Monthly Archives: October 2009

Sometimes the Movie Is as Good as the Book: Nick Hornby Interviewed, Part the Second

Nick Hornby photographed by Sigrid Estrada

I spoke with the the great novelist and essayist Nick Hornby about a month ago, just prior to his swing through Our Nation’s Capitol to promote his swell new novel Juliet, Naked, which we discussed at some length. His other current release, the film An Education, for which he wrote the screenplay, opens here in DC at the Landmark E Street Cinema tomorrow. I haven’t seen it yet, but the great and good Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune and At the Movies tells me it’s “awfully charming.”

Herewith, the second part of our conversation, wherein we discuss his thoughts on the movies derived from his books, favorite music of the moment, and wither The Believer. Continue reading

Advertisements

Three Guys Walk onto a Non-Metaphorical Dock: Quotidian Theatre’s “Port Authority”

Port Authority

James Flanagan, Steve Beall, and Steve LaRocque in Quotidian's Port Authority.

Conor McPherson’s unshowily devastating three-hander Port Authority is stocked with premises that are, summarized in their most reductive forms, utterly familiar: I Love Her But She Loves Someone Else, I Loved Her But the Flame Has Cooled, I Loved Her But She Died. So it’s a credit to McPherson’s humane, observant pen — and to the three adept actors who illuminate his material in Quotidian Theatre‘s local premiere of his 2001 play — that even when nothing much is happening, it feels like everything’s at stake.

Like so many other contemporary dramas out of Ireland, Port Authority is a tale told in cross-cut monologues. Continue reading

Live Last Night: The Gaslight Anthem at the 9:30 Club

The Gaslight Anthem

Look, Bruce Springsteen and Joe Strummer didn’t invent this stuff, either. The greased hair and the leathers and the overdriven takes of Mad Men-era rock standards already had a blanket of dust on them a generation thick by the time The Boss and The Clash got around to them.

Jersey pomade-punks The Gaslight Anthem are the most persuasive current exponents of this tradition, and they don’t hide it. Hell, they called their latest album The ’59 Sound. At a sold-out 9:30 Club last night, they ripped through that nostalgic long-player in its near-entirety, frontman Brian Fallon balling up his handsome face to yowl about Redemption and car crashes and good girls in trouble with archaic-sounding names like Gale and — of course! — Mary. Continue reading

People (Don’t) Change: Nick Lowe at Wolf Trap

Nick Lowe

The great Nick Lowe was in reprise mode at the Barns of Wolf Trap last night. You can hear an NPR podcast of his September 2007 set at the Birchmere here, which is pretty much the same show he performed at the Barns, with the small exceptions I noted in my DCist review. Good show by a great songwriter, but I’d have preferred more variety, and more songs.

About that: Lowe spent way too much time apologizing, to my mind, for slipping one new song into his 20-tune, 70-minute set. One! He asked us if, when we hear a performer say he’d like to introduce some new material, “Does your heart sink? Because mine does.”

Really? I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the dilemma of the artist with the large, beloved back catalog struggling to make his audience accept his new work. Continue reading

Diamond Hard, Osmium Heavy: Them Crooked Vultures at the 9:30 Club

photo_01_tn

As long as John Bonham and Kurt Cobain stay dead, there’s probably no more intriguing a musical home* for their former bandmates John Paul Jones and Dave Grohl, respectively, than Them Crooked Vultures, newest and superest of the supergroups.

At the 9:30 Club last night, rock’s own Justice League stuck to what’s been standard procedure since its debut two months ago, performing 85 minutes of unfamiliar, tempo-sliding, sternum-rattling rock, diamond-hard and osmium-heavy. Classics in waiting, possibly, but no covers. No encores. No compromises.
Continue reading

Blue is the Color of Steve Martin’s Grass

Steve Martin's The Crow

We know what you’re thinking: Oh, great, another celebrity banjo album.

Actually, yes. The Crow, the collection of banjo tunes written (save for one) and performed by Steve Martin — uh-huh, that one — is truly wonderful. It says so right on the cover. And our opening joke is an, er, homage to one that a barely-legal Martin had in his stand-up routine in the mid-60s, way before Saturday Night Live or the movies or the New Yorker essays or the Kennedy Center honors.

“You’re thinking, ‘Oh, this is just another banjo-magic act’,” he’d quip. Back then, he banjo-ed out of desperation, lacking enough surefire jokes to fill out his contracted 25-minute set. Continue reading

The View from the Future with Mike Birbiglia

Mike Birbiglia, dressed for success.

Mike Birbiglia, dressed for success.

Mike Birbiglia remembers when the room was a lot smaller. He’s headlining Saturday night at the Warner Theatre, where he’ll tell some stories he’s considering for inclusion in his next one-man show. But he cut his teeth at the DC Improv in the late 90s, while a student at Georgetown University. By the time he was 25, he’d done the The Late Show with David Letterman and had his first album and Comedy Central special.

Birbiglia’s act grew more distinct and involving a couple of years ago, when he began to segue from traditional stand-up into more personal storytelling. Continue reading