- 2 months ago
It’s fitting that HBO is choosing to air Randy Barbato and Fenton Bailey’s Every Brilliant Thing during the holiday season (starting on Monday). Their filmed version of the one-character play of the same name about depression, suicide and survival is funny, moving and heartening—appropriate viewing at a time of year when many people are not feeling their psychological best despite all the trappings of merriment. Recorded over three performances at the Barrow Street Theatre in 2015, Every Brilliant Thing stars British comedian Jonny Donahoe (best known in the UK for his comedy band Jonny and the Baptists), who co-wrote it with Duncan Macmillan.
We enter the small theater-in-the-round along with the audience, as they file in and take their seats. Donahoe, a stocky, cheerful sort, distributes pieces of paper containing various phrases and instructs the recipients to yell them out at his signal. He then proceeds to tell his character’s decade-spanning life story, punctuated by the items of the show’s title. “Every Brilliant Thing” refers to an inventory of things to live for, started by Donahoe’s narrator at the age of seven when his mother first tried to kill herself. The list—which begins with “ice cream”—would become a running theme in his life, disappearing, resurfacing, and evolving as he got older (“Hairdressers who listen to what you want”).
Aside from calling out list entries, audience members are enlisted to impersonate people in the narrator’s life during crucial moments: his father, a veterinarian who puts down his pet dog, a love interest who becomes his wife. It’s a testament to Donahoe’s warmth and enthusiasm that he is able to pull these volunteers into his orbit so easily as he moves among them (the film has no doubt culled the best of the three live shows). Caught up in his story, they rise to the occasion and their improvisations with Donahoe are incredibly moving. We’re shown a lot of audience reaction in general; clearly they are as important to the show as the narrator.
As the list numbers into the hundreds of thousands—we only hear sporadic entries—and the narrator grows up, it gets more specific (“The prospect of dressing up as a Mexican wrestler) and, when he falls in love, romantic. At one point, life gets particularly rough and he struggles to keep the list going. Though the subject is depression, including specific references to the guilt of suicides’ children and the “Werther Effect” (the contagious nature of suicides), there is much humor throughout. The audience participation and interaction, such a crucial aspect of the play, appropriately relates to its subject matter: it’s the opposite of the isolation that often accompanies depression.
Music, mostly blues and soul, is referenced and heard throughout the show (including Donohue singing and accompanying himself on a keyboard) and there are a few short, blurry reenactment video clips, which don’t take away from the actual show. Given the audience’s stellar performance, one wonders if they received any preparation and how the filming process might have impacted the play. Whatever the case, Every Brilliant Thing is a great hour of entertainment and a very poignant piece of theater.
“If you live a long life and get to the end of it without once feeling depressed, you probably haven’t been paying attention.”
Every Brilliant Thing premieres on HBO on December 26 at 8 pm.
- 2 months ago
In the world of Google, names like Priyanka Chopra, Beyoncé and Hillary Clinton certainly ruled 2016. But did you also know that a fashion designer from Mumbai, India was also a top ranking search this year too? Of course, it was thanks in part to the Duchess of Cambridge’s infamous ‘Kate Effect.’ (more on that below)
In the meantime, meet Anita Dongre, head of India’s leading fashion houses House of Anita Dongre. Her Rajasthan-inspired designs have been well-known in India since she launched her fashion line in 1995.
However, 2016 was the year where Dongre’s name became recognizable worldwide thanks to Kate Middleton decision to wear one of her dresses — the “Gulrukh” dress from the SS16 Love Notes collection — during her visit to India and Bhutan in May 2016.
According to Telegraph UK, the original gown had a full length skirt, complete with matching traditional stole. Kate’s stylist Natasha Archer helped to alter the look by shortening the hemline and adding a belt.
Kate Middleton playing Cricket in India, wearing Dongre’s multicolored design.
Photo Credit: REX
It is also reported that Kate’s final choice to wear Dongre’s dress to a Cricket event was unexpectedly delightful as the designer “had no idea that her designs made the cut.”
“It was a real surprise,” she tells the news source. “I was at home when I saw the pictures and was so delighted.”
Since the princess wore the number, the dress was instantly sold out. The enormous amount of orders caused the designers site to crash.
And due to popular demand, Dongre began to also sell Kate’s customized version of the “Gulrukh” dress as well on her site.
Original design of the “Gulrukh” dress.
Photo Credit: COURTESY OF PR
In addition to clients like Kate Middleton, Dongre is especially famous for dressing Bollywood starlets including Disha Patani.
We can’t wait to see what Anita Dongre has in store for 2017!
