Sunday, October 20, 2013

Fun Home, the musical

I wasn't sure what to expect from the musical Fun Home. Based on Alison Bechdel's amazing graphic novel (which I gobbled up five years ago), the play explores Alison's childhood and her time at college. Like the memoir, it is interspersed with the grown Alison working through the process of writing about and coming to terms with her past. It centers on the power her father had over her family, particularly the impact of his shame and repressed sexuality.

The play does a marvelous job of creating the sense that memory and the present are intertwined. It moves effortlessly back and forth through the different phases of her life, and from the opening scene to the closing it is heartfelt and deeply moving.

It took me a little bit of time to adjust to the musical aspect of Fun Home. I guess I was momentarily thrown. But once I relaxed with it I enjoyed the music and the way it moved the narrative. All of the actors were wonderful. I was particularly impressed with Beth Malone, as the adult Alison, and Sydney Lucas as the young Alison. She was an emotionally powerful child performer, with a voice as clear as a bell. Michael Cerveris was also fabulous as as her poignantly complex, difficult, and sad father.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

This is 40

Ugh! This is 40 is such an annoying movie! I don't know why I watched the whole thing. To make matters worse, the video on HBO Go kept slowing down and not buffering while the audio moved on.

It's about an annoyingly neurotic couple who won't shut the fuck up. It's high-strung and not funny. Particularly irritating was Leslie Mann as the whiny wife.

Just a total waste of time.


Gravity is fascinating study of an astronaut who gets disengaged from the spacecraft she was working on and is floating in space with a coworker trying to save her. It is filmed in the dark orbit with a dizzying and scary perspective. The tininess of the people in contrast to vast universe makes their isolation intense.

It is a survival story where one impossible challenge after another faces them, and the Sandra Bullock character in particular is forced over and over again to overcome her profound fear and rise to the occasion. The fear was palpable, making this a very engaging, riveting movie. With only two actors it was focused and tight. But the dialogue in Gravity was glib and distracting, taking away from the suspense in a way I found unsuccessful. Also, by the end, I was a little like "oh come on".

Monday, October 7, 2013

The Big Chill

I was slightly disappointed with The Big Chill, an 80s movie I loved as a teenager. At the time I thought it was so intense and deep and complex.

A group of former college friends reunite 15 years later at the funeral of one of the group who had committed suicide, and they spend a weekend together reacquainting with each other, reminiscing, and coming to terms with the loss of their friend. In addition they explore where the various directions their lives have taken since college.

The Big Chill has an enjoyable light touch, even as it goes into darker places. It covers a lot of emotional terrain in an easy-going way, and all the characters are likable. I guess I just didn't feel it was as "deep" as I remembered it. But I still enjoyed it. And even cried at the end.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Final Fall for Dance 2013 program

Last night I saw my final Fall for Dance program at City Center. It was a fabulous evening.

The first company, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui/Sadler's Wells London performed a haunting, surreal duet. "Faun" featured beautiful lighting and two dancers entwining in slow acrobatic movements.

Lightening things up a bit was BODYTRAFFIC, who performed five different dance pieces all set to jazz. This was a fun and entertaining part of the evening.

Continuing with this upbeat energy was Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, an all male ballet company that gives a campy take to traditional ballets. They performed "Black Swan Pas de Deux" -- it was technically amazing, with the "famous sequence of 32 fouettes). The humor seemed to be based on the narrative of the ballet, which I am not familiar. But I still enjoyed the performance very much.

Finally, a rousing, energetic, and powerful dance by Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. "Home" was gorgeous and riveting.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Another Fall for Dance night!

Last night I took in another program at Fall for Dance at City Center.

The first dance was performed by American Ballet Theatre. They did "The Moor's Pavane: Variations on a Theme of Othello). I have to say I wasn't that thrilled with this one. The costumes were overly concealing: the women wore long gowns and one of the men wore some sort of big long robe. The ballet was nice, elegant, but I also found it slightly boring.

Colin Dunne performed "The Turn" with live musicians on the stage with him (two violins, a viola, and a cello). His Irish tapping was done in conversation with the music and was very interesting and masterful. At times, when the tempo picked up it was truly exciting.

Ballet Hispanico performed "Sombrerisimo", a work featuring six male dancers, all wearing hats and using the hats as part of the dance. Dressed in jeans and button down shirts, they conveyed a cool urban chic. There were two main parts to the dance. The first was slower and a bit jerky. The second part was sexier, sleeker, and, to me, more dynamic. I have wanted to see this company for some time, and will keep an eye out for when they are performing again.

The final company of the evening was my favorite. INTRODANS performed "Sinfonia India", with ten dancers filling the stage with exuberant, delightful, fun, and beautiful dance.