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Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Impact of No Impact Man; Nein on 'Mein'; Swedish Hip-Hop, Who Knew?; Not the 'Real' Pinter (Pause); and Calvin Hill Talks about '29-29'

I've been trying to think of a way to connect The Baader-Meinhof Complex - nominated for a Foreign Film academy award last year - and No Impact Man - which may just be nominated for a documentary award this year.  I saw them on the same day: German terrorism and New Yorkers giving up Whole Foods and Bloomingdales (okay, and subways, elevators and electricity, among other things).  I could give you some fancy edict about the power of the human spirit to overcome, but I won't.  Simply put, go see No Impact Man and go read about the real Baader-Meinhof episode in German history on Wikipedia.  The movie is certainly well-done, but do we need to see the faces behind terrorism.
The faces behind No Impact one are mostly confused ones.  The fun of the story comes in large part from the wife, who is told by her husband on a daily basis what new thing they are giving up - meat, makeup, tv, etc.  It's an interesting study into what we can live with and without.  Their litle girl seems to love everything and why not - candlelight, games and constant adventure.  We saw the free preview at Campus Progress on H Street, NW.  It's a good place to get on the mailing list.

Swedish hip-hop artist Adam Tensta took over the The House of Sweden rooftop last night, and thank goodness for the solid boardwalk because the place was literally jumping!  "Do I look like I sell drugs?" was my favorite chorus.  Check out their Web site and get on their mail list. Throughout the fall and winter they'll concerts, exhibits, receptions and forums that are always fun to attend. It looks like Saturday night Oct. 24 is their next big party - Eurovision Night After Dark.  Stay tuned for details.

The Homecoming, The Birthday Party, No Man's Land, Betrayal, Celebration.  What do these plays have in common?  They all could have been wonderful choices by the usually-awesome Studio Theater for a play to celebrate the life of Harold Pinter, who died earlier this year. (Pause.)  But they chose Moonlight, a rarely done (for good reason), kind-of poetic, un-dramatic, senseless play that Pinter wrote in 1993.  Skip it and instead rent French Lieutenant's Woman (his screenplay for the great John Fowles book), The Comfort of Strangers (from an early Ian McEwen novel), The Handmaid's Tale (starring the luminous and tragically late Natasha Richardson), The Go-Between and Accident. Studio will bounce back.

I've previously highly recommended the 2008 documentary Harvard Beats Yale 29-29. It's the story of a classic football game in 1969, but it's so much more.  It airs the poignant stories of a generation of intelligent and thoughtful and sometimes controversial group of men, 40 years after one of the seminal events of their lives.  Meryl Streep shows up as a past girlfriend, secrets of Doonesbury are revealed, and Tommy Lee Jones offers his recollections as a player for Harvard.  I always had one big question: why wasn't Calvin Hill in the movie?  Hill was the star of undefeated, nationally ranked Yale, one of the Ivy League's greatest football players ever, who went on to a celebrated career with the Cowboys (and later the Redskins).  I ran into Mr. Hill Friday night at the Parish Gallery opening in Georgetown. (Go see this show if you can; it's sponsored by the DC Chapter of the National Conference of Artists.)  Anyway, Hill was incredibly nice as always, but hardly let me even finish the question.  "I had talked about that game so much in my life," he said. "I just didn't want to go there again." He acknowledged the trauma of the Yale team, thus leading to the possibly confusing title.  Though both teams were undefeated at the time, Yale was a huge favorite and leading 29-13 with just a couple minutes to go. "It was two days later that I realized that we did not lose the game," he admitted. "It just felt so much like we lost."  Reading between the lines, it appears that if Hill knew of the high quality of the film, he would have talked.  It's a shame. As eloquent and introspective as he is, it would have added even more to this incredible film.  One of the keys to the game was that Yale knocked out Harvard's ineffective starting quarterback, bringing on the unknown backup Frank Champi. "I was the only one who knew Champi," Hill said. "We were together on a Harvard-Yale track team that went to London. I knew he was a good athlete."  Interestingly, Hill said that he spoke to a Yale team this past Thursday, as they prepared to play Georgetown.  "I told them, 'Whatever you do, don't let them tie you, 29-29.' "

All right, come back later for a schedule of events.  I'm working on a permanent calendar that will be easy to access.  See you at the big Politics and Prose party later today!

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