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Arts & Culture



Reviews, columns, and listings from The New Yorker.



Published: Mon, 14 Jul 2014 04:00:00 GMT2014-07-14T04:00:00Z

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Sasha Frere-Jones: The new R. & B.

Mon, 14 Jul 2014 04:00:00 GMT2014-07-14T04:00:00Z

R.​& B. has always constituted a large part of pop music. But, more than a decade ago, when Beyoncé was a member of Destiny’s Child, R. & B. was a genre like many others, healthy but not dominant. ’NSync, Britney Spears, and Christina Aguilera . . . (Subscription required.)



Louis Menand: How women got in on the Civil Rights Act.

Mon, 14 Jul 2014 04:00:00 GMT2014-07-14T04:00:00Z

Most Americans who made it past the fourth grade have a pretty good idea who Thurgood Marshall, Rosa Parks, and Martin Luther King, Jr., were. Not many Americans have even heard of Alice Paul, Howard W. Smith, and Martha Griffiths. But they played almost as big a role in the . . .



Goings On About Town: Movies

Mon, 14 Jul 2014 04:00:00 GMT2014-07-14T04:00:00Z

goatcategory--> NOW PLAYING Begin Again Another sappy but engaging musical fable from the Irish writer and director John Carney, who made “Once.” In New York, a high-minded and depressive singer-songwriter (Keira Knightley)—a British Joni Mitchell, perhaps, whose music seems crossed with . . .



Emily Nussbaum: “Being Mary Jane” review.

Mon, 14 Jul 2014 04:00:00 GMT2014-07-14T04:00:00Z

In the first episode of “Being Mary Jane,” a cable-news anchor (Gabrielle Union) gets a booty call. While her drunk boyfriend waits outside the door, she plucks off her bandanna, hides her vibrator in a drawer, and frenziedly strips her wall of yellow stickies, on which she . . . (Subscription required.)



Briefly Noted book reviews.

Mon, 14 Jul 2014 04:00:00 GMT2014-07-14T04:00:00Z

paragraph class=no-indent>(image) ASTONISH ME, by Maggie Shipstead (Knopf). Set in the world of ballet, this gripping novel spans three decades, starting in the mid-seventies, when Joan, a young American dancer, helps a Baryshnikov-like star defect from the Soviet . . . (Subscription required.)



Richard Brody: Women onscreen in two film-noir retrospectives.

Fri, 11 Jul 2014 04:00:00 GMT2014-07-11T04:00:00Z

The film noir remains the most enduring old-Hollywood genre, as confirmed by a pair of simultaneous retrospectives, “Femmes Noirs,” at Film Forum, and “Lady in the Dark: Crime Films from Columbia Pictures, 1932-1957,” at the Museum of Modern Art. The physical and emotional violence of . . .



John Donohue: Robert Hunter takes to the stage.

Fri, 11 Jul 2014 04:00:00 GMT2014-07-11T04:00:00Z

For a certain generation of high-school students, the knowing way to quote the Grateful Dead in one’s yearbook was not by naming the band. Rather, it was by attributing a line to its likely source—Robert Hunter, the group’s first principal lyricist. Hunter is . . .



Jiayang Fan: Herbal cocktails at Botanic Lab, on the Lower East Side.

Fri, 11 Jul 2014 04:00:00 GMT2014-07-11T04:00:00Z

A block away from the Lower East Side Tenement Museum, downstairs from the lantern-festooned Mexican eatery Casa Mezcal, is a red-walled hideaway, accented with an upside-down bouquet of malachite-tinted eucalyptus. This isn’t the kind of place that has forty kinds of whiskey behind the . . .



Anthony Lane: “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” and “Boyhood.”

Fri, 11 Jul 2014 04:00:00 GMT2014-07-11T04:00:00Z

It was crucial, with “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” (2011), to stay to the bittersweet end. A regiment of apes, loosed from bondage and commanded by a chimp named Caesar, the king of the swingers, took to the woods beyond San Francisco and fêted . . .



Amelia Lester: Barchetta, in Chelsea, searches for its sea legs.

Fri, 11 Jul 2014 04:00:00 GMT2014-07-11T04:00:00Z

How many different kinds of crudo do you need? At Barchetta, a new Italian restaurant in Chelsea, there are eleven, and that’s probably too many. Each preparation of raw seafood has an exotic-sounding accompaniment: Indian River grapefruit, Spanish olive oil, Antarctic sea salt. Yet the crudo tasting . . .



