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Film and the Arts

James Barbour Performs Concerts in NYC, LA

Actor/singer James Barbour has crooned his way through some of Broadway's biggest productions, including A Tale of Two Cities, Beauty and the Beast and Urinetown. For the month of December, he's taking a break from Broadway to celebrate the holidays with fans coast to coast.

Barbour's Holiday Concert
kicks off in New York City with nine performances from Dec. 11 through Dec. 19, 2009, at 7:30 p.m., at Bill's Nineties. Then Barbour heads to Los Angeles to hold a on- night-only concert at 3 p.m. on Dec. 21, 2009, at the Colony Theatre.

The performances are expected to include guest appearances by Broadway stars and others. The New York performances will be under the musical direction of opera's revered Constantine Kitsopoulos. Grammy Award-nominated composer, producer, songwriter and arranger Peter Wolf will be in charge of the music direction in Los Angeles.

This is the second year Barbour has held his series of holiday concerts. Last season was sold out.

Tickets to the New York shows are $60 premium seating, $45 gold seating and $25 silver seating. There is a $25 food and drink minimum per person. However, concert go-ers can use the discount code "FRIEND" to receive 30 percent off of the original ticket price. The Los Angeles show is $40, as it includes a reception following Barbour's performance.

Additional concert information is available at http://www.jamesbarbour.com

James Barbour
's Holiday Concert 2009
Dec. 11 to Dec. 19, 2009
Bill's Nineties

57 East 54th Street
New York, NY 10002
212-355-0243

Dec. 21, 2009
The Colony Theatre

555 North Third Street
Burbank, CA 91502
818-558-7000

BAMcinématek Honors Directors Gray, Kim

Each year, BAMcinématek highlights emerging filmmakers who it believes are changing the cinematic landscape — those the organization has dubbed "The Next Director." Filmmakers who have received this honor in the past were Marc Recha, Marco Tullio Giordana and Nuri Bilge Ceylan.

American collaborators Bradley Rust Gray and So Yong Kim are this year's honorees, as they have garnered international acclaim for their minimalist films. As part of its "Next Director" series, BAMcinématek will screen both Gray and Kim's work-to-date from Dec. 8 through Dec. 17, 2009. In addition, BAMcinématek will screen three "Next Director Selects" — films that have been most influential on Gray and Kim.

Films to be screened as part of "The Next Director" schedule include:

Salt

directed by Bradley Rust GraySalt, 2003.
Dec. 8 at 6:50 & 9:30 p.m.
For his first feature — a sincere, naturalistic character study — Gray headed to Iceland and assembled a team of non-professional actors. Brynja Thóra Gudnadóttir plays a young woman who,  during the course of a road trip, falls in love with her sister’s boyfriend. Gray’s lo-fi, improvisational aesthetic marked by handheld camerawork — some of it done by the actors themselves — and intimate close ups lends the material an uncommon emotional resonance. 

In Between Days
directed by So Yong Kim
Dec. 9 at 6:50 & 9:30 p.m.
Both a love story and a neo-realist depiction of assimilation, In Between Days is also an exploration of intimacy, communications, and human need that resonates with a quiet humanity and truth. Aimie, a recently arrived Korean immigrant teenager, has fallen in love with her best and only friend. Yearning to express her feelings for him, she is inhibited by the fear of losing their friendship. Their fragile relationship is challenged by the demands of living in a new country. With delicate but precise cinematography, every shot resonates with purpose.

The Exploding Girl

directed by Bradley Rust Gray
Dec. 10 at 6:50 & 9:30 p.m.
This moving new work is a delicate portrait of gestures, body language, and things left unsaid. Zoe Kazan is the cherubic Ivy, a young woman spending a college break at home in Brooklyn. Through the course of the week she struggles to connect with her boyfriend — a distance that widens through awkward cell phone conversations — while deepening her intimacy with childhood friend Al. Abetted by Eric Lin’s cinematography, Gray incisively details romantic awakening not by crafting a conventional love story, but by focusing on the richness of his characters and the subtleties of emotional communication.

