CP reporter Brandon Baker trained to Haverford yesterday to see Academy Award-nominated actress Julianne Moore read from her latest children's book, Freckleface Strawberry: Best Friends Forever.
Julianne Moore walked into Children’s Book World like every other mom in the place, humble and sweet. And aside from her publicist, she wasn't surrounded by a team of Hollywood-types and paparazzi. Instead she had a haggle of little kids at her feet, who she played around with before launching into the reading of the third book in her Freckleface Strawberry series.
The New York City-based jack-of-all-trades says the original inspiration for the series came from being teased in grade school about having a lot of freckles. Drawing from that, she says she wrote the entire first book during a plane ride.
When I could, I made a beeline through the crowd of kids to ask her a few grown-up questions:
City Paper: What not-so-subtle morals can adults and children take away from the book?
Julianne Moore: “You know, in this [book] these two kids perceive themselves as best friends and people say they’re a lot alike — but they’re not. But they’re both human beings. They both have families. The less we categorize, the better off we are.”
Once again, Philly will play host to DesignPhiladelphia — one of the most vivacious and varied design events in the country. Today, Meg talks shop with Hilary Jay, the founder and head of the event, who shares with us why design matters, how it functions in Philadelphia and what makes DesignPhiladelphia so freakin’ great.
CP: This might be a little cliché, but finish this sentence: Good design is …
HJ: … the thoughtful and elegant solution to problems of all sizes, shapes and forms — from a stylish plastic trash can for home and office to a fresh water distribution system in resource impoverished countries. But even more, good design creates an experience, changes behavior, gives you something you didn't even know you wanted.
CP: How does good design function for you in your day-to-day life? In what ways does good design help your life/work/etc?
HJ: Design affects all of us, all the time. It is the clothes we wear, the technology at our fingertips, the transportation system taking us from "a" to "b" and back again, the signage directing our way, the cereal box we pour in our breakfast bowl, the shelter we inhabit.
CP: Philly offers a lot of wonderful design aspects, but there’s something interesting about our ability to work in heritage and sustainable futures in all aspects of design. Any insight on why Philadelphia seems to be on the forefront of this? Can you also speak a little about political support and the creative infrastructure of Philadelphia?
At Tower Theatre on Saturday, Primus played a two-hour-plus show featuring two sets and an encore. The first set was comprised of early-era songs, almost entirely from their first three albums. And the second was their new album, Green Naugahyde, in its entirety, followed by a two-song encore of "Here Come The Bastards" and "Pudding Time."
I caught up with guitarist Ler Lalonde for a brief chat.
CP: What does the future have in store for Primus?
LL: I’m hoping there are more albums. Over the last ten years we’ve done some touring, but I think the focus now is to try to move forward making records, not just go out and tour.
CP: How has the transition to Jay Lane on drums been for you guys?
LL: The transition to Jay Lane has been awesome. I consider it a very lucky type of thing. He’s a super cool guy, a great player and he’s really great to write with. You couldn’t ask for better aspects.
CP: How have your fans reacted to Green Naugahyde?
LL: It seems, oddly enough, every Primus record comes out and I think 'Oh, boy this is the one that nobody’s gonna get,' and sometimes it’s half-and-half. This is the first one that it seems everybody is able to grab on to. People seem to get it for some reason.
CP: This may be more of a question for Les, but is Jimmy MacDonagal and other characters in your songs based on real people, or are they completely conjured?
LL: To some extent, everything is based on some kind of real character or real incident, like "Bob," for example. The names are usually changed to protect the innocent.
CP: You were trained by Joe Satriani. Does he approve of all the odd sirens and other effects you get out of your guitar?
Adapted from David Nicholls’ bestseller, One Day begins when Emma Morley (Anne Hathaway) and Dexter Mayhew (Jim Sturgess) meet for the first time, on July 15 (St. Swithin’s Day), and end up spending the night together.
