“twenty feet from stardom”

Do go and see this movie. It’s a documentary about backup singers for acts like the Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, Sting. These women discuss their love for music, their fears and triumphs, their desire for careers of their own. It’s an interesting study of success– how we define it, what it means to “make it,” whether or not we let others determine our worth. And it’s also a movie about passion– passion for singing and music, indeed, but also passion for living and honoring that bit of wildness that exists inside all of us. That little animal we call talent that yearns and craves for something. Our gifts that need to be fed and cared for.

Advertisements

naked layers

My cousin Kyana and her collaborator Novel Idea have created “Naked Layers,” a film that explores the body and vulnerability and nudity and space, and it’s so remarkable. I emailed Kyana after watching it and told her how I was nodding and crying and laughing while watching. Everything she discovers and discusses have been on my mind at one point or another, and it’s art like this that makes me feel less alone in the world. I recognize myself and the world in what they’ve created.

You can learn and see more of the project here.

gregory crewdson: brief encounters

gregory-crewdson-amstaged_0305

I discovered Gregory Crewdson by accident. I was wandering the aisles of the Strand bookstore with twenty bucks to spend, and I picked Twilight off the shelf because Rick Moody (a favorite of mine) wrote the introduction. I lost hours looking through those photographs. Mostly shot on location in Pittsfield, MA, his photos portray seemingly ordinary people and places. But there’s always something something slightly disordinary, too. Open car doors, light shining from the basement, wandering wildlife– Crewdson locates and foregrounds the beauty and curiosities of suburban landscapes, and the effect is simultaneously calming and chilling.

I am fascinated by narratives of family and home, and particularly stories of domestic disturbance. Where are those moments of intrusion in our lives? What happens when there is a violation of a seemingly safe space? Crewdson photos offers some possibilities, but like most of the good stuff, his work poses more questions than it answers.

Gregory Crewdson: Brief Encounters is a documentary chronicling the ten years it took to complete “Beneath the Roses.” If the film comes to your city, do check it out! I was able to catch it during a week-long run in Los Angeles, and I can’t recommend it enough.

As a side note, I love everything about this picture. But the woman is definitely my favorite part. Her face, her hands, and the way the dirt brushes against her cellulite make it possible for me to look at this photo for hours.

i love peter friedman

pfriedman.jpg__960x480_q85_crop_upscale

I went to see Side Effects on Sunday and it was an entertaining two hours. One of the highlights? Peter Friedman. You know his face, you’ve seen him in a bunch of stuff, he’s one of those guys who’s kind of in everything (he played the neighbor, the one you just knew was gonna get some limbs chopped off by crazy Jennifer Jason Leigh in Single White Female), and I just think he’s really great.  He’s a New York actor (another thing I liked about Side Effects– so many New York theater actors onscreen), and I first saw him onstage a few years ago in After the Revolution at Playwrights Horizons.

He always seems to be living when he’s acting. He doesn’t feel like an actor man delivering lines, he feels like a fully realized human being going through an experience. He interrupts himself, he laughs, he scratches, he wants something from the other actors around him. When I watch him act, I say “Oh, I know that guy” or “Yup, I do that, too.” Sanford Meisner taught that acting is the ability to listen and respond, and I could watch Peter Friedman do it endlessly.

fantasy movie soundtrack

Foolish Heart, Steve Perry
Biggest Part of
Me, Ambrosia
How Long, Ace
Strange Magic, ELO
Strawberry Letter 23, Brothers Johnson
If You Could Read My Mind, Gordon Lightfoot
Wishing on a Star, Rose Royce
Do It Again, Steely Dan
Sailing, Christopher Cross
Lotta Love, Nicolette Larson
I Just Got To Be Free, Minnie Ripperton
The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down, The Band
Dancing in the Moonlight, King Harvest
The Darktown Strutter’s Ball, Alberta Hunter

I see New England, summer, late 1970’s. I see bicycles and wraparound porches with swings on white houses at the end of a street. I see the families that only come up for the summer, martinis, crossword puzzles, wood-paneled station wagons with cloth seats. I see bare feet and men in short shorts and ice cream and cousins visiting from out of town and embarrassing photos. I see dogs without collars. I see halter tops that tie above the belly button and beach umbrellas and a job at the restaurant on the pier, the restaurant that always smells like fried clams, even in winter, I see moms with too much time on their hands. I see girls with ideas, girls with agendas, girls lying in the sun eating fruit. I see fireworks. I see a family fight through a picture living room window. I see a motel room off Route 22, I see a gray morning. I see pastels, ginghams, ribbons. I see hair pulling, teeth gnashing, learning to smoke, learning to drive, kissing, I see sitting on the hoods of cars. I see one sibling teaching another how to dance, packages in the mail, I see being excited to get back home.

he’s just not that into you

l_1001508_dc6efc83[1]

I’m always of two minds when it comes to writing about things I don’t like. One the one hand I feel it can be useful to discuss why some things–both winners and turkeys– do or don’t appeal to you. On the other hand, I know how hard it is to create anything (hello four scripts that I’ve started and abandoned), so I hate the idea of spewing all over someone’s creative endeavor. But I just rewatched He’s Just Not That Into You (I know, I know), and it made me kind of angsty and itchy and irritable all over again. So I went back to something I had written on it years ago and I’m reposting here.

Disclaimers first! I love romantic comedies. I don’t think we women are fools for looking forward to the next Kate Hudson romp. I’m not allergic to stories about wealthy-looking people with nice teeth searching for love in a semi-fetching way that involves a luxury apartment, drinks after work, and a third act misunderstanding that threatens the stability of the entire relationship until our protagonist realizes his or her foibles, the hijinks subdue, love can roam free, happiness for everyone (I don’t care what anyone says– Just Go For It with Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston was funny, they had chemistry, and it gave me hope for the longevity of the genre). But movies like He’s Just Not That Into You help me understand why some people say women are stupid. Continue reading