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Archive for May 10th, 2010

           Enchanting Revival of ‘South Pacific’ at Vivien Beaumont Theatre

by Sam Juliano

     Rodgers and Hammerstein’s South Pacific is widely considered one of the greatest works of musical theatre ever produced, yet until 2008, a Broadway revival never materialized.  When the work finally received its well-deserved encore decades later at the Vivien Beaumont Theatre in Lincoln Center, it won rapturous praise from critics and audiences alike and captured several Tony Awards including Best Musical Revival.  In 1949, the original show with Mary Martin and opera star Ezio Pinza in the leads, won the Best Musical prize and a record-setting number of acting awards that has stood to this day, and ran for nearly 2,000 performances over five years.  The show is one of the five R & H masterpieces with Oklahoma!, The King and I, Carousel and The Sound of Music, yet a strong case could be made that it boasts what may well be the most beautiful of all the celebrated duo’s scores, tinged as it is with melancholic romanticism and idyllic bliss, even if its racial underpinnings have dated.

     Based on James A. Michener’s series of stories, Tales of the South Pacific, the musical has always been considered well ahead of its time, because of its candid consideration of prejudice.  A young American nurse, Nellie Forbush falls for the older French planter Emile De Becque, but must confront her own bias when she learns that he fathered two interracial children, while the Princeton-educated Lt. Joseph Cable likewise is enchanted by Liat, a Tonkinese girl, but knows his own ingrained prejudice will prevent him from marrying her.  The new production’s director, the visionary  Bartlett Sher, who guided two acclaimed Metropolitan Opera productions of Rossini’s The Barber of Seville and Offenbach’s The Tales of Hoffmann, has added some interesting context about race that was removed from the original production that sheds further light on Nellie and Cable’s struggles.  Sher uses amazing restraint in collaboration with musical staging director Christopher Gattelli in accentuating the naturalism of the song delivery, which flows here fluidly and poetically in a perfect wedding with the show’s non-musical stretches. (more…)

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       Screencap from deeply-affecting French immigration drama ‘Welcome’

by Sam Juliano

     Film buffs are celebrating this week, as the newly-restored German classic Metropolis has officially opened at the Film Forum.  Fritz Lang’s masterpiece is scheduled to run at the West Houston St. theatre for at least the next two weeks, and I hope to be on board myself over the next few days, as does WitD colleague and impassioned Lang fan Bob Clark.  The Tony Award nominations have been announced, and as a result I to plan intensity my focus on the Broadway scene in the coming weeks, using the TDF listings for some potential theatrical outings.  At Wonders in the Dark the 2000’s poll continues to some excellent discourse among the site’s gifted commentators.  Plans are presently being negotiated for follow-up genre pollings that will commence after Allan’s present countdown and tabulation are completed.  First up is the ‘horror poll,’ which will be chaired by our own Jamie Uhler with assistance from Troy and Kevin Olson.  Ironically enough, these three are the most fatatical and knowledgable horror afficianados in the blogosphere.  That ‘countdown’ may be 50 or 100, depending on how the three want to handle it.  After that Bob Clark will be examining the greatest science-fiction films of all-time, and has a very unique presentation planned.  That sci-fi poll will probably launch sometime in late October, depending on the duration of the horror poll.  The ‘musicals’ poll will be handled by Yours Truly, while we are still searching for someone to manage the ’50 Greatest Westerns’, the ’50 Greatest War Films’ and ’50 Greatest Animated Films.’  Something tells me that a chap named ‘Donophon’ might be the man for the Western poll.

     This week on the cultural front I attended two magificent theatrical productions that frankly I will remember for the rest of my life.  The revival of Rogers and Hammerstein’s glorious SOUTH PACIFIC, which won a Tony Award for Best Musical Revival in 2008, is a superlatively staged and performed musical gem that would melt even the most jaded theatre goer, and is further evidence of why this lovely work has been so adored since its initial appearance in the 50’s.  I attended the Wednesday evening, May 5th performance at Lincoln Center’s Vivien Beaumont Theatre with Lucille and Broadway Bob, and what an ‘enchanted evening it was’  (full review posted above the ‘Diary’ here).

