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Monday, Sep 22, 2014
When Tits of Clay, the fictional band in Hedwig and the Angry Inch, put on a real performance, Hedheads wig out.

As the Broadway production of Hedwig and the Angry Inch was coming together, then-titular-star Neil Patrick Harris and the musicians/actors cast to be his backing band performed a live gig at Rockwood Music Hall for an intimate crowd. Since then, the members of that backing band, Tits of Clay, have decided to become a real band as their time permits. With Harris and / or other special Hedwig guests, the band has played a few late-nights shows at the Mercury Lounge, post-Hedwig performance. The most recent was September 4th and, despite the 11:59 pm start time, the show sold out with the line of people waiting to get in going around the corner. Most of these folks would be considered Hedheads and they could have heard of the show from a tweet from NPH, implying he might be there. But though they might have come to hear Hedwig showtunes, those same fans may be surprised to hear Tits of Clay do an almost entirely punk set.


The Tits’ members attire and hair certainly would have given that away though and The New Yorker wrote up a good description of them, “Justin Craig (guitar, keyboards, vocals), the music director, who has a Pete Townshend nose and a prettified Nigel Tufnel hairstyle; Matt Duncan (bass, guitar, keyboards, vocals), who has short emerald-green hair and a macho black mustache; Tim Mislock (guitar, vocals), who has asymmetrical blond hair, like a half-buzzed Leif Garrett; Peter Yanowitz (drums, vocals), with crimson hair, on drums. They combine the look of old-school glam and punk with the one thing the genre currently lacks: youth.”


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Friday, Sep 19, 2014
Two Main Competition films that explore Poland's past: one treating it as picaresque comedy, the other as harrowing special effects spectacle.

As demonstrated by the recent success of films as diverse as In Darkness (2011), Aftermath (2012) and Ida (2013) (to name but three), Poland’s turbulent and often traumatic history remains a topic of great concern for contemporary filmmakers. This interest is evident again in a large number of the films screening at Gdynia this year, of which Jerzy Stuhr’s picaresque comedy, The Citizen (Obywatel), must rank as one of the most curious.


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Thursday, Sep 18, 2014
Troubled teens and a chronic alcoholic populate two of the Main Competition films. But James Gray's The Immigrant proves the most impressive.

The insistent sound of a ringing telephone is the first thing to be heard in Anna Kazejak’s The Word (Obietnica), which opens pretty much in medias res, thrusting the viewer right into the fraught relationship between two teenagers, Lila (Eliza Rycembel) and Janek (Mateusz Więcławek).


The significance of the sound becomes apparent as the movie progresses, since communication (and, in particular, the way in which teens communicate with each other) is one of Kazejak’s concerns in this, her second feature following 2010’s Flying Pigs. The text messages, Facebook posts and Skype chats that the characters indulge in throughout the film gain greater significance when a murder gets committed and such communications become evidence in the ensuing investigation.


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Thursday, Sep 18, 2014
Spoon's excellent live show at Central Park's Rumsey Playfield (aka Summerstage) came near the heels of their late-Summer They Want My Soul tour.

I hadn’t seen the band Spoon since last year’s Governors Ball Festival but they finally came back around to the area for a proper show at Rumsey Playfield (aka Summerstage though that City Parks Foundation series is over) in Central Park. The band are touring on the back of their latest album They Want My Soul and this performance showed the audience how consistently good they are (as our critic Matthew Fiander wrote, “This is another very good Spoon record, but it’s not the same as any other Spoon record. It is also a record that, in the ways it continues and twists the band’s sound, reminds us that Spoon put in a lot of work to find their sound.”) and how cohesive all of Spoon’s material sounds together.


The Village Voice had noted that, “Got Nuffin” roars onstage as much as it did when it was new, but what really stood out was how seamlessly the new songs have already woven their way into the set. “New York Kiss” got a huge cheer when it began, because of course/why not. “Rent I Pay,” in particular, already came off like a classic Spoon song.” And it was with “Knock Knock Knock” and “Rent I Pay” that Spoon had kicked things off on the lovely late-Summer evening. The band was in fine form throughout the night and, except for Britt Daniel, quite often in the shadows, with their silhouettes cast upon screens around the stage. Before their conclusion, Spoon performed the dark and dancey, “I Turn My Camera On”, which is one of my favorites and then included another of my favorites, “You Got Yr Cherry Bomb” in their finale.


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Wednesday, Sep 17, 2014
Love, war and other crap at the Gdynia Film Festival, Poland's largest and most prestigious showcase for its national cinema.

Founded in 1974 and now in its 39th year (two were lost to the imposition of martial law in the early ‘80s) the Gdynia Film Festival (15-20 September 2014) is the oldest and most prestigious event in the Polish film calendar, and one of the primary showcases for national cinema. (Recent winners include Agnieska Holland’s In Darkness [2012] and, last year, Pawel Pawlikowski’s Ida.)


The range of movies, events, exhibitions and workshops that the festival offers clearly plays a large part in that reputation, while its blissful location in the gorgeous Gdynia (the northern seaside locale that’s part of the so-called “Tri-City”, or “Trójmiasto”, alongside Gdansk and Sopot) doesn’t hurt, either. As a first-time attendee, I’ve been struck over the last couple of days by the festival’s excellent organisation and welcoming atmosphere, and by the richness of its programming which offers a sometimes overwhelming choice of things to do and see.


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