Bonus Adventure: The Invention of Love from Austin Shakespeare

There’s a list of plays that I’ve read and reread and highlighted but never expect to see produced. (Sometimes for reasons of practicality and sometimes because I think I’m the only one that’s read them. Until last night Tom Stoppard‘s The Invention of Love was on that list. Although I find it beautiful, I can understand why a nearly 3 hour-long look at the life of poet and classics scholar A.E. Housman, which has over 10 characters and long discussions of the importance (or lack thereof of) of philology and the precise correct translation for an ancient poem that nearly no one has ever heard of, may be a tough sell. But that’s why I love small, non-profit theater companies.

Because last night Victoria and I went to the small studio theater in the Long Center to see Austin Shakespeare’s production of the play, and while sometimes I did drift away from some of the monologues about the son of Ops and the Field of Mars, but the heart of the story – about Housman’s love for his tragically straight best friend at Oxford – and the general message of the importance of art and love totally came through.

Photo Credit: Austin Chronicle/Bret Brookshire

A lot of this is down to the cast, particularly Broadway veteran Philip Goodwin as the older Housman who guides us through his life from the banks of the River Styx and André Martin as his younger self who both have really wonderful stage presence and hit just the right melancholic tone. I also really loved Keith Paxton as Chamberlain, Housman’s colleague that guesses their shared secret. His part could lean towards camp, but he plays it with a lovely honesty.

Overall, it’s a lovely production of a beautiful, if dense at times, play. And if you’re in Austin I suggest you go.

The show runs through March 8th at the Rollins Studio Theatre in the Long Center for the Performing Arts – 701 W. Riverside Dr., Austin, TX 78704

Weekly Adventure: #AliceinAustin at the Harry Ransom Center

IMG_2037 I’ve written before about the eclectic nature of the Ransom Center’s holdings/events, and the experience Miró and her mom Amy and I had on Sunday was no exception. They recently opened their new exhibit honoring the 150th anniversary of the publication of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland which was charming and informative in they way Ransom exhibits always are (in my sadly limited experience).

One of the biggest strengths of this exhibit is its breadth, it takes you through the overwhelming reinterpretations of the story in an engaging way, explaining their history and connections to the source material. Here were a few of my favorites:

A first edition - with John Tenniel's original illustrations

A first edition – with John Tenniel’s original illustrations

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From a 1982 edition illustrated by Barry Moser

From the wall of foreign editions

From the wall of foreign editions

Abelardo Morell's reinterpreation

Abelardo Morell’s reinterpretation

(Note: Morell is a really cool artist, that the Cassettas have known for a long time, you can check out more of his work here.)

A rare paper film strip (there's a cool video clip in the exhibit giving the background on this piece)

A rare paper film strip (there’s a cool video clip in the exhibit giving the background on this piece)

Mr.  Cary Grant next to his costume from a 1933 film version. He played the Mock Turtle

Mr. Cary Grant next to his costume from a 1933 film version. He played the Mock Turtle

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Aside from being filled with wonderful pictures and info, I was very impressed by the exhibit design. They did an excellent job of setting up activities for kids while also providing info for adults, which I think must be a really tricky balance to strike.

Side by Side adult/kids exhibit info

Side by Side adult/kids exhibit info

M and I with Alice

M and I with Alice

In addition to all the above wonderfulness they are also hosting tea parties in conjunction with the Four Seasons and they pulled out all the adorable stops:

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With our complimentary bubbly

Alice Photo Booth

Alice Photo Booth

If you couldn’t tell it was the most fun and I highly recommend you all go.

The exhibit runs through July 6th at the Ransom Center – 300 W 21st. St. on the UT campus

The teas are happening monthly at the Four Seasons Lobby Lounge – 98 San Jacinto Blvd.

Award Show Round-Up: Academy Awards 2015

Although, the biggest awards didn’t go the way I would have liked. I was generally very happy with last night’s awards, especially the way that no one seemed to shy away from the controversy over the lack of diversity of the nominees. I think this came across in a lot of the speeches. The honorees seemed hyper aware of the large stage they were on and wanted to say something more than thanking their agent.

As for the show, I thought it started off well (but I’m a sucker for a production number):

(Unfortunately after that I found NPH-whom I love-really awkward.)

J.K. Simmons kept the roll going with a delightfully personal speech about how we should call our parents:

Paweł Pawlikowski (director of Ida) shows that if you talk over the music long enough they’ll just let you talk. Especially if you’re super charming:

Patricia Arquette is my hero:

Katie, Victoria, and I were counting the seconds until this became a GIF. Because it’s amazing.

But actually a hero, The Imitation Game sreenwriter Graham Moore:

Julianne Moore finally (and justly) has an Oscar, and her speech was lovely:

(Side note: Nice timing on the cell phone picture Julianne Moore’s husband.)