     On the following night I traveled alone through some hellish downtown Manhattan traffic to BAM’s (Brooklyn Academy of Music) Harvey Theatre  to attend a searing drama by August Strindberg, titled THE CREDITORS, which is one of it’s author’s greatest works.  The simple but sublime staging set in a summer hotel room by the sea, and the extraordinary performances made this one of the most riveting 90 minutes I’ve ever spent in a theatre.  Strindberg himself, referred to this naturalistic tragicomedy as his ‘most mature work.’ (review planned for Tuesday)

Apart from this, I managed only two films in theatres, as the weekend rightly focused on the combined communion/confirmation party for my sons Jeremy and Sammy, and the actual church mass for the First Holy Communion. (picture below)  I saw:

Welcome  **** 1/2  (Saturday evening; 9:30 P.M.) Lincoln Plaza Cinemas

Iron Man 2   ** 1/2   (Sunday afternoon)  Edgewater Multiplex

    WELCOME is a deeply affecting immigration drama about a young 17 year-old Kurdish refugee looking to reunite with his girlfriend in Calais, and the help  he attracts from a sympathetic Frenchman who is moved by his dreams.  The episodic film boasts some strong acting from Vincent Lindon and Firat Ayverdi and a perceptive script that delineates the moral issues and dilemmas that arise in works that deal with displacement.

IRON MAN 2 goes nowhere we haven’t been, even if it does provide the goods in the pyrotechnic department.  It’s alternately entertaining and overbearing, but the kids liked it.  Downey is a perfect fit for this role though.

Lucille received some beautiful Mother’s Day flowers from that lovely woman blogger, who just happens to be our site’s regular staff interviewer.  There is no kinder person in the world.

     BREAKING NEWS FROM CHINA!!!  Bliss for the Olsons!!

 A picture tells a thousand words!  Say hello to Troy and Tricia Olson here: http://olsonfamilymatters.blogspot.com/2010/05/welcome-to-our-family-madelyn-yihong.html

Around the blogosphere we have some great things: (more…)

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by Allan Fish

(Denmark 2006 97m) DVD2 (Denmark only)

Aka. Life Hits; The Raw Zone

Does it hurt?

p  Louise Vesth  d  Christian E.Christiansen  w  Christian E.Christiansen, Morgan Dragsted  ph  Ian Hansen  ed  Bodil Kjaerhauge 

Laura Christensen (Christina), Stephanie Leon (Cecilie), Julie Olgaard (Trine), Sara Moller Olsen (Pernille), Mette Riber Christoffersen (Anja), Murad Mahmoud (Shaid), Cyron Bjorn Melville (Nikolaj), Henrik Birch (Christina’s father), Neel Ronholt (Lise), Hans Henrik Voetman (Clausen), Claus List Mikkelsen (Borgeson),

Remember the days when teenage angst was Zammo on smack, Bronson tormenting Danny Kendall and Bullet Baxter sorting out toerag Gripper Stebson.  Those were the days.  Seems such a long time ago it belongs to another world.  In the States if you want to look at teenage dramas with a dark tinge you look to Heathers or Mean Girls, both well praised in certain quarters.  Well, if you don’t mind me paraphrasing Walter Burns’ request with what to do with news on Hitler, “stick ‘em on the funny page!

            Christina is a seventeen year old girl who’s part of the hardest clique in the local high school, along with Trine, Pernille and self-appointed leader, Cecilie.  They give other students grief, extort money, steal, do drugs, drink by the bottle and act in a generally disgraceful manner.  Becoming increasingly alienated from her father, her mother long since gone to marry another man, Christina’s only loyalty is to her friends.  That is until Cecilie becomes convinced that Christina is trying to get off with her boyfriend, Shaid, and enlists the other girls on a reign of retribution, beginning with setting her to get caught for stealing from the school changing rooms.  When Christina grasses them up, they step up their hate campaign. (more…)

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