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 ...

REVIEW: BODYTRAFFIC’s Wallis residency opens strongly

Dance · Reviews
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BODYTRAFFIC performs (d)elusive minds by Fernando Hernando Magadan (l-r) Guzmán Rosado, Tina Finkelman Berkett. Photo by Don Lee. Some dance performances give us gorgeous bodies, abstract movement and music we can hum: an escape from politics, madness and murder. Others use dancers for polemics and not much else; these may be worthy, but hard to watch. On Friday, ...

Tango Revolution: Quinteto Astor Piazzolla at The Soraya

Music
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Ed note: This story by Kirk Silsbee was originally written for The Younes & Soraya Nazarian Performing Arts Center and is reprinted on artsmeme with permission. When Astor Piazzolla, Argentina’s paramount composer and bandoneon player, introduced his revolutionary quintet of the 1960s, tango adherents didn’t embrace his innovation. Fistfights, even death threats, were not uncommon. ...

‘Judy was not nasal,’ says vocal coach Bob Garrett

Film · Music
Does Zellweger, at right, convey Garland’s physical stance to your eye? Garland kept her body taut to channel her breath. Also, note the shape of Renee’s mouth. Drop that jaw, sister! Viewing the big new biopic, JUDY, which opens tomorrow in cinemas, I did not feel that Renee Zellweger caught the great Garland’s essence particularly ...