Archive for the ‘Film and Theatre’ Category

Feathers in Bryant Park

Feathers flew ferociously in Bryant Park a couple of weeks back. Now I see them on Law & Order SVU’s trailer featuring Robin Williams.

Another curiosity about this page is that only a few months ago, I saw B.D. Wong being held up by JFK security line delays as he fought to board his JetBlue flight to San Francisco. At that time I was wondering how B.D. was doing financially since all I could recall was that I knew his face from 80s movies. And now he’s on SVU. Lord bless Law & Order and all the food it puts on so many hundreds of actors’ tables.

Sex, Swords, and Laura Linney

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When I heard that Laura Linney was starring in Les Liasons Dangereuses and the reviews were good, I decided to check it out. I’ve been enjoying Linney’s performance as Abigail Adams so much that I jumped at the chance see her live, particularly in a play I’ve always enjoyed.

The set consisted of curtains and a few posh pieces of furniture that changed position to indicate the different locations. But the coolest part of the set was the glass backdrop of many panes, which added an interesting and eerie mirror effect to many of the scenes. Often one character from a previous scene would remain behind the glass during the next, as a ghost-like echo.

The play, set in aristocratic France’s height (the 1780’s), reflects the cruel manipulations and seductions of two grossly wealthy individuals. A stark contrast to her kind and calm Mrs. Adams, Linney plays a powerfully calculating and complex La Marquise de Merteuil. Her co-star Ben Daniels portrays a very playful Le Vicomte de Valmont, far less creepy than John Malkovich’s portrayal in the 1988 movie. Interestingly, another cast member of John Adams, Mamie Gummer, played the role of Cecile.

During the set changes, performed in character, sounds of laughter and suggestive breathing combined to create a provocative and slightly spooky atmosphere. The set, the acting, and these effects all added up to a sexy and intense production.

Love and Art on a Sunday

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After having heard rave reviews, I got tickets to see Sunday in the Park with George with my family for my mother’s birthday. We started the night off with a delicious dinner at Carmine’s (a choice fitting for my mother’s picky and unadventurous eating habits). Then we walked over to Studio 54 for the show.

The curtain raised to show a blank, white room. Then paintstrokes were magically projected on to the room as the stage transformed to the setting of George Seurat’s famous painting. Throughout the play, these projected effects drew the audience into the experience and beauty of the painting.

The plot focuses on the creation of Seurat’s most famous work, A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, along with the love story of him and his young model, relevantly named Dot. Daniel Evans artfully portrays this painter as a kind man with a scientific mind, obsessed with perfecting his work. Co-star Jenna Russell plays his lover with a genuineness and grace that easily wins the sympathy of the audience (despite my mother whispering to me that she wished we could see Bernadette Peters in the role).

The second act takes place in modern times and lacks a bit of the beauty and whimsy of the first act (reminding me a little of another Songheim play, Into the Woods). But the play finishes beautifully, making this production itself a piece of art.

A Royal Disappointment

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When I first heard The Other Boleyn Girl was coming out as a movie, I quickly bought the book so that I could read it first. It’s long, but a fast read. After plowing through it, I launched on a whole Philippa Gregory kick, reading all the books in her Tudor series.

(Warning: spoilers follow) Despite beautiful costumes and some decent performances, the movie proved a huge let down. Instead of keeping to the story, it begins with a long segment of King Henry coming to visit the Boleyns’ country estate and meeting Anne. This event does not happen in the book at all, which starts right at court when Henry meets Anne for the first time (making the book actually more fast-paced than the movie!). It is Anne that Henry refers to when he uses the phrase “the other Boleyn girl” in the book. Mary has been at court (and married) when Anne joins them from French court. If Wikipedia is correct, this version is historically accurate.

Meanwhile, the movie cut out a lot of the story. It focused on Anne, not Mary (which kind of defeats the point). In the book, it is Mary that Henry notices first, stays with through the birth of 2 children, and whose life is the focus of the book. In the movie, her passionate affair with handsome Stafford is downplayed to a convenient marriage with a (rather goofy-looking) childhood servant. Not to mention, the movie completely excludes what happens to her first husband. Obviously, she couldn’t marry Stafford if she was already married!

With this inaccurate time-line and plot holes, I found the movie highly disappointing. However, I’m halfway through The Virgin’s Lover and planning to continue my Philippa Gregory obsession!

An Englishman in New York City

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I went to the Union Square Theatre last night to see one of my favorite comics, Eddie Izzard. Some British friends had introduced me to his hilariousness a while ago and I’ve adored him since.

I had never been to a big name comedy shows and didn’t know what to expect. I was a bit surprised with the line wrapping around the block just to pick up tickets, but it moved quickly and we got in with time to spare. The stage was set up for Jump, a martial arts show with an Asian-styled set and a stage floor made of a bouncy material. Looked pretty intriguing.

When Eddie Izzard entered the stage, he received thunderous cheering. He was not in drag, which surprised me a bit. After taking advantage of the stage’s bouncy floor, he launched into a hysterical routine on subjects such as politics, the Stone Age, Wikipedia, and God. I had not seen him do any of this material before, but it was delivered in his characteristic style of non-sequiters and British wit. I found myself laughing almost non-stop for the whole show.

