Friday, September 30, 2011

49th NYFF Gets Started With 'Carnage'

Jodie Foster, John C. Reilly, Christoph Waltz and Kate Winslet in "Carnage." Photo courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics.

CIVILITY takes a holiday when two couples meet to make things right after their boys have a fight on the playground.

This is how it goes down in Roman’s Polanski’s super-charged and tightly wound “Carnage,” which opens the 49th New York Film Festival tonight with a gala screening at Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall The film stars Jodie Foster, Kate Winslet, Christoph Waltz and John C. Reilly as the parents.

Before NYFF closes on 16 Oct. with “The Descendants,” film buffs will have experienced a wide variety of film and film-related events.

Besides the “Main Slate” of new release of which “Carnage” is a part, there is the “15 Annual Views from the Avant-Garde” where the focus is on the experimental and far offbeat in film making. In the “Masterworks” category is a digitally restored version of “Ben-Hur.” Viewers who saw it last week on TCM will have quite a treat in this large screen version in a restored form. Another noteworthy event under the Masterworks rubric is a centennial, 37-film tribute to the groundbreaking Nikkatsu Studio (“Velvet Bullets and Steel Kisses: Celebrating the Nikkatsu Centennial”), which among other achievements is credited with creating the surrealistic soft-core porn films called “roman porno.”

The “Special Events” category features documentaries and anniversary screenings. One documentary not to miss is Stefano Savona’s “Tahrir,” which chronicles events on the ground in Cairo’s Tahrir Square days before Hosni Mubarak decided to step down. Meanwhile period film fans will enjoy a screening of “Howard’s End.” The Merchant-Ivory film and Sony Pictures release will be shown following the talk and clipfest, “20 Years of Art Cinema: A Tribute to Sony Pictures Classics.”

During “HBO Films Directors Dialogues” directors discuss their work and answer questions from the interviewer and audience. Abel Ferrara (“4:44: Last Day on Earth”) may have some thoughts on the end of the world, while Julia Loktev (“The Lonliest Planet”), could speak to landscape as a main character.

Debuting at NYFF this year is “Forums,” a series of free panel discussions designed to provide a better understanding of the film industry and facilitate up-close and personal moments with filmmakers (John Landis and Pedro Almodovar, for instance).

Stay tuned for more from NYFF, including reviews.

Visit http://www.filmlinc.com/nyff2011/schedule to learn more about the 49th New York Film Festival, including ticket and venue information.

'American Teacher' and the Crisis in Public Education

Rhena Jasey with students in "American Teacher." Photo courtesy of First Run Features.

EVERYONE agrees that primary and secondary public education in the United States is a mess, especially in the nation’s big cities. Everyone also agrees that part of making it better is attracting and retaining good teachers.

Vanessa Roth takes on the subject in “American Teacher.” The director uses the stories of five educators in different areas of the country to address such issues as low pay, recruitment, retention as well as the challenges and triumphs experienced by those in public education. Prescriptions are also discussed for reforming a highly dysfunctional system.

The film opens today in New York at the Empire AMC Cinemas and in Los Angeles at the Broadway AMC Santa Monica.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

O.O.P. Tops Office Meal Combo Every Time. Honest.

Eating at the computer is not good for the digestion. Photo by Dreamstime.

By JANET COOK, NYC Healthy Chick

SO
which Office Breakfast Combo do you order daily?

Office Combo 1: 16 oz. of black coffee or Diet Coke on an empty stomach, Office Combo 2: Doughnuts with sugar frosting-n-rainbow sprinkles and 16 oz. cup of coffee, or Office Combo 3: Skipping breakfast altogether?

Lentils, brown rice and onions can be a main dish or a side. Photo from Whole Foods Market.

And exactly how do you feel just hours afterward? Fatigued, and with your mojo has disappearoed? Hmmm, this is definitely not a good thing to experience daily at work or any place.

