Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Jeunet on Hollywood

Director Jean-Pierre Jeunet has been making the rounds in France lately, plugging his latest film, Micmacs à tire-larigot (trailer here). In an interview, which I translated below, he talked about his experience in Hollywood, directing Alien: Resurrection in 1997. A bit of context: Jeunet was hired to work on the fourth installment in the Alien franchise after he directed Delicatessen and City of Lost Children; he went on to make Amélie and A Very Long Engagement (in the interview he also mentioned that Emily Watson was originally cast in the latter movie, only to be replaced by Audrey Tautou).

Interviewer: Was it nice to work in the US?
JPJ: Do you have two or three hours? It was a great adventure. I remember at the time I said it was the hardest day of my life, every day. I had almost total artistic freedom but they constricted me from a financial viewpoint, which is exactly the opposite of what I had expected. I can still hear the producers telling me, Can you do this in one shot instead of three? Can you trim? It was really reductionist. It's a perverse game. On the one hand I had actors like Sigourney Weaver who wanted perfection, on the other hand I had producers who wanted me to go as fast as possible. It was difficult to negotiate. And in Hollywood there's the good ones and the bad ones. I saw the Hollywood myth collapse like the towers on 9/11. Nothing worked. Aside from the aliens themselves, which were amazing, the special effects didn't work — I'm talking about explosions, doors that are supposed to be blasted. Nothing worked. I felt I was in The Dictator when —
Interviewer: — are you serious? I feel like you're talking about Albania.
JPJ: Yeah, yeah.
Interviewer: Albania in 1972.
JPJ: Just a bit below that, Albania in 1967. Maybe I didn't get the best crew… A symbol: my first day of shooting. The first time I'm saying "Action!" — the camera didn't work. It never did, we put it out to pasture. That was a symbol for the entire shoot.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Ordinary Days

Adam Gwon's little-musical-that-could, Ordinary Days, opens at the Roundabout Underground. Review in today's Post.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Brighton Beach Memoirs

Neil Simon's Brighton Beach Memoirs is back on Broadway, and you can read about it in the Post. Maybe it's the mad skillz of director David Cromer, but I didn't mind it at all. Speaking of Cromer: His staging of Our Town is still playing at the Barrow Street Theatre, and you should really see it if you haven't already — it was one of my top three favorite shows of last year.

Friday, October 23, 2009

After Miss Julie

What kind of an endorsement is it when the best you can come up is, Well, that didn't suck?

Patrick Marber's After Miss Julie (my Post review is here) just opened. Yes, the play is a remake of Strindberg's Miss Julie, and no, Sienna Miller doesn't embarrass herself in the title role. The real treat for me, though, was Marin Ireland as the cook, Christine. And she doesn't even say anything half the time she's on stage.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A summons to Memphis

Color me surprised: I didn't expect to enjoy Memphis -- a new musical by Joe "I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change" DiPietro and David "Bon Jovi keyboard player" Bryan -- but the show's pretty great. Expectations are there to be proven wrong, aren't they?

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Don't mind doing it for the kids

Coincidentally, I had two kids-centric pieces in yesterday's Post.

First, I profiled voice coach Trapper Felides, who specializes in children. I had a lot of extra fun material that didn't make it to the article, so I'll blog about that over at the Post tomorrow.

I also reviewed Hansel and Gretel, a fantastic adaptation of the fairy tale that takes over the entire New Victory Theatre.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Birdie doesn't take flight

How can you make Bye Bye Birdie not fun? Trust the Roundabout to find a way. My review of Robert Longbottom's revival is in today's Post.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Monday, October 12, 2009


After strongly disliking David Mamet's Two Unrelated Plays at the Atlantic, I found myself digging Oleanna, which has reached Broadway 17 years after its creation on an off stage. It's far from a comfortable ride, but any show that leaves you arguing for 20 minutes afterwards, standing on a street corner, has got something going for it.

Friday, October 09, 2009

The Royal Family

George S. Kaufman and Edna Ferber's 1927 ode to theater, The Royal Family, gets revived — and reviewed in today's Post.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Countdown to pop ecstasy

Kylie. Hammerstein Ballroom. Three days to go.

Let Me Down Easy

Review of Anna Deavere Smith's Let Me Down Easy in today's Post. My, Second Stage really is on a roll. Among the larger nonprofits, they are the most diverse and the most consistent.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Laying down the Law

More positivity! My review of Hamlet is in today's Post. Considering I've never enjoyed Jude Law on screen (except perhaps in AI -- but then he played a robot), my enjoyment of Michael Grandage's production was far from a predetermined deal.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

All hail Robert Lepage

My review of Robert Lepage's Lipsynch, at BAM until Sunday, is in today's paper. Maximum star rating!

Lepage has a rep as an experimental director (people often conveniently forget he's directed a Cirque du Soleil production in Vegas) but I cannot emphasize enough how purely entertaining the show is. Yes, it lasts eight and a half hours, but this shouldn't pose much of a challenge to anybody who's spent a weekend watching entire TV seasons on DVD.

Monday, October 05, 2009

That ol' Cinnabun hairdo

I love the first Star Wars movies as much as anybody else (the first in the order in which they were made, that is) but there's only so much Carrie Fisher I can take -- see today's review of her one-woman show, Wishful Drinking. I have to admit I was mildly surprised by the amount of love, or at least bemused tolerance, that has met the show. Clearly Fisher has accumulated a healthy amount of good will over the years, and she certainly is an endearing storyteller. Still, $111?

Friday, October 02, 2009

The spell is broken!

Thank Odin for Tracy Letts! I was really starting to wonder how much lower this new theater season could sink. But lo and behold, relief blew in all the way from Chicago with the Steppenwolf's most excellent production of Letts' Superior Donuts. Review thataway. I'm particularly happy he chose a different mode for his follow-up to August: Osage County.

I didn't even loathe Nora and Delia Ephron's Love, Loss, and What I Wore. True, the subject matter -- the role of clothes and accessories in a woman's life -- is just about as alien to me as NASCAR. And true, I find Nora Ephron's body of work completely toxic. But this show is painless and even, thanks to its zesty interpreters, rather funny.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

A double helping of very little

Down we continue to go with An Evening of Two Unrelated Plays by David Mamet, currently at the Atlantic main stage. I saw it last Saturday, on a sad, drizzly evening. Fitting, somehow.

Mamet has a revival of Oleanna and the new Race coming down the pike this season, and I can't say that this whetted my appetite.