Friday, December 9, 2016

Review: La La Land

Posted By on Fri, Dec 9, 2016 at 1:54 PM

Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling in La La Land
  • Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling in La La Land

There’s a moment in every movie musical that’s fraught with danger: the first time a character bursts into song. If a film’s transition to the world of musicals seems awkward, it only calls attention to the lack of cinematic “realism” suffered even by the finest examples of the form. Musicals that start off on the right foot still must contend with the looming disapproval of today’s moviegoers, many of whom have little interest in anything as old-fashioned as watching actors sing and dance their way through a film.

In La La Land, writer-director Damien Chazelle cleverly handles the early transition through a character that first sings along with a car radio. What immediately follows, however, is jaw-dropping. In a meticulously choreographed and seemingly edit-free musical number staged in a traffic jam on a real Los Angeles freeway, dozens of singers and dancers of every imaginable type get out of their cars and celebrate the city, the diversity and tenacity of its people and the pure joy of self-expression — all before anyone utters a single word of dialogue.

For sheer originality and exuberance, La La Land’s opening sequence beats anything seen on the big screen this year. But it’s not the finest moment in Chazelle’s remarkably accomplished film.

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Jordan Flaherty on saviors, New Orleans, media and activism

Posted By on Fri, Dec 9, 2016 at 11:59 AM

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Jordan Flaherty's latest book, No More Heroes: Grassroots Challenges to the Savior Mentality, draws in part from his career as a reporter and TV producer — work that has taken him to sites of grassroots struggle around the world, but it's anchored in his home, New Orleans.

Mixed in with the movement for indigenous self-determination in Black Mesa and sex workers contesting the police state in Arizona are multiple local stories. Flaherty gives us a front-row seat for the cautionary tale of FBI snitch Brandon Darby, one of two white bros who came here from Austin and rose to power through Common Ground, living out the savior complex by launching a career at immense cost to the people he claimed to be rescuing and representing. On a more positive note, Flaherty also tells the story of the New Teachers' Roundtable, a New Orleans collective founded by three former Teach for America participants to push back against TFA and the charter school movement — educational "reforms" which function as a profitable large-scale weaponization of the savior complex.

The crux of this wide-ranging book is finding alternatives to activism's savior mentality, that hero model in which a person of privilege uses their genius or other exceptional qualities to "rescue" the less fortunate.


I came to Flaherty's book with wariness, braced for scolding — but instead found No More Heroes to be full of love and compassion, including towards those who fall into the traps of saviordom. 


At 4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 10, the Community Book Center (2523 Bayou Road.) will host one of a series of book release events Flaherty has organized across the South, previewed here by Kat Stromquist.


Flaherty advocates going from "How can I be the single best white anti-racist activist with the sharpest critique / most specialized language / busiest schedule?" to "How can we find ways to bring more and more people into social justice work, from lots of entry points, to grow vibrant mass movements?" To clarify the answers, I sat down with Flaherty to discuss his book, journalism and activism.

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Nick Waterhouse on New Orleans R&B, record stores and recording Never Twice

Posted By on Fri, Dec 9, 2016 at 11:30 AM

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Nick Waterhouse orders breakfast while en route to Little Rock from Oklahoma City. The songwriter and bandleader — whose third album, 2016's Never Twice, channels his classic pop literacy shaped by deep dives into the brains and bins at Haight Street's Rooky Ricardo's record store — performs Monday, Dec. 12 at One Eyed Jacks.

On this tour, Waterhouse's rich arrangements are stripped down to a four-piece ("because the music business is cruel, and management is illogical," he jokes). But he'll be joined on piano by Anthony Polizzi, Waterhouse's songwriting partner and a mathematics professor at LSU. Waterhouse met "Doc" their first day of high school in California when they were 14.

"We write in a really modern way, I suppose," Waterhouse says on the phone. "We write over iMessage. We're trading lyrics and chord ideas and then voice memos. He has a piano and I have a guitar."

Waterhouse recorded the album live to tape in a mobile studio with engineer Mike McHugh, who mentored Waterhouse as a teenager hanger-on at California's Distillery Studios. Waterhouse steps aside from an anachronistic tractor beam, one that spans the stylish "retro" soul of contemporaries like Leon Bridges (who appears on Never Twice), while lovingly resurrecting the building blocks of rhythm and blues, with textured percussion, vibrant horns and distinctly New Orleans R&B-influenced piano rolls with cues from Van Morrison's miniature jazz.

He talked to Gambit about the album and his record store education.

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Restaurant Rebirth team opens Galliano on Dec. 13

Posted By on Fri, Dec 9, 2016 at 11:28 AM

The team behind Restaurant Rebirth, including Manny Pineda and chef RIcky Cheramie, will open a second, more casual restaurant Galliano on Dec. 13. - COURTESY RESTAURANT REBIRTH/GALLIANO
  • COURTESY RESTAURANT REBIRTH/GALLIANO
  • The team behind Restaurant Rebirth, including Manny Pineda and chef RIcky Cheramie, will open a second, more casual restaurant Galliano on Dec. 13.

Galliano (200 Julia St., 504-522-6863), a casual Cajun eatery from the team behind Restaurant Rebirth, opens Tuesday, Dec. 13 in the Warehouse District.

