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Sunday, April 4, 2010

Recommendations on Stage, Film and in an Art Gallery

If you're in the 7th Street area, head to 625 E Street for the art show, I Dream Awake. It is the first in a new series of shows called "pop-ups," developed by Amy Morton, a former art seller in Alexandria. The show takes up the floor in the old Numark Gallery, one of the best gallery spaces in the city. Michael O'Sullivan had a very nice write-up in Friday's Post.

Reasons to Be Pretty at The Studio Theatre. The film Greenberg has received some buzz, but when you compare it to a new Neil Labute play, there is no comparison. The question in both, as art forms, is can you be mean-spirited and still have an audience warm to you. Of course, the answer is yes, but we have to be made to care at some point. In this play - which gets intense performances from all four actors (Ryan Artzberger, Margot White, Thom Miller and Teresa Stephenson) - Labute starts off with a TIRADE. Steph is leaving boyfriend Greg after she has been told by a friend that he described her looks as something ordinary. No time for comfort here. Then we meet that friend, Carly. She and her husband Kent work with Ryan and have problems of their own. Like Greenberg, we don't like these characters at first. But Labute knows this and wants us to care. He just wants to take us out of our comfort zone befrore bringing us back to a situation we are familiar with.  It's brilliant really. The second act has two amazing scenes: when Greg and Steph see each other at a restaurant a few months later, and when Carly confronts Greg about her husband's funny ways. We do like these people now because we see ourselves in them - or at least in their situations. The tenor is lower but the stakes are higher. In Greenberg, there is never a reason to care. The best thing in the film is Greta Gerwig, who plays the 25-year-old love interest. It seems inconceivable that she would stay around this 40-year-old inconsiderate person - a Ben Stiller who's not even funny. Try to see Reasons to Be Pretty - you won't be disappointed.

A Prophet is still playing around at the Landmark theaters. It creates a world in prison and then stays true to that world. Again, as stated above, we start to CARE about the lead character and what happens to him, and thus we care about the film. It's long but I think worth it.
They took in Yellow Handkerchief already, but put it on your list of rentals. It's a feel-good film with a great performance by William Hurt, and good work by Kristen Stewart and Eddie Redmayne (whom I read was in DC with Alfred Molina to go to the Phillips; they're starring a play about Rothko on Broadway). And having Maria Bello in a film never hurts - although even that didn't save The Cooler.

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