In his 1993 film Dazed and Confused, director Richard Linklater offers a day in the life snapshop, a post-American Graffiti portrait of high school misfits — some coming, some going — on the last day of high school before summer break in 1976. In his first studio film (after the great Slacker) Linklater revisits Austin, Texas, and its massive cast of mostly stoned characters glimpsing the highs and lows of the American Teen Coming of Age tale. Actor Rainn Wilson called it "a Chekhov play with a bunch of jocks and stoners and dorks from an American high school. It's really funny, and really real, and really sad at the same time."
If you haven’t read the first two parts of my interview with the cast and crew of Treme, click here and here. I asked a few questions of the folks who will be throwing the “My Darlin’ New Orleans” fundraiser tonight at Generations Hall.
Gambit: There’s going to be food from Susan Spicer, Tory McPhail and Alon Shaya at the event. What restaurant do you always suggest to out-of-town guests when they visit?
David Simon, Co-Creator/Executive Producer: I always go off the beaten path and tell them about Mosca's. No one takes me up on it though, I suppose because of the drive over the bridge and the journey deep into the West Bank. Usually, I have to drag 'em there and order the chicken a la grande myself.
Wendell Pierce, “Antoine Batiste”: Sassafras on Leon C. Simon by the Lake.
Gambit: What can we expect at the event tonight?
Nina Noble, Executive Producer: We have a record number of great auction items this year, including some fabulous original art. We hope everyone will come out and enjoy an evening of great food, music, and meet some of the cast and crew of Treme.
Pierce: Meeting the actors, hearing great music, and helping a great cause.
Gambit: Anything else Gambit readers should know?
Simon: HBO's lead sponsorship of the event, as well as the support of our other sponsors, ensures that the first dollar spent on admission or auction items goes to the named charities. We're doing everything we can to maximize the support that we leave behind, because let's face it, 10 years from now, Treme will be remembered, if at all, as a drama that used to be on television. But these nonprofits will still be here on the ground, doing the hard work of supporting New Orleans and its musical culture.
Tonight’s event will host cast members from Treme and other local celebrities, and feature music from Irma Thomas, Little Freddie King and Meschiya Lake and the Little Big Horns. I’m looking forward to all the stories I’ll have to tell on Monday!
• On the same day, the Spaymart organization is holding a "Paws Cause" fundraiser at the Shamrock in Mid-City, with games, food, a cash bar, a silent auction, pool and dart challenges and more. It's only $10, and funds go to the Spaymart Community Kitten Foster & Adoption Program. Spaymart says it found homes for more than 300 cats last year.
Founded by Tia Maria Torres, Villalobos Rescue Center is the star of the Animal Planet reality series Pit Bulls and Parolees, which follows Torres and the crew at the center. After being forced to move from its California facility, it opened another, this one in New Orleans. The new location celebrates its grand opening tomorrow.
Filmed during her fairy-tale reign atop a giant bird at the Krewe of Muses parade last month, Theresa Andersson's "Hold On To Me," a track from her upcoming album Street Parade (due April 24 on Basin Street Records), makes its video debut.
Petter Ringbom directed the video, glimpsing a golden-glittering Andersson riding sculptor Jacques Dufforc and puppeteer Arthur Mintz's bird-float, surrounded by a 40-piece band of masked singers, drummers and horn players. (Grab the track and "What Comes Next" here.)
It’s been a long and completely self-inflicted struggle for writer-director Kenneth Lonergan to get his New York epic Margaret to theaters. Known for his award-winning 2000 film You Can Count on Me, and as the author of screenplays like Analyze This and Martin Scorsese’s Gangs of New York, Lonergan found himself unable to edit Margaret down to a contractually obligated 150-minute running time. His eventually sought help from Scorsese and several other filmmakers in cutting it down—and failed. Years later (believe it or not, the movie was shot in 2005) and after at least three lawsuits between Lonergan and the film’s producers, the hugely ambitious Margaret has finally limped into theaters in a 2-1/2-hour version that Lonergan has not whole-heartedly endorsed.
The movie’s tale of a self-obsessed Upper West Side teenager, who believes she has caused an accidental death and struggles to make amends, tries to cover too much thematic territory and scurries down several dead-end streets. Or does it? Maybe Lonergan was right about the length. This long movie actually feels too short to get across all it has to say. Anna Paquin (who’s now grown up and starring in HBO’s True Blood) positively nails the smug self-righteousness of youth, and there are lots of great performances and memorable moments here. It just doesn’t all add up like it should. Even so, this version of Margaret may be the sharpest film portrait so far of post-9/11 Manhattan. The truth is we’re looking forward to the four-hour director’s cut that will surely come out on DVD one day. It just might be a classic.
Margaret begins a one-week run today, March 30th, at Chalmette Movies, 8700 W. Judge Perez Dr. in Chalmette.
