(Photo Â© 2007 Summit Entertainment)
I was just talking to Felicia Feaster and we agreed that trying to "live-blog" from an Oscar party is definitely a weird and surprisingly stressful thing. I'm used to watching the Oscars with a few film-friendly pals ready to treat it like an episode of "Mystery Science Theater 3000," with a loved one, or my dog. Clearly, with so many folks joining us for the fun (and thanks for joining us), the challenge became juggling the actual enjoyment of the Oscars with blogging about it, and I found it to be a bit of schizophrenic experience. It was made more so when my now-ancient iBook ran out of juice about an hour into the proceedings, and I had to move to the back of the room to power back up using an outlet. It's quite difficult for most folks not named Curt Holman to experience something and then turn around and provide insightful commentary in "real time." Oh, that's what the "live" in "live-blogging" means! Duly noted. I'll learn to enjoy the telecast better next season now that I (hopefully) know the drill, but going back over the feed I wasn't too ashamed of my comments except for the one in which I called this year's crop of gowns "dramatic." ("Off the rack" might have been more accurate.)
You wouldn't know it from her 5-foot-2 frame or her pixie voice, but 28-year-old Camille A. Brown is a force of nature. The dancer/choreographer will have one of her works featured when the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater comes to the Fox Theatre this weekend. Unfortunately, she won't be here, as I note in an online-only feature in this week's issue, but Brown did have a chance to stop by East Point's Tri-Cities High School last week for a performance and master class thanks to a connection with the school's dance instructor.
Brown's 15-minute "The Groove to Nobody's Business" has a delightful Georgia connection; her whimsical homage to that artful New York City dance of waiting for a subway train is partly set to Ray Charles' iconic "What'd I Say." Brown recently discussed the piece in a cell-phone conversation during a rehearsal break at Tri-Cities.
Alvin Ailey's four-day stand at the Fox has a varied schedule of programming, but for the record "The Groove to Nobody's Business" will be performed on Thursday and Saturday nights. The company's long-time showstopper, "Revelations," thankfully, will be performed each day.
(Photo by Basil Childers)
Here's a clip from Brown's piece:
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The Atlanta Film Festival has announced its lineup for the April 10-19 event, available on its website.
I am especially excited to see that the opening film, The Lena Baker Story, about the first and only woman sentenced to die in the electric chair in Georgia and which was shot in Colquitt, Ga., features Jasper, Ala., native Michael Rooker, who made such a creepy film debut in John McNaughtonâs 1986 film Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer.
The closing-night film is from the wonderful The Station Agent director (and actor in Michael Clayton and Year of the Dog) Tom McCarthy. McCarthyâs The Visitor is about a college professor (Richard Jenkins) who returns to NYC to find his apartment has been rented to two illegal immigrants. Variety called it âthis yearâs humanistic indie hit.â
(Image courtesy Magnolia Pictures)
The home-grown horror film The Signal, as an ultra low-budget film with a cast primarily of local actors (including Justin Welborn, pictured), probably had no reasonable chance to crack the top 10 highest-grossing movies for its opening weekend. The Atlanta-based filmmakers and Magnolia Pictures were probably hoping for a better showing than No. 37, however.
According to such movie tracking sites as Box Office Mojo and Variety, The Signal earned $144,836 over its opening weekend. It played on 160 screens, for a per-screen average of $905. Finding a comparable example is tricky. The relatively obscure horror film One Missed Call, which opened in early January, earned $12,511,473 on its opening weekend, for a $5,585 per-screen average on 2,240 screens. One Missed Call seems to have had a bigger mainstream marketing push than The Signal, though. Perhaps a better comparison is the more fringey horror flick Feast, which earned $54,556 on 146 screens on its opening weekend in 2006.
Reviews were mixed: Film review site Rotten Tomatoes currently gives it 53 percent. Out of 49 reviews, 26 rank it as "Fresh" and 23 as "Rotten."
This discussion on the Atlanta Films Forum message board discusses the results and whether Atlanta audiences turned out for the film's opening weekend.
Also, in an unpleasant case of life seeming to imitate art, two people were nonfatally stabbed at a screening of The Signal in Orange County, Calif. Considering that The Signal depicts people who go on violent rampages upon seeing a mysterious signal on television and other media, this is not the kind of publicity Magnolia Pictures would like to have.
I confess I only caught the first hour of ABCâs A Raisin in the Sun last night. Kenny Leon (pictured), artistic director of Atlantaâs True Colors Theatre Company, directed the three-hour, made-for-TV version of the same show he staged on Broadway nearly four years ago. Reprising their Broadway roles were Phylicia Rashad and Audra McDonald, who both won Tony Awards for their work; and Sean Combs, the mogul formerly known as P. Diddy, whose marquee-name involvement was no doubt crucial in getting the project to Broadway as well as the small screen.
The first third of Raisin displayed some conspicuous strengths and weaknesses. The adaptation of Lorraine Hansberryâs classic social drama shows some of its age with its heavy-handed foreshadowing and occasionally stilted dialog. On the plus side, Leon opens up with the material to provide brief but telling glimpses of the petty racism endured by African-Americans in big cities in the late 1950s. Combs notwithstanding, it proves a showcase for terrific performances, especially McDonald's powerful, emotional, transparent work that turns a relatively low-key role into a scene-stealer.
