Sunday, July 30, 2006

San Francisco Jewish Film Festival 26

What a long month it seems to have been between the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival preview and the time that I actually, finally started to attend. I was out of town during the San Francisco portion, so I am attending the Berkeley portion. The festival had a bit of a rough start on its opening day at Berkeley.

"Belzec" (dir. Guillaume Moscovitz, 2005, France, 112 min) Though it seems like "another holocaust documentary", its subject of the Belzec death camp in Poland, which was dismantled and literally buried to be forgotten, was pretty compelling. Through a series of interviews and photographs, the scenario of the building and deconstruction of the camp by the local citizens was documented. However, after the second reel, the projector broke down and the audience was sent out for refunds. I REALLY want to see the rest of this! However, I'll have to wait for another day.

The next two programs were presented on DVD, therefore bypassing the 35mm film projector which was on the fritz. However, the day would continue to be plagued by technical difficulties, however minor this time.

"A Voice Without a Face" (dir. Assaf Basson, 2005, Israel, 52 mins.) This documents the career of Magdi, a famous singer of Arabic music, who also was Yitzhak Basson, an agent for the Massod. A thorough exploration of the man's dual life would have been quite fabulous! However, the director, who is also the man's son, over personalized it and the film became more about his reactions to the secrets he learns about his fathers life, than an exploration of the drama his father must have lived through in pursuing his double-life. Or, at least, that is the film I would rather have seen. If one is more interested in this generations exploration and reaction to the tumultous lives their parents may have lived, then this would probably work. I for one, found it a bit too self indulgent. Also, the film had a tough start. The first 10 minutes was screened without subtitles. However, it did restart, from the beginning, for us to understand. It was also preceded by:

"The Substitute" (dir. Talya Lavie, 2005, Israel, 19 mins.) This was an odd little short concerning a new female recruit in the Israeli army and her emotional breakdown before taking over the position of an increasingly frustrated clerk. It was well made and performed. However, I'm not sure what I was to come out of it feeling or thinking. It didn't have much of a dramatic impact, as the new recruit is something of a cypher. The clerk she is replacing has more to play with, however she comes off pretty unsympathetic, since we do not know enough about her replacement. I'm quite mixed about this one, as it came so close, yet... eh. And finally, Gretchen joined me for:

"Sisai" (dir. David Gavro, 2005, Israel, 54 mins.) Yet another documentary, this time tracing a young Ethiopian-Israeli's search for his birth father. The film comes close to being very unique in that he finds that his birth father is a devout Christian, and Sisai has to face the conflict of whether he is a 'real Jew' or not. However, this conflict is briefly touched upon and the film focusses more on, what I would call, a typical 'birth parent search and reunion'. I wish it had explored his inner conflicts more, though the man is so young, I don't think he was able to express everything he was feeling at the time. The film is also directed by his foster brother, who may have lacked a certain objectivity and let the conflict slide by, or did not edit it in as fully as one may have wished. In other words, it became more of a celebration of the reunion, which is fine, but there was a bigger story just underneath the surface which I would have hoped to have explored more fully.

I also had a ticket for the 10:00 p.m. screening of "The First Zionist Bunny" (dir. Shiri Shahar, 2005, Israel, 75 mins.), however there was a 4 hour gap between "Sisai" which was filled with the 'official opening night feature and reception' that I did not attend. After dinner with Gretchen, which was done by 7:00, I decided to head back to San Francisco.

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Friday, July 28, 2006

Peaches and Beaches and Boys! Oh my!

I can't believe it's been nearly three weeks since the last post! I just got back from a relatively long visit with The Boys of The South. Though I travelled with my best friend, er, I mean, my laptop, I decided not to post daily/weekly recaps of the trip (i.e. 'The Hawai'i Chronicles'), but do a brief summary when all was done and finished. (Also, Blogspot seems to be having some photo upload problems, so I am thin on photos on this post.)

The trip occurred in three parts: 4 days in Atlanta; 1 week in Edisto Island, S.C.; 6 scheduled (but ended up with 7) days in Atlanta. This was a bit of overkill, now that I've done it. Planning on paper, it seemed just the right amount of time, as I looked forward to exploring more of Atlanta on my own than I had in the past.

