Archive: August, 2012
Movie critic (and the guy who compiles our weekly repertory film listings) Andrew Wimer reviews his favorite Netflix Instant flick of the week.
Considering the way throngs flock robotically to see the latest comic-book-to-silver-screen blockbusters, it's hard to believe there was once a place in Hollywood for the simpler likes of 1959’s Imitation of Life. Certainly, the film's director, Douglas Sirk, could only exist in the bubble of the Golden-Age studio system, that fabulous bygone era of bright stars and elegant glitz. It's only fitting that his final Hollywood film would be the story of an actress, a superior remake to the 1934 work of the same name.
Both renditions of Imitation follow widowed Lora (Lana Turner, this time), who takes in a single black mother, Annie, (Juanita Moore) and her mixed daughter, Sarah Jane. In the original, the wealth of the paler woman and her daughter, Susie (look at me, I'm Sandra Dee), is gained exploiting Annie’s pancake recipe, but the remake recasts her as a stage actress. As such, the notion of “imitation” becomes far more relevant under Sirk, especially with the pre-existing sub-plot centered on Sarah Jane's attempts to pass as white. Saintly Annie remains the sole selfless character, battling Lora’s self-destruction, Susie’s jealousy of her mother’s romance, Sarah Jane’s self-loathing and the clueless efforts of Lora’s theater-industry suitors.
Unfortunately, there are some glaring, indicative-of-the-time flaws in Sirk’s undertaking. A white woman plays the character of Sarah Jane, mildly hindering the believability that her character is mulatto. Her acting is flawless from start to finish, but one wonders if there were no mixed actresses available. It is also disturbing in the original that the black mother refuses the measly 20-percent profits offered for her own recipe, but Annie’s content subservience is no less disheartening in the remake. These do little to distract from the film’s most powerful scenes, however. Sirk tastefully handles the beating of Sarah Jane by a white boyfriend, and (spoiler alert!) set to vocals by gospel queen Mahalia Jackson, Annie’s funeral will leave most grabbing for tissues. The occasional moment of hammy acting might inspire unintentional laughs, but you've gotta hand it to them. Not one soul in Hollywood would bank on such a risk today.
CONCERT REVIEW: The Milk Carton Kids, The Lumineers and Old Crow Medicine Show @ Electric Factory 8/4
“We’re wearing our best suits,” Joey Ryan announces to the sold-out Electric Factory on Saturday night as he takes the stage with the other half of The Milk Carton Kids duo, Kenneth Pattengale. They are indeed dressed impeccably. Without further introduction, Ryan’s tall, thin frame turns slightly toward Pattengale who is bent seriously toward the neck of his guitar and they sail into a series of finely-tuned harmonies that would give Simon and Garfunkel a run for their money. They build momentum; Pattengale’s finger-picking is envious and though they move little, you can tell they’re really letting loose. By the time they close with a little bow, the Kids have gotten the whole audience clapping along with them.
The Lumineers are up next and, midway through touring for their debut self-titled album, have got their act down. They’ve been selling-out venues all over the country, slicking back their hair, stomping their boots, and making girls like me swoon and wish I were cellist Neyla Pekarek. I will say I enjoyed their performance at Johnny Brenda’s back in April a bit more, if only for the intimate nature of the bar, which seems more properly-suited for appreciating the beautiful grit of this trio.
Finally, the “big guns” come out; true pioneers in the roots revival, Old Crow Medicine Show have been at it since 1998, and it shows. With this group, it’s hard to pin a finger on who’s the most talented, but a highlight was definitely Ketch Secor and Chance McCoy dueling fiddles down on their knees.
In what was is now on my list of top live music moments, all three acts shared the stage to close the four-hour set with “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” and “I Shall Be Released.” Mind. Blown.
Every week, Brittany Thomas rounds up the week's sure-bet live shows. This week: Willie Nelson, Charlene Kay, Attic Abasement and more.
Monday:Charlene Kay sings jazzy melodies with a smooth, sweeping cadence that soars with hip-swinging, head-bobbing energy. Not only does she have the voice and instrumental know-how to back the 1940s, gypsy-big-band feel, she's also a showgirl to her core. 7 p.m., $12, North Star Bar, with Jay Stolar, Rebecca Way & Annalise Curtin, 2639 Poplar St., 215-787-0488, northstarbar.com.
The Mad Decent Block Party used to be just like an actual Philly block party, with a real neighborhood vibe, and cookouts and forties out the yang. The past few, however, have been decidedly different, morphing into a soulless ravehead-,dupstep-, ecstasy-soaked marathon.
