Tag Archives: Van Cortland Park

Outdoor Film Screenings

Summer in NYC is a hot, sticky time full of free outdoor events. There are yoga classes, bubble wars, wandering Shakespeare, Shakespeare in a Parking Lot, countless concerts of all musical varieties and, my favorite part of the summer- outdoor film screenings! There’s something about sitting on the grass, eating picnic food and watching a movie that makes me positively glowy. I suppose it’s because I love the group experience of seeing a movie with hundreds of strangers, but I hate paying the $12.50 to do so in a theater. The outdoor film screening gives NYC back its raucous movie going adventures. The New York Parks Dept. has a pretty exhaustive list of the screenings happening this summer, but I’d like to spotlight the ones I think are particularly exciting!

The Bryant Park film series is one of the best known and therefore one of the most crowded. You need to get there when the lawn opens (5pm) and be prepared to use all your New Yorker bitchiness to get a spot. This year they’ve saved the best movie for last: Bonnie and Clyde on Monday Aug. 23rd. Watch this trailer and consider if watching in a group is worth the hassle for you.

The only really exciting film (for me at least) at Summerscreen this summer is the Labyrinth. God I love David Bowie. Sigh. Lucky for you the screening was postponed by rain and will be happening Aug. 18th, so you still have time to figure out what to wear when on hipster home turf!

On Wed. July 21st take a trip up to Van Cortland Park in the Bronx for a screening of one of the most romantic movies ever released- Casablanca. You and your significant other will be so wrapped up in the romance you’ll almost forget how long it will take you to get home.

The Summer on the Hudson film screenings on Pier 1 in Riverside Park South offer a lovely view of the water and free chairs (if you show up early enough). My two picks are Big Fish on Aug. 4th and Stranger than Fiction on Aug. 11th. Here’s the trailer for the latter; imagine watching it with the Hudson River in the background (sigh, I love summer in NYC).

The Rooftop Film Noir Screenings are new (at least to me) this summer. I find the idea of watching film noir from a rooftop in the W. Village extremely compelling. My pick is Sunset Boulevard on July 22nd.

Hudson River Park’s River Flicks provide cool breezes off the water as well as free popcorn! There’s only one film in the lineup I’d want to see this summer- Julie and Julia (Aug 4th). I’ve already seen it and I can assure you it’s nice light summery fare but be sure to bring a substantial picnic- all the cooking will make you hungry!

Also new to me this summer is the Red Hook Summer Movies festival. From their website it looks like the view behind the screen will be phenomenal- Lady Liberty is the guest star of every film! The films are mostly new to me as well so I can’t give any solid recommendations, though Splash looks ridiculous enough to be fun:

I’m not too keen on any of the movies screening at Socrates Sculpture Park in July, but the August schedule isn’t up yet so you should definitely check the site again later this month to see what comes up!

Rooftop Films, though generally not free, is one of my favorite summer institutions. The screenings take place in a variety of locations, not all on rooftops. My favorite venue by far is the Old American Can Factory, so if one of the screenings happening there appeals to you definitely go! I generally favor the programs of short films. July 21st they’re showing a program of Swedish short films, which I might skip were it not that I’ve seen one of the films (INSTEAD OF ABRACADABRA) and it was marvelous! I would also strongly recommend Animation Block Party (July 30th)- a wonderful night of animated shorts that I’ve attended 2 years running.

Last but certainly not least, my all time favorite venue for film screenings- Brooklyn Bridge Park. There is nothing more magical than sitting between the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges watching a wonderful film with your friends. It is a truly New York experience. The film selection this year isn’t that great but I would say The Blues Brothers on Aug. 19th is the best of the bunch.

Happy watching!!

July 14-16 Hello Sunshine!

Why hello there sunshine! I believe you and I are beginning a beautiful friendship! Let’s celebrate with a week of outdoor activities!

