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Black Tie International:
On The Town With Aubrey Reuben -September 19, 2015


 

 

Aubrey Reuben

On the Town With Aubrey Reuben
Where All the Stars Shine Brightly!

September 19, 2015

 







We attended a lovely press conference and champagne reception for Alice150 at the New York Institute of Technology. The various speakers mentioned all the multitude of events being offered around New York City to celebrate the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the publication of Alice in Wonderland. There are exhibitions at the Morgan Library & Museum, Columbia University, Grolier Club,The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, New York University, and at many other venues. There will be conferences, panels, films and stage productions. Also, new editions of the book will be published. It will be a glorious event celebrating one of the most popular books ever written.

 
We visited the exhibition Alice in the World of Wonderlands: The Translations of Lewis Carroll's Masterpiece, curated by Jon A. Lindseth, at the Grolier Club, 47 East 60th St. It is a fascinating look at all the editions in many languages from around the world. Lindseth explained to us the wonderful history of the book. Fans of Alice should definitely visit the club. It will be a rewarding experience.

 
Book lovers should read Centerfolds, by Charlotte Kemp, who was Playboy's Miss December 1982. It is the the stories of the gorgeous ladies who posed for the centerfolds of Playboy magazine. A book party was held at the pool and then in the penthouse of Dream Hotel, 16th St & 9th Ave. Centerfold Cindy Guyer was present to greet the guests. You can see all of her on page 158! It was a delightful event.

 
There was an unveiling of a portrait of three cast members, John Cariani, Brian D'Arcy James and Christian Borle, from the Broadway musical Something Rotten! at Tony's de Napoli, 147 West 43rd St. for their Wall of Fame. The entire cast arrived after their Thursday night's performance to enjoy a delicious buffet and fine wine and cocktails.  It is always a wonderful event, hosted by Valerie Smaldone and the restaurant manager Bruce Dimpflmaier.

 
On Broadway, there was a photo op for Sylvia, by A. R. Gurney, directed by Daniel Sullivan, at the Ballet Hispanico Studios. It stars Matthew Broderick, Julie White and Annaleigh Ashford. It opens on October 27 at the Cort Theatre, and I eagerly await the opening night.

Off-Broadway, there was a photo op for MotherStruck, starring Staceyann Chin, directed by Cynthia Nixon, at the Lynn Redgrave Theater at Culture Project. It opens on October 7, and I eagerly await the opening night.

The 53rd New York Film Festival September 25-October 14 
began its press screenings with Journey to the Shore, by Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Japan/France, 2015. The title says it all. It is a fantasy about a widow (Eri Fakatsu), whose dead husband (Tadanobu Asano) returns to take her on a road trip. They visit old friends and meet new people, some dead and some alive. It is as slow moving film, beautifully photographed, very poetic, and quite dull. It means to portray existence on earth and in the other world. The viewer must decide if it is successful.

 
Arabian Nights: Volume 1, The Restless One, by Miguel Gomes, Portugal/France/Germany/Switzerland, 2015, is supposedly based on the famous book, in which Scheherazade tells a story each night to entertain a king, who plans to kill her when she finishes her stories. In his updated version, the director makes a political film about the austerity suffered by Portugal today. Characters, most of whom are unattractive to look at, talk about unemployment, the difficult economic conditions in the country, a local election, and ridiculous scenes with a whale and a cockerel. The title is a misrepresentation of  a disjointed film, which is excruciating to watch.

 
Arabian Nights: Volume II,  The Desolate One is slightly better than Volume I. There are basically three stories. The first is about an elderly murderer, who has escaped capture for many years, and has become a local hero to the villagers. The second is an open air trial with a female judge, passing sentence on many stupid villagers. The third is about an adorable Maltese dog named Dixie, who is passed around from owner to owner in a housing project, filled with poor people. The dog is the most attractive actor in the two films.

 
Arabian Nights: Volume III, The Enchanted One is the final film of this boring six hour film. We see Scherherazde in the first section. She is beautiful and nude in the water. It is the highlight of the three films. It then goes to show us bird trappers, who hold a birdsong competition for their finches. Bird lovers may enjoy this overlong sequence. There is a voiceover by a Chinese tourist as she overstays her welcome in Portugal, while we watch scenes of police and security guards demonstrating. It contributes nothing to the film. Throughout the three films, we are forced to listen to the song Perdida, in different versions at an extremely high volume, which is unpleasant on one's hearing. Also, one has to read subtitles constantly, some of which are repeated over and over. It is annoying.The filmmaker has a political agenda attacking the present government. He does it badly.

 
Les Cowboys, by Thomas Bidegain,France, 2015, is about a group of French people, who are country and Western enthusiasts, dressing in cowboy outfits, riding horses and singing country music. At a gathering, the daughter of the father (Francois Damiens), an unlikable man with a violent, explosive temper, disappears with her Muslim boyfriend. Thus begins his obsessive search for her, continued after his death by his son. It jumps all over the map for many years, trying to find her in other parts of France, Belgium and the Middle East. Meanwhile, we see the attack on the Twin Towers in New York on a television set, and mention is made of the terrorist attacks in Madrid and London. There is so much covered in this film, that it loses its focus, and many scenes are just unbelievable. The photography is excellent.
De Palma, by Noah Baumbach & Jake Paltrow, USA, 2015, is an excellent documentary, which has the virtue of the great filmmaker talking about himself, without any comments by talking heads. He is witty, honest and delightful company. We see clips from many of his films, and he tells hilarious anecdotes to accompany them. You realize that you are hearing the history of films from 1960 to the present day. Film lovers must see this splendid documentary about a brilliant director.

