a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Posts tagged ‘classic’

Devastated to hear that “Carousel” is closing!

Devastated to hear that my beloved “Carousel” is closing in Sept.! The curt press release didn’t give reasons, but the primary reason for something like this happening, and so suddenly, is money.. The box-office is always the culprit. Ticket sales will now, of course, go through the roof.

Lindsey Mendez, who all you dear readers know, was not in it the performance I saw. She won a Tony for Best Featured Actress in a Musical, and was not widely known heretofore. She can be seen on You Tube in a series of backstage-at-Carousel videos she made.

Justin Peck also won Best Choreography for his incredible, soaring, balletic  dance numbers.

This is all so sad. And the press release made it sound quite final, like there was no wiggle room on this blunt decision.If you haven’t seen it, you must rush to see it as soon as possible. Opera Legend Renee Fleming, Tony winner for “Beautiful” Jessie Mueller, and the incredible Joshua Henry  also star.  Jessie Mueller also won Best Actress in a Musical from the Drama Desk. And it has the largest orchestra of a Broadway show in recent memory. And a harp! The superb orchestrations are by Jonathan Tunick and Musical Supervision by Andy Einhorn.

It’s at the Imperial Theater 249 West 45th Street, the same theater where my favorite show of last year “Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet” was.*sigh*

Superb “Waiting for Godot” w/Ian McKellan & Patrick Stewart Blazes on Bway

Don’t miss the superb current revival of Samuel Beckett’s  “Waiting for Godot” starring Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart at the Cort Theater on Broadway. It is in rotating rep with a play by Harold Pinter “No Man’s Land” which seems tepid by comparison. The quartet of players, McKellan, Stewart and American actors Billy Crudup and Shuler Hensley, soar into theatrical heaven with “Godot,” a play I’ve never liked or understood. Until now.

In a blasted post-apocalyptic landscape, two hobos( or today’s parlance would dub them homeless people) we find Estragon (McKellan) utterly bedraggled and sometimes bootless and his companion, the ever-so-slightly more dapper Vladimir (Stewart) waiting for Godot. Who is some one or some thing they don’t know and never find out about. But they keep hoping they do. And they keep waiting and waiting and waiting. And that’s the plot.

McKellan and Stewart are at their absolute zenith of their combined talents, as they entertain us and each other mightily, while waiting for SOMEthing to happen. They have each other. And a tree with no leaves, and the tattered clothes on their backs, rags, really. Dusty, crusty. They’re frightening to look upon.

But you end up just loving them. Because they make you laugh. At the utter absurdity of everything.

That’s something that I never thought of “Godot” as, being a supremely entertaining comedy. It was just one laugh after the other, surprising and delighting the audience. As Vladimir and Estragon keep entertaining each other, as they wait and wait and quarrel and make up again and consider suicide and reject it and wait.

Finally something DOES happen in the scarifying persona of the outsized blow-hard Pozzo (Hensley) and his hideous, pathetic captive scarecrow Lucky( a nearly unrecognizable Crudup).

Vladimir and Estragon think that this ovewhelming personage MUST be Godot. But then decide he isn’t. He doesn’t know who they are and they don’t know who he is.

And Hensley is so revolting and despicable and hugely fat as Pozzo that the two bums become almost attractive by comparison.

And in the second Act things do change, but to reveal just how magnificently they’re embodied by this quartet of great actors, all four at the peak of their powers, in both plays would be to spoil a lot of the fun for the 1% of you that aren’t already familiar with “Godot.”

I now see for the first time ever through the combined artistry of these Four Horseman of the Apocalyptic(Theater) just WHY Samuel Beckett’s difficult, dense, infuriating play is the existential classic that it has always been considered. And it’s an anthem, a subtle anthem to hope.

“No Man’s Land” by Harold Pinter seems almost picayune by comparison.

A rich man Hirst (Stewart) encounters a less squalid ne’er-do-well, Spooner (McKellan) Less squalid as his Bum of Bums, Estragon in “Godot” on Hampstead Heath, a notorious gay pick-up ground. Was that what Pinter was implying by starting the play with this unexplained meeting? I wonder? In any case, Hirst brings Spooner home to his grand mansion of a house and it turns out that Spooner is a poet and then also so is Hirst, and that they actually knew each other at university. But Spooner didn’t like Hirst…and so it goes…a rather pallid reflection of “Godot” in certain thematic senses.