Do not worry; eat three square meals a day; say your prayers; be courteous to your creditors; keep your digestion good; exercise; go slow and easy. Maybe there are other things your special case requires to make you happy, but my friend, these I reckon will give you a good lift.Lincoln, Abraham

Batman would recommend foods that provide the necessary energy to fight off bad guys and other stressers. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

Ah, thanks Abe for sharing those tips for optimal living. However, in this day and age life has become a tad bit more complicated for most. People are eating on the run with their three square meals a day consisting of 72 percent nutritionally bankrupt processed foods. At least five days a week two out of three meals are consumed at work in front of a computer. HEY, WAKE UP! We have a silent natural disaster happening right before our very eyes. Gadzooks! Not even Batman can save us from this mayhem or can he?

Well, Batman can if he suggests that we start each day with a power breakfast and sip 64 ounces of room temperature filtered water followed by a sensible lunch, mid-afternoon snack and dinner. Eating a power breakfast will curb hunger later in the day. Pack healthy snacks like raw veggies, unsweetened dried fruit and whole grain crackers or nuts to avoid grazing on sugary, fattening foods.

The momentary pleasure that comes from eating a doughnut is not worth the after effects. Photo by Dunkin Donuts Coupons.

The body's demand for high quality nutrients is greater when it is (and we are) under stress. Stressed out coworkers can easily influence others to graze and nosh even if they are not hungry – especially around the 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. blood sugar crash hour. Don't forget to include fatty oils as part of your daily plan because they contribute to brain function and positively affect cardiovascular and digestive functioning. Examples are flaxseed, grapeseed and extra virgin olive. Another is fish oil, which is easy to find in pill form.

Ready to give up on Office Meal Combos? Take action today by creating a longterm solution that addresses nutritionally bankrupt foods and that will help with better managing stress. Woot! Woot! Not only will your performance at work be optimal and your energy sustainable, your waistline will shrink.

The choice is clear; the young woman should have the apple instead of the hamburger. Photo by Dreamstime.

Ready? Set? Let’s go with NYC Healthy Chick's 5 Tips for Optimal Office Performance (O.O.P.):

1. Eat a power breakfast – combinations include a banana and protein shake; peanut butter or other nut butter on whole wheat toast; raw veggies and hummus; avocado;

2. Sip 64 ounces of filtered water; eliminate other beverages;

3. Limit or eliminate all processed foods; eat more fresh vegetables that are organic or locally-grown;

4. Avoid artificial sweeteners of all kinds;

5. Take a high quality supplement containing calcium, magnesium, potassium and fish oil.

The vegetarian Tuscan kale and white bean soup packs a lot of nutrients but not salt and fat. Photo by Whole Foods.

Following are easy 1-2-3 recipes that will get you pumped up for the day and help break the cycle of eating Office Meal Combos.

Greens are an exceptional choice for breakfast because they load the body with the minerals needed to get through a tough day at the office. Whip up in 5 minutes or less a Green Smoothie, which is a terrific alternative to the coffee-and-doughnut combo. It's filling and will get your brain going with the fatty oils. Instead of milk, use a high quality whey protein powder to take in essential amino acids. (http://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/green-smoothie/detail.aspx)

Brown bagging it never tasted so good! Say goodbye to sodium- and fat-laden office soups. Cook once, eat twice the Vegetarian Tuscan Kale and White Bean Soup. Filling up with nutritionally dense ingredients keeps you zooming without any post-lunch energy lulls. (http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/recipes/2451)


Abraham Lincoln expressed some interesting thoughts on the good life. Photo courtesy of Visiting DC.

Got a weekly Middle Eastern food hankering? Give the local spot a break, not to mention your wallet by preparing the vegetarian main course of Lentils, Brown Rice and Carmelized Onions the night before. (http://www.bit.ly/oZeLyF)

Plan your work and work your plan. When work-related stress comes calling, remember that you can always manage it better with whole foods prepared at home. Be sure to include active ingredients like greens to super charge your body and mind. Who knows, maybe your supervisors will take notice and reward you with an unexpected bonus or promotion.

That is the kind of office combo that is good for the mojo.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

In Revival, 'Follies' Is in Its Most Spectacular Form

Elaine Paige as Carlotta Campion and cast members in "Follies." Photos by Joan Marcus.

