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Monday, July 28, 2008

Today @ the Paper Boat Boutique and Gallery

Through the July 30, the Paper Boat Boutique and Gallery hosts the wall-based art of San Francisco Artist/photographer/filmmaker Bill Daniel. Included in this exhibition, “Sunset Scavenger,” are murals, photos and installation pieces documenting Daniel’s newfound interest in houseboats. In an era of rising . . .
Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Nostalgic for 1994?

For Generation X, 1994 seems to loom in memory as 1962 did for the American Graffiti gang and 1967 for the hippies. It was the year Kurt Cobain killed himself and Pearl Jam rode triumphantly onto the arena rock circuit. It’s the time of The Wackness, a modestly engaging, wacky coming of age comedy concerning a slacker doofus, his psychiatrist and the girl who initiates him into sex for two (as opposed to the more solitary variety) and the roiling emotions of first love.
Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Mama sorts them out

For me, ABBA was never a guilty pleasure. It was usually a pleasure, period. Most of the group’s hits were great little soap operas sung in Berlitz lesson English to irresistible melodies with unassailable arrangements. It was pure pop for now people in the ’70s. ABBA was never as big in benighted America as elsewhere, but that began to change with the 1999 Broadway debut of one of the most lucrative musicals ever, Mamma Mia! The plot, loosely strung together through a sequence of ABBA songs, concerns a fatherless 20-year-old girl about to be married. Reading her mother’s diary, Sophie gathers that mom was never certain of who fathered her.
Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Heath Ledger’s Gotham Nights

Life overtook art in January with the death of Heath Ledger, the Joker in The Dark Knight. Ledger was one of Hollywood’s rising actors and his role as the supervillain in the much-anticipated sequel to Batman Begins would cinch his stardom. Dead or alive, Ledger was destined to dominate The Dark Knight. An unspoken rule is in effect: The bad guys tend to get the best lines in Hollywood; they are usually more flamboyant than their opponents, more intriguing and mysterious. Poor Christian Bale never has a chance. As Batman (or “the Batman” as he’s often called in a nod to the earliest comic strips), he is left to brood . . .
Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Remembering TV’s Caped Crusader

“Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear...” No, I’m not referring to the legendary “Lone Ranger” radio show of the 1940s and early ’50s, I’m talking about the twice-weekly “Batman” series on late-afternoon and primetime television in the late 1960s. It was high camp played to perfection—stunningly creative and outrageously funny. The hilarious simplicity of TV’s Adam West (Batman), Burt Ward (Robin) and a gaggle of veteran supporting thespians, trumps the foreboding vision and craven villains in Hollywood’s big star “Batman” films of the last few decades.
Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Enter Genghis Khan

Genghis Khan’s birthright was to captain a small, nomadic tribe across the grassy sea of Mongolia. He grew up and made a bid for the whole world. He conquered as far as his eyes could see: Central Asia, portions of China, Persia and Russia. His name became synonymous in the West with cruel tyranny, but his conquests were no bloodier than most campaigns of his era and his empire was more tolerant, more wisely governed, than many states in our time.
Monday, July 14, 2008

Today @ the Paper Boat Boutique and Gallery

Through the end of the month, the Paper Boat Boutique and Gallery hosts the wall-based art of San Francisco artist/photographer/filmmaker Bill Daniel. Included in this latest exhibition, “Sunset Scavenger,” are murals, photos and installation pieces documenting Daniel’s newfound interest in houseboats. In an era of . . .
Monday, July 7, 2008

Rebecca returns to Manderley

“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again,” begins the narrator at the opening of Alfred Hitchcock’s Rebecca. The woman speaking, the heroine of the emotionally harrowing classic, is never named. And that is only one of many intriguing twists in a movie that has lost none of its fascination over time. The title character of the 1940 film is never seen but always present. The woman called Rebecca died before the story begins...
Monday, July 7, 2008

Will WALL-E save the world?

Starting with Toy Story, Pixar Studios has produced the finest animated feature films for mainstream audiences since the days when Walt Disney was young. Pixar’s vivid animation was always executed with pioneering technology, but that would matter less if the scripts weren’t so funny, trenchant and intelligent. Even the dumbest Hollywood cartoon directors have figured out a formula to keep the kids happy and the adults amused. Pixar brings a more profound sophistication for a multi-generational audience, excelling beyond what contemporary Hollywood animated and live action movies usually achieve...
Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Spike Lee versus Clint Eastwood

I am an unabashed admirer of Spike Lee movies, especially Do the Right Thing (1989) and Malcolm X (1992). His achievements as a director are among the most notable of the last 20 years. Thus, I took to heart Lee’s recent criticism of Clint Eastwood for failing to use black actors in Flags of Our Fathers and its companion piece, Letters from Iwo Jima (both 2006). In fact, some 900 blacks participated in this bloody World War II battle, including my late uncle, Lonnie Brake, a U.S. Marine from Milwaukee. On the whole, though, Eastwood has an admirable record . . .

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