Archive for December, 2010|Monthly archive page

Anywhere But Somewhere

Sophia Coppola is at it again. Her new movie, Somewhere, gives viewers lyrical art design and mood with a vision of Hollywood and celebrity’s ennui. Despite this ennui, the people I watched with said, it was better than their lives. They could have made his life more fabulous given his money and attention.

Oh, and all the women want to sleep with poor Johnny (Stephen Dorff). He obliges, sometimes poorly, sometimes he drops off to sleep. How come I never saw the attraction.

Whatever work goes into being an actor, the most we see his having a mask made to look like an old man. One wonders when he reads his lines. When does this guy go to the gym?

The most entertaining aspect of the movie is wondering what parts of the scenes that Johnny’s daughter Cleo experiences with her father resonate with the parts of Sophia’s life as a Hollywood daughter.

Whomever doesn’t know Hollywood can be boring and celebrity has its pitfalls must have missed most movies about Hollywood made since the great Sunset Boulevard and all the celebrity rehab shows on Bravo and VH1.

While all critics rated a 77% liked on Rotten Tomatoes, the top critics rated a 65% and the audiences a 50%.

Gays Slug It Out

Tonight’s Ed Show on MSNBC featured blogger Mike Rogers from Raw Story and Christopher Barron of GoProud discussing the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.

Both applauded the action and vote. Rogers claiming that gays and lesbians had the right to be concerned over the White House strategy because the House with Republican leadership will not pass a repeal of the act.

Rogers challenged Barron on the Republicans votes and actions against the repeal of the bill. Rogers asked Barron where the conservatives were on the vote.

Rogers hammered Barron with facts about the average of 700 gays and lesbians discharged under the policy during the Bush years.

Barron said Chaney supported the repeal; Rogers said, yes when safely out of political office.

Barron called John McCain’s high-octane rhetoric against the repeal, McCain’s Terry Schiavo moment and was ashamed. He said this was so different than McCain in private.

Rogers jumped on his statement with, yes they’ll tell you thinkgs in private but behave differently in public.

Senator Jon Kyl went on Sunday talk shows and said repeal of the act could cost soldiers lives.

Is he wishing for that?

Rare Tennessee Williams

Saw a development workshop for a Tennessee Williams’ short story, One Arm. Georgetown University in conjunction with Arena Stage performed it last night and this evening.

After watching the reading of the script, the director and all the actors sit on stage and hear your opinions. You tell them what you liked, what your were confused about, and what you did not like. What fun!

Adapted from a three-hour screenplay that Williams wrote in the early 1970s, famed playwright Moises Kaufman has a lot of work on his hands both reducing the movie yet retaining its themes and style.

Kaufman has a good start. He has authored excellent plays in the past, including Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde33 Variations and is perhaps best known for writing The Laramie Project

We liked a lot of specific scenes. A scene in a penthouse overlooking Central Park in the 1940s in which a repressed gay man has his walls stripped down by the one arm prostitute,  is very real and moving. Other scenes give you insight into the seemlier side of life during the middle of the twentieth century.

This workshop of Kaufman’s adaptation of Williams’ sexually charged potboiler (which premiered at Steppenwolf Theater in Chicago), is in advance of its New York premiere this coming Spring. Kaufman will return in the Spring as a featured participant in our Williams’ Centennial Weekend Festivities (March 24–27).

The actor playing the john in the penthouse was pleased with the affect his scene had.

Nick Cornish, who played the One Arm prostitute, was excellent and would be an asset to the show when it opens off-Broadway. He has the body to make people believe in the transformative affects of the character.

Senate Votes for Repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell

Black Swan Downer

Director Darren Aronofsky makes complicated movies. Pi, Requiem For a Dream and The Wrestler were visually arresting. All told stories that captured your attention as they showed you characters you could imagine if you had not already met them in your life.

Then there’s Black Swan. I saw this last night in a packed art house movie theater. People laughed. Not nervous laughter as they watched Natalie Portman’s ballet dancer Nina pull her skin off. No, they laughed at Nina, and at her situation.