BY TAMARA BECK

ELAINE Paige
and Bernadette Peters helm a cast of 41 players with a 28 -piece orchestra in a revival of “Follies,” the Tony award-winning musical about reminiscence and regret.

An enormously – even unusually – spectacular undertaking, the revival is in a limited run through early 2012 at the Marquis Theatre

The “Follies” to which the title refers is a vaudeville conceit like the Weismann Follies, standing in for Ziegfield’s revues in the musical. But the musical “Follies” makes use of another interpretation of its title. Follies are unwise actions imprudently undertaken by each of the lead characters who met through Weismann and now, 30 years later, reunite.

Ron Raines as Ben Stone and Bernadette Peters as Sally Durant Plummer (foreground) and Lora Lee Gayer as Young Sally and Nick Verina as Young Ben in "Follies."

Since the theater that housed the famed Weismann revue is slated for demolition – to be replaced by a parking lot – impresario Dimitri Weismann (David Sabin) invites his “Beautiful Girls” to one final reunion. As “Follies” plays out, scenes from the past are replayed, sometimes alongside those from the present. The stage is filled with nostalgic visions of Weismann’s revues and its stars from 1918 to 1941.

Among those eagerly showing up for this gathering in 1971 is Sally Durant Plummer (BP) who met Ben Stone (Ron Raines) and Buddy Plummer (Danny Burstein) when she was a starlet rooming with Phyllis Rogers Stone (Jan Maxwell) in the 1940s revue.

The two stage-struck young men (Nick Verina as Young Ben and Christian Delcroix as Young Buddy) woo the girls (Lora Lee Gayer as Young Sally and Kirsten Scott as Young Phyllis) nightly with flowers and dancing. (See video at http://www.folliesbroadway.com/media/video)

The four main stars in “Follies” each parade their own folly and foibles.

Kirsten Scott as Young Phyllis, Nick Verina as Young Ben, Lora Lee Gayer as Young Sally and Christian Delcroix as Young Buddy in "Follies."

Sally foolishly clings to a meaningless memory of Ben and yearns for all that slipped by her – a lover she lost to Phyllis and the glamorous life Ben and Phyllis seem to live. Ben, despite a life of public acclaim, has daily regrets and fills his time with pointless dalliances. Phyllis, nobody’s fool, “you bet your sweet ass,” also indulges herself with silly flings with young men. Buddy, while very much in love with his wife, Sally, is locked in a folie a deux with another woman.

Not surprisingly, for this fabulous and well-planned production that was developed at the Kennedy Center in Washington, the entire cast of Broadway regulars and some newbies is top-notch. It’s also no surprise that two-time Tony-winner BP shines as the tremulous and unbalanced Sally, whose link to the past is stronger than her grip on the present.


Jan Maxwell as Phyllis Rogers Stone in "Follies."

If there is a surprise it is seeing JM, who received two Tony nods in 2010 for roles in a farce and a light drama, as a song-and- dance diva. Her showstopping numbers, “Could I Leave You?” and “The Story of Lucy and Jessie,” are breathtaking. Being very different in tone, they show off her range, even in a musical role.

Indeed, “Follies” abounds with showstopping numbers, from Hattie Walker’s (Jayne Houdyshell) “Broadway Baby” to the mirror-song danced by all the ladies and their younger counterparts, led by Stella Deems (Terri White). In this number, “Who’s That Woman,?” Warren Carlyle’s impressive choreography also earnss him a showstopper moment..

In fact, each of the leads gets to stop the show once or twice from the hit parade of memorable tunes, such as “Too Many Mornings” (RR and BP) and “Losing My Mind” (BP). Carlotta Campion’s (EP) “I’m Still Here” is an ode to resilience frequently heard on the cabaret circuit.

From beginning to end, “Follies” offers a remarkable experience. Even the auditorium of the modern and elegant Marquis Theatre is transformed by set-designer Derek McLane into a down-at-the-heels vaudeville house.

Don Correia as Theodore Whitman, Susan Watson as Emily Whitman, Jayne Houdyshell as Hattie Walker and Mary Beth Peil as Solange LaFitte in Follies.

