Summer Season 2014

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My picks so far from New York’s summer season:

Thursday, July 10, 8:30 PM
JAPAN CUTS: Why Don’t You Play in Hell? / 地獄でなぜ悪い (Jigoku de Naze Warui)
Japan Society, NYC

In Sion Sono’s latest provocation to hit NYC, Why Don’t You Play in Hell? (Sono has since completed three films with a fourth in post-production), a DIY film crew sets out to debut the new Bruce Lee but instead find themselves caught up in a yakuza clan feud. The film won the Public’s Choice Award at the 2013 Montréal Festival of New Cinema and the People’s Choice Award at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival.

Reviewing Why Don’t You Play in Hell? for Roger Ebert’s Far-Flung Correspondents, Seongyong Cho wrote:

“…I watched the film with some sort of bizarre fascination, observing how far it was willing to push its sheer craziness, and it surely did not disappoint me. It is apparent from the opening scene that this nutty movie does not give a damn about looking realistic or believable at all, and it keeps going on and on with more craziness, and then we find ourselves in the middle of the deranged bloody mix of passion and delusion, in which every character is swept to the extreme point which must be seen to be believed.”

Friday, July 11, 7:00 PM
An Evening with Juana Molina
The Greene Space at WNYC/WQXR, NYC

The Argentine singer-songwriter and actress joins WNYC’s John Schaefer and NPR’s Maria Hinojosa for “a night of live music and conversation.” Molina’s Wed 21 (2013), her sixth album, is her first in five years.

Reviewing Wed 21 in Pitchfork, Nick Neyland wrote:

“Mostly this is an album that’s remarkable for how close Molina draws you in and then spits you out, alternating wildly between closeness and distance. The sense of familiarity carried over from her other records works in her favor, making Wed 21 feel like an old friend who’s back in town with a clutch of new stories to tell. Like all good storytellers, Molina’s gift is in the delivery. [7.5]”

Sunday, July 27, 8:00 PM
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds with Guest Nicole Atkins
Hammerstein Ballroom, NYC

With a 2013 album (Push the Sky Away) out and a new documentary (20,000 Days on Earth) on the festival circuit, the ultimate Australian multi-hyphenate and his band hits the US and Canada for a summer tour.

Reviewing Push the Sky Away in Pitchfork, Stuart Berman wrote:

Push the Sky Away is the 15th official album by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, but it could almost be their first. After 30 years together, the band has effectively come full circle, having completed its evolution from untamed beast to rock dignitary and, via the fearsome alter-ego offshoot Grinderman, back again. [8.0] “

Asbury Park’s own Nicole Atkins will be opening. Reviewing Atkin’s 2014 Slow Phaser, New York Daily News critic Jim Farber wrote:

“Nicole Atkins has a bullet-proof voice. Gleaming in tone, piercing in volume and unstoppable in attitude, it rips right through you.

“It’s the ideal vehicle for a song like “Cool People,” which could become the anti-Williamsburg anthem of all time. It’s a sarcastic takedown of hipster culture, delivered with a confidence that, ironically, makes Atkins seem like the coolest person in the room.”

Friday, August 1, 10:00 PM
Asian American International Film Festival: How to Disappear Completely
City Cinema Village East, NYC

In a recent interview with Gino Barrica on FLPNO.com, Raya Martin describes his latest fiction feature as one of his more “accessible” works:

“I was always trying out something visually new in my previous works, but it’s also a challenge to work structurally narrative-wise in a film. In a way, the story-telling in How to Disappear Completely is very simple: it’s a child’s daily life in a small town. That also makes it the most challenging: how do you translate certain moods and feelings in something as simple as that?

You also called this your homage to American Independent Horror. What were your influences and why did you decide to pay tribute to that genre?

“It’s always been clear to me that if I make my more narrative works, they’d be towards that: I grew up watching a lot of horror films, even before I discovered filmmakers like Antonioni or Maya Deren, I was already into John Carpenter’s Halloween and Wes Craven’s The Serpent and the Rainbow. They were my real formative heroes. The soundtrack, for example, is reminiscent of Carpenter’s own work in his films.

I remember growing up in the Philippines and getting so scared by the Filipino folk tales of creatures and superstitions. How much of that influenced the film?

“There’s a different sense of terror in the Philippines, I think. It’s very interesting that we seem to be desensitized by everyday murders, but half-bodied flying witches are very much alive in our consciousness. It’s this overlapping of the superstitions with seemingly urban consciousness that makes us unique. I get paranoid more about a rattling sound on the roof that could come from a demonic creature, than perhaps a burglar. It’s that weird consciousness in the film.”

This screening will be the film’s US East Coast premiere.

Friday, August 8, 2:30 PM
The Princess Pyunggang – FringeNYC
Sheen Center – THE LORETTO, NYC

Bibimbab Theatre
Writer: Sookyung Hwang
Director: Jong Yeoup Lee
Choreographer: Grace (Yu Sun) Kang
“The story of Princess Pyunggang is a Korean ancient tale that tells the unforgettable love between a foolish and the princess of Goguryo. This story combines Korean traditional drumming instruments songs and dances to deliver a breathtaking performance.”

Monday, August 11, 3:45 PM
mislabeledilEMMA: No, I Don’t Have Downs Syndrome – FringeNYC
Abrazo Interno at the Clemente, NYC

Quirky Girl Productions
Writer: Emma McWilliams
Director: Anne Moore
“A quirky girl’s search for identity amidst the confusion of being told she was “disabled.” She faces the issues of discrimination, gender equality, race, religion, and “fitting in” as she tries to understand the Syndrome she was born with spontaneously.”

Tuesday, August 12, 7:00 PM
Nisei – FringeNYC
The Theater at the 14th Street Y, NYC

Covenant Ballet Theatre of Brooklyn
Writer: Marla Hirokawa
Music by Keith Hall, Craig Brann, Taki Rentaro, Harold Payne, Jake Shimabukuro
Choreographer: Marla A. Hirokawa
“It’s WWII and a Nisei, 2nd generation Japanese American soldier has to overcome bigotry displayed against him and his family by the very country he is fighting to protect. This legacy unfolds in a ballet of love, strength and honor.”

Saturday, August 16, 7:00 PM
Breaking the Shakespeare Code – FringeNYC
64E4 Mainstage, NYC

Hey Jonte! Productions, L.L.C.
Writer: John Minigan
Director: Stephen Brotebeck
“A brash, naive young actress approaches a gifted but callous acting instructor to coach her for an audition. Surprising them both, Anna and Curt’s explosive chemistry sparks 16 years of cat and mouse seductions and entanglements.”

Sunday, August 17, 7:45 PM
Forgetting the Details – FringeNYC
The White Box at 440 Studios, NYC

Nicole Maxali Productions
Writer: Nicole Maxali
Director: Paul Stein
“Family, Filipinos & Alzheimer’s. Described by Dave Chappelle as “funny, heartwarming & funny again,” this one-woman show will make you laugh, cry & remind you that in the end, it’s not the details that matter.”

Wednesday, August 20, 2:00 PM
The Fiery Sword of Justice – FringeNYC
Abrazo Interno at the Clemente, NYC

Pill Hill Productions
Writer: Lauren Letellier
Director: Kel Haney
“The last thing any corporation wants to hear is … the truth! One businesswoman’s super-heroic compulsion to confront hypocrisy leads her to battle Big Pharma, boozy bosses, and the fractured family fantasies that fueled her fight for Justice.”