Arriving in Atlanta, I decided to stay at the Georgian Terrace instead of crashing at Rick and Chip's who live a good half hour away in Norcross. The hotel (which I have more photodocumentation at my "12 of 12" site) is across the street from The Fox Theatre and more centrally located than I was able to figure out in those first 3 nights. The rooms were large and included a kitchen AND a washer and dryer! The washer/dryer would be necessary, er, come in handy, after the over excited first night of partying! I planned to see my 'special houseguest' from June, Skye, who I developed quite an infatuation with by the time this trip ended. He's a big bodybuildingporn star, but without a skanky attitude! We did a fun dinner that night, actually running into Rick and Chip at Cowtippers, which serves some killer margaritas! (Cocktail count: 3 margaritas. This will be significant, later.) The Boys met Skye ever so briefly, though I hoped there would have been time for everybody to get to know each other, it just never happened. Skye and I moved on for post dinner cocktails at Blake's (Cocktail count: 2 margaritas), before dropping me off at the hotel.

Rick and Chip told me they'd be at Swinging Richard's, a male strip joint, after dinner and told me to meet them there. Now. After FIVE margaritas, not to mention spending dinner with a friend who just happens to be a porn star, you'd think that I would have just blown off going back out to gawk at dancer boys. However, I popped upstairs, changed and decided, what the hell! I popped over to 'Richards', met the boys for dancers and drinks! (Cocktail count: 2 cape cods) There I met 'Raphael'. Now, to Rick's credit, he did attempt an intervention of sorts as I was getting pretty trashed and 'Trashed Jay' + 'Dancer Boy' = $$Trouble. Rick failed, I spent and to the disappointment of all involved, actually got sick at the bar. GAWD. I rushed out, grabbed a cab (caught sick one more time on the road) went upstairs, tossed my 'evening wear' into the washer and passed out.

The next day, I met Rick for lunch in Norcross (JR's BBQ! yum!), laundered the previous nights events out of my fabulous silk Hawaiian shirt, met >Skye for dinner at Mick's, a fabulous and FAST drive around in his Infinity and Bose system BLASTING away, and some fun times at the hotel and went to bed!

The South Carolina portion of the trip began the next day with my move up to Norcross at Rick and Chip's, oh and their dog Sandy. Sandy greeted me with the tradition of throwing up in front of the bedroom door I stay in. I think he equates my arrival with going to 'doggy day care' which he apparently hates. (Unlike Maxxxxx who seems to LOVE 'birdie boarding school' where he is placed when I leave town.) Rick's sister had already arrived and Mark from San Francisco would arrive later that day. In other words, the house was getting full - prepared with food and visitors going to Edisto Island.

This year, there were FIFTEEN PEOPLE staying in the beach house in Edisto Island, S.C. Some were literally lined up outside the door when we arrived (after the six-ish hour drive). The cast of characters this year: Rick and Chip (co-hosts), Rick's sister Diane, Chip's sister Megan and boyfriend Tony, the following couples: Cliff and Rick, Paul and Frank, Scott and Patrick, and David and Tim; then Mark and I completed the house. The population would eventually trickle down to the five of us (Rick, Chip, Diane, Mark and myself) as the week progressed. But that first weekend was PACKED!!

Though there are dozens, if not hundreds of photos taken by the gang, there isn't one of the entire group, and most of them are of the evening gameplayers in the living room, playing 'Taboo' as if our lives depended on it! Well, perhaps that was just Patrick and I. 'Taboo' brought out a frighteningly competitive streak from 'Filthy Kate' to the shock and offended amazement of some of the houseguests. The days were spent out on the beach. Ahhhh...

I know, that is a short recap of a week's worth of activities, but the beach house is a place where nothing is supposed to happen in the first place! :)

Returning to Atlanta a day early (which included my slapping a 'moon' at Rick and Mark as we passed them in the other car a couple of times), I decided I needed to check into a hotel again, as I had been unusually social the past week. In other words, having my own bathroom was worth the price! This time, I stayed at the Regency Suites, which is a moderately priced hotel in an extraordinarily convenient location! Skye and I had been talking nearly everyday during the beachhouse week, and I was excited to spend some more time with him, too.

