Arts Fuse critics select the best in music, film, theater, visual arts, author readings, and dance that’s coming up in the next week.
By The Arts Fuse Staff
Boston French Film Festival
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA
The annual festival is always filled with wonderful surprises and a great cross section of what is new in French cinema. Here are some quick summaries from the first weekend offerings. The MFA site can be cumbersome to navigate, but you should check it for times and alternate days.
Love is the Perfect Crime. Mathieu Amalric (Venus in Fur, Diving Bell and the Butterfly) stars in a “sleek, blackly comic thriller in which a serial ladies man finds his life spinning out of control when one of his young playthings goes missing.”
Weekends in Normandy: The lives of two couples, falling in and out of love, as weekends go by.
Abuse of Weakness: The provocative and strangely romantic director Catherine Breillat teams up with the omnipresent Isabelle Huppert! The storyline is based on the director’s real life experience – a stroke-afflicted filmmaker is manipulated by a notorious con man.
Mood Indigo: Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) fashions, via some highly imaginative special effects, an entirely fantasical and romantic new world. Starring Audrey Tautou and Romain Duris.
Aya of Yop City: An animated film based on Marguerite Abouet’s popular graphic novel series about her life in ’70s post-colonial Cote d’Ivoire. This comedy, filled with diverse voices and characters, attempts to be a portrait of modern urban Africa.
Grand Central: An intense love triangle is at the center of a “superbly acted working-class melodrama set in and around a massive nuclear power plant.” (Variety)
Under the Pines: A historical drama set in the towering forests of Landes in the aftermath of WWI, when sweeping social changes threatened the economic feudalism that had enriched landowners for generations.
School of Babel: A documentary about 24 students (between the ages of 11 and 15) from 24 nationalities who have just arrived in France. For a year they come together in a language and cultural adaptation class at a Parisian secondary school. According to director Julie Bertuccelli, “in this multicultural arena, we see the innocence, the enthusiasm, and the inner turmoil of these teenagers who, caught in the midst of starting out on a new life, question our preconceived ideas and give us hope for a better future.”
The Kidnapping of Michel Houellebecq: The award-winning French novelist, who left a trail of outrage in his wake over his controversial views on sex, Islam, and western civilization, steps confidently in front of the camera for what can only be described as “a hybrid fictionalized self-portrait.” (Berlin Film Festival)
A Summer’s Tale: Director Eric Rohmer’s 1996 comedy in which “a young mathematician and aspiring musician spends too much time alone while awaiting his girlfriend at a crowded Brittany resort town.” For those who want a taste of classic French cinema!
Class of 92
Tuesday, July 8th at 7:30 p.m.
Arlington Regent Theater, Arlington, MA
The first of two sports films (this one a Boston premiere) at the Regent covers the period from Manchester United’s European Cup triumph in 1992 to their Champions League blitzkrieg in 1999, which rounded off its Treble-winning 1998–99 season. The documentary cuts from soccer to explore the social and cultural changes taking place in Great Britain at the time.
Pantani: Death of a Cyclist
Wednesday, July 9th at 7:30 p.m.
Arlington Regent Theater in Arlington, MA
In 1998 Marco Pantani, the most flamboyant and popular cyclist of his era, won both the Tour de France and Giro d’Italia – a titanic feat of physical and mental endurance that no rider has repeated since. He was a hero to millions – the saviour of cycling following the doping scandals which threatened to destroy the sport. However, less than six years later, aged just 34, he died alone, in a cheap Italian hotel room. Trailer here.
And So It Goes
Wednesday, July 9 at 7 p.m.
Coolidge Corner Theatre, Brookline, MA
The film is part of the popular NY Film Critics Series. A self-centered realtor (Michael Douglas) enlists the help of his neighbor (Diane Keaton) when he’s suddenly left in charge of the granddaughter he never knew existed — until his estranged son drops her off at his home. The film is followed by behind-the-scenes footage as well as a live Q&A between director Rob Reiner and critic Peter Travers of Rolling Stone Magazine.
