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Black Tie International:
On The Town With Aubrey Reuben - February 27, 2016



Aubrey Reuben

On the Town With Aubrey Reuben
Where All the Stars Shine Brightly!
February 27, 2016


On Broadway, a revival of Eugene's O'Neill's Hughie, starring Forest Whitaker, directed by Michael Grandage, at the Booth Theatre, is basically a one man monologue, although there is a second cast member as a night clerk  (Frank Wood), who listens to small time gambler (Whitaker) recounting his miserable, unlucky life. This takes place in a rundown hotel lobby. The play lasts under one hour. Whitaker is a fine Oscar winning film actor, and is making his debut on Broadway. The play is slight. The star should have chosen a better play.


Off-Broadway, a revival of Old Hats, created and performed by Bill Irwin and David Shiner, featuring music and lyrics by Shaina Taub, directed by Tina Landau, at the SignatureTheatre at the Pershing Square Signature Center, is an entertaining clown show, featuring a new singer. Families will enjoy the fun.


Dot, by Colman Domingo, at the Vineyard Theatre, is a family drama, in which three children gather in their mother's home in Philadelphia to celebrate Christmas. The major problem is their mother (a superb Marjorie Johnson) is showing signs of dementia. The seven member cast is directed by Susan Stroman.


Smokefall, by Noah Haidle, at the Lucille Lortel Theatre, is an unusual family drama, which, at times, is quite imaginative and inventive. It features a scene where twins (Zachary Quinto and Brian Hutchison) await their birth. It also, in two acts, shows five generations of a strange family living in Michigan. The five member cast is well directed by Anne Kauffman. The opening night lively party took place at Sushi Samba with guests Keith Nobbs, Afton Williamson, Geneva Carr, Jonathan Groff and the cast and creative team. 


Eclipsed held its first preview on Broadway at the Golden Theatre with invited celebrities, who were photographed on arrival, and then after the curtain call, where they congratulated the cast. There was a reception for the cast and guests at Sardi's afterwards. Among the guests were Kathleen Turner, Deborah Cox, Daphne Rubin-Vega and Carmen de Lavallade.

The Film Society of Lincoln Center presented the press screenings of the
 21st Rendez-Vous with French Cinema, March 3-13Valley of Love, by Guillaume Nicloux, France/Belgium, 2015, has two of the most famous film stars of France, Gerard Depardieu and Isabelle Huppertplaying a repulsive divorced couple. They received a letter from their son, after his suicide, requesting that they go to Death Valley, California, because he will appear to them. It is a ridiculous story. Depardieu spends half the film in his shorts. This is a gross mistake as he is obese, with an enormous stomach. The two have not appeared together in a film since 1980. So it is obviously a silly gimmick. However, there is one benefit to the audience. After seeing how Depardieu looks, they will definitely lose weight. Fatima, by Philippe Faucon, France, 2015, is a warm hearted film about an immigrant single mother (a superb Soria Zeroual), who works cleaning jobs and does not speak the French language. She wants her two teenage daughters to succeed in school and assimilate in their new country. The prejudice and the difficulties they face in a different culture is revealed, but their determination to persevere is beautifully shown. It is a lovely film. Three Sisters/Les Trois soeurs, byValerie Bruni Tedeschi, France, 2015, is based on the famous play by Anton Chekhov, about three sisters living an unhappy, boring life in a provincial Russian town, and dream of escaping to Moscow. The first scene takes place in the bathroom, where one sister is brushing her teeth and then urinates in the bidet. Another is cutting her nails and is totally nude. The third is soaking in the bathtub with a man's hat on her head. Chekhov must be turning in his grave. Sometimes a classic play should be left alone. The Great Game/Le Grand jeu, by Nicholas Pariser, France, 2015, is a wonderful film with an excellent cast. A novelist (Melvil Poupard) is hired by a mysterious government official (Andre Dussollier) to write a book anonymously to bring down another important member of the government. The twists and turns of the plot are thrilling. It is a perfectly absorbing tale. Bang Gang (A Modern Love Story), by Eva Husson, France, 2016, is a sex filled film about a group of high school teenagers, who are obsessed with sexual activity and engage in orgies at a home of one of the boys, whose parent is conveniently absent. The young girls are attractive. Most of the boys are not. There is graphic nudity and simulated sex throughout the film. Voyeurs will enjoy the film. However the film leaves a powerful message. If teenagers engage in unprotected sex, the result may be dangerous. Sexually transmitted diseases are not only unpleasant, but may result in many future problems.