A couple hours into this year's event, however, it became apparent that this year's bash would take a few hints from the good ol' days of yore: Dance-offs and booze were shared, cigarettes were bummed and lifelong (or 20-minute) friendships were formed. It was a good day.
Oh, yeah, Diplo even got in a giant hamster ball and rolled around in the crowd.
Once a month, Jim Grammond hosts Reasonable Discourse With Jerks at the Philly Improv Theatre. It’s a panel discussion show where comedians discuss, riff, or argue about whatever’s the topic du jour. (Think Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn). I had a brief Q&A with Grammond about his show, which will be running this Wed., Aug. 8, 9 p.m.
City Paper: How long has Reasonable Discourse With Jerks been running?
Jim Grammond: I took over for Luke Giordano’s The Bully Pulpit last July when he moved to L.A. Due to the Shubin’s schedule, this week will sort of be our official one year show.
CP: How would you compare this to the original Bully Pulpit?
JG: At first it had a lot in common with it, there were a lot of current events. I was trying to keep it in the same direction Luke was taking it because I really liked the show, which is why I asked Luke if I could take the show over when he left. But now I think it’s kinda changed a little bit. I’ve gotten away from the current events a somewhat and allowed it to develop in whatever direction the guests wanna take it, and it goes to some weird places. But that’s when the show is best, so my job is to keep it moving, but I never wanna tell the guests not to go to those weird places.
CP: Who do you have on the show this week?
JG: We have Steve Rees, who’s a recent comeback, kinda like I am. He’s a very funny guy, I’m glad he’s back doing it. There’s Eric Todd, who is a force of nature. Also, Ryan Shaner, who’s hilarious. Every time I’ve seen him perform, he blows me away. Lastly on the show is Roger Weaver, who is someone I’ve been a fan of since I’ve started.
CP: Who are some of the best guests you’ve had?
JG: Probably the one I’ve heard from the most people that they really enjoyed him being on the show is Steve Miller Miller. He’s so different from what alot of other comics are in Philly, I love the guy, he’s so out there. He stands out. Sometimes you get a really good back and forth between the guests. Like when I had Tommy Pope and Gregg Gethard on at the same time, they got a little big testy, more than any other pairing of guests, I think. There’s a lot of people I want to have on who I haven’t had on, and there are other people I’ve had on more than once, because I’m comfortable with them. Every show I try to have at least one or two comedians who I hang out with on a regular basis because that makes me more comfortable, and I think that comes through.
CP: What’s your comedy background?
JG: I was born in raised in the Philly Suburbs and went to Pittsburgh for college. When I was 24 I started at the Laugh House, and I went on in front of no audience. I walked off stage after two minutes horrified, I thought, “I shouldn’t have done this.” But I kept going with it. I took a break around 2007 for a few years, and started back up around 2011, so I’m sort of in my second phase of it.
ICEPACK ILLUSTRATED: Who’s booking Snooki? Where’s Tony Luke Jr.? Why did Keith Peirce write a tribute to Rick D?
With Little Baby's Ice Cream gearing up for tomorrow's brick-and-mortar opening, what of their neighbors, Brian Dwyer and his Pizza Brain crew who helped get the party started between them when they partnered for the double wide location on the 2300 block. How much longer do we have to wait for Dwyer’s dough-n-gravy museum/old-school pizza shop opening? “Since day one we always planned to have Little Baby’s first, and us second,” says Dwyer. “Hopefully we’re not too far behind.” The last time I was at Pizza Brain, the reclaimed tin roof was up with the shelving and peep holes of Dwyer’s curated cheese-arium being readied so it should be ... very soon.
Keith Richard Peirce of Northern Arms Philly fame hasn’t been around for a minute. A Hemingway-esque exile in Florida’s gulf is what Peirce has become. Now, though, Peirce is getting ready to move back home to Philly between September and October with plans including a new Northern Arms record. Good, good. But what about right now? In the immediate, Peirce and Eric “Whorehouse” Bandel just recorded what they are calling a hymn to Rick Dombrowski, the late, great Rick D whose shuttered-n-sold Tritone on South Street just re-opened (courtesy Chris Fetfatzes and Heather Annechiarico of Hawthornes) as The Cambridge on Aug. 1. It's now a sour-beer-bottle-heavy, six-pack-to-go-selling pierogi, chicken and corned beef joint. The song that Peirce and Bendel wrote is called “Last Horse” and it’s a swet send off to an old friend. “Eric drove 1,300 miles — from Brooklyn to the Gulf Coast of Florida — just to work on this song,” says Peirce. “We wrote a germ of it right after Rick died and it bothered us over the years for not finishing it. We knew we had to. Eric could have waited until I returned but he drove here and we locked down the house for four days, wrote the rest and recorded it. I'm glad we did it this way.” As Peirce “certainly wants everyone who loved or cared about him to have it,” he is planning a possible iTunes drop shortly. Keep you posted.