Sasha Frere-Jones: The working life of Brian Eno.

Mon, 30 Jun 2014 04:00:00 GMT2014-06-30T04:00:00Z

In January, 1975, the musician Brian Eno and the painter Peter Schmidt released a set of flash cards they called “Oblique Strategies.” Friends since meeting at art school, in the late sixties, they had long shared guidelines that could pry apart an intellectual logjam, providing options when they . . .



Sasha Frere-Jones: Brian Eno’s quiet influence.

Mon, 30 Jun 2014 04:00:00 GMT2014-06-30T04:00:00Z

In January, 1975, the musician Brian Eno and the painter Peter Schmidt released a set of flash cards they called “Oblique Strategies.” Friends since meeting at art school, in the late sixties, they had long shared guidelines that could pry apart an intellectual logjam, providing options when they . . .



Peter Schjeldahl: A Jeff Koons retrospective, at the Whitney.

Mon, 30 Jun 2014 04:00:00 GMT2014-06-30T04:00:00Z

The Jeff Koons retrospective at the Whitney Museum—the last show in the Madison Avenue building, before the museum relocates downtown—calls to account the most original, controversial, and expensive American artist of the past three and a half decades. At the age of fifty-nine, Koons has . . . (Subscription required.)



Hilton Als: Dave Chappelle’s comeback.

Mon, 30 Jun 2014 04:00:00 GMT2014-06-30T04:00:00Z

Convention can be the enemy of art, but it doesn’t have to be. There are a number of great artists who examine conventional social structures without becoming squares themselves, but it’s a complicated strategy, to be anarchic about the power of the tribe. For a number . . . (Subscription required.)



Goings On About Town: Movies

Mon, 30 Jun 2014 04:00:00 GMT2014-06-30T04:00:00Z

goatcategory--> NOW PLAYING Closed Curtain The audacious five-minute-long opening shot of this clandestinely made film by the Iranian directors Jafar Panahi (who is officially banned from filmmaking) and Kambozia Partovi sets the paranoid tone—a furtive trip to a remote beachfront house, observed from . . .



Emily Nussbaum: “Orange Is the New Black” and “Louie” reviews.

Mon, 30 Jun 2014 04:00:00 GMT2014-06-30T04:00:00Z

Last year, when the women’s-prison series “Orange Is the New Black” débuted, on Netflix, it felt like a blast of raw oxygen. Part of this was baldly algorithmic: here, at last, were all those missing brown faces, black faces, wrinkled faces, butch lesbians . . .



David Denby: “Snowpiercer” and “Begin Again” reviews.

Mon, 30 Jun 2014 04:00:00 GMT2014-06-30T04:00:00Z

In one of the most mysterious passages in Revelation, Christ opens the seals of a book held by God, and unleashes, each on a steed of a different color, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, generally interpreted as symbols of war, pestilence, famine, and death. It is an awesome moment . . . (Subscription required.)



Briefly Noted book reviews.

Mon, 30 Jun 2014 04:00:00 GMT2014-06-30T04:00:00Z

paragraph class=no-indent>(image) FRIENDSHIP, by Emily Gould (Farrar, Straus & Giroux). In this post-coming-of-age novel for the urban millennial, two young women try to settle some of life’s big questions—vocation, relationships. Both moved to . . . (Subscription required.)



Shauna Lyon: Lebanese fare at Au Za’atar, Balade, and Toum, in the East Village.

Fri, 27 Jun 2014 04:00:00 GMT2014-06-27T04:00:00Z

Lebanese restaurants don’t get a lot of love in New York. Their roster usually includes a decent hummus or tabouli and some better than average grilled meat, dishes that seem to have roots elsewhere. But the truth is that Lebanon has a deep bench of culinary influences that . . .



Emma Allen: A bobbing bar at the Frying Pan, in Chelsea.

Fri, 27 Jun 2014 04:00:00 GMT2014-06-27T04:00:00Z

8220;Life on board, I would sum it up to say it ranged from sheer loneliness and boredom, to all the excitement you could stand,” wrote Captain David Melvin, in a letter about crewing, in the sixties, for the Lightship No. 115 Frying Pan. The lighthouse boat was built . . .