– Tim Jackson
Jasper Johns: Picture Puzzles, at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, July 8, 2014 through January, 2015
Like his long-time partner, Robert Rauschenberg, the sphinx-like Jasper Johns belongs to that hard-to-place half-generation of American artists that fall between Abstract Expressionism and Pop. Johns’ work includes thickly-painted, deadpan images (American flags and maps, targets, numbers) that hover between object and symbol, and meticulously hand-made and painted sculpture in the form of commercial products (beer and coffee cans) that anticipate Warhol’s soup cans and Brillo boxes a few years later. Johns has been a prolific printmaker since the 1960s and continues themes from his paintings and sculpture in editions of multiples. This show includes 22 works: prints, drawings, and reliefs.
On 52nd Street: The Jazz Photography of William P. Gottlieb, Bowdoin College Museum of Art, Brunswick, ME, July 10 through September 14
William Gottlieb (1917-2006) began writing a weekly jazz column for the Washington Post in his early 20s. After the Post refused to pay for a photographer, Gottlieb bought his own Speed Graphic press camera and took it along to jazz clubs. Gottlieb’s edgy snaps of jazz greats — Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington, Sy Oliver, Benny Goodman, Cab Calloway, Charlie Parker, Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, and dozens more — are now the most enduring images of the jazz Golden Age of the 1930s and 40s. The Bowdoin College show includes forty photographs from almost 2000 portraits Gottlieb made between 1938 and 1948, when he “retired” from jazz to make film strips and children’s books.
List Projects: Sergei Tcherepnin at the List Visual Arts Center, MIT, July 15 through October 19
Born in Boston in 1981 to a long line of distinguished Russian musicians and composers, Sergei Tcherepnin is a sound artist who combines recordings, film, video, speakers, musical wire, piano wire, and other objects in assemblages that are often part visual, part aural. His work for the List, Subharmonic Lick Thicket, features a false gallery floor used as a gigantic speaker, so visitors can sense sound through their bones, skin, and bodies. “Listening to sound through a cardboard box is very different from listening through a chair,” he says, asserting the obvious, “which is very different from listening through computer speakers.” This is his first solo museum exhibition.
– Peter Walsh
Andris Nelsons conducts Dvorak
Presented by the Boston Symphony Orchestra
July 11, 8:30 p.m.
Tanglewood Music Shed, Lenox
The BSO’s incoming music director has a spate of performances this summer in Lenox and this is the first: an all-Dvorak affair with Anne-Sophie Mutter as soloist in Dvorak’s great Violin Concerto. The symphonic poem The Noonday Witch and the popular Eighth Symphony round out the program.
All-Mendelssohn Opening Night
Presented by Monadnock Music
July 12, 7:30 p.m.
Peterborough Town House, Peterborough (NH)
Monadnock Music’s opening night features – for the only time in the season – the Monadnock Chamber Orchestra, here joined by violinist Tessa Lark. Gil Rose conducts a program entirely devoted to that most summery of composers, Mendelssohn: the Violin Concerto and “Italian” Symphony are paired, respectively, with the Overture to A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Fingal’s Cave.
Presented by Boston Landmarks Orchestra
July 16, 7 p.m.
Hatch Shell, Boston
Christopher Wilkins and the BLO open their summer season with a premiere by Larry Bell; Leonard Bernstein’s music for the film, On the Waterfront; and Orff’s ever popular Carmina Burana. One City Choir, the Back Bay Chorale, and soloists Teresa Wakim, R. Joshua Reynolds, and Aaron Engebreth join the orchestra
– Jonathan Blumhofer
All of my choices are part of the Rockport Chamber Music Festival, now entering its fifth and last week. All performances are the eye-catching Shalin Liu Performance Center, 37 Main Street, Rockport MA.
Rising Star Series
Tuesday, July 8 at 8 p.m.
