Sunday, January 31, 2010

It's Complicated and the Oscars

This movie has three big names that we will see this year at the Oscars. Not for this fun little comedy, but because Alec Baldwin & Steve Martin are hosting the Oscars together. The last time we had more then one host was in 1987, when Chevy Chase and Goldie Hawn shared the stage with Paul Hogan, you remember "Crocodile Dundee." We will see these two costars give there leading lady, Meryl Steep her first Oscar for playing Julia Child in "Julie & Julia." In "It's Complicated" she also plays a cook. She spends the movie Cooking in a too perfect kitchen that she is taring down for a New perfect kitchen. Her sweet Architect Adam (Martin) falls for her. Just as she seems to have a real chance with new love her old love walks back in the door. Well its not just like that but you see the Complication. Her kids are grown and the marriage he had with Jake (Baldwin) ended in divorce ten years ago. Alec is right up his ally playing a kind of sweet womanizer. Jake did run of with the much younger Agness (Lake Bell), that ten years ago and then married her. Now he is back and that makes Streep's Jane, the other woman. If Jane wants, wait Jane does not know what she wants. This film is to sweet at times, but is also laugh out loud funny at other times. Have fun with this movie and with its cast at the Oscars.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Who Shot Rock & Roll? Last Two Days in Brooklyn!!

Rock & Roll is a driving force in peoples lives. It can be personal and public at the same time. Our minds eye "sees" music in it own way but our memories of music are generally the same as others. Many types of media helped shape what music means to all of us. Now music is on Myspace and Youtube. For everyone that remembers the 80's it was MTV. Before that the in the 70's radio was king. The one thing that seemed to grow with the music is photography. With the help of print media like "Rolling Stone," and the fact that photography is still used as one of the best ways promote a band or album, photography has stuck around. A new Book by Historian and author Gail Buckland shows us the role played by photographers in Rock & roll history. The Brooklyn Museum was the first stop for the accompanying photography exhibition. This is Weekend from 11-6pm is you're last chance to check out these performance photos, portraits and behind-the-scenes snapshots of musicians you know and love. (Dylan, Jagger, and Lennon, Madonna, Tina Turner, Michael Jackson, Bjork, Blondie, James Brown, Johnny Cash, Notorious B.I.G., U2, and the Velvet Underground) Their are all there in black and white as well as color. This includes the work with many photographers, like David Corio, Annie Leibowitz, Chris Stein and Richard Avedon. If you can't get down there to see this then check out the book with captions that accompany over 250 portraits told from the photographer's perspective. This Book and Museum tour of pictures will help us think more about all the things that make music so universal.

Exhibition's Museum Tour:

Worcester Art Museum

Memphis Brooks Museum of Art

Akron Art Museum

Columbia Museum of Art.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Tonight the Moon is Full

The Moon "Thy beauty haunts me heart and soul, Oh, thou fair Moon, so close and bright;" Do you think William Henry Davies wrote those words on a night like tonight, when the Moon is at its brights because it is so close? Tonight the Moon will be especially beautiful. The biggest and brightest full Moon of the year. The tug of the Moon will bring in the tides and they will be at their highest. Moving in a elliptical orbit the Moon has times when it is far off, or very near to us. Tonight is the closest it will be in 2010 and she will have a friend with her. "The moving Moon went up the sky. And nowhere did abide; Softly she was going up, And a star or two beside." (Coleridge (1772-1834) Tonight, a Friday night, it is not a star you see up next to the Moon it is Mars. Mars will be one of the brightest lights in the sky. The red planet has been missing from the nights sky for some time. This is because the Earth moves quicker then Mars around the Sun. So just as he Sun sets look to the eastern Sky and see them Climb together into the night, the Moon and her friend Mars.