Treeless Mountain
directed by So Yong KimTreeless Mountain, 2008.
Dec. 11 at 4:30, 6:50 & 9:40 p.m.
Kim’s minimalist, achingly poignant film features naturalistic performances from its young lead actresses. Abandoned by their mother, 6-year-old Jin and 4-year-old Bin are forced to fend for themselves while trying to find their way back to her. Kim allows intimate close-ups of the young girls’ heartbreakingly stoic faces to quietly convey the tragedy of a childhood taken too soon.

Question-and-answer sessions with either Kim or Gray will follow all of the 6:50 p.m. screenings.

The three "Next Director Selects" that will also screen include:
- Rosetta, directed by Jean-Pierre Dardenne, at 4:30, 6:50 and 9:15 p.m. on Dec. 15
- Rebels of the Neon God, directed by Tsai Ming-liang, at 6:50 and 9:15 p.m. on Dec. 16
- Happy Together, directed by Wong Kar-wai, at 4:30, 6:50 and 9:15 p.m.

Tickets are $7 per screening for BAM Cinema Club Members, $11 for adults, and $8 for seniors, children and students.

For more information, visit http://www.bam.org/view.aspx?pid=1766

BAMcinématek presents The Next Director: So Yong Kim and Bradley Rust Gray
Dec. 8 to Dec. 17, 2009
BAM Rose Cinemas

30 Lafayette Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11217
718-636-4100

Joe Hurley Celebrates A New CD Release

Known as one of New York's most entertaining front men, Joe Hurley returns to the city from his month-long UK tour with his latest EP, The House That Horse Built (Let The Great World Spin). He's joined onstage by 2009 National Book Award winner Colum McCann for a CD release concert at 9:30 p.m., December 8, at Joe's Pub at the Public Theater in the East Village. 

The duo collaborated on the EP, which was inspired by a chapter in McCann's new novel Let The Great World Spin, and details the wastelands and heartbreaks of a prostitute's life in 1974 New York City.

In addition to McCann co-writing the track, it also features an all-star cast of musicians, including: Tony Shanahan (Patti Smith Group), James Mastro (Ian Hunter Band), Kenny Margolis (Cracker), Matt Sweeney (Johnny Cash, Bonnie "Prince" Billy), gospel great Tami Lynn (the Rolling Stones, Dr. John, Bob Dylan), Denis Diken (The Smithereens), soul-singing film star Antonique Smith, Faith Hahn, Joe Mcginty, and six-time Grammy winning Paddy Moloney of the legendary Chieftans.

The House That Horse Built (Let The Great World Spin) is the first part of Hurley and McCann's recording project, which will ultimately see a full-length CD based on the book and will be released in spring 2010.

The EP will be available for purchase at tonight's show.

Tickets are $15 and are general admission.

More information is available at: http://www.roguesmarch.com/

Joe Hurley and Band
Dec. 8, 2009
Joe's Pub
425 Lafayette Street
New York City

Selected Film Reviews From Spanish Cinema Now 09

Little Indi
directed by Marc Recha
starring Marc Soto, Sergi López, Eulalia Ramón, Eduardo Noriega
Little Indi’s an odd one. This movie begins with the kind of charming and bright animated credits that might lead us to imagine a sweet film about Spain's country folk. That's not quite what we get. Instead we're in the Catalunya countryside where times are tough.

Though the movie's pace is unhurried, everyone is quietly scrambling for whatever money they can bring in. The cops are on the take, as is the staff of the prison where the mother of our teenage hero Arnau currently resides. Arnau is played with aloofness and quiet intensity by a spectacularly gorgeous newcomer named Marc Soto. Are Spaniards the world's most beautiful men? It would seem so from the first few films in this year Spanish Cinema Now crop.

