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03/20/15 7:00am
03/20/2015 7:00 AM |

runallnight1

Could this be the end of our man Liam Neeson as the action hero of the moment? Neeson himself has recently speculated that he may only have a few more years of this kind of work in him, but there are signs it may end sooner. He doesn’t have a major action movie on the docket; his major 2016 release will be Martin Scorsese’s long-gestating Silence. Meanwhile, he’s wrapped up a couple of trilogies: Taken 3 seemed to put the series to rest this past January, while Run All Night completes an unofficial trilogy of films with director Jaume Collett-Sera, who also made Unknown ($63 million domestic!) and Non-Stop ($92 million domestic!). Moreover, Run All Night failed to set the box office aflame last weekend when it opened (likely final gross: $30 million domestic!), as did A Walk Among the Tombstones last fall ($26 million domestic!), curtailing hopes for a new franchise based on the many Matt Scudder novels.

If Neeson does go back to his previous mixture of indie work and supporting roles in blockbusters (keep in mind: dude has mentored both Obi-Wan Kenobi and Batman), his late-breaking action hero status will still stand as a hell of a run.

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03/11/15 6:18am
03/11/2015 6:18 AM |
Image courtesy of Lionsgate

Cymbeline
Directed by Michael Almereyda
Opens March 13 at the Quad

Shakespeare’s Cymbeline isn’t performed too often in the theater now due to its convoluted plot, and so for his charmingly hybridized film version director Michael Almereyda streamlines the play and uses it as a basis for a fresh, sophisticated, visually inventive work that sets Shakespeare’s characters down in a laidback land of motorcycle gangs and corrupt cops. The DIY aesthetic here uses elements of 80s flash, 90s emo, and more free-floating influences, all wrapped up in a truly bitchin’ score by David Ludwig and Bryan Senti that smoothly grooves from one musical genre to the next, all-inclusively.

Anyone who has suffered through clunky modern-day Shakespeare films like Ralph Fiennes’s Coriolanus (2011) should delight in Almereyda’s poetic fluidity, which is so all-embracing that it can handle the very different acting styles of his eclectic cast. As Cymbeline, who is a head of a motorcycle gang here, Ed Harris reads the verse so authoritatively and clearly that he could probably do a full-scale traditional production of this play, and so Almereyda uses his commanding presence as an anchor. On the other end of the spectrum, Dakota Johnson’s naturalistic Imogen would be entirely out of place in a theatrical context but plays touchingly within the rapidly changing styles of the film. Ethan Hawke’s villainous Iachimo bridges that gap between stage and screen, keeping one foot in both traditions.

Most of the monologues in the play are done as voice-overs, including the famous speech “Fear no more the heat o’ the sun,” which is sung on the soundtrack, and this works quite well. You might wonder why, in a world of iPhones and iPads, everyone is so obsessed with Imogen’s “honor” and “chastity,” and the concluding scene wraps up the plot so conveniently that it can only seem absurd, but Almereyda has such respect and interest in this material that he makes it only lightly absurd, and he purifies it all with a piquant, feminist final shot. Though there is nothing as startling here as the scene in Almereyda’s 2000 film of Hamlet where Ophelia (Julia Stiles) freaks out at the Guggenheim, this unexpected Cymbeline is a model of free Shakespearian adaptation.

02/13/15 10:27am
02/13/2015 10:27 AM |

The Connection

Documentary Fortnight
February 13-27 at MoMA

There are more strong films screening in Documentary Fortnight 2015 than can be done justice here, so I’ll plug my favorites first: on February 15th and 21st, the distributor Milestone Films will present three programs’ worth of recently restored films by the late American director Shirley Clarke. The programs include Clarke’s remarkable feature-length The Connection (1962) and several of her lesser-known lovely shorts, throughout which she and her human subjects developed a style of direct address in which they would open up their lives to her as well as to future viewers.

