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Choreographer T. Lang takes on the mother of them all

Part of slavery's buried history comes to light in Mother/Mutha

This is a story about "motherfucker."

Spelman professor and choreographer T. Lang recently found herself confronted with a troubling explanation of the word's origin.

At a family reunion last summer, Lang's uncle asked a tableful of cousins to share their favorite profanities. "We started going around and when it got to me I said, 'My favorite cuss word is motherfucker.' Everyone was laughing except my uncle," says Lang. "He got this very stern look. He told me that the word stems from breeding plantations."

Lang's uncle explained that certain plantations existed in the 18th and 19th centuries with the specific purpose of breeding slaves valued for their size and stature. Blood relations mattered less than efficient reproduction, and today some people surmise that the word "motherfucker" originated as an insulting way to refer to slaves forced to break the ultimate taboo and reproduce with their own mothers.

The disturbing explanation stayed with Lang long after the conversation changed course and after the family reunion ended. Now when she heard the word in rap songs, movies, or on the street, her once-favorite curse carried a disturbing connection to slavery and the sanctioned rape of African-American women. "I was thinking. 'Could it be our family came from a breeding plantation?'" she says. "I didn't want to know. I was fearful, and I wanted to explore that fear."

Lang digs into that troubling legacy and its lingering effects in her latest work, Mother/Mutha. The hour-long abstract dance performance will have its world premiere at the Goat Farm on Thurs., June 7.

Lang began researching breeding plantations but only found limited information about something that was, by its nature, often unspoken and undocumented. "I really had to dig," she says, "and I didn't find much." She did learn that female slaves were usually sold or accounted for with references to their ability to produce children. Autobiographical narratives by former slaves such as Frederick Douglass and Harriet Jacobs also contain references to rape and forced breeding. In the end, Lang turned to the images of contemporary African-American visual artist Kara Walker, who mixes buried history and imagination in her famous cut-out silhouettes depicting nightmarish scenes of racially charged violence and degradation in the Old South. "She scrambles history and fiction and fantasy, but she reveals the truth," says Lang. "When you look at these silhouettes, she's talking about the exploitative aspect of capitalism, violence, power, control, using sex as that weapon."

The research turned into movement as Lang gathered a group of 10 dancers willing to commit to the intense project. Assembled from a crew of former students and professionals she handpicked from the Atlanta and New York dance communities, the company began working on Mother/Mutha in November 2011.

Lang says the choreography emerged gradually through a collaborative process. "I don't create on my own," says Lang. "I like to be inspired by the individual dancer and what they can share and then expose that."

Lang (the "T" in her stage name stands for her given name, Tracy) was born and raised in Shorewood, Ill., a suburb on Chicago's southside. She began dancing in kindergarten, and made her first self-produced show in her backyard when she was 6, creating tickets with her crayons and selling them to the neighbors for 25 cents. ("I've been doing this for a minute," she jokes.)

"By high school, I knew I was going to dance," she says. "I didn't have a backup plan, no plan B, no minor. It was going to be dance." She received her BFA from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and then went to New York. There she danced with various choreographers and companies including Marlies Yearby, Nia Love/Blacksmith's Daughter Dance Theatre, and the Metropolitan Opera. She attended Tisch School of the Arts for graduate school where one professor in particular, renowned choreographer Phyllis Lamhut, encouraged her to begin creating and showing her own work.

"She really pushed me to present my work in the city," Lang says. "I'm thankful that she saw something in me and my work that she pushed me — damn near forced me — out there, and I've been doing it ever since." In 2008, Spelman invited her for a guest-artist residency, which turned into a tenure-track assistant professorship. Mother/Mutha will be her first major independent professional showing of her work in Atlanta outside of 2009's mixed program One Night Only.

Lang's dancers in Mother/Mutha come from a variety of backgrounds — hip-hop, ballet, modern — and it shows in the work's movement. A distinctive feature of Lang's choreography is its ability to allow individual personalities to pop, even when dancers are moving in unison. "I think it's important to be authentic, not machines," says Lang. "It defeats the purpose of art. It's important for me to see the humans, the authenticity and individuality of each dancer in the work. That's what draws the eye. ... Seeing them all dance together for the first time, there really was something special there, a whisper."

Creation of the new show involved far more than just dance. Lang shared related artwork, music, and excerpts from her research to get the crew thinking about the subject matter. The group also engaged in frequent, often very personal and difficult discussions. The studio became a place to learn and ask questions as talks ranged from family and personal histories to color lines within the black community — class status, hair, skin color, and height. "It's the professor in me," says Lang. "I can't really take that hat off. ... We all have these different stories and family histories, but still there's a theme of oppression. We learned a lot about ourselves."

"I did personal research within my own family," says dancer Debòrah Hughes. "When she gave me movement, I was thinking of myself as my family member back then. What was my bloodline thinking when they were in this moment? We're trying to understand the story from these women's points of view."

Dancer Nicole Kedaroe also found the subject matter challenging, and the choreography even more so. "You kind of have to put yourself in that position and that's what intimidates me about the work," she says. "But the part I struggle with most is the technique of T. Lang. ... Your whole body is invested in this piece. You have to immerse yourself in it. I feel like the content is the least of my struggles. I trust T. Lang completely with it."

