Archive: November, 2009
While it's ostensibly a by-the-numbers spy thriller, I've been fascinated by Salt since they started discussing it in the trades earlier this year. It simply looks like Angelina Jolie in yet another bid to show that she can simultaneously be a serious actress, shoot stuff and have lips so pillow-y you could Rip Van Winkle-it on them and not really give a shit that you slept through the last century (plus, when you wake up, there could possibly be flying cars. While a definite plus, that's not the point). That's not why this is an interesting movie: The role of "Evelyn Salt" was originally written as Edwin Salt with Tom Cruise slated as the lead. Look, movies often drastically change from script to screen. Annie Hall was supposed to be a murder mystery but a gender switch in an action movie seems like an even farther leap than that.
I would love to get my hands on the original Salt script and see how it changed. Sexuality isn't a huge component to the persona of the male action role. He can take it (James Bond) or leave it (Rambo). But action roles written for women always have a sexual component to them, whether that chemistry is ultimately with a love interest or a villain.
Jolie should know, having traversed the rough waters of a female action star before. She has to be masculine, without coming off as manly. Jolie can consistently carry action movies (name another actress who consistently takes on action-centric roles? Kate Beckinsale is the only other working actress that immediately comes to mind) because of the way she looks but also because off-screen she plays the part of Mother Angelina with her United Colors of Benetton brood. It's not a new idea; Pearl White, the first female action star, lead a number of ass-kicking-damsel-in-distress silent serials (The Perils of Pauline, The Exploits of Elaine), where the heroine was rarely saved by a man (rather than herself) and incredible White did most of her own stunts. But celebrity magazines of the time always made it a point to play up her at-home womanliness, even though her marriage was disastrous. But she was also a huge star. Because White, and now Angelina, embody the ultimate in femininity offscreen, they are allowed to play with big guns on.
And play with the big guns Angelina does. I'm totally digging that scene where she shoots out the window with what looks like a homemade bazooka (I think I just found my weekend plans'). And the girl can sprint in heels, which I think is much more impressive than jumping off subway trains and the like (I'm sure anyone who has done both will agree with me). Bonus points for casting the wonderful Gaius Charles (the young black man in the background of the interrogation scenes) who played Smash Williams on Friday Night Lights and is apparently carving out a niche for himself on the NY stage.
But here's what irks me: The Russians? Seriously, the Russians? Aren't they just bit played out? Can't we give them at least a two decade break before they become the villain again? The Cold War was, like, a super long time ago.
Also: Why does everyone on the lam think that they will be unnoticed if they dye their hair?
I doubt anyone in the CIA wouldn't notice Angelina/Evelyn in a crowd and think "Whoa, look at that exact replica of the person I'm looking for! If only she had blond hair'
Don't know what to do tonight? Don't worry, we've got you covered.
' I will always be indebted to Mallrats for teaching me what the Stink Palm is. Kevin Smith, the genius director behind that scene (as well as those in Chasing Amy and Clerks) will be performing tonight at the Merriam Theater (250 S. Broad St., 215-732-5446) at 8 p.m., for $39-$66.
' Think we don't live in a post-sexist society just yet? (Think we do? You must not have been around for this.) Well, neither does fem Barbara J. Berg, who will read from her book Sexism in America: Alive, Well and Ruining Our Future at Wooden Shoe Books (704 South St., 215-413-0999) at 7 p.m. for free. Fans of Tucker Max not allowed.
' Speaking of people I'm indebted to ' regardless of what Obama's presidency is or will become, thank you, David Plouffe, for getting John McCain not elected. Prez Barack Obama's chief campaign officer will be reading his new book, The Audacity to Win, at the Free Library (1901 Vine St., 215-686-5322) at 7:30 p.m., for $7-$14.
|Courtesy of DJ Ipek|
Every Thursday, we give you this week's LGBTQ to-do list.
Before I begin, let me just say: Shame on you, Maine, for voting to repeal the state's decision to allow gays to marry. I'm truly disappointed. I thought you were cool.
OK, moving on '
' On Fri., Nov. 6 at 5:30 p.m., for a $20 donation, Giovanni's Room (345 S. 12th St., 215-923-2960) is hosting a Philly Drag Poetry soiree to benefit the Global Women's Strike. A diverse group of nine artists will be reciting their poetry while clad in drag. The best part is that these performers aren't professional drag queens and kings ' so be ready to see a room full of hot mess (and I mean that kindly). It'll be hilarious. Among the most well known participants is Eleanor Wilner, famed author and recipient of a prestigious MacArthur Foundation Fellowship.
