Categories
CULTURE ARCHIVES FILM ARCHIVES Living NYC ARCHIVES TV ARCHIVES VOICE CHOICES ARCHIVES

The Ebullient Pride Pairs Miners and Gay Activists in ’80s Wales

It says something about current global affairs that a movie set during the U.K. miners’ strike of the mid-1980s — an event that tore lives to shreds, representing a dismal and damaging period in late-20th-century British history — is likely to make you feel better rather than worse about the world. Pride, directed by Matthew Warchus, is a fictionalized account of how a group of gay and lesbian activists in 1984 London responded to Margaret Thatcher’s attempts to crush the miners unions, temporarily sidelining their own battles to raise funds for the striking workers and their families. Pride is an unapologetic feel-good movie, which means it pushes many predictable buttons: There are places where the music swells in rousing, overly manipulative waves. There’s the obligatory scene of an upright Welshwoman (Imelda Staunton) in sturdy tweeds and sensible pumps encountering a dildo for (ostensibly) the first time — she waves it in the air triumphantly, cackling like a Cymry Girl Gone Wild.

But by the time she starts swinging that Day-Glo dong around, you’ll probably be laughing with her: Pride is so ebullient and good-natured it would be hard not to, though part of what makes the movie work is its willingness to tread into the more somber corners of its subject matter — all the action takes place just as the AIDS epidemic has begun to decimate the gay community, thus opening up new avenues of hatred for bigots and fools. Warchus, working from a script by Stephen Beresford, may not be the most graceful director: Pride hits some bumpy patches when it switches gears between comedy and gentle pathos, which it does often. But its spirit is bold enough to power through the rough spots. It’s easy to find fault with Pride, but it’s not so easy to resist it.

Relative newcomer Ben Schnetzer (who recently appeared in The Book Thief) plays Mark Ashton, a charismatic young activist who, just as he’s ready to hit the 1984 Gay Pride march, catches a news spot about the miners’ plight. Feeling an immediate kinship with these men and their families — they too are struggling under Thatcher’s wrinkled, deadly thumb — he grabs a few buckets and begins collecting donations. At first there’s the usual skepticism from his compatriots, among them the shy, nervous bookstore owner Gethin (Andrew Scott), his flamboyant partner Jonathan (Dominic West), and saucy, slightly brittle Steph (Faye Marsay): Will these hardworking country people want such help, or even accept it? Mark, the group’s de facto firecracker, sweeps reticence aside. Before long, they’ve picked a random Welsh mining town off a map and made a phone call: A union lodge rep, Dai (Paddy Considine), comes to London to accept the money they’ve collected, not realizing that these well-meaning individuals seem to be nothing like him.

They are, of course, very much like him; Pride is all about the need for erasing minor differences and connecting over all the things that make us human, whether that’s a love of music and dancing, the satisfaction that comes from a day of hard work, or the comfort of having family close by. When Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners (LGSM) descends on the town it has chosen, its members are met with a mix of curiosity, distrust, and outright hostility. Then a number of inevitable movie-world things happen: The group gets taken on a tour of the area’s finest ancient ruin by the whispery-quiet Cliff (Bill Nighy), the town’s voice of reason but also, because of his love of poetry, the subject of some ridicule: “This is a Welsh castle — none of your Norman rubbish.” When the eternally outgoing Jonathan notes the village women’s disappointment that their men — sturdy, silent guys who are happiest downing a pint –won’t dance, he gets the bright idea of giving dance lessons to the blokes, telling them it’s the best way to pull girls. Staunton’s Hefina flutters around the London crowd like a mother hen. The town biddy, Maureen (Lisa Palfrey), who disapproves of all things L and G, is slowly, and not too easily, won over. And the youngest member of LGSM, a provincial kid named Joe (George MacKay), takes the necessary but painful step of leaving his own disapproving family behind.

A lot happens in Pride, and the movie has a sprawling, wayward quality — there’s no easily diagrammed dramatic arc here. But Warchus keeps the circus moving efficiently, and he shows a deft touch in some of the picture’s more delicate scenes, particularly one involving a tense reunion between a mother and son. Pride isn’t, it’s important to note, a movie that makes one group’s concerns seem more significant than another’s — it’s simply a story about people stepping in to help when it’s needed. And at its best, it’s simply filled with joy: When the LGSM group first meets Considine’s Dai, with his chin dimple, his sweet country manners, and his Sunday tweed jacket, they find him so adorable — and boy, is he! — that they spontaneously push him onstage at a gay cabaret, so he can thank the patrons himself. He’s nervous at first, and the crowd doesn’t know what to make of him, either. But he wins them over with a joke, laying the first brick in the foundation of a seemingly unlikely kinship. The world we live in now sometimes seems to be falling apart. It’s comforting to watch something being built for a change.