In a mixture of ensembles, solos, and duets, the abstract dance performance is meant to create a space for the contemplation of black women's loss of autonomy under slavery and the abuse's lasting traces in contemporary culture. The central section, "Whip It," begins with a traditional rendition of "Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen" sung live by Atlanta neo-soul artist Karlyn as the dancers fall over and are dragged across the floor. The song gradually becomes a mashup of the national anthem and Khia's "My Neck, My Back," a provocative play on sexualized images of black women that remain prevalent in the media. "We're still so conditioned to accept these problematic images," says Lang. "It's referencing this mixture, this lack of awareness in our society. This rhythm, this beat, this whip that's mesmerizing us to not really listen to the messages that are seeping in."

Lang also asked Spelman colleagues Opal Moore and Michelle Hite, both English professors and poets, to contribute poems. "They wrote these beautiful words that question our perception of women," she says.

As audience members enter, they'll hear sound designer Lee Blalock's soundscape of auction noises mixed with manipulated readings of Moore and Hite's texts. Projections of video by Georgia State University artists group Open Position will integrate various images and animation throughout the work: Vines will slowly grow and intertwine throughout the show to form a whip, while other images play off Walker's silhouettes or show montages of women augmenting their appearance with makeup, clothes, or surgery.

Lang says she hopes audiences understand that the new show is not meant to be confrontational or accusatory. The group's hope is to start conversation about a buried chapter of history whose painful legacy is perhaps more present than we like to think. "It's not to make a statement but to put this in people's ear," says Lang. "I hope people won't categorize us as 'That's just another black female company on the soap box.' That's not really my intent. I'm trying to open a conversation. ... There are some untold truths that we need to speak."



More By This Writer

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  string(3716) ""I've had my head digitized," is the first thing we hear Marlon Brando say in Listen to Me Marlon, a new documentary about the famously reclusive and enigmatic actor. A moment later, the screen shifts from blank to the results of that digitization. An eerie, monochrome, computerized head, as somber and uncanny as a death mask, appears and runs through a number of different actorly expressions — from happy to angry to sad — before speaking a few lines of Shakespeare. This is just one example of a scene in a documentary that takes an unusual approach to an extraordinary subject.

??
For the film, British documentarian Steven Riley had access to the hundreds of hours of audiotape that Brando made throughout his life, long monologues spoken into a microphone as a form of diary and therapy. Instead of using a narrator or title cards as a typical documentary might, Riley allows Brando to narrate his own life, to tell his own story. The audio is paired with archival film and photographs, much of it never seen before. The result of this simple technique is an immersive, surprisingly dreamlike, surreal atmosphere, one that seems miles away from the straight-forward, "just-the-facts" approach of a typical documentary. (The digitized head, which appears briefly throughout the film, certainly adds to the "surreal" aspect). Brando's head, we discover, was a complicated thing.

??
Brando was born and raised in rural Nebraska by two alcoholic parents. The shadow of abuse and neglect from his brutal, difficult father is something that haunted him throughout his troubled life. In one scene, we see Brando as a young man enjoying the first years of his success: he's on one of those This Is Your Life-type TV shows, and they've also invited his father. The atmosphere is genial but tense, and at one point, Brando jokes about no longer being afraid of his father because he's able to beat him up. It's seemingly a typical "I can take down the ol' man now" joke, but it's easy to read the years of sublimated rage, monumental tension, and fear in both of their faces. "Show, don't tell," is famous advice to creatives, and it's clearly a tip that director Riley took to heart.

??
We examine many of the significant aspects of Brando's life in a similar vein: his apprenticeship with famed acting teacher Stella Adler and his early unprecedented success as Stanley in A Streetcar Named Desire. The film also explores his womanizing, a growing discomfort with fame, and the terrible violent tragedies that befell his son and daughter in spite of his best efforts to protect them from the sort of domestic savagery he experienced under his own father. It's captivating stuff.

??
Riley fills in gaps with reenactments. When Brando describes his home life, there's no way for the audience to know if the black-and-white-filmed shots of the people we're seeing in the home are archival or recreations. Is it his actual home in Nebraska or a stand-in in the Hollywood hills? It's a common 21st-century technique, a blending of fictive and actual elements, but one that may stick in the craw of some viewers and make them feel slightly disoriented and distrustful of other scenes. And the film moves chronologically, but in the long, busy, eventful life we often gloss over nuts-and-bolts biographical details that would help us understand how and why things unfolded exactly as they did.

??
Still, Listen to Me Marlon is a fascinating glimpse into the mind of one of the greatest, and most private actors of all time. "Actors don't act," Brando tells us at one point. "The audience does the acting, the audience does the feeling." To watch Listen to Me Marlon is to feel the truth of that. (4 out of 5 stars)"
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  string(3796) ""I've had my head digitized," is the first thing we hear [http://www.biography.com/people/marlon-brando-9224306|Marlon Brando] say in ''Listen to Me Marlon'', a new documentary about the famously reclusive and enigmatic actor. A moment later, the screen shifts from blank to the results of that digitization. An eerie, monochrome, computerized head, as somber and uncanny as a death mask, appears and runs through a number of different actorly expressions — from happy to angry to sad — before speaking a few lines of Shakespeare. This is just one example of a scene in a documentary that takes an unusual approach to an extraordinary subject.

