Where the Wild Things Are
The children’s book “Where The While Things Are” came out the year I was born, 1963. Growing up in the 60s and 70s, this was the seminal book of my childhood. I have such vivid memories of it. When I recently picked up a new copy of it and read it to my own five-year-old son, it felt as though no time had passed since I had last looked through its pages. Even though it’s the sparest of stories, Maurice Sendak’s illustrations are so potent, so powerful, that the story not only comes to life but seems epic somehow. Spike Jonze’s adaptation, fully endorsed by the author, expands greatly on the book. A good adaptation ought not be too dedicated to the original source but rather take the essence of the story, find the soul, and express it through the visual media. In order to put “Wild Things” on the screen, Jonze and Dave Eggers, who co-wrote the screenplay, went deep into his hero’s anguish and came up with a cathartic and beautiful story about a boy, Max, who is terrified of abandonment. His solution is to create a world of monsters where he is the king. The monsters are grizzly, smelly and full of bombast but also insecure to their core. Like Max, all they want is a someone who will love them and take care of them. In the meantime, sleeping in a pile will have to do.
Every Little Step
A Chorus Line will forever remain the most important musical I’ve ever had the good fortune to see. I remember going to a matinee performance at the Public Theater in the late summer of 1975. My parents were members of the Public and, thank God, they took me and my sister along to see this edgy new musical which depicted the lives of Broadway chorus dancers in a language and raw physicality that had never been presented before. The production would soon go to Broadway and change the very definition of what a Broadway musical could be. This documentary, “Every Little Step”, centers on the casting of the 2008 revival. Through the process of auditioning a new cast, the documentary becomes a mirror image of the play. The original creators who are involved in casting the revival are desperately searching for those rare performers who can embody the characters created by the late Michael Bennett, whose absence is felt in every moment of this moving documentary. Continue reading