Seen at the Movies:
Director Steven Spielberg is in top form through much of Minority Report, a thriller set in 2054 Washington, DC. Tom Cruise stars as head of the Pre-crime Unit, which identifies and apprehends would-be murderers using the predictive powers of three "precogs," drugged idiot savants who float in a pool with fiber optics attached to their shaved heads. When Cruise's character is himself identified as a future murderer, the movie turns into a prolonged chase sequence. With his dynamic camera eye and editing sense working at full tilt, Spielberg brings off this facet of the movie smashingly well.
He also indulges the kind of oddball touches here that one doesn't necessarily associate with him. Lois Smith (as an eccentric geneticist and horticulturist) and Peter Stormare (as a black-market eye surgeon--don't ask) put in appearances that can only be described as bizarre. There are bits of futuristic satire throughout: throwaway bits, like talking billboards that address passersby by name, that give you a little shiver.The vision of the future that Spielberg and his collaborators, including production designer Alex McDowell, costume designer Deborah L. Scott, visual effects supervisor Scott Farrar, and vehicle designer Harald Belker, have devised is a mix of the wild--such as the Mag-Lev traffic system, which allows cars to move vertically, like elevators--and the utterly mundane. There are no costumes more outlandish than you can see on many New York street corners today, and the familiar Washington monuments are all in place.
Minority Report photos: David James/20th Century Fox & Dreamworks LLC
DP Janusz Kaminski's work may be off-putting to some. It's super-hot, super-desaturated, and super-harsh; pretty images are not what this movie is about. Spielberg and Kaminski approach the material as a futuristic film noir, which is fine, and the undercurrent of unease about balancing security and civil liberties is welcome. Unfortunately, Minority Report flags on a story level. Scott Frank and Jon Cohen's script is based on a much simpler Philip K. Dick short story, and their elaborations, especially in the inferior final act, are messy and strain credulity in too many ways. But for the first 90 minutes or so, this is the first-rate work of a popular filmmaker in his prime.--John Calhoun
Seen in Los Angeles: King Lear at the Brewery. The newly launched Center for New Theatre at CalArts presented an experimental and very exciting production of Shakespeare's King Lear, with the text adapted for the occasion by Royston Coppenger. Directed by Travis Preston, Lear took place in the huge 99-year-old Edison Electric factory that is part of The Brewery, a downtown LA alternative arts complex.
Scenic designer Christopher Barreca created an all-encompassing environment with bleachers for 140 spectators. Ordinary bleachers? No, not at all. These moved about the space on air casters, as the audience looked at the action through a snoot, or faux proscenium attached to the frame of the floating structure. Very impressive.
In other scenes, the audience moved into the adjacent space, where video images by Chris Condek bathed the walls (costumes were by Ellen McCarthy, lighting by Christopher Akerlind, sound by Jon Gottlieb and Leon Rothenberg).
To accommodate the caster system for the moving bleachers, quite a bit of gravel was brought in to fill in the floor, which was then covered with large steel plates. An expensive but necessary addition to the production budget, which was reported in the LA press as over $600,000 for a two-week engagement. Excessive perhaps, but certainly a good start for this new CalArts company, which is slated to move into a small theatre in the Disney Concert Hallbuilding when it finally opens.--Ellen Lampert-Gréaux
Heard All Over: The old theatre season is barely over, and we're already gearing up for the new one. Things are so busy that there will be one Broadway opening (I'm Not Rappaport) in July and three in August (Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune, Hairspray, and The Boys From Syracuse). Of them all Hairspray has the buzz, having opened in Seattle to unanimous raves. Based on the campy John Waters film about rock and roll and racism in 60s Baltimore, Hairspray is being touted as a Bye Bye Birdie for the new millennium. People are already buzzing about David Rockwell's scenery: according to Variety, the set in the first scene "is tilted 90 degrees, so it looks like we're viewing [it] from above." Other points of interest: Ken Posner's lighting makes extensive use of LEDs, the hot product of the year. With costumes by William Ivey Long and sound by Steve C. Kennedy, Hairspray looks like an early crowd pleaser.