“Follies” is a complex and beautifully constructed musical play. James Goldman’s book – for which he received a Tony nomination for the original 1972 production – is no less brilliant than the Tony-winning songs Stephen Sondheim has written for his iconic musical. Eric Schaeffer’s direction allows the stories to unfold and flower at a perfect pace for a memory play.

“Follies” surpasses all the fluttery expectations of an SS revival. This is flat-out the best production of “Follies” to date.

Visit http://www.folliesbroadway.com/ to learn more about “Follies.”

Friday, September 23, 2011

Unorthodox Rise of an Underdog in 'Moneyball'

Billy Beane (Brad Pitt) and Peter Brand (Jonah Hill) create a formula for recruiting the best talent in "Moneyball." Photos by Melinda Sue Gordon/Columbia TriStar Marketing Group.

THINKING outside the box or defying conventional wisdom is at the heart of “Moneyball,” but it is really about the competitive nature of a determined man, one who just might have something to prove.

The film is based on the real-life story of Billy Beane (Brad Pitt), a former professional baseball player who did not live up to his superstar potential. He quit the talent side of the game and repurposed himself as a management type. (See video below).

Going into the 2002 season, General Manager Billy is tasked with reviving the lowly Oakland A’s, which once again has seen star players poached by elite clubs such as the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox. It opens nationwide today. (Also opening are “Abduction,” “Dolphin Tale” and “Killer Elite.”)



In his quest to have a winning season Billy embraces some statistical theories that establishment baseball has dismissed as poppycock. He presses economist Peter Brand (Jonah Hill) into service to morph these theories into a concrete player recruitment blueprint that will bring the A’s into some glory. The result is a formula that instructs that the A’s should court very special types: “old” guys, oddballs, the injured and incessant troublemakers. A’s field manager Art Howe (Philip Seymour Hoffman) ain't buyin' it and refuses to go along.

“The film questions the very idea of how to define success," asserts BP who also has a producer’s credit. "It places great value on this quiet, personal victory, the victory that’s not splashed across the headlines or necessarily results in trophies, but that, for Beane, became a kind of personal Everest.”

“Moneyball” is adapted from the 2003 book of the same name by Michael Lewis, a former Salomon Brothers bond trader. ML, who has emphasized that his book is not the most natural fit for film because of its emphasis on statistical analyses and theories, is pleased with the outcome.

“Whenever a book is adapted into a movie, there are two possibilities: either the filmmakers stick to the book, or they make up their own story … it was an extremely pleasant surprise to see that Bennett [Miller, the director] and the screenwriters did the impossible – not only did I love the movie, but I was stunned by how well it represents my book. It is honest and true to what happened with Billy and the A’s and what they achieved.”

Once everybody is on the same page in "Moneyball" the plan is set in motion. That season the A’s made it to the American League Division Series, which the club lost to the Minnesota Twins.

“Moneyball” has gotten mostly favorable notices, with some critics singling out BP and JH as the economist. There is even talk that BP's performance is worthy of an Oscar nomination.

Philip Seymour Hoffman as a baseball field manager who does not like the way the team is being managed in "Moneyball."

Interestingly enough, several "Moneyball" cast and creative members have Oscar on their resume. BP has a couple of nominations, while PSH won a best actor statuette for “Capote.” That film was directed by BM who earned a nomination for his efforts.

It fell to Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin to cloak ML’s technical jargon into sparkling dialogue. SZ was nominated for his “Schindler’s List” screenplay; AS won an Oscar for his screenplay for “The Social Network.”

Moneyball is rated PG-13 for some strong language.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Day 2 MFW: D&G Reveals, Conceals and Teases

The D&G Spring 2012 collection may be heavy on prints, as shown in the photo above and the one below. Photos by Dennis Valle for D&G.

“THE D&G SS12 Womenswear show is quickly approaching: the first thing we want to know is the mood,” teases Swide, the in-house digital rag of Dolce&Gabbana about the D&G show that will start in less than two hours. “We show you just enough not to ruin the surprise for when the gorgeous models take over.”