The Atlanta Week 2 started with yet ANOTHER visit to Swinging Richards, where I made a 'new friend' of J.J., whose lapdance evolved into a massage, which evolved into his proposal of marriage! HA! Saturday was the official wedding reception for Rick and Chip. It was held at an Episcopalean Church in a faraway suburb of Atlanta. So it seemed. The reception was quite lovely, with everyone on their best behavior. I made the trek via public transportation, which was not necessarily one of my best moves. It took me nearly two hours to get back into Atlanta for dinner (Cowtippers again) and only a couple of cocktails with Skye, whom I decided I was in love with by this time.

Sunday, after doing a really good brunch at Gilbert's in midtown with Skye, I caught up with the gang, plus Chip's mother and sister Megan and niece Jessica, at Mary Mac's Tea Room. That night, I took a LONG bath and just slept...

The next couple of days blur together. I took a LONG walk along the length of Piedmont Park, shopped a bit, and there was a really NICE dinner at Einsteins with Skye, after which we took a nice drive around the city, again. We talked about the status of our friendship, which I attempted to ignore (again!) and fight past (again!). (I am nothing if not stubborn and can be quite "emotionally aggressive" and "insistent" with my 'boyfriends'.) After saying goodnight to Skye, I was ready to come home to S.F. I sort of felt that my visit there was finished. But it went on...

Tuesday, I wandered down to the High Museum of Art, on the suggestion of J.J., who wanted to get together later that afternoon. J.J. you will recall, is the dancer-boy I met at Swinging Richards on Friday night. He took ME to dinner, cocktails and got me pretty stoned that evening before he had to go to work at the club. This was to be my last night in town, as well as Mark's, so Chip, Rick and Mark wanted to meet me for a final night of dancer boys. If you recall earlier "Jay + Dancerboys = $$Trouble". I got there maybe as much as an hour earlier than the rest of the gang, where my new best friends J.J. and Raphael (from that FIRST embarrassing night two weeks earlier) literally did the "Hello Dolly" number for me. It was a LONG night! The Boys left around midnight, and I closed the place with Raphael and we went to breakfast.

I resolved at this point to staying up all night, as I needed to leave the hotel at 5 a.m. to make my 7:30 a.m. flight to SF. Raphael dropped me off at the hotel at 3:30 a.m. and I needed to rest my eyes. FOUR HOURS LATER, I woke up literally screaming at myself about missing the flight! I threw clothes on and threw everything back into the luggage. (I'd been there 5 nights and was literally moved in at this point!) I HAULED out to the airport, only to find that there was no way of getting back to San Francisco without buying a $700 ticket. I returned to the hotel.

In making the most of this extra day, I went to the Georgia Aquarium, which is FANTASTIC! It is impressively HUGE!! And horrifically CROWDED!!! But the Beluga Whales make it more than worth the visit!

Skye wanted to do one more dinner while I was still in town. We went to Cowtippers again, but I did NOT knock back the margaritas this time! We came back to the hotel, where he made sure I was not going back out. At this point, I was getting REALLY tired on all levels: physically, mentally, emotionally. I sent Skye ANOTHER freakin' email all about 'our future', and he replied the next morning, where he put his foot down with a FINAL resolution (yes, that is redundant). Oh, well. One can't have too many friends, I guess... ;)

I did make it to the airport the next morning and in a civilized manner, if I do say so myself. I was on standby, but checked right in. When landing in SFO, I nearly got choked up! I'd been gone too long, and there was just enough emotional stress between "The Summer Infatuation Of 2006" and handling a house filled with 15 people and the typical southern heat, that arriving in San Francisco was nearly overwhelming.

I needed to just zone out a day before posting all of this.

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Sunday, July 09, 2006

Peaches Christ and BEYOND...!!!

That GRAND Mistress of the Dark, Peaches Christ has kicked off her annual summer festival of midnight movies, aka 'Midnight Mass with your hostess, Peaches Christ'! (Actually, it started LAST weekend, but who's counting?!) This weekend's festivities surrounded the release of the spectacular DVD edition of Russ Meyer's classic, "Beyond the Valley of the Dolls"! An evening with Peaches Christ is no dull affair. (Nor a short one, for that matter, as the midnight show tends to go on until around 3 a.m.)