The Donald Sinta Saxophone Quartet, winners of numerous competitions, including the grand prize at the 2013 Concert Artist Guild Competition, the 2013 Coleman Chamber Music Competition and the 2012 North American Saxophone Alliance Quartet Competition, presents an unusual program that, among other pieces, includes Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings, Gregory Wanamaker’s Speed Metal Organum Blues, and Glazunov’s Quatuor pour Saxophones, Op. 109.
Two concerts with the Calder Quartet
Thursday, July 10 at 8 p.m. features quartets of Mozart, Webern, and Don Davis’s Vexed (2012) and Brahms’s String Quintet in G Major, Op. 111. The Calder Quartet will be joined by violist Marcus Thompson.
Saturday, July 12 at 8 p.m.
The Calder Quartet will play quartets by Thomas Adès, Leoš Janáček, and Bedřich Smetana (From my Life).
Friday, July 11 @ 8 p.m.
Deemed the “world’s reigning male chorus” by The New Yorker magazine, the group performs an ambitious, time-tripping program entitled “She said/He said.”
Sunday, July 13 at 5 p.m.
The Grammy-nominated group presents a challenging lineup of music that includes Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring (Arranged by Jonathan Russell), and two pieces by Valerie Coleman,Rubisphere and Afro-Cuban Concerto.
– Susan Miron
Matthew Shipp/Michael Bisio
July 9, 8 p.m.
Outpost 186, Cambridge, MA.
The exciting “free” jazz pianist Matthew Shipp makes a rare local appearance at the tiny Outpost 186 with like-minded (and equally formidable) bassist Michael Bisio, a member of Shipp’s trio on the new Root of Things.
July 9, 7:30 p.m.
Regattabar, Cambridge, MA.
The Berklee and Manhattan School of Music-educated Korean pianist Youngjoo Song hangs with a good crowd: Nir Felder, Steve Wilson, Seamus Blake, Gretchen Parlato, Kendrick Scott, Marcus Gilmore. She has great chops and a big sound, but as that crowd would indicate, she’s more interested in musicality than flash. She plays the Regattabar with bassist John Lockwood and drummer Yoron Israel.
July 10, 7:30 p.m.
Lily Pad, Cambridge, MA
The trio known as Kombucha — pianist Bert Seager, bassist John Farias, and drummer Austin McMahon — bring collective brio and lyricism to their original musical take on the carbonated tea drink.
July 11, 7:30 p.m. + 10 p.m.
Regattabar, Cambridge, MA
After a week in residence at Berklee College of Music, the esteemed Cuban reedman Paquito d’Rivera hits the Regattabar working his Jazz Meets the Classics CD (Sunnyside), wherein the Afro-Cuban jazz tradition melds with themes by Beethoven, Mozart, and Chopin. You can also expect originals by Rivera and his band.
– Jon Garelick
Annapurna, by Sharr White
July 10 through 20.
Staged by the Chester Theatre Company, Chester, MA.
Arts Fuse critic Helen Epstein was very impressed by the recent production of White’s The Other Place at the Barrington Stage Company, so this two-person drama should be well worth a look. Robert Egan directs a play that centers on “an epic personal relationship”: “Twenty years ago in the middle of the night, Emma walked out on Ulysses, her cowboy-poet husband. Now, hearing he’s in dire straits, she tracks him down to a trailer park in the wilds of Colorado, where she finds him hooked to an oxygen tank and cooking sausages in the buff.”
Two from the Circuit Theatre Company, both presented at Oberon, Cambridge, MA. “Now more than ever, Circuit hopes to celebrate the voice of young artists in Boston, while pushing the boundaries of what theatre can do and be.” God knows the adults aren’t taking any theatrical chances, so let’s see what the kids can do. Before a world premiere of a new play (in August) from the talented local actor and dramatist John Kuntz, the troupe is staging two Boston premieres.
The Walk Across America for Mother Earth by Taylor Mac. Directed by Christopher Annas-Lee, July 9 through 24. The script promises “to depict a ragtag band of activists marching across the nation to raise awareness about a nuclear testing site in Nevada, among other environmental and social injustices.”
