Tonight, the new multi-use performance space OZ Nashville unveiled its first season's programming at a gala people won't soon forget, from the splashy large-screen visuals to the lavish spread (halved, notched limes as taco support — genius!) to the Ozgener family's heart-swelling generosity in explaining the rationale behind the place.
But it's the programming that left people agape, ranging from season opener Wayne McGregor — the galvanizing British choreographer who's become one of the world's major figures in contemporary dance — to composer Philip Glass in performance with violinist Tim Fain. Ever thought you'd see a performance in your hometown staged by theater director Peter Brook, of Marat/Sade and The Mahabharata renown? Even if so, ever thought you'd see it in an industrial stretch of North Nashville best known for correctional facilities, trucking and TDOT?
Below, read the full schedule, including appearances by the Austin radio play-slash-comic book ensemble The Intergalactic Nemesis and beloved children's-music rocker Dan Zanes, as well as a monthly series curated by local artists. Then imagine what this will do for the city's arts scene — and let your imagination off the chain.
Back in 1983, though it's all but forgotten now, a deafening media doombeat preceded the nuclear-apocalypse TV movie The Day After, leading to town hall meetings, panels and an epidemic of punditry. But you know what was too scary to show on TV that year? A documentary about high-school life in Muncie, Ind., rejected by PBS for its foul language and frankness about underage sex and pregnancy, interracial dating, racial hostility, and the sucking void of a teenage Muncie existence.
So when the Atlanta Constitution called Joel DeMott and Jeff Kreines' Seventeen “more frightening than The Day After,” it meant the truth of unvarnished heartland high-school life was more terrifying to behold than extinction-level devastation. Watch the legendary doc 7 p.m. tomorrow at Scene contributor James Cathcart's monthly Third Man Records screening series The Light and Sound Machine, cosponsored by The Belcourt, and you may just agree.
StudioVU: Sanford Biggers
When: 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 20
Where: Vanderbilt's Wilson Hall
If there were ever a case to be made that Nashville would benefit from additional contemporary art institutions, you wouldn’t have to look much further than the impact local universities have had on the art scene — largely through the visiting artists who’ve stopped by Vanderbilt or Lipscomb to speak about their work. Add Sanford Biggers, one of only a handful of young artists who can claim a solo show at the Brooklyn Museum and a residency at the Studio Museum in Harlem, to the list of artists who’ve come through town to speak at Vanderbilt’s StudioVU series of artist talks.
Biggers’ artist’s statement runs down a list of ideas his work references, including African-American ethnography, hip-hop music, Buddhism, Indo-European Vodoun, Afrofuturism, urban culture and icons from Americana. If you’re unfamiliar with Afrofuturism, consider the Afrocentric sci-fi mythology of Sun Ra, Parliament-Funkadelic — or Janelle Monáe, who speaks about the concept in her interview with Jewly Hight in the music section.
As a side note, Biggers’ appearance tonight coincides with The Shadows Took Shape, an group exhibit at the Studio Museum that centers around this very topic. The exhibit will also feature Saya Woolfalk and Trenton Doyle Hancock, both of whom have recently visited Nashville for artist talks and Frist Center exhibitions.
[Editor's Note: This is the latest installment of 'Notes From the 422nd Annual Wraiths for Writing Conference,' a biweekly series of story and art that artist Amelia Garretson-Persans has created for Country Life. Trace its roots by reading the previous entries.]
The morning’s frost gave way to a brilliant spring day, and Joseph Avens’ talk on wildflowers had made me eager to try my hand at listening to them. I found a patch of early dandelions and violets to sit amongst. Light rustled around in the drawers and curtains of the forest and the field as if it were looking for something. Though the field was lately the scene of some distress to me, I felt protected with the sun shining sternly above. I opened my composition notebook with the thought to flatter the flowers (and thereby loosen their tongues) by drawing them.
