Jerome Robbins in your living room 3

Dance · Film
The buzz on the PBS American Masters documentary about our brilliant American choreographer Jerome Robbins is very positive. I’m looking forward to it so much. Air time: Wednesday evening, February 18 @ 9 pm. Apropos Robbins, while in Paris in 2002, I encountered, totally by accident, a dance-film festival taking place in the downstairs screening room ...

Jewish prince of Hollywood 1

Film
What can I, a mere mortal, possibly add to the legend of Irving Thalberg, Hollywood’s “boy wonder” producer who helped transform American movie making from a haphazard endeavor into a real industry; indeed a mass-market, fantasy production line. Starting as a secretary to “Uncle” Carl Laemmle at the tender age of 20, Thalberg earned stripes at Universal by bossing ...

Hungarian goulash in Los Angeles 1

Film · Music
We enjoyed an impromptu Hungarian arts festival in Los Angeles over the past month. First was a Disney Hall recital by Hungarian pianist Andras Schiff known for his Bach interpretation, but lately he is performing all the 32 Beethoven piano sonatas. Schiff is a sublime artist — except when he is glowering at the audience for coughing or rustling programs, ...

Quatorze juillet – California edition 1

Film
We passed the la fete nationale, Bastille Day, as follows:  We attended a great LACMA double-bill featuring the suave, yet underrated, French film actor, Charles Boyer. C’etait vendredi, that was Friday. We then flew to San Francisco on Sunday and enjoyed a cafe creme and pain au chocolat at Cafe de la Presse. Vive la France.

Girl Power 2

Dance · Film
The home-run event of the summer was Howard Hawks’s comic masterpiece, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953), projected on the humongous screen of the vintage Los Angeles Theater (1931) on Broadway in downtown L.A. Viewed as oversized fleshy Amazons whose umpteen parts miraculously move together, MM and Jane Russell cruise through this nutty film, singing, dancing, and ...

Debra Winger asks, “Do you know what a meme is?” 1

Film · Language & ideas
I went to see Debra Winger give a book talk (she wrote one) at the Los Angeles Central Library Wednesday night. I’ve always liked Debra Winger’s performances, especially in three films: Shadowlands, The Sheltering Sky, and Terms of Endearment.  Image above is from Bernardo Bertolucci’s sumptuously cinematographic “Sheltering Sky.” In the book talk, Debra Winger described how much she ...

Bette Davis turns 100 years old 4

Film
To celebrate the occasion, we attended a LACMA double-bill of two of Davis’s late-career outings (post-All About Eve and pre-Baby Jane). We watched in morbid fascination the divine Ms. D chomp both the scenery and her hunky co-star, Sterling Hayden, in The Star. Davis plays a washed-up movie celeb who tries, fails, and ultimately succeeds ...