' If dancing is on your agenda this weekend, you should head to Rise & Fall at Stir (1705 Chancellor St., 215-732-2700) on Fri., Nov. 6 at 9 p.m. for a free dance party that's going to tear the walls down ' literally. Held in commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the falling of the Berlin Wall, Stir has invited German DJ Ipek Ipekcioglu (pictured) to spin a sexed-up set of Middle Eastern beats mixed with gritty Berlin elektro. This edgy mix of tunes will be a welcome break from the same old same old mash-up of pop divas you hear everywhere else. Wear something sexy like the cool German kids from one of my favorite fashion blogs, Still in Berlin.
' See what it's like to be on a gay game show at Bike Stop (206 S. Quince St., 215-627-1662) on Thu., Nov. 12 at 6 p.m., by participating in the free Fetish Feud. Hosted by the fierce and feisty Crystal Tee Electra, the game is styled after the classic TV show Family Feud. You can form your 'family' with your friends or be spontaneous and team up with strangers in the bar. Keep in mind that this event is centered around the annual Philadelphia Leather Weekend, so don't be afraid if the strapped-up guy next to you bends over for a playful spanking.
' Don't forget: The First Person Festival started this Wednesday. (Check out our A&E and Agenda sections for lots of FPF coverage.) There's an exciting program of events scheduled at the Painted Bride Art Center (230 Vine St., 215-925-9914) that are taking place throughout the weekend. Among them is a reading of' Sweet Tea on Sun., Nov. 8 at 6 p.m., for $12-$20, which I wrote about in this week's A&E section. I'll also be stopping by Karaoke Obsessed on Fri. Nov. 6 at 9 p.m., for $15-$20, and the Still Bill screening on Sun., Nov. 8 at 7 p.m., for $20-$30. Check out Critical Mass throughout the week for a review of these haps and more.
Itching for more gay events? Check out our LGBTQ listings.
There's a certain wave of sadness that washes over us when the two-week Live Arts/Philly Fringe bonanza wraps up in mid-September. (K. Ross Hoffman wrote about the malaise in our Oct. 1 issue.) We're exhausted from attending dozens and dozens of shows, but the high of witnessing such innovative dance/theater/weirdo-experimental-whatever is tough to come down from, especially since there's always one big nasty dreary winter standing in the path to the next year's fest. Waaaah.
But good news, Philadelphians! The Live Arts Festival folks have just announced that, as of right-now, they're launching an artist-in-residency program, coupled with free every-second-Thursday performances, in their new studio space in NoLibs, from now till June. Hooray!
Some details from the press release:
The inaugural 2009/2010 Artists in Residency program includes five Philadelphia-based artists: Nichole Canuso (Wandering Alice, 2008 / The A.W.A.R.D. Show!, 2009), Tania Isaac (stuporwoman, 2008), The Lucidity Suitcase Intercontinental/ Thaddeus Phillips (THE MeLTING BRiDgE, 2008), Subcircle (Still Unknown, 2007), and Kathryn Tebordo/Workshop for Potential Movement (The A.W.A.R.D. Show!, 2009).
The program provides free work space in the Live Arts Festival's studio, expanded development time, opportunities for early audience feedback, and additional resources.' The support will allow participating artists to take more risks by investigating new processes, methodologies, and ideas, which will yield greater personal growth for the artists and even higher quality final productions.
We're all for artists taking risks and investigating new processes ' but to be honest, what we're even more stoked about is this second-Thursday business. (Free beer + free admission = best winter ever, as far as we're concerned.)
Next week's Second Thursday Series features Thaddeus Phillips, Kathryn Tebordo and Subcircle's Jorge and Niki Cousineau. Did we mention this is free?
Second Thursday Series, Thu., Nov. 12, 7 p.m., free, The Festival Studio, 919 N. Fifth St., 215-413-9006, livearts-fringe.org.
The Philadelphia Film Society announced via their Twitter that the will host a free screening of P-Star Rising, about nine-year-old rapper Priscilla Diaz, on Tuesday, November 10 at 7 p.m. at the Piazza. For four years, director Gabriel Noble followed Diaz and her dad Jesse. a supposed-to-be-hot-shit rapper in the '80s who never made it big. Now a struggling single father, Jesse sees Priscilla, or P-Star, as his family's last shot at musical greatness.
