Photo: Courtesy Film Forum
Like rivers or the moment to come just after this moment, you can’t step into the same Jean Renoir film twice. Whether the release of this restoration marks your first or your fiftieth time seeing The Crime of Monsieur Lange — the master’s 1936 collectivist lulu and certainly the most warmly humane film ever made about killing your boss — its glittering bustle of motion and character always offers new and piercing details. What, this time, will prick you?
Photo: The Iceman Cometh (1973) / THE AMERICAN FILM THEATRE / PHOTOFEST
For a little under two years, in the mid-Seventies, an initiative called the American Film Theatre attempted to bridge the divide between stage and screen, giving plays the reach of films, while lending the moviegoing experience a bit of theater’s highbrow linguistic glamour. The brainchild of the producer Ely Landau, the project brought together famed actors, writers, and directors who agreed to work at a fraction of their normal rates on filmed adaptations of plays, using the full text of the original script as their screenplay. The resulting movies would then show in roughly 500 movie theaters around the country for just a few screenings each. (Filmgoers subscribed to the program the same way they would to a normal theater season.) For the next week, all but two of the AFT’s productions can be seen as part of the Quad Cinema’s series “Screen Play: The American Film Theatre.”
Photo: Fargo (1996) / Courtesy MoMA
From New York to California, Mississippi to Minnesota, spanning genres like a Turner Classic Movies marathon, Joel and Ethan Coen have introduced us to ordinary people whose actions spin out of their control. Their characters are left with insoluble questions: Why has this happened to me? What does it all mean? The Coens’ movies can drive viewers similarly mad with the search for meaning. But despite plots denser than a Sarah Palin endorsement speech, it’s a mistake to impose a grand narrative theory on their films. The forces that propel the brothers’ plots are random, not designed, and their people don’t triumph over those forces so much as wade through them, frantic for answers.
Photo: Texas Isaiah's "My Name Is My Name I" (detail) / Courtesy the artist
It began with “Freestyle,” back in 2001. Since then, every few years the Studio Museum in Harlem has held a series of influential exhibitions that are specifically intended to bring a fresh crop of noteworthy Black American artists to the attention of a broad audience. An alliterative conceit binds together what have become known as the “F shows”: “Frequency” in 2005, “Flow” in 2008, “Fore” in 2012. Now, the museum has decided the climate is right to release a new batch of talent from the continual prospecting that is part of its mission. “Fictions,” featuring work by nineteen artists from around the country, and with a strong proportion of installation and work in unorthodox materials, began in September and runs through early January.
Photo: CAITLIN SPIESS OF ILL PRODUCTIONS
At 627 5th Avenue in South Slope, Brooklyn, stands a generic, white-brick building, the kind you’d probably never notice if not for the message scrawled in black paint on its side: “Are you curious?” It’s hard to imagine who wouldn’t be. This is the home of Curiosities, an immersive theater production that opened earlier this month and is in residence through November 26. The era, 1930s; the setting, the Menagerie, a jazz club out of which “the Professor” (played by Anthony Logan Cole) and his coterie of misfits operate an underground sideshow full of sins and secrets. The ambience is a little bit speakeasy, a little bit David Lynch. The plot is refracted across ten separate storylines, each anchored around a different character who might at any point beckon you into the hazy darkness backstage.
Photo: HENRY DILTZ
Hip-hop-hating hippie harmonizer David Crosby, 76, has been enjoying an exceptional late-in-life career revival. After leaving the Byrds, which he co-founded in 1964, he played in various combinations with Steve Stills, Graham Nash, and Neil Young until last year, when Nash declared he’d had enough of his old friend’s cranky ways. While Crosby has recorded only six solo albums, beginning with his weird and willowy 1971 masterpiece If I Could Only Remember My Name, the three most recent of the bunch have all appeared since 2014. With its inventive musicianship, relaxed self-assurance, and gently cantankerous autumnal wisdom, 2016’s Lighthouse is the keeper, but his new Sky Trails isn’t half-bad, either. This show is a strictly solo affair, though — just Croz and a guitar delivering idealist anthems like “Almost Cut My Hair,” “Long Time Gone,” and “Triad,” along with a helping of fresher fare.
Photo: Joan Marcus
Tectonic Theater Project, long at the forefront of documentary drama, opens a new show this week about the underexplored subject of life with autism. (The group, under Moisés Kaufman’s leadership, is famous for consciousness-raising through the telling of real stories — from The Laramie Project, which documented the 1998 hate-killing of Matthew Shepard, to Doug Wright’s Pulitzer Prize–winning I Am My Own Wife.) Anushka Paris-Carter and Andy Paris’s Uncommon Sense, running at the Sheen Center, explores the experiences of four people living on the autism spectrum, and is accompanied by an educational program, including panels of experts and an exhibit of visual works by artists with autism. Maybe most importantly, Tectonic will offer two “relaxed performances,” which mellow the lighting and sound, and lift the usual mandate to sit still and stay quiet — modeling what accessibility can look like in the theater.