Welcome to Arroyo’s by Kristoffer Diaz. Directed by Jen Diamond, through July 10 through 27. This play claims to be a fast-paced slice of life in a family-owned bar—sorry, lounge—on the Lower East Side of New York City. A Greek chorus of DJs spin, mix, and rap-narrate this tale of cultural heritage and artistic expression.”
Her Aching Heart, by Bryony Lavery
July 10 through August 10.
Staged by the Nora Theatre Company at the Central Square Theater, 450 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA.
What more could you ask for in a summer entertainment? “Passion. Riding Crops. Nuns.” Add to this that the production marks Lee Mikeska Gardner’s Boston directorial debut. She was recently appointed Artistic Director of The Nora Theatre Company. Veronica Barron supplies original music for this “satirical romantic potboiler.”
– Bill Marx
Roots and World Music
Hazmat Modine may have a harmonica-blowing front man, but their resemblance to a generic blues band ends right there. The horn-laden brass band has collaborated with throat singers, an African brass band, and the Kronos Quartet. The group is also a go-to for film/TV soundtrack. It’s hard to believe that such a critically acclaimed New York band has never played Boston, but as far as we know this is their first time here.
Green River Festival
July 12 & 13
Greenfield Community College, Greenfield, MA
What started as a humble hot air balloon event with some bands has turned into one of the most respected and eclectic roots music festivals in the region. One of the top draws this year is the first tour in ages by Blasters founders Phil and Dave Alvin. The oft-feuding brothers have come together to pay tribute to bluesman Big Bill Broonzy. (They’re also at the Sinclair in Cambridge on July 12.) Also on tap are big names, such as Trombone Shorty and Josh Ritter, and less obvious gems, including Chilean rapper Ana Tijoux and girl group soulsters Lady.
Volo Volo de Boston
Reggie Lewis Center, Roxbury Crossing, MA
Just as London has been a key spot for reggae and salsa developed in New York, many influential Haitian artists have been at least partially based in the diaspora. One of them is Boston’s own Volo Volo who have been a leading kompas outfit for just shy of 40 years. They headline this pan-Caribbean night, which also includes soca diva Surette Bon Bon.
Island Pride Band Launching featuring Skinny Fabulous
Unity Sports & Athletic Club, 10 Dunbar Ave., Dorchester, MA
The Carnival season starts to rev up. One band is starting its summer of parties (and custom float-making) with a performance by St. Vincent & the Grenadines soca upstart Skinny Fabulous, whose “Behaving the Worst” will be heard on many a Carnival truck this August.
– Noah Schaffer
Tap The Yard 3: A Vineyard Festival of Rhythm and Beats
The Yard, Patricia N. Nanon Theater
Martha’s Vineyard, MA
The Vineyard festival continues with two distinctive programs in a single week. Jason Samuels Smith, a master of wringing pitch from his tap shoes, and the amazing Dormeshia Sumbry-Edwards pair up to the sounds of the Owen “Fiidla” Brown Quartet on Wednesday July 9 and Thursday July 10. Friday July 11 and Saturday July 12, the program shifts to a mixed program that juxtaposes Indian fusion (Sheetal Gandhi, who did a stint with Cirque de Soleil), hip hop (Ephrat Asherie, just off a celebrated Jacob’s Pillow jaunt) and jazz tap (Michela Marino Lerman, who has hosted regular tap jams in New York City).
We welcomed her to Boston under the auspices World Music/CRASHarts last spring, but Camille A. Brown is taking her repertory for a New England spin throughout the summer months, with performances scheduled at Wesleyan, the Bates Dance Festival, and The Yard on Martha’s Vineyard. The works planned include full-length and excerpted versions of Mr. TOL E. RAncE, Brown’s interrogation of the traditions of African-American minstrelsy, repertory works from previous years, and looks at her latest work-in-progress, Black Girl. Most engagements include insightful talk-back sessions that enhance the story behind the choreographer’s strongly imagined works.
