Archive for May 17th, 2010

 Owen Teale and Tom Burke in BAM’s production of Strindberg’s ‘The Creditors’ playing at Harvey Theatre (directed by Alan Rickman)

by Sam Juliano

     One could rightfully draw parallels between Swedish playwright August Strindberg and filmmaker Ingmar Bergman, as in their work we find high octane and remarkable levels of insight into human nature, mental anguish, and an acute understanding of the feminine psyche. Bergman’s Scenes from a Marriage, in particular, echoed the master dramatist, with it’s naked and no-holds-barred examination of marital discord and deep-rooted issues of domination and manipulation.  Yet Strindberg taps into his own failed marriages to inform consideration of these issues with some first-hand experience, and The Creditors  ultimately stands as a savage tragicomedy that in actuality is a joke on all three of its participants.  Nearing the end of  a four week run at the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Harvey Theatre, the short play is generally regarded as Strindberg’s greatest work (Miss Julie and Comrades push close) and the one with the most pared down, and economical examination of its blackly comic depiction of gender warfare.  Hence, the play attracted the attention of Scottish playwright David Grieg, who penned the adaptation from its Scandinavian source, as a taut ninety-minute vehicle that exposed delicate sensibilities, and some volcanic familial confrontations that are incredibly modern.  Greig stated in an interview: “It seemed to me it was beautifully structured, funny but also an intense fight between two men and a woman in real time.  Strindberg’s a primal, vital, raging spirit.  He dosen’t have protective armor.  He dosen’t come across as a writer with a conscious mind trying to construct an argument.  He can’t stop himself just throwing his unconscious at the stage in all its nakedness.” (more…)

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by Sam Juliano    
     The Wonders in the Dark 2000’s decade poll continues to wind down, while a large number of ballot submissions seem destined to make this contest the one with the most participants of them all, as our friend David Schleicher suggested on that thread.  Dee Dee’s fabulous interview with Tony d’Ambra on the ‘essential’ noirs continues at Darkness Into Light.  The WitD staff would again like to extend Best Wishes to soon-to-be-hitched Dan Getahun and his lovely wife-to-be, Troy and Tricia Olson on their monumental trip to China to claim their new bundle of joy, and also to Marilyn Ferdinand for her soon-to-be-held 55th birthday gathering in the Windy City.  It was great to have Phillip Johnston back on board here at Wonders.  Our friend Dave Van Poppel has a new documentary site on the sidebar.  Check it out!  All the best with this Dave!

     With the Tony Award season upon us, Lucille and I managed two plays this week in Manhattan on Wednesday and Thursday evenings, the second one with Broadway Bob.

     Tennessee Williams’s The Glass Managerie has been given a stellar revival at the Laura Pels Theatre, and it features a magnificent performance by Judith Ivey as Amanda Wingfield, that surely stands as the best work of her distinguished career, and a turn that clearly recalls the one Cate Blanchett gave at the Brooklyn Academy of Music last year as Blanche DuBois in Williams’s Streetcar.  But all four performers here are exceptional, and the simple staging boasts some excellent lighting.  (full review planned for Wonders next week, so I’ll say no more)

    As far as Romeo and Hamlet, well I think the title spells it all out, but the production is really one that borrows dialogue liberally from both the Bard’s Romeo and Juliet and Hamlet, but the results are just as often corny as they are inspired.  The two male leads are unappealing in more ways than one, and after a while this one-note affair grows tiring, much as Lucille and Bob noted as well.  And some of the premise of both plays are ignored.  Hamlet, for example, completely loses touch with avenging his father.  Fair enough use of limited stage space though at the June Havoc Theatre on 36th Street, and Shakespeare fans will still enjoy following along with the ported lines from the two plays.

On the movie I front I saw three new releases in theatres and the restored METROPOLIS:

Looking For Eric **** (Friday night; IFC Film Center)

Daddy Longlegs ** 1/2 (Saturday night; IFC Film Center)

Robin Hood ** 1/2 (Saturday afternoon; Edgewater multiplex)

Metropolis (Sunday evening; Film Forum) (more…)

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by Allan Fish

(France 2002 104m) DVD1/2

Dear Jojo

p  Gilles Sandoz  d  Nicolas Philibert  ph  Nicolas Philibert, Katell Djian, Laurent Didier, Hugues Gemignani  ed  Nicolas Philibert  m  Philippe Hersant

Writing as I do at the very end of 2009, at the end of the naughties as it were, a fellow film buff was eulogising over how the decade had, more than any other, been that of the documentary.  It was hard to argue in terms of the saturation of documentaries on our screens in the last decade or so.  It had all began probably with the success of the founder works of Errol Morris and Michael Moore in the 70s and 80s, but it was the critical and relative popular acclaim of the likes of Crumb, Hoop Dreams, Buena Vista Social Club and, especially, When we Were Kings, that made it hip to like documentaries again.  Actually, strike that ‘again’ from the last sentence, because never before had they been so popular.  On that score my friend was right. (more…)

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