Jarmusch's Ghost Dog Hits the City

| 16 Feb 2015 | 04:52

    Film Forum's ongoing "Neo Noir" series gets ethnic this weekend, with the blaxploitation double feature of Coffy and Superfly on Friday and Saturday (3/3-4). These two are probably the genre's most fun to sit through, with Pam Grier's style and Curtis Mayfield's soundtrack, respectively, making up for typically lame plots. On Sunday (3/5) the series serves up Tarantino's Pulp Fiction, which I think would better deserve the prestigious "noir" tag if Samuel Jackson's character were a lot more Ghost Dog and a lot less Superfly. Then at least we'd understand why he doesn't shoot Tarantino's character for repeatedly shouting the n-word: it'd be against his code. In any case, Film Forum sort of blows its cred as far as this series goes on Tuesday (3/7), with a screening of Oliver Stone's U-Turn?an horrifically botched attempt at neo-noir that disgraced its all-star cast. Be warned. (209 W. Houston St., betw. 6th Ave. & Varick St., 727-8110.)

    Little Cinema Classics makes Film Forum look like The Establishment with its own noir series, prologued this weekend with a screening (actually 3/4-5 at 6, 7:40 and 9:20 p.m., plus 11 p.m. Sat. only) of Kubrick's slick 1956 feature, The Killing. The series proper starts Monday and includes five films over the next seven days?$15 gets you into all of 'em. First up is double-crossed Lee Marvin in John Boorman's Point Blank?the powerful inspiration for the weak Mel Gibson vehicle Payback. The other four are: Lewis Milestone's Strange Love of Martha Ivers, Edgar Ulmer's Detour, Fritz Lang's Ministry of Fear and Nicholas Ray's Party Girl. (3/6-12, see "Listings" for schedule, 332 E. 11th St., betw. 1st & 2nd Aves., 971-1015.)

    The other big film-related event this week is the American Museum of the Moving Image's super-respectful salute to Steve Martin, climaxing when he's "feted" at the Waldorf Friday night. Saturday Night Live's Lorne Michaels, notable for his inability to tell when a piece of sketch comedy goes on too fucking long, will host the event, which will also feature celebrity presenters Mike Nichols, Kevin Kline, Martin Mull and Sarah Jessica Parker. (3/3, 7 p.m., 301 Park Ave., betw. 49th & 50th Sts., 245-6570, $750-$25,000.) The Museum's press materials call Martin "?the most accomplished comic actor of the past two decades" and compare him to Buster Keaton. That's a little over the top, but at least they're not talking about Robin Williams. No matter how many times I read this press release, I can't find the part where it says Steve Martin will actually appear at either the Waldorf or the Museum, which will be showing all his films starting with The Jerk, Saturday at 2 p.m. (3/4, 35th Ave. at 36th St., Astoria, 718-784-0077.) Yet now, reading again, I see that they "feted" Robin Williams this way five years ago.

    One more film thing: The Screening Room premieres Homo Sapiens 1900, a documentary about the American eugenics movement, also on Friday (3/3). I haven't seen it, but New York Press film critic Matt Seitz called it "a fascinating (if occasionally academic) film with contemporary resonance." (3/3-9, 54 Varick St. at Canal St., 334-2100.) March 3 is also the anniversary of the birthday of Alexander Graham Bell, a noted eugenicist. So of course it's a good night to fete Steve Martin, who plays a white child of black parents in The Jerk. G.W. Bush's cozying up to anti-race-mixers will be in the New York spotlight days later, Super Tuesday, which, perhaps tellingly, coincides this year with Mardi Gras. See what Jarmusch and I mean about codes seeping across borders?

    No? Then how about learning something about genetically modified food? The biggest headline on the flier for "Future Food," a Saturday conference presented by Les Dames d'Escoffier New York and hosted by NYU's School of Education, Dept. of Nutrition & Food Studies says: "Your Questions Answered." They say the conference will be "balanced," which would be nice, as everything I've read so far about this issue (including a piece in this very publication) has been alarmist. I know conferences are boring, but maybe this is an issue where we just can't trust journalists, because if the truth is there's little to worry about, they have no story. It's easy to scare people with something new. It used to be common knowledge that race-mixing was dangerous?that it'd bring about genetically suspect humans. Can't say I'm hot to eat a copyrighted tomato, though. (3/4, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., at NYU's Tisch Hall, 40 W. 4th St., betw. Washington Square E. & Greene St., 447-5710, $90, $50 students, incl. lunch and materials.)

    Getting rich off new cultural mutations will be a major theme of this year's Music & Internet Expo, which will go on all weekend at the New Yorker Hotel. The definite highlight of last year's event was the address by Chuck D. Keynotes this year are by Nile Rogers and charming corporate-rock apologist Danny Goldberg, but expect the speech by recent-Internet-convert Ice-T to blow those cats' away. He's the most articulate O.G. on the circuit, bar none. (3/3-5, 11 a.m.-8 p.m., 8th Ave. at 34th St., www.newyorkexpo.com, $20 per day or $50 for all three. See special pullout section in this issue for more info.)

