In 2005, Nate Lang campaigned for his father, Scott W. Lang, who was running for mayor of New Bedford. As Nate knocked on doors and talked to residents, he also gained a major leg up on his fledgling career as an entertainer.
“I was in the improv group Upright Citizens Brigade in New York and that campaign provided me with years of characters,” says Lang. Scott Lang went on to serve three terms as New Bedford’s mayor (he didn’t seek a fourth). His son went from improvisation to a role in the Oscar-nominated “Whiplash,” for which he helped Miles Teller perfect his drumming technique.
In the movie, Lang plays Carl, the rival drummer to Teller’s Andrew at a cut-throat music conservatory. “My dad played drums so there was always a set in the house. I started taking lessons at 6 years old. I’m a rock and blues drummer but I was lucky that I learned to play with a traditional grip” more common to jazz drumming, says Lang, who perfected his handling of sticks by watching film of, among others, Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts. Even so, Lang trained for six months to play jazz for “Whiplash,” and some of that effort was shared with Teller. “He is such a hard-working actor, he really picked things up fast,” Lang says admiringly of his costar.
Lang’s parents and his brother Andy, a lawyer, live in New Bedford; his sister, Sarah, is a TV producer in New York. Lang divides his time between New York, where he plays in a rock band (the Howlin’ Souls), and Los Angeles. He was auditioning for roles when writer-director Damien Chazelle cast him in his 2013 short, “Whiplash.” When Chazelle expanded it into a feature, Lang auditioned for the role of Carl. Besides praising Chazelle and Teller, Lang says he enjoyed the intensity of his scenes with J.K. Simmons, the odds-on favorite to win a best supporting actor Oscar for his role as a sadistic music instructor. “It was like taking a master class. He’s an actor’s actor and such a force in this film. He deserves every award and accolade,” says Lang. “I’m so lucky; a lot of people go their whole career without being in a film with this caliber of talent.”
Audiences who have not seen Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey” in a theater (which means that you have not seen it) have the chance when the MFA screens the new restoration from Warner Bros. The seven screenings of Kubrick’s 1968 masterpiece (starting on Feb. 7) are just one of the highlights of the MFA’s popular retrospective “The Films of Stanley Kubrick” which runs again Feb. 4-28. This comprehensive look at one of the greatest directors in film history spans his first feature, “Fear and Desire” (1953), to his posthumously released final film, “Eyes Wide Shut” (1999). The little-seen “Fear and Desire” (Feb. 4 and 11), which fell out of circulation for decades, deals with the inhumanity of war. Kubrick’s 1957 film “Paths to Glory” (Feb. 5 and 6) stars Kirk Douglas as a World War I colonel whose men are accused of cowardice. The inhumanity and absurdity of war is also Kubrick’s subject in “Full Metal Jacket” (Feb. 23 and 25), his 1987 saga about the Vietnam War. Many critics consider the 1964 Cold War satire “Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb” (Feb. 14 and 19) to be Kubrick’s greatest. Jan Harlan, Kubrick’s assistant and executive producer on several projects, directed the documentary “Kubrick: A Life in Pictures” (Feb. 8 and 15). Other films in the retrospective include the epic “Spartacus” (1960), which screens Feb 11 and 15; 1962’s “Lolita” (Feb. 12 and 18), the controversial black comedy based on Vladimir Nabokov’s novel; the 1980 horror classic “The Shining” (Feb. 21 and 22); and 1971’s influential “A Clockwork Orange” (Feb. 28) featuring Malcolm McDowell’s iconic performance as a violent “droog.”
For information and tickets go to www.mfa.org/film
Samba Gadjigo of Mt. Holyoke College and Claire Andrade-Watkins of Emerson College will introduce and engage in a post-screening discussion of renowned African filmmaker Ousmane Sembène’s “Black Girl,” the first feature film ever released by a director from Sub-Saharan Africa. It takes place Feb. 6 at 8 p.m. at Emerson’s Bright Family Screening Room at the Paramount Center.
“Black Girl” is about a Senegalese woman who takes a job as a governess for a French family, but finds her duties reduced to those of a maid after the family moves from Dakar to the south of France.
Gadjigo is the author of Sembene’s official biography, “Ousmane Sembène: The Making of a Militant Artist,” and codirector of the documentary “Sembene!,” which screened recently at the Sundance Film Festival.
For more information go to www.artsemerson.org
Loren King can be reached at email@example.com.