Also on the horizon: Rodgers and Hart's The Boys From Syracuse opens at the Roundabout on August 18, with a new book by Nicky Silver. Thomas Lynch designs the scenery, with costumes by recent Tony winner Martin Pakledinaz, lighting by Don Holder, and sound by Brian Ronan…Amour is the American title of the French musical Le Passe Muraille (music by Michel Legrand). The old title translates roughly as "the man who walks through walls," and that's what the show is about. Malcom Gets, Melissa Errico, and Norm Lewis star, with scenery by Scott Pask, costumes by Dona Granata, lighting by Jules Fisher and Peggy Eisenhauer, and sound by Dan Moses Schreier…Flower Drum is perking the most interest among musical fans, as it weds an almost-forgotten Rodgers and Hammerstein score to a new book by David Henry Hwang. This is, after all, the show that gave us "I Enjoy Being a Girl." Robin Wagner designs the scenery, with costumes by Gregg Barnes, lighting by Natasha Katz, and sound by Acme Sound Partners…Movin' Out is a musical entertainment devised by Twyla Tharp and set to a collection of Billy Joel hits. It apparently follows a group of friends over the course of two decades. Santo Loquasto designs the scenery with costumes by Suzy Benzinger, lighting by Don Holder, and sound by Brian Ruggles and Peter Fitzgerald. (Benzinger also has the touring musical, Some Like It Hot, starring Tony Curtis, which is currently traveling the country)…Dance of the Vampires brings Michael Crawford back to Broadway. I'm getting mixed signals on this one. Is it a big romantic pop opera or a spoof? Is it a spectacle or something more streamlined? Time will tell. Let me just add that the score, by Jim Steinman, manages to include that prom night favorite, "Total Eclipse of the Heart." Scenery is by David Gallo, costumes by Ann Hould-Ward, lighting by Ken Billington, and sound by Richard Ryan…Man of La Mancha returns as a vehicle for Brian Stokes Mitchell and Mary Elizabeth Mastrontonio. Long dismissed as a showcase for bombastic singers, La Mancha is being directed by London's Jonathan Kent, with set design by Paul Brown and lighting by Paul Gallo. Clearly, they are taking a different approach…La Bohème comes to Broadway, thanks to director Baz Luhrman (Moulin Rouge). Catherine Martin and Angus Strathie will handle the scenery and costumes, Nigel Levings designs the lighting, with sound (for an opera!) by Acme Sound Partners…Then there's Imaginary Friends, a new play by Nora Ephron, with songs by Marvin Hamlisch and Craig Carnelia about, yes, Lillian Hellman and Mary McCarthy (to be played by Cherry Jones and Swoosie Kurtz). This idea is so bizarre that it's irresistible. Anyway, the scenery is by Michael Levine, costumes by Robert Morgan, lighting by Kenneth Posner, and sound by Jon Weston.--David Barbour
Seen & Heard at the New York IES Lumen Awards This year’s IES New York Section Lumen Awards were held this past Wednesday night and a record crowd was on hand to honor the year's best in architectural lighting design. Over 480 people attended the awards fest, nearly 100 people more than last year’s event. We chatted with quite a few designers and manufacturers during the cocktail hour, including Alan Kibbe of Rosco Laboratories and Monica Allen of Space Cannon. We also spent some time with Lumen (and EDDY) Award-winning designer Kyle Chepulis of Technical Artistry and designer Jason Livingston, who collaborated with Chepulis on some of the spaces for the Tribeca Film Festival, where Chepulis was the production designer. After a quick cocktail party, we headed in for the meal and the awards. Okay, so it wasn’t rubber chicken, but what was up with the green mashed potatoes?
The awards stage was lit again this year by LD Marsha Stern, who was ably assisted by the mono-monikered Chadsworth, who guarded the console so Stern could enjoy the cocktail party. We may have to talk to Chadsworth about how far down the houselights went during dinner. It was really hard to see anyone at our table. Maybe they were trying to disguise the mashed potatoes.
Gary Dulanski of Stan Deutsch Associates and past president of the NY IES got things off to a start with his mellifluous tones. Did he give up a lucrative radio career for the lighting biz? IES was giving out pins honoring members for years of membership in the IES. The pins come in five-year increments up through 50 years. Mr. David Mintz was present at the awards with 43 years, but Sonny Sonnenfeld, who was not present, ranks in at number one with 56 years! They are planning on giving him a combination of a 50- and a five-year pin.
The first award was given to Paul Marantz of Fisher Marantz Stone for his design of the ethereal Tribute of Light. Marantz accepted his first of many awards for the Fisher Marantz Stone team. Also on a sad note, they honored Timothy Pike, an IES vice president and a member of the team at Jaros Baum & Bolles, who passed away in March.
Clara Powell of Phillips Lighting and the president of the IES New York Section presented other honors that included a Section Service Award to Henry Muller and a Section Meritorious Service Award to Addison Kelly. Both have made many contributions and provided long hours of service to the society. Jo Anne Lindsley was made a fellow of the national IES and Gary Dulanski presented her with an official IES Fellows pack, which in addition to lighting-related perfumes and scents included a large, refillable bottle of No Substitution Spray.
Patricia DiMaggio of Osram Sylvania and co-chairperson for the IESNY Student Grants presented the awards for the Student Design Competition. First place winner was Philipp Metternich of Parsons School of Design; second place winners were Chiao Yun-Yu and Kumiko Jitsukawa from the New York School of Interior Design; and Chien-Chun Chen of Parsons School of Design.
This year, 50 lighting design projects were submitted to the Lumen Awards program from the New York City design community. These represent projects from São Paolo to the Flatiron district. From the 50 submissions, 13 were chosen to receive awards. The judges identified many unique factors that make these projects particularly noteworthy. Projects were honored with three levels of distinction: Award of Merit, Citation, and the Lumen Award.
Lumen Award Committee co-chairs Susannah Zweighaft of AKF Engineers Lighting Design Studio and Megan Carroll of Phillips Lighting presented the awards. The Merit award-winning project included the Mohegan Sun Phase II, lighting design by Fisher Marantz Stone Inc.; Thorne Hall at Bowdoin College, lighting design by Kugler Tillotson Associates Inc.; Luminous Arc at the San Diego Convention Center, lighting design by James Carpenter Design Associates and Matthew Tanteri + Associates, Inc; Suba Restaurant, lighting design by Ann Kale Associates; and the Frist Center for the Visual Arts, lighting design by Susan Brady Lighting Design, Inc.
Citation Awards went to designs including: Millennium Class, a Celebrity Cruises ship, lighting design by Fisher Marantz Stone Inc; Town restaurant, lighting design by Focus Lighting; Mickey and Friends parking structure, lighting design by Fisher Marantz Stone Inc; JFK International Arrivals Terminal, lighting design by Susan Brady Lighting Design, Inc. and COMM Arts, the Gateway Village Technical Center, lighting design by Cline Bettridge Bernstein Lighting Design, Inc.; and 50 Years of Television @the Oca, lighting design by Technical Artistry.
2002 Lumen Awards were presented to the Bank of China Head Office, lighting design by Kugler Tillotson Associates Inc. and the Thomas Jefferson Memorial, lighting design by the Mintz Lighting Group, Inc.
Congratulations to all of the 2002 Lumen Awards nominees and recipients.--Michael S. Eddy