Elena Andujar at the Roger Smith Hotel

Art, Culture, Featured, Social Media

Elena Andujar at the Roger Smith Hotel

No Comments 14 April 2010

For the Love of New York and Flamenco!

We became friends with Elena initially through the Iberian Festival, which was an annual Spanish cultural event, held at the Rog, that featured culinary superstars such as Santi Santamaria, the Cándidos and their Cochinillos, Don Felix Duran from the paradisiacal Pyrenean town of El Quer Foradat and many, many more.  With Elena’s collaboration, the festival evolved from a primarily culinary event to a broader celebration of Spanish culture and a new focus on flamenco and on Andalucia in general.
Elena Andujar, born of a Sevillana and a New Yorker, uses flamenco to bridge the cultures that she represents.  Her work includes festivals, self-produced espectáculos, master classes and even early-stage plans to make a movie of her life story, set here and there.  Her bigscreen career began when she was cast in the movie Devil’s Advocate along with flamenco great, Tomatito, to perform with Al Pacino.

So…as we knock around the idea of reviving the Iberian Festival, we’d love to hear your feedback! Let us know your thoughts!

Look forward to catching up soon!
Phoebe

Look forward to catching up soon!Phoebe

“Clean the Room”, A Roger Smith Short by Dmitry Povolotsky

Art, Culture, Featured, Social Media

“Clean the Room”, A Roger Smith Short by Dmitry Povolotsky

No Comments 13 April 2010

“Clean the Room”, is a film about mistaken identity and serendipity.   This physical comedy, which takes place in the Penthouse of the Roger Smith Hotel is a modern day Cinderella story in which the dreams of a maid strangely come true, while she cleans a messy hotel room. Clean the Room won Best Film at the Roger Smith Shorts Film Festival in August 2009.

About the Director

Dmitry Povolotsky is a writer, director, and choreographer living in Brooklyn. At the age of ten, he was selected to attend the Bolshoi Ballet Academy in Moscow to study classical ballet. After graduating from the academy nine years later, Dmitry was awarded a full scholarship to Juilliard in New York City where he received a BFA in modern dance and choreography.

Dmitry remained in New York City to perform with the Metropolitan Opera Ballet for eight seasons and to teach ballet and choreograph for inner city youth at the Harlem School of the Arts.

After making his first short film in 2003, Dmitry left the dance world to study film at Columbia University Film Division. PAL/SECAM, his thesis film, has played at 40 film festivals all over the world, has won several prestigious film awards and was sold to 6 territories so far.

Credits

Written and Directed by Dmitry Povolotsky

Story Idea by Bilge Ebiri
Executive Producers -?Brendan Crane, ?John Knowles
Cast?Maid – Susan Brady

Bobby – Michael Mason

Superstar – Sarah Lilley

Crew

Director of Photography – Christina Voros

Art Direction – Julia Cairo

Assistant Director – Rebecca Conroy

Sound – Marin Conroy

Editor – Julia Kots
Wardrobe Provided by CMarchuska and The Green Room NYC

Special Thanks to the Roger Smith Hotel

Queens of Noise

Culture, Featured

Queens of Noise

No Comments 12 April 2010

By Chrysa Pik

Reminiscing back to the eighties, I can say for myself, that Joan Jett was a familiar name during that time, and a name that for many, sparked a mental image of the iconic female rebel of rock n’ roll. One thing that both Jett and I have in common, is that we were both born on the same month and day of September 22nd, making us both Virgoans on the cusp of Libra. Other than that similarity, I would have to say that I never started an all girl rock band, or had a #1 hit cover, or been the epitome of coolness, at least outside of my own mind.

Although, I didn’t really know that much about The Runaways, the all girl teen-aged rock band, that Jett started in 1975, I knew that they came to fruition somewhere in the 70s, and were one of the predecessors in paving the way for other exceptional females, such as The Go-Gos, The Bangles, Hole, Bikini Kill, L7, and The Donnas. The curiosity to know more about Jett’s history as a musician, and the band’s history as a whole, is what really prompted me to go see the movie.

