Sun

5/27

Mon

5/28

Tue

5/29

Wed

5/30

Thu

5/31

Fri

6/1

Sat

6/2

Today

Sun

5/27

TV

The Break With Michelle Wolf

Photo: Justin Bettman

I didn’t know much about Michelle Wolf until I watched her brilliant turn hosting the White House correspondents’ dinner, and now I am straight-up OBSESSED with her? Such a charming weirdo, and I could watch her go after Melania’s idiot husband and his goon squad for DAYS. Also, her voice is like Sarah Silverman ate Gilbert Gottfried and then fucked the Nanny and melted into a pool of butter mixed with sandpaper, and it’s glorious. I’m sure her variety show will be the tits, but I’m hoping for fewer fat jokes than in her stand-up sets, because girl! Those tired bits are way too easy and also you’re punching down and that suuuucks. You can be dumb and funny and not make people want to cry. It’s possible! I believe in you!! USA! USA! USA!

Laura Beck

Film

Personal Problems

Bill Gunn and Ishmael Reed’s Personal Problems, which will have its first U.S. theatrical run this week, is a crude, clunky relic made during a time when home-video cameras were newfangled pieces of high-tech wizardry the size of a small child. It was originally shot on tape in 1980, on three-quarter-inch tube-based cameras with automatic irises. Especially when the camera panned or zoomed on “hot spots” of light, it occasionally made images or the people onscreen blurry every time movement happened — known as “ghosting” or “smearing.” That makes this production often feels like a trippy dream you’re intruding on.

Craig DLindsey

Film

Lolita

Stanley Kubrick and co-producer James B. Harris threw out most of Vladimir Nabokov’s 1955 novel in adapting it for the screen. (Their work went uncredited: The author, who’d turned in a four-hundred-page draft of the script, receives a solo screen citation.) The resulting movie, uniformly chaste in comparison to its source, kept the scandalous engine of Nabokov’s vision intact, handling the characters’ sick obsessions largely via cheeky metaphor and verbal innuendo. Despite its thematic and formal connectivity with the rest of Kubrick’s body of work, Lolita (1962) was the last of his movies whose direction could conceivably pass for someone else’s. Dilution, paradoxically, brings out strengths that might lead one to wonder what would have happened had Kubrick stayed down on the farm. There’s a feeling of spontaneity in some of the more complex blocking and camera pirouettes, an uneven index of performers (led by an extraordinary Peter Sellers, as Quilty, the main character’s villainous double), and the overall magic of that precise (and final) moment when a Kubrick film would owe as much to the particulars of its time as to its creator’s inestimable control.

Jaime NChristley

Mon

5/28

Film

Les Parents Terribles

Photo: COURTESY OF COHEN FILM COLLECTION

Jean Cocteau’s Les Parents Terribles (1948) — known in English by the much less barbed or helpful title The Storm Within — finds the director-artist-novelist-playwright revisiting in cinema his triumph for the stage. Adapting his own play, a pleasingly sordid farcical tragedy from 1938, Cocteau managed to honor both of the mediums he had mastered, producing a film that, while stagebound, is alive at every moment to the possibilities of the screen. Cocteau worked with the cast he had written the roles for, and their familiar comfort with the material results in a striking continuity of feeling. From shot to shot, no matter how many takes have passed between, the emotional pitch is consistent, the actors’ metabolism synced to the film’s and the viewers’.

Alan Scherstuhl

Film

One-Armed Swordsman

Truth in advertising: Fang Kang, low-born student at a prestigious sword-fighting school (whose father, a mere servant, died protecting his master), is raised to become one the academy’s finest disciples. He spurns the coquettish advances of the master’s daughter, who cuts off one of his arms in a sneak attack, thus obliging him to re-focus his already formidable skill. One of the most entertaining Shaw Brothers wuxia pictures (1967) is sensationally directed by Chang Cheh, full of color, held together by a quiet morality, but is not without some small awareness of its own absurdity. You pay the price of admission to see the one-armed swordsman take on all challengers, but the film is also noteworthy for the infamous “sword lock,” wielded by the main antagonist.

Jaime NChristley

Tue

5/29

Art

Georgia O’Keeffe: Visions of Hawai’i

Photo: ALFRED STIEGLITZ/GEORGIA O'KEEFFE ARCHIVE, YALE COLLECTION OF AMERICAN LITERATURE BEINECKE RARE BOOK AND MANUSCRIPT LIBRARY

The New York Botanical Garden’s “Georgia O’Keeffe: Visions of Hawai’i” charts the artist’s nine-week stay in the state in 1939. That year, aged 51, O’Keeffe was sent on commission by the Hawaiian Pineapple Company to design images for a promotional campaign. During her stay, O’Keeffe made a series of paintings, seventeen of which will be displayed at the garden. There will be twenty total pieces on display. The pictures — which haven’t been exhibited in New York since their 1940 debut at the gallery of O’Keeffe’s husband, photographer Alfred Stieglitz, on Madison Avenue — will benefit from the garden’s conservatory, where examples of the Hawaiian fauna O’Keeffe painted — birds of paradise, ginger, and hibiscus, among others — can provide additional context. Although O’Keeffe is well-known for her floral paintings, a show like this can remind viewers how closely she looked at her subjects, something that’s difficult to convey in a gallery that has only white walls.