Categories
CULTURE ARCHIVES FILM ARCHIVES Living NEW YORK CITY ARCHIVES NYC ARCHIVES TV ARCHIVES VOICE CHOICES ARCHIVES

The Exquisitely Beautiful Copenhagen Casts Love and a City in a New Light

A flighty Peter Pan meets his grounded Wendy in Copenhagen, Mark Raso’s tender romance about the sliding scale of maturity. William (Gethin Anthony) arrives in the Danish capital already frustrated: Traveling companion Jeremy (Sebastian Armesto) is more focused on pleasing girlfriend Jennifer (Olivia Grant) than accompanying his needy best friend on a tour of European bars and hostels.

Left to his own devices, William begins tracking down his grandfather in hopes that it will illuminate a family history of abandonment. He finds an eager guide in Effy (Frederikke Dahl Hansen), who’s as calm and perceptive as William is rash and inconsiderate. She’s also half his age, a fact that escapes the self-centered 28-year-old for an inordinate amount of time. William is a familiar type — the emotionally stunted man-child who’s avoided taking responsibility for his actions — with a loud and brash manner that’s sometimes overplayed. (The Canadian-born Raso has cast Brits as New Yawk childhood friends.)

Effy is more complicated. Smart and composed, she seems to William to have all the answers, but her knowledge is observational, not empirical. She has yet to experience the messiness of adult relationships, and Hansen tempers Effy’s confidence with the awareness that she’s still experimenting.

Copenhagen is the exquisitely beautiful feature debut of both writer, director, and editor Raso and cinematographer Alan Poon. They invest familiar tourist attractions (Tivoli Gardens, the Little Mermaid statue) with a personal meaning for William and Effy, whose time together allows them to see the city — and themselves — in a new light.

Categories
Living Neighborhoods NEW YORK CITY ARCHIVES NYC ARCHIVES VOICE CHOICES ARCHIVES Where To

PAINTINGS TO THE PEOPLE

The Affordable Art Fair takes the experience of buying art away from Upper East Side showrooms and into the Tunnel, not far from the Lincoln Tunnel. But don’t let the proximity fool you. The previews alone — which feature an xogram of a rabbit in a magician’s hat and a cluster of glowsticks in a serene, screensaver-y landscape — promise arresting works of art from 50 local and international galleries. The Affordable Art Fair has gained enough traction since its founding in 1996 that it also takes place in Stockholm, Singapore, and Mexico City, among other cosmopolitan hubs, and has grown to include workshops like Collecting 101 and personal shopping sessions. Parents trying to decorate a new home can join their kids on a tour with the Art Fairy. But whether you’re ready to purchase a piece of art from $100 to $10,000 or not, the wares are ripe for browsing, and it makes for one sophisticated way to kick off fall.

Fri., Sept. 26, 11 a.m.; Sat., Sept. 27, 11 a.m.; Sun., Sept. 28, 11 a.m., 2014

Categories
Living NYC ARCHIVES VOICE CHOICES ARCHIVES Where To

Imelda May

The rise of Imelda May has been a slow climb, but a steady one. The singer began to round the Dublin burlesque circuit at 16, and even then, her fundamental traits were in place: pop-noir glamour that takes the blues as its home base, and the kind of big, theatrical voice that you’d imagine spends its nights melting hardboiled hearts in the smoky back room of some velvet-decked joint somewhere in a seedy part of town. Though she’s on the front lines of the rockabilly revival, her songs range far and wide into soul, 60s pop, and even shades of goth. May layers bubblegum catchiness over a slightly evil — and addictive — underside.

Sun., Sept. 28, 8 p.m., 2014

Categories
Datebook Events Listings Living NEW YORK CITY ARCHIVES NYC ARCHIVES VOICE CHOICES ARCHIVES Where To

DJ Chuckie

he king of Dirty Dutch is bringing the Amsterdam-based, high pitched-house music to Governors Beach Club to close out the summer beachside concert series. Take advantage of the last days of summer by taking the ferry (which is included in ticket price) to join Chuckie and his labelmates for an afternoon beach party. Currently in the running for DJ Mag’s Top 100 DJs, Chuckie recently surprised his fans with a mixtape, Dirty Fvnck. After successful shows at Governors Island the last three years, he’s has made the unique venue a pitstop on his summer tours and gives fans an opportunity to see him outside of a traditional setting like a festival or club.

