Dateline, Dallas, I guess? I only know skylines from reruns of City Confidential. It’s the “Wrong Song” duet, and Rayna is stage-flirting with Liam, hiding in plain sight. Very Purloined Letter. Purr your loins later? Rough draft, working on it. Juliette is none too pleased with these middle-aged shenanigans, and is even more offended that she has to share her plane with Rayna. And Rayna, meanwhile, is being courted by Some Lady from Some Kinda Records.
Rayna and Juliette later argue about bean dip.
Author of the books A Wild Region and Follow Me Down, and a three-time Pushcart Prize nominee, poet Kate Buckley has a propensity for darkness. In “Laurel County,” Buckley — or, in the parlance of the genre, the “voice of the poem” — recalls her mother’s stories of growing up poor: “There must have been times / Kentucky seemed a life sentence, / a dark-veined monster burning coal in her belly.”
Like the best narrative free verse, “Laurel County” catalogs the small details of a hardscrabble past that, by Buckley’s careful observation, are magnified, and become almost talismanic — for instance, the home-canned jam, “thick and expensive,” made with berries harvested from sharecropper fields. The poem ends with an image that conjures how ephemeral memory is: “You were on the hilltop — skirt taut, / caught between your legs, signaling something, I could not make out what, / the kite obscuring my vision — / the wind would catch it, then let it fall.”
Read the whole poem after the jump.
Nashville Film Festival audiences may not know Sean Baker's name right off the bat, but they surely remember his work. His 2004 feature Take Out won the festival's Dreammaker Award, and he returned in 2009 with Prince of Broadway; both are forcefully acted neorealist dramas of immigrant life, distinguished by gritty location shooting and convincing unknown players. His films are well worth seeking out, especially if you're a fan of the Dardenne brothers (The Kid with a Bike) or Ramin Bahrani (Chop Shop).
Advance word is strong on his latest, Starlet, which shows one last time tonight 7 p.m. at The Belcourt. A showcase for rising star Dree Hemingway, it's another of the writer-director's fly-on-the-wall character studies. From The Belcourt's website:
STARLET explores the unlikely friendship between 21-year-old aspiring porn actress Jane (Dree Hemingway) and elderly widow Sadie (Besedka Johnson) after their worlds collide in California's San Fernando Valley. Director Sean Baker continues in the naturalistic style of his previous films, the Spirit Award nominated PRINCE OF BROADWAY and TAKE OUT, capturing the rhythms of everyday life with a rare authenticity. Featuring exceptional debut performances by Dree Hemingway (great granddaughter of Ernest and daughter of Mariel) and 85-year-old Besedka Johnson, who received a Special Jury Recognition at SXSW, STARLET is provocative, haunting, unpredictable, and surprisingly sweet.
Please report back if you go.
Last fall, the Nashville Public Library launched its Nashville Reads program, conducting a citywide read of Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale and bringing Atwood to Nashville to speak. It was a gutsy choice handpicked by Mayor Karl Dean: a dystopian fiction about reproductive and individual rights whose eerily topical concerns sparked vigorous debate. It was also a major success, an engaging way to promote literacy and the library's standing as a cornerstone of the city's intellectual life.
The library's second choice for Nashville Reads, also approved by Dean, may prove even more popular — and generate as much or more discussion. It's Life of Pi by Yann Martel, the source of Ang Lee's current Best Picture nominee and one of the most widely read philosophical novels of recent decades. Translated into more than 40 languages and a staple of The New York Times best-seller list for 69 weeks, it's an adventure story framed in flashback about a 16-year-old Indian boy using his wits and scruples to survive adrift on the high seas ... with a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker.
What makes Life of Pi an interesting choice, like The Handmaid's Tale, is its relevance to a topic of ongoing local concern: the coexistence of Christianity and Islam. The protagonist Pi, though raised a Hindu, weighs the relative values of the three religions and concludes that no one faith addresses all his spiritual beliefs — but elements of each just might. Given persistent controversies over Middle Tennessee's mosques in recent years, the book might generate reasonable open discussion rather than fear-mongering and flame wars.
Novelist, essayist and short-story author Martel (like Atwood, a Canadian) will give a lecture in conjunction with the citywide event March 2 at the downtown Nashville Public Library. Nashville Reads is a partnership between the office of Mayor Karl Dean, Parnassus Books, Humanities Tennessee, Houghton Mifflin and the Nashville Public Library Foundation. Watch for information in coming weeks about tickets and related events, including a screening of the film.
