Sunday, March 27, 2011

So much has happened in the past week. The international news has been unsettling (to put it mildly): the problems in Japan seem overwhelming and compounded by the ever-present threat of nuclear disaster; the Middle East continues to explode, but is American intervention in Libya really an option? Of course, on the show business front, the news was dominated by the death of Elizabeth Taylor. A lot of ink was spilled about her status as the last of the Hollywood goddesses (yes, there were many other stars, but there are few goddesses). Other notables deaths this week included Richard Leacock (with D.A. Pennebaker, a pioneering figure in the cinema verite movement) and Lanford Wilson (one of the major American playwrights and a stalwart of the off-off-Broadway movement). And this week brought the last press screenings for New Directors/New Films: "Attenberg" and "Fwd: Update on My Life" with "Shut Up, Little Man!" Other press screenings this week: "Le Quattro Volte" (which i missed at the New York Film Festival), Naruse's "Floating Clouds" (part of the upcoming "5 Japanese Divas" series at Film Forum), and "Obsession" and "Phantom of the Paradise" (part of the upcoming Brian De Palma series at BAMCinemathek). Seeing "Phantom of the Paradise" on the day when Lanford Wilson's obit appeared was a reminder of the off-off-Broadway scene. The star of "Phantom of the Paradise" was William Finley, who was (at the time) one of the lead actors of Richard Schechner's Performance Group (Finley was the star of the Performance Group's production of "Dionysus in 69", which De Palma had filmed). The character that Finley plays is named Winslow Leach, a nod to De Palma's friend Wilfred Leach, the theater director (with whom De Palma had co-directed his first feature film, "The Wedding Party", which had Jill Clayburgh and Valda Setterfield in the cast). And the female lead is (of course) Jessica Harper, who had been working with Richard Foreman when De Palma saw her. I didn't make it to the IRAs last night, because i felt at such a disadvantage: since half of 2010 was spent in Europe, i didn't feel comptent to venture an opinion on what had been released in the US in 2010, though Berlin certainly got its fair number of American commercial releases. But it was difficult to see foreign releases, and so a lot of those movies ("A Prophet", "I Am Love", et al) were problematic, i.e., i didn't get to see them. And tonight is the first part of Todd Haynes's miniseries of "Mildred Pierce" starring Kate Winslet. There has been so much happening on the dance front: last week, Martha Graham's company, Trisha Brown and Yvonne Rainer all presented concerts. And last week brought the AICA Awards, but it was crowded and i didn't stay. We did go to the press preview for the Glenn Ligon exhibition at the Whitney Museum, and that show was certainly thought-provoking. So there is a lot to write about.


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