Story of Judas/Histoire de Judas, by Rabah Ameur-Zaimeche, France, 2015, is a biblical story of the last days of Jesus from the viewpoint of Judas Iscariot. The story is interesting, and the photography is beautiful. The scene between Jesus and the Roman, who will eventually condemn him to death is probably the highlight of film that may be of interest to believers. Disorder, by Alice Winocur, France/Belgium, 2015, is a thriller that will keep the audience awake to find out how it will end. A soldier (Matthias Schoenaerts), who served in Afghanistan with resultant trauma, is hired as a security guard by a Lebanese businessman to protect his wife (Diane Kruger) and young son, when he leaves on a business trip. The soldier is mentally unstable, and one feels anything might happen in the grand mansion, in which the family lives. When mysterious masked men invade the home, the tension rises. The story is absorbing, the people are attractive, but the final scene is weak. Standing Tall/La Tete haute, by Emmanuelle Bercot, France, 2015, follows the troubled life of a juvenile delinquent Maloney (Rod Paradot when he is sixteen-years-old), who is helped by a judge (Catherine Deneuve) and a social worker (Benoit Magimel). His mother (Sara Forestier) is a mental case, and unable to care for him and his younger brother. Maloney has no self control, and has fits of violence, throughout the film. It is a powerful, brutal film, which aims to understand the problems of the youthful criminals. It will leave the audience thoughtful about a serious world problem.


The acting by the entire cast is realistic. Two Friends/Deux amis, by Louis Garrel, France, 2015, is an unpleasant film, with three irritating characters. The two friends are Abel (Louis Garrel), a self centered individual, who is a gas-station attendant and Vincent (Vincent Macaigne), a neurotic, who works as a movie-extra. Vincent falls head over heels in love with a young girl (Golshifteh Farahani), who is imprisoned for what we never find out, but is allowed to work in a cafe in a train station. Their adventures together are repulsive, annoying and unrealistic. There is a scene where all three work on a revolutionary scene of a film being made. That was believable. The New Kid/Le Nouveau, by Rudi Rosenberg, France, 2015, is about 14-year-old Benoit (Rephael Ghrenassia), who enter a new middle school and has difficulty making friends. It is a sad story of how children form gangs to bully and ostracize others. It is, unfortunately, a believable story, that is also, like juvenile delinquency, a world wide problem. The children in the film act naturally, and one sympathizes with their unhappy school experiences. Winter Song/Chant d'hiver, by Otar losseliani, France, 2015, is a strange film, and I have not the slightest idea what it is about. It jumps from one scene to the next without rhyme nor reason. It begins with a nobleman losing his head during the French revolution. There is a battle scene where soldiers steal from their victims and treat the civilians brutally. Then, we are in Paris with a lot of weird people. The filmmaker repeats every scene. For example, two young girls on roller skates whiz pass pedestrians and rip off their bags, hats, wallets or whatever. The film also features two elderly men, whose adventures do not contribute much to understanding this film.


Lolo, by Julie Delpy, France, 2015, stars Delpy as a sexually frustrated fashion designer, who has a relationship with a naive computer expert (Dany Boon). Her 20-year-old horrible son (Vincent Lacoste) attempts to ruin the affair by making the man buy ridiculous clothes, and then making him behave badly at a party by slipping tranquilizers in his champagne. He even puts itching powder on his clothes. Delpy and Boon are definitely mismatched, but his penis satisfies her. The vulgar language she uses throughout the film is immature and childish, two adjectives that describe the film. Summertime,/La Belle saison, by Catherine Corsini, France/Belgium, 2015, is a lovely film, about two young ladies, a teacher from Paris and a farm girl. The two women fall in love in Paris, but when the girl has to return to her farm, and her lover follows, problems arise. The photography of the countryside is beautiful. The graphic love scenes between the two women are tastefully executed. The dialogue is natural, and the emotions expressed are real. It is a wonderful film. The Apaches/Des Apaches, by Nassim Amaouche, France 2015, is a slow moving, boring film about a French-Algerian young man, who does not appear to work, and falls in love with a lovely French single mother (Laetitia Casta). Why she is attracted to this lonely, dull man is the biggest mystery of this story. The redeeming feature is the narrator's voiceover telling us how a Kabyle community does business in Paris, and how it originated in Algeria, with picturesque scenes at the beginning the movie. My King/Mon roi, by Maiiwenn, France, 2015, stars Emmanuelle Bercot in an outstanding performance as a divorced wife, who injures her leg skiing in the Alpes. As she recovers in the hospital, we see flashbacks of her life, especially the ten year marriage to an unfaithful Georgio (Vincent Cassell). It is a marriage that takes place between heaven and hell. It is a terrific film. Dark Inclusion/Diamant noir, by Arthur Harari, France/Belgium, 2016, is about diamond dealing in Antwerp. Pier Ulmann (Neil Schneider) believes he has been cheated out of his inheritance by his relatives, for whom he works cutting diamonds. He plans his revenge with a well planned robbery of their firm. It is an absorbing story with an interesting plot.

