First, the good. The National Archives continues to show the Oscar-nominated documentaries tonight through Sunday. The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers plays Thursday (there's a Meetup group going if you want to join), Friday is The Cove which I reviewed here a few months ago:
"It is a powerful documentary about the slaughtering of dolphins in an incredibly beautiful area of Japan (talk about a juxtaposition). The star of the film is Ric O'Barry, the guy from the old television series Flipper. Apparently, have dolphins to save and O'Barry will be there, even at whatever age he must be now (70+?). The movie unfolds like an undercover spy operation as a team of do-gooders must infiltrate this well-guarded cove to get the footage they need to expose the bad guys. I was engaged but not enthralled; it just didn't have the payoff that say the Enron movie did a couple years ago. But at some point (hopefully between meals), you should see it."
Saturday comes Burma VJ and Sunday Which Way Home, two docs I know less about.
Kudos to Theater J for putting on a hilarious reading of The Odd Couple last week with Floyd King and Rick Foucheux (and others including Arena's Delaney Williams). What would we give to have a full-out version of the still-funny play with those two wonderful actors? I'll ask Theater J head Ari Roth next time I see him.
NEXT, THE BAD. There seems to be a growing trend for what you think would be community-building events to lower the lights and raise the techno-music. One big example was the ill-fated Pecha Kucha at the Austrian Embassy a couple weeks ago. They took $20 from you, showed self-serving presentations of Haiti, and then lowered the lights and raised the volume so that you could not see or talk to anyone! It's my understanding that part of Pecha Kucha's mission is to highlight emerging artists, designers and architects (who give short presentations) and then encourage the crowd to talk with and about them after. When I raised the issue with the beautiful sister organizers Rouzita and Bita Vahhabaghai, one of them laughed at me. I guess I'm not pretty enough.
This week I attended a premiere for the new South Korean movie Mother at the new W Hotel, site of the old Hotel Washington. I am glad to report that the rooftop remains one of Washington's nicest spots, especially once the weather warms up. Also, the young staff at the hotel was incredibly nice, courteous and respectful (including very sweet elevator operators). The problem was that the event organizers lowered the lights so that you couldn't see anyone. We left for the film - and settled in for a dark, depressing film by an obviously talented director. But coming after seeing Oscar Best Foreign Language Film nominees Ajami, Milk of Sorrow and White Ribbon, myself and my friends Cinthia and Abe walked out in a daze, hardly saying a word. We agreed that we definitely need to see an uplifting film.
I love the Studio Theater and the people who work there but their season this year has been abysmal. We saw That Face on Sunday and just didn't buy the premise. The acting was fine enough, but the plot of a Mom and a son in the same bed, a torturer daughter and her friend, a torturing vixen, didn't resonate. I'm not sure what made this a hit in London, but it's a long way off from last year's tremedous Blackbird at Studio. Let's hope the last two plays - Mamet's classic American Buffalo and Neil LaBute's latest, Reasons to Be Pretty - help salvage this atypical season for Studio.