*Curb checks in with the latest news from the Atlantic Yards
*Albee Square mall demo is under way (Brownstoner)
*BAM is seeking arts organizations to relocate to its Cultural District (Brooklyn Eagle)
Written and Directed by Noel Baumbach
Starring Nicole Kidman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Jack Black
There’s a scene in Noah Baumbach’s dysfunctional family tragicomedy, Margot at the Wedding, where a character notes, after finding out his fiancé
is pregnant, that he hasn’t had the moment yet where he realizes he isn’t the most important person in the world anymore. This self-centered malady afflicts most of the characters – especially the adults – throughout the course of the film, leaving the viewer feeling a bit frosty and in the near dark, much like the hazy, naturally lit dusk that permeates film’s look.
The story involves the titular character Margot (Nicole Kidman), a successful fiction writer who, with her son, visits her less successful and previously estranged sister Pauline (Jennifer Jason Leigh) for her wedding to Malcolm (Jack Black), an out-of-work schlemiel. Each character – especially the adults – carries excessive emotional baggage, highlighted by Margot’s Zelig-like mania, that causes repeated conflicts, especially between the two sisters. However, most of the scenes destined for conflict cut just before the simmer to a later moment when all seems forgiven and forgotten; that’s the lesson, I guess, when it comes to family. Compared to Baumbach’s great The Squid and the Whale, with its poignant depiction of the moment one realizes that his parents are truly imperfect beings, Margot at the Wedding, while featuring some top-notch work from Ms. Kidman, leaves a much less indelible mark.
BAM’s Ingmar Bergman retrospective begins tonight (in just a couple of hours, actually) with Persona at 6pm, to be introduced by one of its stars, Bibi Andersson. It will be followed by Shame at 8:45pm, with an introduction by Jonathan Lethem.
Tomorrow we’ve got Fanny and Alexander, with introduction by Pernilla August.
Easy Being Greene is happy to introduce our newest contributor, Corey Green, who will be reviewing new films as they premiere at BAM. First up is No Country for Old Men. Keep an eye out for his review of Margot at the Wedding later this week.
NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN
Written and Directed by the Coen Brothers
Starring Tommy Lee Jones, Javier Bardem, Josh Brolin, and Woody Harrelson
Have you ever been out with an older relative who muses that things were better in the old days? I’ve always thought these declarations were born out of nostalgia for the past; that things now are more or less the same as they always were. In the Coen Brothers latest, the magnificent No Country for Old Men, the writer/directors confirm my suspicions by making a movie that can easily hold its own against any film of the Golden Age.
After indulging their more quirky side with lesser efforts like Intolerable Cruelty and The Ladykillers remake, the Coen Brothers return to the more desolate and violent Midwest aesthetic that made their debut, Blood Simple, and their most feted film, Fargo, so successful. In No Country, Josh Brolin plays Llewelyn Moss, a blue-collar welder who, out on a hunting trip, finds five deserted trucks, dead people, heroin and two million dollars, which he takes home. The cash belongs to Anton Chigurh, played wonderfully by Javier Bardem with a distilled and succinct evil that may have gone over the top in lesser hands. The balance of the movie is a cat-and-mouse game as Chigurh tries to hunt down Moss and his money through Texas and Mexico. Based on a novel by Pulitzer-Prize winning author Cormac McCarthy and beautifully shot by Roger Deakins, No Country for Old Men feels like a Sam Peckinpah movie refracted through the Coen Brothers’ lens, proving that cinema today can be as good as it was generations ago.
Plans for a new 30 story performance space and apartment building to be built on Fulton Street, right across from the new Forte Condos, were unveiled today. See the horror for yourself:
It’s going to be a pretty green building, by all indications, but a pretty ugly one, as well. I’m sitting here baffled, asking — Why? Can’t green and aesthetically not-awful go hand in hand at this point?
And on a personal note: This is what I’m sacrificing my view of the Statue of Liberty for?
More info in the Brooklyn Eagle.
A couple of exceptional events are coming to Lafayette Avenue this weekend:
The Hotel Granada (pictured left, in the 1950s, courtesy of Brooklyn Public Library) once stood 16 stories tall at 268 Ashland Place between Lafayette and Fulton. Completed in 1927 (according to this DOB document), it immediately became a stomping ground for the borough’s wealthier residents and their visitors. Brooklynites celebrated weddings and other milestones in its Forsythia Room. Well into the 1960s, the hotel was a favored venue for events in the area. (A commenter in this Brownstoner post claims that visiting baseball teams used to stay there when playing the Dodgers.)
Fort Greene resident James Irons, who moved into the neighborhood in 1970, told me about the hotel at that time in a recent email:
By then was very quiet. There was a restaurant on the ground floor on the corner, the Gondola I believe. Used to see proper old white ladies going in for an afternoon cocktail and meal with their white gloves and hats. As the area declined there were ideas about turing the hotel into student housing for arts students in conjunction with BAM. Nothing came of the idea and the hotel changed hands and became one of the areas welfare hotels. It was renamed the Brooklyn Arms and the ground floor was converted into a laundromat.
Indeed, by the early 70s, the hotel had begun its transformation into a welfare hotel, one of over 60 that would eventually dot the city. In the mid-1980s, the hotel had become a notorious blight to the struggling-to-imrove neighborhood. BAM in particular took issue with the Granada (by this time called the Brooklyn Arms), which sat caddy corner to the academy and whose residents, as described in this New York Times article, intimidated concertgoers and created a general atmosphere of unwelcomeness as the venue strove to attain world-class status. The resentment of hotel residents toward well-heeled BAM patrons is not surprising, given the inhumane living conditions in the once grand building; no hot water, roach and rodent infestation, toilet paper shortages, broken elevators, large families in single rooms, and rampant drug dealing.
In July, 1989, the last homeless family moved out of the Granada, as the city of New York closed down its countless welfare hotels. After that, all that remained was one man who had lived in a rent-controlled apartment in the hotel for decades and could not be forced out. In 1994, the Hotel Granada’s legacy came to an unceremonious close as the hotel was demolished and the site turned into a parking lot for BAM.
Granada then (Courtesy of Brooklyn Pix):
More pics of the Hotel Granada:
Street view from the early 1960s, with BAM (hotel is near left)
I’ll be posting more as I come across them.
On Saturday, November 3rd, BAM will be hosting an unusual (for them) event, called Take Over BAM. It seems like sort of a lock-in for grownups, with music, film, and more music — different things in different rooms the whole night through. I’m excited about the musical lineup and many of the films. Not so much about the film “retrospective:”
Take Over BAM
Saturday, November 3
$15 advance, $20 at the door
Bands (playing in the beautiful BAM Opera House):
Dirty on Purpose
Be Your Own Pet
Films (All Four Cinemas Running All Night):
Lindsay Lohan Mid-Career Retrospective
When Animals Hug! — Short Films Starring Animals
Burning Down the House — Punk Rock Films
The Pusher Trilogy
DJs Spinning All Night in what seems to be Bam Cafe