The Runaways, is based on the book, Neon Angel: A Memoir of the Runaways, which is written by Cherie Currie, and Tony O’Neill. Currie was the lead singer of the The Runaways, and O’Neill, a New York based author and one time musician.

The film is directed by Floria Sigismondi, and produced by Joan Jett, Kenny Laguna, and Brian Young. Sigismondi is known for directing music videos for artists such as Marilyn Manson, David Bowie, Bjork, The Cure, The White Stripes, Interpol, Incubus, Christina Aguilera, Muse, Sigur Ros, and Incubus.

Director, Floria Sigismondi

The opening scene did grab my attention, primarily because it involved bodily fluids. A drop of blood on the street as two teenaged girls dressed in skirts cross to the other side, running to the bathroom, to switch underwear. The menstruating victim turns out to be Cherry Currie, played by Dakota Fanning, and the movie opens, as it focuses on her close relationship with her sister Marie Currie. Marie Currie is played by Riley Keough, daughter of Lisa Mary Presley, and oldest grandchild of Elvis.

The two sisters grow up in California, in a dysfunctional family, with an alcoholic dad, and a self-obsessed mom who impulsively decides to just get up and move to Indonesia with her fiancée. Marie is the more boring and responsible older sister, who works a steady job at a fast food joint, while Cherrie escapes her empty family life by fantasizing about rock n’ roll, specifically David Bowie. We see her idolization of him at her high school talent show, where she lip syncs to “Lady Grinning Soul” with her face dressed in glam rock makeup. Students boo her off the stage, and she walks off while flipping the bird to the audience with both hands.

I was curious to see Dakota Fanning, being that I haven’t really seen her in anything since War of the Worlds, so for me this was going to be my first viewing of her in a more “adult” role, even though she is only 15 in the movie. Great role for Fanning to break out with, as her unspoken announcement to the world that she is no longer a child actress, incase there were those who weren’t aware.

Fanning plays a drug induced Currie, who was also only 15-years old when the band started, and is scantily clad in a corset, fishnets and platform boots. I was particularly impressed by her acting in a specific scene where the group was being filmed in Japan during their performance of “Cherry Bomb”. Crushing uppers beneath her platform boots, right before snorting them off the floor, she lets it all out on the stage, and performs as the 16 year old Currie did, more than 30 years ago.

The idea that Twilight star Kristen Stewart was playing Jett, was one of the reasons why I didn’t want to see this film. I’m not a big fan of Stewart, being that she is not exactly known for her high-energy acting, and sometimes watching her act is as exciting as watching a dog urinate. I must admit though, that I actually think she wasn’t as bad as I thought she would be, compared to her previous roles. Even though critics, and Joan Jett herself, claimed she did such an impressive job, describing her work as “quiet intensity”, I still wasn’t all that moved by her performance.

I was surprised to see that Fanning seemed to steal the show, being that Stewart seemed to be more of the focus in previews. Fanning’s role dealt with the most struggle and inner conflict, and the band’s existence seemed to revolve around her, so for those reasons, she took the lead on this one.

Although, Stewart’s character is significant, because after all Jett is the pivotal reason the band comes together, but she doesn’t seem to say all that much in the film, and her part seemed to be somewhat underwritten. Although, I have read that Jett has been described by some as being quiet, until she performs.

It was impressive to see that both Stewart and Fanning actually sang themselves, in the movie, which helped in adding to the believability of the band.

Something else that helped in strengthening the movie was Michael Shannon, who played eccentric and eyeliner wearing producer Kim Fowley, son of actors Douglas Fowley and Shelby Payne.

Jett convinces Fowley after just meeting him outside a rock club, that he should start an all girl rock band, in which he agrees to, and then introduces her to drummer Sandy West. Jett and West practice in a garage until Fowley realizes that they’re missing something. That something is sex, and so, they go out to the local club searching for an attractive girl to front their band, which is where Currie comes in the picture.

