Tag Archives: IFC

NYMysteries  Aug. 25 – Sept. 1

Stephen Maing’s Crime & Punishment is a documentary about the NYPD treatment of minority officers. I learned about Crime & Punishment at a Mystery Writers of America Meeting. Officers Pedro Serrano, Ritchie Baez and Derek Waller presented evidence of discrimination and disrespect. In the documentary, twelve courageous minority cops demonstrate how they’re pressured to arrest other people of color to meet an illegal but still prevalent arrest quota.  The documentary was shown at Sundance. It’s on Hulu and at IFC in NYC. I went to an early screening at IFC, along with about five others. It’s an engrossing examination. Congratulations to the 12 officers who participated and to Director Stephen Maing.

Off to MOMA to see The Rest I Made Up. It’s Michelle Memran’s documentary about Maria Irene Fornes, the Cuban-American playwright who influenced generations of other writers. Memran and Fornes develop a loving, joyous film friendship as they travel to Cuba, Miami and Seattle. Fornes’s encroaching Altzheimers is poignant. The Rest I Made Up shows early footage of Maria Irene Fornes teaching and directing. I had hoped for more coverage on her work with Al Carmines at Judson Memorial Church. 

One of the Judson members is a boat fanatic and she entrances us with lively stories about NYC waterways. The latest was about the John J. Harvey fireboat.



NYPD Detective Steve Kulchek is assigned a murder case at the  prestigious Windsor School. What’s bugging him? His partner being stabbed while Kulchek was buying cigarettes? Escaping an attempted car bombing?  His hated boss, Captain Dick Holbrook, being a trustee of the Windsor School?  Losing his girlfriend to Holbrook? 

Graphic Lessons: What do a teacher, Ja nine-year-old and an eighteen year old have in common? Murder. Millie Fitzgerald applies for a private school teaching job, faints on a  dying man in the school kitchen, deals with a troubled nine-year-old, the only witness to the stabbing and with the eighteen-year-old niece of the murdered man.

Graphic Lessons: Nine-year-old Dana is the only witness who overhears a person fighting with George Lopez, the soon to be stabbed Windsor School kitchen worker. Who can she tell? Her mother who never listens or accuses her of lying? Her father who’s started a new family in Singapore? She tells Millie. 

New York Mysteries Dec. 9 – Dec. 15

What do Jack Ruby, Black Rabbit, The Smuggler, have in common? They’re Minetta Tavern house cocktails of course.  A friend and I made our annual Christmas pilgrimage to the jam-packed steak house on MacDougal.  Shrouded in darkness on a south-west corner, you open an anonymous door, walk through a tiny, bleak 1930’s antechamber, pushes aside some very black curtains and you’re in. You better have a reservation unless you’re willing to wait 45 minutes for a place at the bar.  And this was a Tuesday evening. I found out later that The Black Rabbit was the restaurant’s original name and that the owner Eve Adams had another MacDougal restaurant down the block, now called La Laterna di Vittorio.  We sat across from the bar and had a view of the caricatures, some by Franz Kleine, and the Millennials clustered around the bar. I had to have a Tom Collins and the marrow bones, then on to other cholesterol challenging treats. Such fun.





I saw Bombshell: The Hedy LaMarr Story at IFC. It’s a terrific documentary. Hedwig Eva Kiesler (1914-2000) was born in Vienna. She appeared in the nude in an early Austrian film, Ecstasy, which caught the attention of Louis B. Mayer who was in Vienna. After a failed audition, the soon to be Hedy LaMarr travelled to NYC on the same ocean liner as Mayer. He agreed to sign her to a contract and looking at the ocean, changed her name to Hedy LaMarr. She was a very beautiful woman who invented an instrument used but not paid for by the U. S. navy. At MGM she starred in adventurous epics that seem ludicrous today. The documentary is narrated by her son, Anthony Loder. He’s articulate and personable. Loder explains how his mother fell prey to pills. Like so many other actors, she worked like a race horse. She kept up by devouring pills to sleep and pills to wake up. She also fell prey to the miracle of plastic surgery. By the time she died, she was disfigured. I wonder if she was ever interviewed by Hedda Hopper, a gossip columnist of the 1940’s. If so, it could have taken place at Minetta Tavern.