The fashion parade has left London and is in continental Europe – in Italy to be precise – for Milan Fashion Week. It commenced yesterday with Gucci and Alberta Ferretti among those showing. Before it wraps on Tuesday (27 Sept.) with a show featuring four new up-and-coming designers, some more perennials – Armani, Versace, Prada, Pucci – will have taken their turn. Then it’s off to Paris from 27 Sept. through 5 Oct. The ready-to-wear (Prêt-à-Porter) shows opens with Fatima Lopes and Impasse de la Defense closes things down.

From its inception the young urban bridge line, D&G (women and men), has been bold, hip, edgy and in-your-face sexy. (D&G Men Spring 2012 was shown this summer and is true to form.) For Spring 2012, however, D&G Women is a bohemian-chic that is softer and exudes a demure sexiness.

Judging by the snatches that have been revealed it appears that the collection is going to be heavy on prints. They are Arabian-esque, Hermes-esque and floral; some may even tell a story. The color palette is brilliant red/gold/marine blue/pink/lime green and orange but not the aggressive coral so prevalent on runways in New York last week. The color scheme, also in solids and color blocks, extends to the various and sundry accessories of D&G, too.

Of course, this assessment is based soley on scant details. “What's behind that door?” Dolce&Gabbana coyly asks in a Tweet yesterday. “We could open it but ... let's wait for tomorrow.” Naturally

The show, scheduled for 2 p.m. Milan time (8 a.m. New York time), will stream live at http://www.bit.ly/n2aPxa.

Visit http://www.cameramoda.it/it/ to learn more about Milan Fashion Week.

Not Wasting a Stitch: 'Eco-Fashion the Park'
The avant-garde gray blazer by Wendel Johnston is available at http://www.etsy.com/. Photo from Etsy.

THE drumbeat for sustainability continues on Sunday with the extravaganza, “Eco-Fashion in the Park” at Highbridge Park in upper Manhattan.

It is the season of fashion. Naturally, there is a show. Lissy Gómez (Lvg Designs) and Wendel Johnston are among 11 designers who will put some of their work on a runway. All are committed in word and designs to reducing the collective carbon footprint by working with sustainable materials. Just as important, they wish to raise awareness about the importance of sustainability to an audience that might not have gotten the memo.

“It’s great to see how upcoming, independent designers work with materials that are good for the environment,” “Eco-Fashion in the Park” producer Gina Constanza said in a statement. GC is also a stylist, image consultant and founder of House of Glam (not the Oxygen series). “Shifting fashion to be more sustainable and eco-friendly in their work is just the beginning of an unforgettable prelude to my commitment to this initiative.”

Sketch of a design by Lissy Gómez. Photo courtesy of Lissy Gómez.

The day’s activities, which are free and open to the public, also include a clothing swap (clean/wearable for clean/wearable), body-painting and a live band.

Designer, researcher and educator Trudy Miller will preside over a live demonstration, presumably of sustainable fashion. Some of her past work, according to her LinkedIN page, includes the development of “a zero waste convertible wardrobe system for women on the go.”

Visit http://www.facebook.com/#!/event.php?eid=214207338630232
to learn more about “Eco-Fashion in the Park.”

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Emeril and Other Goodies at NYC Wine & Food Festival

Emeril Lagasse (above left) is a newbie, while the Grand Tasting has a new home at the Food Network New York City Wine & Food Festival. Photos courtesy of Food Network New York City Wine & Food Festival.

“AW, yeah, babe. Feel the love.”

For its fourth installment the Food Network New York City Wine & Food Festival has nabbed none other than Emeril Lagasse. It was inevitable. Himself makes his festival debut with his own Macy’s Lounge storefront at Chelsea Market AfterDark, where according to the pr, he is planning something memorable.

One can imagine that Chelsea Market eateries Jacques Torres Chocolates, L’arte del Gelato and Dickson’s Farmstand will figure in the mix of “delicious bites and seasonal goodies” that EL promises.

