Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Wednesday, August 20, 2014


Jennifer Moon Wins Hammer Museum Award, Plans to Start Revolution

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Wed, Aug 20, 2014 at 11:15 AM
A diorama from Jennifer Moon's "Made in L.A." installation - JENNIFER SWANN
  • Jennifer Swann
  • A diorama from Jennifer Moon's "Made in L.A." installation
The people have voted, and they're ready for a revolution.

That's the conclusion that can be drawn from the Hammer museum's announcement yesterday of its "Made in L.A." Public Recognition Award recipient, Jennifer Moon. The interdisciplinary artist's work focuses on self-empowerment through a fantastical movement she calls "The Revolution."

What is the Revolution, you ask? "Ultimately it's about creating a world of continuous expansion for all on this Earth and beyond," says 41-year-old Moon, an alumna of UCLA and Art Center College of Design who in 2008 served nine months in prison after an attempted robbery. It's an event she says transformed her art practice and inspired her three-part Phoenix Rising Saga Series, the second installment of which is on display at "Made in L.A." through September 7.

The exhibit's top honor, the $100,000 Mohn Award, went to the Los Angeles Museum of Art, a tiny experimental exhibition space housed in founder Alice Konitz's Eagle Rock backyard. The $25,000 Career Achievement Award will be shared among married couple Michael Frimkess and Magdalena Suarez Frimkess, whose painted ceramics reflect a 50-year collaboration. All three awards are supported by  philanthropists Jarl and Pamela Mohn.

See also: Hammer Museum's Controversial Mohn Award Returns - With a Twist 

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Maggie Gyllenhal (left), Michael Fassbender and Domhnall Gleeson - PHOTO COURTESY OF MAGNOLIA PICTURES.
  • Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.
  • Maggie Gyllenhal (left), Michael Fassbender and Domhnall Gleeson

Michael Fassbender’s face appears on screen for about five minutes during Lenny Abrahamson’s new movie, Frank. The rest of the time, it’s hidden beneath a large papier-mâché head with black hair, large blue eyes and a deadpan expression – constantly worn by the enigmatic band leader.  But even further off-screen, the man behind Frank’s eccentric musical ability was musical director Stephen Rennicks.

Frank follows the story of a band called the Soronprfbs, whose leader is loosely based off of Frank Sidebottom, the alter-ego of British musician Chris Sievey. The Soronprfbs' unique sound falls where '80s New Wave pop meets experimental rock, driven by the captivating lyrics sung by Fassbender. Since the group of five is so unstable, their shows have a habit of turning into unintentional performance art, often ending with members yelling at each other and storming off stage mid-song. 

For Rennicks, bringing their unorthodox tunes to life was almost as big an endeavor as the making of the movie. The main task was writing the songs, which had to be outside of mainstream music without stepping over the line into the avant-garde. He pulled from his own experiences playing in French and German nightclubs with the art-punk band the Prunes in the late '80s. 

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This week, an obelisk gets covered in handmade bricks, and an artist looks closely at whether Neil Young did or did not have a coke flake on his nose.

5. Family labor
This past spring, artist Michael Parker dug out a trench in the shape of an obelisk along the L.A. River. His obelisk, 137 feet long, replicates an ancient Egyptian archeological site. This weekend, performance artist Rafa Esparza will cover the whole thing with bricks he handmade with his seven family members and he and dancer-choreographer Rebeca Hernandez will perform on top of the bricks at sunset. 2800 Casitas Ave., Cypress Park; Sunday, Aug. 24, 6:45 p.m. (323) 522-6014, clockshop.org

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The Magnificent Seven
  • The Magnificent Seven

Friday, Aug. 22

This weekend, the American Cinematheque honors the late Eli Wallach with a showcase at the Aero of his works, which earned him the epithet of “the quintessential chameleon” from the Academy. Friday’s 7:30 p.m. screening is The Magnificent Seven, featuring Wallach as the bandit leader who terrorizes a Mexican village in this remake of Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai. The series also includes The Good, The Bad and the Ugly, Baby Doll (Wallach’s feature debut) and The Misfits. Buy tickets at americancinemathequecalendar.com.

