Thursday, July 31, 2008

I've been on a googling rampage

ever since seeing Sandra Bernhard on Project Runway last night. She's one of those people I love, but then life gets in the way, and then she pops up again and I get all excited and think about getting The King of Comedy on DVD and then it dies down a little bit and I get on with things. Still, she's a longstanding fave of mine, and I was totally in her boat with Terri last night over Kenley's hideous garment.

(JW and I giggle every time someone on the show uses the word "garment." We were also big fans of whatshername who was mean to her model. That skirt was pretty.)

I don't understand why the kids at Project Rungay (my new favorite blog) are so out of sorts about Sandra, either. I know she's written about fashion for The New Yorker, at the very least. I know this because I only read the article because she wrote it. Which probably then sent me on a googling rampage and made me watch Without You I'm Nothing. And then I moved on for a while.

I bring all of this nonsense up because of Sandra's fun quote on the Bravo website:
I was really into Terri. I thought she did a wonderful twist on comfortable. Sexy Rock 'n' Roll wear. Something that I would love to wear on stage. I wanted to go to a funkier place, but everybody went with the pretty white lady.
It's just like my friend Kev says, "She tell the truth, gurl. Even the hard truth."

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

I'm boycotting

UCLALive this year, in part because Westwood makes me crazy, but also because of sentiments to be found in this week's LAWeekly. Particularly this one:
[UCLALive programmer] David Sefton is a gregarious Englishman who wears his opinions on his sleeve and has often expressed open contempt for most theatrical activity here. Part of his view of public service is to make available to local artists the kind of imported artistic excellence that will serve as a helpful guide for improvement.
Granted, there's no quote there, so I'm taking Steven Leigh Morris' word, but how's that for arrogance?

All that said, I still might cave and go see the Robert Lepage. But only if it's on Goldstar.

The article's really about Mark Murphy, programmer for REDCAT, which, being downtown, is more convenient for me at the very least. I've been hot and cold about their seasons, but thanks to him I've gotten to see Richard Foreman and Wooster Group. And Big Art Group. I LOVED THAT SHOW PLEASE BRING THEM BACK.

Here's a nice quote from Murphy:
“I always thought that a presenter’s job was to work in service to artists rather than the other way around. The idea of hiring an artist or buying a spectacle or attraction is foreign to me. Over the few years, I think our audience, which changes event to event, feel that their relationship to the art is not as a consumer to a product, but that they’re contributing to and becoming part of the creative process in some way, and that it’s okay for them not to love something. Love it or hate it, just don’t say, ‘that was fine,’ and walk off.”
The whole article is here.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

It has not escaped

my attention that this is turning into a weekend blog, meaning I only post on Saturdays and Sundays. I'll try to work on that.

Saw Brideshead Revisited last night. I have always intended to read that novel, and I think I even started it once, but I never got around to finishing it. I hadn't seen the 80s mini-series either, so this was my first time experiencing the story. I'm running to a bookstore later to pick up a new copy of the book because I feel like I got a pretty piss poor attempt at dramatizing it. Once Sebastian was left in Morocco I was pretty well over it, and it continued for at least another 30 minutes.

Oh, and I saw Diana Ross at the Bowl on Friday night. Don't ask why; it just seemed like something I should do. Our favorite moment in the concert was when she started an intro for "Mahogany" while the band was playing a different song, then she got all confused, turned to the band and shouted into her mic, "WHAT??" JW and I were in stitches for a good couple of minutes after that. Between that and the guy with the pencil-thin mustache and loud print top who kept climbing over everyone in the row in front of us to dance to all the disco songs, complete with high kicks and everything, I was pretty well entertained.

Okay, back to work.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

I just watched

a BBC documentary called The Last 48 Hours of Kurt Cobain that I've had on my DVR for about a week or so. I was a senior in high school when he died and seriously obsessive about the whole event, so there were very few surprises here, but the whole thing was worth it just for this absurd bit of voice-over towards the end of the piece:
Here was a drama in which a great man shouldered the burden of a blundering and ignorant people, suffered for them, and was destroyed at the height of his success.
If the sentence weren't so ridiculously, well, British, I might be insulted. I especially love the switch from active to passive verbiage when it gets around to describing his death. "Was destroyed." By what? The $500 worth of heroin inserting itself into his veins every day? The trigger of the shotgun demanding to be pulled?

