Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The World of Henry Orient

The World of Henry Orient is a quirky 1964 movie set all over Manhattan. It's about two fourteen year old girls who form a close friendship and develop a crush on a caddish concert pianist (Peter Sellers). They follow him around as he attempts to seduce a married woman, and zaniness ensues. It's a really sweet movie that seems to have nostalgia built right into it. The ending darkens and becomes tender. A fun, satisfying, special movie.

Monday, July 27, 2015

The World According to Garp

The World According to Garp is a perfect and beautiful movie. The narrative is rich and colorful and cluttered, bright and bountiful. Each scene is like it's own short story -- so much happens in terms of both plot and emotion. And then there is more and more and more. The characters all quickly found a way into my heart, so that I felt moved and invested in each moment.

At the center of the movie is the very unique and profound relationship between Garp and his mother Jenny Fields, a fiercely independent and idiosyncratic woman, played with sturdy gentleness by Glenn Close. It is rare to see a film depict this bond. Garp's relationship to his own family is also developed in tender and loving and playful ways. The fun spirit of the movie exists alongside this wonderful and wrenching tenderness, which is exemplified by Robin Williams' performance capturing human pain and happiness at the same time.

Oh, and it's very funny!

Saturday, July 25, 2015


The Netflix documentary Tig, about comedian Tig Notaro, is pretty great. It follows her life right before and an in the aftermath of a serious breast cancer diagnosis. She was just living her life and one day got really sick, and it turned out she had a life threatening intestinal infection. As she was recovering from that her mother suddenly died. Then she got diagnosed with breast cancer and had a double mastectomy.

Tig explores how she integrated these events into her standup routine, and how doing so broke boundaries in comedy and brought her career to a new level. The documentary showcases many of her performances. It also explores her personal life, attempts to make a baby, and a delightfully promising new relationship. It is a fascinating portrait of a very grounded, relatable, funny, and talented woman.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Year of the Dog

It's difficult to describe my experience of the movie Year of the Dog. I had a very emotional reaction to it, starting at the beginning sequence showing the sweet relationship between Peggy and her dog Pencil, and his death soon after the start. Year of the Dog is about what happens in her life after this event. It seems as if the movie is going to be about her finding human love to replace this relationship, but it goes much deeper into her the quality of her inner life, the limitations of the world around her, and the profound meaning that can be found through compassion. Peggy is flawed and not always "likeable", but she is drawn with so much respect and kindness by the writer and director, and Molly Shannon's performance, that I physically felt her pain and yearning and stubborn earnestness. Year of the Dog is billed as a comedy, and there are very many funny moments, awkward moments, terrific lines and scenes, marvelous supporting cast. Still, the emotional depths and sadnesses here made it not a comedy for me, but a touching, quiet, bittersweet drama. The ending -- which turns its back on any rom-com expectations -- carried a very unique and lasting beauty.

Rod Roland: Best Loved

I just finished the lovely and perfect Best Loved, by Rod Roland. This chapbook published by Old Gold in 2013 is a collection of poems that all convey an emotional sweetness and masterful command of language. They are sturdy and delicate at the same time. They are beautifully held together by a quiet and assertive poetic voice.

So many favorite poems here, so many delightfully surprising and longing and smart lines.  Here's a particular special moment, a section from "Long Live Gregory":

call the priests to the locked tower
where they sent you
the pills are good
you love an alcoholic
she's savage and weeps
locked in her room
hope she writes often
and sends lots of cash
             you're a big deal
your poems are better than happiness
you have that one sorrow I love

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Momix: Alchemia

Momix is an intense dance company that creates visually arresting and magical productions. A few years ago I got to see Botanica, and tonight I saw their newest creation, Alchemia. This show blends haunting video, athletic dancing, ingenious costumes, gorgeous lighting, ecstatic music, and enthralling choreography to create an otherworldly sensory experience. Moody, abstract, mesmerizing. Every element of the piece transforms from one state to another in haunting ways. The dancers were adept at manipulating costumes and props effortlessly and gracefully. This was a stunning and aesthetically satisfying evening.

Friday, July 3, 2015

American Ballet Theater, Cinderella

Last night I was delighted by the charming production of American Ballet Theater's Cinderella.

There was cute buffoonery, lovely costumes, and just wonderful dancing. My favorite was the second act, at the ball, which was practically all straight dance without much narrative. All in all it was a joyous concoction.

Last night Cinderella was danced by Marianela Nunez; the prince, James Whiteside, and, perhaps my favorite, the Fairy Godmother, danced by Isabella Boylston. (The prince and Cinderella pictured here are not the dancers we saw).