[Updated.] Arts Fuse critics select the best in film, music, and theater that’s coming up this week.
By The Arts Fuse Staff.
I Declare War
Through September 4
The Brattle Theater, Cambridge, MA
A group of 12-year-olds begins playing Capture the Flag. When the game starts going beyond the rules, it descends into an adventure where fantasy combat clashes with the real world. This odd indie film looks like a cross between The Most Dangerous Game and Lord of the Flies.
Noir All Night
Harvard Film Archive, Cambridge, MA
The marathon genre screening is an old Boston tradition. For fans of Film Noir, it would be a shame to miss this, and it looks like rain this weekend anyway. So kick off Labor Day with “an expanded marathon of obscure and essential film noir, the cycle of fatalistic, pessimistic and visually striking crime dramas that flourished in the 1940s and 1950s.” Check out Fuse critic Betsy Sherman’s haiku, inspired by the marathon. The films to be shown will include The Big Combo, Force of Evil, The Scarf, Sudden Fear, The Naked City, Split Second, and Dark Passage.
Ain’t in It for My Health: A Film About Levon Helm
The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA
Levon Helm, drummer and vocalist for The Band and occasional actor, died in 2012 of complications from cancer. He was beloved by both fans and musicians alike. His folksy personality (he grew up the son of a cotton farmer near Turkey Scratch, Arkansas), raw, twanging vocals, and distinctively earthy drum style were quintessentially American. This beautifully personal film follows Helm during his last days, as he struggles with throat cancer and tries to keep the music alive. This is a far from depressing documentary—it is an affirmation of Helm’s spirit and personality, which light up the screen. (Arts Fuse review to come)
— Tim Jackson
House of Blues, Boston, MA
Scottish singer Emeli Sandé was the breakout star of the U.K. in 2012. Her debut, Our Version of Events, was that nation’s top selling album of the year, and she got some major exposure when she performed during both the opening and closing ceremonies of the Summer Olympics in London. Still, she hasn’t come anywhere close to the success in the U.S. that that other U.K. songstress, Adele, has had. This is hardly a miscarriage of justice, because Sandé is no Adele. But she’s still pretty good, and her song “Next to Me” was one of my personal favorite tracks of last year.
Paradise Rock Club, Boston, MA
I first came across Haim whilst in England last summer (they use that word over there) and leafing through an issue of NME. Based on the way they were presented in the article, not to mention their more recent palling around with the object of my major 2013 bromance, Palma Violets, I’ve always assumed they were, like, a rock band. Alas, they are not, at least not in the more traditional sense of the word.
Haim (rhymes with “rhyme”) is three sisters from L.A. (plus a not related, male drummer), who, as alluded to above, ended up big in the U.K. before just about anyone in their home country had ever heard of them. With the release of their song “The Wire” last month (their debut album comes out September 30), the U.S. is starting to notice.
“The Wire,” is a near perfect pop song, closer to Wilson Phillips than Wilson Pickett, though I’m not complaining. Based on some YouTube footage I’ve seen, they “rock” a bit harder in concert, at least assuming you think Fleetwood Mac rocks. Normally I don’t, and yet I’m completely taken by Haim. They’re going to be absolutely huge, so this is probably your only chance to see them in a venue this small.
— Adam Ellsworth
Total This & That Circus
Staged by Bread and Puppet Theater
September 1, 3 p.m.
Cambridge Common, Cambridge, MA, free (pass-the-hat donations welcome), rain or shine.
Bread & Roses Festival
The venerable political company brings its puppets and hijinks, once again, to the Cambridge Common. The current show (of the family-friendly variety) is part of “50 Years of Sublime Arsekicking Puppetry,” a series of performances and symposia dedicated to celebrating the troupe’s birthday. Here is the description of its latest anarchistic extravaganza: “Daffodil combat forces battling F-35 jets; the elimination of the 800,001st Palestinian olive tree, totally unattended by the National Outrage Orchestra; an Animal Rental Facility, which offers disenchanted customers of civilization instant transformation into frog or deer, cricket or rat. There will also be new characters, such as underprivileged Corporate Dwarves, overshadowed by Ordinary 99% Giants promoting brand-new economy-shrinking ventures, while the Lubblerland National Dance Company enhances the program with eternal values gloves-on dances presented to the gloves-off practitioners in Guantanamo and elsewhere.” Prepare to laugh, to be moved, to be entertained, to be utterly baffled.
— Bill Marx
The Hyde Park Jazz Festival returns to the banks of the Neponset with free performances by bassist Bruce Gertz and his trio (with guitarist Tim Miller and drummer Austin McMahon), the Baboian/Smith Group (guitarist John Baboian and saxophonist Daniel Ian Smith with bassist Keala Kaumeheiwa and drummer Mark Walker), and the Thaddeus Hogarth Band.
Also on Saturday, and a good deal further west, you can catch a double-header at the BSO’s summer home that’s the closest thing we have to the now-defunct Tanglewood Jazz Festival. First up is pianist Donal Fox and his Scarlatti Project, in Seiji Ozawa Hall at 1 p.m.; then, stick around until 7 p.m. for vocalist/pianist Harry Connick Jr. in the Koussevitsky Music Shed.
New England Conservatory Contemporary Improvisation Department Opening Night Concert
Tuesday, September 3, 8 p.m.
Brown Hall, New England Conservatory
NEC’s Contemporary Improvisation department kicks off its autumn 2013 series of events with a sampling of performances from across the spectrum of idioms gathered under CI’s big tent. Performers will include department chair Hankus Netsky, assistant chair Eden MacAdam-Somer, Anthony Coleman, Jerry Leake, Peter Row, Amir Milstein, Aaron Hartley, Bert Seager, Nedelka Prescod, Mal Barsamian, Nima Janmohammadi, Tanya Kalmanovitch, Mat Maneri, and David Zoffer.
— J. R. Carroll