Crudup and Hensley are consigned to supporting enigmatic servant/thugs in “No Man’s Land” and we never quite find out why. Or who they really are.

At the end of “Godot” the entire audience was standing and cheering loudly with many curtain calls and “Bravos!” filling the air. That didn’t happen with “No Man’s Land.” So if you have to choose between the two choose “Godot.” It’s worth the wait.

I see “Midnight in Paris” for the SIXTH time!!!

I can’t help myself! I can’t believe it! I never see movies more than once, usually, but SIX times! This amounts to an obsession. But a lovely one.

“Midnight in Paris” is so entrancing, so enthralling I keep going back to see it again and again and again. And again and again and again.

Why am I doing this???

As I bought my ticket yet again(also something I NEVER do, being a film critic, if I don’t see it at a press screening, I usually don’t catch up with it til it’s on DVD) and I was a little late, and I told the woman that that was Ok, because I’d already seen the movie five times. And she said “Is it THAT good?” Absolutely astonished.

Yes, it’s THAT good.

It’s also just not me who’s seeing it in this monumental terms. People all over the world and flocking, making it on track to be Woody Allen’s greatest grossing movie of all time, but also, perhaps, too, SONY PICTURES CLASSICS greatest grossing movie of all time.

And the Academy is certainly going to take notice of this, as I’ve said before.

Could it win Best Picture for Woody? Who hasn’t had a Best Picture win since “Annie Hall” way back in the deep, dark ’70s….

Could the Woodman score again?

With these numbers(and yes, I admit to driving them up, but if I’m going back to see it again and again, others must be, too) With this immense popularity(it’s playing in theaters a Woody Allen film has never played in. EVAH!) Oscar can’t really ignore it.

But more pertinently, what may it be up against in the final show down in November/December?

There’s Stephen Spielberg’s upcoming movie version of the Tony winning Best Play “War Horse” and there’s also David Fincher’s remake of the Swedish movie, a classic to some(me included) “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.”

I think Woody’s feel good “Midnight” might actually beat these two, if it keeps going the way it’s going. And yes, it is STILL going.

“Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” was the other top grosser that Sony Pictures Classics has that “Midnight in Paris” has to unseat and it looks like it’s going to.

CTHD got nominated for Best Picture, too, that year, but didn’t win.

Frankly, it’s charms eluded me. I’m not that into Kung Fu, or whatever it was they were doing in that movie.

Though I liked the first Kung Fu Panda.

But “Midnight in Paris” is a delightful film. Delight. A very, very rare commodity these days. And charming. And well, even exceptionally acted.

Sony Pictures is going to do an Oscar campaign for leading actor Owen Wilson, and he just may score a nomination. Yes,even for a comedy. He shows Cary Grant-like chops in this movie. Sublime comic timing, and a character every one in the West Coast dominated Academy can relate to, a surfer dude-like sell-out.

Leading men who can carry a spritely comedy like this and pull it off so delightfully(there’s that word again) are rare, rare, rare in H’wood these days.

He’s made many,many movies. Has a multi-billion dollar franchise at Number One right now. “Cars Two” (and no, I’m not rushing to see it). So he’s everywhere this year.

But back to repeat showings. Rachel MacAdams’ family and she herself become more and more genuinely loathsome upon repeat viewings. And Marion Cotillard grows in beauty each time.

At one point, I think it’s the great Kathy Bates as Gertrude Stein, who says in one of the pivotal scenes in the film, “She has one of the great faces” and she does.

Bates’ Stein is berating Picasso, who has painted a ridiculous abstract portrait of Adriana, Marion’s character, and says he has not grasped the essence of her beauty. She says in French that it is “plus subtle” and Picasso has made her look like “a whore in the Place Pigalle.”

Seeing “Midnight in Paris” so many times means it becomes like seeing an old friend. It’s comforting. It makes you happy, as good friends ought to do. And also a continued inspiration.

I just love it to pieces and I bet the Academy is going to, too.

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