Editor’s Note: Mr. Hurley is slightly less busy with his active artistic life, making films and working on theater pieces, so he had time to whip up this little column about two local theater works, two currently running films and a beloved local restaurant about to go out of business. (Pssst: You might also want to know that his latest film, “Waxie Moon in Fallen Jewel” is going to have some more local screenings in a couple months…more on that very, very soon….)
“The Drunken City”
A play by Adam Bock, directed by Roger Bennington
November 29, 30 and December 1, 6, 7, 8 at 8 pm, December 2 at 2 pm
Cornish Main Campus Center, 1000 Lenora Street, Seattle, WA — Studio 102
$10 general, $5 seniors, $5 students and alumni (with ID) Tickets are available at door
Beautifully directed and designed by Roger Benington, Adam Bock’s play is hilarious from beginning to the end, with delightful gay characters that you won’t soon forget (look for Drew Highlands as a hunky ex-marine, Bob – quite a transformation from his turn as a bitchy, stool-fucking drag queen in Dan Savage’s Miracle). Benington proves once again that, while his personal aesthetic leans toward darker and edgier work, he can also do amazing things with lighter, more mainstream fare. The cast, made of Cornish students, is well matched to their roles and capable of maneuvering the tricky mix of the broad physical comedy and the grounded naturalism the play calls for. Don’t miss it – pure joy!
If you fancy yourself a risk-taking arts lover, you probably already know of On the Boards. One of the most important institutions in the city, OTB presents edgy, provocative, alternative live shows that often fall under the generic term “performance art”. Performance art, like anything else, can be hit-and-miss, ranging from pretentiously self-indulgent to outrageously entertaining and thought-provoking. But the adventure of seeing unpredictable original works is usually worth it. If you don’t know of On the Boards, “12 Minutes Max” is a great introduction. Housed at the historic Washington Hall (which has hosted performances by Ella Fitzgerald, Jimi Hendrix and, more recently, Cherdonna and Lou Henry Hoover), “12 Minutes Max” is like OTB’s appetizer sampler, a program of short works by different artists curated by various Seattle’s taste-makers such as The Stranger’s art critic, Jen Graves. I’m especially looking forward to a very talented young choreographer Amanda Oie’s “Warts and All”, a whimsical dance meditation on love, set to country music. Other highlights include a bromantic “Mano-a-Mano” by Scott Davis and Eric Nordstrom, cryptic choreography by Anna Conner, ritualistic hair painting by Kat Larson and other little treasures you won’t see anywhere else.
Have you seen Lana Wachowski’s GLAAD award acceptance speech? If that alone doesn’t convince you to support everything this transgender pioneer does, then let me assure you “Cloud Atlas” needs to be seen to be believed and preferably on a big screen. I’m not a fan of long bloated Hollywood epics with their multiple endings and sappy slow-mo sequences. So it is with a lot of hesitation that I went to see Cloud Atlas. Fortunately, this daring, unprecedented (and almost 3-hour long) movie keeps you on the edge of your seat the entire time. Based on David Mitchell’s novel, Cloud Atlas follows several souls reconnecting with each other over and over again across time from colonial America to post-apocalyptic jungle. The film doesn’t dwell on the mechanics of reincarnation mambo jumbo, focusing instead on how our actions and choices transform the lives of others, sometimes centuries later, and how true love can endure all. What makes Cloud Atlas so compelling is that, in fact, what you’re watching are many different films: a 1960’s thriller with Halle Berry as a fearless reporter investigating a murder; a dystopian science-fiction adventure with Doona Bae and Jim Sturgess; a broad comedy with Jim Broadbent as a long-suffering publisher on the run from his mafia client, and several others. But like a giant jigsaw puzzle, the film ties all the narratives together into a bigger, even more satisfying picture. Many of the sci fi sequences are truly spectacular and worth seeing in a theater. And it’s great fun to watch several actors, including Tom Hanks, Berry and especially Hugo “Priscilla-Elrond-Agent Smith” Weaving, play so many roles, switching races, accents and even genders as they keep reincarnating (although, prosthetic makeup has some unfortunate moments here). Finally, it’s nice that a movie of this budget doesn’t shy away from gay content, but I guess we shouldn’t expect any less from the team that gave us “Bound” and “V for Vendetta”.
Leave it to director Joe Wright and writer Tom Stoppard to transform the outdated, exquisitely boring novel by Tolstoy (no, I will never forgive the Soviet school system for making me read it 17 years ago) into this magical visually-arresting masterpiece. Some have complained that style trumps substance in this adaptation. Who cares? The filmmakers have captured the heart of the story and the acting is superb. And even if that criticism was true, “Anna Karenina” is still worth seeing on a big screen, even as a kind of moving painting. The production design is as gorgeous and original as anything you’ll ever experience. This is an art film through and through, bold and at times experimental. In fact, it’s mind-boggling that this studio film was made at all. Knightley smolders as Karenina, going from radiant to absolutely grotesque as her choices catch up to her and the world starts to close in. Jude Law steals every scene as her conflicted husband. My only complaint about “Anna Karenina” is that there aren’t nearly enough rear shots of Aaron Taylor-Johnson (from Kick-ass) who plays a very convincing Vronsky. It’s hard to blame Anna for ditching her husband and two children for such a fine piece of ass.
You’ve probably heard this many times before, for the past fifty years or so: B&O Espresso is closing! Many have stopped taking their threats seriously. Well, this time it’s true. No, really. B&O’s last day will be December 9th. The charming, strangely-decorated restaurant/bakery has been one of the landmarks of Capitol Hill for many years. What better place to have your Grindr date or bring your parents to when they visit from out of town, or both at once if you can multitask. I myself have braved second-hand smoke and tediously slow service at B&O many a day in the late 90’s just to taste one of their sweets. These days, with evil smokers banished outside and service having improved significantly, B&O is impossible to resist. Their food is good but deserts and coffee are exceptional. Make sure you try at least a couple of their home-made cakes before they close. After December 9th to get a slice of cake this good, you’ll have to travel all the way to Simply Desserts in Fremont.