Kay Bourne Arts Report – Issue #65

December 20th, 2008  |  Published in Kay Bourne Arts Report

Contents
RONNIE SPECTOR HAS A WONDERFUL XMAS
EUKA HOLMES’ EXHIBIT DAZZLES AT BAA
WILLIAMS’ NUTCRACKER IS GLORIOUS
ATHLETE OR ARTIST? A “HSM2″ STAR EXPLAINS
TARAJI HENSON SHINES IN “BENJAMIN BUTTON”
FROM THEATER TO SCREEN, DOUBT WORKS
TRIUMPHANT COMEBACK FOR MICKEY ROURKE
JOE’s CHRISTMAS PICS
LISA’s CHRISTMAS MOVIE PICS
UP-COMING EVENTS


RONNIE SPECTOR HAS A WONDERFUL XMAS
by Kay Bourne
577 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #65When the cheerful, elfin RONNIE SPECTOR bounces on stage at Showcase Live for her “Ronnie Spector’s Christmas Party,” time shifts for her to a happy childhood in Spanish Harlem. The petit (“nearly 5′ 3,” she estimates) bundle of joy is, in a way, still dancing on top of the coffee table at her grandmother’s house, entertaining a family of 23 first cousins and her mom’s seven brothers and sisters, their wives and husbands – all waiting for little Ronnie to dance and sing. Their applause lives on for her, as do the memories of wonderful, magical Christmas times. “I had a great, great childhood,” she said in a recent phone conversation. “I think that’s why I’m good today on stage,”

“I love everything about Christmas” says the rock ‘n roll icon whose merry spirit sparked record producer Phil Spector’s classic 1963 album “A Christmas Gift to You (from Philles Records).” On this “wall of sound” recording, Ronnie (born Veronica Yvette Bennett) sang with her sister Estelle Bennett and cousin Nedra Talley, identified on the album only as The Ronettes. Among the session musicians in a recording that would be judged later as one of the 500 best albums ever were Sonny Bono on percussion, Barney Kissel on jazz guitar, and Leon Russell on piano; the songs the Ronettes caroled rock ‘n roll style Ronnie Spector sings to this day, Steve Nelson and Walter Rollins’ s “Frosty the Snowman,” Tommy Connors’s “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus,” and Leroy Anderson and Mitchell Parish’s “Sleigh Ride.”

Spector comments off handedly that “my ex was Jewish,” referring to Phil Spector, “and I told him about my mother and father and my family Christmas memories and he spooned it all up.” Usually in interviews these days, Ronnie makes it a rule to stay away from the subject of her 8-year marriage to the record producer which ended in divorce in 1974 after being subjected to years of his weird and reclusive lifestyle. She’s written an autobiography, “Be My Baby, How I Survived Mascara, Miniskirts, and Madness,” co- authored with Vince Waldron, which was published in 1989 and republished in 2004.

For Ronnie, there’s everything to love about Christmas. “The people are more lively. The colors. The decorations. Everybody’s happy. You go into a grocery store where clerks can be grouchy but not at Christmas. It’s the most important day of the year.

“When I was a kid I loved Christmas so much. I couldn’t wait to put the cookies out for Santa and I knew I’d been a good girl. I can remember at school we read about how Santa comes down a chimney to deliver his toys. I was so upset. I told my daddy ‘we don’t have a chimney.’ He said, ‘no, we have the fire escape. That’s where Santa leaves the toys’ I’d look out the window to see Santa and his sleigh. Daddy would say ‘I think he’s coming but after you go to bed. My mom was a waitress, on her feet all day. But when I begged to go to Macy’s on the day when you got a free photo sitting on Santa’s lap, she took me and we stood for three hours. And she said, ‘you know it’s only once a year.’ All of it has stayed with me my whole life. You know” said the lady known as “the original bad girl of rock ‘n roll,” I’m still a good girl.”