Alex Ross: Mieczysław Weinberg’s “The Passenger,” at the Park Avenue Armory.

Fri, 27 Jun 2014 04:00:00 GMT2014-06-27T04:00:00Z

The idea that the Holocaust defeats attempts at artistic dramatization—that it constitutes, in Andreas Huyssen’s words, “unimaginable, unspeakable, and unrepresentable horror”—has a particular force in the world of music. While there are any number of symphonic and choral meditations on the Holocaust . . .



Hilton Als: “When We Were Young and Unafraid” and “Much Ado About Nothing” reviews.

Mon, 23 Jun 2014 04:00:00 GMT2014-06-23T04:00:00Z

I don’t know which casting directors first took notice of the great American actress Cherry Jones, but they must have had an interest in what I call spiritual casting. More often than not, casting directors work from the outside in: taking their cue from a director’s . . . (Subscription required.)



Goings On About Town: Movies

Mon, 23 Jun 2014 04:00:00 GMT2014-06-23T04:00:00Z

goatcategory--> NOW PLAYING A Coffee in Berlin This downbeat, romantic, black-and-white vision of slacker-centric Berlin stars Tom Schilling as Niko Fischer, a law-school dropout in his mid-twenties who doesn’t work, doesn’t make art, doesn’t do much . . .



Caleb Crain: The hectic career of Stephen Crane.

Mon, 23 Jun 2014 04:00:00 GMT2014-06-23T04:00:00Z

In Stephen Crane’s novel “Maggie” (1893), it’s impossible to pinpoint the moment when the title character is first set on the path to prostitution. Maybe it happens when her brother’s friend Pete tells her that her figure is “outa sight.” . . .



Briefly Noted book reviews.

Mon, 23 Jun 2014 04:00:00 GMT2014-06-23T04:00:00Z

paragraph class=no-indent>(image) CAPITAL, by Rana Dasgupta (Penguin Press). In the interviews with rich young Indians that make up much of this unsparing portrait of moneyed Delhi, no telling detail seems to escape Dasgupta’s notice. His novelistic talents are . . . (Subscription required.)



Anthony Lane: “Jersey Boys” and “Venus in Fur” reviews.

Mon, 23 Jun 2014 04:00:00 GMT2014-06-23T04:00:00Z

There was a moment in Martin Scorsese’s “Goodfellas” (1990) when Karen (Lorraine Bracco) went to find Henry (Ray Liotta) after he stood her up for dinner. She confronted him, and asked, “Who the hell do you think you are, Frankie Valli or some kind of . . .



Sarah Larson: The Met’s rooftop Martini Bar.

Fri, 20 Jun 2014 04:00:00 GMT2014-06-20T04:00:00Z

In addition to its Stradivarius collection, its Caravaggios, and the Sphinx of Hatshepsut, the Metropolitan Museum of Art has the best sky in town. Its rooftop café, which becomes the Martini Bar on Friday and Saturday evenings, overlooks Central Park; the view is of leafy treetops, a mostly prewar . . .



Richard Brody: Spike Lee comes home.

Fri, 20 Jun 2014 04:00:00 GMT2014-06-20T04:00:00Z

To celebrate its fifteenth anniversary, BAM Cinématek will reprise, from June 29 to July 10, the program with which it was launched: a retrospective of the films of Brooklyn’s own Spike Lee. The timing is apt, because Lee has, in a way, come full circle, too . . .



Joan Acocella: The Trey McIntyre Project says farewell.

Fri, 20 Jun 2014 04:00:00 GMT2014-06-20T04:00:00Z

The Trey McIntyre Project, which will appear at Jacob’s Pillow this week, is a chamber-ballet company, which means, more or less, that you get the ballet steps without the panoply: the serried ranks, the tutus, the love-struck swans. Strange to say, classical ballet sometimes seems clearer . . .



Hannah Goldfield: Russ & Daughters Café and Black Seed Bagels.

Fri, 20 Jun 2014 04:00:00 GMT2014-06-20T04:00:00Z

On a recent Sunday afternoon, two men sat back to back at Russ & Daughters Café. One, in his eighties, reclined in a wheelchair, wearing a nylon tracksuit; the other, in his thirties, sported chambray and skinny jeans, cuffed to expose bare ankles. The Lower East Side has changed . . .



Sasha Frere-Jones: Chrissie Hynde’s “Stockholm.”