For those interested in honing their photography skills, Project Basho (1036 Germantown Ave., 215-238-0928) has just announced their fall course schedule, and it includes everything from DSLR training to learning how to acquire long-term work as a photographer.
Experienced photogs interested in documentary work could check out “Digital Photography: Creating Long Term Projects,” a class convening multiple times over its three-month lifespan to help eager attendees build better projects and conquer the all-important hurdles of publication and distribution.
Foodies can get their learn on with “Plate to Lens: Food Photography,” a course designed to help shutterflys capture the most deliciously detailed food shots (like this beauty from our staff photog Neal Santos).
Also on the docket are two portraiture classes — “Portraiture with Natural Light” and “Intimate Portraits” — each aimed at improving the photographer’s work with living subjects. The latter course will be taught by Andrea Modica, current Drexel University professor of photography, who's well-known for her black and white portraits.
The sessions start late September. For more details, including schedules and pricing info, visit projectbasho.org.
WHO: Sinjin Hawke, Lushlife, Krueger, Al Lover, Grimace Federation and Sonkin
WHAT: Hot on the tongues of Urb, Red Bull Music Academy, Mad Decent, XLR8R and Pitchfork, Barcelona’s up-and-coming DJ/producer touches down on his summer tour and is sure to bring an exciting array of futuristic electronic music. Sinjin Hawke’s sound takes nods from juke, R&B and club, all synthesized into his signature style. This night is the second edition of the new Popular Science party series with residents Grimace Federation and Sonkin alongside guests Krueger, Lushlife and Al Lover.
WHEN & WHERE: Wed., Aug. 1, 8 p.m.-2 a.m., $8, Kung Fu Necktie 1250 N. Front St., kungfunecktie.com.
WHY: Hidden gems in the middle of the week are always a good look.
Aside from depressing jobs reports and slumping stock prices, the scariest of bad economy repercussions comes in the form of cultural disillusionment. The shimmering American dream about Joe Shmoe working his way from a minimum-wage job to C.E.O. of the company seems not only unrealistic but outright foolish. Mr. Shmoe is losing hope, and he's not alone.
In their latest book, award-winning team Donald L. Barlett and James B. Steele take a second look at the American dream in the wake of recent economic downturn. They examine the middle class, which once comprised the bulk of our educated workforce, to its subsequent displacement by a ruling elite. Accompanying the disappearance of the middle class is a rejection of the dream that once united us. As we approach the first time in our nation's history when our kids will make less money than us, this myth must be reconsidered.
The co-authors of seven books, Barlett and Steele have been writing together for over 40 years, starting with their time at the Philadelphia Inquirer. Known for their sharp, investigative style, the duo will discuss The Betrayal of the American Dream tomorrow at the Free Library's Central Branch (1901 Vine St.) at 7:30 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.
- Arts Events
- First Person Fest
- Last Chance
- On the Fringe
- Philly Artists
- The Curator
- Visual Art
- Arts News
- Artist Profile
- Arts Preview
- Street Art
- Been There, Done That
- Big Ups
- LOL With It
- Critical Mass
- Friday Fill-in
- Ice Cubes
- In Memoriam
- Just Do It
- Just Opened
- Art Phag
- Film Fest
- Movie Review
- On set
- 10 Track Mind
- Album Review
- Concert Review
- Local Support
- Now Hear This
- One Track Mind
- Philly Bands
- Somebody Else Was There
- The Showdown
- concert photos
- DJ Nights Blogged
- Night Watch
- Now See This
- Poetic License
- Printed Matter
- What We Heart
- Idol Hands
- Mad Men
- True Blood
- Useless Lost Recaps
- Couch Potato
- Shore Trash
- Turned ONN
- Video Games
- Free Online Game
- PlayStation 2
- The 1-Upper
- Web Junk
- CAGE MATCH
- Free Online Toy
- Weekend Omnibus