a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Bridge 2

Good News Swedish noir thriller fans! “The Bridge” Season 2 is now up and out from the ever-surprising MHz videos! “The Bridge” Season One was one of the best of its’ kind. A hum-dinger of a thrill ride starting with the body of a dead woman found on the Oresund Bridge, right on the demarcation line on the Bridge that marks one side as Sweden and the other as Denmark, therefore involving police of both countries.
 
The kicker was that it was not one woman’s body, but two. Placed together to seem one corpse. The one on the Swedish side was a high-placed Swedish/Icelandic  politico, and the other half of the body, the lower half ,was a Danish prostitute. Symbolically setting up what was to be a season long twisty mystery that bound the two countries police forces together to solve this grisly crime.
 
And it also introduced us to two unlikely crime-solving partners. One, the beauteous blonde young Swede Saga Noren  of the Malmo police and the other the bear-like, grizzled, middle-agaed Danish investigator Martin Rohde.
 
Played by the excellent Sofia Helin as Saga, The seemingly perfect Saga is not all she seems. Saga is an intense workaholic, and incredibly dogged and bright, but socially inept at everything except sex. Saga now seems to be a victim of Aspergrer’s Syndrome.
 
Kim Bodnia, an equally adept Danish character actor, plays Martin with a deep, earth-shaking anguish this season because of certain events that culminated on Bridge 1.He’s a family man, and we now see him separated from his good wife Mette (Puk Scarbau), and his children. He’s living in a hotel and doesn’t like it and flriting with the new female cop, Pernille, as he fights his inner demons of his tortured  recent past..
“The Bridge” 2 continues this Swedish/Danish conceit with a freighter sent crashing into one of the abutments of the Oresund Bridge, with no one on board, except six nearly dead students, who seem to be infected with the pneumonic plague, as they call it here. (Do they mean bubonic?)
The body count grows and grows and the charismatic duo of   Helin and Bodnia hold us as they go on one extreme assignment after the other.
Saga now has a live-in boy-friend, who she characteristically doesn’t get along with. And Martin reconciles, then de-reconciles with his understanding wife, who now has learned one important thing. It’s very dangerous to be married to a Danish policeman.
This hit Scandinavian TV series has been seen all over the world, and is spoken in both Swedish and Danish,with English sub- titles.Though I speak neither language, “The Bridge” is making me wish I did. Maybe I’ll take a class.
There is also a strong Lesbian sub-plot much to my(and the audience’s) surprise. But no spoilers here. I will say however that “The Bridge” does strain credulity with Martin’s constant visits, for no apparent reason, to see the mastermind/killer of Season One in prison. Played by the excellent actor Lars Simonson, he is a subtle enough performer to suggest many things. Including the deep relationship that led them both to the place (a prison) where they are now meeting face-to-face at Martin’s insistence over and over again for the entire length of the series. The Danish prison cell of the killer looked like a rather posh motel, I must say.
But the characters and the stories of Saga and her tormented counterpart Martin are enough to compel watching as the murders and catastrophes increase incrementally. They get along. They don’t get along. She’s an ice queen, but brilliant. He’s a big, warm, huggable, grizzly bear, but they do work well together,  and it is their unusual chemistry that keeps  “The Bridge” required viewing for all of you Swedish noir fans out there. I couldn’t stop watching all ten-hour long episodes.
And interestingly enough, too, most of the director/writing staff behing “The Bridge” is female, perhaps giving “The Bridge” its’ freshness and unique watchability.

Rooney & Cate 1So a few days ago, I posited that Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara would split the Best Actress Award at Cannes. That didn’t happen. Rooney won and split it with an obscure French actress that no one has ever heard of (nor probably will again), but Cate the great got nothing! Well, nothing but career-best reviews, as the title role and heroine of Todd Haynes’ lesbian love story “Carol.”

Based on the late Patricia Highsmith’s story “The Price of Salt”, it is set in the 1950’s and according to all reports magnificently photographed by Haynes’ great cinematographer Ed Lachman.

Cate can NOT and WILL not be ignored by the Academy if you want to know. Both she and Rooney Mara WILL be nominated for what evidently is being considered a tour-de-force by all and sundry.

But who will go in which category? And does it really matter? Especially at this (very) early point in the Oscar race? I’m assuming “Carol” will go the tried and true Festival route.  Telluride in August, Toronto in Sept. with New York’s Film Fest immediately following.

