The Beast Pageant screened at the Dryden Theater at George Eastman House (900 East Ave.) tonight. It took me a while to extricate my thoughts from the various sets I helped build and from the scenes I acted in, but I think I finally have a grip on what great all-around acoustic soloist Jon Moses, and Albert Birney were getting at.
On its surface, The Beast Pageant follows Abe from his lifeless industrialized existence on a journey of reconnection with the natural world. It's all told in fantastical dream language, so time, space, and reality really have no grounding. It just is its own special place.
But dig deeper, and there's a layer about the beauty of human beings. Moses even used the phrase "it's an anti-aibrushing movie" in the question-and-answer. And by that, he means that the movie defies the media-generated images of the human form. All of us who acted as part of the natural world were nude (unless fully covered in costume). And the point is we're just regular people. We didn't spend 6 months prior to the film with a personal trainer to ensure our bodies were picture-perfect; rather we were all just people from around town who live normal lives.
This was the most consistently shocking element. You'll note that neither the D&C article nor the one in City Newspaper made mention of the near-constant nudity on screen. And it's because they can't unless they also subtly condemn it. So the authors of those pieces, finding a work they genuinely liked, opted instead to simply omit that fact.
To me this is a terrible precedent. It's not as if anyone in the U.S. does not see themselves naked at least once a day. Yet through the media's constant condemnation of the human body, we are taught to loathe the sight of it. And through that we loathe ourselves. And, oddly enough, we strive to buy products to give us satisfaction — so the media will approve of our appearance.
And so that theme runs through The Beast Pageant as well. The giant machine in Abe's apartment is an entertainment system (in addition to personal companion, and provider of all his physical needs.) The machine resists Abe's attempt to escape — much as the media machine resists the existence of The Beast Pageant.
But somehow, I think The Beast Pageant is going to win, one way or another.
As a fan, I looked forward to seeing Leonard Cohen: Songs from the Road so I headed out to The Little (240 East Ave.) to see it tonight. I had a decent, light dinner at the cafe beforehand and was generally having a good night. I spoke with a woman who encouraged me to become a member of The Little — I often consider it, but my first step is always to go see a film.
So I settled in to watch. I was astonished at the dreadfully poor quality of this concert documentary. Edits were out of the 1970's "variety hour" playbook — I was fully expecting a pan to the overhead lights so the camera's Orthicon tube would render its unnatural flare. The cinematography looked like someone's uncle's wedding footage, albeit physically stable. But the images often drifted in-and-out of focus, had copious electrically-powered zooms, terrible framing, and many camera-related glitches from the low-light situation. Editing was even worse as it was choppy like a kid with A.D.D. The editors also frequently switched between a right-facing wide shot to a left-facing close-up and back, requiring the viewer to constantly reorient themselves. The only good of it all were a few longer-than-average shots tightly highlighting Cohen's age-weathered face.
The music (and sound, thankfully) were excellent. I'm always amazed that the man is still playing music, but he is — and looks to have no intention of stopping. His singing retains a depth of emotion often lost after the thousandth rendition. So save your $10 and instead go to buy a couple used CD's that you don't already have. And go find a picture of the man and look at that while you listen.
Toward the end of the movie I had to resort to earplugs — not because the music was loud, but to drown out the quiet, constant chatter from (you guessed it!) the woman who wanted me to become a member. As someone who loves movies, I'm enamored of the Dryden with its excellent projection, and sound, and spoiled by my fellow cinephiles' respectful silence. If the Little skimps on anything it's the quality of the projection and sound (with tonight being a rare exception) and the patrons are self-absorbed jerks who can't keep their mouths shut for a measly 90 minutes.
Although, I must admit, membership is tempting in the sense that it's like paying for prisons. For if it weren't for the Little, the gentrifying class would certainly migrate to my precious Dryden and begin ruining it. So perhaps I will join — and maybe someday I'll have the opportunity to have my explanation of why I'm a member printed on one of their posters.
