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Entries in Raul Esparza (2)

Tuesday
Jul 19 2011

Linkbringer

GWB finds Raúl Esparza all villainous

big screen
Broadway.com
Raul Esparza,one of our favorite song & dance men,channels his inner gangster for the new filmGWB
Pajibathe fifth annual "most bangable celebrities"list.Fun writeups on everyone from Tom Hardy to Emma Stone to Fassy,who tops the list.
In Contentionfans can finally choose between Magneto & Professor X for theX-Men First ClassBlu-Ray.Nice covers but obviously I'd have to go with Michael Fassbender.
Scene Stealerschooses a top ten of movie super soldiers to celebrateCaptain America's arrival.Hey,that's probably what I'm watching right as you're reading this.Wheeeee.
Little White Liesinterviews director Mike Mills on his personal and beguiling filmBeginners.I love this bit on whether he's nostalgic for old time Hollywood...

Well,I'm obsessed with history.We are the latest chapter in a long story and if we want to figure ourselves out of get out lf the prisons that we're in then you need to figure out the past.So I'm always looking back.And I do love Louise Brooks and I do love old Hollywood through the teens,'20s and '30s,because it was being invented then,it was like this whole new entrepreneurial world that was just being discovered....I like these cultures that were born from punk,too.I was around and I watched these things make themselves a little bit and I related a lot to that.Actually Louise Brooks was a fucking punk,man.She was a really interesting,subversive person.

That she was.

Have you seen this new poster forTinker Tailor Soldier Spy?

It's nifty,yes?

I like that it feelssecret messageyand thatit isn't loud.But perhaps mileage will vary.I still don't know what to make of it inthe Oscar predictionsbut it's an interesting wild card sight unseen.

small screen
My New Plaid Pants
Black Book's wondrous Carice van Houten will play the sorceress Melisandre inGame of Thrones.I wish I lovedGame of Thronesbecause between them giving Sibel Kekilli a plum role and now this (Melisandre is a totally sick character) it's like they're trying to fill their cast with my foreign film harem.Who's next: Franka and Ludivine?
VultureLisa Kudrow talks aboutWeb Therapywhich she's bringing to regular TV now.My greatest related dream is that she convinces Meryl Streep to reprise her sex-crazed reparative therapist Camilla Bowner because it's so topical now what with those crazy anti-gay Bachmanns flitting about on the news.
TowleroadWhere in the world is Anderson Cooper?

Tuesday
May 31 2011

Stage Door: "The Normal Heart"(Plus Feisty Divas,McDormand and Chenoweth)

Time for your semi-weekly theater fix.This one's about a famous play that has (thus far) eluded movie adaptations,the most publicized of which was Barbra Streisand's attempt to have a go at it in the late 1980s.

A new Tony nominated Broadway revival of Larry Kramer's psychic screamThe Normal Heartopened recently to absolutely ectastic reviews.The play is very much a product of its time and place,AIDS ravaged 1980s New York.The original play premiered in 1985 Off Broadway,with film starBrad Davisin the lead role.(Davis was diagnosed with the disease himself that same year though this wasn't revealed to the public until 1991 before his death) The play must have been an absolutely defiant shock to the system at a time when people were still struggling to even say the word "AIDS"out loud.Though Kramer's best known work has been revived a few times since,this is its first Broadway run.

It's a strong play,even accepting that it errsalwayson the side of pedantics,but I'm afraid I wasn't nearly as taken with the new production as most have been.I'm assuming most of the enthusiasm for this production would have been a bit more muted if the 2004 Off Broadway revival which starred the greatRaul Esparzaas "Ned Weeks"aka Larry Kramer,had been a bigger success.The play's bristling humanity and hammered messages were somehow both easier to take and harder to stomach (if that makes any sense) in the intimacy that the Off Broadway stage provided.

a starry cast for the 2011 revival

It's the scale that's often the issue here.Tony nominated Joe Mantello is a fine actor but it was difficult (for me at least) to wipe Esparza's quieter and more nuanced portrayal from memory as I watched him.Ellen Barkin,who may win the Tony for her very aggressive and crowd-pleasing second act monologue as "Dr.Death",has Mantello's same problem of scale.It seems to be a question of direction since nearly everyone in the cast is constantly shouting at the top of their lungs.Anybody would given the narrative proceedings but the play is so innately blistering that actors who trust that ravaged vocal chords could never grant it more potency than it already has fare better;best in show is Tony nominated featured actor John Benjamin Hickey as Ned's lover "Felix Turner",who both admires and is perplexed by his partner's constant shouting and fighting.

[Tangent: Though it's neither here nor there,Lee Pace,who plays Ned's antagonist,the handsome but closeted "Bruce Niles",is AMAZINGLY TALL.He towers over the rest of the cast,which I wouldn't have guessed watchingPushing Daisies(Did everyone stand on boxes around him?) He is so imposing physically,live on the stage,that I was forced to check his height on IMDb on the way home: 6'3"]

Mantello and Hickey in "The Normal Heart"This production's white and boxy stage design is both weirdly offputting and far too-static in the first act and emotionally right and eerily tomb-like in the play's much stronger second act.The final moments,aided considerably by Hickey's performance and inspiring lighting,do stun.But I have to confess: I never once cried though I was a bawling mess through the entire second act of the 2004 revival.

Tony Kushner'sAngels in America,which arrived a half decade after Kramer's play,has long since been canonized as one of The Great Masterworks of American theater.Angelshas held tight to the unofficial title oftheAIDS play.But in its own particular personal way,The Normal Heartis its angrier cruder earth-bound cousin.The Normal Heartdoesn't bother with symbolism or poetry -- whether that's through lack of ability or easily imagined bilious rejection of escapism is up to you -- and generates all of its admirable potency from its fragile impotent humanity,raging against the powers that be,from within its diseased bodies.Everyone should see both plays in their lifetime.

This production ofThe Normal Heart:B
The 2004 revival: an easyA

Stage People
La Daily Musto
Frances McDormand stopped the show (literally!) during one of the last performances of Tony nominatedGood People(from theRabbit Holeauthor David Lindsay-Abaire)
Awards Daily
David Mamet's turn to the dark side,politically speaking.
PlaybillComposer David Yazbek (ofThe Full Montyfame) talking about Pedro Almodóvar and the adaptation ofWomen on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdownfor the stage.

Busy Broadway Baby: Kristin's new CD and new TV show

Finally...Just Jaredspoke with Kristin Chenoweth who will try to tour for her new CD around her schedule for her new TV series "Good Christian Belles"and,one presumes,eventual futureGleecameos because who doesn't love "April Rhodes"?Busy busy!

I love the Cheno as you know so I'm thrilled by her ever increasing fame,but I can't imagine buying her country CDs and this lead off single sounds very generic.Her first CD "Let Yourself Go"is glorious fun but it's all show-tunes which is just where she shines.Personally I only listen to country music if it leans towards bluegrass or folk and stays far from generic "pop"unless it's just straight up A+ music like the Dixie Chicks.How will Kristin marry her different personas in a tour.I've seen her live five times now and while she is amazingly charismatic on stage and I've never regretted a ticket purchase her concerts seem increasingly schizo as her fanbase expands.Will country fans be able to deal with her comedic/operatic  "Glitter and Be Gay"moments...or will she just dump all the showtunes / opera to appease mainstream fans?