tribute to groundbreaking ranchera singer Lucha Reyes in the early Nineties. Her influences include Mexican street theater, the cabaret-centric “golden age” of Mexican cinema, and Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill’s political theater. Mary Magdalene, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and Mexico’s complex relationship to tequila have inspired her thematic performances. Hadad’s targets range from the crass commercialism of Frida Kahlo to Mexican macho in both its local and globalist permutations. Consider her a force to be reckoned with.

Richard Gehr

Film

Street of Shame

For his swan song, Kenji Mizoguchi returned to a subject dear to his heart: the lives and loves of the women who work as courtesans in Tokyo’s red light district. Arriving at the tail end of a number of historical dramas, Street of Shame (1956) radiates with an uncharacteristic ripped-from-the-headlines immediacy, as if the shift to present-day concerns afforded Mizoguchi some latitude to regroup his faculties. Patient, attentive, but free of longueurs, Street of Shame compiles the various circumstances and struggles of the women with a mellow haste that’s almost Naruse-esque. On the whole it would rate as “pretty good” on the Mizoguchi scale, but, in its final moments, it takes flight: A new conscript, freshly painted and dolled up, is sent out to the throngs to beckon her first client. As she meekly whimpers come-ons (to the men and to us), her youth and the summation of Mizoguchi’s work collapse together like a dying star, annihilated and reborn in mere seconds.

Jaime NChristley

Film

Mary Shelley

Haifaa Al-Mansour’s origin story of the Frankenstein author is a good twenty minutes too long and spends far too much of its third act verbalizing its themes. Those complaints aside, this is a welcome showcase for the considerable talents of Elle Fanning, who deftly shades the trials and tribulations of the young writer and her complicated relationship with Percy Shelley (played by Douglas Booth as a good-time guy who is not to be trusted). Fanning and Booth’s chemistry is blindingly intense, and Diary of a Teenage Girl’s Bel Powley is delicately eccentric as Mary’s half sister. Through it all, Al-Mansour sharply captures this makeshift family’s wild swings from revelry to desperation to inspiration.

—Jason Bailey

Film

Roll Red Roll

The chilling audio that opens this gripping documentary captures a cacophony of thin, giggling voices: “What did they do to that girl?” “She is so raped right now.” “This is the funniest thing ever.” That “funniest thing” was the 2012 rape of a sixteen-year-old girl in Steubenville, Ohio, an act perpetrated and observed by several members of the town’s beloved high school football team. The story of athlete entitlement (enabled and facilitated by coaches, school administrators, and “fans”) is as old as time; what was new in the Steubenville case was the social media element, in which tweets and pictures laid intentions bare and served as documentation (along with sickening text messages and cellphone photos) of the crime. The only real strike against this well-constructed, compelling picture is that it could stand to be longer; director Nancy Schwartzman occasionally sacrifices depth for brevity, only scratching the surface of small-town sports culture and groupthink. But there’s much to chew on, particularly the tough observations that accompany long-overdue shifts in cultural attitudes.

—Jason Bailey

Film

Diane

Following a handful of documentaries on cinema (A Letter to EliaHitchcock/Truffaut), Kent Jones — a critic and the current director for the New York Film Festival — has now made his first narrative feature. Aside from a few flat moments of tepid acting (namely, from Jake Lacy), Diane is a strong work and one of the peaks of this year’s Tribeca slate. Diane (Mary Kay Place), the heroine, is under immense pressure. She tries to care for her resistant, erratic, drug-addicted son (Lacy). When not tending to him, she visits her dying cousin in the hospital. Diane is a haunting film about impending mortality. Its rigorous control is exemplified by its polished dialogue; the warm, earthy hues of western Massachusetts, captured by DP Wyatt Garfield; and the gentle, rhythmic editing, punctuated with lyrical shots of cars (taken from the perspective of the windshield) driving along curvaceous roads.

—Tanner Tafelski

Dance

Sarah Michelson

It’s been thirteen years since we saw a Sarah Michelson project at Performance Space — one of those that solidified her emergence here as a choreographer. A native of Manchester, England, Michelson brought nervy collaborations with visual and musical artists to PS and to the Kitchen, where she wound up co-curating the dance program for several years. She was one of the first choreographers to make her way into the Whitney Biennial, opening her startling, rigorous, athletic style to audiences who might not be tracking the downtown dance spaces. Now the Whitney itself is a downtown space, and Michelson’s completing a long residency with students at Bard upstate; fragments of that work, shown at the Kitchen last fall, confirm that her instincts are as compelling as ever. During this program, she’ll show a new piece that, according to a release, considers her own history with the East Village “organization, the building, and the community from which her work emanates.”

