Tag Archives: Michael Sheen

Happy birthday Paris!

An engaged but mismatched couple (played by Rachel McAdams and Owen Wilson) stroll a street in Paris soon after arriving there with her parents

Paris celebrated its 2,000th birthday on July 8, 1951 — making Friday birthday number 2,060 for the city Woody Allen first fell in love with during filming of “What’s New Pusssycat?” Allen was screenwriter and actor for the 1965 film.

He’s written and directed a new film titled “Midnight in Paris,” an opening night selection for this year’s Cannes Film Festival that was released May 20 in L.A. and New York. It’s playing now in movie theaters throughout the Valley.

Owen Wilson is one of many stellar actors in the latest film written and directed by Woody Allen

I saw the film this week at Harkins Camelview 5 Theatre in Scottsdale. I’ve never been a Woody Allen fan, but wanted to see the film described as his “valentine to the City of Light.” Seems Allen considers Paris “equal to New York as the great city of the world.”

On that we agree. I traveled many times to Paris as a college senior studying in Germany, and loved every minute spent at eclectic sidewalk cafes and majestic art museums.

I’m eager to read David McCullough’s latest work, “The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris.” Author Stacy Schiff, who reviewed the work for The New York Times, says it “explores the intellectual legacy that France settled on its 19th-century visitors” — long before the era when “freedom fries” replaced French fries on some American menus.

Reading Madeline books in a fun way to enjoy imaginary trips to Paris with your children

My children were first introduced to Paris via the books of Ludwig Bemelmans, author and illustrator of several “Madeline” titles, which follow the adventures of 12 French school girls. Bemelmans was born in 1898 in the Austrian Triol, but came to America in 1914. He lived in New York until his death in 1963. The “Madeline” movie released in 1998 could have been titled “Mischief in Paris.”

“Midnight in Paris” stars Kathy Bates, Adrien Brody, Carla Bruni (first lady of France), Marion Cotillard, Rachel McAdams, Michael Sheen  and Owen Wilson.

It’s a romantic comedy tackling “the illusion people have that a life different from theirs would be much better.”

As a Denver native and Arizona transplant who sometimes longs to live in New York or San Francisco, I need reminding more than most that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. There’s just more of it.

The film opens as a young couple arrives in Paris. The woman has marriage and moving to Malibu on her mind. The man, a successful Hollywood screenwriter, is working on a novel and dreams of living in Paris — where he loves to walk in the rain.

Midnight in Paris considers whether the grass really is greener on the other side

For several nights, the writer strolls alone to a special spot where he’s transported at the stroke of midnight to 1920s Paris, encountering all sorts of writers and artists, including Gertrude Stein, Salvador Dali, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway.

Period music, much of it by Cole Porter, plays throughout most of the film – which also features plenty of famous sites, from the Eiffel Tower to Moulin Rouge. It’s a movie best appreciated by those who love the literary — though artists, history buffs and philosophical souls will also “get it” more than most.

Now I have a real dilemma on my hands. New York or Paris?

– Lynn

Coming up: Tips for introducing children to opera, Valley arts organizations find new homes, Musings on “The Tree of Life,” Ode to hairspray

Update: Click here to learn about the PBS American Masters presentation of “Woody Allen: A Documentary” written and directed by Robert Weide. 11/21/11

Strange bedfellows

Bill (Michael Sheen) and Kate (Maria Bello) make strange bedfellows in the film Beautiful Boy

Bill and Kate make strange bedfellows in a recently released film titled “Beautiful Boy,” which I saw at Harkins Camelview 5 with my 18-year-old daughter Lizabeth last weekend. The film’s creators describe it as “an unconventional love story of a married couple on the verge of separation.”

The woman, Kate (Maria Bello), sleeps in a dark four-poster bed placed against a neutral-colored wall decorated with three white diamonds, one centered above the other two, that appear to be made of antique fabric or lace. The man, Bill (Michael Sheen), sleeps in another bedroom, or on a couch — and spends a lot of time searching online listings for his own place.

They sit on separate beds, talking on different phones, as their son Sammy (Kyle Gallner) calls home one evening. He’s away for his first year of college, and this night will be his last. The next morning, he commits a horrible act of school violence before turning the gun on himself.

But “Beautiful Boy” isn’t his story. It’s the story of his parents’ relationship in the aftermath of his act. It’s eloquently conveyed by a script and director who use various beds and sleeping arrangements to move the audience through the evolution of their marriage, and their attempts to come to grips with “shared grief and confusion.”

This is a quiet film with a loud voice. The writing, acting and directing are exceptional — and the visual elements are exquisite. It was written by Shawn Ku (also the film’s director) and Michael Armbruster. In a “director’s statement” available online, Ku writes of a friend’s death and his family’s ties to a university where a tragic shooting really did take place.

Scottsdale Conservatory Theatre 2011 performs Strange Bedfellows later this month

To experience strange bedfellows of an entirely different sort, head to Scottsdale Community College Wed, June 29 or Thurs, June 30 at 7pm – when a comedy titled “Strange Bedfellows” will be performed by students from this summer’s Scottsdale Conservatory Theatre, a five-week intensive theater training program held at SCC and headed by Randy Messersmith.

Set in San Francisco during 1896, “Strange Bedfellows” tells the story of “the coming of age of a woman’s right to vote.” Apparently outrageous escapades abound as a suffragette converts the women in an especially chauvenistic family to her way of thinking.

Seems the two sides — men favoring the status quo and women working for significant social change – try to out-maneuver and out-smart each other, creating all manner of chaos (and comedy) along the way. The show first opened on Broadway in 1947 and ran for 229 performances.

Messersmith notes that Colin Clements and Florence Ryerson, a husband and wife playwriting team, wrote more than 50 plays and screenplays during their prolific careers. Director Elaine E.E. Moe shares that “Strange Bedfellows” is long on satire, double entendres and innuendo — but says its themes remain poignant, relevant and thought-provoking for contemporary audiences.

Whether navigating personal grief and loss, or larger societal shifts, couples often become strange bedfellows. And the rest of us, it seems, never tire of watching.

– Lynn

Note: Tickets for “Strange Bedfellows” run $10 ($8 for students or seniors with valid I.D.), and can be purchased through www.showup.com or at the door (box office opens one hour prior to show). Both the film and play featured in this post are recommended for older teens and up.

Coming up: Playing “20 Questions,” Lynn & Liz see “War Horse” on Broadway, Art meets economy