The creepy Venice movie is alive and well and living in Paris. In the crisp and entertaining “Anna Oz,” veteran Polanski scripter Gerard Brach and young helmer Eric Rochant have stitched together a pleasantly scary film, full of surprise and threat and intellectual respectability, set simultaneously in the two cities. Accomplished pic should do well in Europe and on cable, with limited North American distribution a possibility.
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Maxwell (Billboard Live; 450 capacity; $ 12.50) Produced inhouse. Band: Maxwell, Darrel Smith, Andre Roberson, Greg Moore, Kevin Jenkins, Kerry Griffin, Angel Figueroa, LaTina Webb, Gromyko Collins, Reviewed Oct. 2, 1996. Touted by critics as a ’90s soul savior who ranks with Tony Rich and Me’Shell NdegeOcello, and likened to R&B auteurs like Marvin Gaye, crooner/producer Maxwell holds up to such comparisons onstage on the third date of his first major tour. His subtly suggestive lullabies and gauged sensuality seduced the ladies while his meticulous jazz-funk band kept all bodies swaying for the duration of his 90 -minute, sold-out show. Material from his recently gold-certified LP, “Maxwell’s Urban Hang Suite” a chronological account of a real-life courtship provided a loose framework for the set, though the falsetto-armed tenor also interpolated improvised lyrics, unheard material and a popular Slick Rick rap verse delivered in song. Like his album, which attempts to probe the delicate nuances of emotion often ignored by contemporary R&B, Maxwell’s performance was carefully orchestrated without being showy, sexy but not overtly sexual. Brief vocal runs , slow, intense eye-rolling, on-beat, staccato bumps of his skinny rump as well as mild theatrics like feigning exhaustion on a stool after pouring his heart into his mike on “Whenever Wherever Whatever,” were clearly designed to work the female fans. Though the fledgling performer’s movements seemed a bit studied during the first part of the set, he loosened up considerably by the time he got to his current radio hit, “Ascension (Don’t Ever Wonder),” strutting and dancing about freely and feeding off the vibrant crowd. Those who left after that missed an exhilarating encore: the 10-minute, gospel-style dance number, not found on the LP, had the half-empty house rocking at full throttle. David Wollock
Lisa Kron’s ambling, anecdotal “2.5 Minute Ride” jumps between a trio of tales about family trips: the Kron clan’s annual pilgrimages to the Cedar Point amusement park on the edge of Lake Erie, the family’s trip to her brother’s Orthodox Jewish wedding in New Jersey, and a journey Kron took with her father to the concentration camp where his parents died shortly after he was sent to the U.S. on the kindertransports.
Presented by Playboy Jazz Festival and Alex Theatre. Band: Roberts, Ted Nash, Steven Riley, Victor Goines, Randall Haywood, Marcus Printup, Ron Westray, Vincent Gardner, Roland Guerin, Jason Marsalis, Academy of the Ascension Orchestra. Reviewed Sept. 27, 1996. With the release of his “Portraits in Blue” album (Sony Classical) this summer, pianist Marcus Roberts opened a whole can of worms about the essential nature of George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue.” And in the inaugural event of the Playboy Jazz Festival’s In Concert series at the Alex , Roberts made a spirited live defense of his freewheeling take on the “Rhapsody ,” which was easily the hit of the evening. The battle lines are stark. “Rhapsody in Blue” began life as a raucous, new-fangled merger of jazz and the concert hall in the Flapper Age, but soon became frozen in stone as a classical piece; concert pianists today routinely learn it note for note. Well, Roberts has dared to break the taboo and turn the “Rhapsody” into a framework for improvisation, with impressionistic classical extensions and jazz flights ranging from mild stride to Brubeck-like chordal attacks. Even if Roberts’ own musical ideas on the wing aren’t as interesting as Gershwin’s, he may be bravely paving the way for other, perhaps more inspired attempts. In any case, the Gershwin/Roberts “Rhapsody in Blue” worked better live in Glendale than on the disc, as Roberts’ big band and string ensemble turned in a far more exuberant performance. In fact, this performance which contained almost all of what Gershwin wrote, anyway had more of the authentically snazzy feeling we get from the early Gershwin/Paul Whiteman recordings of “Rhapsody” than many a modern note-perfect “pops” concert run-through. Clarinetist Ted Nash got right into the raucous spirit, as did several brass soloists, and drummer Jason Marsalis, the youngest of that clan, set up brisk grooves with his brushes in the empty spaces. Actually, the “Rhapsody” had the effect of charging up an otherwise dragging evening where Roberts, working alternately with a trio and a 10-piece ensemble, fell into many repetitively unfocused stretches that were dimly projected into the hall. Roberts’ writing for brass and reeds in “Express Mail Delivery” has the same studied neo-Ellington sound as that of his mentor Wynton Marsalis and his stage patter is similar, too, though not quite as arch. Richard S. Ginell
Promoted by Goldenvoice. Band: Greg Graffin, Greg Hetson, Brian Baker, Jay Bentley, Bobby Schayer. Opened and reviewed Sept. 26, 1996, closed Sept. 28. L.A. punk stalwarts Bad Religion can usually be counted on for shows of the short and sweet variety, and at the first of three homecoming and tour-ending shows at the Palace, the band certainly delivered one of their shortest local sets in recent memory. But not much can be said for the onstage lethargy of a band apparently happy to be coming off the road. The quintet cruised through 25 songs most of which lament the screwed-up world as they see it in a record 65 minutes, barely stopping long enough between songs to spit on the old Palace stage and barely breaking a sweat in the process. The performance was spot-on, a product of their long tour, but the five played without their usual cocky swagger and rousing enthusiasm, a disappointment considering the brash set they played at a Palladium benefit show in February. On that night, the band nearly started a riot in the audience; at this one, people clapped and then quietly went home. Singer Greg Graffin smirked and frowned his way through his furious songs of social outrage and Angst, while his bandmates slammed out 90-second syncopated punk ditties that eventually blended into each other, even at such a short show as this one, which didn’t include an encore. Bad Religion has always delivered inspiring shows on their home turf and, after all these years, can be forgiven for this one, which was all but mailed in. Troy J. Augusto
Pierre Duval Vincent Lindon
Tieta Sonia Braga Perpetua Marilia Pera Ze Esteves Chico Anysio Leonora Claudia Abreu Carmo Zeze Motta Ascanio Leon Goes Cardo Heitor Martinez Mello
Tiburzi” is one of those well-researched, semi-dramatized and largely static historical biopics that has Euro TV written all over it. There’s a kernel of an idea (and a good lead performance) in this second feature by Pisa-based filmmaker Paolo Benvenuti, but only specialists and the faithful are going to turn up for this study of the legendary 19th century Tuscan outlaw.
More Black & Decker than Astaire & Rogers, “Tap Dogs” takes the ever-evolving tap dancing form in a visceral new direction, tricking it out with industrial-age mise-en-scene at one point the performers don welder’smasks and dance among flying sparks and the macho camaraderie of a sports team warming up for a big game. Firmly following in the clamorous footsteps of the ubiquitous “Stomp,” it’s a crowd pleaser in the theater-for-people-who-don’t-like-theater genre, touring U.S. cities before a planned stand in Gotham next spring.
Sarah Maloney Miranda Richardson
Takuji Ahn Sung-ki