P-Star Rising has been on the fest circuit for awhile and it played the recent Philadelphia Film Festival but I didn't catch it. Any Crit Massers see it? Any good?
P-Star herself will be there to perform after the screening. Not sure of P-Stars skills? Listen to her rhyme on a rooftop with Noble, courtesy of IFC.com.
P-Star Rising screening, Tue., Nov. 10, 7 p.m., Piazza at Schmidts, Third & Hancock streets, atthepiazza.com.
|Lonnie, by Daniel Heyman|
For this week's First Friday Focus column, I interviewed Daniel Heyman, one of 17 artists involved with the First Person Festival's "Shelter" exhibit at the Painted Bride. (It's not the first time City Paper's featured Heyman's work; Drew Lazor wrote a cover story about the artist's interviews with Abu Ghraib torture victims and the complex work that followed.) For "Shelter," Heyman visited a veterans' house in North Philly and created works of art based on his interviews with two previously homeless men whose lives have been affected by war. In case you haven't picked up a CP yet, here's a clip:
"I wanted to make sure the project really fit in with my work," says Heyman. "Since I already have a deep interest in issues surrounding war, and have worked with African-American men on other projects, the veterans house felt like a perfect fit." For two very different men, Heyman created two very different pieces: Lonnie, a simple, respectful portrait done in gouache ink and pencil on Japanese mulberry fiber paper, and Tony's Shelter, a tower of symbolic images on plywood, meant to resemble a house of sorts. The distinction with which Heyman represents these men ' one stoic, straightforward portrait; one disjointed wood sculpture ' is a testament to their individual struggles. "I think from the outside we view people in trouble as all the same," he says. "But their lives and their personalities couldn't be more different."
But Heyman had a lot more to say. Read our Q&A below, and don't forget that "Shelter" opens tomorrow at the Painted Bride.
Opening reception Fri., Nov. 6, 5-7 p.m., ends Dec. 18, Painted Bride, 230 Vine St., 267-402-2055, paintedbride.org.
|Tony's Shelter, by Daniel Heyman
(click for larger image)
City Paper: Why did these men's stories speak to you?
Daniel Heyman: When I met both Lonnie and Tony, I was interested in each of them because their lives are so different from my own in many ways, but very similar to my own in other ways.' Both of them spent several years of their early adulthood overseas, and these experiences were formative ones, experiences that shaped and directed their lives in ways both forseen and unforseen.' I found this very interesting, especially in the case of Lonnie, who spent years in Asia.' They each had a feeling for instustice, as well, particularly Lonnie, who spoke plainly about the racism he was subjected to in the Army, and how that made him feel.
CP: Have they seen the work? What was their reaction?
DH: I believe that Tony saw the initial print of his portrait on paper, but he has not seen the structure, and I am both curious and nervous about his reaction. Lonnie saw his portrait as it was being done, and I think he liked it.
CP: Lonnie's piece, in gouache, is hugely different from Tony's. Why did you choose portraiture, which is much more traditional, for Lonnie? It seems like a very stoic choice, especially in comparison to Tony's Shelter.
DH: It just happened, I think. I did Tony's first, and I had the idea of working in a print material. When I was done with it, I regretted not using color as Tony's face and skin color fascinated me and was so rich in nuance. I think this is why I wanted to paint Lonnie, so I could capture the feel of human skin, or its vibrancy and vitality. ' Also, as they are very different people, I really wanted to seperate the artwork and express that these are two people, thrown together out of circumstance, but really with very little in common. I think from the outside we view people in trouble as all the same.' Yes, each of these guys had been homeless before they came to the vets transitional house, but their lives and their personalities couldn't be more different. Also, and I doubt this was conscious, Lonnie is a generation older, and so out of respect I probably felt I needed a more "grown-up" kind of approach.'
CP: You've incorporated text from a torture victim's testimony in Tony's Shelter. How did your Abu Ghraib trip and the series of work that followed influence the art you're making today?
DH: I am still very involved with Abu Ghraib and the abuse of innocent Iraqis in my work, and so it comes into my work in ways such as it did here.' I spent the summer working on a series of nine drypoint chine collee prints I drew in August 2008 in Istanbul of torture victims from Abu Ghraib. A poet friend of mine, who has also been to these interviews with Iraqis, Nick Flynn, took some of the testimonies that I collected in the prints and redacted them into a series of seven poems. Together, the poems and the drypoints make up a portfolio of work that I will present at a show at Swarthmore this spring. I wanted to incorporate one of the poems into Tony's piece because it is so cryptic, it leaves the reader with more questions than answers, and it speaks specifically to a current war, where young men and women who signed up for service, such as Tony did 30 years ago, are facing tough moral issues that often have no good resolutions.' The poem here is printed in reverse, a happy coincidence, which I think adds to its ambiguity.' Does Abu Ghraib disappear as it recedes in history? Does torture recede because we have a new government? I don't think things change that fast, and so I wanted to keep that particular issue in the mix.