Doubtless she’ll be singing “Sleigh Ride” and “Frosty the Snowman” at Showcase Live at 23 Patriot Place in Foxborough, Sat., Dec. 20, in line with the Christmas special that’s become an annual holiday program she sings in New York. Her versions are in the top 20 most played holiday records on the radio the last five years according to ASCAP. Also expected from the 64- year-old gamine will be the Ronette’s masterpiece “I Wish I Never Saw the Sunshine,” which went unreleased until 1976 as well as the songs like “Be My Baby” they sang for those glorious 45 rpm records inspired by the doo wop she heard growing up on the street corners of her neighborhood. Maybe also she’ll give the audience the Beach Boys’s “Don’t worry Baby,” which Brian Wilson originally wrote for her, “Take me Home Tonight,” a charted hit in 1986 sung with Eddie Money, her version of Johnny Thunder’s beautiful ballad “You Can’t Put Your Arms Around a Melody,” or “Say Goodbye to Hollywood,” written by Billy Joel. The list of tantalizing possibilities from her vault is long.

Ronnie’ll be dancing improvisationally as she did when she sang on the coffee table of years ago. “I’ve never been choreographed,” she said. “Then you’re doing what another person thinks you are. Even with the Ronettes we danced without set choreography. It takes away from who you are. Off to the left; off to the right; shake my little booty when I want to. I know what I’m doing; I know how to flirt. With choreography you don’t look at the audience. I say, if you want to bump a hip, bump a hip. Madonna, Britney, even my friend Cher, choreography is hiding their talent and they don’t show who they really are.”

She’s loves doing live shows, she says. “You record in order to have people care to see you live. Live is it, baby. Believe me!”

Official Website of Patriot Place


EUKA HOLMES’ EXHIBIT DAZZLES AT BAA
by Kay Bourne
578 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #65In-between classes, students at Boston Arts Academy wander into the Sandra & Phillip Gordon, which is situated off the lobby of the school across from Fenway Park. One after another they pause before a painting that strikes a chord for them in the exhibit of EKUA HOLMES paintings and collages. Music major Damon Mallory, 16, a sax player says he stops in often. “The messages in the paintings fit in so perfectly,” he said. A favorite of his depicts a father and two sons standing in front of a white frame house. A lottery ticket appears in the painting as well. “They have a house but it’s not a big house. They are trying to come up, and save money to have a home. And sometimes, they take a chance on winning big.”

Holmes says her paintings have a happy spirit she recalls from growing up in Roxbury. “As opposed to the chalk outlines, although I am familiar with them as well,” she said. “But when I think of Roxbury, I think, instead, of frying chicken for a bake sale to send someone’s child to college because that’s the Roxbury I know.”

“Kindred” will be up through Feb. 5. The gallery, which is curated by Mickey Telemague, is open to the public. Telemague invited Holmes to be one of the four exhibitors the gallery hosts in a year (one of which is comprised of the work of the graduating seniors majoring in fine arts). Co-head of the school Linda Nathan, who also stopped by the gallery by chance on her way to a meeting, said the gallery is fulfilling the promise she’d hoped it would keep of functioning as a professional gallery that provided art that touched the students. “With Ekua’s work you are letting the students know that you can live in Boston and be an artist. You don’t have to leave the world you live in. That is what is so powerful with this exhibit.”

One of the most obviously autobiographical of the paintings is “Back to the Future” which depicts a young girl standing on one side of a tree. She is gazing at a woman, standing on the other side, who is painting a monarch butterfly on the bark. A pyramid which recalls the wisdom of the ancient Kush people is in the background unobtrusively. “I remember being five years old,” says Holmes, “and someone asked me, What are you going to be when you grow up. I replied an artist no knowing very much what that meant except it had to do with drawing. The painting is about the fragility of childhood dreams. The woman is me as an adult bringing that dream into reality. I took a few detours. I was a graphic artist for the Welfare Department; I ran a gallery showcasing other people’s work. Perhaps, all that built the confidence so I can do what I do today.”

Butterflies are an element that occurs with regularity in Holmes’s work. “They remind me of transformation, of growth. The caccoon that doesn’t look like much hitched to the underside of a leaf transformed. Freedom. Color. Mobility. A reminder too that life is short.”

Holmes’s work has been likened to Romare Beardon. She says she took that to mean that she does collage work as well but when someone said “you’re an heir of Beardon’s,” Holmes thought more deeply about the possible kinship beyond the palette. “We’re both only children, which gives you a unique understanding of your family,” she observes. “We both have spent time living in the city and in the country. We’re drawn to story tellers. And he had a cat too!”

February 5, Holmes will do a program with Boston Arts Academy students from five to seven in which they’ll reflect on her art through theirs from music to theater. The program is free and open to the public.