    Mardi Gras/Super Tuesday is a big O.G. day, as it will see the official release of the Jungle Brothers' V.I.P. Convenient for my Ghost Dog-inspired mood, this album evinces heavy cultural seepage. It's certainly novel, at least for the moment. It'd be easy to think there was nothing better for old-schoolers to do than?like Run-DMC and Cypress Hill?hire metal guitarists, if not for V.I.P., on which the (admittedly younger) J.B.s tap a hot cultural vein without catering to least-common-denominator tastes. V.I.P. is a dance album?really a house-techno-rave-informed pop album, produced by Brit Alex Gifford of Propellerheads, who's a sort of middle-aged, ex-punk beatmaker with an uncanny sense of song structure. Add on Afrika Baby Bam and Mike G's joyous, tuneful rhyme style, and you've got rap with a lot of bright melody, warm colors and second-childhood joie de vivre. This album has gotten some harsh treatment in the press, including pans by English critic (and New York Press contributor) Everett True in The Stranger and local house DJ (and New York Press contributor) Lola Rephann in Alternative Press, but again, I don't know what more one can ask for. V.I.P. is happy rap by lovable characters with huge new beats that make you want to dance.

    The Jungle Brothers are?and I got this bit of information firsthand?dedicated Steve Martin fans. As they entertain ravers, another sect of the big-jeans movement has a chance to be cross-culturally educated, in hippie environs no less, courtesy of well-read Talib Kweli, whose group Reflection Eternal plays Wetlands Wednesday night. Young Kweli is a great performer, already in the pantheon of Native Tongue-style rhymers as far as I'm concerned, with a taste in backing tracks that runs closer to the vanguard than that of his Black Star partner Mos Def. If this MC keeps building his vocabulary and sharpening his rapid enunciation, he'll invent a new kind of rap before he turns 30. (3/1, with Boy Sets Fire, Non Phixion and Dr. Israel, 161 Hudson St. at Laight St., 386-3600, $12.)

    There'll be some large pants at the party to celebrate the release of Dennis Cooper's new book?the last in his five-book cycle?Period (Grove Press), Friday at NYU's Fales Library. Rockers Stephen Malkmus and Thurston Moore will be among the featured readers. (3/3, 6:30 p.m., 70 Washington Square S., 3rd fl., 998-2596, free.) The day before that, Thursday, there's a critical discussion of Cooper's works. (3/2, same time and place.) And the day before that, Cooper reads at the Chelsea Barnes & Noble. (3/1, 7:30 p.m., 675 6th Ave. at 21st St., 727-1227, free.)

    Other fringe literary events this week include a memorial celebration for Quentin Crisp, with reminiscences, anecdotes and video clips, Friday at Cooper Union's Great Hall. (3/3, 7 p.m., 7 E. 7th St. at 3rd Ave., 254-0508.) And Katherine Gates, who as founder of Gates of Heck published Joe Coleman and Kim Deitch, and also worked with GWAR and Laibach, reads from her new illustrated guide to the cutting edge of sexual fetishism (including erotic balloon-popping), Deviant Desires, Thursday at Tower Books. (3/2, 7 p.m., 383 Lafayette St. at E. 4th St., 228-5100, free.)

    The Jungle Brothers are also fans of Smash Mouth, who play Roseland Wednesday night?a show sponsored by Yahoo and Doritos. (3/1, with Luscious Jackson and the Hippos, 239 W. 52nd St., betw. 8th Ave. & B'way, 777-6800, $17.) If Yahoo, Doritos and Smash Mouth sound like an appealing combination to you, my advice is to expand your horizons. Consider crashing the insular little scenes that surround any of the four excellent and unique-voiced songwriters coming to town this week. Each has his own dedicated followings, and for good reasons. They deserve to play for someone besides the same worshipful crowd as last year. They are: Jonathan Richman and Vic Chesnutt (Fri. & Sat., 3/3-4, at Bowery Ballroom, 6 Delancey St. at Bowery, 533-2111, $15); Toshi Reagon (Weds., 3/1, at Bowery Ballroom, $12) and Lou Barlow (Thurs., 3/2, at the Knitting Factory, 74 Leonard St., betw. Church St. & B'way, 219-3006, $12).

    And finally, there's a chance this week for New Yorkers to help out rock 'n' roll radical and former MC5 manager John Sinclair, who, as you might have read in New York Press, recently lost his home in a fire. The John Sinclair Fire Fund Benefit show is Saturday night at Arlene Grocery, with the Blue Mockingbirds (featuring Ted Mason, late of Modern English), Mercy Side, the Scoldees (featuring the wife of Jackie the Jokeman from the Howard Stern Show, I shit you not) and Eric's in Oregon. (3/4, 95 Stanton St., betw. Orchard & Ludlow Sts., 358-1633, contributions requested.)