And who’s deciding all this? Why its’ legendary Oscar Whisperer Producer Harvey Weinstein that’s who. And he’s slated the opening for Dec.18. So “Carol” and Cate and Rooney and Harvey, too, have a long row to hoe before “Carol” opens, and as we all know, some Cannes’ favorites can run out of steam by the time the actual Oscars role around. Witness last year’s “Foxcatcher” barely making it to the Big Night and coming up with No Wins.

Guessing I would say that Rooney will be in the Supporting category and she could very well win there. Even if she is a co-lead with Cate.

Witness Patricia Arquette’s co-lead(she was the Mom) in “Boyhood” and won in Supporting though she could’ve been campaigned in lead. But her immediate switch to Supporting got her the gold, though the film won nothing else.

I think the same will be true for Rooney Mara in “Carol.” Harvey is NOT putting Cate Blanchett in the Supporting category if he ever wants to work with her again. Blanchett I don’t think would stand for it. And neither would Academy voters.

And what does the Cannes Best Actress Award and the Oscars have to do with each other anyway? Well, last year Julianne Moore won for “Maps to the Stars” in Cannes, but on Oscar night it was in “Still Alice” that gave Moore the gold, finally, after four tries.

Cate has two Oscars, Rooney has none, and the Academy is Rooney-friendly, nominating her for “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” a few years back.

And Harvey, as usual, has another Best Actress contender in the 19-year-old Saoirse Ronan for “Brooklyn”, also coming up this fall. And putting all three Weinstein women in Best Actress would be a big much of a much-ness. Wouldn’t it?

On the Town 1Imagine my surprise! To be thoroughly delighted, enraptured even, by a musical I always had a “meh” attitude towards previously. I had seen “On the Town” over and over in its’ many iterations and on film, too, and it had never turned my buttons. But THIS revival of “On the Town” pressed all of them, surprisingly and with joyous delight. Quelle Surprise! And why is this “On the Town” different from all the others?

The main answer I have to deduce is to give all the credit to its’ talented Tony  nominated director John Rando. He, of “Urinetown”, has really gone over the moon and captured it with his buoyant, light-as-air, but just-right re-interpretation. Rando and choreographer Joshua Bergasse have put the sauce (as in saucy) and the sex(see above picture^) back into “On the Town” making it as fresh and redolent as a Spring daisy.

I do think that that is what has been missing from all the other “On the Towns” I’ve ever had to sit through and go “What’s the fuss?” Well, the fuss started in 1944, right smack dab in the middle of WWII, when its’ three one-day-only shore-leave sailors burst off their battleship in the Brooklyn Navy Yard and onto the streets and subways of New York singing “New York, New York! It’s a helluva town! The Bronx is Up and the Battery’s down! The people ride in a hole in the ground!”

And in 1944, there also burst on to the Broadway scene, one of the most talented quartets the Great White Way was ever going to see, composer Leonard Bernstein, choreographer Jerome Robbins, and lyricist/librettists Betty Comden and Adolph Green. And what an explosion of talent that must’ve seemed to war-weary New Yorkers, who were seeing their city celebrated in the most joyful way imaginable.

And Comden and Green were IN it, too! As the loopy anthropologist  Claire de Loone(oy) and her mug of a tar.Ozzie, here essayed marvelously by Drama Desk Nominee Elizabeth Stanley and Clyde Alves. Stanley gets to show her considerable comic vocal chops in Act I’s “Carried Away” and her dramatic vocal ease in Act II’s “Some Other Time.” This is the part Betty Comden played originally. While her counterpart cohort, goofball Ozzie, was originally Adolph Green himself.

What a show that must’ve been! In 1944. But this “On the Town” seems to be just a good if not better. And did I mention they have an UNCOVERED 28 piece orchestra? One of the biggest I’ve ever heard on Broadway and they played Berntein’s classical score magnificently, dreamily. I never wanted them to stop!

Hunky Tony Yazbeck, nominated for the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical, works himself (and the audience) into a sweat with “New York, New York”,”Gabey’s Coming”, “I’m So Lucky To Be Me” as well as dancing all the  pas de deux ballet breaks (and there are many), then breaking your heart with “Lonely Town.” A star is truly born here. Gene Kelly played the part in the movie and Yazbeck obliterates his memory

His(Gaby)’s story drives the plot as he searches for his subway poster dream girl “Miss Turnstiles.” He finds his mythical  Ivy Smith, here embodied by real life Ballerina turned Broadway star Megan Fairchild  in a singing class led by the redoubtable (and hilarious).Jackie Hoffman, who is a comic drunk for the ages.

