By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 14
Journalism’s Dead — Let’s Leave Town!
Dear L.A. Times: I know you’ve been going through some rough times, making some hard decisions in this tough economic climate and all. But does this really seem like a good idea? L.A. Times Travel & Adventure Show? Really? When people are canceling their subscriptions in droves? Your advertisers are fleeing? And now your local news section got “absorbed”? True, you’re bringing in 550 exhibitors “from Louisiana to Greece and from Africa to Alaska.” Some sound pretty pertinent, like father-and-daughter bargain-travel gurus Arthur and Pauline Frommer. The workshop on foreign-home exchange should prove useful. And who can resist adventure tales from National Geographic Adventure Magazine? Maybe it’s not such a misguided (ha!) idea after all — as long as there’s a booth where you can cancel your Times subscription while booking a long weekend at an RV park in Oceanside. Los Angeles Convention Center, 1201 S. Figueroa St., West Hall, downtown; Sat.-Sun., Feb. 14-15, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; $10, $8 in advance online. (800) LATIMES, Ext. 7SHOW; www.latimestravelshow.com. —L.M.
We’re That Into Catherine Deneuve
When the best Hollywood can offer as a VDay–themed date movie is He’s Just Not That Into You, the work of a true dreamer like Jacques Demy tugs at the heart even more. Demy’s extraordinary The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964) is a heartbreaking love story in which every syllable is sung, with the director’s dialogue set to the music of frequent collaborator Michel Legrand. This opulent feast for the eyes and ears — romantic but never maudlin — might be best described as a lollipop-hued melodrama darkened by the loss of youthful ideals. The hopeful lovers of the story are Guy (Nino Castelnuovo), a mechanic who lives with his ailing godmother, and Geneviève (Catherine Deneuve), a proper jeune fille, who helps her widowed mother run her pastel-striped-umbrella shop. When their plans for marriage are thwarted by Guy’s summons for military duty in Algeria, Geneviève croons the film’s best-known song, “I Will Wait for You,” one of the most wrenching accounts of heartache set to music. But she can wait only so long: Pregnant with Guy’s child but feeling forgotten by him, Geneviève succumbs to her mother’s wishes and marries a financially secure merchant. Guy returns to Cherbourg bitter and angry, but finds some happiness with his aunt’s caretaker. Years later, Guy and Geneviève see each other by chance at his snow-blanketed Esso station, their youthful exuberance now supplanted by adult resignation. Cherbourg was Demy’s greatest success: It won the Grand Prix at Cannes in 1964 and made Catherine Deneuve, only 20 at the time of the film’s release, an international star. “He was the first real filmmaker that I met,” Deneuve once said of Demy, who would make three more films with the actress. But Demy was more than a filmmaker — he was a creator of an inimitable cinematic world of sumptuous colors, exquisite music and ever-flowing tears.
For those who prefer to remain dry-eyed on St. Valentine’s Day, check out the Thelma Ritter comedy double-bill at the UCLA Film and Television Archive: George Cukor’s The Model and the Marriage Broker and Mitchell Leisen’s The Mating Season (both from 1951). One year after her indelible performance as the wisecracking Birdie in All About Eve, Ritter shows in both films why she’s one of American cinema’s greatest character actresses, delivering zingers that pierce like Cupid’s arrow. The Umbrellas of Cherbourg: New Beverly, 7156 Beverly Blvd., L.A.; Fri.-Sat., Feb. 13-14; $7, $6 students; $4 seniors & children; www.newbevcinema.com; Thelma Ritter films: Billy Wilder Theater, Courtyard Level, Hammer Museum, 10899 Wilshire Blvd., Westwood; Sat., Feb. 14, 7:30 p.m.; $9. (310) 206-8013. —Melissa Anderson
Born to Rant: Lewis Black
Lewis Black has escaped Comedy Central’s The Daily Show studio for a little road standup action. Don’t worry, he may seem like he wants to punch somebody out, but he’s really pretty well-behaved.
L.A. WEEKLY: So, how optimistic are you about having Obama in office?
BLACK: I have to say that after eight years with George Bush as president, if there were no one in the White House, I’d feel like we were ahead. Optimism isn’t my strongest suit. Although I must say, it’s overwhelming to have a president who speaks to us — and in paragraphs. However, even though he’s not a Republican, he’s still a Democrat. Democrats speak in more dulcet tones while they are screwing us.
What kind of change will he have to implement in order to win Republicans over?
The kind of change that isn’t really change at all. It just looks like change.
Proustian question, à la Vanity Fair: What is your idea of perfect happiness?
A world in which everyone is fed, has a proper standard of income, superb health care, exceptional education, and there is no war — because there is no reason to fight. If you’re just talking about me, perfect happiness would be when I could be perfectly happy without it upsetting me.
Does your act have a “Satisfaction” or “Born to Run” — any greatest hits your audience demands you perform?
There are a few — the water rant, the milk rant — but the one they seem to want to hear the most is an incident that happened in Los Angeles. I was out at an International House of Pancakes when a woman sitting behind me uttered the following: “If it weren’t for my horse, I wouldn’t have spent that year in college.” It’s the kind of statement that when you think about it too long, blood shoots out your nose. It actually brings thought to a screeching halt, and the inside of your head begins to resemble an Escher painting as you think about it. It’s a much longer tale, but that’s the gist of it.
When on tour, what do you do all day?
I am extremely lucky in that I have a tour bus that I lease. I generally try to catch up with e-mails, the news and whatever movie I haven’t seen. I’ll watch sports if there’s a game I want to see. Or just stare out the window of the tour bus and drift away. When we get to the next town I’ll usually walk around and check it out or wander into a mall. Strangely, and for reasons that escape me, I find malls to be soothing.
Last book read?
A terrific book by Bill Scheft called Everything Hurts.
If there was a sitcom about your life, what would it be about, and what would it be called?
It would be about me dealing with life’s everyday occurrences, with which I never seem able to deal. Much of it would dwell on me wandering around my apartment yelling at myself over my own incompetence or screaming at someone on the phone about theirs. It would be called Incompetence or The Mr. Stupid Show.
What do you like/dislike about being in L.A.? Ever had a great meal here?
There are two things that make me crazy about Los Angeles — the traffic, which has reached epically insane proportions since I began coming here 20 years ago, and the fact that the business of the town is show business. It permeates everything. And so, oddly enough, I like the Sunset Marquis. I love my friends who live there. I have had some great meals in L.A. and I can’t remember the names of the restaurants.
Given our economic times, what have you cut back on? What was your last splurge?
I don’t eat. I don’t sleep. I don’t use electricity. I don’t jog. My last splurge was buying an apartment where I live in New York. I did it just before all hell broke loose.
You’re performing on Valentine’s Day — why is your show a good choice for lovebirds?
It’s an excellent choice for lovebirds to discover if they really are lovebirds. If one of you isn’t laughing, I would say the ball game is over.
Lewis Black performs at the Wilshire Theater, 8440 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills; Sat., Feb. 14, 8 p.m.; $47.50-$65.50. (213) 480-3232.