He has a radio program on WXOU out of Oakland University
Wild At Heart
Starting off this week, I would like to put forth a small tribute to Detroit born animator Art Clokey who passed away Friday at the age of 88 and is considered by many to be one of the early pioneers of stop motion clay animation. He is best known for his creation of Gumby and his horse Pokey which have become a pop culture icon (remember Eddie Murphy's Gumby skit on Saturday Night Live?). He is also known for creating "Davey and Goliath", a children's show sponsored by the Lutheran Church, which managed to promote spiritual curiousity in young children without being preachy. Below is his student film "Gumbasia" which used clay shapes moving along with a jazz score.
Meadowbrook Theatre has started off the new year with a production of French playwright Marc Camoletti's 'Boeing-Boeing'. If the title sounds familiar, it was made into a comedy in the 60's starring Tony Curtis and Jerry Lewis. The play is about a successful American architect, Bernard (Christopher Howe), living in Paris who is juggling 3 fiancees. He manages this because they are all airline stewartesses working for different international airlines (American - Janet (Katie Hardy), French - Jacqueline (Julianne Somers) and German - Judith (Stephanie Wahl)). To keep track of which girl is in town, he gets invaluable help from his maid Bertha (Karen Sheridan) who rotates the rooms decor (red for USA, blue for France and yellow for German) based on the girls uniform colors. When Bernard's best friend from college, Robert (Steve Blackwood) stops by, he tells him about his lifestyle and encourages him to try it for himself. However, all his careful planning gets put to the test as severe weather lands all three girls in town at the same time. Bernard, Robert and Bertha wear themselves out trying to juggle all three girls from running into each other to hilarious effect. The play itself is nothing special and maybe out-of-date but comes to life centered around the manic performance of Robert as he tries to keep sane, Judith's wonderfully over-the-top passionate performance and the continued perfection of the productions sets and costumes which becomes an additional character. Fans of 60's relationship comedies will enjoy the feelgood vibe this play brings and we all need as many laughs as we can get nowadays. My grade for this production is a B+.
During the intermission, feel free to walk across the hall to see the new exhibit at the gallery entitled "The Art Of The Artist Book" (runs until Apr 4th) that takes 20 artist's works and presents them to the masses. Among the works you will see include Kara Walker's "Freedom: A Fable" that uses silhouetted panoramas to explore racism and hate crimes and Susan Goethel Campbell's "HUB" which is a magnetic book that looks like a brick but opens up to show the decline of the Detroit suburbs.
I have three films this week for those looking for some escapism at the movies. First is the newest Michael Cera movie "Youth In Revolt". Is it just me or does he seem to be in a movie a month. This month he plays sex-obsessed 16-year old Nick Twisp who dreams of losing his virginity. While on vacation in a trailer park, he meets the smart and beautiful Sheeni (Portia Doubleday) and falls hard. When he tries to push the relationship, he finds that she is not interested so Nick develops a bad boy alter-ego named Francois who helps him win her heart from her ex-boyfriend Trent (Jonathan Wright) and get around obstacles put in his way by his divorced parents, his mom's boyfriends and Sheeni's religious parents. Things start to spiral as Francois makes Nick a wanted criminal and he must try to keep things in control. The film itself has some nice support with Steve Buscemi (Nick's father), Ray Liotta (his mom's 2nd cop boyfriend), Fred Willard (the nerdy neighbor) and Justin Long (Sheeni's stoner brother). What could be a disaster is grounded by Cera's double performance which is very entertaining to watch unfold as he runs amok in a French boarding school (filmed at Meadowbrook Hall) and almost burns down his town in his quest for the girl. Cera has quietly been building a nice resume of nerdy comedy roles and this one allows him to have double the fun. If you enjoyed movies like "Superbad" or "Adventureland", you should check this film out. My grade is a B-.
The 3rd annual Detroit International Comedy Festival is coming to Mark Ridley's Comedy Castle on Sunday March 21st with such comedy greats as Lewis Black Kathleen Madigan and Heywood Banks. To celebrate and promote this event, they have released a documentary highlighting some of the funniest moments from last years festival. I have never been to the
comedy club, but if the performances given here are any barometer, this has to be one of the funniest places in Detroit. For the premiere, we were treated to brief performances by Detroit comedian and improviser Michael McDaniel and the incredibly funny Ryan Hamilton. While the movie has many funny moments, my personal favorite is Vancouver comedian Tim Nutt who tells a great story about a trip to buy a toilet plunger. If you missed the festival last year, you can catch up here. If this doesn't make you want to go to the festival this year, you are missing a funny bone. My grade is a B+.