At 8 p.m., the LACMA9 series continues its animation program at Charles H. Wilson Park, with about an hour’s worth of animated shorts suitable for all ages. This free program includes Eusong Lee’s Will, which revolves around a moment between a father and daughter on 9/11, and Josh Staub’s The Mantis Parable, in which a praying mantis comes across a caterpillar stuck inside a jar. The LACMA9 series has events on select Wednesdays through Saturdays through Sept. 6. For more info, go to lacma.org.

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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Michael Mantell, left, Noah James, Betsy Zajko, Ian Alda, Allan Miller and Gina Hecht - PHOTO BY ENCI
  • Photo by Enci
  • Michael Mantell, left, Noah James, Betsy Zajko, Ian Alda, Allan Miller and Gina Hecht

The third installment of Neil Simon’s trilogy about the Jerome family from Brighton Beach, Broadway Bound stands on its own as a humorous and wistful examination of working-class Jewish-American culture during changing times.

Toward the end of the pre-television era in 1949, brothers Eugene (Ian Alda) and Stanley (Noah James) work furiously on creating a radio sketch for their shot at stardom. Their brusque, overworked mother, Kate (Gina Hecht), worries about her grown boys still living at home. She also cares for her aging father, Ben (Allan Miller), who lives with them, and is suspicious of her conspicuously absent husband, Jack (Michael Mantell). Rounding out the family is Kate’s sister, Blanche (Betsy Zajko), whose Park Avenue lifestyle rubs both Kate and dyed-in-the-wool socialist Ben the wrong way.

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Vicki Lewis, Carolyn Hennesy, Daniele Gaither, and Teresa Ganzel - MAIA ROSENFELD
  • Maia Rosenfeld
  • Vicki Lewis, Carolyn Hennesy, Daniele Gaither, and Teresa Ganzel
Meet and Greet — co-written by longtime TV veterans Stan Zimmerman (Roseanne) and Christian McLaughlin (Married with Children) and directed by Zimmerman — is set in a casting office in the San Fernando Valley.

The play revolves around the competition among four middle-aged actresses for a plum role on a new TV sitcom. It’s a storyline that offers opportunity not just for laughs but for a trenchant critique of a frequently malodorous industry. (There have been plenty of these already, but there’s always room for one more good one.)

Instead, the show evolves into a lame lampoon in which stale gags and weary clichés outnumber the funny lines.

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The cast: Zeffin Quinn Hollis, left, Zipporah Peddle, Lindsay Patterson, Bernard Holcomb, Holly Sedillos, Cedric Berry, Andrew Nguyen - KEITH IAN POLAKOFF
  • Keith Ian Polakoff
  • The cast: Zeffin Quinn Hollis, left, Zipporah Peddle, Lindsay Patterson, Bernard Holcomb, Holly Sedillos, Cedric Berry, Andrew Nguyen
It’s not a musical — there’s no dialogue between the songs.

It’s not a traditional opera — there are no musical transitions from one emotional moment to the next.

Composer John Adams calls I Was Looking at the Ceiling and Then I Saw the Sky a “songplay.” Librettist June Jordan calls it an “earthquake romance.” However their collaboration is pigeonholed, it hasn’t been heard in California since its world premiere in 1995 in Berkeley; the only professional American performance after its original run in Montreal, New York and Europe was in Cleveland 12 years ago.

Ceiling/Sky, as the composer refers to it, follows a diverse array of characters: an African-American womanizing preacher; an African-American sex clinic counselor trying to curb the preacher's playing around; a Salvadoran illegal immigrant; an African-American gangster trying to reform; a Vietnamese-American lawyer who represents the gangster; a white policeman who is disturbed by his erotic feelings for the gangster; and a white woman who's a crime-news reporter and is smitten with the policeman but oblivious to his homosexuality. Their lives intersect, until the Northridge earthquake strikes.