The bulk of the Museum of Modern Art’s annual festival of nonfiction filmmaking will offer new films, many of which are also excellent. Its diverse selection traverses several genres, from politicized portraiture (Of Men and War and The Domino Effect) to self-reflective ethnography (Episode of the Sea and Cochihza) to novelistic, ensemble-based storytelling in which individuals’ actions impact their communities’ futures (Coffee: Chants of Smoke and Storm Children, Book One). These films and other series highlights share a great sensitivity to character, with emotional riches resulting from simple records of peoples’ struggles.

Several of the directors represented in Documentary Fortnight spoke with me about their works in the series.  Save for Jean-François Caissy, these filmmakers will also all appear at MoMA for post-screening public discussions.

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02/12/15 2:33pm
02/12/2015 2:33 PM |
A glimpse of what might be called an unwritten prologue. Duane Zaloudek at Robert Henry Contemporary.

Art picks featuring a hermit (or hermits), variable metallics, reiterated oneirisms and, of course, milliner’s jerky.

DUANE ZALOUDEK: NOMAD SONGS
Robert Henry Contemporary, 56 Bogart St., through March 8th
It won’t take you long to cursorily take in the reined in suite of works that constitute Nomad Songs—there are only so many there, the room is only so big—but it will take you quite a while to actually see them. This is particularly the case with the three new paintings on display, each an almost formally vacant entity of all-but-utter yet somehow softened whiteness in which something along the lines—or to be more precise, something within the lines—of interloping gray marks that seem never to start or finish will seize your gaze, then make you step closer, then make you blink hard to reset your capacities of sight, then just disarm you while making you wonder, perhaps, if it isn’t a bit unfair for such ostensible spareness to be quite so transfixing. Far more formally complex and dimensionally plectic, yet displaying a similar economy of palette and means, is the series of seven seemingly sun-baked cowboy hats—a reference to the ‘six thinking hats’ of decision making, perhaps, plus a seventh for thinking without thought?—Zaloudek’s deft craftings of stained sheets of watercolor paper into some sort of dried-leathery, toothsomely supple milliner’s jerky. For this viewer, experiencing the show felt a bit like meditating on the unwritten prologue for a Cormac McCarthy novel that doesn’t yet exist. Anyway, go, take your time, see—then really see—what you wish.

JASPER DE BEIJER: MR. KNIGHT’S WORLD BAND RECEIVER
Asya Geisberg Gallery, 537B West 23rd St., through March 14th
De Beijer employs a self-ascribed mode of vicariously self-reflexive, or rather alter-self-introspective imagination in this series of works inspired by the story of one Christopher Knight, a less-than-accidentally errant loner—known also as the Maine Hermit or the North Pond Hermit—who retreated, in 1986, into the solitude and comparative silence of the woods for almost three decades. For de Beijer, one of the most compelling aspects of this ‘lost’ fellow’s outlandish, so to speak, narrative is that his lone form of access to news of the outside world was simply a radio—’simply’ a radio, that is, during the very decades in which visual and audio transmissions of so many other forms have come to govern, convey and perhaps drown the rest of us. As such, de Beijer attempts to not only put himself in Knight’s place-qua-setting via material craft, but also to put himself in Knight’s mental place by envisioning reported events as Knight himself might have, a conceit that is cleverly paralleled in the artist’s practice of photographing sculptures that he makes, at least in some part, out of his own drawings. Lots of notions of inner, outer, free and ‘other’ realms to ponder in this show. Take a hint from Knight—if not also from de Beijer, and vice-versa—and go see it alone.

"Woman With Gun," an example of the 'manic snippets' that will factor into Pensato's show at Petzel. Image courtesy Petzel Gallery.

