With a glint in her eye and and an inviting tone in her voice, a woman next to me as we exited Marina Abramovic's latest outing at Sean Kelly Gallery asked, "Was it you who just felt me up? It was so nice." I looked at her, and then at her chest. We locked eyes. For an instant, I wanted to say "Yes, I will yes." Then — remembering that my vibe has never produced these sorts of encounters — I said, "I wish it'd been me, but it wasn't." And just like that, I snapped back from a dreamy life that never was to what I'd been thinking the instant before. Which was that the piece had been mumbo-jumbo, nothing more.
As of today, Joan Didion can cross “crowd-funding” off her bucket list. The laconic 79-year-old essayist — who vivisected the '60s, became half of a Hollywood power couple, and more recently wrote two best-sellers about losing her husband and daughter suddenly — will be the subject of a documentary titled (aptly, if unoriginally) We Tell Ourselves Stories in Order to Live. Her nephew, the actor Griffin Dunne, who will co-direct it with documentary veteran Susanne Rostock, put the project up on Kickstarter yesterday. It reached its goal of $80,000 at 10:30, roughly 24 hours later.
New York's Jerry Saltz has called the MoMA's "Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs" a can't-miss event filled with "visual thunder, physical profundity, and oceanic joy." Here, we asked a few aspiring after-school critics what they thought about the exhibition.
It’s a good thing that the playwright Ayad Akhtar is Muslim, because if any non-Muslim wrote Disgraced — and you could almost imagine someone like Bruce Norris wanting to — the response from both left and right would be furious. As it is, the intense 80-minute drama, which seems to ask whether there is something inherent in Islam that predisposes believers to violence, incites furious responses anyway; at the preview I attended, a member of the audience, echoing one character’s description of the Muslim protagonist, shouted, “He is a fucking animal!” But even the non-shouters looked pretty stunned by the play’s brutal climax. I was, too, despite having seen it before, in a much more intimate staging produced by Lincoln Center Theater at the Claire Tow in 2012. This bigger, more glamorous Broadway version exposes more faults and infelicities, but also strips away one’s liberal pieties more effectively. Perhaps Disgraced won the 2013 Pulitzer Prize not so much for drama as for bravery.
Come for the beanstalk, stay for Meryl Streep singing. Finally! What we've all been waiting for: a bit of Meryl singing "Stay With Me," the emotional mother-daugther ballad from Into the Woods. If you're a fan of Mamma Mia! (the movie), it's a wonderful return to form. The singing starts at 2:30.
There’s a moment three-quarters of the way through the first act of The Fortress of Solitude, a new musical based on the Jonathan Lethem novel, when all of the show’s developing threads combine and resolve in a marvelous sequence called “Take Me to the Bridge.” By this point we have met the major characters, especially Dylan Ebdus, a white boy living in what is now upscale Boerum Hill, Brooklyn, but was then, in 1975, just ramshackle Gowanus. His mother having abandoned him to find herself in California, Dylan exists in a kind of frozen sadness with his withdrawn father, an unsuccessful painter, and in a kind of terrified awe of his neighbors, most of whom are black and much cooler than he.
Now that Mad Men has wrapped filming the second half of its final season, Vincent Kartheiser has time for pursuits that allow him to keep his natural hairline. Starting this week, he'll swap Pete Campbell's deliciously Waspy accent for an Austrian one: He's playing Billy Wilder in the new Billy & Ray — about the director's time making the noir classic Double Indemnity with Raymond Chandler — Off Broadway at the Vineyard Theater (Garry Marshall directs). Kartheiser spoke to Vulture about his leotard-wearing, theater-kid past and the end of the road for Pete Campbell. (You can listen to a portion of the interview over at The Frame, Southern California Public Radio's new arts and entertainment show.)
Plays about writing are bores or lies or both. The drama of the process, entirely internal and largely concerned with semicolons, can’t be staged, so a different drama has to be manufactured. Usually this involves clichéd obstacles and a sort of deus ex typewriter for the climax, justifying yet somehow invalidating everything that came before. You could argue that the vicissitudes of writing movies instead of prose — the collaborators, the studios, the test audiences, the Hays Office — offer a dramatist many ways around the problem, which is why there’s a mini-genre of comedies about screenplays. Indeed, those things did help Ron Hutchinson’s Moonlight and Magnolias, which in 2004 hitched a ride on the back of Gone With the Wind, telling the story of its emergency plot transplant at the hands of David O. Selznick, Victor Fleming, and Ben Hecht. The resultant play wasn’t awful; for that we had to wait until Billy & Ray, the new supposed comedy at the Vineyard about the writing of the 1944 classic Double Indemnity. All the same tools produce a unique mess, and the best thing I can say for it is that it should make a good deterrent.
There's an apocryphal story in Game of Thrones fandom that goes like this: Around 1997, author George R.R. Martin saw Joel Schumacher's Batman & Robin, and, like many other people, hated it. Martin's ire was particularly drawn to George Clooney's infamous bat-nipples, and he began looking for a way to get literary revenge. Whether or not the story is true, this much is fact: Starting with 1998's A Clash of Kings, the author introduced a new phrase to the Westerosi lexicon: "as useless as nipples on a breastplate." So far in the "Song of Ice and Fire" series, Martin has used the expression to describe everything from dragonglass knives to Grand Maester Pycelle. It's clear: Despite how much GRRM loves nipples in other contexts, he really does not like them on breastplates.
