Archive for March, 2012

Diablo Ballet at Hillbarn Theater this weekend

Raise your hand if you’ve been to Hillbarn Theater in the last six months.

*looks out at sea of blank faces*

Well why the heck not??

A heated family discussion between Lenny Magrath (left- Kelly Rinehart) and Chick Boyle (Eileen Fisher) takes place as Babe Magrath looks on (Jade Shojaee in back) in Hillbarn Theatre's Crimes of the Heart

Hillbarn Theater is an amazing venue which presents some of the best plays in the Bay Area.  They consistently present top rated shows, completely transform their stage with every production, and always attract amazing talent.  Just this year you’ve already missed City of Angels, Master Class, The Will Rogers Follies, Social Security, and recently Crimes of the HeartCrimes of the Heart especially caused the audience to twitter excitedly during intermission about the amazing trio of actresses who carried the show, most notably an incredibly impressive performance by young Jade Shojaee – keep an eye out for that name in the future.  Foster City is not that far away from the South Bay, traffic at night is usually going the opposite direction, and the venue is run by some of the nicest people in theater.

But Hillbarn also presents many extra shows and educational events.  Crimes of the Heart just finished its run and The Producers doesn’t begin until May (put it on your calendars now!), but there is already a new event scheduled this weekend:  The award-winning dance company Diablo Ballet will present works by some of the top choreographers in the Bay Area and the world this Friday and Saturday.  Known for their exciting and innovative performances, the program this weekend will include the following:

Diablo Ballet dancers Robert Dekkers (right), Hiromi Yamazaki (lifted), and Derek Sakakura (lifting) perform KT Nelson's Escaping Game

The West Coast Premiere of the duet from Mercurial Manoeuvres, by Christopher Wheeldon, one of the top choreographers from England.

Escaping Game by KT Nelson, Co-Artistic Director of ODC/San Francisco

Back in the Day, the new dance work set to the music of Frank Sinatra by David Fonnegra.

Live music will accompany several of the works, and following the performance the audience is invited to mingle and meet the dancers at a complimentary reception in the lobby.   And I know from experience that Hillbarn always presents a fun food and drink spread for their parties.

After the Saturday, 2pm performance, young dance fans and their parents are invited to the Little Ballerina Tea in the courtyard.  Featuring specially prepared tea, food and drink, young ballet fans are invited to meet and take pictures with the dancers.  This is a wonderful family activity!


Diablo Ballet dancers Derek Sakakura and Hiromi Yamazaki perform Christopher Wheeldon's Mercurial Manoeuvres

Diablo Ballet
Hillbarn Theatre
Friday, March 30:  8pm
Saturday, March 31: 2pm and 8pm
1285 East Hillsdale Boulevard, Foster City
Tickets:  650-349-6411

Cinequest Encore Day schedule announced

Cinequest has announced the schedule for today’s Encore Day event. The films chosen include award winners and top audience vote-getters. There will also be a food truck caravan near the California Theater from 11 am to 3 pm.

California Theatre
11:00am - Come As You Are
2:00pm - Jason Becker: Not Dead Yet
4:15pm - Sunflower Hour
6:30pm - King Curling
9:00pm - Children of the Green Dragon

Camera 12 Screen 7
Noon - Beat Down
2:30pm - Worth the Weight
5:30pm - Shorts 4: Animation Favorites
8:15pm - Shorts 7: Comedy Favorites

Camera 12 Screen 8
11:00am - Bel Borba Aqui
2:00pm - Dave
5:15pm - Forgetting the Girl
7:45pm - Identity Card

Camera 12 Screen 9
11:45am - Must Come Down
2:30pm - Old Goats
5:00pm - Shuffle
7:15pm - Invisible Strings
9:15pm - Code 2600

San Jose Jazz Winter Fest this weekend

If the finale of Cinequest isn’t enough for you this weekend, or if you’re more of a music-lover than a film-buff, check out San Jose Jazz’s Winter Fest this weekend.

