On May 16th I wrote here about Robillard’s latest release called, Independently Blue. Today it’s Just For Today (Stony Plain) by Ronnie Earl and the Broadcasters. In 1980, Ronnie Earl (Horvath) took over for Duke Robillard in A Roomful of Blues. He was a young New Yorker filling the shoes of a fine guitarist. Five years earlier, Earl attended Boston University and took up the instrument after seeing Muddy Waters in concert. He developed his style through careful study of blues music with a pilgrimage to Chicago at the invitation of blues singer, Koko Taylor. He later spent quality time in Texas with Jimmy Vaughan and the Fabulous Thunderbirds, a band Duke Robillard did time with before going solo.
Saturday, May 25, 2013
Friday, May 24, 2013
On the Waterfront is a straight-forward drama, written by Budd Schulberg (What Makes Sammy Run), about a New Jersey longshoreman and ex-boxer Terry Malloy (Marlon Brando) who comes to tackle the moral dilemma of whether to remain loyal to his mob-connected boss Johnny Friendly (Lee J. Cobb) and Terry's brother, Charlie (Rod Steiger), who is the mobster's right-hand man, or to talk instead to the crime commission and name names. It doesn't seem to belong in the same category of films that could be described as "revolutionary." But that's only if you seize solely upon the melodramatic structure of its plot. What sets On the Waterfront apart from more conventional melodrama, besides the emotional force of its storytelling, happens between the lines of the story. It even goes beyond the film into the larger world that shaped it. "On the Waterfront is no more about the real business of the docks – working conditions, union racketeering, or reform – than Hamlet is an expose of corruption in the medieval Danish court," writes filmmaker Michael Almereyda (Nadja) in the DVD liner notes. "[On the Waterfront arrives] at an elevated place in our collective consciousness, a place where familiar images and scenes continue to seem urgent, to surprise us, to trigger intense feelings, reaching past the long shadows of politics and the blind wind of success or failure." To define that elevated place Almereyda refers to, you first have to grasp the social and political issues that turned On the Waterfront into the very phenomenon that Scorsese describes.
Thursday, May 23, 2013
|Lee Jung-jin stars in Kim Ki-duk’s Pietà|
At the start of Kim Ki-duk’s Pietà, which generated headlines and won top prizes when it played at the Cannes, Venice, and Berlin Film Festivals, the central character, a professional sociopath named Kang-do (Lee Jung-jin), wakes up in his squalid home, masturbates, staggers into his bathroom – whose floor is littered with entrails – and shaves. Then he leaves, after yanking a knife out of the wall, where it’s embedded in a drawing of a woman. For anyone who has seen some of the other Kim Ki-duk pictures that have played in this country but have fallen out of touch with his work in the last several years, this blandly presented procession of transgressive weirdness will feel like the director holding out his arms and crying, “Welcome back! The place is pretty much just like you left it.” Kang-do works as an enforcer for a loan shark, shaking down people who can’t pay their debts and mutilating them so they can collect on their insurance claims. With his baby fat, glaring eyes (with a hint of eyeliner), and mop of spiky, tousled black hair, Lee Jung-jin suggests an awkwardly grown-up version of the kind of child actor who gets cast as Damien the baby antichrist or one of the kids who inhabit the Village of the Damned.
Wednesday, May 22, 2013
|Adrianne Pieczonka (centre) and members of the COC in Dialogues des Carmélites (All photos by Michael Cooper)|
Dialogues des Carmélites, which the Canadian Opera Company is performing at Toronto’s Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts now through May 25, is an impressive theatrical creation. Sobering and meditative are words that also come to mind in describing it. Despite an outstanding predominately female cast and conductor Johannes Debus' firm grasp of Francis Poulenc's mercurial score, an evening’s diversion it is not. There is no romance here. No spectacular effects. Like its Revolutionary setting, Dialogues is dark and brooding. No tra-la-la among the tra-la-las.
Tuesday, May 21, 2013
|Tim Allen as Quincy Taggart|
Monday, May 20, 2013
|from Brooklyn Gang (1959) by Bruce Davidson|
“What did August Sander tell his sitters before he took their pictures?” the art critic John Berger asked of the expressive plein-air portraits made by this turn-of-the-century photographer. “And how did he say it so that they all believed him in the same way?” These are the kinds of questions asked and answered in Everybody Street (2013), a documentary made by Cheryl Dunn about street photographers in New York City. Profiling the likes of Bruce Davidson, Joel Meyerowitz, Boogie, Mary Ellen Mark, and the New York Photo League’s Rebecca Lepkoff with her 16 mm video camera, Dunn, a New York street photographer herself, captures the curiosity, spontaneity, and obsessional passion that drive the craft. In showcasing the work and careers of her colleagues and idols, Dunn reveals street photography as both a kinetic art and a romance. The documentary seeks to pay homage to the art and the artists while probing the distinct means by which each photographer invites their shared subject – New York City – to reveal itself anew.
Sunday, May 19, 2013
|Marin Ireland and Bobby Cannavale in The Big Knife, at the Roundabout Theatre Company (Photo by Joan Marcus)|
Staging Clifford Odets is tricky business, but Bartlett Sher’s production of his 1937 Golden Boy last fall showed that in the twenty-first century there’s still a way to use his language – stylized but firmly grounded in Stanislavskian psychological realism – to unleash theatrical power. Unhappily, the second Odets revival of the season, The Big Knife at the Roundabout, is a lame duck. Under Doug Hughes’ direction the actors either pretend the language isn’t heightened at all or else they seize on it as an excuse for overacting.