Hosted by local author/comic Jane Borden — who recently appeared as a guest on the Totally Laime podcast — Pictures of Fireworks is a monthly storytelling show held in the back of Fido, where invited guests and total randos alike have an opportunity to tell true stories to total strangers. Here's the official deets:
Pictures of Fireworks is dedicated to finding the funniest, most compelling, touching, and outrageous tales in Nashville. All that's required from each teller is honesty. Share your darkest secrets. Express the momentous or mundane. Your tales only need to be true, and to have a beginning, middle, and end. (Booked tellers get 8 minutes; audience members have 4. No scripts allowed, you fraidy cat.)
This month's show features stories by Sewanee ecology professor Devan McGranahan, east side author Chuck Beard, stand-up Donna Carter and Corporate Juggernaut's Gary Fletcher. The show is free and starts at 8 p.m. in Fido. Just follow the signs to the back room.
Worth it just for Dunlap's take on Amour, delivered to a sputtering Jackie Broyles: "It's basically your life, except for the French part."
Moviegoers may remember Steven Spielberg's 2002 film Catch Me If You Can, based on the life of Frank Abagnale Jr., who while still in his teens, successfully conned his way to millions of dollars by posing as a pilot, a doctor and a lawyer. The flick starred Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hanks, Christopher Walken, Martin Sheen and others, and somewhere along the way, someone got the bright idea to turn the story into a Broadway musical.
Highly respected playwright Terrence McNally (Kiss of the Spider Woman, Master Class, Ragtime, The Full Monty) and Hairspray’s Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman are responsible for the adaptation. Their combination of talents seemed likely to lead to Hitsville, yet the April 2011 New York opening received mixed notices. The show closed five months later. Now the con man is on the run, and so far, various tours are maintaining his maverick spirit.
Direction is by the versatile Tony Award-winning veteran Jack O’Brien. The show continues through Sunday, with prices for weeknight shows ranging from $15 to $60; click here for ticket information.
Lynn Lu's "Being in Love is Like Feeling the Sun From Both Sides" might be the most compelling conceptual piece of the season. Lu has been collecting real-life love stories from students, and while she hasn't directly addressed how this specific performance will unfold, details about the piece as it was performed in Finland are captivating: She hired a local actor to assist her, and both of them committed each love story to memory. Then, standing between two sunlamps, both women simultaneously whispered the stories into the ears of individual audience members. "Each participant was bombarded with two different and equally captivating true love stories in each ear," said Lu, "whilst being roasted by the 'suns' from all sides."
For the romantics among us, the effects of such bombardment will likely be like rolling around in a field with an armful of kittens. But I'm more interested in how it will be received by the lonely and the cynical — will it melt their hearts through osmosis, or will the blazing sunlamps and gushing romance give them nausea? Either way, this simple idea is bound to get a profound reaction.
There's an exhibit of art in the halls of Vanderbilt's Bishop Joseph Johnson Black Cultural Center that you could easily overlook if you didn't know what you were seeing. The paintings are all uniform size, and painted with bright acrylic paints — but that's less of an artistic decision than it is a necessary requirement of the artist's living quarters. Ndume Olatushani painted each of them while in prison. But unlike the artists whose work is showing in the neighboring Sarratt Gallery, Olatushani was at yesterday's exhibition opening. He was released from prison last June, after serving 28 years in prison for a crime he didn't commit.
Watch the above video for a quick introduction to Olatushani and his story, scroll through a few snapshots I took of the gallery space below, and check out the exhibition at the Black Cultural Center — it will be on exhibit through February, and at least one of the paintings will be featured in the center's permanent collection.
Kevin Bacon's known for many things, most notably brilliant roles in a host of films dating back decades. But he's also done his fair share of television, going all the way back to his days in the cast of The Guiding Light as a teen some 32 years ago. Recently he's directed his wife Kyra Sedgwick in the Emmy-winning The Closer and was a 2009 Golden Globe winner for HBO's TV movie Taking Change.
But starting 8 p.m. tonight, Bacon's the star of the most anticipated show debuting this winter on network or cable. Fox's The Following (broadcast locally on WZTV-17) is being hailed in some quarters as the boldest program any broadcast outlet's done this century. But it's also drawing plenty of scrutiny and concern due to its content.
In the wake of the horrific Newtown school shooting and widespread debate on the role (if any) film, TV and video games play in violent acts, The Following will be as gory as it gets on any outlet that's not a pay cable/satellite channel. There are reports of multiple eye gougings shown in the pilot, and footage of a man being set on fire in the second episode.
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