??
For the film, British documentarian Steven Riley had access to the hundreds of hours of audiotape that Brando made throughout his life, long monologues spoken into a microphone as a form of diary and therapy. Instead of using a narrator or title cards as a typical documentary might, Riley allows Brando to narrate his own life, to tell his own story. The audio is paired with archival film and photographs, much of it never seen before. The result of this simple technique is an immersive, surprisingly dreamlike, surreal atmosphere, one that seems miles away from the straight-forward, "just-the-facts" approach of a typical documentary. (The digitized head, which appears briefly throughout the film, certainly adds to the "surreal" aspect). Brando's head, we discover, was a complicated thing.

??
Brando was born and raised in rural Nebraska by two alcoholic parents. The shadow of abuse and neglect from his brutal, difficult father is something that haunted him throughout his troubled life. In one scene, we see Brando as a young man enjoying the first years of his success: he's on one of those ''This Is Your Life''-type TV shows, and they've also invited his father. The atmosphere is genial but tense, and at one point, Brando jokes about no longer being afraid of his father because he's able to beat him up. It's seemingly a typical "I can take down the ol' man now" joke, but it's easy to read the years of sublimated rage, monumental tension, and fear in both of their faces. "Show, don't tell," is famous advice to creatives, and it's clearly a tip that director Riley took to heart.

??
We examine many of the significant aspects of Brando's life in a similar vein: his apprenticeship with famed acting teacher Stella Adler and his early unprecedented success as Stanley in ''A Streetcar Named Desire''. The film also explores his womanizing, a growing discomfort with fame, and the terrible violent tragedies that befell his son and daughter in spite of his best efforts to protect them from the sort of domestic savagery he experienced under his own father. It's captivating stuff.

??
Riley fills in gaps with reenactments. When Brando describes his home life, there's no way for the audience to know if the black-and-white-filmed shots of the people we're seeing in the home are archival or recreations. Is it his actual home in Nebraska or a stand-in in the Hollywood hills? It's a common 21st-century technique, a blending of fictive and actual elements, but one that may stick in the craw of some viewers and make them feel slightly disoriented and distrustful of other scenes. And the film moves chronologically, but in the long, busy, eventful life we often gloss over nuts-and-bolts biographical details that would help us understand how and why things unfolded exactly as they did.

??
Still, ''Listen to Me Marlon'' is a fascinating glimpse into the mind of one of the greatest, and most private actors of all time. "Actors don't act," Brando tells us at one point. "The audience does the acting, the audience does the feeling." To watch ''Listen to Me Marlon'' is to feel the truth of that. __(4 out of 5 stars)__"
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  string(4102) "    Director Stevan Riley combines new technology with archival footage and audio to tell actor's story   2015-08-17T08:00:00+00:00 Listen to Me Marlon' is an unusual approach to an extraordinary subject   Andrew Alexander 1223508 2015-08-17T08:00:00+00:00  "I've had my head digitized," is the first thing we hear Marlon Brando say in Listen to Me Marlon, a new documentary about the famously reclusive and enigmatic actor. A moment later, the screen shifts from blank to the results of that digitization. An eerie, monochrome, computerized head, as somber and uncanny as a death mask, appears and runs through a number of different actorly expressions — from happy to angry to sad — before speaking a few lines of Shakespeare. This is just one example of a scene in a documentary that takes an unusual approach to an extraordinary subject.

??
For the film, British documentarian Steven Riley had access to the hundreds of hours of audiotape that Brando made throughout his life, long monologues spoken into a microphone as a form of diary and therapy. Instead of using a narrator or title cards as a typical documentary might, Riley allows Brando to narrate his own life, to tell his own story. The audio is paired with archival film and photographs, much of it never seen before. The result of this simple technique is an immersive, surprisingly dreamlike, surreal atmosphere, one that seems miles away from the straight-forward, "just-the-facts" approach of a typical documentary. (The digitized head, which appears briefly throughout the film, certainly adds to the "surreal" aspect). Brando's head, we discover, was a complicated thing.

??
Brando was born and raised in rural Nebraska by two alcoholic parents. The shadow of abuse and neglect from his brutal, difficult father is something that haunted him throughout his troubled life. In one scene, we see Brando as a young man enjoying the first years of his success: he's on one of those This Is Your Life-type TV shows, and they've also invited his father. The atmosphere is genial but tense, and at one point, Brando jokes about no longer being afraid of his father because he's able to beat him up. It's seemingly a typical "I can take down the ol' man now" joke, but it's easy to read the years of sublimated rage, monumental tension, and fear in both of their faces. "Show, don't tell," is famous advice to creatives, and it's clearly a tip that director Riley took to heart.

??
We examine many of the significant aspects of Brando's life in a similar vein: his apprenticeship with famed acting teacher Stella Adler and his early unprecedented success as Stanley in A Streetcar Named Desire. The film also explores his womanizing, a growing discomfort with fame, and the terrible violent tragedies that befell his son and daughter in spite of his best efforts to protect them from the sort of domestic savagery he experienced under his own father. It's captivating stuff.

