Posts Tagged ‘modern women’

Apollo’s Girl

May 13, 2013




The Girls in the Band: One Joyful Noise!

Go. See. This. Movie. No—really—go see this movie now! GIRLS%20IN%20THE%20BAND%20FLYER_11_5_12Unless there’s an act of the Gods of Film, it’s due to leave the Film Society’s Elinor Bunin Munroe Center  on May 16, so you have to be quick.

Much has been said and screened about women’s rights, the glass ceiling, the difference between the sexes and, even now, what should women do with  their lives. One thing they can and should do is play jazz, with all its power, joy  and complexity. If you ever had any doubts, The Girls in the Band will sweep  them away. Not only in the extraordinary interviews with some of the big names,  but with many that you never heard of. And, with all of them, it’s not just their  words but their music.

There are trombone players, saxophonists, trumpetistes, drummers, guitarists,  cabaret stars, whole bands and orchestras in one long unbroken swinging line from the 1920s all the way to Esperanza Spalding, the 2011 Best New Artist  Grammy-winner. And Maria Schneider who, when asked by a reporter “What’s
schneiderit like to be a woman arranger?” replies“What’s it like to be a male journalist?”

Along the way, they conjure up a lost world of concert halls and clubs like The Cookery, Hickory House, and the Rainbow Room. The stories they tell  about Jim Crow (it was always worse for them than for the male bands), of  civil rights, of women’s rights, even of support from men like Woody HermanHerbie Hancock and (in the very short-term, Tommy Dorsey), are alternately  heartbreaking and hilarious.

Let’s put it this way: if you love jazz, you will learn things you never knew, one gorgeous riff at a time, and you will love The Girls in the Band. And if you think nothing compares to rock and roll, sink into the largely acoustic sound track of this succulent movie and change your mind.

Note: Two high notes to look out for: the final sequence, and one of the (big surprise!)producing credits. And just try this: site/video. This just in: there will be a two-week run at the Quad Cinema in New York beginning May 24, and you can also see The Girls in the Band at the Laemmle Noho 7 in L.A. from June 7–13.)

Fearless (Re)Discovery

August 8, 2012


People who have been going to the Gate Theatre in London regularly know about Carrie Cracknell the director. But attending her production of A Doll’s House at the Young Vic has made me put her in the category of directors whose work I want to follow.

There were many exciting things about this interpretation — not least the very intelligent and dramatic adaptation by Simon Stephens, who was doing Ibsen’s play for the fourth time. This time he has certainly cracked it, and the set and costumes by Ian MacNeill and Gabrielle Dalton completely enhance his concept. This is a reading that makes you think about how revolutionary the play must have been to its first audiences. Cracknel places it in its original period (it was first produced in 1879), but the set itself is a kind of overgrown late-Victorian early-modernist doll’s house inhabited by the characters, a house that turns when people move from room to room so that the action is always near the audience. The performances of Hattie Morahan as Nora, Dominic Rowan as Torvald and Susannah Wise as Kristine, in particular, are astonishing in their detail and how well they convey the various emotions—or lack of same. And the sense of the family and its situation is very comprehensively and intensely conveyed.

But the real discovery is clearly Carrie Cracknell, who has made of this play something fresh, astonishing and strong. The night I went the audience actually gasped at times, it was so involved and somehow so surprised, and even laughed in many places, reminding one of the elements of black comedy in Ibsen that often get overlooked. The sense of ensemble, of everyone on that stage not only inhabiting his or her role but working with and off the others, is very potent. With its swirling and twirling set, it was a brilliantly choreographed production. Nobody tripped and it was only afterwards that I wondered at the sheer audacity of the technique. It was utterly absorbing. I can hardly wait to see what Carrie Cracknell takes on next and how she handles it; and I will keep you informed in good time.

A Doll’s House played at the Young Vic in London until 4 August,
but I would not be surprised if there is a subsequent transfer
to a suitable West End  theatre.                                   —MC

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