JOYCE PENSATO: CASTAWAY
Petzel Gallery, 456 West 18th St., February 19th through March 28th
Pensato’s often messily frenzied representations of pop icons are as immediately recognizable for their source material as they are for the Brooklyn artist’s bold, energetic marks, smears and splatters that render her subjects at once effulgent and visually subdued, humorously frazzled and frankly dark—rather than merely comic, heroic or cute, as they’ve ranged from Homer Simpson to Felix the Cat, from Disney standards to certain stalwarts of the DC Comics pantheon. Pensato always seems to be having a blast in her works, but her newest pieces suggest that she’s been having more fun than ever in the studio; more vivid chromatics, including variable metallics, are now in the mix, via which her compositions have become even more rife with burst and shriek. Drawings and paintings in Castaway are accompanied by photo-collage-like digital prints of glimpses of the artist’s studio walls, snippets of the mania and fun that are the trappings of the exhibit.

KENNY RIVERO: I CAN LOVE YOU BETTER
Shin Gallery, 322 Grand St., through February 28th
Now nearing the end of its multiple-month run, Kenny Rivero’s captivating solo exhibit is full of surprises that are not exactly stunning, terrors that aren’t really scary, notes of humor that aren’t necessarily funny, fantastical figments that are actually just real, and barely nightmarish murmurs that hum, also, in tones of just-awoken awareness, such that the dream is at once active and over. I Can Love You Better, that is, amounts to a wonderful walk through the fanciful normalities and quotidian strangenesses of dreams—or of the blurred focus and liminal discomforts of what it looks and feels like to be dreaming. Encompassing paintings and drawings in various material formats and states of completeness, as well as sculptures and detail-enhancing, habitat-crafting installations, Rivero’s excellent show is billed as evocations of and meditations on childhood experiences, but it doesn’t feel at all quite so insularly personal. And that’s a good thing. Go with eyes wide open and let the works lure you in while lulling you deeply into some cognitive elsewhere. But watch your step. Those very real shards of glass will wake you all the way up.

You can follow Paul D’Agostino on Twitter @postuccio

01/28/15 6:45pm
01/28/2015 6:45 PM |
One of the photographs in Alexa Hoyer's show at Fresh Window Gallery. Image courtesy the artist and Fresh Window Gallery.

ALEXA HOYER: TARGETS
Fresh Window, 56 Bogart St., lower level, through February 6th
Visually bound to one another by consistently placed horizon lines, centerpieced subjects, and commonly littered, almost audibly crusty earth-scapes stretching from full-focused foregrounds to hintermost hinterlands, Alexa Hoyer’s large, pristinely presented photographs allow one to behold with absolute proximity a range of devastated objects that anonymous others had previously beheld at considerable distances—perhaps through scopes, one eye shut tight, all stillness and composure, and all the while breathing long and steady before exhaling into the rocketing blast of a fired bullet. These objects, in other words, are discarded gun targets, and their setting is the blissfully bleak desert lands circumscribing Las Vegas. Intimate, becalming, cinematic and slightly amusing, these images are also ever-so-slightly unsettling as one imagines the inherent perils, however vanished, of their circumstances. To be sure, this body of work takes a very hard look at variable notions of looking hard. And to be sure, Hoyer’s eye and aim, with Targets, are right on point.

A glimpse of Rivero's show at Shin Gallery.

KENNY RIVERO: I CAN LOVE YOU BETTER
Shin Gallery, 322 Grand St., through February 28th
Kenny Rivero’s captivating solo exhibit is full of surprises that are not exactly stunning, terrors that aren’t really scary, notes of humor that aren’t necessarily funny, fantastical figments that are actually just real, and barely nightmarish murmurs that hum, also, in tones of just-awoken awareness, such that the dream is at once active and over. I Can Love You Better, that is, amounts to a wonderful walk through the fanciful normalities and quotidian strangenesses of dreams—or of the blurred focus and liminal discomforts of what it looks and feels like to be dreaming. Encompassing paintings and drawings in various material formats and states of completeness, as well as sculptures and detail-enhancing, habitat-crafting installations, Rivero’s excellent show is billed as evocations of and meditations on childhood experiences, but it doesn’t feel at all quite so insularly personal. And that’s a good thing. Go with eyes wide open and let the works lure you in while lulling you deeply into some cognitive elsewhere. But watch your step. Those very real shards of glass will wake you all the way up.

