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Showing posts from 2011

Media Morsels - Year in Review

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So, my dear readers, having experienced so much this year, I couldn’t narrow my list down to ten, so I went with 20. Here, in alphabetical order, are my picks for my favorite moments and experiences of 2011. Each is linked to my Tumblr page, which provides a fuller description of my experience.

50/50
Award Moments, like Aaron Sorkin and Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross cleaning up during the season; Neil Patrick Harris rapping at the Tonys; and American Idiot winning a Grammy
The Book of Mormon
Community
De Kooning: A Retrospective at the MoMA
Fond Farewells, featuring Aaron Tveit, John Gallagher, Jr. and Michael Esper
Foo Fighters, including Wasting Light, the Back and Forth documentary and their rocking performance as MSG
Great Shows and Breakout Performances, starring Mark Rylance in Jerusalem, Nina Arianda in Venus in Fur and Jessie Mueller in On a Clear Day
Make ‘em Laugh
Muppets, both the movie and the Green Album
New York = Marriage Equality
New York City Ballet, particularly wonderful …

The Artist

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Topping many critics’ year-end lists and gaining momentum as the pick for Oscar’s Best Picture of the Year is The Artist, a sweet and simple story from another era.

Well, it’s a modern film, but its gimmick is an homage to another era. The Artist is a black and white silent film. But I have to tell you, dear readers, it’s a great, entertaining film that is a testament to storytelling. As a writer, I’m usually all about the words and word choice. (That’s why I’m completely enamored of Aaron Sorkin’s writing.) But I’m also a ballet fan, and a fan of good storytelling, no matter the device. So it was a treat to watch a story unfold, and pick up plot points and nuances from the actors’ expressions and actions, the cinematography (Guillaume Schiffman) and the score (Ludovic Bource).

Set first in 1927, The Artist is more than slightly reminiscent of Singing in the Rain, another backstage movie about the advent of the talkies. However, The Artist, which follows its characters to 1932, focuses …

Shame

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In Shame, director Steve McQueen takes an intimate look at one man’s reaction to the shame that haunts him. Though we never find out what has caused Brandon (Michael Fassbender) or his sister, Sissy (Carey Mulligan), to be ashamed, it’s clear that it is shame that motivates them both toward untoward life choices.

Brandon is numb. He dresses in muted blues and grays, and the film is shot in thoroughly unexciting and unsaturated icey colors. (The only vibrant color in the film is that of blood. It may sound gory but it actually serves as a powerful juxtaposition to the drained, washed out look of everything else.) He has no emotional range; he’s either stoic or exploding. Nothing in between. Brandon is not a sensuous person. He doesn’t do anything for pleasure; he derives no pleasure from the sex to which he is addicted—it’s just a way to deal with the shame, and it’s a way of escaping emotion. In fact, during one almost-tryst, we see that emotion and connection are his kryptonite. And d…

Cecil Beaton: The New York Years

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If a picture is worth a thousand words, then Cecil Beaton spoke volumes. A consummate artist, Beaton had an eye for great aesthetic, whether he was presiding over a fashion photo shoot, drawing portraits, designing costumes for a Broadway show or simply shooting intimate photos of some of our most beloved, renown (and sometimes reclusive) celebrities.

Beaton’s work is currently on display at the Museum of the City of New York in its exhibit Cecil Beaton: The New York Years. The museum itself is a great little find, from its inviting front veranda to its cozy-mansion feel inside. Other current exhibits include The Greatest Grid (a look at Manhattan’s streets) and Kevin Roche: Architecture as Environment.

As described in the exhibit, Beaton was “an Edwardian-era dandy in the mold of Oscar Wilde. Beaton wore custom tailored suits and spoke in an exaggerated accent, announcing that he loved New York because it was so ‘egg-ill-ahh-rating!’”

Quite the character, Beaton’s worked spanned the art…

Media Morsels 12.23.11

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Dear Readers,
Please enjoy these last few Morsels of the year. Next week, Media Morsels will be dedicated to my Year in Review. Check back then to find out my favorite things of 2011.
Show by Show
When I took a musical theatre survey class in college, the Good Book was Broadway Musicals: Show by Show, by Stanley Green. It has since been my go-to for musical theatre tidbits. (For example, when my parents hear a song on the Broadway channel on XM and don't know what show it's from, I field their call and look it up in my Show by Show.) The edition I had, which was the newest at the time, only went through 1996; Rent was the last entry. This week I learned, from Playbill.com, that there's a seventh edition out, and it includes musicals up through 2010. (That means the recent Hair revival and American Idiot are in it!) This is a must-have for budding (or even established) musical theatre scholars and lovers. Pick up your copy today.

