Tuesday, May 04, 2010

New York: Day 2

(That's Wednesday, April 28, for those of you following along.)

Julie (who needs a job, if anyone out there is looking for a film producer) was supposed to go in to school this morning, but instead she naughtily blew it off. We hung around the apartment most of the morning, editing and putting the finishing touches on a paper for school. Breakfast (or possibly brunch, depending on how you slice it) was granola with honey yogurt and fresh strawberries. Yum.

We then went over to Columbia to drop off the paper, put up a few flyers for a student film mixer, and generally act like goofballs.

Handily, the subway station informed us where to get off.

Columbia University! Here's one of the noble statues flanking the main entrance to Columbia.

And here's the other, his twin sister Ye Olde Goddess o' Wisdom.

Likewise, there are fraternal twin libraries. Here's one library...

...and here's the other library, across the quad. Yes, Columbia has dueling libraries. *banjo theme*

As always, Sooz is obsessed with architectural details. On which, more later.

We went into Dodge Hall (which made me wonder if there is a German Dodge Hall somewhere else on campus) and met a few of Julie's classmates and professors.

Then it was back to the subway to get down to Tribeca Film Festival and catch the showing of Loop Planes. While Julie got a bag of popcorn ("mmm, delicious butter-flavored grease"), I met Robin (the director) and a large contingent of her family. I also met Chloe, who played the lead role, and her mother.

The lineup was as follows: some boys don't leave (good, though it didn't end the way I wanted), The Crush (tense and hilarious), Poi Dogs (also funny), Record (a short, simple vignette), Loop Planes (yeah, it pretty much rocks), Kiss (gentle and intimate), Day Trip (by turns funny and poignant), Arena (???). Loop Planes was, I thought, a strong entry in this lineup, though all were worth watching except Arena, which seemed endless and pointless by comparison (this thing really won the Palme d'Or at Cannes? Really? Bad lineup that year, maybe?).

From the theater we walked down through Washington Square...

...which looks a lot like this.

Through the arch we went, and on into Greenwich Village, which manages to hold onto a boho reputation even though it hasn't really been that way for years.

We were in search of something absolutely essential after one has seen a full lineup of short films: Ethiopian food. And we found it, in a little basement restaurant in the Village.

This place may not look too promising from the outside, but I tell you what: Om. Nom. Nom. This was my first time eating Ethiopian food; I've long lusted after it based solely on glowing descriptions, but never had a chance to try it. We had a platter covered with a big round of spongy, tangy injera and all sorts of goodies on top, both meat and vegetarian, and it was delectable.

Later we walked (or waddled -- dang, that was good food) down Bleecker Street and around to Lincoln Center, where we spontaneously decided to buy tickets to see the revival of South Pacific. We agreed the production was uneven. The set and orchestra were simply amazing, and the standout actors were the ones taking the roles of Luther Billis, Nellie Forbush, Bloody Mary and Captain Bracket (who exuded strong Dabney Coleman vibes). The actress who played Liat was stunningly beautiful. The guy who played Lt. Cable took a while to grow on me; he came across in the first act as more smarmy than cocky, but he had a good, expressive singing voice. (Is it wrong to admit the character became a lot more interesting to me after he'd contracted malaria?) Sadly, the actor who played Emile de Becque that night was an understudy who had probably been trained in operatic performance, and although he sang well enough, he was stiff and awkward during all his songs. Plus he had almost no visible chemistry with the actress who played Nellie, so that was disappointing.

Overall, though, I'd say Billis with his outsized character stole the show. He's definitely a hustler, but there's a softer side hinted at in his personality. There's a scene just after he admits to Nellie that he wasn't responsible for bringing her flowers, she is obviously dejected, and as he stands just behind her he reaches out so tentatively toward her, almost but not quite stroking her hair in a gesture of longing, a wish to bring her some solace; at the last moment he holds back, knowing she's not meant for him. It is without a doubt the most touching moment of the show.

I'd never seen South Pacific on stage before, so I'm not as familiar with the book, but the flow of the narrative has some problems. It begins with a conversation between Nellie and Emile, so you learn quickly that they're falling in love but you don't yet know who they are, so there's no reason to be emotionally invested in the scene. There's also a problem with the placement of "Happy Talk," a cheery, breezy song stuck right in the middle of a love crisis; it simply doesn't fit. But there are also some moments that work very well, such as the hushed reprise of "Honey Bun" as the Seabees are deployed; the song is exactly the kind of mindless, inappropriate thing that would be likely to get stuck in a soldier's head just before a battle.

After the show, we hopped the subway back to the apartment, and I stayed up late reading and writing stuff. (Bad Sooz! Bad! No biscuit!)

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