Sunday, July 11, 2010


I AM LOVE (Io sono l’amore) caught me off guard.  It is truly a masterful film.  Tilda Swinton is breathtaking as Emma, an upper class Italian wife and mother who we initially meet as she floats through her easy, sensuous life of running a large country household.

Asumptuous Christmas Eve feast unfolds with family and close friends.  We watch as she attempts to nurture her chilly, industrialist husband Tancredi (Pippo Delbono) and encourage her handsome son Edoardo Jr. (Flavio Parenti) and his young Muslim business partner and chef, Antonio (Edoardo Gabriellini) as they plan the opening of a rugged, provincial restaurant. 

Suddenly, an unexpected compromise occurs between her and her son's partner.   Staggering passion erupts between them that forever alter their lives.  The son’s discovery of his mother infidelity and the tragic implications that arise affect the entire family.  John Adams’s musical score offers a perfect counterpoint to the twisted passion of the story.

The covert theme of subconscious incestuous desire of a mother toward her son’s business partner is unsettling.  However, we are lulled into acquiescence by the lush cinematography, editing, acting and color palate that infuses the story.   

The ending is shattering.  Go out of your way to see this extraordinary film.

Monday, July 5, 2010


Theatrical buzz surrounded NEXT FALL, partly because of Elton John and partner David Furnish's producing involvement.  It also seemed an intriguing  opportunity to discover how a gay fundamental Christian and a gay atheist (relatively) might manage a 'meaningful' relationship in urban NYC.

Unfortunately, the first act felt more like a WILL & GRACE episode than a well written Broadway drama that could  stand up to the brilliantly crafted words and conflicts of Broadway's RED.

We are presented with an age difference between 2 lovers, Luke (Patrick Heusinger)  and Adam  (Patrick Breen).  In addition, each are religious  opposites.  Were there any sexual chemistry between the two actors we might at least be rooting for this relationship to survive beyond the witty repartee sprinkled among the players.  Hip jokes do not a play make. 

Add to the mix a fundamental Christian dad, a fag hag and a former lover of Adam's.  One  longed for a fresh turn that might have offered us compelling insights as to why  two disparate characters really belonged to one another. 

 The  play is told in flashback.  Luke is fighting for his life in an Intensive Care Unit after a shattering taxi accident.  The playwright, Geoffrey Nauffts,  attempts to draw us into the basic ache that true love must survive.  Ultimately, this theatregoer felt manipulated and disappointed by the flat direction of Sheryl Kaller and the professional ensemble of actors who lacked an ounce of chemistry with one another.   The audience gave the company a single curtain call  and called it a night.

Sunday, January 24, 2010


I'm not into ballet but lean toward contemporary and out-of-the-box work.  I was blown away by Steven Petronio's company of 10 athletic dancers.  Just 2 pieces were shown as a preview to his 25th season at the Joyce in April.  Stunning punches, jabs, fantastic parings of lyrical and angular combinations were presented that I've simply never seen before.   

All wore boldly black and white stripped tops, tights or shorts that created, during some of the spinning and tumbling movement, optical blurs and were almost hallucinogenic.  

The music consisted of excerpts from Radio Head and others - amplified plucked bass, violins, sax and myriad percussion that absolutely got under my skin.



I must confess that this is one of the most exquisite films I've seen in ages.  Jane Campion directs a story set in 1818 about an aching romance between poet John Keats and his beautiful neighbor that echo contemporary relationships in remarkable ways.  Every element of the film is, to me, simply flawless.  And I can rarely say that. 

The casting, the transparency and non-verbal aspects of these two people, the setting and seasons in the English countryside, the extraordinary handmade wardrobe for each character that the lighting captures breathlessly -- all these elements will transport you in ways few films can manage.  The poetry alone will linger with you for days.


-->    I really try hard to approach a film with an open mind and ignore industry gossip or buzz.  I offer this preamble because I know that a Quentin Tarantino film will feature grisly violence that often seems more sensational than dramatically necessary.  So I worked hard to go into neutral because the director’s work is often quite interesting.  Usually. 
     World War II and evil Nazis hooked me right away.  A renegade band of men who sought out the perpetrators of ‘crimes against humanity’, killed and then scalped them, sounded ripe for the Tarantino spin.  And spin he did.  Not only did he set out to rewrite world history he sexes it up with arch melodrama and corn ball dialogue that wouldn’t pass in an intro screen writing class.  He even has Brad Pitt, usually terrific, set his jaw a-la-brando in the ‘Godfather’ and speaks in the most hopeless hillbilly accent that contributed to the unraveling of the sudsy ending.  Hey, I really hope to surrender to this film but Tarantino’s self-conscious manipulation of the story kept pulling me out the movie. 
    The one saving grace was the performance of Christoph Waltz.  He savored his Jew-hunting mission with a salivating gusto that brought new meaning to the word psychopath.  He stole the film but not my heart.