Black Swan is replete with one-dimensional characters. Mickey Rourke’s wrestler was already past his prime but you rooted for him. Nina is on her way to stardom and sometimes you don’t give a damn and sometimes you root for her supposed rival for the role of Swan Lake’s Queen Swan role, Lily.

Viewers have to care about the character in a horror film or at least root for the horrible stalker to commit gruesome acts. There is nothing like that here.

The camera movement is as inventive as ever. There is the requisite cgi. Still to what end? How I wished some of the twists to the story would have become the main arc. Geez, make them lesbian lovers at least so the competition takes on an extra dimension!

Mila Kunas’s Lily has life. She is joyful, fun, and about as thought provoking as any of the characters in the movie. What a way for Wyona Rider to make a comeback.

The movie is filled with stereotypes about the dance world. From the Casanova ballet company manager to bitchy dancers, it is all there to bore one to death.

Rotten Tomatoes collection of critics gives the movie an 87 percent positive rating. Audiences give it a 91 percentage. Go see it, see where you fall.

Disappointment with Washington

Sure I could be talking about the White House, the Congress, Democrats and Republicans. Most of you already feel bummed about them so my saying so would not be a surprise.

It’s a move by Washington’s sports team that seems like one in their history of bad moves. The Nationals lost Adam Dunn and will get two draft picks back. Wow! Let’s see  minus 76 home runs and in exchange the team gets two questionmarks.

How do you sell that one to your fan base? The Nationals had enough difficulty drawing warm bodies to their home games.

Here’s the analysis of the pros:

The losers in all of this are the Nationals, who probably could’ve locked up Dunn for something in the range of three years and $30 million at the All-Star break, when Dunn very much wanted to stay in Washington. After deciding to not make that deal, the Nationals’ leadership opted to not trade Dunn when the interest in him was at its hottest, in July; they failed to get any major league ready young players, which is exactly what they have a desperate need for today.

Their lineup without Dunn suddenly looks very different — significantly weakened. Without Dunn hitting in the middle of the order, there is no reason for opposing pitchers to pitch to Ryan Zimmerman.

 Time will tell whether Dunn’s departure will erode Zimmerman’s feelings about the future of the franchise. Zimmerman, you may recall, had talked openly and repeatedly about how he wanted Dunn to remain with the team.

The Nationals have been damanged, writes Adam Kilgore, and he spoke with Zimmerman. From Adam’s story:

    “To me, this is the place where I want to be, where I want to be for the rest of my career,” Zimmerman said. “The only reason I wouldn’t want to play here is if I thought we didn’t have a chance to win … I still believe that we will.”Zimmerman was clearly frustrated though, and it’s a frustration that assuredly will represent the overwhelming majority of the team’s fan base. “I hope that this plan they have intact — I guess this is one of the years we were supposed to take that next step and become one of the teams that gets those free agent guys,” Zimmerman said. “They’ve told us and the fans to be patient. Hopefully this is one of the years we start acquiring impact guys and taking the team to that next level.”

Censorship Public Art

Washington DC museum makes news it does not want. The Smithsonian Institution’s Chief decides to take out a video from the National Portrait Gallery’s Hide and Seek Exhibition.

The offending piece of art is David Wojnarowicz’s video, “A Fire In My Belly.” The artist, who died of AIDS in 1992, included a scene with ants crawling over a crucifix. Some subsection of visitors thought the imagery sacrilegious despite the fact that artists have long used imagery of Christ symbols to make arguments.

Last night, I joined a group of 100 people, who marched 15 blocks from a gallery down to the museum. We held signs and walked quietly. I spoke to a few of the interested people we saw on the sidewalks. We reached the steps of the museum and stood their for half and hour. Over 20 media outlets took video and snapped photos. A few interviewed the organizers. It felt great!

The removal of the video made by a man who died of AIDS near the World AIDS Day is too ironic for words.