Cemetery of Splendor, by Apichatpong Weerasthakul, Thailand/UK/France/Germany/Malaysia, 2015, is beautifully photographed, and is a film, which moves slowly, but creates a remarkable atmosphere. A small hospital ward is filled with comatose soldiers. A volunteer (Jenjira Pongpas Widner) attends to them, and a psychic (Jarinpattra Rueangram) tries to interpret their dreams. The two actresses give wonderful performances, and we allow ourselves to be transported to a dream like film, which tries to explain the Thai culture.


MoMA presented Hasse Ekman: The Other Swede in the Room September 9-18. 
Banketten (The Banquet), by Hasse Ekman, Sweden, 1948, is about a wealthy banker, who is to be honored on his 60th birthday. He has three children, who have disappointed him. One son is rude and worthless. Another has communist ideals, and his daughter (Eva Henning) is a spoilt mental case, married to a sadistic husband (Hasse Ekman). A tragedy occurs on the festive occasion of the banker's birthday. It is a fascinating, well acted film, written by the director

 

Vandring med manen (Wandering with the Moon), Sweden, 1945, is about a frustrated 19-year-old young man (Alf Kjellin), who leaves home to discover himself. He meets a beautiful 17-year-old young actress (Eva Henning), and they travel together, encountering many strange and eccentric people. They have lots of adventures, some happy and some dangerous, as they enjoy their youth and love. The two youths are attractive, and good company for the audience. It is a pleasant tale with a happy ending.

 
Forsta divisionen (The First Division), Sweden, 1941, takes place on an air force base, where pilots practice dive bombing and other exercises. In doing so, they are always at risk for their lives, to the despair of their girlfriends and family. The aerial photography is excellent, and the acting is first rate. One feels admiration for the brave airmen. It is another fine film by a wonderful director.

Med Glorian pa sned (The Halo Is Slipping), Sweden, 1957, is the only color film in the series, and is a delightful comedy. A secretary (Sickan Carlsson) in a publishing house writes an anonymous novel. It becomes a hit. The publisher (Hasse Ekman) wants to track down the author, and asks his secretary to join him in the search. Meanwhile she has an unfaithful husband, whose paramour pretends that she has written the successful novel. That tale, plus four funny dreams of the secretary, makes for an amusing film.

 
Ombyte av tag (Changing Trains), Sweden, 1943, is a sentimental tale about two young lovers (Sonja Wigert and Hasse Ekman). The woman wants to be an actress, and goes to Stockholm, where she becomes involved with the leading man of a theater company. Five years later, she is unsuccessful in her career, and accidentally meets her former lover in a train station as she is returning home. They spend the night together, swear eternal love, but she is doomed with a fatal illness. The acting is quite good and the screenplay holds the viewer's attention.
 

 
Gabrielle, Sweden, 1954, is about a married diplomat being posted to Paris, while his wife (Eva Henning) stays in Sweden. His imagination of her being unfaithful leads to the breakup of their marriage. We see various scenes where he imagines she is back with a previous lover (Hasse Ekman), and violent scenes where she tries to drown him. Actually, Ekman and Henning were married, and their married life ended when he was in Paris. Art imitates life. It is a very good film.

 
Flicka och hyacinter (Girl with Hyacinths), Sweden, 1950, is superb. A young woman (Eva Henning) commis suicide, leaving her possessions to her neighbors, a couple she hardly knows. The husband is determined to find out why, and visits every person with whom she had contact. It has a very surprising ending. Ekman considered this his finest film, and he is correct. The acting is splendid and the story is riveting. Ekman is a magnificent director and screen writer (also a fine actor), and is the equal to Ingmar Bergman. Thank the MoMA for recognizing a genius with this excellent film series.

 
The MidManhattan Library, 455 Fifth Avenue, is presenting three films, starring Irene Dunne on three successive Sundays. We saw a screening of Roberta, by William A. Seiter, USA, 1935, a charming musical, based on the Broadway show, about a football player (Randolph Scott), who inherits a Paris fashion house, with Irene Dunne as his partner. Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers are their very funny co-stars, and they dance and sing together marvelously. The film is full of magnificent songs by Jerome Kern. Eighty years ago, Hollywood knew how to make wonderful musicals.

 
A personal note. My Manchester cousins, Michael and Alison Reuben, visited New York for the first time on Thursday. September 3. My niece, Susan Moricca, and I met them for cocktails at the Citizen Hotel on West 50th St, joined them for dinner at the Thalia restaurant, 828 Eighth Avenue, and my wife, Xiuli, joined us afterwards to stroll down Eighth Avenue to show them the sights. Alison was a former Bluebell  dancer in Paris, a group of English girls, who performed at the Lido, in a Folies Bergere type show. We had a wonderful time together. It was a trip down memory lane.
 

.  Photo by:  Aubrey Reuben


09-16-15 Cast members (L-R) Robert Sella. Annaleigh Ashford. Julie White. Matthew Broderick at a photo op for "Sylvia" at the Ballet Hispanico Studios. 167 West 89 St. Tuesday morning 09-15-15
 

Gerard Mc Keon and Joyce Brooks.  Photo by:  Rose Billings/Blacktiemagazine.com

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