Big turnout for the opening of another big show at BRIC.

OPEN (C)ALL: THE ARTIST’S STUDIO
Gallery at BRIC House, 647 Fulton St., through February 8th
It might not exactly be BRIC’s official mandate to consistently and dramatically outperform the Brooklyn Museum when it comes to embracing, promoting, celebrating and showing Brooklyn art, but it seems they have a certain tendency to do so. Their new BRIC Biennial series, for instance, is more or less conceived thusly; launched last year, its democratic aims and claims of eventual borough-wide inclusiveness are both apparently sincere and patently promising. Another great example of BRIC’s unstated modus operandi is their first show of 2015, OPEN (C)ALL: The Artist’s Studio, in which all of the artists in the BRIC registry were invited to submit work. From the look of things, they might well have included it all, as the range of mediums, means and, in qualitative terms, levels of expertise run a very broad gamut. But such massive range, broadly interpreted, is essentially what they’re going for here, and there’s much to be lauded about that—and there are many strong works filling up their space thanks to precisely the same approach. Ignore the clunkiness of the title, enjoy the chunkiness of the show.

A work by John Singer Sargent on view at The Frick. Image courtesy Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh © Trustees of the National Galleries of Scotland.

MASTERPIECES FROM THE SCOTTISH NATIONAL GALLERY
The Frick Collection, 1 East 70th St., through February 1st
Comprising works by Botticelli, El Greco, Velázquez, Watteau, Gainsborough and Constable, among others, this touring exhibition—one intended to morph slightly as it travels along to San Francisco and Fort Worth early next year—is housed very well, for now, at The Frick, where the ten pieces on loan, whose dates of production span nearly half a millennium, are displayed with a sympathetic coterie of works by the same and other artists selected from the Frick’s permanent collection. A certain John Singer Sargent work alone might entice you to see the show, for instance, as it’s long been close to your heart thanks to the cover of a Henry James paperback you’ve had since middle school. Or perhaps the Botticelli—the first piece by the Florentine artist to ever be shown in these rooms—will lure you to the museum with its lore. Per the press release, his Virgin Adoring the Sleeping Christ Child has never been seen “on public view” in the US. One wonders, then, where and when it might have been seen in private. A fine bit of intrigue, that. This special show has been up for a few months at this point, but you still have a few days to see it—or rather, to be sure not to miss it.

You can follow Paul D’Agostino on Twitter @postuccio

01/27/15 6:37pm
01/27/2015 6:37 PM |
by flickr user SPDP

Happy late January, book-lovers. After you dig yourself out from underneath that snow, you might want an excuse to leave the house and hob-nob with some literary types. This week has all kind of interesting events, from a discussion about the rise of the antihero with The New Yorker‘s Emily Nussbaum and New York Magazine‘s Adam Sternbergh to a live discussion of finances and freelance writing to a party in honor of the NYRB Classics release of Argentine poet Silvina Ocampo’s work. Dig out and then dig in, that’s our motto. (Or well, it is now.)

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01/21/15 11:18pm
01/21/2015 11:18 PM |

 

(Amen Dunes, Cowboy Worship EP, Sacred Bones)

Oh hey, did you miss us on Tuesday? We bet you did. But to be honest this week has been a wild one already– Martin Luther King Day was not spent being productive, we’ll tell you that much. We’ve been playing catchup and have failed to bathe, forgotted to feed our roomate’s fish, and have been literally sleeping in a pile of garbage and dirty laundry since we were trusted with a three day weekend. Never again. So naturally, we thought we’d give ourselves an extra day to gather our wits because chances are you needed one too. Here’s to hoping you made not-like-us and spent the long weekend resting up for all the sick shows happening starting now.

