Ghost in the Shell (1996) Thursday April 13, Saturday April 15, and Sunday April 16 at The Metrograph: $15
No better time to see the original Ghost in the Shell, now that the anime classichas been remade and lost a good chunk of its futuristic/cyborg ambiguity in the process via the casting of a decidedly blonde, white bombshell in the lead. In the remake, Scarlett Johansson plays Major, i.e. an Anglicized version of the already Anglized Cyborg Major Kusanagi from the anime version.
The year is 2029, and this “perfect specimen of human-brained computer engineering” has been tasked with tracking down the elusive and amorphous villain known as The Puppet Master, whose precise plan for overthrowing the world– a Blade Runner-like super-city megalopolis where the human race has become so consumed by technology, that they are now inseparable and, at times, difficult to distinguish. The film deftly navigates the ethical and existential quandaries that are dramatically more real than they were in 1996 when the animated film was made.
Ghost in the Shell(2017) Thursday April 13 through Thursday April 20 at Nitehawk: $12
Rich Awn (L) and Dead Eye Dave (R) at Magick City (Photo: Nicole Disser)
It’s true that one of the saddest sights in the world is a lifeless party struck down by under-attendance. We’ve all been there, at some point, and the sorry scene is always the same: a mostly empty room forms into a joy-sucking vacuum, where laughter feels forced and boozing looks like desperate denial. But nightlife veterans know that parties too big for their britches can be just as bad, and that even great parties will start losing their collective spirit as more and more people pack it in. Keep Reading »
Work by Panteha Abareshi (Image courtesy of Larrie, NYC and the artist)
Panteha Abareshi specializes in cutthroat portraits that pair the rawness of ecstatic creation with the realness of first-hand experience. As a young woman of Jamaican and Iranian descent, it seems only natural that she paints other women who look like her. But according to Abareshi, there’s much more at stake than the physical appearance of her subjects.
“I draw women of color only,” she has said of her effort to bring greater visibility to women who are so often left out of, or invisible, in the art world (not to mention under- and misrepresented everywhere else, too). But there are no smiling models or perfect angels in any of the paintings on view at The Girl Who Loves Roses, a show of Abareshi’s work at the new downtown gallery Larrie, NYC (“It’s a women’s space,” founder Emily Spitale told me). Instead, the women you meet are brooding, suffering, and embattled. Often they are splattered in blood, wearing a vacant expression, and seemingly staring at a target point that hovers right between your eyebrows.
Tournament, Big Huge, Barbed Wire, Dealer Saturday April 15, 8 pm at The Glove: $10
Grow a pair (or a pear?) and show your face at this pair of shows featuring some unfamiliar faces and others you know well. But don’t expect some double-mint/doppelgänger situation either, as these shows are mirror images of one another in a variety of ways.
If you’ve never been to a Pink Mass show and your idea of BDSM is 50 Shades of Grey, then grab your smelling salts for this one. Even I found myself flinching at photos of the band’s live performances– gory scenes of large, sweat-soaked men sheathed in balls-to-the-wall bondage gear, bending into various shapes of mastering and submitting, and abiding strictly by the band’s stated “personal interests”:
Joanna Arnow’s Bad at Dancing highly personal, and highly awkward documentary–appropriately titled i hate myself :)– makes Welcome to the Dollhouse look like a film about a well-adjusted family. Arnow sums up her motivation in the form of a question at the film’s outset: “Is James a good person to be dating?” Prepare to laugh your sphincter right out of your butt when the BF climaxes following a reluctant hump and tells Arnow sweetly: “Feels good, babe. Thanks for just lying there.” What a hero.
Xiu Xiu, Dreamcrusher, Gold Dime Thursday April 6, 8 pm at Brooklyn Bazaar: $13
If you’re wondering what Xiu Xiu is all about, take Morrissey’s whinny, combine with scratchy dance music and pop presence, and dump the resulting liquid on the ground, because Xiu Xiu is anything but rut-stuck. If there’s one habit that the depresso-electro outfit can’t quit, it’s danceability. Leading vocal dude Jamie Stewart might sound like he’s violently ripping his hair out at the moment, and so sad that he might tip over a newspaper stand if he comes across one, but he’ll never get in the way of you and your shimmy.