More Year-End ListsAP's Top Theatre Picks, …

Maple and Vine

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We’re headed back to Pleasantville, dear readers. Although, much like in the Reese Witherspoon movie from the 90s, in Maple and Vine we see that the 50s, while they were perhaps a simpler time, what with the malteds and sock hops, they weren’t all we romanticize them to be. Jordan Harrison’s new play, enjoying a run at Playwrights Horizons, focuses on Katha (Marin Ireland) and Ryu (Peter Kim), a married couple living in the present. But not for long. A stranger who looks plucked from the past, Dean (Trent Dawson), meets Katha in a park and before long, he and his wife, Ellen (Jeanine Serrales) have convinced Katha and Ryu to move to and join their Society of Dynamic Obsolescence (SDO), a custom-built community (think Celebration, Florida) in the Midwest in which it is perpetually 1955. That’s right, 1955. The year never changes. Cell phones are prohibited, as are interesting or exotic flavors and foods like cumin, Portobello mushrooms and parmigiano-reggiano. Men wear the pants and th…

Media Morsels 12.16.11

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Venus in Fur: Back Before it's Gone
The incredible, sexy power play Venus in Fur, which is set to conclude it's limited run on Broadway (via the Manhattan Theatre Club) on Sunday, will be back in the spring for a commercial run. (MTC is a not-for-profit theatre company.) Current stars Nina Arianda and Hugh Dancy will return for the limited commercial engagement, set to run at the Lyceum Theatre, February 7-June 17. (I think it's smart to do this and not just because it's a phenomenal play. That spring run will include Tony season; this is sure to garner several Tony nominations so now this show will have an opportunity to enjoy a Tony bump.) Read my review of the current production, and visit VenusInFurBroadway.com for tickets. (Bonus: Check out this Hugh Dancy edition of Broadway.com's Ask a Star.) Take a look at the "trailer" below.
Award Season Update
This week, the Golden Globe, SAG and Critics Choice Movie Award nominations came out, and over the weeken…

Golden Globe Nominations

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The Golden Globes, which honor both film and television, will be handed out on Sunday, January 15, 2012, and cheeky funny man Ricky Gervais will once again be hosting the ceremony. (Remember that the Globes are administered by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA), which is comprised of all sorts of foreign press, including tabloid rags.)

Here are some of the nominees. I’m very pleased to see that 50/50 and Drive (and both films’ actors) got some love; Ryan Gosling is nominated twice this year (as is Kate Winslet); Aaron Sorkin is a nominee; and Chris Cornell, Soundgarden’s frontman, is nominated for Best Original Song (for “The Keeper” from Machine Gun Preacher). On the TV front, there aren’t too many surprises, though I do, of course, have my favorites.
Film

Best Picture, DramaThe DescendantsThe HelpHugoThe Ides of MarchMoneyballWar HorseBest Picture, Comedy or Musical50/50The ArtistBridesmaidsMidnight in ParisMy Week with Marilyn

I'm surprised by the classification of some…

Lysistrata Jones

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Some shows open your mind, touch your heart and move the public discourse forward. (Recent examples: American Idiot and Jerusalem.) These shows do what artists have been doing for thousands of years, since Thespis stepped on stage at the Theatre Dionysus in 534 BC. Other shows are just fun fluff. Lysistrata Jones, though it has roots in ancient Athens, is simply fun fluff. Based on the Aristophanes play Lysistrata (which, as they point out in the new musical, is public domain), Lysistrata Jones tells of a group of young women, organized by Lyssie J. herself, who refuse to “give it up” until their boyfriends, making up Athens University’s basketball team, win a game, ending a 30-year losing streak. (In the Aristophanes work, Lysistrata, whose name means "disband the army," and company go on a sex strike until their men negotiate a treaty to end the war. When it was written in 411 BC, Athens had been at war for over 20 years. The natives were getting restless.)While scholars…

SAG Award Nominations

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The 18th annual SAG awards, which honor both film and television, will be handed out on Sunday, January 29, 2012.

Here are some of the nominees, along with my commentary. Of course, as it’s a little early on in the award season I haven’t seen many of nominated films or performances, but several of them are on my list so I’ll let you know when I do!

Film:
Outstanding EnsembleThe Artist BridesmaidsThe DescendantsThe HelpMidnight in ParisHaving only seen Bridesmaids, I can’t fairly choose a favorite. Although I didn’t like Bridesmaids – I didn’t find it nearly as funny as everyone else did – I think the ensemble of funny ladies did work well together. I’m planning on seeing The Artist and The Descendants before the end of the month; check back for reviews!
Outstanding ActressGlenn Close, Albert NobbsViola Davis, The HelpMeryl Streep, The Iron LadyTilda Swinton, We Need to Talk About KevinMichelle Williams, My Week with Marilyn

Outstanding ActorDemian Bichir, A Better LifeGeorge Clooney, The D…

On a Clear Day You Can See Forever

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Having seen the lab production of On a Clear Day You Can See Forever at the Vineyard Theatre over the summer, I went into the St James Theatre ready to swoon over the Broadway iteration. And boy, did I. It began when I took my seat and caught a first glimpse at Tony Award winner Christine Jones’s scenic design. (Most the design team, including Jones and lighting designer Kevin Adams, have worked with director Michael Mayer on either Spring Awakening or American Idiot, or both.) Just by looking at the “curtain,” I knew this was a great design. It’s total 70s, op-art, meant to be trippy and maybe a bit disorienting. (This is perfect for a show about hypnosis and regressions.) Once the show began, I could see that Adams’s lighting design so perfectly complemented the scenic design. The psychedelic colors kept changing and twisting into groovy swirls. Throughout the show, the seamlessly matched designs continue the theme of uncertainty, with the “backdrops” crossing in and out, so nothing…