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01/13/15 10:04pm
01/13/2015 10:04 PM |

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Welcome to another list. Has anyone told you yet your life will just be an endless series of lists, really? Long ones, short ones, completed ones, unfinished ones. Well, we promise you this list is less depressing than all those other lists. This list will not make you feel inadequate, in fact it will make you feel pretty cool.

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Sick Sounds

Cult of Youth, Astral Knife

Wednesday January 14th, 10 pm – 4 am at Home Sweet Home (Lower East Side), tickets $7

Brooklyn-based industrial and post-punk revivalists Cult of Youth released an excellent new album last fall, Final Days, and now they’re embarking on a cross-country tour, which means this is probably your last chance to see them for a few months yet. Don’t sleep on it, this is essential bad weather music. Joining them at Nothing Changes–Home Sweet Home’s weekly foray into industrial, punk, goth, and generally spooky vibes– is Astral Knife, a New York City-based experimental noise outfit that trades in deathly soundscapes and distant wails worthy of an exorcism.

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Stay Cold

Pop. 1280 7″ Release Party with Bootblacks, Anasazi

Thursday January 15, 8 pm at Saint Vitus (Greenpoint), tickets $10

Boy are we lucky– even more Sacred Bones bands are playing this week. Catch Anasazi (brutal death punk from NYC) and Bootblacks (post-punk darkness also from the city) alongside Pop. 1280 to celebrate the latter’s new 7 inch at Saint Vitus. Pop. 1280 are taking off on a tour themselves, though these bbs are headed to European shores. According to the band, they won’t be playing another show in the US for at least four months, but get excited for their return because the band is slated to release a full-length album sometime this year.

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Brassy Brawds and Dreamy Bros

What Cheer? Brigade, Unstoppable Death Machines, Big Figment

Friday January 16th, 8 pm at Aviv (Greenpoint), tickets $10

An 18-person brass band (What Cheer? Brigade) will cram inside Brooklyn’s newest DIY venue on Friday, which could be either absolutely insufferable or totally insane (in a good way)– either way it’s going to be a freaking spectacle and you really shouldn’t miss it if you can tolerate old world nostalgia. Also on the bill is Unstoppable Death Machines, offering up a totally different sonic experience with their hyped-up bro-garage rock. We forgive them though– the Tucci brothers could swat us in the eye with their lovely long manes and we’d still be OK with watching them perform. Big Figment, a brass-based jazz fusion punk band of sorts (sorry, I don’t know what the hell that means either, just listen to them to clear up that mess) are also set to play. We highly recommend grabbing those $5 cups of champagne and sloshing back a few of those before hand.

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Long Live the ’90s

The Vaselines

Friday January 16th, 8 pm at the Bell House (Gowanus), tickets $22

No matter that this Scottish band was formed almost 30 years ago, their songs remain classic odes to love, drugs, and death and continue to be reinterpreted, covered, and imitated decades later. After a years-long hiatus, and nothing more than a retrospective released on Sub-Pop, the band surprised everyone with a new album back in 2010, Sex With An X. The Vaselines are touring once again and will make a stop at the Bell House to promote their new album, V For Vaselines, which the band says was inspired the Ramones, shows that the Vaselines are nothing if not consistent. And that’s something we can totally be happy about.

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Just Go, K?

U.S. Girls, Slim Twig, Bottoms, Eaters

Saturday January 17th, 8 pm at Palisades (Bushwick), tickets $8 in advance $10 at the door

Meghan Remy aka U.S. Girls writes some seriously catchy songs in the vein of Dirty Beaches, if Dirty Beaches had a clearer vocal presence. And though it’s been at least a year since I’ve blasted one of her songs in my room, it appears U.S. Girls is touring again despite the fact that her last full-length release, GEM, was from all the way back in 2012. Could this mean a new album is on the way? Who knows. All we know is that you should totally go check her out. Ms. Remy’s musical confidante, Slim Twig (another Toronto one-man band) will make an appearance to. Two acts are opening for the Canadian pair, Bottoms (“a gender-problematizing goth band”) and Eaters (freaking seriously amazing stuff– one part pop, one part out-there synthscapes).