Chelsea Market AfterDark is the big attraction of Day 1 of the sponsor-heavy festival, on tap a week earlier this year, from 29 Sept. through 2 Oct. The centerpiece of the last two days is the Grand Tasting. It’s like Chelsea Market AfterDark, only larger, attracting a dizzying number of restaurants, wine&spirit purveyors, exhibitors and a few sundry others. All at the Grand Tasting is designed to whet the appetite, wet the whistle and make life easier in the kitchen with gadgets that you were able to live without – until now.

Whoopi Goldberg (near right) has some big shoes to fill in burger heaven, while others will have their hands full at a sushi seminar.

Among the restaurants onboard is Armani Ristorante. Will envoy and chef Roberto Deiaco prepare Polipo (Octopus Sautéed with Potatoes, Green Beans, Cherry Tomatoes and Olives) or skew closer to tradition with, say, Pennette di Kamut (Kamut Pennette Pasta in a Creamy Sauce with Sautéed Vegetables)? In the exhibitor category is Blue Print Cleanse, which will happily advise those who are stuffed and hungry for a cleansing. The main branding message is that Blue Print Cleanse promises to meet you where you are rather than foisting on a body a one-size-fits-all formula for going off solid food.

For the first time in New York, the Grand Tasting borrows a page from the Miami festival by offering cooking demonstrations, attracting some A-list talent including, Alton Brown, Anne Burrell, The Fabulous Beekman Boys and Bobby Flay. The event also moves to a larger, grander, more picturesque venue in Pier 57.

Lest one forget in all of the eating and drinking, the Food Network New York City Wine & Food Festival is a fundraiser for Food Bank For New York City and Share Our Strength, two agencies dedicated to eradicating hunger. Last year the festival pulled in more than $1.2 million.

A tribute to the sandwich (left) is nearly as special as the banquet that Ching-He Huang will host.

Organizers count on marquee names like EL to attract the thousands willing to part with $195 for the Grand Tasting or $25 for Pancake Party with Clinton St. Baking Co! Obligingly, many of the Food Network stars turn out to cook, sign books and cajole the crowds. Paula Deen and Giada de Laurentiis are warming up their signing hand. GdeL is also back to host San Pellegrino's Meatball Madness and so is defending champion Donatella Arpaia (Mia Dona).

Another busy host is Marcus Samuelsson, who with an assist in the kitchen from chefs Andrea Reusing (Lantern) and Hedy Goldsmith (Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink), receives guests for “Red Rooster Dinner at his new Harlem eatery. No specifics but the focal point of the three-course meal will be food stuffs from local farmers and artisanal food prep methods.

One superstar name missing from this year’s festival is Rachael Ray. What is the Blue Moon Burger Bash to do about a host? Find another, of course. An intense search ensued and the brains in the kitchen came up with whoopee! – that is Whoopi Goldberg!

Anne Burrell (near right) rocks and, bowls but will leave the frying to others.

Over four days there is much to chew on, including themed tastings of American cheese, Godiva chocolates, Chinese wedding banquet offerings (a new event presided over by Ching-He Huang) as well as a Perrier-Jouët 200th anniversary seminar and tasting of several vintages. Carts in the Parc is back with street meat and other fare. It is sponsored by The New York Times Company, as is several TimesTalks programs.

An alliterative TimesTalks is The A List: April Bloomfield, Anne Burrell, Alex Guarnaschelli & Anito Lo. The four chefs jaw about what it's like to be them, appearing on Food Network shows and working with masters such as Mario Batali and so forth. Dishing about food is the raison d'être of several panel discussions. Dining Sustainably in New York Restaurants considers such burning questions as what exactly is the meaning of sustainable, the benefits of eating in a sustainable restaurant and why give a fig.

Bringing down the curtain on the whole shebang is another crowd-pleaser in Guy's Garage: The Festival Closing Party hosted by Guy Fieri. He's the very same who skyrocketed to fame on the strength of his win as "The Next Food Network Star" in its first season. Jeans, T-shirts and beer aplenty.

Marcus Samuelsson (near left) has a lot to crow about just as pastry chef Christina Tosi does over her delectable concoctions.

