Comedian Russell Peters may have never been to Santa Barbara before — “I remember the soap opera” — but he’s starting his world tour here as part of the opening of LOLFest.
“An actual world tour!” he adds. “Not like when some comics say ‘world tour’ and they mean USA and Canada.” He means it. The Canadian-Indian standup started his career in Canada, found success in Britain and now performs in any country that shows interest. In 2010 his show in Australia attracted the largest-ever audience for a stand-up in that country. He’s set similar records in London, and has found himself playing sets in South Africa and Thailand and beyond. And his wanderlust has added to his routine, where he affectionately pokes fun at the culture and behavior of various nations.
Little Dragon is exactly the kind of group to play at Lightning in a Bottle during its transition period. They are not DJs and they are not laptop electronic noodlers. But this Swedish band uses the sounds of Electronic Dance Music, or EDM, as one color among many on their palette, and they incorporate just as much hip hop as they do jazz, R&B, glitch, rock, and ’80s textures. With singer Yukimi Nagano’s soulful voice the common thread through all of Little Dragon’s discography, the band has constantly evolved over its four albums, culminating in the dark tones of this year’s “Nabuma Rubberband.”
There’s always been something in actress Cate Blanchett’s eyes that has made her a star, perhaps it’s this sense that behind her most glamorous characters, there’s a touch of pain. It’s a vulnerable beauty she’s used to good effect from playing Katherine Hepburn in “The Aviator” to her role in “Babel.” She also plays characters enigmatic —”Elizabeth I,” and ethereal — Galadriel in “Lord of the Rings.” But it’s her stunning, lead role in Woody Allen’s “Blue Jasmine” that has justifiably earned her a sixth Oscar nomination and this year’s “Outstanding Performer of the Year” award at the SBIFF (Saturday at the Arlington).
And what a role it is, in one of Woody Allen’s best films in a long time. Ms. Blanchett’s Jasmine is a woman not just on the verge of a nervous breakdown, but living through one in real time. In flashback, we learn she lived the life of luxury with her Bernie Madoff-like husband, but when he went to prison, she lost everything. Now she has to move in with her sister, whose savings her ex also lost. Yet, Jasmine refuses to face facts and continues to live in a fantasy world of excess. Ms. Blanchett plays her just this side of sympathy, bringing all that vulnerability to the fore.
For a man who has eschewed dialog for his entire hypnotic filmography, Godfrey Reggio sure loves to talk. In interview, he comes front-loaded with philosophical riffs, turns of phrase, metaphors, and more. Some of it is evidence of years promoting, explaining, and defending his films. Some of it is his joy of living. And, although he hasn’t said so, some may be the flip-side of his youth, where he spent 14 years in silence as he studied to be a monk for the Congregation of Christian Brothers.
Mr. Reggio is best known for his “Qatsi” trilogy, which debuted in 1982. Its first film, “Koyaanisqatsi” (Hopi for “Life out of Balance”) was “the” art-house film of the ’80s, an updated ’60s head-trip that began with gorgeous helicopter shots until descending into beehive-like, time-lapse footage of the modern city, all propelled by Philip Glass’ hypnotic score. The film propelled both Mr. Reggio’s and Mr. Glass’ careers, and while Mr. Glass went on to score many Hollywood films, Mr. Reggio worked on the sequels: “Powaqqatsi” (“Life in Transformation”) from 1988, and “Naqoyqasti” (“Life as War”) from 2002. Not only is UCSB showing the trilogy in full this Saturday at the Arlington, but they’ll be showing Mr. Reggio’s latest, “Visitors.” Shot in 5k digital and in slow-motion black and white, it’s much like his short film from 2002, “Evidence,” which showed at UCSB with live Philip Glass Ensemble backing. The film turns the camera on an audience as it watches a film. Like all of Mr. Reggio’s work, it’s hypnotic, mesmerizing, but without narrative, as much as audiences love to insert a story into his images. (Another thing you learn talking to Mr. Reggio: he dislikes the word “experimental.” “That’s for science,” he says.)