Eddie Redmayne! (Who I was so afraid wasn’t going to win because of the Birdman sweep) was delightful and British and heartwarming (as always):

But the most moving (and probably most important):

(You may be wondering why I haven’t included Lady Gaga’s Sound of Music medley. Because, though she sang well, it was unnecessary and too long.)

And now, least importantly, (but maybe the most fun)…dresses!:

Reese Witherspoon in Tom Ford (Photo Credit: AP Images)

Cate Blanchett in Maison Margiela (Photo Credit: Getty Images/Jennifer Graylock/INFPhoto.com)

Emma Stone in Elie Saab Haute Couture (Photo Credit: Kevin Mazur/WireImage)

Jessica Chastain in custom Givenchy (Photo credit: Getty)

Keira Knightley in Valentino Haute Couture (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

Patricia Arquette in Rosetta Getty (Photo Credit: Jason Merritt/Getty Images)

Zoe Saldana in Atelier Versace (Photo Credit: Jason Merritt/Getty Images)

Anna Kendrick in custom Thakoon

Jennifer Hudson in Romona Keveza

Jessica Oyelolo in Marchesa and David Oyelolo in Dolce & Gabbana (Photo Credit: ABC/Rick Rowell)

Exciting News: You Can Now Follow I Get A Bit Obsessive on Bloglovin’

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Despite the fact that I’ve had this blog, for almost three years now (!!), I’ve never been very good at promoting it, or optimizing it, or whatever the words you use for this are. But I just started using Bloglovin’ to keep up with the seemingly hundreds of sites I like to check and I figured I may as well link my blog up there to. So, if you use Bloglovin’ click the link at the top of this post to subscribe there. (I’ll also put the link in the sidebar.)

My general reaction to most blog promotion

My general reaction to most blog promotion

Cover Chain vol. 2

Quick recap: last month I started this project where I connect artists through who has covered who’s music (the easiest way to see the pattern is to just look at the old post, or scroll down I suppose). Anyway, the ultimate goal is to connect back to the original artists (Hozier), but given that the vast majority of the songs on this month’s list were recorded decades before he was even born, it’s clearly going to take awhile. (People just used to record each other’s music more often I think. Also it’s very hard to search for those awesome cover videos I used last time, because you always end up getting some, I’m sure very talented, singer in her bedroom singing the song you were looking for.) Anyway, I’ll try to bring it back around to songs from my lifetime next time. For now, we’re starting here:

“These Boots Are Made For Walking” by Nancy Sinatra covered by Robert Gordon 

“Light My Fire” by The Doors covered by Nancy Sinatra

“Gloria” by Them covered by The Doors

(Side note: This song, though I’m pretty sure it’s the original version, is featured really well in Two Days, One Night.)

“It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue” by Bob Dylan covered by Them 

“Big Yellow Taxi” by Joni Mitchell covered by Bob Dylan

“At Last” by Etta James covered by Joni Mitchell 

“I Got You Babe” by Sonny & Cher covered by Etta James

“You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me” by Smokey Robinson & The Miracles covered by Sonny & Cher

“Get Ready” by The Temptations covered by Smokey Robinson 

“A Song for You” by Leon Russell covered by The Temptations 

And we’re pausing here for now…

Vol. 1

And the Nominees Are 2015: Round 8

So with this post I’ve caught up with all the major acting nominees (thank you Victoria for holding my hand through Still Alice this afternoon) except The Judge, but given release dates and DVDs I don’t think I can get to that before the Oscars (and frankly I’ll be shocked if Robert Duvall upset J.K. Simmons in that category, so I don’t feel too bad about not getting around to it in time).

I saw some really great movies this week, and a lot of them seemed to deal with themes of how we isolate ourselves from and learn to connect with each other across boundaries, both real and imagined. I may just be over thinking things (shocking to none of you I’m sure) or being over emotional this week, but I found most of these really moving.

20,000 Days on Earth 

So this was nominated for Best Documentary at the BAFTAs, but based on the trailer I was confused, because it looked like it was going to be a dramatic (as in fiction) film, maybe even set in the future. But if it is truly a documentary it is playing interestingly with the conventions of that genre. For example, instead of floating talking head interviews Cave (musician Nick Cave) drives his old collaborators around Brighton in his car asking them about himself.

I didn’t have any sort of relationship with Cave’s work before watching this and, frankly, based on the music here it doesn’t really sound like my thing, but watching anyone’s creative process is usually enlightening and the blend between introspection and archival geekery (he’s always being called away to answer questions at “the archive” was right up my alley.