Arnau trains small birds to sing in the evidently well-known "Singing Finches of Catalunya" competition. He's good at it, too. Surrounded by a family that's only half there and that may be involved in things mildly nefarious -- Uncle (Sergi López), sister (Eulalia Ramón), brother (Eduardo Noriega) and so on -- Arnau moves between them all with deliberation and hesitation. It appears to him (and to us, in fact) that the system is raked toward the rich, so this young man is trying to raise money to pay for a lawyer to get mom out of jail. But given his nodding acquaintance with the world and how it works, he seems doomed to fail.

As co-writer (with Nadine Lamari) and director, Recha likes to show rather than tell, which is generally fine. He pace is slow; incidents build up one by one. Chief among these is the greyhound racing that involves Arnau and his uncle -- and the near-dead fox Arnau finds at the river bank and nurses back to health. The director is particularly good at capturing the sad, almost frightening sense of vulnerability that hangs over the boy, the birds, the fox. With maturity might come the realization that you cannot blame nature's creations for simply being true to what they are. Arnau is not there yet, and so he does, and with this blame and anger comes the most unsettling scene in the film.
 
The widescreen images are well composed and lighted (cinematography by the estimable Hélène Louvart (The Last Day, The Beaches of Agnes), and the sense of place and a time that, while it is now might just as well be eternal, is specific and real. If I am not jumping up and down in praise and pleasure, it's because nobody on view is moving that actively or positively. To call Little Indi downbeat is to be very euphemistic. But yes, it does seem like life.

Little Indi screens at the Walter Reade Theater
Saturday, December 5, at 1:30; Tuesday, December 8, at 1:30; and Wednesday, December 9, at 8:30

Hierro
directed by Gabe Ibáñez
starring Elena Anaya
We know we're somewhere weird as, in the very first shot of Gabe Ibáñez's dazzling Hierro, a giant lizard crosses the road and a car zooms over it. From the looks of things, a distraught mother is driving too fast with her son beside her and very soon we are treated to one of, maybe the best, cinema car crash ever witnessed. No, it's not complete with huge explosions and muchos effectos especiales. Instead Señor Ibáñez (shown at right) simply shoots superbly, edits with such precision and uses sound for all its worth that we're there inside the car with the vulnerable pair experiencing every jolt and smash and roll that ends with -- oh, god -- a moment of such odd silence and beauty, and then...

OK: after the fact, I questioned that the smaller object would have landed prior to the larger, but maybe I don't know my math or physics. But I do know my cinema and this is superb stuff. So's the location. The director and his writers -- Javier Gullón (who wrote last years terrific El rey de la montaña) and Jesus de la Vega -- have set this tale on El Hierro Island, the southernmost point of Europe.

The film tells the story of a young marine biologist and single mother (her best friend and co-worker calls her "strange") and her son, who head off the to the island for a work project, but before they arrive -- whoops. No more plot. Find out for yourself.

I will say that the FSLC program notes got it wrong: No "wave" of anything "goes missing" on Hierro. Only two. However, the two are vital to those who miss them. The filmmakers sustain their 90 minutes extremely well; while they serve up only a touch of blood and corpse-gore, there's plenty of surprise, shock, suspense and other things we enjoy with our mysteries. The water motif is ever-present, with a bird motif not far behind; both are used with great imagination & feeling in the film's real and in its dreamlike moments.
 
I do wish the moviemakers had thought a bit harder about one particular plot point: the dog. It is present so often until the one scene in which it absolutely must be there. And, then? What's up, boys -- did someone drop the ball? Otherwise, their movie is a treat, and so is Elena Anaya, the very thin but voluptuous leading lady who is also a fine actress. I'm primed for whatever these guys cook up next. I should also mention that the crack cinematography and editing are by Alejandro Martínez and Enrique Garcia respectively.

Hierro screens at the Walter Reade Theater
Friday, December 4, at 4:30 and Sunday, December 6, at 5:10

For more info go to: http://www.filmlinc.com/wrt/onsale/spanish09.html

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