Silent! On the set of life. This week, treat yourself to no white noise and no media provocation. Just escapism. In Manhattan, there’s a great silent film series of shorts at MoMa. In Miami, why not just go have breakfast in the week hours and run through a ton of magazines at News Café? Smell that breeze and old-timey print. And in Los Angeles, as bombs are bursting and monsters attacking on the big screen, go thee as well to one of the great silent pictures playing at LACMA, in this case, Tuesday evening. You don’t have to be in a library to have a little quiet time to yourself.
NEW YORK CITY
Sick of so much talk, and so few answers? This Friday, hit the first night of the silent short-film comedy of slapstick black-and-whites, some known and mostly not, with MoMA’s Cruel and Unusual Comedy: Astonishing Shorts from the Slapstick Era series. It runs through January 26. The filmmakers “flung themselves heedlessly” into, what MoMA calls, “a wide range of discomfiting social, cultural, political, and aesthetic topics, including ethnic stereotypes, domestic abuse, sexual identity, violence, and even the plague of Chaplin imitators.” It’s the fifth edition of the series, which explores short films by Harold Lloyd and Our Gang, as well as less familiar names like Al St. John, Hank Mann, Alice Howell, Paul Parrott, and the vintage trip A Ton of Fun. Yes, there will be live piano accompaniment. Yes, there will be Chaplin clones. Bring a plastic pocket comb and do your own mime-y Charlie.
Sure, it is known as the go-to every morning for the late Gianni Versace who lived blocks away. His favorite spot spoke softly of his gentler side. At least the fabulous designer, felled by a fan, knew what was enduring, even if it wasn’t himself. But for you, go to the open-air, ocean-fronting sprawl that is News Café, since 1988, serving 24 hours a day. And even though they have a terrific 2-for-1 happy hour from 4 to 7 p.m., go there on a Tuesday evening–more like 4 a.m.–order some kooky hand-carved coconut vitrine toxic drink, a grand-slam breakfast, and roll through some international magazines on the multiple racks, and just… chill, baby. A stranger may be waiting, in the good way. Transport yourself through the written word and vicarious photographs. Reality will be there in the late morn. We like the diner-like bar, where the service is faster and locals more prevalent, but others may prefer the umbrella-cover tables outside.
Play hooky Tuesday at 1 p.m. and go see a silent film great, One Way Passage, at LACMA. It pairs one of our favorites, William Powell, with Kay Francis, as lovers who have just faced death–he to the hangman, she to a terminal illness. Sounds grim? Nah. The opposite, really. They meet in Hong Kong on an ocean liner en route to San Francisco. Of course, then they have to learn about each other. Drama ensues. Do they care? If it works, anyway? We all should be so star-crossed and uncaring sometimes. The film is only, like, 70 minutes, but packs a punch. Plenty time after to have a Mai Tai yourself.
Photo still courtesy of MoMA