Director Lone Scherfig’s film chronicles Emma and Dexter's experiences over the next two decades as their friendship grows more intense. They try not to get their feelings of love and/or interest in sex get in the way of their friendship. As such, the film asks: Can men and women benefit from friendship, or do they always end up as friends with benefits?
“I think it’s possible for a straight woman to be friends with a straight guy and vice versa," said Hathaway in a recent interview. "And yes, sometimes tension can get in the way of friendship; usually that dissipates into what it’s meant to be — which is a friendship.”
But then she added, “But I’m not the person to answer this question. I’ve been in a rock-solid relationship for three years, and I’m a one-man woman, so I don’t really look at other men. The majority of my friends are gay men, and I’ve never had any sexual tension with them — which I consider to be a personal failing. That said, [I’m going to be playing] Judy Garland — so I’ve got to get on that.”
Q&A with MIKE CAHILL: "We have a primal fear of being alone in the universe. That’s why we reach out."
Another Earth starts and leaves its viewers with one haunting question: If there were a mirror Earth, what would it mean? Could lost loved ones be there? Could you wipe away the stains of your crimes and sins? Would you like your mirror-self? And what sacrifice would you be willing to make to be on that other version of Earth?
Director/writer Mike Cahill and star/writer/co-producer Brit Marling probed these questions in their film, in which Marling plays a girl who leads a charmed life — including having just been accepted into MIT. But then she strikes a sedan and kills the family in it (all but one member). After being imprisoned for four years, feeling worthless and working menial jobs, she seeks out the once-comatose widower of the deceased family, a classical composer played by William Mapother. While she grows close to the widower without him knowing who she is, she enters and wins an essay contest where the prize is a trip to Another Earth.
To tell you more would be cruel. But to let Cahill do it is a joy.
City Paper: How does a guy with such a deep résumé of music documentaries (Sting, Leonard Cohen) start thinking about Another Earth?
Mike Cahill: When I was still studying at Georgetown, I was making a lot of shorts — fictional films starring Brit, who was like four years younger than me. So we had this collaborative background in fiction, kids telling stories. When I graduated, I started working for National Geographic and started on real authentic stories, like the music docs. But I always wanted Brit and I to go back to our roots. Documentaries give you a confidence in regard to walking into a scene. You so often have to capture the unpredictable. Add an extra amount of control and your meter for authenticity goes up — that’s your barometer. So I approached Another Earth as if it were a documentary, taking a story that is science fiction but grounding it in reality.
CP: The film definitely has that feel. What visual twist did you wish to lend Another Earth to make it adaptable to fiction?
MC: I always thought it was be interesting if the camera from Dogma 95, the stripped-down, bare, naturalistic thing, caught that other Earth in the sky. District 9 in its intent, more modest in its budget. If it felt real in its look and its technique, we could make it feel real. There are cues and syntax that an audience understands. Magic realism, if you will; heavy-handed, even.
CP: You took the words out of my mouth. Talk about the emotionalism of second chances and how you married that with science.
MC: We as humans have a primal sort of fear of being alone, alone in the universe. That’s why we reach out. We don’t want to be the only ones here. That’s just a microcosm. Humans have a singular perspective. No matter how people are around us, there’s intense loneliness. That emotion — that’s captured in The Double Life of Veronique, the cultural notion of doppelgangers — a soul mate, is part of the subconscious. We made a twist on that by saying that there is another one of each and every one of all of us, 3 billion of us. Think about that complication, externalizing that interior process. That emotion bled into the science and the fiction of it.
In the jovial rom-com A Swedish Midsummer Sex Comedy, now out on DVD, a group of friends — one of whom is played by Luke Perry — gather to celebrate what one character calls “a festival of fucking.”
Perry, on the phone from Los Angeles, explains that he didn’t know anything about the Swedish fertility festival before making the film. “I thought it was going to be like Labor Day or Memorial Day, where you play volleyball and cookout.”
