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Archive for May 24th, 2010

Guess the Pic

Guess away. And Stephen, since I know you’re an animation buff, give everyone else at least a day or two head start…

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by Sam Juliano

     He is often referred to as the most accomplished living lyricist in the musical theatre.  Some consider him much more than that.  Many feel his stature is perfectly conveyed in the lyrics of one of his newest songs:

    ‘You have something to believe in/something to appropriate, emulate, overrate/ Might as well be Stephen, or to use his nickname: God!”

     Stephen Sondheim’s 80th birthday sparked a wave of celebrations including a new Broadway revue at the Studio 54 in Manhattan appropriately named Sondheim on Sondheim, which is actually part revue, part video documentary and the glorious talking head complicity of Mr. Sondheim himself, who speaks to the audience on a large moving panel onstage relating amusing anecdotes about the writing process, and imparting a plethora of biographical information that underscores his ascendency in the musical ranks.  Conceived and directed by longtime collaborator James Lapine, who worked with Sondheim on Sunday in the Park With George, Into the Woods and Passion, the show presents a non-chronological look at the great composer’s career, making good on Sondheim’s promise to “jump around a bit” and include what mattered most to him (and his public) over the decades.  (more…)

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Godard and Truffaut in new documentary ‘Two in the Wave’ at Film Forum

Jordan Kaplan, Scott Raker and and Jacques Roy in the Bard's 'King John' at Medicine Show Theatre

by Sam Juliano

     With the 2000’s countdown nearing the half-way point, it is projected that the project will conclude sometime in late July, at which point ‘genre’ polls will launch, chaired by Jamie Uhler (with the Olson brothers), Bob Clark and Stephen Russell-Gebbet.  Uhler and company will consider the ‘greatest horror films of all-time’, while Clark will tackle science-fiction and Russell-Gebbet will explore the most accomplished animated films.  Rules and duration for each of these polls will be determined by each respective chairperson.  While ‘yours truly’ will assume the chairmanship of the ‘Best Musicals’ poll, the site is still looking for volunteers to navigate the planned ‘Greatest Westerns’ polling, the ‘Greatest War Films’ balloting, and a few others being considered.

    Welcome home Tricia and Troy Olson, and their adorable daughter Madelyn, and Best Wishes to Dan Getahun, who is scheduled to tie the knot this coming week in Minneapolis.  And here’s to Marilyn Ferdinand on her upcoming birthday celebration in the Windy City.  At Living in Cinema, Craig Kennedy was chosen as a model for an inspiring grammar school teacher in Los Angeles, who assigned her students a film reviewing project.  Dave Hicks is almost ready to commence with his new ‘Greatest Directors’ series at Goodfellas, Jeffrey Goodman has some fantastic interview-discussions up at The Last Lullaby on the progress of his new film Peril, and continuing series on Jean-Pierre Melville and William Wellman move forward at The Long Voyage Home and Movie Classics, with Donophon and Judy Gaeter at the helm.  And of course, Dee Dee is winding down her interview at Darkness Into Light with Tony d’Ambra on the ’31 Most Essential Noirs.’

     Another busy week in and around Manhattan was enhanced by some gorgeous spring weather in the high 70’s and low 80’s that reminded us the dog days of summer are around the corner.  Lucille and I managed two theatrical shows (the second one with Broadway Bob, who had seen the first earlier in the year) on Thursday and Saturday nights:

     SONDHEIM ON SONDHEIM, which boasts two Tony Award nominations for Barbara Cooke and Vanessa Williams, is a high tech lovefest of venerated songwriter Stephen Sondheim, that showcases unreleased songs and a survey of his ultra-successful career.  Sondheim speaks to the audience on large panel projection, while the talented cast negotiated his timeless compositions (review above the MMD here).  The Studio 54 is a grand place for such an extravagent revue.

     KING JOHN is unquestionably Shakespeare’s most rarely-performed work, but the well-respected ‘Guerilla Shakespeare Project’  which enjoyed sold-old houses for their previous The Two Noble Kinsmen utilized some creative staging and nine performers to draw some interesting parallels with the greed and corruption in contemporary society with a portrait of the monarch often referred to as the ‘worst’ in British history.  While the cramming of history into a two hour time frame makes for a challenging sit, the play contains some beautiful lines, and the acting here by nine performances is quite impressive, as is the hip set design and Jordan Reeves’ direction and choreography.  The Medicine Show Theatre, tucked up on the third floor of a delapidated former warehouse, was uncomfortably hot and stuffy, a lamentable fact that completely turned off Lucille and Bob, but I weathered this difficulty myself.

     I saw three films theatrically:

     Two in the Wave *** 1/2  (Wednesday evening) Film Forum

     Please Give ****  (Friday evening) Montclair Claridge Cinemas

     Shrek Forever After  ***   (Saturday afternoon)  Edgewater multiplex (more…)

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by Allan Fish

(USA 2005 81m) DVD1/2

Hey you

p  Wes Anderson, Charlie Corwin, Clara Markowicz, Peter Newman  d/w  Noah Baumbach  ph  Robert D.Yeoman  ed  Tim Streeto  m  Britta Phillips, Dean Wareham  art  Annie Ross

Jeff Daniels (Bernard Berkman), Laura Linney (Joan Berkman), Jesse Eisenberg (Walt Berkman), Owen Kline (Frank Berkman), David Benger (Carl), Halley Feiffer (Sophie Greenberg), Anna Paquin (Lili), William Baldwin (Ivan),

Noah Baumbach’s third film isn’t an easy one to like.  None of the characters are likeable and some of them are downright dislikeable, making you cringe one minute and want to slap them the next.  That Baumbach makes such a dysfunctional bunch, especially the central quartet who make up the Berkman family, is no small feat. 

            The Berkmans live in a fashionable part of Brooklyn in 1986.  Father Bernard is a self-regarding egotist who has written one successful book but nothing since and settled into a mundane life as a college tutor.  His wife Joan has recently taken up writing for literary journals and is becoming successful, much to the chagrin of Bernard, who still sees her as inferior.  They have two children; the elder, Walt, is a would-be intellectual who dotes on every pompous syllable uttered by his dad, and younger brother Frank is just entering puberty, is very much his mother’s child (she calls him Pickle) and rebels by masturbating in school and leaving his semen smeared on books in the library and on the locker of a girl he secretly fancies.  Divorce is on the cards, and a separation is prompted by Joan’s admittance to an affair, leading to Bernard’s moving out and a joint custody order put on the two kids, each of whom resents to going to one of the parents.  Meanwhile, a 20 year old college student moves in with Bernard and Walt, and while she fancies her tutor, Walt fancies her.  (more…)

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