Last but not least (well, yes, in a manner of speaking) are some freebies around the Food Network New York City Wine & Food Festival. Consider the Illy Park Welcome Center. Here, visitors have various options: purchase tickets, obtain general information, attend book signings and drink free coffee – guess which brand?

An island of calm within a sea of activity is OASIS presented by AOL Huffington Post Media Group. The OASIS lounge beckons all comers for simple rest, yoga, reflexology, aromatherapy, massage services, as well as a daily juice bar. If that does not get burdened bodies in the door, there is “Storytime with Arianna Huffington.”

Visit http://www.nycwineandfoodfestival.com/ to learn more about the Food Network New York City Wine & Food Festival, including ticket information, schedule and venues. Visit http://www.foodbanknyc.org/ to learn more about the Food Bank For New York City. Visit http://http://www.strength.org/ to learn more about Share Our Strength.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Love Is the Most Difficult Algorithm in 'Completeness'

Molly (Aubrey Dollar) and Elliot (Karl Miller) work in a computer lab where they develop their own special chemistry in "Completeness." Photos by Joan Marcus.

BY TAMARA BECK

“COMPLETENESS”
is funny and smart – kind of like a very good boyfriend – but the boyfriend, Elliot (Karl Miller), in Itamar Moses’ play finds relationships challenging.

All of the characters in “Completeness,” at Playwrights Horizons through 25 Sept., find relationships almost as complicated and difficult to navigate as the rest of us might find the theory of relativity.

Elliot, a teaching assistant in computer technology, and Molly (Aubrey Dollar), a researcher in molecular biology, circle each other in the university’s computer lab. Elliot offers Molly an algorithm that will help her eliminate false positives in the research she is doing on protein bonding.

Their working relationship becomes a flirtation that leads Elliot to abandon his girlfriend, Lauren (Meredith Forlenza, in several roles) and Molly to break off a dalliance with her faculty advisor, Don (Brian Avers, also playing a colleague named Franklin). MF, a very appealing young actress, takes Lauren from being confident and demanding to offering to do better to make Elliot happy. Of course, Elliot is happy to move on.

Science, “or so fashionable theory has it,” as IM’s characters would say, is about the real world, and its language encompasses tangible things. Yet in the world of “Completeness,” it also embodies and expresses the emotional world and its connections. (See video at http://www.playwrightshorizons.org/mainstage.asp)

Franklin (Brian Avers), Molly (Aubrey Dollar), Nell (Meredith Forlenza) and Elliot (Karl Miller) puzzle over love in "Completeness."

In “Completeness” science is the metaphor for love, loss and loyalty. The talented cast, particularly KM and AD whose characters are at the heart of the play, masterfully delivers the dense and beautiful script.

“Completeness is about regeneration and making things that are broken whole. The regenerative power of love is carefully examined but may or may not have been found wanting. A relationship, like any experiment, can yield a false positive or “an answer that may not be the answer.”

Visit http://www.playwrightshorizons.org/mainstage.asp to learn more about “Completeness.”

Friday, September 16, 2011

NYFW Goes Out With Falls, Spills and Cries of Outrage

The Made in Africa: By Arise Magazine Spring 2012 edition showcases work of seven designers from the Continent. Photos by Mark Von Holden/Getty Images.

HEAD’S UP: I repeat, it is officially a tradition at VEVLYN’S PEN. The plan each day of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week is to give a roundup of the best (and worse where applicable) and most interesting Yours Truly witnesses, from shows to trends to sightings to the rather unusual/bizarre. It should go without saying, but it shan’t – this won’t be a comprehensive list simply because a body can’t be everywhere. But, of course, depend on one’s best effort. Drum roll, please …

Day 8, last day
(SOME of the players at the tents and elsewhere): Bill Blass, Calvin Klein Collection, Elene Cassis, Guli, Isaac Mizrahi, L’Wren Scott, Made in Africa: By Arise Magazine, Marc Jacobs, Naeem Khan, Sergio Davila, Stephen Burrows, Threeasfour, Vassilios Kostetsos

THE
final day of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week New York Spring 2012 was marked by rain, wind, falling temps, a plunging designer and protests.