Shannon, who was nominated for an Academy Award for Revolutionary Road (2008), does a great job with his eccentric performance as Fowley, and was casted well in this part. Shannon comes across effectively as blunt and crude, and also brings some humor into the movie, although according to some, Kim Fowley was nothing more than a sexist who made money off of exploiting the vulnerable females, especially Currie.

“He’s a genius,” said Kim Fowley about Shannon in an interview with Chris Estey from KEXP Blog.” “He’s the new Christopher Walken. And I’m privileged that he was able to get enough of me to make it watchable. It transcended the printed page. He’s working with Martin Scorcese on his Broadway project, that’s what he’s doing now. This guy’s like John Garfield or Humphrey Bogart playing you. I mean, wouldn’t you like that?”


Kim Fowley, present day

The Runaways existed from around 1975-1979. Band members included Joan Jett (rhythm guitar and vocals), Cherie Currie (Vocals), Lita Ford(Lead Guitar), Sandy West(Drums), and both Micki Steele and Peggy Foster played bass guitar briefly but were replaced in 1975 by Jackie Fox. In 1977, Vicky Blue replaced Fox on bass, and in 1978 Laura McAllister replaced Blue.

The actual band, The Runaways. From left: Joan Jett, Sandy West, Cherrie Currie, Jackie Fox, and Lita Ford.

Overall, the movie was entertaining, on a superficial level. The Runaway’s unraveling, from the middle to the end of the movie, happens so fast, and without any depth, that it’s hard to understand the dynamics within the band that ends up destroying them. We get the obvious gist that there was a whole lot of sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll involved, but the only person it seems to affect in the most negative sense is Currie, not being able to deal with all the attention and addictions, while Jett just seems to be more concerned with her music.

At the end of the movie, the focus then transfers over to Jett, and the viewer gets a sense of how she goes off on her own to start the beginning of her very own career.

The film on a whole seemed to be more concerned with projecting the bands image, and I can already foresee its marketing tactics succeed as a bunch of teenaged girls will most likely be running around wearing “The Runaway” tee-shirts tucked in their tight leather pants.

“And Jett hastens to explain that ‘The Runaways’ is absolutely not a biopic,” said Gary Graff, writer from Film Journal. “It’s not fact-for-fact. What they did was basically take elements from the Runaways story and created a parallel narrative.”

Not really a movie to take seriously, but a fun flick, to watch. It was interesting to learn about the backgrounds of the singers and how they came together. The Runaways made me want to revert to my younger years, when mortality was overlooked and life seemed everlasting. It also made me want to do a lot of drugs, listen to music, and be really irresponsible. Unfortunately, I had to wake up early the next morning to go to work, so I opted instead to just have a cup of coffee, and went to bed an hour later than usual. What can I say… it’s the rebel in me.

SMart CAMP Keynote Speaker Maria Popova

Art, Featured, Social Media, Technology

SMart CAMP Keynote Speaker Maria Popova

No Comments 07 April 2010

Maria Popova is the founder and editor in chief of Brain Pickings, a curated inventory of indiscriminate curiosity and a celebration of the cross-pollination of ideas, spanning disciplines and niches from design to technology to neuroscience. She is a prolific purveyor of eclectic interestingness on Twitter, a contributing writer with Wired UK and GOOD Magazine, and a chronic TEDster. Maria recently moved to Los Angeles, where she works as a cultural curator and planner at TBWA\Chiat\Day.
Art Interactive: Mark Wiener and Etienne Charles

Art, Culture, Featured, LIVE

Art Interactive: Mark Wiener and Etienne Charles

No Comments 06 April 2010

The Art Interactive experience with Mark Wiener and Etienne Charles in the Penthouse of the Roger Smith Hotel was an exploration into Art, Jazz and Video Experimentation.

Etienne and Mark played off each other to create a unique live experience. The event, which was broadcasting live from New York, was also projected in real time at at the Decorazon Gallery in Texas.

Crossing Narratives!

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