Parisienne/Peur de rien, by Danielle Arbid, France, 2015, stars a wonderful Manal Issa as a young Lebanese immigrant enrolled in a university in Paris. She is a brilliant film actress and gives is an outstanding performance as she pursues her life in France. She reveals a tough exterior, which helps her overcome many horrible incidents. She is forced to lie, steal, and has many love affairs. When she returns to Lebanon to see her dying father, we realize what a miserable life she had there. The film is one of the highlights of the series. I loved every minute of it. Much Loved, by Nabil Ayouch, France/Morocco, 2015, is a depressing view of young women, who work as prostitutes in Marrakech. Their miserable lives are shown graphically, and it is a wonder that they keep their sanity, when exposed to brutality from customers and the police. The sex scenes are realistically portrayed and are almost pornographic. Again, this is an overwhelming world wide problem. 21 Nights with Pattie/21 Nuits avec Pattie, by Jean-Marie & Arnaud Larrieu, France, 2015, is a tale about a woman (Isabelle Carre) who arrives in a scenic village in the Pyrenees to bury a mother she hardly knows. She meets a sexually obsessed Pattie (Karin Viard) who describes in vulgar words her sexual desires. The mother's body disappears and returns. There is much talk about necrophilia. By the way, the mother's ghost appears. If you can tolerate this nonsense, good luck to you.

A commercial film Embrace of the Serpent, by Ciro Guerra, Colombia, 2015, was filmed in the Amazonian rainforest. It is based on a true story. A shaman, the last survivor of his people, begins in 1909 and again 40 years later, to form a friendship with two different scientists, who are searching for the psychedelic Yakruna plant. The horrors they encounter, first as a young man with one scientist and a guide, and then years later as an old man with another scientist, are realistically shown. It is wonderful to travel the world by film. I would not like to have ventured with these scientists in the jungle. It is a fascinating film, exquisitely photographed.


Francisca, Portugal,1981, is also based on a nineteenth century novel, about a terrible marriage between a nobleman, who has a mistress, and an innocent young girl, whom he marries reluctantly. His brutal treatment of his wife is repugnant. An actor plays the novelist Camilo Castelo Branco as a character in the film, and reflects cynically on the behavior of the callous husband. Again, the film is slow moving, and the characters are unsympathetic. However, the filmmaker in the three films, that take place in the nineteenth century, captures the atmosphere of the period perfectly, and the photography of all four films is a delight. One feels that one has lived the nineteenth century life, and one should be grateful for living in the twenty-first century.


02-27-16 Playwright Danai Gurira (L) and cast member Lupita Nyong'o pose after the curtain call of "Eclipsed" at the Golden Theatre. 252 West 45th St. Tuesday night 02-23-16.  Photo by:  Aubrey Reuben

02-27-16 Cast members (L-R) Tom Bloom. Brian Hutchison. Zachary Quinto. Taylor Richardson. Robin Tunney.and at the opening night party for "Smokefall" at Sushi Samba. 87 Seventh Avenue South. Monday 02-22-16.  Photo by:  Aubrey Reuben

02-27-16 Playwright Danai Gurira (L) and cast member Lupita Nyong'o pose after the curtain call of "Eclipsed" at the Golden Theatre. 252 West 45th St.
Tuesday night 02-23-16

02-27-16 Cast members (L-R) Tom Bloom. Brian Hutchison. Zachary Quinto. Taylor Richardson. Robin Tunney.and at the opening night party for "Smokefall" at Sushi Samba.
87 Seventh Avenue South. Monday 02-22-16


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