Peaches Christ, who was in 'FULL Z-Man as Superwoman drag', introduced the Whoa Nellies, a local band who performed EXCELLENT covers of three of the songs from "Beyond the Valley of the Dolls." They were each dressed as a particular character from the film, which was sort of a cool touch, though it gives the evening a suitable cheesiness, too. However, their musicianship is outstanding

Following the band, there was a short interlude of clips highlighting the performances of Peaches' SPECIAL guests! She introduced three of the cast members from "Beyond...": Erica Gavin (Roxanne), Marcia McBroom (Petronella), and John Lazar (Ronnie 'Z-Man' Barzell). Actually, Peaches claimed nervousness and allowed Lazar to introduce himself and the two women. (I sort of don't believe this, but I do not know why Peaches excused herself at that point.) During the interview, Lazar was a bit of a mic hog, however Gavin's reactions to that were priceless. McBroom has BARELY aged, and looks amazing! I can't say I remember much of what the interview revealed that wasn't already covered in the extras on the recent DVD release. However, it was nice to see Lazar look better than he does on the interviews on the disc. And Gavin got to speak about her experiences in "Vixen" and a couple of other Russ Meyer's flicks she was in. The audience was more than appreciative (and a bit more than vocal) of this experience.

In fact, as the film was screened, it quickly became apparent that this was a more than usually rowdy Midnight Mass crowd. Or at least there was a row of them. At one point, I was ready to leave, however I was there with friends and thought better than to disrupt the evening (morning?) more than it already was. So, I simply finished off my rum and pineapple and some peanut M&Ms and snuggled down for the duration. Oh, yes. I sort of forgot about THAT part of the Midnight Mass experience. The crowd is informed as they wait outside in line that "any visible alcoholic beverages will be confiscated." Note the word "visible". A good half of the audience notes that word, too, including your humble author and friends. There are no warnings about pot, which are fairly openly consumed inside and outside of the theater. So, that should give you a better idea of why the crowd is so 'vocally appreciative of the experience'.

During the screening of the film, the special guests were out in the lobby signing photos, t-shirts, dvds, cds, etc. for nominal fees. (JimmyD, tbe photographer in this report, bought a autographed photo from Lazar costing $20, and they were signing the DVDs for $15!) The band was back there too, selling cds, I assume. The crowd in the lobby was a bit raucous at times, as well.

Anyway, I guess this isn't so much of a review as it is simply a report upon yet another San Francisco Only experience! ;)

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Thursday, July 06, 2006

Cinematic Comix in 3D (Superman Returns)

I don't post most commercial flicks I see here, as there is usually a bombardment of news and reviews out there to meander through. So why add to the static? However, I just felt the need...

"Superman Returns" (dir. Bryan Singer, US, 2006, 154 minutes or so) I witnessed the 'IMAX 3D' version, so I do not know for certain whether this was an alternate version, which includes just five scenes in 3D, or a reformatted version of the original. There seems to be some debate, and I would have to go a second time on a regular screen, to be sure. However, as fun and beautiful looking as this little $360 million flick may be, I'm not that willing to turn around and go see it again.

Brandon Routh does a lovely job as the caped crusader, and in more ways than one. He is ginormously gorgeous on the IMAX screen. Though the closeups nearly reveal the shade of Revelon eye-liner he's using. They could have backed off a bit on his make-up, I think. Routh also uses his soap opera experience ("One Life To Live") to create the most romantic Superman of the bunch! Surprisingly enough, I found myself actually taken by the romantic subplot between him and Lois Lane, played by Kate Bosworth. Bosworth has the unfortunate position of being 'the girl' in this enormous action flick, and 'Lois' really isn't given much to do but stare in awe and goggle. She comes close to having some real meat to her scenes with Kevin Spacey as Lex Luthor.

Now. One does have high expectations of Luthor, primarily based upon Gene Hackman's brilliant performance in the original some twenty odd years ago. Spacey has HUGE shoes to fill. And he doesn't. In fact, I found all of his scenes upstaged by Parker Posey (who is quickly becoming my next Screen Diva Goddess!), who plays his 'moll'. She doesn't need to do anything more than march down a spiral staircase to grab my attention with joy! She delivers some of the simplest lines with fabulous irony and wit. And there are a LOT of simple lines in this script.

