KJG-M tries to get to work on time. Hear her tale of woe.
All of us have seen bad theater. Awful theater, even. But usually that is Off-Broadway. When something makes it to the big leagues of Broadway, even when it is bad, it has a sheen of professional spectacle about it. Take, for example, the Tim Rice-Elton John “Aida” that ran for many years. When my mother had an extra ticket and I went I soon recognized I was in for three hours of lameness. But it was consistently lame. And, in a way, it worked. This new production of “Threepenny Opera” is an absolute disaster. Is it an avant-garde experimental piece? Is it high camp? Is it a dark and atmospheric tale concerning man’s criminal instinct? It tries to be all of this, but achieves none of it. All it is is a god-awful incomprehensible bore. And Cindi Lauper kept forgetting her lines. There was a drag queen who showed up for one or two scenes — she was very funny. We’d've been a lot better off checking this act out down at the Duplex or somethin’.
For some reason I was thinking last night about the Hope and Crosby “road movies,” and just how awesome they are. I can’t think of any other series of films that work so well as kitschy time capsules (and reminders of cavalier sexism and racism) but are also genuinely hilarious. If you haven’t seen these films, you really should.
As a study aid, I’ve linked to all my quickie reviews below. I watched all but one of these films in December of 2004.
Yesterday I saw Wes Anderson’s best work by far — his five minute ad for American Express and the Tribeca Film Festival. He also stars in it and shows remarkable comic timing, something you wouldn’t guess he had from watching him guest host the Charlie Rose Show. Those of us who found Team Zissou to be good but not great may be delighted to discover that it looks as if Anderson may have stumbled across his true medium. This brilliant short film also has the best use of a banana in a non-sexual, non-slip-on-peel, non fake-telephone way.
“Inside Man” is a lot of fun. It is one of the best peeks at comic book New York multiculturalism-under-duress since “Taking of Pehlam 1-2-3.” Unfortunately, the plot makes no sense. No sense. The big fat perfect crime on display is a swiss cheese of forehead-smacking far-fetched-ness. Nevertheless I had great fun watching this movie. I even liked the act of watching the last section, despite the fact that any semblance of reality had been dispatched with. So take that as a kind of recommendation.
The Valley of Fire State Park is about 90 minutes drive from Hoover Dam. It stars 150 million year old red rock formations that are eerily anthropomorphic. Native American tribes used it as an area of religious importance as far back as 300 BC. It is marverlously sparse with surprisingly little tourism industry footprint.
There is a little concrete and then bam — you are there — on another planet’s soil.
My parents lost in the valley.
Ann looks for ancient Native American petroglyphs.
She finds them.
These spooky, swiss cheese-esque rocks are absolutely massive. My photography doesn’t do justice.
You’ve heard how the hills have eyes? Well, here the rocks have ears!
I say hello!
The brown desert and white-capped mountains in the background. Awesome.
Desert cactus and flower.
This is called ‘The Elephant Rock.’ I think you can see why.
Just so you can see the deathly heights I had to scale to photograph ‘The Elephant Rock.’
Another shot of ‘The Elephant Rock.’ Awesome.
Doesn’t the thing in the middle kinda look like Fred Flinstone’s house?
What dangers lie within the rocks?
A resident of the Valley of Fire.
Leni Riefenstahl and Bill O’Reilly both know: make sure your fascist propaganda has zing. This flick, which I only rented so’s I could better follow J. Hoberman’s columns, is a got-dang bore. By the 90 minute mark I had to shut it off (I had over an hour left to go!) Listening to George Takei reverse his “l”s and “r”s only pours salt on the wound.
Whereas “Cremaster 3″ had ogres, classic cars smashing into one another, inside-out horce racing and a Frank Lloyd Wright Donkey Kong game, “Drawing Restraint” has. . . uh. . .zzzzzz. . . wha? huh? Sorry, dozed off for a second there. And so did everyone, at least once, during today’s screening. Parts of the movie are kinda neat (the last 30 minutes or so) but, sheesh, come on! What is *really* amazing is just how flatly everything is lit. Most of the picture takes place down below on a giant tanker – it is just plain ugly. If you are shooting a non-verbal & non-narrative film, please at least make it look interesting! I mean, the *stuff* happening was cool (giant oceanic turds bisecting enormous vaseline sculptures — I mean, who can say anything against that?!?) but it is shot in a very disappointing manner. Boo! The real question is how in the hell Barney gets his funding and his access. For that, I have tremendous respect.
We actually went to a lot of the “nice” places in Vegas. Tasteful 5-star restaurants, upscale hotels with genuine artistic design, decent shows. But those are no fun to photograph
This is not photoshop. Harvey Korman and Tim Conway in concert. Can you believe tix were $70!!
A moment of respect for the bronze statues of Siegfried and Roy.
Prince cover band “Purple Reign” tore the friggin roof off the joint.
Those familiar with “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” know the significance of this sign at the Circus Circus. Oddly, the Circus Circus was the only casino I did any winning in.
At the Islamic-themed Aladdin shops, you’ll find, among other stores, the Gap.
I could go on, but I think you get the point. Maybe I’ll put more up in a few days.
Stay tuned for images from “The Valley of Fire” and “Star Trek: The Experience.”
When the 5/6ths Hawaiian cover band playing in the casino lounge starts in on a medley from “Rent” and you find yourself thinking, “Man, these guys are awesome,” it is time to put the yard’s length plastic purple cup of blueberry margarita and go to bed.
For a few moments on the plane I was worried that Las Vegas wasn’t going to be tacky enough. What was I thinking?
The Liberace Museum, even though the interior is festooned with reminders of its namesake’s public work and generosity, is run by some pretty staunch women who’ll swoop down on you if you dare take an indoor photograph. I mean, the Met will let you take flash-free shots, but not this place. (Luckily the outside is fabulous enough to fulfill most needs.) I snuck these flash-free ones in while my father was playing one of Lee’s pianos (with permission.) You’ll notice some actual live middle American fanny-packers on the periphery.
If I make it through bat country I’ll be in Vegas (and surrounding environs) for a week. Will post when I get back.
I wish I had more time to fully process and report on Grey Gardens: The Musical, which we saw last night at Playwright’s Horizons. Basically, this: they nailed it. The elements of the show meant to be mimicry felt as if the film had simply blasted into three dimensions before our eyes. Smartly, the show extends and dramatizes plot elements hinted at in the film — it almost feels like a discovered new 90 minutes of extra scenes. The story is basically the same; some blanks are filled in, but the main mysteries remain. The transition works, here, because they didn’t go for easy jokes; “Grey Gardens,” despite its many side-splitting moments, has always been a tragedy concerning two women who love and hate indiscriminately as well as the sick poisoning of blue blood. So I was pleased, in a way, at just how straight the show is — the whole first act is, as the writers noted, “subversively traditional.” (But don’t worry, Big Edie does belt out a lovely ballad called “Jerry Likes The Way I Do My Corn.” Now that’s revolutionary.)