Official Website of Boston Arts Academy


WILLIAMS’ NUTCRACKER IS GLORIOUS
by Kay Bourne
579 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #65The glorious “Anthony Williams’ Urban Nutcracker,” exuberantly dancing its way through an eighth season, excites audiences of families and dance enthusiasts alike. A unique take on the 19th century old world ballet, reborn in this country with Russian émigré George Balanchine’s, choreography of the Russian, French influenced classic set to Tchaikovsky’s score at the New York City Ballet in 1954, the Ballet Rox production goes the original and the transplant of the evergreen more than one better. The elegant mongrel mixes in music from Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn’s Nutcracker jazz suite with some doo wop singing too, dance styles from the street, so to speak, from tap and hip hop to Irish step, and a narrative that reflects on the “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” dreams of every hearthside at war-time. Sprinkle in the nutmeg to this eggnog of Broadway caliber scenery, set design, and sumptuous costumes from Rebecca Cross and – voila! – you have a truly rich holiday treat you’ll savor at the theater and later in your fond memories of an exceptional dance evening.

There is one more weekend of this joyful night at John Hancock Hall, 180 Berkeley St., downtown Boston. The curtain goes up on “Anthony Williams’ Urban Nutcracker” Friday, Dec. 19, at 7:30; Saturday, Dec. 20 at one pm and again at 7:30; and Sunday Dec. 21 at one pm and 5:30 pm. That’s a pick of five shows for you. For more info you can go on-line to www.balletrox.org.

The “Nutcracker” is the most popular ballet in the world, adopted and adapted by big city and small town companies across the United States and Canada every Christmas season. And no matter where the ballet is danced or how it’s altered to accommodate local sensibilities, tears come to the eyes as miniature angels float across the stage or the Sugar Plum Fairy leaps with seemingly effortlessness into the arms of her soldier partner as the glorious music swells. “Anthony Williams’ Urban Nutcracker” magically blends the happy moments with the poignant in a night that is evocative of that same nostalgic cocktail of emotions that spells the holidays. More-over, he does so with an African American cultural twist with some specific reference to Roxbury past and present for after all Williams grew up here and, years back in 1965, danced the “Nutcracker” as a member of the Boston Ballet the first season that company performed it.

One of the sparkling lights on this Christmas tree is the timely narrative of a family who longs for the return of the husband who is fighting in Iraq; William’s insinuates enough visual information so that the story unfolds without a word spoken giving his “Nutcracker” a coherency often lacking in this ballet that moves in this version from a holiday shopping preamble with some sensational double dutch jump roping from S.W.I.R.L.S., the nostalgic harmonizing of four doo wop singers, and step dance/hoofer face off to a family party Christmas Eve in the first act, and on to the little girl’s dream adventure in the land of sweets that comprises much of the second act.

One of the first African American dance company stagings of “Nutcracker” was by Doris Jones formerly of Roxbury who established the important integrated Capitol Ballet Company in Washington, D.C. in whose reworking the Sugar Plum Fairy became the Brown Sugar Fairy. The most famous is likely Donald Byrd’s 1996 “Harlem Nutcracker” which rewrote the story-line to bring in memories of the Harlem Renaissance and elements of contemporary black life in New York (and which augmented the Ellington/Strayhorn music with a two act score by David Berger, a leading authority on Ellington and the swing era).

As to the “Anthony Williams’ Urban Nutcracker,” in addition to an original preamble, the ballet master as producer and director celebrates Boston’s cultural diversity in a highly autobiographical way and, for example, in the use of hoofing in the dream sequence (excitingly danced by Khalid Hill and a bevy of tapping children), incorporates the children from his Ballet Rox dance studio (there are some 85 youngsters in the show, including Alexandra Marino who skillfully danced Clarice/Clara Dec. 6) and premieres his own professional dance company who take many of the leading roles beautifully, including the Sugar Plum Fairy danced exquisitely Dec. 6 by Janelle Gilchrist. The Williams production also pays homage to the Ballanchine production in such dance sequences as the candy cane stripe costumed Mr. Hoop and the Hoopettes restaged by Jane Allard and expertly danced Dec. 6 by Phillip Ingrassia of the Ballet Rox professional company in a role originated by Arthur Mitchell (who later founded the Dance Theater of Harlem).