??
Riley fills in gaps with reenactments. When Brando describes his home life, there's no way for the audience to know if the black-and-white-filmed shots of the people we're seeing in the home are archival or recreations. Is it his actual home in Nebraska or a stand-in in the Hollywood hills? It's a common 21st-century technique, a blending of fictive and actual elements, but one that may stick in the craw of some viewers and make them feel slightly disoriented and distrustful of other scenes. And the film moves chronologically, but in the long, busy, eventful life we often gloss over nuts-and-bolts biographical details that would help us understand how and why things unfolded exactly as they did.

??
Still, Listen to Me Marlon is a fascinating glimpse into the mind of one of the greatest, and most private actors of all time. "Actors don't act," Brando tells us at one point. "The audience does the acting, the audience does the feeling." To watch Listen to Me Marlon is to feel the truth of that. (4 out of 5 stars)             13084460 15145271                          Listen to Me Marlon' is an unusual approach to an extraordinary subject "
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Article

Monday August 17, 2015 04:00 am EDT
Director Stevan Riley combines new technology with archival footage and audio to tell actor's story | more...
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  string(3128) "For his second documentary, The Look of Silence, filmmaker Joshua Oppenheimer returns to the subject of his Oscar-nominated first, The Act of Killing. Both films bring to light the nightmarish atrocities of the anti-communist purge in Indonesia in the mid-1960s. But as the title might suggest, the new film is a much quieter, more contemplative one than its 2012 predecessor, which conveyed the horror and absurdity of those events by having the perpetrators reenact their deeds for the camera, a task they took on with surreal vigor.

??
In The Look of Silence, we instead follow the story of Adi Rukun and his family as they look into the circumstances around his brother's death during Indonesia's bloody past. In some of the film's most excruciating scenes, Adi watches video recordings of interviews with his brother's killers, who are casually remorseless on camera about their methods.

??
Though the anti-communist furor in Indonesia was fanned by the military, the atrocities were in many cases carried out by local vigilante groups. Killers and victims were — and in many cases still are — neighbors. Adi discovers that his older brother's killers live just down the road, and one by one, he confronts them in his plainspoken, patient way, seeking to understand if they're capable of expressing remorse. It slowly becomes clear that Adi, a gentle optometrist with a young family who visits the killers under the guise of testing their vision for new glasses, doesn't want revenge or confrontation, but an opportunity to understand and even forgive.

??
The focus in both of Oppenheimer's films is not so much on the banality of evil (though that is present in abundance), but on the sheer, enduring arrogance of it, and its seeming triumph and lack of self-recrimination. If there's remorse, it seems self-indulgent, even meaningless. "You ask too many questions," Adi is told again and again by the perpetrators, who all share the smug confidence of power, money, and position. "The past is past" is the phrase they use to dismiss him; some even threaten that the trouble could come again to those who ask too many questions. You can note in the closing credits how many of the people who participated in making the film wanted, understandably, to remain anonymous.

??
The film departs from Oppenheimer's earlier documentary in a moving way, by focusing on the permanent devastation that violence brings to victims' families. In one of the film's most touching scenes, Adi's mother bathes the body of his emaciated, centenarian father. There and throughout the film, it's possible to see the pain of the loss of the family's eldest son still written on their faces and bodies.

??
The Look of Silence offers a bleak, crystal-clear look at an incomprehensible, unspeakable subject. Devastatingly, nothing boils down to an easy, uplifting, or hopeful message here. As in The Act of Killing, Oppenheimer opens a window to a world many of us would prefer not to see. It's a world where the past can be buried, the innocent suffer, the guilty triumph, and everyone must live together side by side. (4 out of 5 stars)"
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??
In ''The Look of Silence'', we instead follow the story of [http://www.theguardian.com/film/2014/aug/28/the-look-of-silence-gets-venice-talking-but-verdict-from-indonesia-still-pending|Adi Rukun] and his family as they look into the circumstances around his brother's death during Indonesia's bloody past. In some of the film's most excruciating scenes, Adi watches video recordings of interviews with his brother's killers, who are casually remorseless on camera about their methods.

??
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??
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??
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??
''The Look of Silence'' offers a bleak, crystal-clear look at an incomprehensible, unspeakable subject. Devastatingly, nothing boils down to an easy, uplifting, or hopeful message here. As in ''The Act of Killing'', Oppenheimer opens a window to a world many of us would prefer not to see. It's a world where the past can be buried, the innocent suffer, the guilty triumph, and everyone must live together side by side. __(4 out of 5 stars)__"
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  string(3465) "    Joshua Oppenheimer's follow-up to The Act of Killing is both contemplative and bleak   2015-08-06T08:00:00+00:00 'The Look of Silence' delivers heart-wrenching rawness   Andrew Alexander 1223508 2015-08-06T08:00:00+00:00  For his second documentary, The Look of Silence, filmmaker Joshua Oppenheimer returns to the subject of his Oscar-nominated first, The Act of Killing. Both films bring to light the nightmarish atrocities of the anti-communist purge in Indonesia in the mid-1960s. But as the title might suggest, the new film is a much quieter, more contemplative one than its 2012 predecessor, which conveyed the horror and absurdity of those events by having the perpetrators reenact their deeds for the camera, a task they took on with surreal vigor.

??
In The Look of Silence, we instead follow the story of Adi Rukun and his family as they look into the circumstances around his brother's death during Indonesia's bloody past. In some of the film's most excruciating scenes, Adi watches video recordings of interviews with his brother's killers, who are casually remorseless on camera about their methods.