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Hardcore Rant

Haymaker, The Rival Mob, Sex Prisoner, Brain Slug

Saturday January 17th, 8 pm at the Acheron (East Williamsburg), $15

YARGHHHH– a night to show how supremely manly you are. JK it’s a night of hardcore at the Acheron! Well, the two aren’t mutually exclusive by any means, but like, can I just take this opportunity to say I’m sick of going to hardcore shows and being socked by neanderthals for no reason? As much as I despise macho garbage, I do love the music (even if it is from Boston) and will continue going to shows despite all the hateful piss spewed on women at these things. So I guess here’s to hoping it doesn’t happen to anyone at this one.

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Quit Whining

Scherzo, Taiiga, Caladan, Haunted America, Love Spread

Sunday January 18th, 3 pm at Palisades, tickets $5 at the door

Actually interesting indie rock music led by a frontman with the voice of a fallen angel, Jordyn Blakely, is your breakfast this Sunday at Palisades. If that’s not enough to cure your hangover, consider that a gaggle of experimental noise musicians there. That’s not a funny joke, you say? Well, why don’t we try not being hungover on Saturday. Impossible, you say? Well this show is honestly the best thing for you then. Peel yourself off your cat-covered linoleum, pop some aspirin, and order a stiff drink immediately upon arrival at Palisades. Dr.’s orders.

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Don’t Puke, But…

Vomitface, Laundry Day

Monday January 19th, 8 pm at Cakeshop (Lower East Side), tickets $7

Vomitface brings me back to the absolute worst period of my existence– before I discovered punk, I spent a lot of time listening to bands like this. Now, I’m not going to say which bands because that would be embarrassing for me, but I will say they sounded a lot like Vomitface. Regardless, you should probably put in some quality time at Cakeshop, because it might be closing soon, and hey the opening bands are going to be pretty great, including Laundry Day.

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Boy Wonder

Joey Bada$$

Monday January 19th, 6:30 pm at Rough Trade (Williamsburg), free entry with purchase of album

Joey Bada$$ returns to the U.S. after what was reportedly a fraught tour across Australia. But no matter– the 19-year-old Bed-Stuy-based indie rapper is co-founder of the Brooklyn collective Pro Era and was nominated in 2013 for Rookie of the Year at the BET Hip Hop Awards. He has almost half a million followers on Twitter and was profiled by Pitchfork back in 2012. Bada$$ was recently name dropped in a New York Magazine compendium of 100 reasons to love New York City. In short, things seem to be going pretty well for Mr. Bada$$, what’s more he’s dropping his debut album next week and performing a show at Rough Trade to celebrate.

 

 

01/07/15 10:45am
01/07/2015 10:45 AM |

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The L and Brooklyn Magazine’s parent company, Northside Media Group, is seeking interns in our Integrated Marketing department for Winter/Spring! Think you’re on the pulse of what’s trending on Twitter? Have a knack or interest in PR and event production? In this internship, you’ll be involved in the planning and execution of our many integrated marketing campaigns as well as helping with large-scale advertising and sales efforts. Interested? Read on for more details!
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01/06/15 9:21pm
01/06/2015 9:21 PM |
(Hailu Mergia and Awesome Tapes From Africa)

Ugh. The holidays were seriously rough. Like New Year’s Eve falling on Wednesday this year probably took years off my life and will most certainly result in a premature end to some of my relationships. But whatever, those people were on my shit list anyway. And hey, just because it’s cold as a witch’s mammary gland and we’re all still hungover,  that doesn’t mean live music is on ice this week. (more…)