“Anthony Williams’ Urban Nutcracker” brings us home for the holidays.

Official Website of Ballet Rox


ATHLETE OR ARTIST? A “HSM2″ STAR EXPLAINS
by Kay Bourne
(Benjamin Mapp, center)

580 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #65Lava Springs Country Club begins with “L” so too does the Louisville Youth Performing Arts School but the teens in “Disney High School Musical 2″ face a different set of issues than did BENJAMIN MAPP. The actor from Kentucky is making his North Shore Music Theater debut in the hugely popular look at high school angst.

As “Wildcat” jock Chad Danforth, Mapp in the second installment of the Disney High School Musical franchise plays someone not all that enamored with musical theater. Basically, Chad plays sports and that’s all he wants to do, says Mapp. Sports and the stage are not an easy mix at East High where Chad and his crowd go to school. For Mapp, the opposite was true growing up. “It was a magnet school in the public school system,” he explains, “I auditioned in the eighth grade. There was a mix of people rather than the suburban crowd in the musical. I played football for the first two years of high school but then had to drop out to be in shows. But people didn’t look down on either being an athlete or an artist.”

In the story-line for “Disney High School Musical 2,” Chad finally comes to see that dancers and basketball players are both athletes. North Shore Music Theater presents the second only regional production of the show (and its New England premiere) from Dec. 18 through Jan. 11. In a special bow to the subject matter, schools in Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire can make “Disney High School Musical 2″ a fund raiser for their school by earning $10 for every ticket sold. For more info about the fund raising possibility email sarar@blitzmedia.com. Other activities connected with the show include a Meet the Theatre post performance audience discussion with the artists Dec. 29.

Since graduating from high school and Point Park University with a BFA in musical theater, Mapp has been busy with regional tours of “Oklahoma” and “White Christmas,” as well as “Reefer Madness,” “Hair” and “Ragtime.” He recently completed the world premiere production of “Disney High School Musical 2″ at Atlanta’s Theater of the Stars. He’s also done numerous commercials for Cartoon Network, NTV, Nikon and others.

Official Website of North Shore Music Theater


TARAJI HENSON SHINES IN “BENJAMIN BUTTON”
by Lisa Simmons
572 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #65You might remember her as the love interest to Tyrese Gibson in Baby Boy, or the sweet, sympathetic love interest to Terrance Howard in Hustle and Flow or the loud talking, attitude walking girlfriend of Don Cheadle in Talk to Me, but however you remember her you will once again get to see her brilliance as an actor in her newest movie role as Brad Pitt’s mother in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. One of my picks for a must see movie this holiday season.

After an evening screening at AMC Boston Common Theater , Ms. Henson took questions from the audience about her role in Benjamin Button, working with Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchette and her growing career. Appearing in her approximate 5’3″ frame in comfortable clothes and patten leather white high tops, Ms. Henson was both humble and excited to be in Boston which she termed as “a sexy city.”

Here audition for the role of Brad Pitt’s mother in Benjamin Button was garnered from her amazing work in Hustle and Flow and Talk to Me. After an extensive search she was brought in as the “perfect” person to play this role and after her first audition she basically had the part.

Henson plays “Queenie,” who runs an old folks home in New Orleans in the early 1900″s. Her character has to age almost 60 years throughout the film and watching her masterfully take you through those years is magical to see. A big break for her, she talked very modestly about her eginnings. She dreamt of stardom and jumped in to acting full force but got discourage and decided to go to college to become engineer but when she had trouble getting through pre calculus, she decided to try acting one more time, and this time it stuck. (lucky for us).

The script for this movie she says, intrigued her mainly because the director, David Fincher (amazing by the way) made a “very bold choice making Queenie a surrogate mother, instead of the nanny as it is written in the short, was very bold.” The movie is not about race Henson says, and Fincher never wanted it to be about that, he simply wanted it to be a story about acceptance and belonging. Henson brings to the role of “Queenie” a sense of compassion and dignity for not only the elderly men and women she cares for but for Benjamin Button who was brought in to a world that would never accept him.

After her outstanding performance in Benjamin Button, Henson is sure to become a household name, an idea she is honored to entertain, but for now is just taking it one day at a time “you can’t count your chicken’s before they hatch,” she says. For her, what she is hoping appen from this film is that “people will finally be able to connect all the dots,” to all of the work she has done in her career, a career that started in 1997.