One can not really seriously discuss a screenplay for this genre. However, this one was just sort of 'off'. Though I am always prepared to suspend my disbelief for such flicks, this really started to ask for too much. Yes, even though the original's 'time turning finale' was over the top, it is the inconsistencies in this plot that were more distracting than unrealistically laughable. I had some internal debate regarding a plot point involving the timing of Lois Lane's relationships. (Without giving away a spoiler, the girl is 'easy'.) I also had some internal debating about how effective is Kryptonite against the big guy, and in what amounts, etc. I guess what I am trying to say here is that some of the sequences are so drawn out that I had time to wonder about the validity, where I should have been either on the edge of my seat or visually amazed. I think there were just a few too many cooks in this kitchen, as the screenplay credits no less than five writers, which probably means there were a half dozen more asked to 'doctor' scenes.

Overall, I'd say Singer did a workmanlike job with this flick. However, his trademark subtext and fabulous wit only comes through in Parker Posey's performance. The rest of the production has the feel of having been shopped out, which the end credits validate, as the special effects were created by no less than EIGHT different companies. It is a great looking film. Actually, it is nearly a full length animated CGI flick. Why that process couldn't have been completely converted into 3D, instead of the five lone sequences, is sort of beyond me. In fact, the opening credits are some of the most thrilling visuals in the film, yet that is in standard single dimension. Why not convert that and not the boyhood flashback of running through the cornfields? Why not a nice trip through the Fortress of Crystal Dildos, er I mean, Fortress of Solitude? It is gorgeously designed yet under utilized. We do get one nice 3D flight towards the end, however even that didn't fully use the 'duck and cover' potential.

So, sure, it's worth a summer-popcorn-go-see, however, when I saw "X-Men 3" on Monday, I think felt a much higher audience anticipation during the trailer of "Snakes on a Plane". Oh, I can't wait!

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Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Obnoxious and disliked?!

Ok, I know it sounds hokey that on the Fourth of July that I would pop in a little dvd review of the musical of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, but... DEAL WITH IT!

"1776" (dir Peter H. Hunt, US, 1972, 168 mins - director's cut/dvd) I just love this thing! A friend told me once that "Sweeney Todd" was the first 'butch musical' he'd ever heard. "1776" was mine. The music and orchestrations are nearly operatic, and William Daniels' performance as 'John Adams' blasts through on the original cast recording, and to see him on film is stunning. The man would nearly make a career out of being a stuffy Bostonian ("The Adams Chronicles" "St. Elsewhere"). The film of "1776" brings him as well as nearly the entire original cast to screen. And in fact, it was the producer's (Jack L. Warner) wish to present the stage version on screen as faithfully as possible. (Well, that's what he initially intended to do. During post-production and beyond, Warner would eventually cut the film to shreds in an attempt to make more money off of it. The DVD is the fully restored director's cut.) Director Peter H. Hunt directed the play, Patricia Zipprodt (costumes) and John Jay Moore (art direction) also designed it for the stage. Onna White choreographed the play and the film.

Anyway, the transfer to screen can seem a bit stagey, except for Harry Stradling Jr.'s brilliant (and Oscar nominated) cinematography. Using devices that were 20 years ahead of their time, the camera floats and flies around 'Independence Hall' as if it were a fly on the wall, which was probably exactly his intent. The takes are incredibly long at times, which benefitted from the cast's stage experience in maintaining the length of the scenes. The few outdoor sequences and the 'letter sequences' in particular are beautifully and glossily shot.

The performances are quite BIG in most cases, as Hunt did not seem to want to pull them back. Nor did he need to. Though the characters are larger than life, the human foibles that the play exposes only magnifies the humanity of these historical ghosts. So, playing it as large as some of the performers do, only reinforces the humanity of what might be 'oil painting portraits'. By having such large performances (John Cullum's is freakin' OPERATIC!), the urgency of everyone's intentions are only reinforced. If there were one weak link in the ensemble, it would be Blythe Danner who was cast instead of Betty Buckley as Jefferson's wife. She is quite young and appears somewhat inexperienced in syncing to the track. However, one can see the physical presence that they were looking for in casting her. (Also, she has only one scene, so it isn't that big of a disruption.) The film also catches Ken Howard ('Thomas Jefferson') at his youngest and prettiest!