Mon, 16 Jun 2014 04:00:00 GMT2014-06-16T04:00:00Z

In another world, the movements of a musician like Chrissie Hynde would be closely tracked and regularly celebrated. A native of Akron, who has lived in England for more than forty years, she just released the excellent “Stockholm,” the first full-length album to be credited to her . . . (Subscription required.)



James Wood: Zachary Lazar’s “I Pity the Poor Immigrant.”

Mon, 16 Jun 2014 04:00:00 GMT2014-06-16T04:00:00Z

Like many societies, the novel is a hybrid construction pretending to be an organic miracle. From its beginnings, fiction has had borderless relations with nonfictional sources, has found ways to incorporate and exploit journalism, biography, historical texts, correspondence, advertisements, and images. But, since fiction is an invention masquerading as a . . . (Subscription required.)



Goings On About Town: Movies

Mon, 16 Jun 2014 04:00:00 GMT2014-06-16T04:00:00Z

goatcategory--> NOW PLAYING City Streets This atmospheric gangster classic, from 1931, is based on a story by Dashiell Hammett; it offers a terse visual translation of his prose as well as of his cold-blooded view of Prohibition-era underworld wiles. Sylvia Sidney stars as Nan, the . . .



Emily Nussbaum: The Minnesota noir of “Fargo.”

Mon, 16 Jun 2014 04:00:00 GMT2014-06-16T04:00:00Z

Maybe the week of the U.C. Santa Barbara shootings was not the ideal time to catch up on a tragicomedy about emasculation avenged. Maybe I’m burned out on bloodbaths. But “Fargo,” FX’s adaptation of the great film by the Coen brothers, created and written . . .



David Denby: “Third Person” and “22 Jump Street” reviews.

Mon, 16 Jun 2014 04:00:00 GMT2014-06-16T04:00:00Z

In Paul Haggis’s new movie, “Third Person,” Anna (Olivia Wilde), a go-getting New York journalist, is having an affair with Michael (Liam Neeson), a Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist in a funk. In a darkened room in a posh Paris hotel, he tries, with diminishing confidence . . .



Briefly Noted book reviews.

Mon, 16 Jun 2014 04:00:00 GMT2014-06-16T04:00:00Z

paragraph class=no-indent>(image) THE BLAZING WORLD, by Siri Hustvedt (Simon & Schuster). In Hustvedt’s sixth novel, Harriet Burden, an artist who has spent many years in the shadow of a wealthy art-dealer husband, secures wild acclaim for three . . . (Subscription required.)



Alex Ross: The New York Philharmonic Biennial.

Mon, 16 Jun 2014 04:00:00 GMT2014-06-16T04:00:00Z

The mission of the New York Philharmonic Biennial, whose inaugural edition overran several of the city’s concert halls in the last days of May and the first week of June, is a brave and bracing one: to celebrate the new without apology, banishing the image of the symphony . . . (Subscription required.)



Richard Brody: Brooklyn Academy of Music’s annual BAMcinemaFest.

Fri, 13 Jun 2014 04:00:00 GMT2014-06-13T04:00:00Z

BAMcinemaFest, an annual series presented by BAM Cinématek, is the city’s leading showcase for American independent films. But with competition for New York premières rising from other venues, such as the small but ambitious La Di Da Film Festival, the “New Directors/New . . .



Jiayang Fan: Rooftop cocktails at Salon de Ning, in midtown.

Fri, 13 Jun 2014 04:00:00 GMT2014-06-13T04:00:00Z

Meet Madame Ning: ageless socialite, international tastemaker, and generous hostess at her penthouse, modelled as a kind of homage to her birthplace, triad-era Shanghai. Madame Ning proudly displays her patrician heritage—a painting of the Beijing Opera, Qing-dynasty bamboo seats, a side table lacquered vermillion red— . . .



Ben Greenman: tUnE-yArDs performs at Webster Hall.

Fri, 13 Jun 2014 04:00:00 GMT2014-06-13T04:00:00Z

The new tUnE-yArDs album, “Nikki Nack,” is a testament to the virtues of exhaustion. Merrill Garbus, the band’s front woman and chief songwriter, felt tapped out and stymied after her last album, “w h o k i l l,” came out, in 2011 . . .



Amelia Lester: Elaborate throwback cuisine at the Runner, in Clinton Hill.