- 3 months ago
Matthew Miele and Justin Bare’s documentary Harry Benson: Shoot First is an entertaining, at times astonishing, look at the career of a man who is responsible for countless iconic images from the past 50 years. In addition to a dizzying succession of photographic images, the film includes an array of testimonials from famous contemporaries and subjects in addition to family members, plus droll commentary from the 86-year-old Benson himself. Dan Rather, Carl Bernstein and Bryant Gumbel are among the journalists who weigh in on Benson and his work; Sharon Stone, Joe Namath, and (sigh) Donald J. Trump, among others, contribute anecdotes about their own experiences with the venerable photographer.
One of the film’s striking motifs is Benson’s uncanny ability to be in the “right” place at the “right” time, whether in Memphis when Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated or on a beach when the famously camera-shy Greta Garbo was taking a swim. Another running theme is how the charming Scot befriended almost everyone he shot, a diverse group including Muhammad Ali, Richard Nixon, and Mark David Chapman. His talent and tenacity resulted in a huge collection of photographs unmatched in their immediacy and intimacy, from shocking images of a dying Bobby Kennedy to dreamy photos of reclusive chess champion Bobby Fischer nuzzling a white horse.
Though mainly known for shooting celebrities and political figures, Benson also traveled to places like Mogadishu, Somalia, and the West Bank, capturing war- and poverty-torn locales and their inhabitants with an unflinching eye. As the film makes clear, he never stopped to consider whether or not to take a picture, no matter how sensitive the subject. Thus the film’s title and his reputation among some as a ruthless competitor.
Early on, the film documents what Benson is still best known for: dynamic black and white shots of the Beatles taken when he accompanied the fledgling band to the U.S. in 1964. These playful pictures were the first images many people saw of the Fab Four. They, like many to come, trusted Benson, who–like all good photographers of people–was able to break down his subjects’ guard, often uncovering something truthful.
The documentary juxtaposes Benson’s often provocative shots of celebs with his somber studies of Civil Rights era marches and riots. (He also managed to get disturbing close-ups of KKK members and rallies.) The photographer seemingly threw himself into the midst of the action, no matter how dangerous; his journalistic instincts were honed early in his career in the dog-eat-dog world of Fleet Street, where he worked for the Daily Express. Later his photo essays for Life magazine would shape how people experienced the big (and often tragic) news of the day.
Benson was covering Robert Kennedy’s 1968 presidential campaign, so he was at L.A.’s Ambassador Hotel when the senator was assassinated. He automatically began taking pictures, including one of an anguished Ethel holding up her hand. Of course those pictures are iconic now, but some, like Carl Bernstein, wonder about ethics. “That’s an excuse that photographers use when they can’t get the shot,” says Benson dismissively. Clearly not everyone loved his methods. Garbo’s nephew wonders why the photographer persisted in shooting the aging actress, resulting in a picture she hated.
Much to the frustration of his fellow photographers, Benson was renowned for his ability to capture scenarios previously thought impossible, including Michael Jackson’s bedroom at Neverland Ranch and Joe Namath’s bachelor pad at the height of the quarterback’s playboy heyday. He aced difficult assignments, including a devastated President Nixon on the day of his resignation and a bald Elizabeth Taylor in the hospital after brain surgery.
Late in the film we get a glimpse of Benson’s humble beginnings when he goes back to his hometown outside of Glasgow and meets up with a childhood friend. Here the photographer talks about his “rough and tumble” childhood, and having to leave school at 13 to work as a delivery boy because his grades were so poor. Photography got him out of a hopeless-seeming situation. (At 86, however, he still retains the scrappy attitude of his youth.)
Despite its fast pace, dazzling parade of celebrity stills and largely amusing recollections, Harry Benson: Shoot First ultimately winds up being more than just a fabulous eyeful. It’s a veritable timeline of recent history captured through the lens of a remarkable talent who never hesitated to take his shot. As he points out: “A great photograph can never happen again.”
Harry Benson: Shoot First opens Friday at the IFC Center, with simultaneous release through On Demand, Amazon, and iTunes.
- 3 months ago
In addition to the kick off of a Trump presidency, this winter is forecasted to be brutally cold. So why not embrace the frosty temps by looking cute in a fabulous, statement-making coat!
Recently, Canadian first lady, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau was seen wearing an “ELODIE” coat from House of Mackage for the Remembrance Ceremony at the National War Memorial.
Trudeau, with her husband Canada Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Her choice of overcoat that piqued our interest in the Canadian outerwear brand, and in their collection of luxe, high-end cover-ups.
For those that don’t know, House of Mackage specializes in outerwear for both men and women. Check out 3 gorgeous additions to their latest line of coats!
We’re partial to this camel version of this maxi length, cashmere blend belted wool coat. Notice the classic smoking jacket inspired notched lapel and semi-fitted silhouette! Supa dupa fly!
This cloak is the perfect overcoat when you’ve reached maximum winter layering. The HELINA is a double- face wool creation that’s longer in the front with zippered closure at the collar.
TV Star Priyanka Chopra is seen here wearing a classic down-filled number that comes complete with a split hood that doubles as a sumptuous shawl collar.
Happy winter! Stay warm.