The print itself is in pretty good condition and the restoration elements are seemlessly integrated. The sound is a bit wonky, but that is due to the period (1972), so even though the disc is in Dolby 5.1, the actual soundtrack is actually just rechannelled mono.

The Extras:
There is a commentary with Peter Hunt (director) and Peter Stone (screenplay and original book of the musical). The first half hour has some nifty trivia, but then Stone takes over and just babbles on and on and on about character motivations, etc. It is not a particularly good commentary, however there are nuggets to be found, if you are patient.
Screen tests, which aren't all that interesting as they are done against a blank wall and the performers, who had been playing these characters for about 2 years at this point, are all quite well rehearsed.

So, go out and be a campy little citizen and buy or rent this one!

Happy 4th of July!

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Sunday, July 02, 2006

Ruth Ann and Relyea ROCK!! (and roll, at times)

"The Marriage of Figaro" (by W.A. Mozart; Production: San Francisco Opera; Director: John Copley; Conductor: Roy Goodman) played it's final performance this afternoon to a standing ovation at the San Francisco Opera, War Memorial Opera House. Firstly, I am not going to recap or dissect the material, as there are HUNDREDS of years of analysis available. If I were to say anything about the Three Hours and Forty Five minutes of music, it would be, "There are too many notes." However, with as many notes as there are, and with an army of principles singing, director John Copley has crafted an entertaining ensemble comedy.

I LOVE John Copley's work at the opera! I have seen his brilliant stagings of "Semele" and "Giulio Cesare" (both of which also featured Ruth Ann Swenson) as well as his production of "Peter Grimes". I loved all three of these and add this production of "The Marriage of Figaro" to that list. Copley concentrates more on the performance of the drama, than the presentation of the music, which I love him for! There is no need to have the soloist(s) stand still, face forward and sing away, while any other characters zone out into the background so we can concentrate on the notes. In Copley's productions, the characters are having interior monologues running at all times, whether they are singing or not. And if they are singing, the voice doesn't seem to matter as much as the content, which if under less capable performers could be disastrous.

At today's performance, one of my true goddesses of the opera house,Ruth Ann Swenson, seemed to be having a bit of vocal difficulty. She played the Countess, which is rather deep and low for Swenson and has the added liability of entering nearly an hour into the production (Act 2 of 4). Her opening aria was just a shade flat. (This I confirmed with my opera buddy, Gretchen.) She recovered for the rest of the act, and tonally for the rest of the opera. However, deep into Act 4, she would again be a bit 'off', sounding almost as if she were fighting a cold. Usually such conditions are announced. However, that said, what slender flaws she may have had vocally, she had none in her acting. Swenson is a consummate actress who risks her technical skills to the character, which is awesome! Facially, she is incredible! Her huge eyes play the script so well, one almost needn't look up at the supertitles flashing on the proscenium above her. I. Love. Her!

John Relyea as 'Figaro' and Peter Mattei as 'The Count' cut quite the dashing figures on stage! Relyea was particularly yummy in his shirtless entrance, believe it or not! I think we can say farewell to the days of Tubby Tenors and Bearish Baritones. The two male leads also handled the acting with aplomb, Mattei with head-smacking intensity! Camilla Tilling as 'Susanna', our ingenue, sounded simply lovely and pulled out all the stops by Act 4 and proved herself to be more than just a pretty woman with a lovely voice, but a good comedienne and actress. Catherine Cook as 'Marcellina', Susanna's nemesis, gets to truly spotlight her comic abilities which have only been hinted at in her small roles in previous company productions. She was a HOOT! Claudia Mahnke in the pants role of 'Cherubino' sounds quite lovely and does a reasonable job. It is not until the character is instructed to cross-dress that Mahnke's acting skills get any kind of spotlight, as she quite convincingly pulled off the 'woman as a man as a woman' moment that can seem silly. My only hesitant mention in the cast is Dale Travis who played 'Dr. Bartolo'. The role is unfortunately saddled with patter numbers and in the lowest of bass ranges, so nearly any singer would be anchored down there. Even with that, he does pull off the Act 3 revelation with some aplomb.