This week the New York Philharmonic Orchestra will be performing outdoors in Central Park (tonight and Friday night), Prospect Park (Wednesday) and Van Cortland Park (Thursday). I’m planning to attend Friday’s performance. If you go be aware that the people close to the stage will expect you to be quiet and listen to the music, while those further from the stage will use the orchestra for mood music to go along with their picnicking. Last year we set up camp quite a ways from the stage and chit chatted between surreptitious sips of wine; it was splendid.

Philharmonic on the Great Lawn, Central Park, 2008

Philharmonic on the Great Lawn, Central Park, 2008

Wednesday night Central Park has another excellent event to offer- The New York Grand Opera will be performing Il Trovatore at the Naumburg Bandshell (@72nd St). I saw them perform a semi-staged version of Aida last summer and it was excellent. I think this is a great introduction to opera- casual but with the excitement of costumes and such to give the story a visual element. You should read the story beforehand and, as with all outdoor events, bring a picnic!

If you’re not in the mood for opera you should consider heading down to Pier 54 on the Hudson to watch Vicky Christina Barcelona under the stars. I don’t know what got into got into Woody Allen when he was abroad but this is a very hot film- bring someone you want to take home.

There’s only one event on Wednesday worth staying inside for- The Mixer Reading and Music Series at Cakeshop. You may recall I’ve written about this event before and tomorrow’s lineup is perhaps even better than usual; readings by Walter Aikens, Fiona Maazel, Monica Youn, and musical guest, Rebecca Schiffman. Monica Youn is both an attorney and a published poet, which I find intriguing and Rebecca Schiffman is downright adorable (and a talented musician).

Rebecca Schiffman

Rebecca Schiffman

Thursday night at the Prospect Park Bandshell you can see one of B’s favorite acts- the Kronos Quartet! They’re playing alongside the Luminescent Orchestrii.

If you’re looking for something a little more old school to round off your week I highly recommend watching The Maltese Falcon under the Brooklyn Bridge. Here’s the trailer for this stunning 1941 picture with Humphrey Bogart and Mary Astor:

Enjoy your week and stay tuned for additions!

June 16-18 What to do?

I am terribly sorry to have neglected you for so long! There are a number of exciting events in the next few days I want to pass along.

I have always been an advocate of NYC tap water but tonight an advocate with much more credibility will be speaking about our H2O:

Scott Chesman PhD will speak about the construction of City Water Tunnel No. 3 and the Moshulu Tunnel, which brings Croton water into the new filtering plant being built under Van Cortland Park; he has worked on both.

The lecture will be held at the Community Center at St. Jeans Baptiste at 7pm.

On Wednesday The Lance Drummonds Experience will be exploding on S.O.B.’s stage in the E. Village. His compositions have been called soulful and ambitious; he certainly looks soulful to me…

Lance Drummonds

Lance Drummonds

Also on Wednesday you can be among the first to discover the new band The French Exit when they play at The Local 269. They’re already getting good buzz so get out to see them while you can still get close enough to introduce yourself!

Wednesday is also a big night for the Mixer Reading and Music Series; the line-up includes Chuck Klosterman, the New York Times bestselling author of ‘Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs.’  He will be reading alongside Rivka Galchen and Nick Flynn; the musical talent will be Datus. I love the combination of book readings and musical performances, especially in the context of a great little venue like Cakeshop– you can have your fiction and your vegan cupcake too!

On Thursday Discovery is playing at Public Assembly. I’ve mentioned them to you before; K and I fell in love with the singer New Year’s Eve at the Cameo Art Gallery. She’s quite the fireball so it’s sure to be a high energy show!

Also on Thursday the Raspberry Brothers are having a special early show; they’ll be blasting Garden State out of the water at 10pm at the Clearview Chelsea Cinemas!


If you enjoyed the Media That Matters Film Festival, which I directed your attention to earlier this week, you should check out one of the films showing in the Human Rights Watch International Film Festival at the Walter Reade Theater. The festival, now in its 20th year, is presented by the Lincoln Center Film Society. Check out this trailer of one of the films, ‘Good Fortune,’ which explores how international efforts to alleviate poverty in Africa can sometimes cause the opposite effect:

I’ll be back with all sorts of fun for this weekend!