Fri, 13 Jun 2014 04:00:00 GMT2014-06-13T04:00:00Z

Following in the tradition of Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. is the Runner, another restaurant inspired by art. Time has not been kind to “Forrest Gump,” the movie that spawned the seafood chain; Walt Whitman, who lived in Clinton Hill for a stint and wrote the short poem from . . .



Goings On About Town: Movies

Mon, 02 Jun 2014 04:00:00 GMT2014-06-02T04:00:00Z

goatcategory--> NOW PLAYING Belle This rousing historical fantasia, which is loosely based on a true story, uses Jane Austen’s novels as a template. In the late eighteenth century, two beautiful half cousins, Elizabeth Murray (Sarah Gadon) and Dido Elizabeth Belle (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), live together . . .



Emily Nussbaum: “High Maintenance,” “My Mad Fat Diary” reviews.

Mon, 02 Jun 2014 04:00:00 GMT2014-06-02T04:00:00Z

Every few months, I spelunk into the world of online indie television. It’s nearly always a disappointment: most series, even those which have managed to Kickstart up some hype, are half-baked and amateurish—more audition tapes than real productions. When I heard about “High Maintenance . . .



Christine Smallwood: Phyllis Rose’s “The Shelf: From LEQ to LES.”

Mon, 02 Jun 2014 04:00:00 GMT2014-06-02T04:00:00Z

In the nineteen-nineties, when you bought a book at Barnes & Noble the cashier slipped it into a plastic bag bearing a black-and-white illustration of an author’s face—Mark Twain, Oscar Wilde, Edith Wharton. Recently, I was poking around a bookstore in Manhattan and . . .



Briefly Noted book reviews.

Mon, 02 Jun 2014 04:00:00 GMT2014-06-02T04:00:00Z

paragraph class=no-indent>(image) ALL THE BIRDS, SINGING, by Evie Wyld (Pantheon). Violence takes many forms in this suspenseful and melancholy novel. Sheep die mysteriously on a farm on a lonely British island; in Australia, a school bully’s nails leave . . . (Subscription required.)



Anthony Lane: “Maleficent” and “A Million Ways to Die in the West” reviews.

Mon, 02 Jun 2014 04:00:00 GMT2014-06-02T04:00:00Z

For centuries, the myth of Sleeping Beauty has tossed and turned. In Charles Perrault’s version of 1697, the happy ending was not an ending at all; it led to an aftermath flavored with serial cannibalism, writhing vipers, and slit throats. Italo Calvino, collecting Italian folktales, dug up an . . . (Subscription required.)



Michael Schulman: Lily Rabe in “Much Ado About Nothing,” at the Delacorte.

Fri, 30 May 2014 04:00:00 GMT2014-05-30T04:00:00Z

Shakespeare’s women, Harold Bloom has observed, are always marrying down. Is Orlando truly worthy of Rosalind, with her panoptic wit? How does Viola wind up with that ninny Orsino? Perhaps that’s why playing a Shakespearean heroine requires not just poise but a hint of sourness. For . . .



Hannah Goldfield: Overpriced cuisine at the new Tavern on the Green, in midtown.

Fri, 30 May 2014 04:00:00 GMT2014-05-30T04:00:00Z

In 1976, after two years of renovations, Tavern on the Green reopened with a bang, and this magazine ran a Talk of the Town story describing the “two-and-a-half-million-dollar, stop-at-nothing, one-thousand-seat-capacity update” of the 1934 sheepfold turned restaurant. On . . .



Emma Allen: Diverse brews on tap at the Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden, in Astoria.

Fri, 30 May 2014 04:00:00 GMT2014-05-30T04:00:00Z

8220;It’s not very good,” a waitress said, one balmy Sunday, of the Bohemian’s house brew, Rhapsody, an unfiltered wheat Pilsner. “Guess I’m just one of those honest people!” The Bohemian is also just that kind of place: a man offered . . .



Anthony Lane: Celebrating Alec Guinness’s centenary, at Film Forum.

Fri, 30 May 2014 04:00:00 GMT2014-05-30T04:00:00Z

The centenary of Alec Guinness’s birth fell, without fanfare, on April 2nd. He would not have lamented the lack of trumpets. His life had begun with a blank, the space for his father’s name left unfilled on his birth certificate, and, to judge by the titles . . .