Larry Clark and film curator Jheanelle Brown will participate in a post-screening discussion following a UCLA presentation of Clark’s rarely seen L. A. Rebellion classic PASSING THROUGH—”a film that by many accounts has successfully transposed the compositional principles of jazz improvisation into filmmaking and thus reached a powerful synergy between free jazz and film form.”
THE LEHMAN TRILOGY— Stefano Massini’s acclaimed epic of immigrant commerce, high finance, and spectacular ruin—stars Simon Russell Beale, Adam Godley, and Ben Miles as a cast of dozens across a century and a half of ascendancy while remaining the three Lehman brothers—Henry, Meyer, and Emanuel—who stepped off the boat in 1844, landing in the “magical music box” of America.
The original five-hour version premiered in Paris in 2013, and went on to Milan, where it was first seen by director Sam Mendes. Shortened to a little over three hours, adapted into English by BenPower, and designed by by Es Devlin, THE LEHMAN TRILOGY is on the West End boards for one more month. Fortunately for local audiences, over the next several months L.A. Theatre Works will present six encores of the National Theatre Live presentation.
The origin of Joseph Mankiewicz’s legendary screenplay ALL ABOUT EVE is a true story the actress Elisabeth Bergner told author-actress-playwright Mary Orr about a stage door waif, Martina Lawrence, who insinuated herself into Bergner’s life to a threatening degree. In Orr’s fictional telling, the faux-naïf schemer—Eve—takes over the great actress’ career, husband, and stardom, ending the tale with a thousand-dollar-a-week contract from a Hollywood studio.
Since studio Code dictated that villains must always be punished, 20th Century Fox couldn’t film that version in 1950. So Mankiewicz devised a brilliant ending: the star—Margo Channing—wouldn’t lose everything to the interloper, and Eve ends up with her own Eve to thwart.
Ivo van Hove—the European avant-gardist-turned-unlikely Broadway powerhouse—and his designer Jan Versweyveld have transformed ALL ABOUT EVE for the London stage. Gillian Anderson pulls out all the stops, playing Margo at 50—not the film’s 40—and more obsessed with surface aging as a harbinger of irrelevance than Bette Davis was in her indelible star turn. The essential difference between EVE‘s sparkling 1950s urbanity and its 2019 iteration may be explained by Ben Brantley’s take on van Hove’s sensibility:
“He is a tragedian, first and foremost, though I think we can make room for tragedians in a time when they’re a rare breed among directors… What I think fascinates him, and what often works for me, is the idea of monolithic personalities, damned to suffocate under their own passions (or egos).”
The National Theatre production of ALL ABOUT EVE co-stars Lily James in the title role. MonicaDolan is Margo’s best friend Karen, Rhashan Stone is her husband, playwright Lloyd Richards, Julian Ovenden is Margo’s lover-director Bill, Stanley Townsend is critic Addison DeWitt, and Sheila Reid is Birdie, Margo’s dresser (played in Mankiewicz’s film by Thelma Ritter). PJ Harvey composed the score.
This weekend, L.A. Theatre Works presents the NTLive screening of ALLABOUT EVE at UCLA.
BIXA TRAVESTY is a new documentary that “follows Linn da Quebrada, a black trans woman, performer and activist living in impoverished São Paulo. Her electrifying performances—with plenty of nudity—brazenly take on Brazil’s hetero-normative machismo.”*
Part Barefoot Contessa, part Nashville, part psychedelic head trip—a sixties hangover shot in the seventies, abandoned in the eighties, and finally edited down from over 100 hours of footage to a two-hour cut—Orson Welles’ final film, THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WIND, is a fascinatingly crass long day’s journey into night: the last fevered hours of Jake Hannaford, a past-his-prime Hollywood director played by John Huston with his signature leer and sense of exhausted disdain.
Surrounded by an entourage of enablers and trailed by a scrum of paparazzi and video documentarians, Hannaford makes his merry way out to Palm Springs to watch the rushes from his latest attempt at a cinematic comeback, which—as many early viewers have noted—plays like a Welles parody of Antonioni’s Zabriskie Point.
(The hyper-erotic film-within-a-film stars Welles’ partner Oja Kodar, and Robert Random—both frequently nude and both the objects of Hannaford’s obsession.)
Shot in multiple film stocks, this propulsive blend of coercion, abuse, and overwhelming cynicism teeters on and off the rails from its opening scene, but you won’t be able to divert your eyes from the action.
“More acutely than any other work attached to Welles, THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WIND is built—in form and content—of thrown voices, feints, false fronts, and tall tales leading to and from Welles’ idea of himself as a public figure, as the performance of a lifetime, drawn at maximum clarity then cracked apart and squirreled within shadows of such depth as to permit only flashes, glimpses, and whispers of that self-image.
“To be a wreck is, it seems, a certain sort of freedom.” — Phil Coldiron in Cinema Scope.
Tonight, THEY’LL LOVE ME WHEN I’M DEAD—the Morgan Neville documentary on Welles and his struggle to make his last opus—will screen at LACMA. Tomorrow night at the same venue, producer Frank Marshall will present the Welles picture, followed by a Q & A.
(Later this week, Marshall will also present Welles’ film at UCLA.)
THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WIND features screen appearances by Mercedes McCambridge, Paul Stewart, Norman Foster, Susan Strasberg, Edmond O’Brien, Lilli Palmer, Claude Chabrol, Dennis Hopper, Stéphane Audran, Paul Mazursky, and Welles intimate Peter Bogdanovich, whose efforts in the assembly and release of the film were significant.
Oja Kodar(left) and Orson Welles (right) in the set of The Other Side of the Wind.
Robert Random and Kodar.
Credit for all images: Netflix.