A lover of independent film, after all, she says, “it’s what made me,” she would never turn her back on it. “It makes me appreciate how far I have come.” she said emphatically.

She has come far and Henson is going even farther in the years to come. Staying focused and looking at new projects that come her way she just finished Hurricane Season with Forest Whitikar and stars opposite Morris Chestnut in the new TD Jakes film Not Easily Broken so we will be seeing alot more of her in the next few months. . . good for her and certainly good for all of us.

Make sure you make The Curious Case of Benjamin Button one of your holiday movies to see this season.
Official Website of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button


FROM THEATER TO SCREEN, DOUBT WORKS
by Josiah Crowley © 2008
581 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #65DOUBT, the Pulitzer Prize-winning play, was inspired by news reports that playwright John Patrick (MOONSTRUCK) Shanley read during the crisis in the Catholic Church a few years back (which started here in Boston). Those stories set off memories of a pedophile priest the lifelong New Yorker knew as a child (“He didn’t abuse me, but he did abuse other boys I knew”) and he set pen to paper to come up with a perfect theater piece, DOUBT.

The story is set in The Bronx circa 1964 (where Shanley grew up) and concerns a young nun’s suspicion that the charming Father Flynn (the accomplished Philip Seymour Hoffman) may have had sexual relations with the working class school’s first African-American student (Joseph Foster). Amy Adams – star of Disney’s ENCHANTED and an Oscar nominee for the independent JUNEBUG – is wonderfully touching in the role of the young nun. Sister James reports her suspicions to Mother Superior (Meryl Streep, at the top of her game), who investigates the matter and, ultimately, faces off against Fr. Flynn.

DOUBT expertly covers themes of class prejudice, racial relations, women’s roles within the Catholic Church (for a nun to confront a priest with suspicions of sexual misconduct even today – let alone in 1964 – is downright radical and courageous) and presents, along the way, a plot that reels one in, no matter one’s religious beliefs. Shanley’s skills as a playwright are in top form in the play.

Translating DOUBT from the stage to the screen has challenges: how to make what is, basically, four “talking heads” into a cinematic experience? Shanley both directs and adapts the play to film and, though not completely successful (it shows its stage roots), the film DOUBT is a success. At its center is a well-written drama that keeps the viewer glued to the screen

Viola Davis (a Tony winner for August Wilson’s KING HEDLEY II) is a knockout as the child’s mother. In her five minutes onscreen, Davis displays acting chops that make one wonder why she isn’t a star. She deserves an Oscar nomination: she displays more theatrical power in five minutes of screen time than many big stars have done in a lifetime on film.

DOUBT asks a viewer to look outside one’s assumptions: are the people in place to protect our children really what they present themselves to be? Are they predators? What is the motivation behind their actions? And what – privately – are their actions?

DOUBT, on stage or in the film, never uses words such as pedophile or child molester . But it tackles – in a tasteful, intriguing manner – the subject no one seems to want to discuss. With a reported 25% of girls and one in six boys sexually molested annually in the U.S., this is a subject that needs to be addressed. Which is why the viewer’s religious beliefs are irrelevant while watching DOUBT: it is never a bad thing to look out for the next generation of children. It is a responsibility of every parent. Of that there is no doubt.

Official Website of Doubt the Movie


TRIUMPHANT COMEBACK FOR MICKEY ROURKE
by Josiah Crowley © 2008
582 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #65 Director Darren (REQUIM FOR A DREAM) Aronofsky presents us, for Christmas, the return of MICKEY ROURKE in top form. A 1980′s film star (DINER, 9 1/2 WEEKS, THE POPE OF GREENWICH VILLAGE), Rourke’s career faded among a series of bad films and personal problems. He became less known for his film performances than his personal demons, detailed as he became a staple of the tabloids.

With THE WRESTLER, Rourke is back. Boy, is he! And better than ever in the performance of a lifetime. Only his work as a fictionalized Charles Bukowski in the indie film of more than 20 years ago, BARFLY, comes close to his startling work in this film.

Be warned – this is a very serious film, with raw footage of drug use. Children under 16 would not be advised to see it. Though the film shows the effects of drug abuse, it’s a bit strong for children to view. It is a straight away look at a tough, nasty enviorment.

