Category Archives: Opening

EV2BK Film Preview – Fair Game

At the Director’s Premiere of Fair Game last night, we were treated not only to a suspense-filled glimpse into the shadowed corridors of political power but also to a panel discussion featuring the real life protagonists of the film’s story.  The panel, which followed the screening, included the director, Doug Liman (best known as the director of the Bourne trilogy, among many others), former CIA operative Valerie Plame, her husband, former Ambassador and diplomat Joseph Wilson, and Emily Bazelon of Slate Magazine.

Fair Game is a riveting thriller based on the autobiography of real-life undercover CIA agent Valerie Plame (played by Naomi Watts), whose career was destroyed when her covert identity was exposed by a politically-motivated press leak. As a senior manager in the CIA’s Counter-Proliferation Division (“CPD”), Valerie played an integral part in the investigation into the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Valerie’s husband, diplomat Joe Wilson (played by Sean Penn) was asked to join the investigation to substantiate an alleged sale of “yellowcake,” a specific type of partly-enriched uranium, from Niger to Iraq. When the administration ignored his findings and used the issue to support the call to war, Wilson wrote a New York Times editorial outlining his conclusions, which ignited a firestorm of controversy. In an effort to prevent the notion that the US may have rushed to war based on unsubstantiated evidence from entering the public consciousness, members of the Bush administration fought back by calling into question the character and motivations of Joe Wilson. As this story gained traction, the administration ultimately leaked the identity of Valerie Plame to the press to try to (a) discredit Wilson and his claims that he had been sent to Niger by the Vice President’s office (and not by his wife, for political reasons) and (b) to distract from the claim that all thorough reviews of the credible evidence seemed to suggest that the alleged sale of enriched uranium had never taken place.

The film is anchored by great performances from Namoi Watts and Sean Penn, and anyone who has seen and enjoyed the cinematographic work in the Bourne films will be pleased to find the same fast-paced, thoughtful DP work from Mr. Liman once again.

During the panel discussion that followed the film, Plame and Wilson discussed the decision by Wilson to write the Op-Ed piece in the Times and the controversy that followed. Plame explained the urgency with which the CIA was being asked to produce intelligence in the months leading up to the the Iraq war, saying, “Intelligence takes time – to vet your sources and corroborate them – and that time was not being given to the CIA.” And although she did seem to concede that missteps were taken by the CIA in addition to the other parties involved, she also made sure to point out that the CIA is an easy scapegoat when she joked, “It’s easy to blame the CIA. What are they going to say? Nothing.” When asked what steps could be taken to avoid a situation like this from happening in the future Plame went on to say, “Look what’s happening in Iran, the body politic relies on public amnesia sometimes.”

On the discord between the increasingly polarized political parties in this country, Wilson commented that “We now really, genuinely dislike each other because of our political views rather than just disagreeing, and there is something wrong with that. There is a need to understand where the other side is coming from.” As an example of a previous era’s willingness to look beyond red v. blue, Liman pointed out that “People forget that Joe Wilson was appointed ambassador by a Republican president.” But now, as Wilson eloquently summed it up at one point, political discourse in America has essentially devolved into one side screaming “Fuck you!” and the other yelling “Fuck you” back.

Still, as the character Joe Wilson points out towards the end of the movie, in what stuck us as the core message of the film, democracy is what you make of it. Paraphrasing Ben Franklin, the film version of Joe Wilson tells a group of young students the story of a woman who stops Ben Franklin as he’s walking home from writing the constitution to ask, “Mr. Franklin, what type of government have you given us?” To which Franklin responded, Wilson tells the class, “A Republic, ma’am. If you can keep it.” The point being that our form of governance relies upon active and informed citizens to occasionally rise up and act in order to ensure that power is not abused, no matter the perceived odds against you. Or, as Wilson later said in the panel, “good citizenship counts, and you can survive it.”

The director’s screening was held at the iconic Paris Theater and the panel discussion was moderated by Judith Resnik, the Arthur Liman Professor of Law at Yale Law School. The Yale Law School Arthur Liman Public Interest Program was founded in the name of noted public servant and Yale alum Arthur Liman (Doug’s father) to support the work of law students, law school graduates, and students from six universities, all of whom work to respond to problems of inequality and to improve access to justice.

Fair Game opens in select cities on November 5, 2010 (Runtime – 104 min).


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EV2BK Nightlife Preview – The Draft and Billy Hurricane’s

For those of you who will be in and around the East Village this weekend, there are two new bars to check out with very different vibes.

The Draft

First up is The Draft, a brand new 1920’s-style sports bar taking over the space formerly occupied by The Blue Seats. Owners Kendra and Natasha are preparing for the soft-opening of the bar tonight and promise a “relaxed neighborhood sports bar” vibe. The 22 flat screens from The Blue Seats are still there, but the booths have been removed to allow for a more informal setting and a lot more standing room (as the venue is on the small to tiny scale). The proud new owners first met 12 years ago as bartenders at Bulls Head Tavern in Gramercy and are very excited to finally have a place of their own. The Draft offers a sizable menu with everything from pizza to wienies, sliders, and wings. Cocktails range from $6 to $12, and carry 1920s era themed names like “Gams,” Bee’s Knees,” “Putting on the Ritz,” “On The Lamb,” and “The Real McCoy.”