The laconic actor pauses and adds, “The Swedes kick it up a notch.”
The lone American in the cast, Perry plays Sam, the best friend/best man of Emil (Daniel Gustavsson) who hopes to marry his girlfriend Susanne (Lisa Werlinder) at the Midsummer festivities. Over the course of the sunny day and equally sunny night, however, things go awry, and some bedhopping begins.
While the randy Sam seduces some women in the film, he also has a scene in a co-ed sauna, about which Perry recalls, “I go in [the spa] with a half-dozen naked Swedes, and the director’s wife flogs me on the back with eucalyptus leaves!”
Making a film about couples coupling, uncoupling and re-coupling was mostly an enjoyable experience for the actor. “The chemistry was so immediate and casual and cool — that it is a testament to how great the Swedish actors were to me. It almost made me want to get a big dragon tattoo,” he says with a big, hearty laugh.
Philly native Shari Solanis stars in the erotic drama Now & Later, now out on DVD. Solanis plays Angela, an illegal Nicaraguan who takes in Bill (James Wortham), a banker-turned-felon who just jumped bail. The pair hole up in her apartment to talk politics and sex — and then have sex, and then more sex. While Wortham’s performance is about as stiff as his frequently visible erections, Solanis is compelling throughout. She makes Angela a feisty free spirit who's desirable for her mind and her body. City Paper talked — and talked sex — with Solanis on the phone from Los Angeles.
City Paper: What prompted you to make this film?
Shari Solanis: Well, there are not too many projects that are intelligent, interesting, and provide an opportunity to be creative. I think there is a lot of hypocrisy and Puritanism, and it’s very outdated. What’s wrong with the human body, and sex? Why can’t we talk about it? I wanted to be a part of a project putting forth that message.
CP: How do you prepare for the role, get into character?
SS: I watched a lot of movies, such as Last Tango in Paris, and I read a lot of books. The culture was what I had to really get in touch with. I’m mixed-race — my upbringing involved being raised in an all-white neighborhood in the Northeast. I went salsa dancing with our assistant director. That said, when I jump into a character, I don’t want to be too cerebral. I do my research, but I delve into it and … come what may.
CP: How did you identify with your character, whose background is revealed over the course of the film? What rang true?
SS: She’s artistic/creative, and very humane. I’m not Mother Teresa, but I care for people. Aside from the cultural differences, who she was at the core was something that I was able to sink my teeth into easily. I have strong thoughts about feelings and politics — my father was a Vietnam vet — and I’m outspoken and liberal.
CP: Angela talks about life — saying that we’re here by chance, that we should feel, not think, and make every memory as good as possible. How much of her philosophy do you subscribe to?
SS: I buy it intellectually — but is it something I am able to own at every moment? NO! I am a cerebral person but I don’t always have the [luxury] of enjoying the breeze on my face, and the taste of my food. But when I do, I do enjoy it. Especially as an American — which is what Angela’s speaking out against/breaking down for Bill. I’m on the other end of that lesson, as well. We care more about what’s happening tomorrow than today. I learned a lot from Angela.
To gain a little camaraderie before shooting their film, Kristen Wiig, Wendi McLendon-Covey and the rest of the leading ladies of Bridesmaids didn’t gab over lunch or go for some R&R at a spa. “We rented a party bus and filled it with booze and music, drove around L.A. and we went to a male strip club … for research,” said Wiig, known best for her Saturday Night Live gut-buster characters (Target Lady, anyone?), at a recent press junket to promote her new film.
Besides discovering that oily lap dances made them more bothered than hot, the women of Bridesmaids found some serious comedic chemistry.
“When Annie [Mumolo] and I wrote this movie, we wanted to write [something] that has a lot of funny ladies in it, ladies that we know, and ladies that we love to work with,” said Wiig, who also stars as Annie, disgruntled maid of (dis)honor to best friend Lillian (Maya Rudolph). “It’s rare — and it shouldn’t be — that there’s a movie poster with six women on it.”