As Randy “The Ram” Robinson, a 4th rate wrestler at the end of a career on the bottom of a seedy profession, Rourke doesn’t try to make his character likeable. He plays him with intense honesty – a guy who shoots up steroids on a regular basis; has trouble paying the rent on his trailer home; attempts to make amends to his very angry, estranged daughter (an impressive Evan Rachel Wood); and deludes himself that the stripper, Cassidy (a believable Marisa Tomei), also a little long in the tooth for her chosen profession, really likes his company, not the money he pays to spend time with her.

A study in loneliness, desperation, regrets, THE WRESTLER is, above all, NOT a downer of a film. Director Aronofsky resists the temptation to make this a hokey, superficial film. Some of the material onscreen is painful to watch : the physical abuse suffered by the wrestlers in this film is pretty raw, as are scenes of Rourke shooting steroids. Yet there is a sense of hope throughout as Rourke’s Randy Robinson insists on seeing the glass half full, no matter the obstacles that come his way (and there are plenty – including health, family, housing and employment issues).

In the end, however, for viewers who appreciate strong acting and adult themes, THE WRESTLER presents not only an intelligent story about uneducated, desperate people, but it gives the discerning film viewer the spectacular gift of Rourke’s Oscar-worthy acting. Quite an end of the year gift for those who believe in redemption.

THE WRESTLER’s ending is left to the viewer to decide (is it happy? or sad?), but our anti-hero’s moxie and determination, no matter his personal flaws (and he has many) are contagious. If nothing else, the viewer will be impressed with Rourke’s work as a broken man who won’t admit defeat, no matter what. A knockout performance, probably the year’s best male film performance.
Official Website of The Wrestler the Movie


JOE’s CHRISTMAS PICS
by Josiah Crowley © 2008
(from Slumdog Millionaire)

583 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #65End of the year film releases are filled with all sorts of product, from overtly commercial (the epic love story AUSTRALIA) to the seasonal (BEDTIME STORIES). Both fun-filled, light entertainments (YES MAN) are presented alongside more serious fare (DOUBT). Here are some of this film watcher’s recommendations – and the reasons why I would encourage you to see them.

FOUR CHRISTMASES : At 86 minutes long, this is a light, frothy entertainment – though completely silly – offers a few belly laughs for those who want to escape from reality. Married couple Reese Witherspoon (all 5′ 1/2″ of her) and 6’5″ Vince Vaughn, through a series of happenings that could only occur in a Hollywood film, visit their parents, each of whom is divorced and in a new relationship: Sissy Spacek, hilarious as Vaughn’s hippie mom, is living with her son’s childhood friend ! Robert Duvall, as Vaughn’s caveman-like father, is a hoot. This is a film that, while not great, is good for a few laughs. And the chance to see some of the most serious film actors of the ’80s (Jon Voight, Mary Steenburgen – in addition to Duvall and Spacek) having fun. Not a bad film, just not at the top of Santa’s list of great films of 2008.

TWILIGHT: Girl meets boy. She is enthralled. He is smitten – if, alas, a little pale. But true love (or is it simply teen lust?) prevails as girl and boy cannot resist each other, no matter whatever negative rumors she hears about him. Okay , so maybe boy IS a vampire – still, he’s awfully dedicated and – unlike “human” boys in her circle – this boy does not pressure her. Indeed, he doesn’t even bite ! TWILIGHT, based on Stephanie Meyer’s best-selling teen vampire novels and brought to the screen by director Catherine (13) Hardwicke, it’s a lot more fun than it has any right to be. And it gets the teen longing thing right. Well shot (great cinematography ! ) and with fun turns by Kristen Stewart as the enthralled teen and Robert Pattinson as the sweet, head over heels in love teenaged vampire. Not a bad night out, but recommended viewing only while wearing a scarf around your neck.

VALKYRIE, from director Bryan (THE USUAL SUSPECTS) Singer, is a sold “B” movie – a product an old time studio might have made 50 years ago, with a cast of second string actors. This film headlines Tom Cruise, who is supported by a supporting cast made up of some of the world’s best character actors (Terence Stamp, Kenneth Brannagh, Tom Wilkinson, Eddie Izzard), and has a considerable budget that could’ve paid for five or six “B” movies of this type. Based on a true story of a Nazi (Cruise) who leads an attempt to assassinate Adolph Hitler, the film is efficient, straightforward and moves quickly. The camera wok and set decoration is impressive. But something is missing. One distracting part of the film is Cruise’s decision to not even attempt a German accent. This actually might not be such a bad choice; a bad accent would’ve distracted the viewer to no end. But, next to his impressive co-stars, Cruise’s weak acting shows up here more than usual. Still, a well-done “escapist” film. Though combining the subject of Naziism and “escapist entertainment” is a bit confounding.