Many of us grew up with Colin Quinn as a member of Saturday Night Live, but there are those of us whose first dose of Mr. Quinn’s raspy Brooklyn accent was on MTV’s non-gameshow, “Remote Control,” where he’d destroy the hits of the year in his unmusical voice. Since then, this stand-up comedian has acted in films and television, hosted comedy variety shows, and recently popped up on an episode of “Girls.” But during his stint on SNL, Mr. Quinn was already working on long-form stand-up. His first show, “Colin Quinn: An Irish Wake” went to Broadway, and since then, he’s maintained a presence on stage. Now this Saturday, he comes to the Lobero with his latest, “Unconstitutional,” an examination of our nation’s founding document, or 226 years in 70 minutes. This will not be a history lesson, but you just might learn something … and you will be laughing. In this interview, however, Quinn gets into the serious business of parsing this document and reveals that he’s a big James Madison fan.
For John Lithgow’s touring one-man show, all the actor needs is a chair and a book. “My only props,” he says. As the rave reviews of “Stories by Heart” indicate, one doesn’t need anything more for an emotional, hilarious night out in the company of one of America’s busiest and most versatile actors.
Lithgow has made a career of playing family men with strange secrets. In “3rd Rock From the Sun,” he was an alien; in his Emmy- and Golden Globe-winning turn in last season’s “Dexter,” he was a serial killer. But in his one-man show — which he’s been performing and perfecting since 2008 — audiences find that behind the family man is a loving son, who uses the power of storytelling to bring his father out of a health-based depression.
In the last decade, atheism has returned as a best-selling and controversial book subject, spearheaded by three authors writer Robert Weitzel dubbed “The Unholy Trinity.” Sam Harris’ “The End of Faith” (2004) and “Letter to a Christian Nation” (2006) were the opening volleys, and Richard Dawkins’ “The God Delusion” (2006) and Christopher Hitchens’ “God Is Not Great” (2007) stormed the gates, with both authors receiving much face time and angry arguments on mainstream media.
Not only should religion be passively tolerated, they say, but it should be critiqued and exposed by rational argument. They see religion’s effects on society as superstitious and harmful, and that fundamentalism has gone mainstream.
Karen Jones is quite cheerful for someone who has just spent a year or two of her life writing a book about death and funerals. An author of a romance novel and a marketing manual, she has a high, chirpy, sunny voice full of giggles, a lilting Virginia accent, and it’s not too surprising to find that she has a background in television and music, a job she was offered when somebody told her she had a great face. It was when the younger sister of a co-worker died that she saw what happens when grieving families must make costly decisions during one of the most stressful times in life. So Ms. Jones set out to write a short, easy-to-read guide to preparing for death and funerals, “Death for Beginners” (Quill Driver Books, $12.95). Ms. Jones, who will discuss the new book and sign copies of it at 7 p.m. Aug. 26 at Chaucer’s Books, 3321 State St., recently talked to the News-Press about everything from building your own coffin (!) to “green” deaths.
Q: Is this a book someone in their 20s or 30s should pick up? Is that too young to be thinking about a funeral?
As curator Annie Wharton likes to point out, video as an art form is just a little over 40 years old, a child compared to any other medium, save computer graphics. It’s a language she says that has grown dramatically considering that the first “portable” cameras weighed nearly 70 lbs. (the Sony CV-2000). As a young curator and maker of video art, she has been bringing her fascination with the art to galleries with video compilations, hoping to catch the rest of us up with the state of the art.
This Thursday, Wharton comes to Contemporary Arts Forum with “FAST-FORWARD: A Screening of Contemporary American Video Art,” a 50-minute show. Up and coming artists in the program include Susan Lee Chun, Jen DeNike, Spencer Douglass, Gustavo Hererra, Adriana Farmiga, Dan Finsel, Jesse Reding Fleming, Christy Gast, Alexa Gerrity, Aaron GM, Micol Hebron, Marc Horowitz, Jiae Hwang and more. In this brief interview conducted over e-mail, Wharton — who graduated from the University of Miami with a BFA in sculpture — lets us know what’s in store.