Sunday, June 23, 2024

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

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Two people wear masks.

Photograph courtesy Siren – Protectors of the Rainforest

Most years, alongside a bazaar, the honoring of elders, and performances from local groups, BAM’s long-running festival DanceAfrica celebrates the mother continent by zeroing in on a country or region. This time, it’s Cameroon. The guest company was supposed to be Cie la Calebasse, a notable troupe from that nation. But, in a late substitution, Siren – Protectors of the Rainforest, a Brooklyn-based pan-African group, performs instead, leaning into the native traditions of its Cameroonian-born leader, Mafor Mambo Tse. The mighty vocal-and-percussion company Women of the Calabash is also on the bill.—Brian Seibert (Howard Gilman Opera House; May 24-27.)


“Under the Bridge,” a new Hulu crime drama, is based on the real-life murder of a fourteen-year-old Indian Canadian girl named Reena Virk, by her peers, in 1997. The show’s interest lies in the following trial, and in the dynamic between the girls from a local group home, called the Bic Girls for their perceived disposability, and the uncool, middle-class, tragically impressionable Reena (Vritika Gupta). A disaffected Riley Keough plays a fictionalized version of Rebecca Godfrey (the author of the book from which the show is adapted), who is old friends with a policewoman (Lily Gladstone) probing the “schoolgirl murder.” The show is bloated and occasionally preachy, but it’s built on a shrewd, bone-deep understanding of how dopey and dangerous adolescent girls can be.—I.K. (Reviewed in our issue of 5/20/24.)

Off Broadway

Two people in conversation on a stage one seated in a power chair the other on a bench.

Photograph by Monique Carboni

For all of today’s clamor around diversity, disability is still a term that many people fear to use. The New Group’s play “All of Me,” vividly directed by Ashley Brooke Monroe, has no use for such tentativeness. It tracks a burgeoning romance between two twentysomethings: the reflexively sardonic Lucy (Madison Ferris), who uses a mobility scooter, and the sweet-natured Alfonso (Danny J. Gomez), who uses a power chair. Militating against the match are their overprotective mothers (Kyra Sedgwick and Florencia Lozano, respectively) and socioeconomic tensions. (Lucy is on disability welfare; Alfonso has a trust fund.) Laura Winters’s mercilessly funny script gets even funnier in the hands of Ferris and Gomez, who leverage their physicality as often-ironic counterpoints to the robotic intonations of their augmentative-communication devices.—Dan Stahl (Pershing Square Signature Center; through June 16.)


Michael Lindsay-Hogg’s 1970 documentary “Let It Be,” presenting the Beatles rehearsing and recording the album of that title in January, 1969, was doomed by circumstances: the band broke up the month before the movie’s release, and as a result it was treated like a preprinted death notice, dour and unsavory. The film was long unavailable, and its outtakes were mined by Peter Jackson for “Get Back,” his three-part, nearly eight-hour 2021 documentary. But the original eighty-one-minute movie, also restored by Jackson and now streaming on Disney+, is the superior work; here, Lindsay-Hogg offers tightly composed, patiently observed scenes of the foursome riffing, working out ideas, musically hanging out. When the Beatles move to the rooftop of their studio—for what would be their last public concert—the screen radiates irrepressible, cheeky joy.—Richard Brody

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Pick Three

The cartoon editor Emma Allen shares three amusing things to watch.

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1. My job necessitates the consumption of a staggering amount of aspirationally funny stuff—a thousand-plus cartoon submissions each week is just the beginning. So naturally, in my free time, I consume even more comedy. I recently enjoyed “The Feeling That the Time for Doing Something Has Passed,” a film by and starring Joanna Arnow, as an aimless thirty-something in various B.D.S.M.-ish relationships. Writing it inspired Arnow to start drawing single-panel cartoons, and you can see why—the script feels almost like a montage of cartoon captions, with hilariously jarring segues. It makes sense: Arnow’s depiction of casual sadomasochism and cartooning both thrive on trivial humiliation, dryly recounted. I’d love for someone to reverse-engineer a drawing for the line, “Thank you for forgiving me for mansplaining about L.A.”

2. I also saw “The Fall Guy,” which, though it’s not one of my picks, I mention because of my preparatory viewing: Buster Keaton’s stunt-filled “The General.” Ryan Gosling may be the Paul Newman of our era (or so I argued, after two spicy margaritas), but Buster Keaton is the Buster Keaton of all time—no one is funnier when silently almost getting hit by a train.

3. In honor of the hyped new production of “Uncle Vanya,” I then proceeded to rewatch one of my favorite sketches, “Germans Who Say Nice Things,” from the lone, 1996 season of “The Dana Carvey Show.” Russian realism is fine, but can it beat Steve Carrell, in a turtleneck, bellowing, “It was a pleasure babysitting Kevin!”?

P.S. Good stuff on the Internet:

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