Tuesday, May 28, 2024 May 28, 2024
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New Movies: The Artist as Drunk; Pleasures of Chaos; A Tribute to Chuck Berry

In Barfly, the main pleasures are verbal-listening to Mickey Rourke and Faye Dunaway, down at the end of the bar, trading really fine lines with each other. Based on the writings of Charles Bukowski (he wrote the somewhat autobiographical script) and directed by Barbet Schroeder, Barfly is a wildly entertaining riff. “What are you drinking?” a bar-person asks Rourke’s Henry Chinaski. “Almost everything,’” Henry says happily. Henry’s not a writer who happens to drink. He’s a drunk who happens to write (his writing career is one of the movie’s least convincing elements). He drinks in his room at a flophouse (with classical radio as accompaniment), but seems happier when he’s not drinking alone; he’s smart, and he likes showing that off. Dunaway’s Wanda, on the other hand, has established herself as a solitary drinker, “I can’t stand people, I hate them, don’t you?” she asks Henry on their first meeting. “No,” he says, “but I seem to feel better when they’re not around.” With six-packs and Scotch, they form an alliance, and, several bottles later, decide to move in together. Rourke and Dunaway revel in these characters, giving great performances, and you get caught up in the terrific time they’re having with them. He’s got the vocal rhythm of a Kerouac beat character; she’s all nervous energy. The pace slackens somewhat when Alice Krige shows up as the wealthy editor of a literary journal Henry’s been sending his work to. Her scenes with Rourke seem forced, though they do showcase some of his best lines. An odd, but engrossing, film.

There’s always a riot going on in Sammy and Rosie Get Laid. Always an argument, too. And a party. And some sort of lovemaking (wives with their lovers, husbands with their lovers, men with their former mistresses, women with other women). Directed by Stephen Frears and written by the talented Hanif Kureishi (they also collaborated on the terrific My Beautiful Laundrette), Sammy is a tour de force of turbulence, political and personal. The tumult of inner-city London has different effects on different characters. Rosie (Frances Barber) finds it a turn-on; it makes her feel alive (Sammy, her husband, quotes her as describing the urban unrest as an affirmation of the human spirit). Sammy (Ayub Khan Din) is ambivalent; he likes their life in London, but also entertains thoughts of moving to the country. House guest Rafi (Shashi Kapoor), Sammy’s father, thinks it all very appalling. He misses the orderly London he left years ago, before he returned to a life of political prominence in the East (Pakistan, presumably, though it’s never mentioned by name)-but, as it turns out, his idea of order back home involved the cruel torture of political opponents. (Initially, Rafi calmly, even charmingly, brushes off the accusations, but as the movie progresses, he becomes increasingly haunted by his past.) Sammy and Rosie is both funny and unsettling. As the neighborhood goes up in flames and looters take over the streets, Sammy is snug on the couch, having a one-man party: snorting coke, tearing into a McDonald’s burger, listening to classical music on his Walkman and flipping through a skin magazine (Rosie’s gone to see one of her lovers; the freedom to have affairs is a guiding principle of their marriage). Frears’s scenes are brilliantly staged, with quick-cuts and odd juxtapositions used to exhilarating effect. As a contemporary street group (the Ghetto Lites) sings the Temptations’ “My Girl” outside the shantytown trailer of Rosie’s latest lover, Frears cuts back and forth between various bedrooms {Sammy and his lover, Rosie and hers, Rafi and his), faster and then faster-a Tilt-a-Whirl of trysts. And though there are times when the film is a blur, there’s always something interesting going on-so much, in fact, that almost as soon as Sammy and Rosie is over, you find yourself thinking about seeing it again. This is a sometimes confusing but thoroughly captivating movie about the pain-and pleasure-of absolute chaos.

In Hail! Hail! Rock ’n’ Roll, Chuck Berry stands in front of the Fox Theatre in St. Louis and talks about the time his father tried to take the family to a movie there. Because they were black, they were turned away. In Hail, Berry returns to the Fox as a conquering hero. The occasion is an all-star concert (Keith Richards, Linda Ronstadt, Robert Cray, Eric Clapton. Etta James, Julian Lennon, and Berry himself, wearing a Tweety Bird-yellow shirt and bolo tie, as the leader of the big ol’ band) to celebrate his sixtieth birthday. It’s a great show-one incredible Berry song after another: “Roll Over Beethoven,” “Almost Grown,” “Back in the U.S.A.,” “Sweet Little Sixteen,” ’”Rock and Roll Music.” “Johnny B. Goode.” But director Taylor Hackford (An Officer and a Gentleman, White Knights) also does some reporting here, which makes this not only a fascinating account of Berry’s career, but an affecting picture of what it was like to be a black performer in an era when white singers’ versions of black songs made the big money {the subject of an animated conversation among Little Richard, Bo Diddley, and Berry). On the subject of Berry himself, there are critical comments (about some of his lackluster live shows) and plenty of compliments, particularly about his descriptive, playful lyrics. Talking about the power of the images in Berry’s “Nadine,” an admiring Bruce Springsteen says, “I’ve never seen a ’coffee-colored Cadillac,’ but I know exactly what one looks like.”

