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Archive for June 14th, 2010

Opening scene from play 'Restoration' written by and starring Claudia Shear (on left)

by Sam Juliano

     Michelangelo’s David is the unlikely centerpiece of a surprisingly mirthful stage work, Restoration,  written by Cynthia Shear, who also plays the lead: an Italian-born, American bred art restorer who lands the job of a lifetime scrubbbing down the famed sculpture.  Housed at the Galleria dell’ Accademia in Florence, the 17 foot plaster obelisk is replicated on stage sitting beneath a covering and scaffolding that recalls Mario Caveradossi’s art studio in Tosca, complete with Renaissance murals and ornate archways.  But Ms. Shear is more interested in the comic possibilities in this seemingly austere project which suggests at the very least that a woman can rejuvenate her life and vocational fortune by traveling abroad. 

     After an interview, in which “Giulia” admits to being “weird, aggressive and picky” as well as having experienced some “success” as a teacher of art history and as a “restorer of rich people’s frames” she catches the big break with the help of one of her former professor, (played here by veteran Alan Mandel in a scene-stealing John Gielgud-styled turn as a proud snob) who refuses to allow one of his former students to be forever doomed to inactivity, wants her to open up more, advising her drily that “self-pity is the personality equivalent of chewing with your mouth open” in one of the play’s best lines.  Giulia admits it is surely “her last chance.”  (more…)

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Screen Cap from raw and realistic 'Winter's Bone,' one of the year's best films.

by Sam Juliano

     One can only wonder where all the time has gone as we get nearer to the end of the June, with the official half-way point of 2010 just about here.  Typically, the real action can be had in the art houses and on the festival circuit, where our friend Craig Kennedy is preparing to embark on his annual coverage of the Los Angeles Film Festival.  His findings will appear at his Living in Cinema home over the upcoming weeks.

     Congratulations to the USA soccer team for tying England 1-1 over the weekend on Friday, though Allan Fish has reminded me that Italy also tied the USA in the first game of the previous World Cup, before the Italians rallied in subsequent games to gain the World Cup Final (which they won over Brazil).  And our friends Jamie and Pat are rightly celebrating the win of the Chicago Black Hawks over the Philadelphia Flyers, the first win for Windy City hockey fans. 

     Tony Award results are in, and Memphis captured Best Musical, Red Best Play, and La Cage Aux Folles and Fences Best Revivals!  More on the thread tomorow!

     On the play and movie front, I experienced (largely with Lucille, Broadway Bob and the kids) a torrid week with three theatrical productions and five films. (one of the these was a collection of eight shorts that ran 105 minutes).

      Sebastian Barry’s WHITE WOMAN STREET, a relatively obscure play by an esteemed and talented Irish playwright, was recipient to some creative staging and poetic language, but this ‘western’ set in 1916 Ohio is a difficult sit, as there is a marked absence of action and engagement, usually fatal for this genre.  (I’ll elaborate in an upcoming review.)  I experienced this with Lucille on Wednesday, June 9 at the Irish repetory Theatre.

       The English stage work GABRIEL, winding down its run at the Atlantic Theatre playhouse (where Ethan Coen’s OFFICES ran last year) is a peculiar but finally compelling play set on the English Channel Islands, occupied by the Nazis circa 1943.  It really concerns memory, identity and imagination, and it’s opening scene after the intermission is truly extraordinary. (Again, a review is planned)  I attended the Thursday, June 10 staging with Broadway Bob.

     I saw Claudia Shear’s delightful comedy drama RESTORATION at the New York Theatre Workshop on Saturday evening, June 12 with Lucille and Broadway Bob, and it concerns a Brooklyn art conservator, who lands the coveted job of cleaning Michelangelo’s 17 foot statue of David at the Galleria dell’Academia in Florence. (Review is posted above the diary.)

     I managed the following films:

     Splice  ***  (Monday evening)  Edgewater multiplex

     Released  *** 1/2  (Friday night) NYGLBT Film Festival; 23rd Street

     Winter’s Bone  **** 1/2 (Saturday afternoon) Anglika Film Center

     Coco Channel and Igor Stravinsky **** (Sat. afternoon) Angelika

     Boys Will Be Boys *** 1/2  (Sunday) shorts;  NYGLBT Film Fest., 23rd St. (more…)

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by Allan Fish

(Hong Kong/France 2000 97m) DVD1/2

Aka. Fa yeung nin wa

As though looking through a dusty window pane

p  Wong Kar-Wai, Chan Ye Cheng, Jackie Pang  d/w  Wong Kar-Wai  ph  Christopher Doyle, Mark Li Ping-Bing  ed  William Chang  m  Michael Galasso, Shigeru Umebayashi  art  William Chang

Tony Leung (Chow Mo-wan), Maggie Cheung (Su-Lizhen, Mrs Chan), Lai Chen (Mr Ho), Rebecca Pan (Mrs Suen), Chan Man-lai (Mr Koo), Chin Tsi-Ang (Amah),

The second part of a very loose trilogy, In the Mood for Love was made a decade after Wong’s earlier Days of Being Wild, and sees Maggie Cheung recreate her role of Su-Lizhen, this time the story moving on from 1960 to 1962.  It’s a challenging film, vastly different to its predecessor, and owing more to the intellectual romances of Alain Resnais from the turn of the sixties, which considering the period depicted was not at all coincidental.  It’s rated the best film of the decade by those fellows at theyshootpictures.com, but it may be more accurate to rate it the last great film of the 1960s.

            Chow Mo-wan is an editor for a local newspaper who moves into a tenement building with his wife.  Literally minutes before, secretary Su-Lizhen moves into the block with her husband, and the two meet and start up a friendship.  However, their mutual dissatisfaction at their spouses’ being away all the time becomes something more serious when they realise said spouses are having an affair with each other.  Slowly but surely, Chow and Su fall in love themselves, but to avoid gossip, despite their affair remaining unconsummated, he goes away to Singapore and, later, to Cambodia, leaving them both with only their memories and the thoughts of what might have been. (more…)

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