Dame Helen rules, in new HBO drama “Catherine the Great”

Film
The face that launched a thousand ships. Good old Helen! Wait, wait … that was Helen of Troy. Our Helen, Dame Helen Mirren, equally regal as squired by her husband, the director Taylor Hackford, looked simply spectacular in an ensemble custom-designed by Badgely Mischka for a launch party for her new miniseries, “Catherine the Great.” ...

Jazz gladiator Joshua Redman brings it to Royce Hall

Music
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Ever since he came to national attention at the beginning of the 1990s, tenor saxophonist Joshua Redman has defied the narrative of the wunderkind who bears prodigious talent, then declines. He’s taken on ambitious formats, often in the company of seasoned jazz gladiators, and Redman has more than held his mud. In the face of ...

‘Refugee’ short film depicts Syrian calamity thru intimate saga

Film
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At a time when Syria is sadly once again at the top of the news, a short film that hopes to compete in this year’s Oscar race takes on added poignancy and relevance. Refugee is an exceptionally well made offering that highlights the plight of the thousands who fled Syria during the earlier humanitarian crisis. ...

Talking Ben Hecht

Film · Language & ideas · Reviews
One of the greatest American screenwriters, Ben Hecht was a renaissance man of dazzling sorts—reporter, novelist, playwright, crusader for the imperiled Jews of Hitler’s Europe, and propagandist for pre-1948 Palestine’s Jewish terrorist underground. He was also a balletomane and auteur (wrote, produced and directed) the ballet-noir, Specter of the Rose (1946). Whatever the outrage he ...

REVIEW: Twyla’s back and Herman’s got her, in ABT’s ‘A Gathering of Ghosts’

Dance · Reviews
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Aran Bell, Calvin Royal III and Catherine Hurlin in Twyla Tharp’s A Gathering of Ghosts. Photo: Rosalie O’Connor. Twyla Tharp is back working with American Ballet Theatre. So for at least one evening — Wednesday’s much-anticipated premiere of her new ballet at the David Koch Theater — all seemed right with the world. Her prior ...

Straight outta Ukraine: authentic klezmer music in documentary film

Music
Leopold Kozlowski, subject of ‘The Last Klezmer’ You want Ukraine? We’ll give you Ukraine! But the good stuff, music, not the gnarly political-football stuff. A documentary, The Last Klezmer, that celebrates the infectious Jewish soul music, written and directed by artsmeme friend Yale Strom, is having a 25th anniversary screening at Laemmle Ahyra Fine Arts ...

Space is the place, Americans

Film
natalie in the sky with diamonds Is Donald Trump president of outer space? No? Well, then, I’d like to go there immediately. Thanks to Hollywood, we have a few options. I enjoyed the new Natalie Portman movie, Lucy in the Sky, about a female astronaut who in observing that “space is so big and we ...

Written woman-to-woman: Hedda to Hepburn

Film · Language & ideas
Citing her “gaity,” “gallantry,” and, oddly enough, her “gentlemanly way of expressing” herself, this fan mail from columnist Hedda Hopper to actress Katharine Hepburn is part of a treasure trove, a just-published compendium of personal communiques from-and-to the film industry … Letters from Hollywood: Inside the Private World of Classic American Moviemaking. Basically, Hopper, consciously ...

Our good luck! 13 years of ‘German Currents’

Film
What is the German word for cinephile? “Cinephile”! Germany has its own illustrious film culture and history, with a lineage of giants bearing names like F.W. Mureau, Fritz Lang, Ernst Lubitsch, Max Ophuls in the realm of classic cinema. Subsequent key names include Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, Volker Schlöndorff, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Werner Herzog, Tom ...

Merce’s marvelous movie

Dance · Film
Seen yesterday in Cunningham, the new Merce Cunningham documentary shot in 3-D by writer/director Alla Kovgan: imagery and brief excepts from “Summerspace,” the choreographer’s legendary ‘no-center’ ballet dating from 1958 and performed in Robert Rauschenberg’s pointillist costumes/decor to music by Morton Feldman. The film, which may bring the rarefied artist his most widespread exposure with ...