Wed

8/15

Thu

8/16

Fri

8/17

Sat

8/18

Sun

8/19

Mon

8/20

Tue

8/21

Today

Wed

8/15

Film

The Leopard

Photo: courtesy of Cineteca di Bologna, Pathé, Fondation Jérôme Seydoux-Pathé, Twentieth Century Fox, and CSC-Cineteca Nazionale

There are many historical films, but Luchino Visconti’s The Leopard (1963) is, to my mind, one of the rare movies that is genuinely about history. That is to say, it depicts, through its drama, its character interactions, and its visual style, an actual historical process, in all its messiness, contradiction, and ridiculousness: the replacement of one class by another, the consolidation of a scattered land of fiefdoms and nation-states into one country. Even the most intimate scenes seethe with a sense of change, of a society transforming before our very eyes.

—Bilge Ebiri

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

Le Trou

One of the greatest prison-break movies — and it’s not as if there aren’t any strong competitors — Jacques Becker’s Le Trou (1960) makes short work of distinguishing itself from Renoir’s Grand Illusion and Bresson’s A Man Escaped, the pair of French masterpieces most responsible for its inheritance. The protagonists are hardened criminals, not POWs; this distinction produces a key difference in the group dynamic, as they approach their scheme like stoic career toughs taking down a bank vault. They share a common language of brusque, unsmiling friendliness and an even-tempered sense of urgency. While all that’s going on, Becker dials up the sensory experience of the break, enormously reluctant to yield to the usual expedients like jump cuts and montage. The illusion of real time as a container for process, coupled with the film’s high-density sound mix, is mesmerizing.

—Jaime N. Christley

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

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

Sun

8/19

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