As Will Stone mentions in this week's Agenda section, Lynda Barry will read from her new memoir, Picture This: The Near-Sighted Monkey Book, at the Free Library tonight. We caught up with her earlier this week to hear her thoughts on drawing, fake dancing and why we need a good book at a Jiffy Lube.
City Paper: What prompted you to write this follow-up to your first graphic memoir, What It Is?
Lynda Barry: My two books, What It Is and Picture This are siblings. Both look into the question — what is an image. What It Is used writing as a way of exploring that, and Picture This used drawing; those are very tied together – drawing and writing – because they both use what I like to call the original digital devices – your fingers. Both books are trying to understand why we do that.
CP: For example …
LB: Yeah, for instance, when you’re at a meeting, and you’re bored—why do you doodle? Why is it that people want to make things? And why is it that, when we’re little, we can do these without hesitation. Or even when you’re with a kid. Say, you’re generally a grumpy old uncle, but you really dig your little nephew; you’ll dance, sing, and make sculptures, as long as you’re with the kid.
Why is that? Okay, well, it’s not intimidating to be around a little kid, but also I think it is a language that they both can speak. The arts are a kind of language. As far as evolution, why do we keep the arts? I mean, it takes a lot of energy to make art, and what would be the point if it didn’t have any biological function? I think of the arts as the corollary to our immune system and our autonomous nervous system; in the same way that the two systems keep our bodies healthy, an image system makes us want to keep living.
When your hand is moving, it actually improves your experience of time; it becomes less like a cheese grater and more of a Brillo pad, which is still not terrific, but it’s a hell of a lot better.
CP: Who did you imagine reading your book?
LB: I wanted to make a book that is like a kids book. I picture someone looking at this book while sitting in a jiffy lube, waiting for their oil to get changed
CP: But your book encourages being active. Did you see it having more of a function for readers than passing the time?
LB: For sure, I want to make their finger get itchy. I mean when you’re at a jiffy lube, no one is expecting anything; you’re just expecting it to be a drag. I thought It’d be fun to help someone forget how much things sucks at the moment.
|photo by Neal Santos|
|photo by Neal Santos|
Set List:6 p.m. doors 7-7:15 p.m. Sinead O'Connor (Emily Ana Zeitlyn of The Weeds) 7:30-07:45 p.m. Bettie Serveert (The Beloved Infidels) 8-8:15 p.m. The Pretenders (KeN) 8:30-8:45 p.m. The Pandoras (The Tulanes featuring Hope Diamond of Thee Minks, Gloria Gee of the Sickidz, Ben Brower, and Tom Connors of Mondo Topless) 9-9:15 p.m. Garbage (acoustic tribute by Sierra Hurtt, Peter Marinari, and Daniel Dillon) 9:30-9:45 p.m. Jefferson Airplane (Dear Althea) 10-10:15 p.m. Electrelane (Nikki Karam of Girls Rock Philly, John Robert Pettit of Make A Rising, Tracy Levesque of Yikes Inc and Girls Rock Philly and Erica Rubin a 16 year-old Girls Rock Philly camper) 10:30-10:45 p.m. Liliput (The Lopez) 11-11:15 p.m. Cyndi Lauper (Betty Iron Thumbs) 11:30-11:45 p.m. The Go-Go's (Lust 2 Love featuring Girl About Town's Carly Marcoux and Royce Epstein, WPRB's Maria T, Fringe Salon's Roberta Briggs and others) midnight-12:15 a.m. Blondie (Cris Valkryria & The Opponents) 12:30-12:45 a.m. Hole (Girls Dressed As Girls featuring Camae Defstar of Mighty Paradocs and host of Tritone's monthly Rockers) 1-1:15 a.m. B-52's (Jen Rice of Red Skate Red and The Celebs)
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