??
Though the anti-communist furor in Indonesia was fanned by the military, the atrocities were in many cases carried out by local vigilante groups. Killers and victims were — and in many cases still are — neighbors. Adi discovers that his older brother's killers live just down the road, and one by one, he confronts them in his plainspoken, patient way, seeking to understand if they're capable of expressing remorse. It slowly becomes clear that Adi, a gentle optometrist with a young family who visits the killers under the guise of testing their vision for new glasses, doesn't want revenge or confrontation, but an opportunity to understand and even forgive.

??
The focus in both of Oppenheimer's films is not so much on the banality of evil (though that is present in abundance), but on the sheer, enduring arrogance of it, and its seeming triumph and lack of self-recrimination. If there's remorse, it seems self-indulgent, even meaningless. "You ask too many questions," Adi is told again and again by the perpetrators, who all share the smug confidence of power, money, and position. "The past is past" is the phrase they use to dismiss him; some even threaten that the trouble could come again to those who ask too many questions. You can note in the closing credits how many of the people who participated in making the film wanted, understandably, to remain anonymous.

??
The film departs from Oppenheimer's earlier documentary in a moving way, by focusing on the permanent devastation that violence brings to victims' families. In one of the film's most touching scenes, Adi's mother bathes the body of his emaciated, centenarian father. There and throughout the film, it's possible to see the pain of the loss of the family's eldest son still written on their faces and bodies.

??
The Look of Silence offers a bleak, crystal-clear look at an incomprehensible, unspeakable subject. Devastatingly, nothing boils down to an easy, uplifting, or hopeful message here. As in The Act of Killing, Oppenheimer opens a window to a world many of us would prefer not to see. It's a world where the past can be buried, the innocent suffer, the guilty triumph, and everyone must live together side by side. (4 out of 5 stars)             13084110 15005727                          'The Look of Silence' delivers heart-wrenching rawness "
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Thursday August 6, 2015 04:00 am EDT
Joshua Oppenheimer's follow-up to The Act of Killing is both contemplative and bleak | more...
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  string(2814) "In its compelling opening scenes, Woody Allen's new film Irrational Man seems to be going the Blue Jasmine route. We settle in for an absorbing story of a flawed character in crisis. In Jasmine, it was Cate Blanchett as the mentally fragile, fallen New York socialite Jasmine arriving on her sister's doorstep. In Irrational Man, we have Joaquin Phoenix as Abe, a brilliant but profoundly burned-out philosophy professor arriving in a small college town to start work as a visiting professor.

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The whole thing picks up even more narrative energy when the lethargic Abe decides to take action by murdering a stranger, a powerful someone who makes life miserable for others. Allen is brilliant with his use of music, and here the recurring use of Billy Page's jazz classic "The In Crowd" gives the planning and enacting scenes a jolt of jaunty energy and lively sense of purpose.

??
After spurring himself into action, Abe undergoes a transformation, experiencing a renewed interest in life and all it has to offer. It's a comic-strip simple turn of events for a well-rounded character, and even more disappointing is that the narrative likewise begins to utilize a well-worn, conventional sort of suspense: Will he be caught or won't he? We find we were more interested in Abe depressed and ordinary than we are in him chipper and hiding a secret. Worst of all is the ridiculously unbelievable ending, one that makes the whole endeavor feel like a feather-light retelling of Allen's much better 2005 tale of murder and the vagaries of chance, Match Point. Irrational Man is also narrated by Stone's character (it's something that's easy to forget as it's a conceit that fades in and out), so we're unfortunately left at the end with that character's bland, unrevealing reflections about Abe's fate.

??
It's become a matter of course to expect that Allen will revisit some of the themes and situations from his earlier work in new films. Though it initially seems to be staking out some new territory with an interesting actor depicting a compelling character à la Blue Jasmine, in the end, Irrational Man retreads too much familiar ground. If you've seen Crimes and Misdemeanors and Match Point, you've already seen Irrational Man, only better. (2 out of 5 stars)"
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  string(3098) "In its compelling opening scenes, Woody Allen's new film ''[http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3715320/?ref_=nv_sr_1|Irrational Man]'' seems to be going the ''[http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2334873/|Blue Jasmine]'' route. We settle in for an absorbing story of a flawed character in crisis. In ''Jasmine'', it was Cate Blanchett as the mentally fragile, fallen New York socialite Jasmine arriving on her sister's doorstep. In ''Irrational Man'', we have Joaquin Phoenix as Abe, a brilliant but profoundly burned-out philosophy professor arriving in a small college town to start work as a visiting professor.

??
Inexpressive, joyless despair isn't an easy thing to make appealing — or even interesting — on screen, but Phoenix gives the existentially depressed character a quiet, soulful uneasiness, a weird halo of alienation that's compellingly recognizable. The aging Abe and his melancholy prove irresistibly attractive (What'd you expect? It's a Woody Allen film.) to both his young student Jill (Emma Stone) and to his sexed-up colleague in the chemistry department, Rita (Parker Posey), who begin positioning themselves to gain his attention.

??
The whole thing picks up even more narrative energy when the lethargic Abe decides to take action by murdering a stranger, a powerful someone who makes life miserable for others. Allen is brilliant with his use of music, and here the recurring use of [http://www.imdb.com/name/nm4993987/|Billy Page]'s jazz classic "The In Crowd" gives the planning and enacting scenes a jolt of jaunty energy and lively sense of purpose.