If you were in the right mood (which I unfortunately wasn’t particularly) and/or you have a connection to Cave’s other work, then I could see how this film would be thoroughly engrossing. And I did really love the way they cut together the last performance sequence and this quote which I’ve put up on my cork board for inspiration:

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Two Days, One Night

 What a perfect little film. Marion Cotillard portrays just the right balance between vulnerable and strong (even though her character, who suffers from depression, would never call herself strong.) And Fabrizio Rongione as her husband is the right amount of lovable without crossing over into unbelievable.

The premise – that Cotillard’s Sandra has been placed in the ridiculously awful situation where her coworkers have been forced to vote to either keep their bonus or keep her working. They choose their bonuses initially, but then she is given the weekend to convince them to choose her. It’s wrenching, not only to see her struggle with the inherent awkwardness (and that putting it lightly, especially when she’s just recovering from a bad bout with her illness) but also to watch her coworkers, the decent one’s anyway, deal with their own needs versus hers.

In the wrong hands this could have been a saccharine-sweet melodrama, but the Dardenne brothers manage to tell the story with subtly and humanity. This is one of those movies (like Foxcatcherthat I feel like I could easily write a dissertation about (especially focusing on capitalism and the inherent selfishness it requires of all of us that participate in the system) but the movie doesn’t preach at you about it, so neither will I.

Lilting

 I guess it was my week for soft, subtle looks at humanity. Another BAFTA nominee, starring the lovely-elfin Ben Whishaw as the widowed partner of a Cambodian-Chinese man (Andrew Leung) who died before coming out to his traditional mother (Pei-pei Cheng).

It’s a classic tear jerker told through a collage of timelines and daydreams that illustrates the shattering nature of the surviving characters’ grief. The language barrier between the two left in mourning is a great metaphor for their dislocation, and yet it’s somehow brought together without feeling trite or too simple. It’s streaming on Netflix and I highly recommend it.

Pride

While less subtle (there’s far too much shouting into bullhorns for this to ever be called subtle), it totally fell into my theme for the week – movies about how we all have to be kind to each other. And even more explicitly than Two Days, One Night, this movie – about a group of lesbian and gay activists in 1980s London who start collecting money for the striking miners in Wales – is all about breaking down the cultural myths that we are somehow insurmountable different from people in other “subcultures.”

But aside from the fact that I totally agree with the soapbox its standing on (watch the writer winning a BAFTA for more on that) it’s also just really fun – the cast is delightful, the fashion over the top but not distractingly so, and the script hilarious. It was one of those movies I wanted to be longer just so I could keep hanging out with these people.

Still Alice

Well, it’ll break your heart. And I wouldn’t recommend going after a 4 mile hike, or if you do have more water on you than I did before you may dehydrate yourself by crying and leave feeling rather numb. But Julianne Moore is really remarkable as the title character, a brilliant professor who gets diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s and fades before our eyes. I’ve always imagined the disease to be horrifically logical backwards progression, where patients lose themselves and their memories in the order they were made (or rather the reverse of that). But this movie captures the heartbreaking back and forth and muddled nature of how the disease actually hits people.

Alec Baldwin, Kristen Stewart, Hunter Parrish, and Kate Bosworth are believable and relatable as her family dealing with watching her slip away from herself, but this movie works because Julianne Moore is a genius level talent.

Award Show Roundup: BAFTAs 2015

Yep I once again chose to watch a delayed broadcast of the British Academy Awards over the Grammy’s, because I guessed (correctly) that the only part of those I would care about would be all over social media (you should watch this though…it’s pretty amazing.)

The BAFTAs didn’t have a ton of surprises, but there was a lot of British charm. My highlights were:

Stephen Fry being as adorably British and jolly as he has been hosting for the past decade or so:

Stephen Hawking was there to see Eddie win, and he got in a pretty good one-liner too:

Boyhood continued its march to Oscar glory, and Patricia was gracious and lovely as always:

And because Richard Linklater (and the rest of the American directors) were at the DGAs so Ellar Coltrane got to give this really beautiful speech:

Also Wes Anderson won for Original Screenplay and sent Ralph Feinnes up with this great speech:

My favorite face, Jack O’Connell, won the Rising Star award. And his speech was ridiculous and now I love him more than ever:

There were a lot of unremarkable dresses, but a few stood out:

Julianne Moore in Tom Ford (Photo Credit: WENN Daniel Deme)

Side note: Austin theaters, please start showing Still, Alice, I only have a few weeks left…

Rosamund Pike in Roland Mouret

Amy Adams in Lanvin (Photo Credit: WENN)

Léa Seydoux in Prada (Photo Credit: David M. Bennett/Getty)

Hanna Bagshawe in Valentino and Eddie Redmayne (Photo Credit: WENN Daniel Deme)

Julie Walters in Adrianna Papell (Photo Credit: Getty)