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Monday, November 24, 2008


My Apologies...

NEW YORK - APRIL 22:  (L-R) Actors Trent Kowal...Getty Images...for the dearth of blogging of late. I've got a cold, which makes me just want to sit and do nothing. I've also been a culture maven of late, seeing:

THEATER: Billy Elliot (Imperial Theatre)
(Ehh. Not my thing. The piece is impeccably put together, but the material is over-produced and over-worked...and Elton John's music is almost completely forgettable. The movie captured the unique, unusual magic of a kid who just wants to dance...something that, on Broadway, isn't all that unique. Jesus, even the coal miners' dance! I kept wanting Billy to realize that he lives in a town that seems completely comprised of hoofers and chorus boys. Oh well. For the record, I saw Trent Kowalik, who friends who work on the show say is the weakest of the three Billys. But there's solid supporting work from Hayden Gwynne as Billy's dance teacher and Gregory Jbara as his father. I'm trying not to yawn as I write this. Let's leave it at this: it's perfectly fine middlebrow entertainment, but if this is really the best musical of the year, we're in for a very disappointing season.)

CINEMA: Slumdog Millionaire
(By all rights, I should have hated this movie...its rags-to-riches, up-from-the-slums narrative is as old as Hollywood itself, even though its Indian setting gives it a modern sheen. But Simon Beaufoy's screenplay is dazzling, keeping the treacle to an absolute minimum and the focus on the trio of orphans at its center. I'm suspicious of all the Oscar buzz surrounding this very small, very odd love letter to determination. But there seems to be one Academy slot each year reserved for a low-budget wonder that has traditional Hollywood ethos in its bones (Juno, Little Miss Sunshine). If that pattern holds up, voters couldn't do any better than Slumdog.

OPERA: Doctor Atomic (Metropolian Opera)
(The Met's production of John Adams' paean to Oppenheimer and Company is probably less interesting that Peter Sellars' version at San Francisco Opera a few seasons back, but it still packs a wallop...especially in the Act I aria "Batter My Heart," which uses John Donne's poetry to examine the dangerous, unpredictable moment in history. I wasn't wild about any of the performers, and the role of Oppenheimer's wife, Kitty (played by Sasha Cooke), seems meandering and a bit too Cassandra-prophetic for my tastes. But the piece is undoubtedly one of the most exhilarating, complex, and illuminating works of art to appear in New York this year.)

THEATER: What's That Smell: The Songs of Jacob Sterling (New World Stages)
(A cute, cute, cute idea -- a fake musical theatre composer, receiving a retrospective on his career from a fake public access television show -- and one that dutifully skewers the peculiar snobbery of the artists who dwell in NYC's cabaret and musical-development circuit. But the show needs a laser-like focus on its satire, and detours into the culture of commercialization and the public reaction to 9/11 seem too weighty for the feather-light concept to sustain. But oh, how I do adore watching David Pittu and Peter Bartlett! Bartlett may be the best Fey Gay in the entire known universe...and that is, indeed, a compliment.

TELEVISION: Summer Heights High
Peculiar, specific, and definitely not for everyone. But boy, it's definitely for me. Chris Lilley is a master character actor, the best I've ever seen outside of the Christopher Guest coterie. I'm in love with Ja'mie.

True Blood (Got better every single week...and I miss it already)
American Buffalo (Good riddance to extremely uninteresting bad rubbish)
The Garden of Earthly Delights (The best show in NYC that isn't named Black Watch)
Top Chef New York (Go Team Rainbow!)
Legend of the Seeker (What? So sue me, the lead is really hot. And it's trashy fun.)
White Christmas (The less said about that, the better.)
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Blogger arkie said...

I'm so happy you get Chris Lilley and his brand of humour. I always thought you would love summer heights high but was unsure how it would go down in the states.
it's good see HBO left the show intact and did not mess with it as per Kath and KIm. An aussie fan

11/24/08, 5:30 AM  
Blogger kamarie said...

Oh, I was so sad Team Rainbow was disbanded the first day, but they're absolutely my favorite!

11/24/08, 8:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Trent is an incredible dancer and being even the weakest of the three (which he is not) would still be amazing. Id like to see you get up and do half the show that those kids do. Billy Elliot is the best musical I have ever seen and if you don't agree that is fine, but you don't have to dis people's hard work.

11/24/08, 9:17 AM  
Blogger Esther said...

Hope you're feeling better! I enjoyed Billy Elliot more than you did (and I saw Trent). I was mostly dazzled by his dancing. But I thought Haydn Gwynne stole the show. She really created a memorable character and added a spark whenever she was on stage.

11/24/08, 6:39 PM  

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