??
After spurring himself into action, Abe undergoes a transformation, experiencing a renewed interest in life and all it has to offer. It's a comic-strip simple turn of events for a well-rounded character, and even more disappointing is that the narrative likewise begins to utilize a well-worn, conventional sort of suspense: Will he be caught or won't he? We find we were more interested in Abe depressed and ordinary than we are in him chipper and hiding a secret. Worst of all is the ridiculously unbelievable ending, one that makes the whole endeavor feel like a feather-light retelling of Allen's much better 2005 tale of murder and the vagaries of chance, ''[http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0416320/?ref_=nv_sr_1|Match Point]''. ''Irrational Man'' is also narrated by Stone's character (it's something that's easy to forget as it's a conceit that fades in and out), so we're unfortunately left at the end with that character's bland, unrevealing reflections about Abe's fate.

??
It's become a matter of course to expect that Allen will revisit some of the themes and situations from his earlier work in new films. Though it initially seems to be staking out some new territory with an interesting actor depicting a compelling character à la ''Blue Jasmine'', in the end, ''Irrational Man'' retreads too much familiar ground. If you've seen ''[http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0097123/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1|Crimes and Misdemeanors]'' and ''Match Point'', you've already seen ''Irrational Man'', only better. __(2 out of 5 stars)__"
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??
Inexpressive, joyless despair isn't an easy thing to make appealing — or even interesting — on screen, but Phoenix gives the existentially depressed character a quiet, soulful uneasiness, a weird halo of alienation that's compellingly recognizable. The aging Abe and his melancholy prove irresistibly attractive (What'd you expect? It's a Woody Allen film.) to both his young student Jill (Emma Stone) and to his sexed-up colleague in the chemistry department, Rita (Parker Posey), who begin positioning themselves to gain his attention.

??
The whole thing picks up even more narrative energy when the lethargic Abe decides to take action by murdering a stranger, a powerful someone who makes life miserable for others. Allen is brilliant with his use of music, and here the recurring use of Billy Page's jazz classic "The In Crowd" gives the planning and enacting scenes a jolt of jaunty energy and lively sense of purpose.

??
After spurring himself into action, Abe undergoes a transformation, experiencing a renewed interest in life and all it has to offer. It's a comic-strip simple turn of events for a well-rounded character, and even more disappointing is that the narrative likewise begins to utilize a well-worn, conventional sort of suspense: Will he be caught or won't he? We find we were more interested in Abe depressed and ordinary than we are in him chipper and hiding a secret. Worst of all is the ridiculously unbelievable ending, one that makes the whole endeavor feel like a feather-light retelling of Allen's much better 2005 tale of murder and the vagaries of chance, Match Point. Irrational Man is also narrated by Stone's character (it's something that's easy to forget as it's a conceit that fades in and out), so we're unfortunately left at the end with that character's bland, unrevealing reflections about Abe's fate.

??
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Thursday July 30, 2015 04:00 am EDT
Director's latest release feels like a rehashing of characters and narratives from past projects | more...
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?     Actor Chiwetel Ejiofor is probably most familiar to American audiences for his film roles including his Oscar-nominated performance as Solomon Northup in 2013's 12 Years a Slave. But Ejiofor is also a hugely accomplished stage actor in his home country of England. Atlanta audiences can easily catch a glimpse of this side of Ejiofor when the National Theatre of Great Britain does a cinema broadcast of its current production Everyman, at Landmark Midtown Art Cinema. ?

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?     Everyman, you may recall from English Lit class (you may choose not to), is a 15th-century morality play about a man who tries to escape from death; it's long been considered one of the foundational cornerstones of English drama. The inventive-looking National Theatre production includes words by British Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy and movement by choreographer Javier De Frutos.
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?  National Theatre Live: Everyman. $15. 11 a.m. Sun., Aug. 2. Landmark Midtown Art Cinema, 931 Monroe Dr. N.E. 404-879-0160. landmarktheatres.com.?

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?     Actor Chiwetel Ejiofor is probably most familiar to American audiences for his film roles including his Oscar-nominated performance as Solomon Northup in 2013's 12 Years a Slave. But Ejiofor is also a hugely accomplished stage actor in his home country of England. Atlanta audiences can easily catch a glimpse of this side of Ejiofor when the National Theatre of Great Britain does a cinema broadcast of its current production Everyman, at Landmark Midtown Art Cinema. ?

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?  
?  National Theatre Live: Everyman. $15. 11 a.m. Sun., Aug. 2. Landmark Midtown Art Cinema, 931 Monroe Dr. N.E. 404-879-0160. landmarktheatres.com.?

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Article

Wednesday July 29, 2015 10:35 am EDT

image-1?
? Actor Chiwetel Ejiofor is probably most familiar to American audiences for his film roles including his Oscar-nominated performance as Solomon Northup in 2013's 12 Years a Slave. But Ejiofor is also a hugely accomplished stage actor in his home country of England. Atlanta audiences can easily catch a glimpse of this side of Ejiofor when the National Theatre of Great Britain does...