This ensemble moved like clockwork as far as the physical farce elements were concerned. Copley manages to get everyone running behind the screens, draperies, doors, trees, etc. with farcical precision. The set designs are fairly routine, however, but that only adds to the focus and enjoyment of the performances. Swenson's gowns were gorgeous, and were probably the only truly outstanding pieces on stage. The lighting was workmanlike, though Copley managed to get some artistry from it during the final tableau, which was lovely!

Now. The conductor. It was a long afternoon, made only longer by the tepid pacing with which Roy Goodman conducted the production. I sensed it at intermission and Gretchen fully voiced and confirmed that. There were moments when some cast members were obviously glued to Goodman during the midst of the phrases, as if they weren't sure WHAT the tempo might be at any given moment. However, Goodman never over played the cast on stage, so at least that was a good thing.

Overall, it was perhaps the finest example of ensemble acting and singing I've seen at the opera house! The audience confirmed that with a partial standing ovation, which almost NEVER happens at the Sunday Matinees!

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June Was Bustin' Out All Over!

I'm not sure, but perhaps it was the Hawai'i Adventure that 'opened me up' to a month of intense emotional activity. Four days after returning from Hawai'i, I turned around and went back to SFO to be the 'official witness' to the marriage of my Atlanta friends, Rick and Chip in Vancouver, British Columbia. It was a long weekend/short week trip and the actual ceremony itself in the Vancouver Botanic Gardens was lovely, and for my cynical little self, rather touching. (Oh, and lest I forget, the photographer's husband, aka assistant on the shoot, was quite charming and fun to talk to as the boys and the wife were climbing all over the gardens taking shots.)

I returned just in time to witness Leslie Jordan's tour de force "Like a Dog On Linoleum" at the Lorraine Hansbury Theatre. It has proven to be such a success that the run is extended another month! Plus, Jordan has been ALL OVER the city promoting it. Jordan's show appeared in the midst of the SF Indie "Another Hole In The Head" Film Festival. A week long gathering of independent horror, sci-fi and a esoteric psychedelia, which I managed to keep up with, even though I got my first 'official studio dvd review' gig with the releases of "Valley of the Dolls" and "Beyond the Valley of the Dolls". It was around this point that this whole 'blogging review' thing started to become a job.

I was unable to attend the Closing Night of the 'Another Hole in the Head' Festival, due to the opening night of the San Francisco International Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, aka Frameline 30, which was on the same day as the press preview of Larry Clark's "Wassup Rockers?". GAWD!!! Basically, there were THREE events overlapping, and I gave up on the Closing Night horror flick, "Feed", as that is available on video from Australia. (It also won the audience award! ack!)

Then, as you may note, I spent the majority of the next ten days watching and blogging Frameline 30. (Oh! There was the press preview of the Jewish Film Festival, which runs in July.) Well, yes, I spent the majority of those days in theaters until the arrival of the out of towners, etc. wholly distracted me from the task at hand. Since I'd been going for a solid 30 days at that point, I figured it was ok to give myself a 'weekend' even if it was at the climax of Frameline 30 and Pride Month and Gay Day and what else...

I then entertained my special houseguest for the rest of the week, which one of my best friends refers to as 'my fantasy Pride Month Date'. Now, there might be more truth to that than not, but we have been keeping in touch over the past weekend. I also plan to visit him in Atlanta next week. (Woo hoo!) Right after dropping him off in Sacramento for work, I proceeded to view and review his debut, also.

To end the month, I helped one of my best friends, Jimmy and Kevin, make their separation final by moving Kevin to a new studio. Jimmy moves next weekend. So, I started the month with a wedding, filled it with festivities, festivals and a 'dream date', and ended it with a divorce.

June was an entire life in a month!

July = Today, an opera. Next week, a week in Atlanta split in two by a week in Edisto Island, S.C., followed by the Jewish Film Festival, with sprinklings of 'Midnight Mass with Peaches Christ' on Saturday nights!

August = My sister visits for a week. A Mini rally. And gawd help me if there is ANOTHER film festival!

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