Billy Hurricane’s

The bright orange sign of Billy Hurricane’s on Avenue B has been heralding the new bar’s arrival for some time. With the Grand Opening yesterday, the wait was finally over. The concern about the frat-boy appeal of this “Mardis Gras-themed” bar in the former Rehab/ Midway Rock Club space that describes itself as a “speakeasy downstairs and a speakloudly upstairs” may be deserved, but whatever their clientele, Billy’s was certainly packing them in last night with crowds gathering in the sizable venue and spilling out onto the sidewalk. When EV2BK was there, the place was still heating up but the bright lights and over-sized wall decor was certainly an overhaul of the formerly dank space. It could be annoying or it could be fun, we’ll have to wait and see what the weekend holds.

The Draft, 157 Ludlow Street (between Rivington and Stanton)
Billy Hurricane’s, 25 Avenue B (between 2nd and 3rd)


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Jam of the Day – Welcome CMJ

The CMJ 2009 Music Marathon & Film Festival starts today in NYC. Since we are going to be all over the city covering the best of CMJ this week, the JOTD feature will be on a brief pause, resuming next week. In lieu of the full JOTD, here is a song from one of the bands I am most excited to see this week, who we wrote about back in early September, The xx.

The xx – Basic Space:


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Jam of the Day – Brace Yourself for the New Knitting Factory

Good news for fans of the now defunct venue, The Knitting Factory: they have just announced that they will be set to reopen in a smaller space in Williamsburg in early September. The new venue will be located at 361 Metropolitan Avenue, in the former space of the Luna Lounge. The Knitting Factory originally opened in 1987 on the Lower East side on East Houston Street, and developed a following for its eclectic mix of jazz, avant-garde, and rock music performances. This allowed the owners to move to a larger space in Tribeca in 1994. Its lease on the space expired in July, so the move to Williamsburg has been in the works for a while.

On their opening night of September 9th, the new club will present Brooklyn band Les Savy Fav. The group formed back in 1995 while attending the Rhode Island School of Design. The current lineup features Tim Harrington on lead vocals, Seth Jabour on guitar, Syd Butler on bass, and Harrison Haynes on drums. Bass player Syd Butler is also the owner of Frenchkiss Records (Passion Pit , Cut Off Your Hands, etc.), who released their latest full-length album Let’s Stay Friends back in 2007. Their live shows are punctuated by the antics of Harrington, who has been know to have multiple on-stage wardrobe changes and frequently kiss audience members, so watch out if you find yourself near the front at the show!

Les Savy Fav – Brace Yourself:


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Jam of the Day – The Roots of the High Line

This week, after much anticipation, the first nine-block section of the brand new elevated public park in Chelsea, the High Line, opened to the public. Visiting this park, which was once an abandoned railway in jeopardy of being torn down, is one of those “you have to see it to believe it” New York City experiences. The park gives you a really unique view of the city, you’re not at the top of the Empire State Building and you’re not down on the ground, you’re somewhere in between on this beautiful green-space and it’s pretty incredible. One of the first to write about The High Line was Adam Gopnik for The New Yorker, back in May of 2001. In his lengthy article, which features photographs by the photographer Joel Sternfeld, he interviews High Line neighborhood residents Robert Hammond and Joshua David, the founding members of the “Friends of the High Line,” a charitable organization created to advocate for the High Line’s preservation and reuse as public open space. After this article and other press coverage began to feature the High Line, funding started coming in and the restoration project was underway. Click here to watch a great video about the history of the High Line featuring some celebrity supporters of the project. Next Monday, the “Friends of the High Line” is hosting an Opening Summer Benefit which “marks the culmination of 10 years of efforts to save, preserve, and open the High Line as a New York City park.” For now only “Section 1” (Gansevoort Street to 20th Street) is open to the public and they hope to have “Section 2” (20th Street to 30th Street) open in 2010.

In keeping with the spirit of neighborhood comradery, The HighLine Ballroom, a music and performance venue inspired by the High Line that opened in April 2007 donates $0.25 from every ticket sold to “The Friends of the High Line.”

Starting in June, the HighLine Ballroom started a series of Tuesday night “late-nights” featuring the innovative hip-hop collective The Roots, and a series of their special guest performers called “The Roots Present The Jam.” The Roots began recording and performing back in the late-eighties when rapper Black Thought (Tariq Trotter) and drummer ?uestlove (Ahmir Khalib Thompson) met at the Philadelphia High School for Creative Performing Arts. The Roots produced its first major-label album, Do You Want More?!!!??!, in 1995 without sampling from any other artists, defying the conventions of most rap at the time. Although most of their music is full of politically charged lyrical content and complex sounds, The Roots are probably best known for one of their more mellow songs that won them a Grammy in 1999, “You Got Me” featuring Erykah Badu. They have had seven other Grammy nominations including a nod in 2007 for Best Rap Album for Game Theory. In a surprising move this year, The Roots are performing as the house band for Jimmy Fallon’s NBC late night talk show. Lucky for Jimmy and lucky for us since we know they’ll be in town and we can catch them weekly at the HighLine Ballroom.

Definitely my new favorite track off their latest album, Rising Down, released in April 2008, is “Rising Up!” which features Chrisette Michelle and Wale. In an interview with NPR, ?uestlove, says “the titles draw on William T. Vollmann’s Rising Up and Rising Down, a book about the psychological nature of violence. The album in sort of its political hand really deals with how humans will use violence before anything.” Listen to it once and you won’t be able to get the hot drum beat and smooth baseline out of your head…

The Roots (feat Chrisette Michele & Wale) – Rising Up!:


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