FROST/NIXON (to be reviewed in our next issue) is Ron Howard’s worthy film about the 1977 TV interviews David Frost conducted with Richard Nixon three years after the President’s resignation. It contains a dynamic performance by Frank Langella, repeating his Tony-winning stage role.

Plenty of films to see this Christmas season that are holdovers from the Fall – including: SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE, from director Danny (TRAINSPOTTING) Boyle – one of the most unique, original films to come along in many seasons: Highly recommended. and A CHRISTMAS TALE – the French film revolving around a French matriarch (Catherine Deneuve), who is suffering from leukemia, and her dysfunctional family getting together over the holidays, is a combination of soap opera and comedy: a bit hokey, but some very good acting and true-to-life moments every family experiences. Happy Holidays! See you (next year) at the movies!


LISA’s CHRISTMAS MOVIE PICS
by Lisa Simmons
(cast of Cadillac Records)

576 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #65The Curious Case of Benjamin Button – “I was born under unusual circumstances.”And so begins Benjamin Button, adapted from the classic 1920s story by F. Scott Fitzgerald about a man who is born in his eighties and ages backwards. A man, like any of us, unable to stop time. We follow his story set in New Orleans from the end of World War I in 1918, into the twenty-first century, following his journey that is as unusual as any man’s life can be. Directed by David Fincher and starring Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett with Tilda Swinton, Taraji P. Henson, Jason Flemyng, Elias Koteas and Julia Ormond, Benjamin Button, is a time traveler’s tale of the people and places he bumps into along the way, the loves he loses and finds, the joys of life and the sadness of death, and what lasts beyond time. 2hrs 45min (it’s worth it) Rated PG – 13

The Tales of Despereaux - Once upon a time, in the faraway kingdom of Dor, there was magic in the air, laughter aplenty and gallons of mouthwatering soup. But an accident left the King broken-hearted, the Princess filled with longing and the townsfolk without their soup. Sunlight disappeared. The world became gray. All hope was lost in this land . . . until Despereaux Tilling (Matthew Broderick) was born. 1hr 34min. Rated G

Seven Pounds – Academy Award nominee Will Smith reunites with the director and producers of The Pursuit of Happyness for this emotional drama concerning an IRS agent whose quest for redemption is unexpectedly complicated after he inadvertently falls in love. Ben Thomas is an IRS agent with a fateful secret. Assuming the identity of his younger brother, Ben sets out in search of redemption. Instead, Ben discovers true love while forever changing the lives of seven complete strangers. 1hr 58min Rated PG-13

Slumdog Millionaire – The story of Jamal Malik, an 18 year-old orphan from the slums of Mumbai, who is about to experience the biggest day of his life. With the whole nation watching, he is just one question away from winning a staggering 20 million rupees on India’s “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?” But when the show breaks for the night, police arrest him on suspicion of cheating; how could a street kid know so much? Desperate to prove his innocence, Jamal tells the story of his life in the slum where he and his brother grew up, of their adventures together on the road, of vicious encounters with local gangs, and of Latika, the girl he loved and lost. Each chapter of his story reveals the key to the answer to one of the game show’s questions. Each chapter of Jamal’s increasingly layered story reveals where he learned the answers to the show’s seemingly impossible quizzes. But one question remains a mystery: what is this young man with no apparent desire for riches really doing on the game show? When the new day dawns and Jamal returns to answer the final question, the Inspector and sixty million viewers are about to find out. At the heart of its storytelling lies the question of how anyone comes to know the things they know about life and love. 2 hours – Rated PG-13

Cadillac Records – Jeffery Wright is AMAZING in this movie! It’s an ok film, not wonderful but worth the music. The film chronicles the rise of Chess Records and its recording artists. In this tale of sex, violence, race and rock and roll in Chicago of the 1950s and 60s, the film follows the exciting but turbulent lives of some of America’s greatest musical legends. 1hr 49 min. Rated PG -13