The latter first. Protests are nothing new at Fashion Week. For years, PETA was a fixture at Dennis Basso or the show of any designer using real fur. But in what has to be a first, Human Rights Watch and others, including children, were assembled outside Cipriani 42nd Street in time for the Guli show to bring attention to human rights abuses in the Central Asian country of Uzbekistan.



What gives? Here’s the deal: Guli designer Gulnara Karimova is the daughter of Uzbek ruler Islam Karimov. IK, who has been in power for some 32 years, is accused by groups who monitor such events of blocking democracy and child labor abuses, among other outrages. Normally, someone like GK would be given a pass because of her accident of birth.

But her case is different because in addition to her talents as a designer, she is also the Uzbekistani ambassador to Spain at the United Nations in New York and the ambassador for her country at the United Nations in Geneva. In this role, the perception is that she supports her father’s policies. While GK is not new to Fashion Week, her pedigree and employment situation are, hence the hue and cry.

The show was initially scheduled for the Studio tent at Lincoln Center. However, whether bowing to pressure from HRW&Co. or not wishing to see unfold even more of a circus atmosphere outside of the tents, Fashion Week sponsor IMG cancelled the show.

“… In light of safety and security concerns due to the heightened security threats in New York City this weekend, IMG and GULI decided that it would be in the best interests of the safety of guests for the GULI show not to proceed as planned at the Lincoln Center,” a spokesperson said in a press statement. “GULI will proceed with the show at a location to be communicated to the invitees ...”

Naturally, the show of 30 ensembles, featuring fabrics native to Uzbekistan, went on. (See snippets in video above.)

The Spring 2012 Sergio Davila collection is informed by a few seminal moments in the Americas. Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images.

In other developments on the last day of Fashion Week, Bill Blass, Calvin Klein, Isaac Mizrahi, Marc Jacobs, Ralph Lauren and Stephen Burrows put some clothes on the runway outside of Lincoln Center by choice. Made in Africa: By Arise Magazine showed on site at Avery Fisher Hall in what has become one of the most anticipated shows of the week in only its fourth season. Yesterday, Arise's late start probably caused many to miss Elene Cassis in the Studio tent. Arise gets a notice for Most Important Acknowledgment for its series of shows dedicated to clean water, a commodity that is in very short supply on the Continent.

In what could have easily been a tragic moment during Fashion Week and which earns the distinction, Breathing a Sigh of Relief, Lanre Da Silva Ajayi fell through an opening on stage-left inside the theater at Avery Fisher Hall as she was making her way out to take a bow after presenting the strongest of the seven Arise shows. Several people managed to fish her out of the maw. Mortified and embarrassed, but thankfully in one piece, the Nigerian designer was able to take her turn on the A-shaped runway to deserving praise.

More shortly from Day 8, last day, including Best Overall Show.For now enjoy photos from some of the day’s shows.

Calvin Klein
Photos by Peter Michael Dills/Getty Images.

Elene Cassis
Photos by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images.

Marc Jacobs
Photos by Peter Michael Dills/Getty Images.

Naeem Khan
Photos by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images.

Ralph Lauren
Photos by Peter Michael Dills/Getty Images.

Next Stop on the Fashion Express – London!
For Spring 2012, designer Paul Costelloe is inspired by a classic Hollywood film. Photo courtesy of Catwalking.

JUST as the lights go down on Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week New York, they rise today on London Fashion Week.

First up is Irish designer Paul Costelloe who has shown in London the last six or seven seasons. He's gotten good notices, not so surprising considering that he cut his teeth at La Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture. Of course, this is the outfit that decides who shows at the couture shows in Paris.

For Spring 2012, PC is channeling the Bette Davis-Joan Crawford film, "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?"

London Fashion Week shutters on 21 Sept. with Savile Row's venerable Hardy Amies, which is thriving under award-winning (E.Tautz) designer Claire Malcolm. She is presenting her third collection for the label.

Visit http://www.londonfashionweek.co.uk/ to learn more about London Fashion Week.
 
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