From The Rime of the Acient Mariner

The moving Moon went up the sky.
And nowhere did abide;
Softly she was going up,
And a star or two beside-
By Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834)

The Moon by William Henry Davies

Thy beauty haunts me heart and soul,
Oh, thou fair Moon, so close and bright;
Thy beauty makes me like the child
That cries aloud to own thy light:
The little child that lifts each arm
To press thee to her bosom warm.
Though there are birds that sing this night
With thy white beams across their throats,
Let my deep silence speak for me
More than for them their sweetest notes:
Who worships thee till music fails,
Is greater than thy nightingales.

More pomes:

Friday, January 22, 2010

Old Movies Sell Out in NYC

This weekend is a big one for film buffs in the Big Apple. First the Film Archives is playing Joseph Cates "Who Killed Teddy Bear?" This 1965 exploitation flick not only will shock and amaze you, but you will see it as a snap shot of the seedy Times Square of the time. Getting into the Archives on this Friday night would have been possible if you were on time, but being late to a packed show was not in the cards tonight. Hope to be on time and see it in the next two days for its only in a weekend run. Well whats next? How about "High and Low" part of the more then a month long Kurosawa retrospective at the Film Forum. Akira Kurosawa is a Japanese director that has been called "Great Master" and "a giant" even "prophet." It is hard to pin point how much the director influenced cinema today. Great that sounds good, lets get to the West Side for the 9:15pm show. Too bad someone did not think ahead because the Film Forum had a big red SOLD OUT sign on the door for "High and Low." Got to get down there and see something before the 18th of February. Fine, so sweet, its New York plenty to do on a Friday night. Get some food and still have lots of time to walk back toward the LES to the Sunshine Cinema's and see the Midnight showing of "Jurassic Park." (You know that little move about the big lizards. Well lets just pop around and get in line for tickets. Wait does that little sign say SOLD OUT. What is everyone and their mother downtown and at the movies? And next week is Evil Dead!! One must be ready then just in case the old movies SELL OUT.

Film Archives:

Film Forum:

Sunshine Cinema:

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

West Side Story

What is more New York then West Side Story. With a Musical based on Shakespeare and set in the Upper West Side with music by Leonard Bernstein, how could you go wrong? This is a love story surrounded by a gang rivalry between the Jets and the Sharks, much like Romeo and Juliet. The new Broadway revival of West Side Story is quite different from the original, this is the first to introduce the element of authenticity with Spanish added throughout the songs. On the other hand it is quite true to the original by using choreography of late director Jerome Robbins restaged by Joey McKneely (The Boy from Oz, The Life). All this directed by Arthur Laurents, the original author of the book. This is running at the Palace Theatre located in Times Square at 1564 Broadway. After seeing this on stage one can see why it was so controversial at the time of its first release. On top of the violence, they used lots of 50's slang like "daddy-o", they even had to make up fake swear words. The best part of the show is how well the dance fits the music. The Movie makes you cry but this production does not become that emotional. You don't feel as much for the lovers and as you do for some of the other parts. Its hard to get the chemistry that Richard Beymer had with Natalie Wood. The Spanish made the stage feel more like Spanish Harlem. Worth every penny to go out on the town and see a homegrown story on the bright Broadway.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Crazy Heart

Movies that center themselves around music can go one way or the other, either the music is lost in the background, or it outshines the actors and story. This film is the exception to the rule. The acting is too good to be out-shined and the music is what drives the script. Everyone is talking about Jeff Bridges and how he made playing a down-and-out alcoholic country-and-western star look easy. He does the same thing in this film for drunks as he did in "The Big Lebowski" for pothead bowlers, by making a lovable looser. By the first stop on this ragtag tour of rundown honky-tonks and bowling alleys Bridges get lost and all that is left is Bad Blake. This is a man left to his own undoing after years of being on the road. Then he meets a young writer for the Sante Fe newspaper, Jean Craddock played by Maggie Gyllenhaal. The light in her eyes makes him not only think twice about where his life is going, (or has been) but also starts the fire under him to wright songs once more. Gyllenhaal balances her characters laid-back back youth with the responsible mother in a totally organic way. She is perfect next to Bridges lost and lonely wonder. Bad Blake has lots to come to terms with from the tattered life behind him. It is tough to look back when all you have done for years is try to forget. When Tommy Sweet (Colin Farrell), Blakes old opening act comes back as a star asking Bad to wright songs for him will Bad sit back and become second fiddle? The screenplay is based on the 1987 novel of the same name by American novelist Thomas Cobb. This and the fact that director Scott Cooper let the landscape of the west be big and beautiful with wide shots of mountains and desert's made this film feel like authentic Americana. Even the secondary characters feel like they belong in the American west. When it comes to music that makes a movie it helps to have a Producer like T Bone Burnett. He help bring you the songs you loved from O Brother, Where Art Thou? In this movie with the help of Stephen Bruton, T Bone has made a film not just about a musician, but a film about music and how it can make or break a persons life.