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The Dryden Theater at George Eastman House (900 East Ave.) will be showing Je rentre à la maison(I'm Going Home) starting at 8 p.m. According to the Eastman House calendar, "the great Michel Piccoli stars as an aging actor who is learning to cope with solitude after an auto accident has claimed the lives of his wife, daughter, and son-in-law."
Dryden Theater calendar][all ages]
The Bug Jar (219 Monroe Ave.) will be hosting The Golden Ghost, a rich tapestry of modern Americana from The Bogs Visionary Orchestra, and Attic Abasement starting early around 7 p.m.
Bug Jar calendar]
The Dryden Theater at George Eastman House (900 East Ave.) will be showing Soy Cuba(I Am Cuba) starting at 7 p.m. From the Eastman House calendar: "three years in the making by the great Russian director Kalatozov (The Cranes Are Flying), I Am Cuba was designed to be Cuba's answer to Eisenstein's Battleship Potemkin. In fact, it turned out to be much more: an epic poem to Communist kitsch — a whirling, feverish dance through the sensuous decadence of Batista's Havana and the grinding poverty and oppression of the Cuban people. Kalatozov's astonishingly acrobatic camera glides effortlessly through scenes of bathing beauties, landless peasants, and student revolutionaries. But all this cinematic bravura works to deepen the audience's understanding of the characters' emotions and situation."
Dryden Theater calendar][all ages]
This page is Jason Olshefsky's list of things to do in Rochester, NY and the surrounding region (including nearby towns Irondequoit, Webster, Penfield, Pittsford, Victor, Henrietta, Gates, Chili, Greece, and Charlotte, and occasionally other places in Monroe County and the Western New York region.) It is updated every week with daily listings for entertainment, activities, performances, movies, music, bands, comedy, improv, poetry, storytelling, lectures, discussions, debates, theater, plays, and generally fun things to do.
Music events are usually original bands with occasional cover bands and DJ's with musical styles including punk, emo, ska, swing, rock, rock-and-roll, alternative, metal, jazz, blues, noise band, experimental music, folk, acoustic, and "world-beat."
Events listed take place during the day, in the evenings, or as part of the city's nightlife as listed.
Although I'm reluctant to admit it, it is a Rochester blog and I'm essentially blogging about Rochester events.
I also tend to express opinions, review past events, make reviews, speak of philosophy or of a philosophical nature, discuss humanity and creativity.
Oh, and it's spelled JayceLand with no space and a capital L, not Jayce Land, Jaycee Land, Jace Land, Jase Land, Joyce Land, Jayce World, Jayceeland, Jaceland, Jaseland, Joyceland, Jayceworld, Jayceeworld, Jaceworld, Jaseworld, nor Joyceworld. (Now if you misspell it in some search engine, you at least get a shot at finding it.)
It's also not to be confused with
Jake's World or JakesWorld which is a site of a Rochester animator.
While I'm on the topic of keywords for search engines, this update includes information for Thursday, September 30, 2010 (Thu, Sep 30, 2010, 9/30/2010, or 9/30/10) Friday, October 1, 2010 (Fri, Oct 1, 2010, 10/1/2010, or 10/1/10) Saturday, October 2, 2010 (Sat, Oct 2, 2010, 10/2/2010, or 10/2/10) Sunday, October 3, 2010 (Sun, Oct 3, 2010, 10/3/2010, or 10/3/10) Monday, October 4, 2010 (Mon, Oct 4, 2010, 10/4/2010, or 10/4/10) Tuesday, October 5, 2010 (Tue, Oct 5, 2010, 10/5/2010, or 10/5/10) and Wednesday, October 6, 2010 (Wed, Oct 6, 2010, 10/6/2010, or 10/6/10).
indicates an event that's a preferred pick of the day ... probably something worth checking out.
indicates a "guaranteed" best bet for the particular genre of the indicated event.
links to a band's page on GarageBand.com which offers reviews and information about bands.
links to a band's page on MySpace.com which is a friend-networking site that is popular with bands.