In the opening scene of A Streetcar Named Desire, Blanche Dubois arrives at 632 Elysian Fields, a bit dismayed after riding streetcars bound for “Cemeteries” and “Desire.” When she sees the home of her sister Stella Kowalski and her husband Stanley, she’s none too impressed. It isn’t Belle Reve, the family estate in Laurel, Miss., she has lost. But it’s also no dive.
Audiences get a similar experience settling in for Southern Rep’s inspired production of Streetcar, which opened in sync with the Tennessee Williams New Orleans Literary Festival. The Kowalski home is tucked away inside 527 Elysian Fields, the address of Michalopoulos Studio, a warehouse space that once was a funeral home. The cavernous interior is not as comfortable as Southern Rep’s former digs at The Shops at Canal Place, but it adds a sense of uniqueness to the production, and like Blanche, the company won’t be staying on Elysian Fields too long.
Under Jason Kirkpatrick’s direction, the production is faithful and intense. Aimee Hayes wonderfully animates the flighty, delusional and desperate Blanche, and it’s no small task to keep some of Williams’ lyrical flourishes from descending into Southern gothic melodrama. This Streetcar doesn’t go there.
Via Louisiana Voice
A legal analysis of Gov. Bobby Jindal's state employee pension overhauls, commissioned by the Louisiana Legislative Auditor, has found that, if passed, the bills are likely to be challenged in court and that the challengers are likely to win.
From the report:
The challenges would most likely allege violations under: (1) Article X, § 29 of the Louisiana Constitution, which protects public pension benefits, (2) the Contract Clause within both the Louisiana and U.S. Constitutions (claiming contract impairment due to diminished benefits); (3) the Takings Clause of both the Louisiana and U.S. Constitutions (for divesting public employee benefits without just compensation); (4) the Due Process Clauses of both the Louisiana Constitution'* and the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (for depriving employees' of property rights without dueprocess); and (5) 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against public officials for enforcing unconstitutional laws.
Tom Aswell of Louisiana Voice highlights this quote further down in the report:
The former notion that pension benefits were a voluntary gift from the employer (and thus subject to revision or termination at the employer's sole discretion) has since yielded to an understanding that pension benefits comprise an essential component of public employee compensation and that public employees have a significant contractual interest in these benefits.
Jindal's "reform" plan aims to increase retirement age to 67 from 55, raise employee contributions by three percent, change the formula now used to calculate retirement pay (lowering the pay in most cases) and merge the Louisiana School Employees' Retirement System with the Teachers' Retirement System of Louisiana.
Read the full analysis by Dallas-based law firm Strasburger and Price here (39 page PDF): 00028CB2.pdf
After four years of touting ethics “reforms” that were largely window dressing, Gov. Bobby Jindal finally acknowledges that his “gold standard” needs some polishing. Jindal is backing a handful of bills in the current legislative session to tweak the 2008 changes that he rammed through a special session with little opposition and even less thoughtful analysis.
Most of Jindal’s bills are good ideas, but some of them, typically, don’t go far enough. State Rep. Tim Burns, R-Mandeville, is handling Jindal’s proposals via House Bills 942, 950 and 955.
The Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana (PAR), which has been a leading advocate of reform for decades, recently published a 36-page analysis of the state’s ethics and campaign finance laws. PAR makes more than a dozen recommendations that Jindal and lawmakers should heed. It’s not light reading, but the study’s focus goes to the heart of governmental integrity. PAR’s suggestions include:
• Clearly define the authority of the state Board of Ethics and the Ethics Adjudicatory Board. This problem was created by Jindal’s 2008 “reforms.”
The governor effectively gutted the ethics board in ’08 by shifting its “adjudicatory” authority to administrative law judges (ALJs) who answer to a Jindal appointee. Before those changes, the ethics board functioned as investigator, prosecutor, judge and jury. Now the ALJs are the judges and the ethics board is the prosecutor. That’s fine, but the lines of authority and jurisdiction are fuzzy — especially in cases involving campaign finance law violations.
Filmmaking genius Alfred Hitchcock once said that his 1959 gem North By Northwest "summarizes" his "American period" of the 1940s and '50s. We sometimes like to think of it as the only perfect movie ever made. Starring Cary Grant as a mild-mannered New York advertising executive who gets swept into international espionage in an unlikely case of mistaken identity, North By Northwest seamlessly blends suspense, humor, and satire like no other film, from any era. Its technicolor glory is best experienced on the big screen, like the one at the Prytania Theatre, 5339 Prytania Street uptown in New Orleans. The Prytania will offer three noon showings of North By Northwest over the next several days: Saturday, March 31, Sunday, April 1, and Wednesday, April 4.
Allow the master himself to serve as your travel guide:
Get your copy of " The Power of Words " by Lakisha Hubbard-Williams
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