P.S. - T Bone Burnett has also produced some of our favorite albums. (Elvis Costello's album, Secret, Profane and Sugarcane, Robert Plant and Alison Krauss album Raising Sand, Cassandra Wilson's Thunderbird album, Brandi Carlile's The Story and more) All this and he still can rip it up on stage if you get a chance to see him live.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

A Single Man

The sixties are all over the big screen with funny comedies and light hearted dramas. Tom Fords A Single Man, is set in the 60's but is not on the light side of drama. This has a dark forlorn quality that is not seen often in film. Colin Firth is so moving in this story of a man dealing with losing the love of his life. Played out in one day the script is about a detached yet emotional man that can no longer see the point in life. The story is based off a Christopher Isherwood novel that must be a impressive read. George Falconer (Firth) is a gay British university professor living in Southern California. The sudden death of his lover Jim (Matthew Goode) takes him by surprise and puts him in a living coma of grief and despair. When we lose someone close to our heart it is hard to see life like before, it is hard to see what can make the next day seem brighter. Even George's close friend Charley (Julianne Moore) is holding on to the past. It is hard to see how much you could mean to someone new when the past lives in your mind everyday. Can a Spanish stranger (Jon Kortajarena) or a young student (Nicholas Houltt) make George look to the future with hope? This is told through the eyes of Tom Ford a famous fashion designer is known for crisp and clean lines. Tom had to finance it himself and did a fine job in his directorial debut. The production team that created the sets in Mad Men made the sets in this film just picture perfect. This with the grainy style made some say this flick is clich├ęd or dated. With their logic just because a movie uses camera movement or wide pans instead of jumping from shot to shot with little cuts makes it seem slower or old-fashioned. Not the case in this beautiful film set in a time that might seem simpler then the fast paced world we live in now.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

An Education

This film is one of many that came out in 2009 that is set in the 1960's. In this British drama a older man brings excitement into a young girls life. This is a coming-of-age film based on a short essay by the British journalist Lynn Barber published in the literary magazine Granta. The full autobiographical memoir was only published in book form in June 2009 after filming started. This young lady is smart, beautiful and bored to death of her suburban life. Her parents only want her to study and concentrate on getting into Oxford. She sees school as her only way out of her bourgeois surroundings. She is a good girl who is a A student and plays the cello but what she really wants is to smoke, talk about art and live in Paris. Then a debonair older man saves her and her cello from the rain by giving her a ride home. With his good looks, charm and class David (Peter Sarsgaard) courts Jenny (Carey Mulligan) in a gentle and loving manner. She helps him trick her protective parents into letting her go to concerts, jazz clubs, and even Paris. This is the life she has daydreamed about but as she quickly learns the grown up life is not all fun and games. England in 1961 was at a turning point with women going on to university, minorities moving up in the world, music and culture clashing with tradition. Nick Hornby created a screenplay that shows all this in subtle little ways like the old feddy duddy father or the girls teachers. When you compare these characters with David and his friends you can see why Jenny wants to rebel. Even now every girl grows up to be a young women with or without heart break and this story is no different. Director Lone Scherfig lets the film unfold in a way that makes it more then Jenny's story, its a loss of innocence that could happened to any women.