CP: I'm really interested in the recurring use of eagles for Tony's Shelter. Specifically, can you explain the meaning behind the sexualized eagle grasping a gun and flowers?
DH: I went to D.C. to sit in on oral argument in one of the Abu Ghraib torture cases being brought by the former detainees. ' Behind the bench was a large emblem of the United States, with the U.S. eagle, "spread eagle" clutching arrows in one claw, flowers (or maybe a laurel branch or olive branch) in the other. I am always interested in the meanings behind the visual symbols we use as a society ' and this symbol, of a native animal holding arrows (aggression) and branches (a gesture of peace making) seemed very important.' I wanted to refer to this symbol and use it to make my own comments about one facet of our society. Wars are always justified as "just" as required to bring about justice, etc., and here was this very powerful symbol in a court of justice where I had very little hope that justice would prevail.'
I wanted to remake this symbol of our country more like our country, or at least parts of it, as hyper-masculine and threatening, but also very confused, the way our culture is extremely aggressive with rhetoric like "We are going to bomb them back to the dark ages" but doesn't really know a whole lot about the cultures we attack.' So I gave the bird big testicles and a weird aggressive penis, but also emphatically covered its chest with breasts ' kind of like the Venus of Willandorf. The flowers and the gun are self-evident. The court of appeals threw the case out by a vote of 2 to 1, which is now going through an appeal.' Since Tony's Shelter is in part a piece about military service, I thought I needed this kind of symbol in it somewhere.
CP: You say you created these works while speaking with these veterans. Do you find it easier to conceptualize your ideas visually while listening to a story, in order to bring it to life right there in the moment?
DH: This is only partially true.' I created the copper plate for the etching of Tony's portrait while I was sitting with him. With Lonnie, of course I started and competed the work during the sitting with Lonnie in his kitchen. The working out of all the other images for Tony's piece happened over several weeks this summer, and even as late as last week, so no, that piece was really meditated over for a very long time.'
CP: What's next for you?
DH: I have a show coming up at the List Gallery at Swarthmore which will have several works about Iraqis, both torture victims and victims of the Blackwater/Nisour Square massacre, and portraits of several African-American Philadelphians who sat for me and told me incredibly interesting tales from their lives at the National Comprehensive Center for Fathers in Philly.' It will also have a very large wooden wall, printed with many images that is a kind of meditation again on military recruitment as well as the blindness of our society as to what our military does. A second show next spring at the Zilkha Gallery at Wesleyan University in Connecticut will have similar works, but will also have a much larger installation, again made of plywood with etchings printed on the surface.
Every Wednesday, Critical Mass pops into a neighborhood and finds its most stylish residents.
This week I moseyed around Chestnut and Walnut streets in Center City West. Stores like Buffalo Exchange and Urban Outfitters were havens for effortless weekend style, where equestrian-inspired boots remained a constant among the women, who paired them with tights and a dress or tucked-in denim.
Natasha P., 17, student
Favorite Places to Shop: 'Urban Outfitters and H&M.'
Mark C., 21, student
Fashion Philosophy: 'I just put on whatever and hope it turns out well.'
Leslie P., 28, server
Favorite Places to Shop: 'Buffalo Exchange, Urban Outfitters and H&M.'
Jenna B., 18, student
Fashion Philosophy: 'I like to find things that are cute and comfortable, with not too many accessories. I try to keep it simple.'
Faustino R., 19, student
Favorite Brands/Designers: 'Guess and Lucky.'
Flickering Light's mission is to screen the unseen, from shorts ' which rarely have a platform outside of film festival in the U.S. ' to works by often neglected filmmaking communities ' like women, LGBTQ-ers and people of color. But for Ebrahimi, Flickering Light also symbolizes a neighborhood unifier, a place where the people of Germantown, East and West Mt. Airy can gather and see films they can't find anywhere else. "That's where I live, own a house and that's my community," she says. "No matter what the screening series will continue, and it will continue in Northwest Philadelphia."