Free tickets for movie screening this weekend

This coming Friday and Saturday night, Warner Bros. is doing midnight screenings of a new action/sci-fi anime film called Appleseed: Ex Machina at the IFC Center in Manhattan. M80 is providing tickets to the screenings for the first five readers who leave a comment. Here’s a description of the film, which sounds all cool and futuristic and full of dramatic plot twists, zombies (always a crowd-pleaser), and cyborgs:

In the year 2133, a war killed off half the population of Earth, plunging the world into chaos and despair. In OLYMPUS, a utopian city-state and the last true bastion of culture and civilization, the ESWAT police force holds the peace. The two star members of this Special Ops team are Deunan Knute and her cyborg partner Briareos. Their relationship is threatened when the government reveals a prototype combat clone, named Tereus, who is a clone of Briareos. However, a strange electronic virus begins turning citizens into violent zombies and the trio must team up to track down the terrorists behind this brutal attack before it tears the peaceful utopia apart.

If you’re interested in the screening tickets, leave a comment on this entry, specifying which night you’d like to attend. First five commenters get a pair of tickets. As mentioned previously, commenting requires registration, which is quick and easy. You just need to provide a valid e-mail address so you can get your password and so we can contact you with the ticket information. (You will have to provide your name to IFC to get the tickets, but you don’t have to do that during our comment registration – we can handle that separately.)

More trailers and info about the movie here.

Love, Guilt, and Gorgeous Garments

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Passionate romance, tragic war, and really pretty clothes are all part of the oscar-nominated film Atonement. After weeks of wanting to see this movie (and being unable to persuade my fiance to join me), I finally went and was not disappointed.

Beautiful to watch, this movie makes up for its lack of cheer with a captivating story. The beginning scenes show the world through the eyes of an imaginitive and intelligent thirteen-year-old girl and then show the reality of the situation. The film also cleverly conveys how little events like the dropping of a hairclip can lead to an altered life. All three main actors, Keira Knightley, Saoirse Ronan, and James McAvoy performed their roles flawlessly. I would even see it a second time. For me, the clothes alone would be worth it.

Paparazzi Flock to Soho after Heath Ledger’s Death

In their neverending quest for the hottest photos and information, paparazzi and reporters flocked to the Broome Street apartment of actor Heath Ledger as soon as it was announced that he was found dead in his bed. Doubtlessly, they were all waiting to catch the pic of the moment, which would fetch thousands– perhaps family or celeb friends, or even the view of the body being taken out to the morgue for the autopsy. And of course, to overhear snippets of otherwise private conversations, giving them “the scoop” to report to readers, listeners, and viewers.

But there were others outside with more adoring motives. Ledger had many fans, not the least among them his neighbors, who said Heath was a fixture in the neighborhood. Heath was a regular guy who walked around the streets of Soho, often with Matilda, his daughter with actress Michelle Williams[their relationship broke up last September]. And, although he is best remembered for his role as Ennis in “Brokeback Mountain”, his last movie won’t be released until Summer, 2008, when Ledger plays The Joker in the latest Batman movie. This is all a terrible tragedy, because we will never see Heath Ledger again, never get to see the wonderful roles he would have brought to life for us in his maturity. Hollywood has lost a great actor, and NYC a distinguished resident.

Seeing Cymbeline

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I went to see Shakespeare’s Cymbeline at Lincoln Center Theater. Not often performed, this comedy reminded me of a combination of Snow White and Othello with its wicked stepmother, pure princess, and jealous villain. Common Shakespeare comic elements such as mistaken identity, girls dressed as boys, and frolicking in the woods sprinkled the fanciful plot.

We had good seats (uncommon for me) with a great view of this beautiful production. The set consisted of tall, golden pillars that moved to serve as the forest, as well as the palace. The heroine Imogen, who carries the story, was played by Martha Plimpton. While I kept thinking of The Goonies, her graceful interpretation of this Shakespearean character impressed me greatly. Another blast from the 80’s, Phylicia Rashad, played the evil queen, though I found her a bit odd and unnatural in the role.

I really enjoyed the staging of this play, particularly a misty battle and an interesting dream sequence. This production was a joy for the senses. I really wonder why this play is not more frequently performed.

Swooning for Sweeney

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Sometimes anticipating a film’s release leads to impossible expectations. Not so with Sweeney Todd. Ever since I heard about Tim Burton directing this film and its powerhouse cast, I had been counting the days until I could watch it. Having been a long-time fan of the Sondheim musical, I hoped the movie would do it justice and it did.

We went to see the film last night in Midtown. With a packed house, I was glad I bought tickets ahead of time. The movie thankfully skipped the chorus verses sung throughout the show (which I didn’t think would work in a film), and began instead with rather gruesome opening credits and an instrumental prologue. The strong cast did not disappoint. Helena Bonham Carter played a dark and desperate Mrs. Lovett. Her version of this role was a little younger and sexier than usually portrayed in the musical, but I thought that worked well. While her voice could not compete with Angela Lansbury’s (who originated the role on Broadway), her acting, as always, was intense and spot-on. Alan Rickman was sufficiently evil and disturbing as the judge, although the film sadly omitted the song where the judge really displays the depth of his sick character. And then Johnny Depp – brilliant, as always. Not only did he impress me with a rather decent voice, he managed to play a disturbing Sweeney that was both sadistic and sympathetic.

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