The restaurant, which the owners are calling Rebirth’s more “rustic, casual cousin,” takes over the spot formerly occupied by chef Phillip Lopez's Root, which moved to the Lower Garden District earlier this year.

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Thursday, December 8, 2016

Gambit TV: Entertainment picks for Dec. 9-11

Posted By and on Thu, Dec 8, 2016 at 2:42 PM

Gambit music commentator Noah Bonaparte Pais visits WWL-TV to break down your weekend: gypsy punk and Dada at the Music Box Village, Afghan Whigs, an award-season favorite movie and more.

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The Grocery on St. Charles Avenue to close

Posted By on Thu, Dec 8, 2016 at 2:39 PM

Uptown sandwich and po-boy shop The Grocery will close Sunday, Dec. 11. - COURTESY THE GROCERY/FACEBOOK
  • COURTESY THE GROCERY/FACEBOOK
  • Uptown sandwich and po-boy shop The Grocery will close Sunday, Dec. 11.

St. Charles Avenue po-boy and sandwich shop The Grocery (2854 St. Charles Ave., 504-895-952) is closing. The last day of business for the spot is Sunday, Dec. 11, according to a post on the store's Facebook page.

French Truck Coffee proprietor Geoffrey Meeker took over ownership of the business in February and revamped the menu to include new breakfast items while keeping many of the shop’s signature pressed po-boys. The shop was a popular parade day stop during Carnival and had been in operation for 30 years.

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PoliticoPopUp2, social/political multimedia art exhibition, opens Dec. 10

Posted By on Thu, Dec 8, 2016 at 12:09 PM

COURTESY CATALYST COLLECTIVE - KIM COLEMAN
  • Kim Coleman
  • COURTESY CATALYST COLLECTIVE

Catalyst Collective
's PoliticoPopUp series returns to New Orleans Art Center for a weeklong exhibition (Dec. 10-18) of political art in different mediums. The show features photography, painting, sculpture, printmaking, video and more by 40 artists, many of whom struggle to show their work due to its provocative social or political commentary.

At the opening and closing events for the exhibit, there's live music by ZenBeatz and Tranche and a poetry reading by well-known Jewish-American poet Rodger Kamenetz (The Jew in the Lotus, The Lowercase Jew).

Opening and closing parties take place 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Sat., Dec. 10 and Sat., Dec. 17. This is the show's second year.

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Review: The Lion in Winter

Posted By on Thu, Dec 8, 2016 at 11:48 AM



CHRISTOPHER BENTIVEGNA
  • CHRISTOPHER BENTIVEGNA


Family relationships can be strained by decisions affecting inheritance, but when those assets include a kingdom, the crown and a princess, emotions can push people to rage, revenge, revolution and all-out war.

In The Lion in Winter, England’s King Henry II brings the Plantagenet family together for Christmas in Chinon, France, hoping to announce the successor to his throne. For the occasion, he has released his wife Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine from the tower, where she has been imprisoned for plotting against him. Their three sons, Richard the Lionheart, John and Geoffrey, all desperately want to become king.


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Free screenings of Ella Brennan: Commanding the Table at Prytania Theatre next week

Posted By on Thu, Dec 8, 2016 at 7:51 AM

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Free screenings of Ella Brennan: Commanding the Table will be presented at the Prytania Theatre (5339 Prytania St.) on Dec. 12 at 7:30 p.m. and Dec. 13 at 2:30 p.m. Director Leslie Iwerks' documentary tells the story of the influential restauranteur and force behind the original Brennan’s and Commander’s Palace restaurants. Tickets can be picked up at the Prytania Theatre box office, which is open 12-9 p.m. each day.

More info about the film is available here.

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Wednesday, December 7, 2016

'Lost' version of The Glass Menagerie to screen on TCM Dec. 8

Posted By on Wed, Dec 7, 2016 at 5:06 PM

Shirley Booth and Hal Holbrook in a long-thought-lost TV version of The Glass Menagerie. - TCM
  • TCM
  • Shirley Booth and Hal Holbrook in a long-thought-lost TV version of The Glass Menagerie.
A 1966 telecast of Tennessee Williams' classic play The Glass Menagerie — starring Shirley Booth and Hal Holbrook and long thought lost by film scholars — will air tomorrow night on Turner Classic Movies at 7 p.m. Central time, 50 years to the day after it originally was shown. (To see an image from the production, click here.)

The New Yorker's Michael Schulman explains the process by which the telecast was rediscovered (and restored):
On December 8, 1966, CBS Playhouse broadcast a television production of Tennessee Williams’s “The Glass Menagerie,” starring Shirley Booth as the Southern belle turned frenetic matron Amanda Wingfield. Hal Holbrook and Barbara Loden played her children, Tom and Laura, respectively, with Pat Hingle as the Gentleman Caller. The day after it aired, Jack Gould, of the Times, called it “an evening of superb theater. . . . The delicate delineation of the loneliness of the frustrated Wingfield family was brought to television with lean beauty and eloquence.” (Booth, fresh off the sitcom “Hazel,” was praised as “appropriately intrusive as the perennial Mrs. Fix-it.”) Then, somehow or another, it was lost to time.

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