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? Following up on the success of the 2013 exhibition Drawing Inside the Perimeter, the High Museum's Sprawl! Drawing Outside the Lines focuses on work by contemporary Atlanta-based artists. The new show expands the concept by featuring over 100 recently-acquired works by more than 75 artists (both ITP and OTP), including a title wall designed by Atlanta muralist Paper Frank. CL caught up with the High's Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art Michael Rooks to chat about picking the works to represent Atlanta in the show.
?  
?  Tell me about the process of selecting work for Sprawl!.
?  I visit artists' studios with Atlanta art consultant Marianne Lambert and art patron Susan Antinori. We call ourselves the "Three Amigos." We do studio visits every Thursday, about five or six of them. From those visits, I follow up with artists whose place in their career seems very serious and mature.
?  
?  But how do you hear about an artist before a visit?
?  I ask artists to recommend other artists. I've always respected artists' recommendations about anyone else. When I visit with people and we make a connection, I'll ask if they know anyone else worth meeting and taking a look at.
?   image-1 
? When you go to a studio and consider work, what are you looking for?
?  I arrange studio visits with people whose work interests me. I don't go with the specific goal of buying something or acquiring something. It's not a transactional thing. It's about me meeting artists who are interesting and serious and who have a studio practice that's growing and evolving.
?  
?  Whose studio was the most unusual or surprising?
?  I guess that would be Frank Dunson. He works out of his apartment. His day job is being Paper Frank. He works across the country doing big mural projects. He lives in a little one-bedroom apartment, and it's full of art. His walls are covered in painted images. What he does extends off of the paper and canvas and onto the walls. It's this environment that's just incredible.
?  
?    The work in the show seems really varied, but would you say that there's some sort of approach or style that these artists all share that's identifiably "Atlanta"?
?  I don't know if I can say "identifiably Atlanta," but there are certain strands of influence that are perhaps unique to Atlanta. One of them is this sort of underground approach. There is now an underground here that's really vibrant and that's self-sustaining. It's like Chicago in the '60s. The underground there became known as the Chicago Imagists. They were doing something against the grain, figurative work that no one else was doing. Here, the underground consists of artists who are sometimes untrained, who also often work in the commercial realm — illustration, tattoo, murals, and graphic design — so those influences of commercial art are very strong. They're very comfortable crossing over, very ambidextrous.
?  
?  Do you have any advice for people who haven't really collected art before but might be interested in exploring this realm and buying some work by Atlanta artists?
?  Be receptive to learning about what artists are up to and what the work is about. Go to galleries. Pay attention to the gallery system we have here in the city. It's small, but it's really vibrant and there are great things. I would say go to the Sprawl exhibition site where we have hyperlinks for all the artists in the show. Go to their websites and check them out. They're amazing, but they're a fraction of the number of people in the city making great work. Take a chance on buying something that may not be immediately appealing to you. Something that's immediately appealing may be just decorative, and you'll lose interest in it after a couple weeks. A really powerful work of art is something you can look at every day. I personally collect. My apartment here is full of art from Atlanta. I have things sitting on the floor and leaning against the wall in every room. I love coming home at the end of the week. I just sit there and have a cocktail and look at them. I don't have a TV so that's my TV. I just never get tired of coming home and looking at these things.
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? Following up on the success of the 2013 exhibition [http://clatl.com/atlanta/the-high-draws-a-portrait-of-atlanta/Content?oid=8637030|''Drawing Inside the Perimeter''], the High Museum's ''[https://www.high.org/Art/Exhibitions/Sprawl-Drawing-Outside-the-Lines.aspx|Sprawl! Drawing Outside the Lines]'' focuses on work by contemporary Atlanta-based artists. The new show expands the concept by featuring over 100 recently-acquired works by more than 75 artists (both ITP and OTP), including a title wall designed by Atlanta muralist [http://clatl.com/atlanta/paper-franks-beautiful-twisted-reality/Content?oid=9059029|Paper Frank]. ''CL ''caught up with the High's Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art [http://clatl.com/freshloaf/archives/2015/03/27/the-highs-michael-rooks-to-receive-the-nexus-award|Michael Rooks] to chat about picking the works to represent Atlanta in the show.
?  
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?  
?  __But how do you hear about an artist before a visit?__
?  I ask artists to recommend other artists. I've always respected artists' recommendations about anyone else. When I visit with people and we make a connection, I'll ask if they know anyone else worth meeting and taking a look at.
?   [image-1] ____
__? When you go to a studio and consider work, what are you looking for?__
?  I arrange studio visits with people whose work interests me. I don't go with the specific goal of buying something or acquiring something. It's not a transactional thing. It's about me meeting artists who are interesting and serious and who have a studio practice that's growing and evolving.
?  
?  __Whose studio was the most unusual or surprising?__
?  I guess that would be Frank Dunson. He works out of his apartment. His day job is being Paper Frank. He works across the country doing big mural projects. He lives in a little one-bedroom apartment, and it's full of art. His walls are covered in painted images. What he does extends off of the paper and canvas and onto the walls. It's this environment that's just incredible.
?  
?    __The work in the show seems really varied, but would you say that there's some sort of approach or style that these artists all share that's identifiably "Atlanta"?__
