Thursday, January 27, 2005

Sweeney Todd: The Movie

My favorite musical of all time, Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, is (supposedly) being made into a movie directed by the immensely talented Sam Mendes. Though as of yet no other details have been released, the real test of the film will lie in the casting. Should they cast actors who can sing or vice versa? Should they try and please the fan base of the original show or attempt a broader appeal with big names? I have come up with a few of my own ideas, though I don’t know if all of the actors listed below can sing. Some of my favorites are starred.

Mrs Lovett:
Juliet Stevenson
Brenda Blethyn
Emma Thompson*

Sweeney Todd:
Victor Garber
Terence Stamp

Emmy Rossum
Anne Hathaway

Ewan MacGregor*
Orlando Bloom
Ioan Gruffud

Michael Gambon
Ian McKellen
Christopher Lee

Bob Hoskins
Timothy Spall

Jim Broadbent
Richard Roxburgh

Robert Graves' The Naked and the Nude

From My Favorite Poems Collection

The Naked and the Nude
by Robert Graves

For me, the naked and the nude
(By lexicographers construed
As synonyms that should express
The same deficiency of dress
Or shelter) stand as wide apart
As love from lies, or truth from art.

Lovers without reproach will gaze
On bodies naked and ablaze;
The Hippocratic eye will see
In nakedness, anatomy;
And naked shines the Goddess when
She mounts her lion among men.

The nude are bold, the nude are sly
To hold each treasonable eye.
While draping by a showman's trick
Their dishabille in rhetoric,
They grin a mock-religious grin
Of scorn at those of naked skin.

The naked, therefore, who compete
Against the nude may know defeat;
Yet when they both together tread
The briary pastures of the dead,
By Gorgons with long whips pursued,
How naked go the sometime nude!

Check Out: Tom Otterness

I am a great believer in the importance of public art. One of my favorite artists in this genre is Tom Otterness whose whimsical sculptures can be found around the world, but mostly in New York City.

Subway Alligator

Saturday, January 22, 2005

An Outrage

In Response to the Proposed Bobby Knight sitcom

When the following story came out in the summer of 2004, I was in disbelief. What surprised me even more was that there was no response from the public or from reporters about why such a show is a very bad idea. I am deeply concerned that Paramount and CBS are developing a sitcom based on the life of Bobby Knight. I believe that this action is irresponsible and inappropriate. Bobby Knight is surely not an appropriate subject for a sitcom, or any medium that would glorify or excuse his repeated behavior, yet the story below only refers to Knight as "fiery". Perhaps more appropriate terms would be "abusive" and "misogynistic". I am interested to know how one would justify hiring such a man. Hopefully, those involved will reconsider providing Mr. Knight with a forum for his invectives and small-mindedness. He spreads contention and hatred wherever he goes and I do not want to see that brought to my television screen. My feelings are illustrated well by the second story below.

TV viewers soon might see Knight's life with laugh track

From wire reports

The life and times of Bob Knight could soon be inside America's living rooms.

By Orlin Wagner, AP

The fiery Texas Tech basketball coach met with television officials last month in Los Angeles and gave his approval for a sitcom deal. CBS and Paramount Television are exploring the development of a half-hour comedy that could run by next year.

Knight, 63, would serve as a consultant and said he might make guest appearances. "Right now it's still in an embryonic stage," Lindy DeKoven, who would serve as the show's executive producer, told the Lubbock (Texas) Avalanche-Journal for Tuesday's editions.

"Right now we don't have a writer yet, so we can't get into too much detail. But it would be a half-hour comedy based on Bobby's character."

Knight was out of town Tuesday and couldn't be reached for comment.

The next step is for a writer to go to Lubbock and spend time getting to know Knight at work and at home.

When the script is written, DeKoven will take it to CBS, which will decide whether to make a pilot.

John Wentworth, executive vice president of marketing and media for Paramount Television, said the show would possibly be ready to run in September 2005.

Bobby Knight - How Contrite - Good Night!

What do Knight, Spreewell, Tyson, Davis, Ditka and the recent U.S. Olympic (Pro) Hockey Team, to name just a few, have in common. They are all out-of-control and want us to accept that that's just the way it is. Too harsh? I think not. On Mother's Day, when many metro newspapers were doing page 5 and page 9 stories on "Violence in Youth Sports Spreading", "Foul Play in Youth Sports", and "Violence in Sports Spreading in Youth Ranks," in addition to all the stories on the Million Mom March, our white-haired darling Bobby Boy got Front Sports Page mention in all of these metro papers and then some. You can't pay PR firms to get this kind of coverage, so could it be the alumni association flexing their muscle or sports writers coming to his defense (James Prichard of the AP was the BK positive author of most of them)? I wonder. Here's a man who is reported to have grabbed former player Neil Reed by the throat, attacked a former assistant last November, attacked an SID, throwing a vase at a wall when he couldn't get his way with an IU secretary, firing a starter's pistol at a reporter, shooting a friend in a hunting incident and hot reporting it, throwing an LSU fan in a dumpster, fighting in a parking lot with a diner who took exception to a too-loud racial characterization by Knight, hitting a Puerto Rican policeman during the Pan Am Games, kicking his own son during a game, and spending a lifetime in smelly gyms bullying other people's children. A man who once said "If rape is inevitable, relax and enjoy it." Who put a tampon in a player's locker to motivate him. The record seems to stand on its own. Men end up in prison for less than what he's done, though he did get 6 months for the Puerto Rico incidence, which has yet to be served. I guess it doesn't matter if you're in Indiana and you win basketball games, though let the record also show he hasn't won a national championship in 13 years.