Completing the trio of star tars is the thumpingly innocent farm boy Chip, (Jay Armstrong Johnson) who with his 10-year-old, out-of-date New York visitors guide falls into the clutches of lady cab driver from Mars Hildy Esterhazy. And the hefty Hildy (Alysha Umphress) literally kid-naps (or in this case cab-naps) the virginal Chip into one of the most hysterical New York taxi-rides ever seen, aided and abetted by Beowulf Boritt’s masterful back-projections. Chip doesn’t stand a chance.as Hildy exults “Come Up to My Place” adding “I Can Cook Too” to great comic effect.

So, as a Native New Yorker myself, I was blown away and elated by this rainbow-of-a-valentine to My Fair City. SEE IT! New York, New York Is a Helluva Town!

Julie HalstonLegendary Comic Diva Julie Halston camps up a storm as usual at the Drama Desk Nominee Press Reception where she was nominated for her hilarious turn as a falling-down-drunk Gay Wellington. In Kaufman & Hart’s 1930s comedy “You Can’t Take It With You” which was revived this past season starring James Earl Jones.

Camera ~ Jason Bohbot

Lydia Leonard 1Lydia Leonard, the charming young British actress who is wowing the crowds in “Wolf Hall, Pts. 1 &2 on Broadway as Anne Boleyn has been nominated for both the Drama Desk and Tony Awards for Best Featured Actress in a play.

Here she is at the Drama Desk Nominee Press Reception 2015. Good luck, Lydia!

Cate & OscarAustralian actress, two-time Oscar winner Cate Blanchett is clearly in her prime. The raves coming out of Cannes this year for her performance in Todd Haynes’ adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s story, “Carol” are unanimous and deafening. And joyous.

Already sounding like a female “Brokeback Mountain,” “Carol” has virtually an all-gay creative team behind it.   Haynes is an openly gay director, and the late Patricia Highsmith was a gay novelist. Though in her time, the ’40 & ’50s Highsmith was constrained to write about male characters rather than female.

Her “Strangers on a Train” had what was probably a homidical homosexual at its’ center Bruno Anthony. He was famously portrayed in the classic Alfred Hitchcock movie by the late Robert Walker. And times were such that Hitchcock had to shoot TWO versions of “Strangers” one for American audiences and one for British. In America, the scene where Bruno and the studly tennis pro, Guy, meet it was just two guys hangin’ out, but in the British version, it was a gay pick-up. More to the point, Highsmith had to write about two GUYS, not two women.

In “The Talented Mr. Ripley,” Highsmith had to again have a male hero or anti-hero, who was another tortured soul to be sure(and also a killer). In “The Price of Salt” yes, she did finally write about women, but if was published under another name.

“The Price of Salt” is probably flying off the bookshelves right now because it is what “Carol” is based on. Already being hailed in Cannes as a Gay Classic, it seems surely to be Oscar bound for both Blanchett in the title role and Rooney Mara in Supporting, as the shop-girl/photographer who is the object of Carol’s affections…

Oh, and there’s another Oscar point, I haven’t mentioned. Its’ producer is Oscar Whisperer Harvey Weinstein. His presence alone assures that Blanchett and Mara, too, will be nominated. The question is will the Academy deem fit to give Blanchett a THIRD Oscar for “Carol”?

She’s also had a stellar box-office hit “Cinderella” this year, which may net her a Supporting nod as the Evil Stepmother.

This could be yet ANOTHER year of the Cate. Ladies and gentle-persons, the Envelope. please!

THE DRAMA LEAGUE

ANNOUNCES WINNERS OF

81ST ANNUAL AWARDS

 Max 1

AN AMERICAN IN PARIS

NAMED DISTINGUISHED MUSICAL

 

“THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME”

NAMED DISTINGUISHED PLAY

 

THE KING AND I

NAMED DISTINGUISHED REVIVAL OF A MUSICAL

 

“YOU CAN’T TAKE IT WITH YOU”

An American in Paris 1NAMED DISTINGUISHED REVIVAL OF A PLAY

 

CHITA RIVERA

RECEIVES DISTINGUISHED PERFORMANCE AWARD

 

 

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