Sunday, March 30, 2014

Paul Taylor Dance

An amazing evening last night. Paul Taylor Dance at Lincoln Center! I love this company, which I had seen perform a few years ago at Lincoln Center Out of Doors on a sweltering night.

Last night's program was so great. It began with what turned out to be my favorite dance, "Airs" a crazy beautiful ethereal dance in eight parts choreographed to music by Handel. It was so elegant and graceful and perfect. The audience went mad with applause at the end.

I actually hated the second dance, "Fibers". Mainly it was the music, by Schoenberg. It just grated on my so much. And the strange robotic costumes and robotic movements. I thought all of us were in misery waiting for it to end, but when it did the audience seemed to have liked it very much and there was robust applause.

Then there was a fanciful, silly, frothy, fun confection of a dance, "Troilus and Cressida, (reduced)". And finally the magnificent and rousing "Mercuric Tidings" which I enjoyed as much as "Airs". It was an energetic, athletic, and exhilarating crowd-pleaser. Great way to end the evening.

Friday, March 28, 2014

The Confesions

The other day I watched the 2010 PBS Frontline documentary, The Confessions, about "The Norfolk Four" -- a number of young men who each separately gave confessions to a rape murder of a woman. They were all false confessions, coerced by probably unethical interrogation techniques. But because of these written and recorded statements, and in spite of exculpatory evidence, these men all had to serve lengthy prison sentences.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Alonzo King LINES Ballet at The Joyce

Last night I saw Alonzo King LINES Ballet at The Joyce, a company I had seen perform in San Francisco two years ago. The program consisted of one long piece in two acts, Constellation, which in very abstract ways was intended to explore relations to the cosmos and stars -- although I really didn't get this at all.

The production was interesting. Many of the parts included a live mezzo-soprano on stage in a heavy burgundy dress, singing lugubriously, often in German. The set involved lights and balls, which the dancers at times directly interacted with.

Much of the dancing was fascinating and exiting. Definitely not boring. But the piece as a whole did not come together. All the different elements (set design, music, costumes, singer, dancing) didn't make sense to me. I might have preferred a sparse set. And the tone of the music, so somber, so grim, was kind of a downer. Again, the dancing I found superb. But I'm not sure if this is a company I'll check out again.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Dallas Buyers Club

I didn't think Dallas Buyers Club was so great. It takes place in the late 80s and is about a guy with AIDS told he has 30 days to live. Unable to access alternative treatments legally, he ends up smuggling supplements and pharmaceuticals from Mexico and other countries. Although the smuggling was originally a money-making enterprise, he is eventually becomes a bit more like a moral crusade and a protest against the FDA and big pharmaceuticals.

Sunday, March 16, 2014


I am generally not inclined to read books by celebrities and the title of Tina Fey's Bossypants turned me off. But I was looking for humor to listen to on audiobooks during walks and thought I'd give it a try. I'm so glad I did!

Bossypants is a fantastic memoir written in a wonderful wry voice of someone who is competent and self-assured at the same time anxious and neurotic. Her observations about herself, others around her, the TV industry, comedy, men and women, etc. are funny and wise. I am so glad I got to listen to her reading this rather than me reading it on the page. Her delivery was awesome and really communicated her humor and personality.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Samuel Johnson Is Indignant

Lydia Davis is one of my favorite writers. Her short stories explore interiority and thought processes in such a precise and intimate way that they make me feel almost claustrophobic. In a good way. The collection Samuel Johnson Is Indignant is just as good as all the other works I've read of hers -- I think I have read all her stories and one novel. In her sharp, linguistically brilliant way, she concisely (very, very concisely) provides glimpses of anxiety, insecurity, loneliness and resentment. And because they are so focused, a glimpse is plenty.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Enough Said

I just finished Nicole Holofcener's Enough Said and am really moved and choked up. I think I've loved every movie I've seen of hers. Julia Louis Dreyfus and James Gandolfini were wonderful in their awkward and cautious courtship. A bittersweet romantic comedy, it seemed to highlight the emotional fragility of all the characters, particularly the leads, but also the minor characters. Almost everyone was likeable and relatable.

The plot is a kind of straightforward "mistaken identity" type thing: Julia Louis Dreyfus' character meets a new client/friend at a party, at the same time that she meets a man she starts dating; turns out the new friend and the man are ex spouses, and as she is dating Gandolfini's character she is hearing all the dirt on him from his ex.

The performances were all smart and sweet and touching, and really drew me in. It was particularly moving to see James Gandolfini play such a sweet man in his last role.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Liar, Liar at Figureworks

Last night I went to an opening at Figureworks. Liar, Liar is a stunning, haunting, frightening, and beautiful exhibition of work by Meridith McNeal and Guiseppe Di Lelio. The two artists explored the concept of dishonesty. Asking "who among us has never told a lie?", the works in this show reveal a sense of betrayal, particularly a loss of trust in authority that is increasingly bureaucratic and brutal.

Di Lelio's drawing and sculptures feature evocative shapes and lines playing with the concepts of solidity and movement. McNeal's work is more narrative, delving into the imagery and disturbing ideas in Collodi's original Pinocchio. Many of these works are pen and ink drawings, highly detailed, larger than life images that convey the loss of innocence and a hard and chilling sense of injustice.

Pictured are a detail from one of McNeal's Pinocchio drawings, The Guards, 2013, ink on paper, 77x34” , and a smaller work by Di Lelio, e Regole di un Gioco Antico 5, 2014, pencil on paper, 12x16”.
This is a unique and powerful show, which is on view at Figureworks in Williamsburg through May 4, 2014.