A warm day in early spring is a precious, stolen thing. The heat of the sun made me forget the chill in the earth underneath me, and I could almost hear bees buzzing. I set my hand to tracing the leaves of a coquettish violet. It bowed low with false modesty in a sudden breeze that startled a few clouds into action. I finished the leaves and started on the stem. As a cloud moved closer towards the sun, the buzzing I’d felt on the periphery of my hearing increased in intensity until it was all I could hear. My pencil felt hot and my natural impulse was to drop it, but instead my hand only gripped it tighter. I watched with dismay as the pencil drew haphazard circles on top of my unfinished violet drawing. The wind flipped the page (a little too late in my opinion), and the pencil began to write in a script that was not my own:
Hidden in the depths of Adult Swim — i.e., The Cartoon Network's programming after your kids' have gone to bed — is The Eric Andre Show, a prime example of the anti-talk show. Andre and fellow comedian Hannibal Buress buck the conventional talk show format and bring on the awkward humor, enhanced by a set and graphics that look like they were inspired by 1980s public-access TV. Nothing is off limits for Andre, as evidenced by his knack for getting completely naked and spraying ketchup on his wiener (not a hot dog), or conducting hilariously uneasy man-on-the-street pranks — for instance, dressing up as an escaped slave being chased by his master at a Civil War reenactment. His guests have included everybody from Sinbad to Reese Witherspoon — well, the African-American-guy-in-a-blond-wig version of Reese Witherspoon.
The Scene got to catch up with Andre in anticipation of his show tonight at Exit/In. We discussed his love for Space Ghost, the wounds he’s received in the name of comedy, and whether he hs any special musical acts planned for Nashville:
This Friday night, The Belcourt opens one of its best retrospectives yet: a 10-film overview of the career of Jacques Demy. Seriously: If you love movies and you've never seen one of Demy's gorgeous films — bursting with color, music and romance, yet far more complex (and frank) about politics and mores than their sumptuous surfaces may indicate — prepare to swoon. The Scene's Fall Guide could barely contain its enthusiasm:
Of the filmmakers who emerged during the brief glory years of the French New Wave, none has undergone a more radical — or deserved — reconsideration in recent years than the late Jacques Demy. Once largely dismissed as a featherweight aesthete who retreated to Hollywood musicals, romances and fairy tales when the rest of the world was literally at the ramparts, Demy has been embraced decades after his death in 1990 as a bold stylist who used the most starry-eyed of genres to explore the complexities of love and human relations, even politics. His reputation is likely to rise even higher as the first major retrospective of his films this century tours North America — including a stop at The Belcourt in late November.
If all you know of the director's work is his glorious 1964 Catherine Deneuve musical The Umbrellas of Cherbourg — a movie that left grown men sobbing at its last Belcourt screening several years ago — a treasure chest of riches awaits you in this nearly complete Janus Films retro, which includes several rarities being shown in Nashville for the first time. For one thing, the series shows the true scope of his work, from 1963's delirious gambling melodrama Bay of Angels (starring Jeanne Moreau, and set to a torrential Michel Legrand score) to 1972's shockingly grim English-language telling of The Pied Piper, with folksinger Donovan and the menacing duo of John Hurt and Donald Pleasence. ...
Local Demy completists never imagined they'd get a chance to see the movie considered his unsung masterpiece, the decidedly darker 1982 musical Une chambre en ville [A Room in Town, screening this Sunday], on the big screen in Nashville. Its appearance here … makes this an occasion for cinephiles on par with previous Belcourt retrospectives of Hitchcock, Bresson, Kurosawa and Shohei Imamura. But the screening series is recommended just as strongly to casual moviegoers, as Demy is among the most accessible and purely enjoyable of great directors. All it takes to appreciate his films is a love of beauty, music and color; the twinge of a once-broken heart; and the capacity to dream.
The clip above is by Belcourt trailer wizard Zack Hall, also the man responsible for the awesome found-flotsam montages that precede the midnight movies. If there's any quibble with the program, it's that the series is missing a couple of the more obscure films (notably the 1988 Yves Montand musical Three Seats for the 26th) that showed elsewhere in the tour. But before anyone complains about what's not here, start by seeing what is. And if you're feeling particularly ambitious, take advantage of the theater's Demy marathon Thanksgiving weekend — as joyous an antidote to Black Friday as we can imagine.