?  I don't know if I can say "identifiably Atlanta," but there are certain strands of influence that are perhaps unique to Atlanta. One of them is this sort of underground approach. There is now an underground here that's really vibrant and that's self-sustaining. It's like Chicago in the '60s. The underground there became known as the [http://hyperallergic.com/126627/chicago-imagists-art-historys-overlooked-chapter-now-on-film/|Chicago Imagists]. They were doing something against the grain, figurative work that no one else was doing. Here, the underground consists of artists who are sometimes untrained, who also often work in the commercial realm — illustration, tattoo, murals, and graphic design — so those influences of commercial art are very strong. They're very comfortable crossing over, very ambidextrous.
?  
?  __Do you have any advice for people who haven't really collected art before but might be interested in exploring this realm and buying some work by Atlanta artists?__
?  Be receptive to learning about what artists are up to and what the work is about. Go to galleries. Pay attention to the gallery system we have here in the city. It's small, but it's really vibrant and there are great things. I would say go to the ''Sprawl ''exhibition site where we have hyperlinks for all the artists in the show. Go to their websites and check them out. They're amazing, but they're a fraction of the number of people in the city making great work. Take a chance on buying something that may not be immediately appealing to you. Something that's immediately appealing may be just decorative, and you'll lose interest in it after a couple weeks. A really powerful work of art is something you can look at every day. I personally collect. My apartment here is full of art from Atlanta. I have things sitting on the floor and leaning against the wall in every room. I love coming home at the end of the week. I just sit there and have a cocktail and look at them. I don't have a TV so that's my TV. I just never get tired of coming home and looking at these things.
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? Following up on the success of the 2013 exhibition Drawing Inside the Perimeter, the High Museum's Sprawl! Drawing Outside the Lines focuses on work by contemporary Atlanta-based artists. The new show expands the concept by featuring over 100 recently-acquired works by more than 75 artists (both ITP and OTP), including a title wall designed by Atlanta muralist Paper Frank. CL caught up with the High's Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art Michael Rooks to chat about picking the works to represent Atlanta in the show.
?  
?  Tell me about the process of selecting work for Sprawl!.
?  I visit artists' studios with Atlanta art consultant Marianne Lambert and art patron Susan Antinori. We call ourselves the "Three Amigos." We do studio visits every Thursday, about five or six of them. From those visits, I follow up with artists whose place in their career seems very serious and mature.
?  
?  But how do you hear about an artist before a visit?
?  I ask artists to recommend other artists. I've always respected artists' recommendations about anyone else. When I visit with people and we make a connection, I'll ask if they know anyone else worth meeting and taking a look at.
?   image-1 
? When you go to a studio and consider work, what are you looking for?
?  I arrange studio visits with people whose work interests me. I don't go with the specific goal of buying something or acquiring something. It's not a transactional thing. It's about me meeting artists who are interesting and serious and who have a studio practice that's growing and evolving.
?  
?  Whose studio was the most unusual or surprising?
?  I guess that would be Frank Dunson. He works out of his apartment. His day job is being Paper Frank. He works across the country doing big mural projects. He lives in a little one-bedroom apartment, and it's full of art. His walls are covered in painted images. What he does extends off of the paper and canvas and onto the walls. It's this environment that's just incredible.
?  
?    The work in the show seems really varied, but would you say that there's some sort of approach or style that these artists all share that's identifiably "Atlanta"?
?  I don't know if I can say "identifiably Atlanta," but there are certain strands of influence that are perhaps unique to Atlanta. One of them is this sort of underground approach. There is now an underground here that's really vibrant and that's self-sustaining. It's like Chicago in the '60s. The underground there became known as the Chicago Imagists. They were doing something against the grain, figurative work that no one else was doing. Here, the underground consists of artists who are sometimes untrained, who also often work in the commercial realm — illustration, tattoo, murals, and graphic design — so those influences of commercial art are very strong. They're very comfortable crossing over, very ambidextrous.
?  
?  Do you have any advice for people who haven't really collected art before but might be interested in exploring this realm and buying some work by Atlanta artists?
?  Be receptive to learning about what artists are up to and what the work is about. Go to galleries. Pay attention to the gallery system we have here in the city. It's small, but it's really vibrant and there are great things. I would say go to the Sprawl exhibition site where we have hyperlinks for all the artists in the show. Go to their websites and check them out. They're amazing, but they're a fraction of the number of people in the city making great work. Take a chance on buying something that may not be immediately appealing to you. Something that's immediately appealing may be just decorative, and you'll lose interest in it after a couple weeks. A really powerful work of art is something you can look at every day. I personally collect. My apartment here is full of art from Atlanta. I have things sitting on the floor and leaning against the wall in every room. I love coming home at the end of the week. I just sit there and have a cocktail and look at them. I don't have a TV so that's my TV. I just never get tired of coming home and looking at these things.
             13083791 14928410                          Critic's Notebook: Curating the High's 'Sprawl!' "
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Article

Wednesday July 22, 2015 10:15 am EDT

image-2
? Following up on the success of the 2013 exhibition Drawing Inside the Perimeter, the High Museum's Sprawl! Drawing Outside the Lines focuses on work by contemporary Atlanta-based artists. The new show expands the concept by featuring over 100 recently-acquired works by more than 75 artists (both ITP and OTP), including a title wall designed by Atlanta muralist Paper Frank. CL caught...

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[Admin link: Choreographer T. Lang takes on the mother of them all]