Title, country: “I AM A GHOST,” United States
Stars: Anna Ishida, Jeannie Barroga
Director: H.P. Mendoza
Synopsis (paraphrased from AFFD’s site): Something is amiss in the old house a young woman inhabits, where strange sounds, eerie voices and an overriding sense of dread permeate her every moment.
My thoughts: With a forward momentum that can only be described as undulating, ‘Ghost’ kept the Magnolia Theater audience spellbound with unforeseen twists, a noxious undertone of stomach-turning tension, and pieces that added up to a hugely satisfying culmination … if you’re a horror fiend like me.
When our protagonist Emily — I don’t think it’s giving away much to say she’s the ghost of the title — finds the tedious routine she replays in a sprawling historical home abruptly interrupted, all hell eventually, literally breaks loose and she’s challenged with finding a way to escape its clutches. But much of the first half of the film is spent watching that aforementioned tedium unfold in waves of repetition; so much repetition I thought folks were walking out. But the payoff of knowing so intimately how the repeated scenes unfolded was exquisite, as was watching the quiet early moments unfurl into a deafening crescendo.
This largely one-person movie couldn’t possibly stay afloat nor would its crackling intensity come alive were it not for the spare yet dynamic performance of Anna Ishida, who plays Emily. Watching blind complacency then childlike fear then sheer terror inhabit her features was a wonder. And kudos, too, to young writer-director H.P. Mendoza — a less patient director would spoil the pace of the film or front-load it with every cliched horror-movie bell and whistle. But he managed to let the movie flow in an economical way that respected its delicate underlying stories of history, memory and heartache. Mendoza seems like a talent to keep an eye on.Read the rest
I was invited to check out Dallas Theater Center‘s production of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” on opening night — what a lavish, whimsical and exhilarating time.
As even casual musical theater followers know, “Joseph” is the (very loosely told and highly musicalized) Biblical story of Jacob and his 12 sons, including his favorite, Joseph, to whom he bestows a precious multicolored robe. The gesture doesn’t sit too well with Jacob’s other sons who then capture and sell Joseph as a slave, teling their parents that he did in an animal attack. Hijinks ensue as Joseph rises from the depths of despair to a leader of men — including, eventually, his own brothers.
What I enjoyed about the production were all the modern touches — characters wield all the latest electronic devices, including MP3 players, cell phones and digital cameras. Too, many of the prominent people that waft into Joseph’s life are clearly based on popular and historical figures from centuries later. Fun touch …
But of course, in addition to the fanfare and story, we’re here for the music, and the tunes in “Joseph” didn’t disappoint, even including a singalong at one point. The cast — particularly lead Sydney James Harcourt — showed off stage-honed chops and dynamic magnetism and comedic chops. A slew of kids make up a big part of the production, and my hats off to them — they were spot-on in singing and movement, and seemed to thoroughly enjoy themselves, to boot. Bravo!
“Joseph” is showing at the Wyly through
August 5 August 12, which gives you plenty of time to check it out. Prepare to be transported …
ETA: DTC just announced it is extending “Joseph’s” run by a week – a first for any show at the Wyly!Read the rest
Last night, I swung by the party to kick off photo artist Alberto Mena’s exhibit at Waas Gallery – what a fun crowd! Folks milled in and out of the rooms of the converted house perusing the NYC-based artist’s works, then congregated outside for conversation, eats from Rock and Roll Tacos and drinks and lively drink-making from Lucky Campbell.
I didn’t stay for long, but I did get to briefly meet Alberto, who will lead a Q&A back at the gallery (2722 Logan St.) today at 11 a.m. Check him out!Read the rest
Yesterday, I spent my afternoon richly, catching up with good friends and enjoying the imaginative tiny worlds conjured up by artists at the Third-Ever Diorama-O-Rama. Having been to the first two in 2008 and 2009, I’m happy to report that this latest edition was the biggest and best so far. Or, as I stated on the event’s Facebook wall, You’ve come a long way, baby.
This weekend’s o-Rama was housed at a Bolt Productions studio in the Design District, a wonderful find. Open, airy and plenty white, it was the ideal blank space for this kind of party, where art was on display, folks mingled indoors and out, bevs and snackies were handed out, and DJs supplied the jams. We sipped on beer and wine, and The Tamale Company provided delectable eats.
The event’s benefitting charity was represented there, with Cafe Momentum participants serving sweets during the afternoon and founder and Parigi restaurant co-owner Chad Houser saying a few words on the org’s behalf.
And the art? Alternately curious, introspective, humorous and illuminating, all intelligent and thoughtful — many pushing the definition of “diorama,” for sure. Folks bid on a couple dozen silent auction works, while a few dioramas were set aside for the live auctioning. A very loud live auction — I’m experiencing some mild hearing loss today. (Note to self: Don’t perch yourself next to the speaker next time, duh.)
All in all, I had a thoroughly wonderful time, and I’d say the event appeared to be a big success. I hope D-O-R can sustain an annual pace from here on out — I already can’t wait for the next one! I see it as one of those great little events that if Dallas really embraces and gets behind, can only add to the uniqueness of our fair city. And that’s sayin’ a lot — so kudos, Diorama-O-Rama!!
Here, some more snapshots of the fabulousness that was Diorama-O-Rama …
[dmalbum path="/wp-content/uploads/dm-albums/Dioramaorama 2012/"/]Read the rest
Wednesday night I attending the opening of the Broadway musical “Green Day’s American Idiot,” a rousing, gut-churning performance that had even non-fans of the pop-punk outfit mesmerized.
Me, I’m a huuuge Green Day fan since the trio hit big with “Dookie” (I have the cassette tape around here somewhere!) in 1994. Who’d have thought Billie Joe Armstrong & Co. had Great White Way aspirations for their raging opinion piece in song, “American Idiot”? But here it is, a loud, guitar-grinding journey following three young men in post-9/11 suburbia looking to inject their staid lives with adventure and maybe a little meaning.
It took me about 20 minutes to get hooked by this musical, as it doesn’t quite follow a traditional format of, say, a Rodgers & Hammerstein piece. On the one hand, the writer in me wanted a tad more character development, but then again, the three leads aren’t exactly the deepest of characters, and maybe aren’t meant to be plumbed to their core. But I enjoyed their ride, and the music? The guitar-driven score pounds into your chest, and each song fit into its respective place in the narrative so aptly — some, like “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” and “21 Guns” had extra resonance in the context of the play, even bringing me near tears. Damn you, Billie Joe.
The musical’s an ass-whipping roller coaster of emotion, and the leads, especially Van Hughes as Johnny (right), filled every pore of their character’s skin with a boiling mix of rage, confusion and angst. Adding to the frenetic pace of the characters’ whirlwind adventures was the glowing, blinking, scrolling digital billboard of a set — some of the images that populated the flat-screens that dotted the wall were stunning, spectacular and unique (when a character sings about being pregnant, the screens resembled ovens with something baking inside).
“Green Day’s American Idiot” calls the AT&T Performing Arts Center home until May 20. Fasten your seat belt, it’s worth the ride (oooh, but leave the young’uns at home — this ride is a decidedly adult-themed experience).Read the rest