HAIRY LIKE A FOX: On Thursday, we went to the Fox Summer Film Series to catch The Last Waltz. Thankfully, we mostly missed the organ-playing and sing-alongs.
Thankfully, we didn't miss the insanely un-P.C. Speedy Gonzalez cartoon.
And we certainly couldn't miss the cartoonishly fucked-up Van Morrison on the Fox's big screen in The Last Waltz. If there is a hell and Van the Man finds himself there, Satan will surely dress him in that wretched purple, polyester man-boob-enhancing lounge suit he wears. Waking up sober with your tits jiggling against the scratchy surface of your own, embarrassingly-tight T-shirt is its own kind of eternal suffering.
As a hip, alternative weekly, it's our job to hate this picture. It's got all the musical excess that punk killed off and all the rock god posturing that even Andrew W.K. has the good sense to wink at.
But dammit, we can't hate the movie or the Fox for playing it. First, Martin Scorsese directed it. And that's the Raging Bull-era, still decidedly cool Scorsese, not the barely there Casino Scorese.
Second, The Band somehow corralled every major force in rock 'n' roll -- Eric Clapton to Bob Dylan to Joni Mitchell with a Beatle and a Stone thrown in -- right at the last few moments where any of them still mattered. (It helped that each one of 'em was quite clearly high as a kite.)
Even the Fox audience got into it, laughing at the Spinal Tap-ian scenes Robbie Robertson and company didn't know would be funny in the future.
It almost made us nostalgic for open-collar shirts and chest hair.
-- Kevin Griffis
ONCE MORE INTO THE DRINK: Walking into the Wine Festival at Villa Christina Sunday, guests were handed three items: a plate (for all the munchies), a wine glass (for all the sippy) and, inexplicably, a plastic Coca-Cola shopping bag roughly the size of a hammock. Neither my date nor I had visited Villa Christina before, described on its website as "a three-story Italian villa." My date called it "an apartment complex's clubhouse in an office park."
For the festival, the restaurant/reception hall became a crowded vendor village, with libations from a few dozen wineries and food from about 40 local restaurants, many of which I'd never heard of. The Grille at 590? The 755 Club? Never one for math, I ventured to the back garden area, where the white tents, bad art, searing heat and tipsy yuppies made me think we'd accidentally stumbled into Virginia-Highland's Summerfest. Near the stage, we watched "performance artist" (so his sign said) Marvin Posey paint frantically along to the music of a jam-band jazz group. An odd bird, but entertaining. Even more entertaining, though, was the artist stationed inside: Thomas Arvid, who exclusively paints -- appropriately enough -- wine subjects. I found the art flavorful and sweet, if a little dry. Thomas, though, was the nicest guy I've met in months.
After sucking down tasty hors d'oeuvres and munchkin-sized Chardonnay samples for over an hour, this sea of crab cakes and khaki shorts got tiresome, so we made like a fine wine and decanted. We never did figure out what the Coke bag was for.
-- Tray Butler
FO THE LOVE OF GOD: Saturday, we went to 7 Stages to see the "scandalously funny world premiere" of The Peasant's Bible by Nobel laureate Dario Fo. From this one play, I can only surmise that his Nobel Prize was for economics.
It's a one-woman show from the perspective of a peasant, (energetically played by Zishan Ugurlu) earthily interpreting the Bible's creation story. This peasant apparently went to a fantastic public school as she was able to rip off Rudyard Kipling's "Just So Stories" and make classical lit references throughout. I overheard kind people saying maybe things get lost in translation. A couple of less kind people walked out.
Apparently Fo is using some Middle Ages Commedia del Arte-type storytelling methods that include wild mugging, fantastic gesticulating and an over-exaggerated theater voice. Never forget, the Italians are directly responsible for clowns. Clowns aren't funny. Even modified clown antics like The Peasant's aren't funny. Italians don't know this (see Roberto Benigni). Please, take my word on this, I have a theatre degree (theatre with an "re," that means it's legit).
The lobby of 7 Stages has some haunting artwork on its walls: Forlorn, mentally obliterated subjects look off into the distance in the paintings by Patrick McGannon. If I'd looked closer before the show, I'd have seen the pieces were called: Premonitions of The Peasant's Bible.
The saving grace of the evening was a MINICooper parked out front. Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metro Atlanta (www.bbbsatl.org) was raffling off an adorable 2002 model. I considered hijacking the car and crashing it into the theater as protest performance art. Instead, at the after-show reception, I ate as many of the good olives as I possibly could as my own personal form of payback.
-- Jane Catoe
PIG TALES: Pigs seem to hold a special place in the American consciousness. Why we elevate Wilbur and Babe and not all the rest of their barnyard pals is a mystery, but it must have something to do with their supposedly being smarter than dogs. And bacon is just so damn good.
The Pig Act at the Center for Puppetry Arts definitely goes a long way to pull the heart strings for the sake of a pig (even a plush one). When the oinker balances himself on a sword blade and is almost cleaved in two, people winced in anticipation.
But the production was not nearly as strange as the talk-back session afterward. The three puppeteers took off their masks and sat for those who wanted to plumb the depths of the puppet masters' psyches.
The conversation began to sound like a study of Kierkegaard and my friends tried not to crack a smile when one dread-locked guy tried to get really deep about how this was the "year of the pig."
When I asked the puppeteers: Why a pig? I got a blunt response from Ines Zeller Bass: "It's always a pig. There's no question." Finn Campman followed up with, "Pigs have a soul." I guess I was the only one who found the irony in that.
-- Jerry Portwood
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