Raisin debuted at the Sundance Film Festival this year, but one suspects that Leon doesnât have much time to enjoy Raisinâs moment in the spotlight. Heâs currently serving as the artistic director for August Wilsonâs 20th Century at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts (March 4-April 6). The project presents a complete staging of Wilsonâs cycle of 10 plays about the African-American experience, each set in a different decade of the 20th century. This Playbill article features the lineups of each play, the most prominent of which is probably Fences, Wilson's first Pulitzer Prize winner (and True Colors' debut production in 2003). Leon will direct Oscar winner Louis Gossett Jr. as former baseball player Troy Maxson, and will also direct the project's stagings of The Gem of the Ocean and Wilson's other Pulitzer winner, The Piano Lesson.
Incidentally, The Gem of the Ocean and Radio Golf are the two plays of Wilsonâs cycle that have not yet received Atlanta productions. Perhaps once the August Wilsonâs 20th Century project is out of the way, the last two plays can receive their overdue Atlanta stagings.
For 30 years, the ATLANTA SINGERS have been a steady, noteworthy presence in the city's choral scene, having built their reputation through solid, though often innovative, programming rather than fluff, drawn from a wide range of repertoire from Renaissance times to our own era. David Morrow leads the 18-voice chamber chorus Tues., FEB. 26, in music by William Byrd, Claude Debussy, Moses Hogan and Morrow himself. $15. 7:30 p.m. Cathedral of St. Philip, 2744 Peachtree Road. 404-365-1052. www.stphilipscathedral.org.
I took my daughter to the opening night of Seussical: The Musical, an Alliance Childrenâs Theatre production held on the playhouse's mainstage. She and I had been to ACT productions before (Aladdin and Go, Dog, Go!), but always at matinee shows. The official opening night performance is at 7, which would keep her out past her bedtime, but we decided to go for it this year.
I was surprised to discover that it was a pretty big deal, with equivalent pomp to any Alliance Theatre opening night, and with probably as many people in the audience as Duke Ellington's Sophisticated Ladies had the previous month. I wonder if the Dr. Seuss name inspired a "bigger house" than usual for ACT shows. Folks like Freddie Ashley, artistic director of Actor's Express, were hobnobbing in the lobby like it was an opening night just for grown-ups, not families.
I don't know if this was a regular feature, but the evening included goodie bags for the kids, given out by friendly volunteers after the show. My daughterâs goodie bag contained the following: one sugar cookie, one piece of chewy orange candy, one pencil, three soft decorative stickers, and, incongruously, a selection of coupons from Honeybaked Ham.
The audience clearly enjoyed the exuberant, resplendent show. Set designer Kat Conley and costume designer Sydney Roberts really pulled out the stops, and it features a terrific cast, notably two scene-stealing Atlanta musical talents, Wendy Melkonian (Gertrude) and Jill Hames (Mayzie) showing just how good they are as a pair of very different birds.
Do people remember the instant classic clip that Sarah Silverman debuted on the talk show of her boyfriend, Jimmy Kimmel? Well, apparently on a special post-Oscars broadcast last night, Kimmel responded in kind, and it's very, very funny as well:
[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/6lcmNaXmjvs" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]
So in this war of viral videos, who's the winner? (Spoilers follow)
The Transformers failed me.
I posted my complete Oscar predictions last week, but last nightâs telecast found me to be something less than Nostradamus. As the official results show, I correctly guessed 11 out of the 23 categories, getting less than half of my predictions right. I blame the shutout of Transformers in the technical categories, even though it was considered the favorite. The Bourne Ultimatum picked up the two Sound Editing Oscars and The Golden Compass (in perhaps the most surprising of the second-tier upsets) won for Visual Effects, despite having worse visual effects than its competition. Clearly the Academy has a bias against giant alien robots that can turn into trucks and planes and stuff.
The actress categories provided two major upsets. Instead of Away from Herâs Julie Christie, Marion Cotillard won Best Actress for La Vie en Rose, proving that being young and hot trumps being seasoned and respected, at least in the Academyâs eyes. Or maybe it proves that hotness compensates for being a non-native English speaker. Or that itâs better to play a real person, especially a musician, than a sick person.
And Tilda Swinton won Best Supporting Actress for Michael Clayton, presumably because Ruby Dee had too little screen time, Saoirse Ronan was too young, Amy Ryan too much of a newcomer and Cate Blanchett already being a winner in the category. Thereâs also the wild possibility that Cotillard and Swinton were actually considered the best, most deserving actresses in the categories. Can it be that simple?
No Country for Old Men won four Oscars â the most of the evening for any film â for Best Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor, but lost Cinematography to There Will Be Blood and Editing to The Bourne Ultimatum. Expected favorites Daniel-Day Lewis of There Will Be Blood and Diablo Cody of Juno won Best Actor and Original Screenplay, respectively.
But how was the show?
A middle-aged African-American mathematics professor (Rob Cleveland) suffers an identity crisis that coincides with the 1995 Million Man March in BLUE DOOR, a two-man drama by Tanya Barfield, continuing Thurs., FEB. 28, at Theatre in the Square's oft-edgy Alley Stage. Co-starring Eric Little and directed by Gary Yates, Blue Door features songs, intimations of the supernatural and questions of African-American history and authenticity, which may speak to issues raised by Barack Obama's presidential candidacy. Alert Creative Loafing readers may remember Cleveland's profile in our Jan. 30 cover story on professional storytellers. Through March 16. $15-$20. Tues.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 2:30 and 8 p.m.; Sun., 2:30 p.m. 11 Whitlock Ave., Marietta. 770-422-8369. www.theatreinthesquare.com.
Little harsh, in'it?
Oh that's right...I DID say enjoy yourself.
Go to hell Kombo!
When will you be accepting applicants for the 2014 competition?
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