Welcome to another addition of Kingston After Dark. Hopefully by now you have managed to digest, and perhaps even excrete,
This week Mohonk Mountain House served as a set for a party scene in the fifth season of the Showtime series Billions, which stars Paul Giamatti as a US attorney (loosely based on Preet Bharara) and Damian Lewis as the hedge fund tycoon he’s pursuing. In Hudson Valley Film Commission director Laurent Rejto’s view, 2019 has quite simply been “the most successful year to date for regional film and TV production.”
Saturday, Dec. 7: Cooper, the author of the much-loved, Newbery Medal-winning five-book series The Dark Is Rising, learned to love literature in the family bomb shelter as her mother read aloud by candlelight to pass the time during the Blitz.
Sunday, Dec. 8: The Roman custom of celebrating Saturnalia with a temporary topsy-turvy social order, during which servants were permitted to lord it over their masters, persisted well after the Christianization of Europe. In his Anatomy of Abuses in England in Shakspere’s Youth (1583), the pamphleteer Phillip Stubbes railed against the ongoing practice of a Lord of Misrule being appointed by a mob to take over a country church at Christmastime. That odd tradition has largely been forgotten, but the Brooklyn-based Dzieci Theatre – known hereabouts for its performances of Makbet at Opus 40 – does its best to keep the memory alive.
A loving homage to all the classic whodunits that have gone before (especially in the Agatha Christie mode), Knives Out addresses the problem of every possible plot twist having already been used at least once by introducing a topical subtext of class warfare and anti-immigrant bias. It’s not mere PC window-dressing; it drives the plot in ways that can’t be ignored.
Friday-Sunday, Dec. 6-8: Ulster Ballet Company will present its 25th anniversary season of Charles Dickens’ holiday classic, exquisitely choreographed and directed by Sara Miot, formerly of the New York City Ballet.
Sunday, Dec. 8: On her indie-folk debut I Need to Start a Garden, the startlingly mature Portland-based songwriter Haley Heynderickx positions herself squarely in the freak-folk tradition: able fingerpicking on nylon-string and gritty electric guitars; lyrical concerns that straddle bucolic imagism and deep symbolism; and rustic production values that occasionally sprout surprising and strange sonic developments.
Friday, Dec. 6: Do you prefer art when it knows it is art, or when it thinks it might still just be rock ‘n’ roll? Of course, there is a third road: Abbey Road, the Beatles’ second swing at a conceptual masterwork, and arguably the more successful one, even if they could never hope to duplicate the world-changing novelty of the first one. Abbey Road in fact sounds nothing like Sergeant Pepper’s. It is deeper, darker, more assured, more beautiful and more broken, showing all the wear and tear of the interceding years and all that they had learned. Consider: They are only separated by two years. Two years. “Year” must have meant something different back then.
Saturday, Dec. 7: The jazz pianist’s inventive solo interpretations of Jobim (2009’s Fred Hersch Plays Jobim) reimagine the music of Antonio Carlos “Tom” Jobim as introspective and almost classical in its internal, contrapuntal complexity. Even by Jazzstock’s consistently lofty standards, this is a big get.
Sunday, December 15: The isolation and examination of Robert Hunter’s contribution to the Grateful Dead is long overdue, as is his appreciation as a prolific and seminal rock poet.