As you may have heard, that gum you like is going to come back in style (read: Twin Peaks is returning to TV). And to prepare fans for the return of the cult hit 25 years after it first debuted, David Lynch's co-creator, Mark Frost, plans to release a novel titled The Secret Lives of Twin Peaks to catch us up on what has happened to the characters since we last saw them. "This has long been a dream project of mine that will bring a whole other aspect of the world of Twin Peaks to life, for old fans and new,” Frost said. “I couldn’t be more thrilled.”
Basil Twist has been famous for stretching the boundaries of puppetry at least since his 1998 water-tank ballet of Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique. For Twist, the aim of the boundary-stretching seems at first to be abstraction; Symphonie’s leading roles were played by feathers, glitter, dyes, and bubbles. Likewise, in The Rite of Spring, a stunning three-part program set to Stravinsky, there are no goofy-faced sock people or mouthy marionettes. In the curtain-raiser, the four-minute Feu d’artifice (Fireworks), a large Futurist painting comes to life, with twirling disks and pyramidal prisms that unfold and shut like mouths or books. No characters, no tale.
Undeterred by the failure of Animal Practice, NBC is banking once more on the American public's obvious love for adorable animals, giving a put pilot commitment to a TV adaptation of Marley & Me. Or, seeing as the network also ordered another IT Crowd remake, maybe it's just getting in on the ground floor of the sure-to-be forthcoming wave of mid-2000s nostalgia. Both versions of Marley & Me have ended with the death of the eponymous dog, and it's unclear what the story's move to a serialized medium like television means for the beloved pet's longevity. Will Marley die in May sweeps every year, only to return each September as if nothing had changed — or, as in Lost, will the show postpone Marley's fatal case of gastric dilatation volvulus until the show receives a concrete end date? Either way, John Grogan keeps getting those checks.
Michael Chabon says there is still a chance his Hobgoblin project may come to fruition as a television show. “Not by FX, but I hope so,” he told Vulture at the New Yorker Festival party on Saturday. “It’s not entirely a dead parrot,” the author said of the story set in the Nazi era. “We’ll see. It’s almost dead,” he added. There is no action at all on the long-rumored television adaptation of his novel Kavalier & Clay. “I would like to report there was, but no, that one’s still very much dead, as far as I know,” Chabon said. “TV seemed like it was going to be this wonderful new opportunity,” he mused. “So far, it hasn’t been that yet.”
On the Town is a heartbreakingly youthful work: both about youth and by youth. Watching its three sailors pursue a lifetime of adventure while on 24-hour shore leave in New York, New York, you can’t help sensing the shadows of the three giddy pals who knocked the show together in 1944. The whole project took just six months from idea to opening. How, in that time, did Betty Comden and Adolph Green manage to fashion a feasible Broadway libretto from the ballet Fancy Free, which had premiered (with music by Leonard Bernstein and choreography by Jerome Robbins) just that spring? How did Bernstein manage, between conducting gigs, to provide the entirely new score he insisted upon? These are the kinds of challenges only fledglings take on; at opening night that December, Green was barely 30, Comden and Bernstein (and Robbins) not even. Who could imagine that their freshman lark would prove so enduring? And yet here it is, 70 years later, in its third Broadway revival, as big and breakneck and beautiful as ever.
Gamergate has not been a happy episode for anyone. The controversy encapsulated in the #Gamergate hashtag, which some of its proponents are claiming is about corruption in gaming journalism but that is really primarily about misogyny and harassment (Gawker’s rundown helps explain, as does Jennifer Vineyard’s piece in Vulture), has featured vile rhetoric, frequent doxxing of women involved in the gaming world, and death threats that have led to some of those same women being driven from their home and canceling speaking engagements.
Like so many once-goth teens who grew up in the 1990s, I am a huge Anne Rice fan. Although the last Rice novel that I read was 1998’s The Vampire Armand, I read and reread, often several times, everything she had written before that. Almost all of those books I would heartily give five stars. Since then, though I’ve lost contact with her novels, I have kept up with a lot of her other work, checking in every so often on her website, AnneRice.com.
You can put away your fake third boob, because John Grisham just found an even better way to guarantee that your name will appear in headlines around the world for all the wrong reasons. The best-selling author, who has a new novel coming out next week, told The Telegraph that the U.S. justice system treats people who look at child pornography too harshly. "We have prisons now filled with guys my age. Sixty-year-old white men in prison who've never harmed anybody, would never touch a child," he said. "But they got online one night and started surfing around, probably had too much to drink or whatever, and pushed the wrong buttons, went too far and got into child porn."
Slackers don’t usually get very far in musicals. From Oklahoma! to Gypsy and beyond, American-style can-do-ism is built into the form; it’s hard to mumble a showstopper. And yet here is Found, the touching and clever new musical at the Atlantic, about a bunch of 20-somethings with nearly flatline ambitions. You would think that its authors — Eli Bolin (music and lyrics) and Hunter Bell and Lee Overtree (book) — would have found it nearly impossible to scale theatrical songs to such characters. But when Davy, their protagonist, gets fired first thing from his barely-a-job writing listings for a Chicago alt-weekly and the scope of his world shrinks to the diameter of a joint, they find the perfect expression of his downsize dreams in an "I Want" song called “Weird Day.” “I want do something that I love,” he sings, “and do it with people that I love.” Found is the American musical’s first emotionally satisfying case for thinking small — and perhaps therefore the first emotionally satisfying musical for the post-bust generation.
The 20 books on the short list for the 2014 National Book Awards were just announced. Just as in the other NBA, they can't all be champions: The winners in each category will be announced November 19.