Greasing the Arrow, etc.

Feb 19

True to my word, I didn’t watch the oily reality TV sludge known as “Grease: You’re the One That I Want” on Sunday night, even though it’s a long holiday weekend with nothing better to do. I did catch up with some Monday morning quarterbacking on the previous night’s episode, and it seems that Jason (our local San Mateo native) is gone, along with brunette Laura. They should consider themselves lucky.

Fans of the show — people who actually like it — were complaining bitterly on message boards about the screaming, ridiculous audience, comparing them to 13-year-olds at a Justin Timberlake concert. I also liked that someone said that Austin (the guy we saw on tour as Link in Hairspray, right) was too gay porn star to be Danny Zuko. Maybe, but he’s awfully talented — maybe too talented for this debacle.

The good news about Sunday-night TV is that Sundance is running Season 3 of the fantastic Canadian series “Slings & Arrows” about a large Shakespeare festival theater. One of the night’s best lines was uttered by the director character Darren played by Don McKellar, who had just returned from directing a dark musical about Humpty Dumpty in Amsterdam.

I must say I’ve fallen in love with the musical genre. It’s the art form of the common man. If you want to communicate something to the proletariat, cover it in sequins and make it sing. It’s noisy, vulgar and utterly meaningless. I love it.

Finally, not on TV but in movie theaters is an extraordinary German film (nominated for an Oscar in the best foreign film category): The Lives of Others. I mention it here because it’s relevant. The main character is a celebrated theater director in pre-Glasnost East Germany. His leading lady is his significant other, and she makes an unfortunate enemy in the Minister of Arts. The performances are intense and moving, and the warmth and humanity that comes out of this cold, socialist world is extraordinary.

The movie is so good, I may root for its Oscar win over another favorite of last year, Pan’s Labyrinth.

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