Tuesday, January 29, 2013

56 Up

Last night I went to see 56 Up. I had been very excited about the latest installment in the Up series, because I've followed these people for quite some time. I think I've seen most of the versions.

I have to say, 56 Up was the least interesting to me. As the participants in the documentary age, there is something monotonous about their trajectories. The marriages, the divorces, the children, the children growing up... Something seemed a little more superficial to me in this one. I think this has to do with the fact that the director gets more and more footage every seven years, and it must become harder and harder to edit it.

It's still, to me, an inherently interesting and moving project. It's just kind of bittersweet to see people age and to have glimpses into ordinary lives. Also, rather inspiring, many of the participants seemed to come into their own in midlife. A lot were struggling or sullen in their teens and twenties, but around their forties began to flourish in different ways. They just began to seem more comfortable in their own skin. Of course it could just be that they got more comfortable in front of the camera.

One of my favorite aspects was how a number of them talked back to the director, intending to "set the record straight", and address how the documentary is flawed in its depictions, that the public misinterprets what they see, and also how being in the series over the years has had an impact on their lives.

Sunday, January 27, 2013


Last night I watched Ted. I rented it from Netflix. So this was a conscious choice.

This is really not my kind of flick. About a man with a live, talking teddy bear as a best friend. The relationship with the bear is getting in the way of his relationship with his real life girlfriend. That is the premise.

Basically, Ted was just too juvenile and crass and broad for me.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

DK and the Joy Machine

What a treat! Last night I got to hear DK and the Joy Machine perform at Sidewalk.

DK commands both acoustic and electric dulcimer with graceful mastery. She was joined by Sho Handa on percussion. Beautiful sounds. Her original songs are quirky and smart, and her singing is just wonderful. Lovely range from soft highs to much deeper notes. It was a fabulous evening and I look forward to more.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Young Adult

Young Adult, starring Charlize Theron as a woman in her mid-thirties who decides to win back her high school boyfriend, really doesn't work. It's a lame, yet short and watchable movie.

Life isn't going well for her, though why is pretty much unclear. She gets an announcement of her high school ex's baby's arrival which makes her, weirdly, decide he's the one for her. So in spite of the fact that he's married and a new dad and they've had little contact in decades, she goes to get him back.

The only good thing in this movie is Theron, who is kind of sarcastic and clueless the whole time. It was kind of funny watching her. But really, the whole thing was lame.

Sunday, January 20, 2013


Last night I saw Peggy Shaw's one woman show at Dixon Place, Ruff.

It was a really wonderful monologue about her experiences with a stroke. The performance went back and forth in time, telling Shaw's story in a non-linear narrative with a straightforward and amusing delivery. She was alone on stage, but had a band projected behind her, which was a marvelous effect. She interacted with the band on a few musical numbers that were highly entertaining.

I thought the monologue was beautiful; there was a lot of depth and nuance to it. I would love to see the script. The whole show came together successfully, and it was a great night.

Friday, January 11, 2013


Last night I watched the 1996 movie Emma on Watch Instantly. I had enjoyed it tremendously in the theaters when it came out, and really enjoyed it again on second viewing.

I had also loved the Austen novel when I was in high school, and it's my favorite book of hers.

The story is a light one, a romantic comedy of manners, with a charming and sweet, but in some crucial ways unaware, heroine at the center. Gwynyth Paltrow did a great job in the title role, and overall the movie was completely charming.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Little Stranger

I finally finished a novel! I have not been able to get into one for months -- I would read half a book and then give up on it. Then a friend recommended The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters. I loved Affinity and Fingersmith (was a bit bored by Tipping the Velvet and completely don't remember The Night Watch) -- so I was excited to give it a try.

The writing is excellent, very detailed and exact and absorbing. The story concerns the decline of an aristocratic family after WWII, centering on an isolated family consisting of an aging mother and her grown son and daughter. Slowly everyone in the household becomes unraveled by mysterious goings on in the house. The Little Stranger is narrated by Dr. Faraday whose mother happened to have been a maid in the house in its glory days. He slowly gets drawn into the family in spite of his status as a class outsider.

The ghost story sort of works, but I have to say, in the end I found myself more baffled than anything else. I don't think I really understood it. Frustrating.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Ann Hamilton: The Event of a Thread

 This afternoon I went to the Ann Hamilton installation at the Park Avenue Armory. The Event of a Thread fills the entire main space. Suspended in the center is a giant sheet of billowing white cloth. Throughout the space are swings suspended from the top. The movement of visitors on the swings connects to the cloth, which sways and folds, sways and folds.

The experience of swinging and watching the cloth was truly magical. The echoing of visitors and children in the space created a kind of cocoon of sound. It was truly beautiful and effective.

On one side of the installation was a table of caged pigeons, and two people sat at the table reading from scrolls. I was interested in this aspect of the work, but I didn't really get it.

I had never been to the Armory before. This is a majestic space for showing art, and I look forward to returning in the future.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Oscar & Lucinda

I read about half of the Peter Carey novel, Oscar & Lucinda, and though I liked it a lot, for some reason I stopped reading it. Still, I was curious to see the movie.

I just finished watching it and have to say I didn't care for it at all. I found the plot a little enigmatic and hard to follow, and the themes weren't really drawn out. It seemed cold and a bit confusing -- where people were staying, what city they were in, sometimes I wasn't sure.

The story is about a neurotic priest who gambles (Ralph Fiennes) and a lonely woman with a large inheritance who also gambles (Cate Blanchett). She buys a glass factory, they meet, and decide to make a wager about building and moving a glass church to a remote part of Australia. I just didn't dig it.

St. Mark's Poetry Project New Year's Day Marathon

I spent yesterday at The St. Mark's Poetry Project enjoying the always dynamic and inspiring new year's day marathon reading.

I volunteered from 4-6, and watched readers and performers till 8:30. Everyone was wonderful. The musical performances were particularly enjoyable. Lee Renaldo played, as did Lenny Kaye with a surprise appearance by Patti Smith.

Fun times. Happy new year!