In his 330 word statement he said he was "trying" to control his emotions. Emotions are okay, in fact encouraged. He needs to understand the difference between emotions and control his otherwise out-of-control behavior. He said he needed to be more diplomatic. What he needs is 26-52 weeks in an alternatives to violence program. And, he needs to stop "trying" to do it and "Do it". Coaches strangling players. Players strangling coaches. Maybe we should just turn off the TV and wait until these athletes can get it together, if they want to, and then see if we can enjoy sharing a basketball with our kids again, sans Bobby Knight.

The Nature of Love

Crimes and Misdemeanors and the nature of love

The following quote is from Woody Allen’s fascinating film Crimes and Misdemeanors. It is one of the most interesting, and perhaps apt, theories on the nature of love that I have ever heard. The character who makes this striking comment is a (fictional) philosopher, Prof. Louis Levy, about whom Woody Allen’s character, Cliff Stern, is making a documentary.

“You will notice that what we are aiming at when we fall in love is a very strange paradox. The paradox consists of the fact that when we fall in love we are seeking to re-find all or some of the people to whom we were attached as children. On the other hand we ask of our beloved to correct all of the wrongs that these early parents or siblings inflicted on us. So that love contains in it a contradiction, the attempt to return to the past and the attempt to undo the past.”

Sylvia Plath's Blackberrying

From My Favorite Poems Collection

by Sylvia Plath

Nobody in the lane, and nothing, nothing but blackberries,
Blackberries on either side, though on the right mainly,
A blackberry alley, going down in hooks, and a sea
Somewhere at the end of it, heaving. Blackberries
Big as the ball of my thumb, and dumb as eyes
Ebon in the hedges, fat
With blue-red juices. These they squander on my fingers.
I had not asked for such a blood sisterhood; they must love me.
They accommodate themselves to my milkbottle, flattening their sides.

Overhead go the choughs in black, cacophonous flocks --
Bits of burnt paper wheeling in a blown sky.
Theirs is the only voice, protesting, protesting.
I do not think the sea will appear at all.
The high, green meadows are glowing, as if lit from within.
I come to one bush of berries so ripe it is a bush of flies,
Hanging their bluegreen bellies and their wing panes in a Chinese screen.
The honey-feast of the berries has stunned them; they believe in heaven.
One more hook, and the berries and bushes end.

The only thing to come now is the sea.
From between two hills a sudden wind funnels at me,
Slapping its phantom laundry in my face.
These hills are too green and sweet to have tasted salt.
I follow the sheep path between them. A last hook brings me
To the hills' northern face, and the face is orange rock
That looks out on nothing, nothing but a great space
Of white and pewter lights, and a din like silversmiths
Beating and beating at an intractable metal.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

The Station Agent

It is extremely rare to find contemporary films that successfully portray stories of mixed-gender friendships. So often, filmmakers fall into the romance trap set up by audience expectations. However, a story of friendship, without sex, can be so much more fulfilling. In 2003’s The Station Agent, three very different people; Joe, Fin and Olivia, are brought together in the random way that life often brings people together. Over time and with the tenacity of Bobby Cannavale’s loveable Joe, the fragile groundwork of their relationship becomes strong and lasting. Peter Dinklage’s performance as Fin is the standout (also one of the best of 2003), in a flawless central cast, including Patricia Clarkson as Olivia, a grieving mother. This is a must-see film. It is moving, sweet and funny, and never loses its deeper sense of truth.

New TV Shows 2004/2005

Best New Shows

Veronica Mars (UPN): This is a fun show about a high school girl/private detective. The show is not cheesy and is aided by an excellent supporting cast. The individual episodes are tied together with the thread of mystery surrounding the murder of Veronica’s best friend. Please don’t let this show become another Buffy, struggling to find an audience despite stellar reviews. Tune in now!

Lost (ABC): High-concept shows are often stymied quickly by obvious limitations, so only time will tell if the creative minds behind Lost will be able to keep up the pace they have set for themselves. Intelligently, they have left their options wide open by maintaining the mystery of the Lost island and by developing characters with complexities and pasts yet to be fully explored. The strong, diverse casting should help maintain the high quality of the show.

Desperate Housewives (ABC): I was wary of this show before it premiered because I have never been a fan of the nighttime soaps (a la Melrose Place). However, Desperate Housewives has proved to be a delightful mix of comedy, drama and mystery. The characters are fun and intriguing. I am sure that most women will pick one “housewife” with whose personality they most relate, an effective strategy to draw a broad audience. The thing about the show that I like the most? Many of the episodes have been named for Stephen Sondheim songs, a sure sign of the creators’ brilliance.

Honorable Mentions: Nanny 911 (FOX), CSI: NY (CBS), Murder in Suburbia (BBC America)

I would like to see (but can’t because of scheduling): House (FOX), Committed (NBC), Boston Legal (ABC), life as we know it (ABC)

Looking Forward To: Numb3rs (CBS), Jonny Zero (FOX), Point Pleasant (FOX)