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Monday, November 16, 2009

'Angels' and 'Streetcar' Put Great Words on Display; Binoche Stars in Disengagement

I remembered that Angels in America was poignant and startling, but I didn't remember how funny it was and how it pays tribute to other artists. If you have not seen this yet, and really enjoy theater, you should try to go. It plays through the end of the month at Forum Theatre's new home in the Round House Theater in Silver Spring, next to AFI. I saw Part 1 - Millennium on Sunday and can't wait to see Part 2 - Perestroika next weekend. Louis has a speech at the beginning of Act 3 that is just amazing. It's a one-way conversation with his black friend about everything he is not and all his thoughts and phobias. Brilliant writing. The other scene that I was dazzled by spotlighted two conversations on stage going on across each other. At first, they alternate, so you can hear everything. Tom Stoppard did this to amazing effect in the last scene of Arcadia. But then Kushner amazingly takes it further, so the conversations are going on at the same time. You kind of have to pick one to listen to, but the greater point seems to be the sound of the language, It becomes melodic.

Seeing A Streetcar Named Desire the night before, I am in awe of these two playwrights: Tennessee Willliams and Tony Kushner. The play is the thing in this production of Streetcar. The sets are simple, no one is doing anything that is not in the text. And yet it is a mind-blowing experience. Cate Blanchett can be so strong-minded one moment and so delicate the next.  She appears to be so confident in her demeanor and appearance that she doesn't have to overplay her hand. She can instead concentrate on forming one of the great characters in modern theater, from the first moment we see her dressed in her best to the last moments being taken away by doctors. "I have always relied on the kindness of strangers."  Wow! It's such a shame more people can't see this.

The very successful monthly French Film Club at the Avalon Theater returns this Wednesday with Disengagement, a new film by the Israeli director Amos Gitai, starring Juliet Binoche. Variety wrote: "Amos Gitai's English-language "Disengagement," about the eviction of Israeli settlers from Gaza, looks to be the helmer's strongest entry since "Kippur." Featuring a virtuoso, disquietingly fey performance by Juliette Binoche and a compelling straight-arrow turn by Israeli heartthrob (and Gitai regular) Liron Levo, magisterial pic shifts foreground and background as it focuses on both mass displacement and its impact on a family." I've seen Gitai's films at the Jewish Film Festival and they're always interesting. Come join a group from Bike and Brunch at Wednesday's showing. We'll meet at 7pm in the coffehouse there.


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