This Month's Highlights



Sure, "Tom's Diner" and "Luka" are fine songs by folk-pop musician Suzanne Vega, but if you haven't looked into her newer material, you're sorely missing out. Beauty and Crime, the album she released last year, was hailed as "her valentine to New York" and "a moving jewel box of a record" by New York magazine. Billboard raves that the album "does not waste a note." Download the song "Frank and Ava" to get hooked, then head to the Tarrytown Music Hall on August 16 to hear the rest—live, of course.

(left to right): Pianist Lucille Chung performs August 10; Prokofiev by Konchalovsky Petr Petrovic; Frank Gehry’s Fisher Center.

 

 The Russia House

Out in the woods just north of Westchester sits a metal structure so twisted and warped, you know right away—or should—that it was designed by Frank Gehry. And while the Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts at Bard College itself is enough to arouse interest, you still need a good reason to get in the car and go there. This month, the reason arrives: the Bard Music Festival, taking place August 8 to 10 and 15 to 17. This year’s festival is devoted to Sergey Prokofiev, and the 11 scheduled concerts cover his entire career from his beginnings in Russia to his exile in France and back. Visit, and then try to get the theme from Peter and the Wolf out of your head the next week.

 

Levon at the Helm

In 1968, The Band’s watershed debut album, Music From Big Pink, broke through the drug-addled fluff of psychedelia with a less-is-more aesthetic that eschewed studio tricks and stage antics in favor of musical virtuosity. In one fell swoop, The Band reintroduced traditional instruments—mandolins, accordions, fiddles—into pop music, and spawned a spate of musical hybrids: folk-rock, country-rock, roots rock, Americana. Their influence was profound enough for Eric Clapton to break up Cream to go solo. After a battle with throat cancer, Levon Helm, The Band’s drummer and co-lead singer, is sounding as great and as gritty as ever. Catch him August 4 at the Ridgefield Playhouse.
// Carol Caffin
 

Live Free

We know it’s a harsh economic climate out there, and you probably blew your summer entertainment budget on your vacation. (Are you regretting those extra Martinis now?) But there’s good news: you don’t have to settle for season-ending boredom. The Levitt Pavilion for the Performing Arts in Westport, Connecticut, promises a month’s worth of entertainment—gratis—so you’re free to continue wasting your spare cash on gas. Performances range from screenings of Across the Universe (or The Office, if that’s more your fancy), to concerts with Rob Carlson and Modern Man (“bridging the gap between the Three Tenors and The Three Stooges,” they claim), to family-friendly concerts with the Dirty Sock Funtime Band (voted “Best Kids’ Band” by Time Out New York Kids). All events take place in an outdoor amphitheater on the banks of the Saugatuck River, so you also get a free view of the stars. For more information, visit levittpavilion.com.

Good Godard

The sumptuous black-and-white photography, the glamorous women smoking long cigarettes, the arty philosophical discussion—there’s a reason French cinema just seems so cool. Most of the credit should go to director Jean-Luc Godard, whose experimental and often controversial movies ushered in the era of French New Wave cinema (très chic). The Jacob Burns Film Cinema is hosting the eight-film series “Godard in the Sixties” from August 8 to 21, and the mini-retrospective includes film-school favorites Breathless and Vivre Sa Vie.

Home Theater

What to add to your Netflix queue this month

 

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day
DVD Release Date: August 19, Universal
Britain’s on the brink of World War II and is barely hanging on, but cabaret singer Delysia Lafosse (Amy Adams) seems impervious to troubles: she’s juggling three boyfriends, living in a stunning flat, and performing nightly at a hip nightclub. When struggling nanny Miss Pettigrew (Frances McDormand) signs on to become Delysia’s “social secretary,” she’s allowed into Delysia’s charmed life—but only for 24 hours. The Big Band music and adorable sweetness of leads Amy Adams and Lee Pace provide for a swinging time, but it’s a sober romance between Frances McDormand and Ciarán Hinds, who play two old-timers who remember the first war, that keep it from getting too sweet.
The Wire: The Complete Fifth Season
DVD Release Date: August 12, HBO Home Video
The end of The Wire isn’t exactly comparable to the finale of M*A*S*H*, but for a certain group of die-hard, dedicated fans—and we’re sure you’ve bumped into a few at cocktail parties, telling you that you just have to watch the show—there was no braver series on the air, and its last season was just as affecting. The show, which looked at the systematic ills of roughed-up Baltimore, focuses on the press for a blistering look at journalism today. The DVD is a fitting tribute to the series, with a whopping six commentaries provided along with a documentary look at the role of the media. (We hope regional magazines come off looking good.)
Warner Home Video Western Classics Collection
DVD Release Date: August 26, Warner Home Video
Last year saw its share of top-notch Westerns: 3:10 to Yuma, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, and even No Country for Old Men. Now catch up with some of the classic Westerns with this box set, which includes Escape from Fort Bravo, Many Rivers to Cross, Cimarron 1960, The Law and Jake Wade, Saddle the Wind, and The Stalking Moon. That’s a whole lot of paces at high noon.
// ML