Friday, February 6, 2009

John Cameron Mitchell and the Talkies

Review of John Cameron Mitchell and the Talkies, a live commentary on Hedwig and the Angry Inch at The Heights Theatre 2/5/09

Hmmm…I love Hedwig. I mean I really love Hedwig. That said, I wasn’t totally feelin’ the love last night. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed it, but it was a little, umm…unfocused. JCM had a bad cold and didn’t seem to have a sense of how it would work to speak over a film. I had imagined it would be kind of like watching someone record the ‘director’s comments’ feature for a DVD, with scene-by-scene info and tidbits about specific shots and funny anecdotes. There was definitely some of that, finding out what the tomatoes meant at the end, noting that the East German mother’s dress and sheets were made from the same fabric, etc. There was also a lot of “What do you guys want to know?” and rambling references to Short Bus, JCM’s sophomore effort. As the funny and profane director slowly lost his voice, it felt a little like the worst of both worlds – we couldn’t watch the film and we couldn’t hear the commentary.

The highlight for me was watching JCM interact with the fans in the audience, including a 15-year-old girl who had been a fan since second grade, a gigantically tall blonde man about to play Hedwig in an Eau Claire stage show, and a hetero couple that had the tattoos of the two pieces from the animation sequence to “Origins of Love.” The feedback from the audience seemed to energize and animate JCM and there was definitely a lotta love in the room. And oh yeah, hearing Karl Eilers play “Wicked Little Town” on that magnificent mighty Wurlitzer in the gorgeous Heights Theatre – that was awesome.

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