Considering its subject matter of race relations, immigration and sexual identity, it’s surprising that the work hasn’t been revisited sooner in the United States. The original production was dismissed by American critics; it wasn’t operatic enough for classical critics, while theater critics found it too long and too poetic, and were wary of Adams’ lack of a pop pedigree. Those reviews may have scared away American producers.

“In Europe, people weren’t burdened by those prejudices," Adams says. "They were engaged by the stories about L.A. life, this amazing mix of young people — Asians, Latino, black people — and their struggles within a white-controlled society and police.” Ceiling/Sky has had a healthy life in Europe, with a recent Parisian production scheduled for a revival in Rome.

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Monday, August 18, 2014

click image Howdy movie geeks, a new sheriff's coming to town - FLICKR / ALAMOSBASEMENT
  • Flickr / alamosbasement
  • Howdy movie geeks, a new sheriff's coming to town

It takes a movie theater chain from Austin to prove that L.A.'s downtown revitalization is permanent.

After four years of scouting locations in Los Angeles — some as far west as Westwood — the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema has finally chosen a spot to build a nine-screen multiplex: right off the subway at 7th and Metro.

“The biggest factors for us were a cool neighborhood, free parking and transportation connectivity,” says Alamo Drafthouse CEO and co-founder Tim League. “We've been snooping around DTLA for quite a while. Since we first started looking, the transformation has been really significant and doesn't appear to be waning in any way.”

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Oasis performer Jason Lee and glamorous gal pals. - LINA LECARO
  • Lina Lecaro
  • Oasis performer Jason Lee and glamorous gal pals.

Every year, near summer’s end, thousands of people in colorful dress and costumes gather with like-minded collectors and enthusiasts in San Diego to show off their finery, attend presentations, enjoy live entertainment, buy stuff and party harder than any college kid on spring break. And the event is nothing like Comic-Con.

While comic/sci-fi nerdism has gone mainstream, niche-ier events have found success by nurturing more focused subcultures and aesthetics garnering a steadily growing fanbase. Tiki Oasis, which took over San Diego’s Crowne Plaza hotel this past Thursday thru Sunday, attracts crowds as avid and audacious as any cosplay/comics event, but with 14 years under its hula skirt, it’s  managed to grow bigger and bigger while retaining a wonderfully pure feel. 

Creator Otto von Stroheim thinks it will always stay that way too. “You can judge most big events by its sponsors,” said von Stroheim, a San Fernando Valley native who started throwing tiki themed house parties back in the late 80s when he lived in Venice Beach. “We choose ours carefully. For example all our liquor sponsors are small companies with owners who are very involved in the making and marketing of their products.”

Rum, a mainstay component in most tropical drinks, has a major presence, of course, and it was the star of the symposium offerings this year. Martin Cate, owner of San Francisco’s Smuggler’s Cove hosted two packed rum tastings and lectures.

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Deadpool artist Scott Koblish was one of the guests at Los Angeles Comic Book and Science Fiction Convention. - LIZ OHANESIAN
  • Liz Ohanesian
  • Deadpool artist Scott Koblish was one of the guests at Los Angeles Comic Book and Science Fiction Convention.
There was a piece of paper taped to the front entrance of the Shrine Auditorium on Sunday afternoon, its opening paragraph reading like a manifesto. "For those attending for the first time, this is a medium size show not to be compared with Comic-Con International," it said. "There's no pipe and drape around the tables or carpet that adds to the expense of a show. This allows the show to only charge $10.00 and allows collectors to spend more on their hobby."

In recent years, fan conventions have mushroomed into high-profile, weekend-long events where studios announce new releases, cosplayers are photographed like celebrities and lines are everywhere. There was no line to get inside the Shrine for Los Angeles Comic Book and Science Fiction Convention. By mid-afternoon, the longest wait here was to buy a caricature from Ren & Stimpy creator John Kricfalusi. If you wanted to buy something, you could easily get the attention of one of the dealers. There were no costumed con-goers, no impromptu photoshoots blocking the aisles. It was a convention without the frills that, for some, are part of the experience and, for others, are an annoyance.

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