Sun., Sept. 28, 4 p.m., 2014

Categories
CULTURE ARCHIVES Datebook Events Listings Living MUSIC ARCHIVES Neighborhoods NEW YORK CITY ARCHIVES NYC ARCHIVES VOICE CHOICES ARCHIVES Where To

Imelda May

The rise of Imelda May has been a slow climb, but a steady one. The singer began to round the Dublin burlesque circuit at 16, and even then, her fundamental traits were in place: pop-noir glamour that takes the blues as its home base, and the kind of big, theatrical voice that you’d imagine spends its nights melting hardboiled hearts in the smoky back room of some velvet-decked joint somewhere in a seedy part of town. Though she’s on the front lines of the rockabilly revival, her songs range far and wide into soul, 60s pop, and even shades of goth. May layers bubblegum catchiness over a slightly evil — and addictive — underside.

Mon., Sept. 29, 7 p.m., 2014

Categories
Living NYC ARCHIVES VOICE CHOICES ARCHIVES Where To

AMERICANARAMA

Born in Germany in 1931, Chris Strachwitz is arguably second only to the Lomaxes when it comes to informing us about our own musical heritage. With the release of Mance Lipscomb: Texas Sharecropper and Songster on his new Arhoolie label in 1960, the same year he opened a now-legendary record store just north of Berkeley, Strachwitz delivered the first of hundreds of seminal blues, country, gospel, jazz, Cajun, and zydeco performances unto curious roots-music fans. Strachwitz will attend tonight’s screening of This Ain’t No Mouse Music, a new documentary about him by Chris Simon and Maureen Gosling. The evening will also include vintage performance clips, two films by the great music documentarian Les Blank, and Arhoolie-catalog tributes by Las Rubias del Norte, Mamie Minch, and El Rey Vallenato Beto Jamaica.

Sat., Sept. 27, 6 p.m., 2014

Categories
Living NYC ARCHIVES VOICE CHOICES ARCHIVES Where To

WORD FROM THE NORTH

Russia has gifted the literary canon with countless heavyweights, many of whom have turned a sharp and critical eye on the country’s restrictive state. Russia is Restless takes a close look at the tumultuous nation’s contributions to the larger cultural landscape. Tonight, Restless Books brings together in conversation Hamid Ismailov, a prolific, exiled Uzbek writer whose works of journalism, fiction, and poetry have been published in multiple languages, and Boris Fishman, the Minsk-born author whose debut novel, A Replacement Life, was called “bold, ambitious, and wickedly smart” by the New York Times. Hear these two literary lions discuss the implications for creativity and free speech in today’s Russia, over a three-course, home-style Russian meal with wine and a shot of infused vodka.

Fri., Sept. 19, 7 p.m., 2014

Categories
Living Neighborhoods NEW YORK CITY ARCHIVES NYC ARCHIVES VOICE CHOICES ARCHIVES Where To

Darkside

Oh, Darkside, we hardly knew you. The atmospheric, genre-blending collaboration between Nicolas Jaar and Dave Harrington began life in a Berlin hotel hallway, which led to one EP in 2011, a debut album, Psychic, last year, and a well-received Daft Punk remix. Now the project will draw to a close at Brooklyn Masonic Temple, their final show. The news that the band was “coming to an end, for now” was announced with a short but bittersweet statement on their Twitter account last month. As a parting gift, the duo released two songs, one of which was aptly named “Gone Too Soon.”

Fri., Sept. 12, 9 p.m., 2014

Categories
Living NYC ARCHIVES VOICE CHOICES ARCHIVES Where To

DANGEROUS GAME

In ancient Rome, gladiators fought in the Colosseum to sublimate war and quell a broader societal bloodlust. Today, in the U.S.’s many Colosseum-shaped stadiums, NFL franchises do the same, only in a way that’s a lot less . . . stabby. This might be what Steve Almond is getting at when he refers to America’s true pastime as “symptomatic of our worst and darkest impulses” in his latest book, Against Football: One Fan’s Reluctant Manifesto. Almond can clearly appreciate that a sense of national identity comes out of tossing around the ol’ pigskin as much as, say, rock ’n’ roll or candy bars (both of which he’s written about in past volumes), so we’re curious to hear this cultural critic make his case, as wildly unpopular as it might be in some circles. Tonight, he’s joined by Stephen Elliot, editor in chief at the Rumpus and author of The Adderall Diaries.

Mon., Sept. 15, 7 p.m., 2014