|Robin Phillips, in 1977. (Photo via Torstar News Service)|
Wednesday, July 29, 2015
Tuesday, July 28, 2015
|Rinko Kikuchi in Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter.|
Kumiko (Rinko Kikuchi, of Babel and Pacific Rim) searches for things. The oppressively rigid structure of her Tokyo life – represented in her mind-numbing job, her condescending boss, her overbearing mother, and her tiny, stifling apartment – makes her restless, and so she goes out searching for things, perhaps in an attempt to find a purpose for herself as much as any actual buried treasure. Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter, written and directed by David and Nathan Zellner, opens with Kumiko’s search leading her to a shaded cove, where she uncovers a soggy VHS copy of the Coen Brothers’ Fargo (1996). It’s unclear who left the tape there for her to find, and whose directions she’s followed to get there, but none of that matters: this first, context-free quest establishes the film’s tone of dreamy unreality, and gives Kumiko the first thing she’s had to strive for in years.
Monday, July 27, 2015
|Kristolyn Lloyd and Blair Underwood in Paradise Blue. (Photo: T. Charles Erickson)|
Paradise Blue, a new play by Dominique Morisseau at the Williamstown Theatre Festival, is set in the African-American community of Blackbottom in Detroit in 1949, during the heyday of bop. Its protagonist, Blue (Blair Underwood), is a jazz trumpeter who owns a club, the Paradise, and headlines the combo that plays there. He’s struggling to attain the zenith of his creative powers while battling the ghosts of his childhood: he saw his father murder his mother. Morisseau intends Blue to embody the musicians in the bop movement, gifted and intellectually self-challenging, restless and haunted. It’s a great subject, but she’s also working with black archetypes that limit the play imaginatively. The quintet of hard-working actors in Ruben Santiago-Hudson’s production strive to bring a vibrancy to the play but they’re stuck playing caricatures.
Sunday, July 26, 2015
|Theodore Bikel on stage as Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof.|
Saturday, July 25, 2015
Friday, July 24, 2015
|Frances McDormand and Richard Jenkins in the HBO miniseries, Olive Kitteridge.|
Note: There are spoilers ahead in this review.
The Maine coastal town where the sensational four-part HBO miniseries Olive Kitteridge, directed by Lisa Cholodenko and now on DVD, is set seems blighted by disaster and grief, but the story isn’t a Gothic. Jane Anderson’s screenplay, based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning 2009 novel by Elizabeth Stout, puts the lives of the women and men who inhabit this community under a microscope to reveal how difficult the path is that all of us take through life, tortuous and stone-strewn and obscure. Some of the fates that befall subordinate characters are unusual. One is shot on a hunting foray by his best friend, who mistakes him for a deer. (Perhaps Stout was thinking of the plaintive reel “Molly Bán,” where a young man shoots his fiancée because, her apron up to shield her from a rainstorm in the forest, he takes her for a swan.) Another, whom we only hear about, becomes a psychotic killer. Most of the tragedies, though, are ordinary enough. The assistant to the local pharmacist, Henry Kitteridge (Richard Jenkins), collapses of a heart attack in the street outside the store and dies. Henry himself, in the middle of Part 3 (“A Different Road”), has a stroke and hangs on for four years, unable to communicate with his wife Olive (Frances McDormand), a retired math teacher.
Thursday, July 23, 2015
In the opening moments of Carlos Marques-Marcet's remarkable film 10,000 km, Sergi (David Verdaguer) and Alexandra (Natalia Tena) are first seen making passionate love. As the camera fixes on their bodies, which are thrusting and swaying in motion to the erotic rhythms they both invent and discover, we can see how delicately intertwined their sexual and emotional lives are. They seem inseparable. But as inseparable as they might be, it's not a symbiotic partnership. Sergi and Alexandra still retain their individual selves as if sex for them wasn't about losing yourself in your partner, but about connecting at the most intimate and tactile place where you find out some great mystery about yourself. While Sergi is a music teacher in Barcelona who is seeking more secure work and Alexandra is a photographer trying to further her career, they both live together and desire a child. Before she can get pregnant, however, she gets an e-mail from Los Angeles offering her a one-year residency. Although Sergi is initially resistant to letting her go, he values her independence as much as he does his own and he relents. But the distance between them, which makes up the title of the picture, puts their relationship to the test. The ability to hold their connection close initially seems tangible because of Skype, Facebook and e-mail, but Marques-Marcet has fashioned a thoughtful and honestly probing examination of modern romance in the digital age. And it's a corker.