Elizabeth Zimmer

Music

A World in Trance

Spell-binding music from Afghanistan, India, and Iran are on tap during international-music impresario Robert Browning’s fifth annual A World in Trance festival. The three-night séance opens Friday with Homayoun Sakhi, the innovative Afghan virtuoso of the lute-like rubâb. Expect Indian ragas and Afghan folk music performed with unorthodox syncopation and sympathetic strings. Saturday, Indian sitarist Ustad Shavid Parvez Khan will dive even deeper into the Hindustani classical tradition. Accompanied, like Sakhi, by the great tablist Nitin Mitta, Parvez Khan shines particularly bright during the unaccompanied meterless alap section that introduces a raga. On Sunday, Iranian-born ney (bamboo flute) improviser Hossein Omoumi will be joined by the vocalist Jessika Kenney, Amir Koushkani (lutes), and Hamin Honari (percussion), and will concentrate on the Persian songs of Rumi and Attar.

Richard Gehr

Film

Taxi Driver

Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver hovers somewhere between realism and expressionism. It’s a vision of Hell — announced right there in its opening, as the cab emerges from the steam like some kind of automotive demon — that had the good fortune of being shot in a town actually turning hellish. Scorsese lets actors improvise, and his camera run, but the increasingly fractured editing structure fragments the story, at times even doubling back on itself. Bernard Herrmann’s score is both jazzy and operatic, with sax solos doing battle with thundering, brassy crescendos; it evokes both classic Hollywood and nerve-jangling horror.

Bilge Ebiri

Sun

4/29

Film

Le Corbeau

Photo: COURTESY FILM FORUM

Henri-Georges Clouzot’s 1943 Le Corbeau vigorously dramatizes a real scandal — in 1917, a woman in central France harried her town with anonymous poison-pen letters — and ultimately kicked up a real scandal of its own. Clouzot’s film exposes a village’s worth of shocking secrets, suggesting French life is rife with adultery, drug addiction, and a generalized ambient horribleness. A sensation upon release, thanks to its frankness and consummate whodunnit twists, Le Corbeau also pissed everyone off, uniting the Vichy, the anti-Nazis, and the Catholic Church. After the liberation, in 1944, the film was judged so damning a portrait of the people of France that Clouzot was banned for life from making films — a sentence that, with the prevailing of cooler heads, was soon reduced to just two years.

Alan Scherstuhl

Film

I, Tonya

There’s almost nothing a bad movie can do wrong that a good movie can’t get away with, and Craig Gillespie’s I, Tonya (2017) brilliantly navigates a minefield of potentially hazardous choices (a flip attitude, a broad array of on-the-nose music choices, a tendency to caricature), gleefully running roughshod over any pretense to even the most threadbare biopic decorum. Not everything works, and the final wind-down treads a too-sober, punish-their-hubris path. But the project is glued together and held aloft by an invigorating tension between the spectacle of figure skating and the cocktail of poisonous jealousy, raw ambition, and prideful stupidity that tethers its principal players to one another — like a George V. Higgins crime story directed by Lord & Miller. Margot Robbie gave the lead performance of the year, while Julianne Nicholson and Paul Walter Hauser perform minor miracles in support.

Jaime NChristley

Film

Little Woods

Nia DaCosta’s absorbing debut is laced with urgent dread, experienced by characters you care deeply about. Tessa Thompson and Lily James both give breathtaking performances as two estranged, troubled sisters — one of them adopted — who, following their mother’s death, tangle with foreclosing bankers, relentless parole officers, unkind healthcare professionals, and vicious drug dealers. Ollie (Thompson) desperately reenters the Oxycontin peddling trade, a week shy of completing her parole, to help save her mother’s house and pay for an abortion for Deb (James). DaCosta proves a wizard of suspense, particularly in a sequence where Ollie breaks into a towed-away RV to steal back drugs and cash. And the crisp dialogue between these vulnerable but shrewd sisters consistently simmers with equal parts resentment and love.

—Sam Weisberg

Film

Roll Red Roll

The chilling audio that opens this gripping documentary captures a cacophony of thin, giggling voices: “What did they do to that girl?” “She is so raped right now.” “This is the funniest thing ever.” That “funniest thing” was the 2012 rape of a sixteen-year-old girl in Steubenville, Ohio, an act perpetrated and observed by several members of the town’s beloved high school football team. The story of athlete entitlement (enabled and facilitated by coaches, school administrators, and “fans”) is as old as time; what was new in the Steubenville case was the social media element, in which tweets and pictures laid intentions bare and served as documentation (along with sickening text messages and cellphone photos) of the crime. The only real strike against this well-constructed, compelling picture is that it could stand to be longer; director Nancy Schwartzman occasionally sacrifices depth for brevity, only scratching the surface of small-town sports culture and groupthink. But there’s much to chew on, particularly the tough observations that accompany long-overdue shifts in cultural attitudes.