As Ebrahimi points out, Flickering Light isn't dead, simply taking another look at their format. The series, which began early this year as a monthly screening and to weekly events for the second season, drew 25-100 people. Looking to the future, Ebrahimi says she's eyeing several possibilities, including renting a permanent storefront, joining with other business partners or even staying at the Sedgwick, depending on whether they come down on their rent increase. Flickering Light has two more programs on the docket ' 'Limits of Reason': An International Collection of Short Films About Alternate Worlds and States of Mind on Saturday, November 14 and 'I'm So Into You': The Best of the Small Changes Screening Series on Saturday, November 21 ' before closing up shop until next spring. As always, admission is $5.
Ebrahimi says she was thinking about the recent TLA closure and how it effects how we are able to see movies that don't have blockbuster marquees, to say the least. "You can't get them on DVD, you can't watch them on the internet," she says of the films Flickering Light shows. "There needs to be a place to screen this work.
Limits of Reason, Sat., Nov. 14, 7 p.m., $5, Sedgwick Theater, 7137 Germantown Ave., flickeringfilms.com.
I'm So Into You, Sat., Nov. 21, 7 p.m., $5, Sedgwick Theater, 7137 Germantown Ave., flickeringfilms.com.
|Courtesy of the Woodie Guthrie Archive|
Don't know what to do tonight? Don't worry, we've got you covered.
In which I pretend that y'all aren't watching the Phillies game '
' Yesterday marked the kickoff of the First Person Festival, that glorious storytelling event that's been running off at the mouth for eight years now. There's a vague shitty-economy-yields-greater-creativity theme to the whole fest, with tonight's Songs for Any Depression event encapsulating it best. Woodie Guthrie's granddaughter, Sarah Lee Guthrie, along with fellow musicians Johnny Irion and Kim and Reggie Harris, will perform several of Woodie's songs that helped people get through Depression 1.0. Also, author Morris Dickstein will do a multimedia presentation about documentary culture in the '30s. It's going down from 8-10 p.m. at the Painted Bride Art Center (230 Vine St., 215-925-9914) for $20. (SPOILER ALERT: Check back later today, when the new issue goes live, for City Paper's extensive coverage of the rest of the First Person Fest.)
' All I really want is GIRLS. This sloppy, sexy, hedonistic band belongs somewhere in the '90s, but I'm glad they're here with us now. They're playing Kung Fu Necktie (1250 N. Front St., 215-291-4919) at 8 p.m. for $10.
' Sneakerheads and/or Fugees-heads: Wyclef Jean will be at VILLA (1018 Market St., 215-923-5680) tonight from 4-6 p.m. to promote his brand-new Timberland Earthkeepers' Y'le Haiti collection. Two bucks from every pair will go back to Wyclef's homeland, Haiti.
|Photo | Jim Roese|
Frequent Philly theater-goer/Broad Street Review writer Jonathan Stein made a comment in the PW's theater review section this week, thanking "Cobb" (shorthand for J. Cooper Robb?) for his excellent criticism of Home Sweet Home, on stage at the Wilma. He also dissed the Inky for its "inadequate" review, and shook his finger at us for not reviewing the show at all.
But, J-Stein, we totally did!
Taking the spotlight in our A&E opening spread's left-hand column on Oct. 29, Mark Cofta's review ' IMHO ' is neither inadequate nor not there. Here's a snippet in case you missed it:
Strength and sorrow radiate from Patrice Johnson's petite frame, and her performance soars despite Veronica's suffering, but the story belongs to Nyambi's endearingly naive Alfred and, bravely, to Antonio Dandridge's seething Mannetjie. Playwrights trust their work to child actors with understandable reluctance, but the unformed next generation is essential to Fugard's message of hope through, and despite, adversity. The young actor, under director Blanka Zizka's assured tutelage, does not disappoint, matching the adults in intensity as well as convincing South African dialect, coached by Lynne Innerst. His scene with Oupa's ghostly presence, linking the farmer's precious seeds with the words the boy treasures, gives the play a moving finale.
Coming Home runs through Nov. 15, so you've still got time to check it out. And in the meantime, grab a CP tomorrow to read reviews of InterAct's The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity and the Arden's Rabbit Hole, and let us know how you think we're doing in the comments. (J-Stein, I'm talkin' to you.)
Coming Home, through Nov. 15, $36-$65, Wilma Theater, 265 S. Broad St., 215-546-7824, wilmatheater.org.
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