This festival, running from tonight, March 9, through Sunday, March 11, is smaller by far than August’s Summer Fest. Most of the concerts are being held at the “intimate” Theater on San Pedro Square, with music ranging from the straight ahead vocal jazz of the Jamie Davis Quintet, to Blues from local festival regulars Blues All-Stars with J.C. Smith and friends, to Latin sounds from Pacific Mambo Orchestra. There’s also a pub crawl program covering many of the bars at San Pedro Square and around the corner at The Brit and Los Gatos Brewing Company.

I’ll be seeing Rupa and the April Fishes on Sunday night. This local fusion band mixes everything from Gypsy Swing to South American traditional music to Indian ragas into their sound. When I last saw this band, they were playing on a South First Friday at MACLA, which is more or less a concrete barn, giving them a sound that was more about noise and echoes than music…but they have a fantastic local reputation and I’m hoping a more friendly audio environment can help them to shine.

For complete line-ups and show times visit the Winter Fest schedule.

Salt at Cinequest

The second film I took in last night was Salt, a Chilean western that showed in its North American premiere at Cinequest. There was a bit more drama mixed into the comedy in this film compared to many of the others I’ve been drawn to at this year’s festival, and again it worked well.

The film centers on Sergio, a Spanish screenwriter who’s told his screenplay lacks authenticity. He travels to the setting in Chile’s Atacama desert to work on the script, but he’s quickly mistaken for Diego, a departed townsman who has a score to settle with the local strongman, Victor. Soon it no longer matters if he is Diego, or not. He is quickly put into a situation in which he must become a “real man” in order to escape with his life, much less a brilliant screenplay.

The movie was shot on actual film, and presented in a widescreen format reminiscent of the classic American western’s (but, I think, not fully realized on the Camera 12’s contemporarily-proportioned screen). Director Diego Rougier, in a Q&A after the screening, mentioned the film’s $1.2 million budget as a limitation, mostly consumed by the choice of medium and the extensive location shooting in the remote desert. I guess he was comparing his production to Hollywood blockbusters rather than the rest of the Cinequest selections.

Overall, a fine film, delivering a mix of drama, humor, Hollywood nostalgia, and filmmaking insider commentary that either mainstream movie viewers or film festival fanatics could enjoy.

Salt will have repeat screenings Sunday, March 4, at 4:15 pm; and Thursday, March 8, at 4:15 pm.

Sunflower Hour at Cinequest

Saw another couple of fun films at Cinequest last night. The first of them was Sunflower Hour. The premise of this mockumentary is to follow four contestants who are auditioning to become the newest puppeteer on the children’s television show called “Sunflower Hour”. The direction of the humor becomes apparent when you find out in the first scene that the show was started by a sleazy adult film maker looking for a new direction, and that his abused wife is deliberately choosing the weakest candidates to move forward in the auditions. From this set-up, the movie goes fully over the top in developing every wild implication. The result is a funny, if somewhat raunchy, view of a business that normally tries to maintain the cleanest of clean images; kind of like if The Simpsons’ Krusty the Clown were to get a feature-length biopic.

Director Aaron Houston, present at the screening, was somewhat apologetic about the low budget ($30,000) of the film, but I think (and it also sounded like he realized) that the sometimes wobbly camera, funky editing, and “video” look of the film gave the film an innocence and honesty that let him get away with things he couldn’t have done with a slick, high-budget film. Overall, a great film to capture the “Maverick” spirit of Cinequest and deliver some laughs.

Sunflower Hour screens again Sunday, March 4, at 9:15 pm; and Thursday, March 8, at 11:30 am. Both screenings are at the Camera 12.

King Curling at Cinequest

I had a good night last night at Cinequest, seeing King Curling in its second showing at the festival. The film has gotten good reviews around the internet, and it had the Rep audience last night laughing regularly.

King Curling was constantly funny, and occasionally hilarious, but afterwards I had a realization that much of the humor is somewhat “dated”. Meaning we should be past the point of getting laughs based on mental illness (even good-natured rather than mean-spirited laughs), and if your name isn’t Larry, Curly, or Moe, you’ve probably got into the film business too late to use the “lost wig” gag more than once in a single film. Aside from the baldness and mental illness jokes, much of the humor derives from the resolutely nerdy middle-aged characters using absurdly raunchy language, which to me at least is funny, but might not make this a great movie to take your 10-year-old to.

Your last chance to see King Curling is today, March 3, at 11:30 am at the Rep.

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