Pac Pobric

Film

Le Pont du Nord

Real-life mother and daughter Bulle and Pascale Ogier play two misfits who collide (almost literally) into one another, each on an aimless vector across the Paris roadways. Bulle plays Marie, fresh out of prison, understandably allergic to being behind closed doors, even in a taxi; Pascale is Baptiste, always ready to put up her dukes. Hardly stopping for a breath, the pair fall into a game-playing posture; eventually, the mystery they’re looking for finds them first. True to form, this quicksilver-hearted 1981 movie, co-conceived by Jacques Rivette and his two stars (not unlike a Linklater Before movie), parlays its shifting identity as an open-air urban noir/conspiracy jaunt, tilting at times towards extravagant street theater, at others cryptic punk gesture. Between a seemingly shambolic chain of improvisational prompts and a genuine impulse to read Feuillade backwards through mid-twentieth-century revolutionary disappointments, the chilly, near-vacant urban sprawl makes a great blank screen upon which the French New Wave’s resident mystic projects his myriad preoccupations.

Jaime NChristley

Music

Marty Ehrlich

Composer and reeds modernist Marty Ehrlich inaugurates a six-night residence with the jazz equivalent of a Reddit AMA session: a no-holds-barred duo set with visionary trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith. Raised in St. Louis and educated at the New England Conservatory, Ehrlich  moved to New York in 1978, at the height of its Downtown jazz heyday, and has been a highly regarded Zelig among Zeligs ever since. Wednesday, the protean player celebrates a new album with his aptly named Trio Exaltation, which includes John Hebert (bass) and Nasheet Waits (drums). The rest of his run comprises a trio of quartets: Philosophy of a Groove, with pianist James Weidman; Shards, featuring pianist Angelica Sanchez; and Welcome, with trumpeter Ron Horton.

—Richard Gehr

Wed

5/30

Film

The Mad Game

Photo:

Irving Cummings’s 1933 movie is a fugitive from the Dick Tracy story department, hastily fused to a bootlegger melodrama that wasn’t long for this world (Prohibition was repealed later that year) and filled out with enough nutty camera tricks to approximate a Joseph H. Lewis–esque funhouse mirror avant la lettre. Spencer Tracy and J. Carroll Naish star as rival kingpins out to knock each other off. Tracy plays the “good” gangster, ready to do anything — anything — to get the upper hand. Screenwriters William Conselman and Henry Johnson write especially sharp dialogue that’s never too showy. Conselman was an ex-newspaperman, so it comes as no surprise that the best role in the film is a savvy reporter (played by the great Claire Trevor). With Ralph Morgan and John Miljan.

Jaime NChristley

Music

Annie Gosfield

A specialist in the retrofuturist potential of music technology, composer and sonic mad scientist Annie Gosfield will realign the vertical and the horizontal during this edition of John Zorn’s Stone Commissioning Series. The evening’s still-untitled world premiere explores radio-wave connections between violinist Jennifer Choi and pianist Kathleen Supové. Refracted Reflections and Telepathic Static, for two pianos and electronics, offsets Nancarrow-like duo-piano boogie-woogie with a backdrop of shortwave sounds, radio static, and Orchestrion samples; the Hurricane Sandy–inspired Shattered Apparitions of the Western Wind, for piano and tape, juxtaposes Debussy’s stormiest prelude with sampled weather; Lost Signals and Drifting Satellites, for violin and electronics, splits the difference between tones and tumult; and Long Waves and Random Pulses, for violin and electronics, imagines Bach’s Chaconne in D Minor heard during a jammed radio transmission.

—Richard Gehr

Thu

5/31

Music

Zeshan B

Photo: Diana Quiñones Rivera

Zeshan B is probably the first interpreter to kick off Bobby “Blue” Bland’s “Ain’t No Love in the Heart of the City” with an improvisatory Indian-classical alap. But then again, Zeshan Bagewadi’s career has consisted of one revelation after another. The Chicago-born Indian-American became a singing fixture in his hometown’s Trinity United Church of Christ, where Barack Obama came up, and stands on the shoulders of gospel-nourished soul legends like Sam Cooke, Aretha Franklin, and Donny Hathaway. Bagewadi’s social activism is reflected in a bracing video for his version of George Perkins’s “Cryin’ in the Streets.” And his gruff tenor easily swoops into a plaintive falsetto on his recent debut album, which includes lonely-man heart-wrenchers, a sexy Urdu original, and a two-hundred-year-old Sufi poem sung in Punjabi.