—Jason Bailey

Music

Buddy Guy

At the end of the week, Times Square loses another iconic club in BB King’s, the latest victim of vulture developers who’ve forever altered the landscape of the New York City concert stage circuit. In marking the shuttering of this beloved forum for blues guitarists, r&b singers, and hip-hop acts alike, there isn’t really anyone alive and kicking better suited for the job than a man so close to the heart of the venue’s namesake: Mr. Buddy Guy. We can only hope that Buddy will nod to the fiftieth anniversary of his classic second album, A Man and the Blues, at some point during this Irish wake for the midtown nightspot. But regardless of what surprises Buddy has in store, his presence at the farewell is not to be missed. He’s played BB King’s countless times during its years of operation, and has also shared the stage with Riley himself on some of the greatest blues jams in modern history, from a 1993 performance at the Apollo alongside Albert Collins, Eric Clapton, and Jeff Beck to, of course, that unforgettable jam with Obama. There isn’t a better way to close out BB’s than a surefire classic performance from the last of the great Chicago bluesmen.

—Ron Hart

Music

A World in Trance

Spell-binding music from Afghanistan, India, and Iran are on tap during international-music impresario Robert Browning’s fifth annual A World in Trance festival. The three-night séance opens Friday with Homayoun Sakhi, the innovative Afghan virtuoso of the lute-like rubâb. Expect Indian ragas and Afghan folk music performed with unorthodox syncopation and sympathetic strings. Saturday, Indian sitarist Ustad Shavid Parvez Khan will dive even deeper into the Hindustani classical tradition. Accompanied, like Sakhi, by the great tablist Nitin Mitta, Parvez Khan shines particularly bright during the unaccompanied meterless alap section that introduces a raga. On Sunday, Iranian-born ney (bamboo flute) improviser Hossein Omoumi will be joined by the vocalist Jessika Kenney, Amir Koushkani (lutes), and Hamin Honari (percussion), and will concentrate on the Persian songs of Rumi and Attar.

Richard Gehr

TV

Killing Eve

Adapted from Luke Jennings’s novels by British playwright and TV creator Phoebe Waller-Bridge, the sinister-sweet Killing Eve is confounding in the best way, full of the rarest kinds of jolting twists and creative choices — ones that challenge viewers’ assumptions about how a twisty spy thriller is supposed to unfold. Killing Eve zips through its eight episodes like a bullet train, set against a bright, poppy soundtrack and a color palette to match, and featuring standout performances from Sandra Oh and Jodie Comer.

Lara Zarum

Film

Mary Shelley

Haifaa Al-Mansour’s origin story of the Frankenstein author is a good twenty minutes too long and spends far too much of its third act verbalizing its themes. Those complaints aside, this is a welcome showcase for the considerable talents of Elle Fanning, who deftly shades the trials and tribulations of the young writer and her complicated relationship with Percy Shelley (played by Douglas Booth as a good-time guy who is not to be trusted). Fanning and Booth’s chemistry is blindingly intense, and Diary of a Teenage Girl’s Bel Powley is delicately eccentric as Mary’s half sister. Through it all, Al-Mansour sharply captures this makeshift family’s wild swings from revelry to desperation to inspiration.

—Jason Bailey

Film

United Skates

Directors Dyana Winkler and Tina Brown helm this affectionate tribute to roller-rink culture and, more specifically, the African-American skate community, which gathers on “adult nights” (coded language, we’re told, for “black night”) that prove to be raucous celebrations of skating, dancing, and style. But this is a culture that’s disappearing, with skating rinks closing across the country, thanks to declining interest and increasing land values. So the mostly joyful picture is permeated by a sense of decline — that it’s documenting a phenomenon that may not be with us much longer. As such, it’s full of fascinating stories and inside-baseball jargon (“slippery wheels,” “JB style,” throws, snapping, slow-walking), all of which is wittily assembled to capture the movement and athleticism on the floor. Charming, informative, and a little heartbreaking.

—Jason Bailey

Mon

4/30

Film

Cold Water

Photo: Janus Films

Cold Water was Olivier Assayas’s fifth feature, but he sometimes refers to it as his “other first film.” The reasons for this are both practical and spiritual. The French writer-director — responsible for such notable titles as Personal ShopperClouds of Sils MariaIrma Vep, and Carlos — traces the origins of his freewheeling, dreamlike cinematic style to this low-budget, semi-autobiographical coming-of-age tale about two troubled teenage delinquents in a small town outside of Paris, in the early Seventies, contemplating escape from their families. For years, a legitimate release has been impossible, partly because the movie’s rock soundtrack had remained uncleared. Now newly restored, Cold Water — quite possibly Assayas’s most moving effort, and certainly one of his best — is coming out in theaters from Janus Films, with a Criterion home video release to follow.

Bilge Ebiri