Graphic Lessons: Recent thirty-five-year-old widow Millie Fitzgerald applies for a private school teaching job, faints on a stabbed and dying man in the school kitchen, deals with the only witness to the stabbing – a troubled nine-year-old, develops a crush on a NYPD detective and her dog dies.

Graphic Lessons: Nine-year-old Dana is the only witness who overhears a person fighting with George Lopez, the soon to be stabbed Windsor School kitchen worker. Who can she tell? Her mother who never listens or accuses her of lying? Her father who’s started a new family in Singapore? She tells Millie.

Graphic Lessons: Something’s eating at NYPD Detective Steve Kulchek: a failed marriage? surviving a car bomb? his girlfriend marrying his corrupt boss? screwing up an important case? It doesn’t matter because he’s relentless.

New York City Blog – May 30 – June 3

Have you seen The Fallen Idol? Film Forum is having a Carol Reed moment. Reed, the director and Graham Greene, the writer, worked on three films together: The Fallen Idol, The Third Man and Our Man in Havana. Not bad, eh? The 1948 movie is charming. It’s a literate thriller that takes place in an impossibly vast and posh mansion in post-war London. The superb cast includes Ralph Richardson, Michelle Morgan and the amazing child, Bobby Henrey. Mr. Henrey presented his elderly self at the Film Forum’s first screening of The Fallen Idol. The small movie houses are bucking up. Film Forum and IFC have Q & A’s with actors from long ago productions. Earlier in the week, Film Forum presented The Odd Man Out, an earlier Reed film. It stars the young, handsome James Mason as an Irish revolutionary who spends most of the long film bleeding to death. Afterwards, dinner at the Jane Restaurant on Houston. Lovely oysters and shrimp for me and a burger, medium please, for my pal from Michigan.

Friday night we went to the NY Philharmonic in what used to be called the Avery Fisher Hall. Frank Huang, the lead violinist, had a stellar solo debut gliding us through a Grieg quickie followed, after intermission, by Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons. I’m embarrassed to say that after all the time I’ve spent at Lincoln Center I had never been to the Shun Lee Cafe. What a treat. It’s tucked into west 65th Street, and a perfect pretheatre restaurant. Forget the dim sum. It’s so 1970’s. Instead, head straight for the entrées and delicious white wine. Wine? In a Chinese restaurant? That’s right. It’s 2016, folks.

New York City Blog Aug. 8 – Aug. 15

Back in NYC – As the Italians say, autumn begins in August. The diagonal light conjures up 40’s ballads about the city. I strolled through Washington Square Park. It’s what Pioneer Square is in Portland and St. Mark’s in Venice – the city living room.

Washington Square Arch at dusk
Washington Square Arch at dusk

Still waiting to hear from Amtrak. On Aug. 1, I slept on the floor of the train’s lounge. Those of us who were in Car 2830 were ordered to leave our compartments and stay in the lounge. No Coach seats were available. Not a word from Amtrak.
Back to NYC. I did something I haven’t done in years. I went to a double feature at Film Forum. First, The Third Man, one of my favorite movies. There’s always something to discover. This time I watched the actor who played Mr Winkle blow the dust off an objet d’art as he listened to hapless Holly Martin. Then, I scooted across the corridor and saw Listen to me Marlon. It’s based on Marlon Brando’s observations of his exciting and unhappy life.
Have you been to China: Through the Looking Glass at the Met? Apparently it’s not essential to see the exhibit. It’s three floors of darkness with splinters of light and American jazz. At the other end of the building is the Sergeant exhibit. It’s wonderful. You can see the art – imagine! And it goes on for miles.

 Sergeant's Villa Torlonia, Frascati
Sergeant’s Villa Torlonia, Frascati

At IFC (the old Waverly) a friend and I saw Best of Enemies, a documentary about the William Buckley and Gore Vidal debates. It was delicious. They had vitriolic tongues and thoughts which they expressed well. Maybe the debates were the high point of their lives. Both clung to their anger long after the event was over.