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Richard Brody on Hong Sangsoo’s Stories of Artists in Crisis

Photo courtesy of Siren – Guardians of the Rainforest

Most years, alongside the bazaar, elder worship and performances by local groups, BAMa long-standing festival Dance in Africa celebrates the mother continent by focusing on a country or region. This time it’s Cameroon. The guest company was to be Cie la Calebasse, a notable company from that nation. But the late rotation instead features Siren – Protectors of the Rainforest, a Brooklyn-based pan-African group that draws on the indigenous traditions of its Cameroonian-born leader, Mafora Mambo Tse. Also on the bill is the powerful vocal and percussion group Women of the Calabash.Brian Seibert (Howard Gilman Opera; May 24-27.)


TV

«Under a bridge,» Hulu’s new crime drama, based on the real-life murder of 14-year-old Indian Canadian girl Reena Virk by her peers in 1997. The show’s interest lies in the ensuing trial and the dynamic between the girls from a local group home, called the Bic Girls for their perceived availability, and the uncool, high school class, the tragically impressionable Reena (Vritika Gupta). Disaffected Riley Keough plays a fictional version of Rebecca Godfrey (the author of the book from which the series is adapted) who is old friends with a policewoman (Lily Gladstone) investigating the «murder of a schoolgirl». The show is bloated and preachy at times, but it’s built on a shrewd, gut-wrenching understanding of how numb and dangerous teenage girls can be.—IC (Reviewed in our 5/20/24 issue.)


Off Broadway

Photo by Monique Carboni

For all the hype around diversity today, disability is still a term many people are afraid to use. Game New Groups «All of me,» Directed live by Ashley Brooke Monroe, she has no use for such hesitancy. It follows the blossoming romance between two twenty-somethings: the reflexively sardonic Lucy (Madison Ferris), who uses a mobility scooter, and the sweet Alfonso (Danny J. Gomez), who uses an electric chair. Their overprotective mothers (Kyra Sedgwick and Florencia Lozano) and socioeconomic tensions speak against the match. (Lucy is on disability; Alfonso has a trust fund.) Laura Winters’ mercilessly funny script becomes even funnier in the hands of Ferris and Gomez, who use their physicality as often ironic counterpoints to the robotic intonations of their augmentative communication devices. —Dan Stahl (Pershing Square Signature Center; through June 16.)


Movies

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A 1970 documentary by Michael Lindsay-Hogg «Let it be,» the performance of the Beatles, who were rehearsing and recording an album of the same name in January 1969, was doomed by circumstances: the group broke up a month before the film’s release and, as a result, was treated like a pre-printed obituary, dour and tacky. Long unavailable, the film was mined by Peter Jackson for «Get Back,» his three-part, nearly eight-hour documentary from 2021. But the original eighty-minute film, also restored by Jackson and now streaming on Disney+, is the best work; Here, Lindsay-Hogg offers carefully composed, patiently observed scenes of the foursome riffing, coming up with ideas, hanging out musically. When the Beatles move to the roof of their studio – for what would be their last public concert – the screen radiates irrepressible, cheeky glee.Richard Brody


Choose three

Cartoon editor Emma Allen shares three fun things to watch.

1. My job requires me to consume a staggering amount of aspirationally funny stuff – over a thousand cartoon posts every week is just the beginning. So naturally I even consume in my spare time more comedy. I enjoyed recently «Feeling that the time to do something has passed,» a film by Joanna Arnow starring an aimless thirtysomething in various BDSM relationships. Writing it inspired Arnow to start drawing one-panel cartoons, and you can see why—the script feels almost like a montage of cartoon credits with hilariously distracting transitions. It makes sense: Arnow’s portrayal of casual sadomasochism and caricature thrives on trivial humiliation, dryly told. I’d like someone to reverse-engineer the line drawing: «Thanks for forgiving me for making excuses about LA.»

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2. I also saw «The Fall Guy» which, although it’s not one of my picks, I’m mentioning because of my pre-watch: Buster Keaton’s stunts «General.» Ryan Gosling may be the Paul Newman of our time (or so I argued, after two spicy margaritas), but Buster Keaton is the Buster Keaton of all time—no one’s funnier when he’s almost quietly hit by a train.

3. In honor of the acclaimed new production «Uncle Santa», I then proceeded to play one of my favorite skits, «Germans who say nice things» from the single season of «The Dana Carvey Show» in 1996. Russian realism is fine, but can it beat Steve Carrell in a turtleneck who yells, «It was a pleasure babysitting Kevin!»?


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