-Steven Reddicliffe


Undermain Theatre: Setting the Standard

The Undermain Theatre comes by its name honestly-it’s in the basement of a building full of galleries on Main Street in Deep Ellum. And although the location and even the admission prices may be bargain basement, the quality of the productions isn’t-this is one of the most innovative theaters in the Southwest, with the highest standards of performance. Often Undermain doesn’t announce what it is doing until the last minute, but for January the company is planning ahead. John O’Keefe, who wrote the weird but compelling “All Night Long” that Undermain performed last season, is coming to Dallas to direct his “Ghosts.” This play is different in tone-darker and less wacky. If the track record of this theater led by Katherine Owens and Raphael Parry holds true, “Ghosts” will be a major theatrical event for Dallas. Undermain Theatre, 3200 Main. Jan 10-31 at 8:15 pm, Thur-Sat. Tickets $5 Thur, $7 Fri & Sat. 823-2525 or 528-1976. -Bill Jungman


Francis W. Edmonds: American Master

Most American artists of the 19th century looked to contemporary England, France, or Germany for their stylistic models. Francis W. Edmonds, however, set his sights on the Low Countries, specifically on the meticulous paintings of the everyday world by 17th-century Dutch and Flemish masters.

A banker who moved in the highest social and financial circles, Edmonds became one of the most respected and loved artists of his day by rendering the ordinary life of ordinary Americans with humor, nostalgia, and occasionally a touch of pathos. An entire cast of homespun characters performs in his canvases-rejected suitors, belles and beaux, old folks, street peddlers. Edmonds’s career spanned the era of Andrew Jackson, the banking panic of 1857, in which he was ruined, and the start of the Civil War.

“Francis W. Edmonds: American Master in the Dutch Tradition,” Jan 9-Feb 28 at the Amon Carter Museum, 3501 Camp Bowie, Fort Worth. Tue-Sat 10-5 pm. Sun 1-5:30 pm. Free. (817) 738-1933. – Ken Barrow


Picasso. Pages from the sketchbooks, most of them discovered after his death and never before seen by the public, open a new vista on the work of this extraordinary genius. Through Jan 10 at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, 1309 Montgomery, Fort Worth. Tue 10-9 pm. Wed-Sat 10-5 pm, Sun 1-5 pm, (817) 738-9215.

Frank Lioyd Wright. A house, constructed on the museum’s Ross Avenue plaza, and a multimedia exhibit explore four essential themes in the career of this master builder. Jan 19-April 17 at the Dallas Museum of Art, 1717 N Harwood. Tue, Wed, Fri, Sat 10-5 pm; Thur 10-9 pm; Sun noon-5 pm. 922-0220.

Power and Gold. Among the traditional island cultures of Southeast Asia, gold jewelry was used for more than just personal adornment-it was a sign of social standing and power. This is a showing of 250 objects-earrings, bracelets, anklets, and more-collected from Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines. Through Feb 7 at the Dallas Museum of Art, 1717 N Harwood. Tue, Wed, Fri, Sat 10-5 pm; Thur 10-9 pm; Sun noon-5 pm. 922-0220.

American Frontier Life. Indians, buffalo hunters, mountain men, and pioneers come to roaring life in pre-Civil War pictures by artists who were there and painted- allowing for poetic license-what they saw. Through Jan 3 at the Amon Carter Museum, 3501 Camp Bowie, Fort Worth. Tue-Sat 10-5 pm. Sun 1-5:30pm. (817)738-1933.

Susan Magllow. A Dallas artist explores the power oftechnology over our lives in “Passion Series,” a group of largescale oil paintings. sometimes humorous and sometimes serious. Through Jan 20 at DW Gallery. 2909C Canton. Tue-Sat 11-5 pm. 939-0045.

Paul Rotterdam. Romantic yet abstract. Rotterdam’sworks suggest frames, windows, and doors and the restless action of the human hand. Through Jan 9 at Adams-Middleton Gallery. 3000 Maple. Tue-Fri 10-6pm. Sat 11-5 pm. 871-7080.

Jerry Bywaters Collection. Not a show of art, exactly, but certainly a show about art, this is the first exhibit of prints, catalogues, letters, photographs, and other memorabilia-a virtual history of the Dallas art scene from 1900 to 1950-presented to SMU by artist-teacher-museum director Jerry Bywaters. Jan 11-Feb 26 at the DeGolyer Library, Fondren Library West, Southern Methodist University. Mon-Fri 8:30-5:30 pm. 692-2303.

Berths Morlsot. One of the mainstays of the impressionist movement, a painter of great tact. charm, and grave observation, finally gets her day. Through Feb 21 at the Kimbell Art Museum. 3333 Camp Bowie, Fort Worth. Tue-Sat 10-5 pm. Sun 11-5 pm. (817)332-8451.

The Burghers of Calais. One of the most famous of sculptures. Rodin’s monumental bronze of six martyrs who gave their lives for their city is on temporary display in the sculpture garden. Through Feb 14 at the Dallas Museum of Art, 1717 N Harwood. Tue. Wed, Fri. Sat 10-5 pm; Thur 10-9 pm; Sun noon-5 pm. 922-0220.


Beethoven Series. The Meadows School of the Arts at SMU is presenting a fresh look at the music of the master in a series of concerts spread over four months. This month pianists Imogen Cooper and Tedd Joselson play the rare “Three Marches for Four Hands.” Op. 45, and other music. Jan 26 at 8:15 pm at Caruth Auditorium. Meadows School of the Arts, SMU. Free. 526-7301.

Cliburn Concerts. Alexander Peskanov plays on Jan 19at 8 pm at the Kimbell Art Museum, 3333 Camp Bowie, Fort Worth. Tickets $7.50-$15. (817)738-6533.

Dallas Chamber Music Society. The Los Angeles Piano Quartet plays Mozart, Schumann, and Dvorák. Jan