Sunday, September 29, 2013

Fall for Dance 2013!

Last night was my first of three evenings at City Center's Fall for Dance Festival. My seat was great, fourth row, near center (okay, maybe just a wee too close).

The first company was Nrityagram, who performed a duet of two women in traditional Indian clothing. The dance was traditional Indian with live musicians. It was interesting and lovely, but not terribly exciting.

The second company was 605 Collective. The dancers were in jeans and t-shirts and the music or sound was thudding and strange. The movement included a lot of running, and the combination of sound and movement made me rather anxious. There was something almost hostile about the piece. Still, I appreciated its complexity and power.

The third piece was nothingish. HEADSPACEDANCE did a quirky, entertaining duet that was humorous and cute but basically forgettable.

The real hit of the evening was Dance Theater of Harlem! They performed a long dance made of six pieces to spiritual music by Francis Poulenc. The ballet was simply stunning.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Gary Gulman In This Economy

Last night I enjoyed Gary Gulman's In This Economy, a standup act focusing on being broke (or middle class) in terms of the excessive wealth of billionaires. It was very funny and entertaining.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Ordinary People

Continuing with 80s middle-brow melodrama, I just watched Ordinary People. Even though I found myself resisting it, I actually think it's an extraordinary movie.

It follows an upper class WASP family trying to recover from the death of one teenage son, and the suicide attempt of the surviving one, played by Timothy Hutton. Getting in the way of the family's recovery is the mother, Beth, played by Mary Tyler Moore. Her character is so tightly-wound, in deep denial, unable to express feelings, that she creates friction with her husband and son that is painful to watch. Mary Tyler Moore's performance was riveting and flawless. Also a stunning performance was Donald Sutherland as her well-meaning, awkward, sweet, and very scared husband.

Judd Hirsch plays Timothy Hutton's psychiatrist who helps him deal with his feelings toward his mother and his guilt about the accident which killed his brother.

Part of me kept thinking it was all too much, but the acting was amazing, and the intense focus on the family in crisis, although difficult to watch, was really masterfully executed.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Terms of Endearment

The other night I watched Terms of Endearment. This 80s movies follows a mother-daughter relationship, played by Debra Winger and Shirley MacLaine. The mother is difficult and overbearing. Interestingly, Debra Winger's character is very accepting and laid back about this, and they have a sweet, although bickery relationship.

Terms of Endearment follows their lives and their love interest over a period of years. Most affecting for me was the relationship between Debra Winger and her older son, about 11 years old. His sulkiness and her frustration with him were very tense. Another storyline that I enjoyed was between Jack Nicholson and Shirley MacLaine. They had excellent chemistry.

I don't want to give away the ending, but suffice it to say I was crying like a baby for the entire last half hour.

One final comment: the score was HORRIBLE. Very dorky and cheesy and hitting the wrong notes.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Mark Ettinger House Concert!

The other night I enjoyed a truly delightful evening of songs performed by Mark Ettinger.

Most of the music was from his upcoming album -- which I can't wait to be released. He played guitar and sang sweet, moving songs that all had nuance to the lyrics. He is a very clever songwriter, one who really makes you think.

His singing was wonderful, commanding soft numbers and more uptempo numbers. He was even accompanied in some parts by a small brass section that added a fun and dynamic element of triumphant umph.

I had a great time and am looking forward to more of his performances. And will be first on line for the new CD! (The picture here is of his first, also wonderful, album)

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Wishful Drinking

I just watched Carrie Fisher's one woman show, Wishful Drinking, on HBOGo.

She is a very engaging performer with a unique story to tell -- about her famous parents, her own fame and commodification, and her personal battles with addiction and mental illness.

She does it all with wry grace. I feel like I could listen to her for hours because she is so fascinating and down to earth.

The humor was okay. Not really laugh out loud funny, but engaging. With lots of great throwaway lines. For instance, on the demise of her relationship with Paul Simon: "Things were getting worse faster than we could lower our standards."

Ethan Frome

I loved the Edith Wharton novella, Ethan Frome, and was excited to watch this 1993 movie version with Liam Neeson, Patricia Arquette, and Joan Allen.

I thought it was done well. The movie captured a particular oppressive mood very well.

But the love story between Ethan and Mattie didn't come to life as much as it needed to. It kind of just seemed like they hooked up because it was convenient (don't mean to give anything away). There were moments that they tried to convey smoldering desire, but it wasn't enough. In order for the movie to work, the viewer needs to feel the significance and desperation of their love.

Liam Neeson and Joan Allen were wonderful. Patricia Arquette was bit stupid seeming as Mattie, giggling too much...

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Frances Ha

I was charmed and moved by Greta Gerwig's performance in Frances Ha, a sweet, funny movie about a struggling 27 year old woman in New York City.

Filmed in black and white, Frances Ha chronicles Frances' slight unraveling as her relationship with her best friend begins to disintegrate. She and Sophie had an amazing connection that weakens once Sophie becomes more serious about her boyfriend and starts moving in other directions. Frances is left to fend for herself in a world where others are not as endeared by her quirky insecurities as her friend was.

It's a special movie. A real character study. Not a lot happens, but things manage to move forward. Very much like life at times.

Young Frankenstein

Watching Young Frankenstein last night brought back memories! I had loved this comedy as a kid, and remember it as having been a cultural sensation at the time. It was loaded with quotable jokes and really seemed quite brilliant.

I enjoyed watching it again, but it was a little too silly for my current taste. Still, I really enjoyed the performances. What a great cast! They must have had so much fun filming this. I don't know how they kept a straight face. Gene Wilder was excellent. And Terri Garr, she is always so great in everything. I wonder why she never became a bigger star?