Amazingly back in business, the Dance Theatre of Harlem led by former star Virginia Johnson presents a mixed repertory at the Ted Shawn Theatre with the revival of the late Ulysses Dove’s Dancing on the Front Porch of Heaven, the Harlem Renaissance-inspired past-carry-forward by Tanya Wideman and Thaddeus Davis, and Donald Byrd’s Contested Space. Over at the Duke Theatre, Reggie Wilson unpacks the souvenirs and wisdom of his travels in the Middle East to explore — and sometimes explode — Zora Neale Hurston’s vision of Moses, Man of the Mountain.
– Debra Cash
Jennifer, Gwyneth and Me: The Pursuit of Happiness, One Celebrity at a Time
July 7 at 7 p.m.
So, of all the off-the-hall approaches to existential readjustment in the world, Rachel Bertsche has decided to remake her life based on the lives of her favorite celebrities. She desperately seeks Sarah Jessica Parker’s shoes and takes on Jennifer Aniston’s diet as a way to approach the total pop nirvana that is Beyonce. A report from the front lines of American self-fashioning.
No End Save Victory
Porter Square Books
July 10 at 7 p.m.
Sometimes it seems like the left wing ought to lionize their historical figures more often, as the right does Ronald Reagan. The best candidate for that distinction has got to be Franklin Delano Roosevelt. (PBS documentary guru Ken Burns is hot on the trail with his latest fundraiser/project, The Roosevelts.) Author David Kaiser comes to read and discuss his latest book, which focuses on FDR’s stubborn refusal to lose World War II.
The Signature of All Things
The Coolidge Corner Theatre
July 13 at 7 p.m.
$5 ticket or free with purchase of book at Brookline Booksmith
The impresario behind Eat Pray Love comes to Coolidge Corner to read from her latest book. It concerns a family of botanical explorers in the 18th and 19th centuries and one woman’s search for truth and meaning within the various flora and fauna of the natural world.
– Matt Hanson
July 8, 2014
Paradise Rock Club, Boston, MA
The duo of Alison Mosshart and Jamie Hince don’t have a new album to promote on their current tour, but they are reportedly in the studio working on something “completely different.” Genres like dubstep and reggae have been rumored to be possible inspirations, and that would mean a very different direction for the sound of The Kills. Perhaps a taste of something new at The Paradise?
Queens of the Stone Age
Providence Performing Arts Center, Providence, RI
Josh Homme and company make their second swing through our general area in support of their acclaimed (and Arts Fuse approved) 2013 album …Like Clockwork. The LP is the work of a mature rock band that still likes to melt faces and crush skulls. Prepare for a sonic pummeling.
Upcoming and On Sale…
Queen + Adam Lambert (7/19/2014, Mohegan Sun Arena); Sidewalk Driver (7/19/2014, The Sinclair); Queen + Adam Lambert (7/22/2014, TD Garden); Nine Inch Nails & Soundgarden (7/29/2014, Xfinity Center); Echo & the Bunnymen (8/14/2014, Paradise Rock Club); Arcade Fire (8/19/2014, Comcast Center); Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (8/30/2014, Fenway Park); Boston Calling Music Festival feat. The National, Lorde, The Replacements (9/5-7/2014, City Hall Plaza); Bombino (9/5/2014, The Sinclair); Justin Townes Earle (9/10/2014, Royale); Bob Mould (9/12/2014, Paradise Rock Club); Jack White (9/17/2014, Fenway Park); Willie Nelson (9/20/2014, Indian Ranch); The Black Keys (9/21/2014, TD Garden); Kasabian (9/26/2014, Paradise Rock Club); The Orwells (10/9/2014, Brighton Music Hall); J Mascis (10/18/2014, The Sinclair); Temples (10/24/2014, Paradise Rock Club); Peter Hook & the Light (11/8/2014, Royale)
– Adam Ellsworth