UP-COMING EVENTS
574 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #65 The National Center for Afro-American Artists presents its 39th Annual BLACK NATIVITY at the Tremont Temple, 88 Tremont Street, Fridays 8pm, Saturdays 3:30 & 8pm and Sundays 3:30pm for three weeks, through DECEMBER 21. A joyous account of the historical Nativity story, celebrated in scripture, verse, music and dance, based on the Gospel of St. Luke, combined with the poetry of Langston Hughes, this family performance touches the hearts of young and old. Tickets are $45, $36, $28 and obstructed view seats are $17.50. For group rates, VIP tickets or more information call 617-585-6366, to purchase tickets in advance visit the Black Nativity website at www.BlackNativity.org.

The Gallery at the Piano Factory presents a Holiday Arts & Crafts Show and Sale, DECEMBER 21, 1 – 6pm, at 791 Tremont Street, celebrating art, artists and our creative spirit, featuring some of Boston’s most creative artists and craftspeople displaying jewelry, scarves, herbal lotions, sculptures, oils & incense, leather bags, magnets, cards, tassels, handmade soaps, original art, artprints and much more. For more information call Dale Patterson at 617-262-4819.

ORGANIX SOUL Boston presents a Pre-New Year’s SOUL & POETRY SHAKE DOWN on Friday, DECEMBER 26 with a LIVE MUSIC SHOWCASE at the RANDOLPH HOLIDAY INN, 1374 North Main Street, Randolph, (exit 5A off RT 93S, on Rt. 28S, 10 minutes from Boston) featuring TASHA MABRY, R&B/Soul vocalist from Brooklyn, NY; TONE MOORE Soul poet, guitarist from Springfield, MA; WALKIN CONTRADICTION, Neo-Soul Poet & Empowerment Speaker from NJ; and more! Click here to purchase tickets in advance for $25, or $30 at the door. Networking hour is 8 – 9pm, the LIVE music showcase is 9 – 11pm, with DJ Nelski spinning hits from 11p – 1am. WATCH ROOTZ TO RHYTHMtv Tuesday 10 – 11pm on Boston Comcast Ch. 23 for a chance to win tickets. For info or to purchase tickets call Robin Saunders at 617-543-0393 or Nia Imani 617-296-5976.

GET ON THE CELEBRATION BUS – Boston to Washington, D.C.. Be a part of history, in Washington, DC for President Elect Barack Obama’s January 20, 2009 Inauguration. Bus departs Boston January 19 at 11pm, tickets only $129 per person, includes roundtrip luxury motor coach transporation and dinner. Reserve your seat today. Full payment due by December 29. For more info email russell_herbert2001@yahoo.com or call 617-543-0393.

CALL FOR ART – DEADLINE EXTENDED: Art work submissions sought for an exhibit showcasing PAINTINGS by BOSTON area AFRICAN AMERICAN PAINTERS in the “PAINT – BLACK on CANVAS” exhibit. Exhibition dates: Jan. 19 – Feb. 28, 2009. Deadline for submissions extended to December 30, 2008. For guidelines, contact Laura L. Montgomery, Director, Bunker Hill Community College Art Gallery at 617-228-2093.

SAVE THE DATE: Roxbury Film Festival Comes to First Night on DECEMBER 31 at the Hynes Convention Center, Room 200, 7:30 -11pm. Some of the best films from RFF 08 will be screened. Admission: First Night Button

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About The Color of Film

The Color of Film Collaborative is a non-profit organization that supports and fosters the individuals and organizations in the creation of diverse images of people of color in film, video, theater and other media, by providing artists with opportunities to exhibit, distribute and find funding for their work, as well as provide a supportive environment where they can share and develop their ideas, their vision and their work with their peers. About Us

Roxbury International Film Festival

Join us July 29th - August 1st, 2010 for the 12th Annual Roxbury Film Festival. Incredible movies will be playing and other events will be happening and more. Find out more

Dinner & A Movie (DAAM)


In collaboration with The Haley House Bakery Café, the Color of Film Collaborative presents our ongoing film series, featuring independent cinema and delicious food. Read more...

The Roxbury International Film Festival



Now going into its 12th year, the Roxbury International Film Festival is proudly presented by The Color of Film Collaborative to promote productions of color. Find out more here...

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