Sometimes I hate my friends. Like right after the release of Pokémon Go. Nearly every single one of them not only downloaded the dang thing, but actually used it in public. In broad daylight. In front of other people. Meeting up for a drink at the bar turned into scavenging the streets for more bars with more Pokémons. This had to be an ironic thing that my pals would forget after a day or two, I assumed. But after weeks of this nihilistic nonsense, I was feeling like so many of the little things that make life tolerable had been invaded by an army of tiny, mind-numbing jerks. Pokémon Go seemed like a harbinger of the kind of voluntary sedation that could become the norm in response to some scary stuff from above. So maybe Oliver Stone came across as just slightly insane when he likened Pokemon Go to “totalitarianism,” but I kind of agree with him. Pokemon Go feels like nothing less than a small, but important sign of the coming cultural apocalypse.
The Girl Who Loves Roses Thursday March 30, 6 pm to 9 pm at Larrie, NY: free
Kelsey and Remy Bennett, granddaughters of Tony Bennett, are working artists, outspoken feminists, and curators of various exhibitions and art happenings. You might be saying to yourself, “Of course they are.” But that would be a jerk move, since the Bennett sisters take after their family patriarch, who is widely known as one of the nicest dudes in showbiz (the Daily Beast called him “one of the greatest living Americans” for his long history of service to just causes including “Nazi hunting” and participating in the 1965 Selma to Montgomery marches of the Civil Rights movement). Their approach to curating is ultra-inclusive and social justice-oriented, but it’s not motivated by self-congratulatory horn tootin’ and seems instead to come from an easy, natural inclination to do good work.
Kyle, a ‘cocaine comedy’ (Photo: Jody Christophersen, courtesy of Frigid New York, Horse Trade Theatre Group)
Up until, ahem, pretty recently, you could get away with making the claim that as Americans we are far more enlightened than we were 50, or even 10 years ago. The numbers appear to support this– fewer of us are going to church, the youngins among us are far more tolerant than the olds, 60 percent of us are down to see marijuana legalized, and best of all, this whole “Golden Age of TV” thing means that even our beloved Idiot Box is smart these days. We all know what happened next– which meant that progress was not only going to be stopped, but deported back to Angela Merkel’s lap and replaced by nonsense rhetoric (the “best people” are doing “tremendous” things to make the U.S.A. “great” “again”) and “alternative facts.” We are only a few months into this horror show, but the impact on art, and how we process art, is already being felt.
Something strange is happening in the American psyche right now. Just a few years ago, the heroes of New York City-centric comedy TV were disconnected 20-somethings with suspiciously fancy apartments who wandered the earth clueless as to why no one wanted to date their flawless Tinder profile/soulless body. Now, they’re much tinier creatures that we rarely notice IRL and if we do, we’re like gagging and pointing and screaming: “Gawwwwd, I think that rat is bubonic.”
Hot on the hoofs of Louis CK’s The Secret Life of Pets, and HBO’s Animals (which just returned for season two), a new animated feature from Brooklyn-based animation company Cartuna offers a peek at what these city-dwelling creatures see in us humans. Obviously, it ain’t pretty.
Fred Thomas, Kyle Forester, What Next? Wednesday March 29, 8 pm at Union Pool: $12
Back in 2007 when Saturday Looks Good to Me had found its way into CMJ, the Detroit Metro Times wondered, “Will Success Spoil Fred Thomas?” The short answer has turned out to be, no, not really. The slightly longer one is that Fred Thomas is a nice guy. So nice is Fred Thomas, that even after finding some well-deserved recognition in a fast-shrinking corner of music that is still confoundingly known as “indie rock,” he still does normal cool-dude stuff. He recently even stooped to record the lowliest trash-life punk that Detroit has to offer: the K9 Sniffies, whose members I hesitate to even call “musicians” (but who I am obligated to admit are my friends, or whatever).