As expected, both cable and broadcast networks plan a host of specials this week to note the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on Nov. 22, 1963. On Thursday, Turner Classic Movies is offering a special night of vintage films charting Camelot from its optimistic origins to its abrupt and tragic end, most seldom seen in recent years. All were done by documentarian Robert Drew.
The night begins at 7 p.m. with Primary, a 1960 examination of the Wisconsin Democratic primary battle between Kennedy and Hubert Humphrey. (New Yorker critic Richard Brody discusses it in the clip above.) Adventures on the New Frontier (1961) at 8:15 is taken from the ABC series Close-Up! and examines his early period in office. Crisis: Behind a Presidential Commitment (1963) follows at 9:30, documenting the struggle Kennedy faced with then Alabama Gov. George Wallace over the integration of the University of Alabama. After those come Faces of November and Four Days in November (1964), somber portraits of the impact the assassination had on random Americans.
For those who only want to see at most one special, The Discovery Channel airs JFK: The Lost Tapes at 9 p.m. Friday. The show is culled from government tapes taken aboard Air Force One, featuring radio recordings from the Dallas Police Department that have never been heard before on any program.
If you want a sense of the desperation and anguish that wracked the country on one of its darkest days — recorded for posterity by television when it was still in its formative years — tune in.
Is East Nashville Tonight, the rangy Elizabeth Cook-Todd Snider documentary-turned-weed-impaired-fuckaround screening 7:15 tonight at The Belcourt, "the future of DIY film distribution?" That's what BOND360 CEO Marc Schiller argued recently in a conversation with Indiewire columnist Anne Thompson:
Back in February, [Brad and Todd Barnes] attempted to shoot a documentary about the lives of Todd Snider, Elizabeth Cook and other touring songwriters residing in the burgeoning East Nashville neighborhood. Well, they failed. Drugs and booze took over. What they ended up with is the comedy "East Nashville Tonight." Earlier this year the film premiered to sold out audiences at the 2013 Nashville Film Festival and will officially debut on November 18 at a one-night only Nashville screening and concert with all-star group Elmo Buzz and the Eastside Bulldogs, featuring Snider and Cook.
And BOND360 will release the film exclusively to fans on November 19 via the film's website. This is a small-scale pilot test, as Schiller experiments with bypassing the usual big retail outlets to see what can be done by marketing films directly to fans. Why go searching around through google and multiple clicks to find a movie you can stream, when you can go directly to the film's website and get it there? Why not preorder a film as soon as you hear about it, and agree to pay more for bonus content if you want it? Fans are coming to store that looks like a website. Which means "the analytics are huge," says Schiller. "It's a goldmine, making my data smarter as a market publicist and distributor. I know how many people bought 'East Nashville Tonight' from reading the article on The Playlist website, whether or not the PR was good for awareness, and which PR hit made the most revenue for the filmmaker," Schiller says. "Not only will this be the future, but it has to be the future."
Tickets remain for tonight's screening/concert and are $20 at the door. More information here.
Tonight at 7 p.m., HBO spotlights a figure who was never widely known outside the black community, and was rather controversial inside it. Jackie "Moms" Mabley was a comic genius light years ahead of her time. As a black lesbian in an era when entertainers like Liberace were still pretending to be straight, she did brilliant, profane routines on everything from racism to having sex with men 30 and 40 years younger.
That particular routine was a marvelous bit where it was obvious to those who knew her background exactly who and what she was talking about in her detailed, highly descriptive commentaries. She wasn't afraid to insert political elements into her standup, while alternating between pretending to be semi-literate and revealing exactly how smart she was.
[Note: As part of her ongoing project 30x30x30, poet Stephanie Pruitt is writing a poem each day for 30 days on site in response to a different work in the Frist Center's current exhibit 30 Americans, which spotlights art by 30 leading artists, all African American. To catch up with the series to date, click here.]
DAY 18 — 11.13.13
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