I never thought the day would come when I'd feel unpersuaded by hyperbole about the death of a rock star. I suddenly feel old.

I have too many things

in progress and I'm not spending enough time on them, so I've installed a new feature in my Sunday morning coffee shop/writing adventure: the SCHEDULE! I'm going to try and organize my time! Around things other than curtain times and movie screenings! Aren't you proud of me?! Wish me luck.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

I think I've seen

four more Outfest docus since last we talked. The best of them was Wild Combination: A Portrait of Arthur Russell, which has me obsessing about Arthur Russell's music. Hopefully it's going to have something of a theatrical run; the director definitely said it was going to play in New York. And then there's DVD, so you should all check it out. Here's the website. The movie's really rich and sweet and sad; I keep describing it as something of an inverted mirror of the Keith Haring documentary I saw last weekend. Seriously committed, single-minded, almost savant-like approach to the creative pursuit, came of age in the seventies and eighties, died too soon. Except in Russell's version the whole fame/wealth/notoriety element is virtually absent. Still, he hung out with Philip Glass and worked with Robert Wilson, so he wasn't doing too terribly bad, I guess.

I also liked my second trans docu of the fest -- She's a Boy I Knew. It's a really personal and tender piece made by an MTF transwoman named Gwen Haworth. I even stood next to her in the line to get into the movie which made me a little starstruck, at least in retrospect. You'd think they'd let the filmmaker skip the line, but maybe she just wants to be amongst the people, etc. I liked her a lot, both in the movie and the Q&A afterwards. She's clearly political, but compassionate, too.

I saw this other documentary about Richard Berkowitz, who, along with activist Michael Callen and Dr. Joseph Sonnabend wrote the first literature promoting safe sex way back in 1982. The movie's called Sex Positive, and Berkowitz is a great subject. He's complicated as an AIDS activist because he was an S&M male prostitute. The movie was made by a couple of straight guys in their twenties; I find this detail interesting because the movie has a kind of objectivity about the subject matter that I wonder if gay filmmakers could've accomplished. They get a lot out of Berkowitz, who has this nervous, rapid-fire way of speaking, and there's very little sentimentality in the ways they pick apart the failures of the early years of the AIDS crisis. There's a trailer on youtube; it's here.

And then I went from serious to frivolous and saw Eleven Minutes at the Ford Amphitheatre, a movie about Jay McCarroll's first runway show. Unfortunately the movie felt more like it was eleven-hundred minutes, and the poor quality of the sound only made it worse. It just made me want to see Unzipped, which if memory serves is an economical 70 minutes or so. Much better.

And with that I think I'm finished with Outfest 08, unless I get restless today and run out for an afternoon screening. You never know! Yay GLBT documentaries! There were so many I didn't have time to see; I hope they all end up on DVD so I can Netflix em.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Busy weekend

I saw two Outfest documentaries, two plays, and Wanted. The highlight of the weekend was not Wanted, as you might have guessed, although it did have its moments. Any movie that has Angelina Jolie shooting and kicking out the windshield of a speeding car so she can straddle the hood for better aim, then later crashing/lodging her jeep into the car of a moving train has to hold my interest at least a little bit.

Still, all that violence dunked me in a big vat of existential despair after a while. When I wasn't looking at my watch.

The highlight of the weekend was The Universe of Keith Haring, which made me fall in love with him all over again.

(That pic's by Annie Leibowitz, by the way.)

It was so thrilling to watch the action footage of him, the confidence of his gestures, the spontaneity, the dazzling way he filled spaces with those thick, strong lines, and to think that he accomplished everything he did in just about 12 years, by the time he was 33.

And as if that's not enough to recommend the film, there's some great footage of Madonna doing "Dress You Up" at one of his parties circa 1984, looking blitzed out of her head on who-knows-what. I asked JW afterwards if he noticed that and he said, "I noticed how bad she sounded." I said, "yeah, well this time she sounded bad and trashed."

God bless Madonna.

