I attended a party at Vivid Cabaret, 62 West 37th St, for the launch of the MGT and Vivid, www.VividBetSports.com. The Adult Film Superstar Ash Hollywood was the host to introduce the website at the party, and she is the host onwww.VividRadio.com, which can also be heard on Sirius XM. Afterwards, she performed on the main stage. Needless to say, she was a great success. I had a chance to talk with her, and found her to be charming as well as beautiful. It was a lovely event.
There is a new splendid addition to the restaurants on Ninth Avenue. I attended a delicious food tasting at K Rico, 772 Ninth Avenue, a South American Steakhouse. We were served six appetizers, followed by a main dish of three different steaks, with four side orders, finishing with dessert. Everything was accompanied by fine wines, many from Chile and Argentina. The menu is full of surprises like appetizers Fufu de Chorizo (Colombian sausage) and Slow Roasted Pork Belly Crostini. Examples of the side orders are Sauteed Yuca and Chaufa de Quinoa. Every dish is a gourmet's delight. John Philip Greco III is the Executive Chef and his brother, Tommy Greco, oversees the elegant dining room. I predict enormous success for this gorgeous restaurant. Randy Jones of the Village People was a surprise guest at the tasting. I surprised him in 1987, when they were appearing in my hometown Manchester, England. I was visiting my oldest friendSelwyn Demmy and Randy was overjoyed to think I came 3,000 miles just to see him.
Film Society of Lincoln Center is presenting Dance on Camera, January 30-February 3. Mia, a Dancer's Journey, by Maria Ramas & Kate Johnson, USA, 2013, is a documentary about the most famous ballerina from Croatia. She was a memorable dancer with the Baller Russes, who came with them to in the United States, and later formed her own wonderful company with Frederic Franklin. She produced a major success with her ballet A Streetcar Named Desire. There are many clips from this ballet, as well as other ballets, in which she danced. She then became a teacher in California and New York. She feared becoming forgotten, but her daughter (Maria Ramas) has preserved her memory with this lovely film. Both filmmakers were present at a Q & A after the screening.
All That Jazz. by Bob Fosse, USA, 1979, is a semi-autobiograhical film about the filmmaker, with a touch of fantasy. It is about the life of a choreographer/director of stage and film. Roy Scheider gives a brilliant performance as a talented man driven by alcohol, drugs and sex. He is doing a Broadway musical, while editing a film. The dance sequences are wonderful, and the cast is superb, with Ann Reinking as his girlfriend. Ben Vereen adds excitement, singing and dancing towards the end of the film. A beautiful Jessica Lange plays the angel of death. The film is both realistic and imaginative. Fosse was a major choreographer, and the film is a tribute to his art. His daughter, Nicole Fosse, and three members of the cast spoke at a Q & A before the screening, with Joanna Ney as the moderator.
Perpetual Motion: The History of Dance in Catalonia, by Isaki Lacuesta, Catalonia, 2013, is a disappointing documentary about dance in Barcelona. It is disjointed film, which uses many fuzzy, amateurish videos of dancers in the past. There are too many talking heads, who never stop talking and say very little. The excerpts of modern dance show very little knowledge about what is being developed in other countries, and some are quite silly. For example, two couples perform nude for no apparent reason, and their movements are trite. The photography was dreadful, and irritating to one's eyesight. The use of a split screen constantly was especially annoying. Much better was the inventive short film that preceded the screening. Pas, by Frederique Cournoyer Lessard, Canada, 2014, is an imaginative 15 minute film, which shows remarkable footwork by children, and then adults, a pas de deux in an alley, and finally an old lady with an open umbrella dancing on the hood of a car. It was beautifully photographed and enchanting to watch.
Desert Dancer, by Richard Raymond, UK, 2014, is based on a true story of a young university student, in 2009, who wanted to dance. It was against the law in Iran, which did not permit dancing. When he forms an underground dance company with some of his friends from the university, he risks all types of horrors. It is a grim depressing picture of life in a repressive society. The acting is first rate and the photography is lovely. The young man managed to flee to Paris, where he was able to dance in freedom. Freida Pinto gives a remarkable performance as a member of his company, addicted to heroin, and danced wonderfully. It is a powerful film. After the screening, there was a reception, where I had the opportunity to congratulate the director, and the cinematographer Carlos Catalan.
MoMA is presenting Carte Blanche: Women's Film Preservation Fund - Women Writing the Language of Cinema February 2-13. A Tribute to Iris Barry. She Done Him Wrong, by Lowell Sherman, USA, 1933, is a delightful film for fans ofMae West, who invites you to come up and see her some time. The dialogue is funny, with West offering sexy remarks, that were quite risque in her time. Cary Grant is her romantic hero, who saves her from an angry, criminal, former lover, to give the film its happy ending. West plays a barroom singer, the mistress of the crooked owner of a sleazy saloon, and sings three songs, including the classic Frankie and Johnny. She dominates every moment on the screen, and she convinces you that diamonds are a girl's best friend, before Carol Channing and Marilyn Monroe immortalized the song. I enjoyed every minute of this film.
Auteurism:Ginger Rogers February 4-March 27 began with Top Hat, by Mark Sandrich, USA, 1935. It is a tale of mistaken identities with Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire in one of their first films together. Their dancing is magnificent to the music of Irving Berlin, with the unforgettable scene of them dancing and Astaire singing Cheek to Cheek. One leaves the film wanting to dance.
Film Forum is presenting a One-Week Tribute to John Boorman February 11-17. I attended a press screening of Queen and Country, Great Britain/France/Ireland/Romania, 2014, which is a sequel to Boorman's brilliant 1987 film Hope and Glory, the story of a nine-years-old boy living in London during the blitz in World War II. The sequel takes place nine years later, when a now 18-years-old Bill Rohan (Callum Turner) is conscripted into the British Army, during the Korean War, in 1952. John Boorman creates the perfect atmosphere at the time, as he did in the first film. His description of life in the army is realistic and claustrophobic. Our hero is naive and innocent, but his relationships with two women are funny, sad and true to life. The acting by the entire cast is excellent, with an outstanding performance by David Thewlis as Sgt. Major Bradley, who is is a tyrant and, certainly, a mental case, and is in charge of Rohan. I am a few months older than Boorman, and was born in Manchester, England. I survived the blitz, as he did, during World War II, and I was conscripted into the American army during the Korean War. Although the two films are autobiographical for Boorman, they brought back similar memories for me. They are excellent films, and I recommend them highly.