Terry Gilliam has the distinction of making some of the most imaginative films of all time (Brazil, Time Bandits) and continues his career with his latest, "The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus". Christopher Plummer plays the immortal Doctor Parnassus who leads a small theatre troupe made up of sleight of hand expert Anton (Andrew Garfield), the dwarf Percy (Verne Troyer) and his daughter Valentina (Lily Cole). The group has a magic mirror which people can walk through and experience the imagination of Parnassus, though the group looks a bit ragtag and struggles to make ends meet. At the time our story starts, the devil (Tom Waits) has come a calling for Valentina who was promised to him by the Doctor but he renegotiates the wager. Dr Parnassus promises his daughter's hand in marriage to the man that helps him win and that might be Tony (Heath Ledger) who they find by a bridge. Tony has lost his memory but has a certain flair which helps the troupe modernize much to the envy of Anton who doesn't trust him. Despite the mistrust, Tony leads their customers through Dr Parnassus' mind in surreal adventures in hopes to save Valentina and beat the devil. Like most of Gilliam's work, it is hard to sum up in a short paragraph and truly do it justice. This film however is Gilliam's best work in at least a decade as he creates some wonderful moments. Heath Ledger died half way thru filming and while sad, it makes for the most interesting aspect of the movie. Heath had filmed all the real world parts and had just scenes in the Doctor's imagination left. In a inspired move, Terry got Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Colin Ferrill to portray his character in different realities which works very well. Tom Waits (a great musician but average actor) seems perfect in this role bring just a enough panache to the role. Plummer also does a great job in creating a character that really feels like he is carrying the burden of 1,000 years on his back. The visuals are spectacular though the film does seem to missing a little something that Gilliam's best films have but for those who like their films a little different, you might want to check this film out. My grade is a B.
Once again, my suggestions for concerts this week are small, but their are some nice shows coming up.
Tuesday (1/12) - the great punk band Anti-Flag plays at the Magic Stick and you can see Lady GaGa w/Semi Precious Weapons @ Joe Louis Arena
Wednesday (1/13) - If you missed the show Monday, get ready for a repeat. While not a fan of Lady GaGa's music, her live show is great and Semi Precious Weapons are sweet so see them @ Joe Louis Arena
Thursday (1/14) - another night for the punks in Detroit as we see Agent Orange @ Small's
Friday (1/15) - Not much this night as Ann Arbor favorites, the Ragbirds @ the Ark
Saturday (1/16) - A busy night with the Verve Pipe @ the Ark, City And Colour @ Fillmore, 16th Annual Anti-Freeze Blues Festival w/Thornetta Davis and Laith Al-Saadi @ Magic Bag, Three Days Grace w/Breaking Benjamin and Flyleaf @ Joe Louis Arena, MCB party w/Electric Fire Babies, etc @ the Jazz Cafe at Music Hall, Brian Vander Ark @ Newport Furnishings (Wixom), Oscillating Fan Club @ Majestic Cafe and Paul Green's School Of Rock tribute to Jimi Hendrix @ Crofoot
Sunday (1/17) - Mostly a night for local music as we have Enter The Haggis @ Callahan's and a repeat performance of Paul Green's School Of Rock tribute to Jimi Hendrix @ Crofoot
Lastly, this week's artist is someone I found when I started my radio journey back in Oneonta, NY at WRHO. She is titled as an "All-American Jewish Lesbian Folksinger" who goes by the name Phranc. Around this time, the female folksinger boom was happening with artists like Suzanne Vega, Michelle Shocked, Indigo Girls and Tracy Chapman hitting the scene. She got her musical start in punk bands like Nervous Gender, Catholic Discipline and the all female Castration Squad. She switched to acoustic guitar and rode a wave of androgyny and laconic wit with great songs like "Hitchcock", "64 Ford", "Female Mudwrestling", "Everywhere I Go (I Hear the Go Go's)" and my personal favorite, "I'm Not Romantic".
For a bit of fun here is a tune by Castration Squad with Phranc on guitar.