Other than that, well, there were my friend Brett Webster's plays, which were both a lot of fun, and a trans documentary called Trinidad, which is about a major GRS surgeon and clinic in the tiny town of Trinidad, Colorado. I liked the docu a lot, but the Q&A was almost more fun, thanks to the trans-activist audience member who asked the filmmakers pointed questions about how white, middle-class, and "heteronormative" the subjects of the film were, then started answering another audience member's questions before the filmmakers could have a chance to chime in. Queer academic/political types always make for lively exchanges of ideas, don't they? And I'm glad I got reminded of the word "heteronormative." I'm planning to use it at least once a day until Outfest is over.

Oh, and I saw Henry IV at Independent Shakespeare, where I learned my new favorite Shakespearean insult, as Prince Hal says to Falstaff in Part II, "Oh thou globe of sinful continents!" I was in stitches for a good five minutes after David Melville proclaimed that one.

Tonight's another Outfest trans docu, She's a Boy I Knew. Maybe that awesome transwoman will be back to liven up the Q&A again!

Friday, July 11, 2008

A few updates

First off, everyone should go see Of Equal Measure at the Kirk Douglas. Tanya Barfield and Leigh Silverman are not messing around. Plus it has one of my favorite L.A. actors, J.D. Cullum (who was too much fun to see as a border guard in Weeds last week), and Michael T. Weiss in a smarmy role. He's fun to watch, although to me he'll always be Dr. Michael Horton on Days of our Lives, even if he doesn't list it in his bio. And Michole Briana White is wonderful. Go go go.

In other news, I saw Chris and Don: A Love Story, on Tuesday night. It was nice, and it kinda made me want to live in Santa Monica so I could see Don Bachardy riding his bike all around. It also made me want to get a digital cam-corder; all that footage of him and Isherwood together was so nice, even if it did make me a little seasick with the handheldness of it all. What it did not make me want to do is assign lovey-dovey anthropomorphic caricatures to my relationship with JW that would be ready for animation in the event that there's a documentary about our life. To each his own, of course, but I think that would give me the creeps.

While we're on the subject of gay movies, of course Outfest is in full swing, so I've got tickets to five movies so far, with a couple more possibilities on top of them. If I can get my act together I'll do a little posting here about what I see.

And JW's getting our Bowl tickets today, I think, and then there's Independent Shakespeare at Barnsdall Art Park, and who knows what else? I'm getting tired just thinking about it.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Leigh Silverman

I've spent hours trying to search both online and through old issues of the LATimes to find an interview with Leigh Silverman that I read the other day so I could post a bit of it here, and then I remembered where I actually read it -- in IN Magazine, and written by my friend Christopher Cappiello.
“I will always choose a new work over doing the 50th production of some other play,” says Leigh Silverman, one of New York’s most sought-after theater directors, during a break from directing the world premiere of Tanya Barfield’s Of Equal Measure for the Center Theatre Group. “It is, for me, the only reason to do theater—the only thing that really makes sense to me.”

The 30-something director—with a master’s degree in playwrighting from Carnegie Mellon—has made a lot of sense of working with writers on new scripts.
I had no idea she was a fellow CMU dramatic writing alum! I liked her work on David Henry Hwang's Yellowface at the Taper, so I'm looking forward to this one too.
With cast changes and the requisite script changes that come with a world premiere, Silverman’s work is cut out for her.

“That’s why I have an ulcer and can’t sleep, you know? That’s the gig,” she says, lightheartedly, but perhaps only half joking.

“New work is really hard that way, but I also feel like it is the most rewarding experience to collaborate with a writer on a vision that is so ever-changing all the time,” she says. “You just have to be fearless.”
The whole piece is here. I'm seeing this show on Wednesday; you may or may not read more about it here later.

Sunday morning

Doing my writing thing at Buzz this morning. Did one last pass on a screenplay I've been pounding away at for far too long. I think it's time to let it go. At least for now. Yay! That's one more finished manuscript ready to take up space on my hard drive! What am I up to now? A dozen? Fifteen? Something like that. Anyone looking for something to read? Give me a holler.

JW and I went to a certain fancy mall to see WALL-E last night, which is sweet and smart and darling, as I expected. I was especially excited by the trip to a certain chain bookstore beforehand, where I found a gorgeous hardback copy of Zadie Smith's On Beauty on the remainder table for 6 bucks. I got through about 50 pages of White Teeth before getting distracted and setting it aside; maybe I'll love this one so much I'll revisit the other one. I have been doing a bit more pleasure-reading lately, so that would be nice.