Tue

8/21

Wed

8/22

Thu

8/23

Fri

8/24

Sat

8/25

Sun

8/26

Mon

8/27

Today

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

The Atomic Café

A time capsule of a time capsule, the 1982 documentary compilation film The Atomic Café feels suddenly, enragingly relevant again. There was a time — during the 1990s particularly — when Jayne Loader, Kevin Rafferty, and Pierce Rafferty’s montage of newsreels, training films, and commercials from the early years of the arms race seemed like both a cinematic and spiritual fragment of the past. The cloud of nuclear fear had lifted, or so we thought, with the end of the Cold War. But now the possibility of Armageddon is back in the news, in a more unpredictable fashion than ever before. And so here is The Atomic Café, beautifully restored and playing at the newly renovated Film Forum, back to remind us how fucked we truly are, and perhaps have always been.

—Bilge Ebiri

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

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

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