Monday, April 28, 2008

When Is A Clock

It has wildly divided the critics. Go see it for yourself. It runs for two more weeks, and you can bet the last week it'll be sold out and you won't be able to get a ticket. Matt Freeman's When Is a Clock at Blue Coyote.

Last Tango in Paris

Fri PM I went to Film Forum and saw “Last Tango in Paris.” Brando’s acting is so raw, it’s uncomfortable to watch. His torment feels too private, like you're watching something you have no right to see.

Here's the story - a woman kills herself. Her husband doesn’t know why. He begins seeing a much younger woman, but insists when they are together in this empty Paris apartment, they are never to use each others’ names, and are never to give the other any information on their lives. The young girl has a fiancĂ©e, a nitwit avant-garde filmmaker she plans to marry. The sex with the older man becomes rough, sadistic – borderline rape. She’s unable to break off the relationship. Suddenly, he decides to open up to her. He tells her his name, his past, that her loves her, that they’re going to spend their lives together. She doesn’t want him anymore. He refuses to take no for an answer. She flees. He pursues. She shoots him dead.

I have no idea what it means. Grief, depression, using sex as a band-aid. The temptation to dehumanize another, to think of another person strictly in terms of your own physical needs. The false lure of something anonymous, without strings, without messy human emotions - but of course that can’t exist for long. We form connections, whether we like it or not.

Bertolucci said the movie was about his experiences with psychoanalysis. Brando said on the set Bertolucci just kept saying the movie was about his penis.

It was always easy to make fun of Brando’s acting – the mumbling, the scratching, the mannerisms. Anyone can do it, and we immediately recognize it as Brando. It's like imitating Dylan. I can do it and I don’t even know Dylan. That’s what happens with a talent that’s that distinctive, one of a kind. Now that Brando's gone, it's so clear we will never see his like again.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Tamar Teresa Hennessy

I read in the new CW that Tamar Hennessy, Dorothy Day's daughter, died on March 25 at the age of 82. She is survived by seven children, eighteen grandchildren and twelve great-grandchildren.

She seemed to keep a low profile much of her life, although she did appear in the recent Dorothy Day documentary, "Don't Call Me A Saint." However, in at least one article, she expressed resentment at the rumors that Dorothy was a 'bad mother.'

“She loved her family so much, and in so many, many ways she kept me going,” said Hennessy.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Back from the Cape

The residency was lovely and the new theatre space is spectacular. I'll be back there in August for the show.

Now this week, it's readings, Ned Rorem's "Our Town," and a Candy & Dorothy backers reading.

Meanwhile, my Arch Nemesis Matt Freeman just got a sloppy wet kiss from the New York Times, for this new show at Blue Coyote, "When Is A Clock?" Go see it now.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Happy Friday from Gladiator's Siren

Many thanks to Phantasmaphile, who just read me for filth for my lack of crediting to her graphic skills.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

I Guess Because It's Spring...

I just want to go hear music. Went to City Opera and saw Falstaff week before last. Then went to their Tosca on my friend Liz's rec. She knew the tenor, a gent named Raul Melo, who was incredible. Liz worked with him in Binghamton, and said he's not only a world-class tenor, but that he and his wife are some of the nicest people she knows.

I snagged the Sonny Rollins CD I'd been coveting, Without a Song: The 9/11 Concert And last night I went to the Eldridge Street Synagogue for a night of klezmer music from classics of Yiddish cinema, with Metropolitan Klezmer.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Left Behind: Crappy Apocalypse

OK. I read the first "Left Behind" book, the mid-nineties apocalyptic end-of-the-world serial for right-wing evangelicals. I was stuck in an airport.

The writing - by right-wing kooks Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins- is terrible. Really really bad. Bad. But one thing I’ll say for it - they knows they're crummy writers, so they don't aim for any effects they can’t pull off. Mostly, they aim low and hit half the time. But the book keeps moving. You can see it coming a mile off, the characters are cardboard cut-outs, they speak to each other as if they learned to communicate by watching TV, but hey it moves. There are no long asides to describe architecture or someone's childhood traumas. The authors know we don't care and we're waiting for planes.

(Example of the crappy writing: a young reporter is nicknamed 'Buck' because - he bucks the system. He bucks convention. So people call him Buck. Really.)

The book proselytizes to this very specific brand of end-times born again Christianity. Interesting though, because a lot of what it reveals are the political prejudices of these folks. The Antichrist is an East European (they’d never be so crass as to make him Jewish or a member of an easily identifiable ethnicity) whose vehicles for world domination are - the United Nations, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and other targets of right wing paranoia. The Antichrist preaches peace and disarmament. That's how you know he's the Antichrist. Good Christians need guns.

The writing is too incompetent to really describe something – so the Antichrist, Nicolae Carpathia (he’s from the Carpathian Mountains, just like Dracula!) is always described as being ‘handsome like Robert Redford,’ ‘passionate,’ ‘articulate,’ ‘with a photographic memory,’ and People’s ‘Sexiest Man Alive,’ not to mention he somehow manages to become President of Romania and Secretary General of the UN in about – I don’t know – two weeks. He gives a speech where what really impresses people is his ability to recite a list of all two hundred UN members in alphabetical order without missing one – and this is what impresses everyone so much they make him Secretary General. And then they hand over all their weapons. So, theoretically any competent soap actor with a good memory and six hours to kill could take over the world.

But I digress. All my snarky bile aside, clearly the Left Behind books are not to be looked at as models for fiction. That's obviously not what the creators are interested in. They’re interested in scaring the crap out of people so they’ll turn to Jesus. It’s the “Love God, or He’ll kill you” method of evangelizing, Isaiah by way of Stephen King.

And yet – I breezed through four hundred pages waiting for planes this weekend. Because after a while I realized – any important point is going to be repeated eighteen times –so I don’t have to pay attention! And I wouldn't miss my boarding call! I whipped thru 400 pages rolling my eyes and gazing in slack jawed wonder at the craptastic nature of it all.

Does God really need such crappy fiction to get His word out? Shitty cliche-ridden, lazy prophecy?

If something is worth doing, isn’t it worth doing well?

And does it matter if it sells 100 million copies?

Monday, April 7, 2008

I Drink. My Wife Takes Pills. It's a Bargain We've Struck.

August: Osage, to no one's surprise, wins the Pulitzer. I'm going back to see it in May and I can't wait.