—Richard Gehr

Fri

6/1

Film

Welcome to L.A.

Photo: PHOTOFEST

Given that it’s a criss-crossy city epic with song scores by Richard Baskin and contributions from two dozen members of the cast and crew of NashvilleAlan Rudolph‘s Welcome to L.A. (1976) was destined to be seen by skeptics as imprisoned in the shadow of Altman’s epic from a year prior. But all the commonalities listed above amount to little more than a superficial resemblance, a fact that’s only been clarified by decades’ worth of retrospection. In its passionate coldness, Welcome to L.A. stands even further apart from the glut of Los Angeles sagas that would crop up in subsequent decades, most of which tend to pursue a philosophy either of believing the baffling bullshit of entertainment-industry charlatans or depicting said frauds in overwrought caricature.

Jaime NChristley

Music

Marginal Consort

Wander among things that go bump, plink, clank, whirr, brrrrat, and ping in the night during the Tokyo-based Marginal Consort’s improvisatory intersection of sound and movement. Formed in 1996 by students of Fluxus artist Takehisa Kosugi, the Consort’s current members include founder Kazuo Imai, who was inspired by John Cage and Merce Cunningham’s performances. “It feels like the way we communicate in the world,” Imai has said. “Sometimes we engage with others in a kind of call and response, sometimes we don’t.” The Consort keeps things economical by rarely performing more than once each. With no discussion beforehand, the musicians isolate themselves around the room, each concentrating on his own performance amid the sonic overlap, with the audience encouraged to move around freely. Electronics, homemade instruments, scraped furniture, prepared instruments, and shaken, miked, beaten, and bowed objects add up to an equally choreographic, theatrical, and musical presentation.

—Richard Gehr

Sat

6/2

Art

Canova’s George Washington

Photo: “Modello for George Washington (detail)” (1818) / FABIO ZONTA

Just one month after the Frick Collection closes a beautiful and insightful show of paintings by Francisco de Zurbarán, it opens “Canova’s George Washington,” another small, focused exhibition that digs deep into a specific historical episode. In 1816, the North Carolina State House, on the recommendation of Thomas Jefferson, commissioned the Italian neoclassical sculptor Antonio Canova to create a full-length statue of Washington, which was installed at the state house in Raleigh in 1821. Ten years later, a fire tore through the building and destroyed the work (the one in North Carolina now is a duplicate). Canova’s preparatory plaster version, which remained in Italy, is the centerpiece of this exhibition, which may uproot our expectations of the artist’s style. For the most part, the public knows him as one of the most naturalistically graceful sculptors of his time. Canova was an artist who was remarkably sensitive to touch; he could make marble look as soft as flesh with seemingly only the mildest exertion. But such grace takes great effort, and this show aims in part to pull back the curtain on Canova’s process.

Pac Pobric

Film

Klute

Photo: Warner Bros/Photofest

A movie resolutely of its moment that still surges with third-rail electricity, Alan J. Pakula’s 1971 neo-noir Klute, about a New York City prostitute being stalked by a sociopath, is heralded as the first installment of the director’s “paranoia trilogy,” followed by The Parallax View (1974) and All the President’s Men (1976). The true author of Klute, though, is its star: Jane Fonda, here as doxy Bree Daniels, a boho-chic, Hell’s Kitchen–dwelling aspiring actress who reads Sun Signs before going to bed and sorts through her irreconcilable instincts during weekly appointments with her matronly shrink. (The therapy scenes, with Fonda performing opposite Vivian Nathan, a founding member of the Actors Studio, were largely improvised and are emblematic of Klute’s quicksilver sensibility.)

Melissa Anderson

Music

Brooklyn Raga Massive: 6th Anniversary Celebration

The mighty Brooklyn Raga Massive celebrates six years of locally sourced South Asian sounds here with a program reflecting its commitment to Indian classical music’s past, present, and future. Vocalist Samarth Nagarkar, a teacher and writer thoroughly steeped in the complexly extemporaneous subtleties of the Hindustani (north Indian) classical tradition, will be accompanied by tablist Amod Dandawate. Snarky Puppy pals House of Waters — Max ZT (hammered dulcimer), Moto Fukushima (bass), and Ignacio Rivas Bixio (percussion) — use Indian classical forms as a jumping-off point for beautiful virtuosic improvisations. And last but arguably most significantly, the Women’s Raga Massive finds Camila Celin (guitar, sarod), Trina Basu (violin), Roshni Samlal (tabla), Priya Darshini (vocals), Amali Premawardhana (cello), and Lauren Crump (percussion) collectively forging a new female-forward esthetic in this traditionally male milieu.

—Richard Gehr