Given the volume of commentary, criticism and amateur blogosphere speculation that has accumulated since 1980 about what happens in The Shining and what it all means, it’d be a mighty achievement to actually produce some new, original insight into Stanley Kubrick’s film, based on the horror novel by Stephen King.
What strikes me is the way it lives on in our imaginations and the fact that so many feel compelled to keep the discussion going. It’s not a fate one would have predicted after those first, lukewarm and even negative reviews in 1980. (“I can’t recall a more elaborately ineffective scare movie,” lamented The Washington Post’s Gary Arnold.) But in 2018, is there anyone who wants to revisit (or even remembers) Terror Train or Motel Hell? No. But if you were to put The Shining in, say, the Elsinore Theatre in Salem, would that pique your interest?
It does mine, and not just because it’s a chance to see Kubrick’s amazing images on the big screen. Consider, too, that when The Shining shows at 7 p.m. Wednesday, it will be on a screen where it very likely first appeared. Multiplexes were a rare thing back then, and the majestic Elsinore was a theater where blockbusters opened.
The Shining is the perfect example of a film that improves with age and repeated viewings, though one is obliged to note one uncomfortable truth about its making: While Kubrick and the crew went out of their way to ensure that child actor Danny Lloyd was shielded from the story’s horrific aspects, he wasn’t so kind to Shelley Duvall. Watching the sequence where Jack Nicholson stalks her up a staircase, it’s impossible for the viewer familiar with Kubrick’s perfectionist drive not to wonder: Was this the 127th take, or had they topped 100 yet? Knowing all this today, it’s unsettling to realize that part of Duvall’s on-screen distress and exhaustion was, thanks to Kubrick, all too real.
WHEN I AGREED LAST SPRING TO COVER YAMHILL COUNTY for Oregon ArtsWatch, I told the editors, “I’ve been appearing in shows on and off at McMinnville’s Gallery Theater since 1997, so I’m not going to review any of its shows.” Which, I now realize, puts me in the absurd position of seeing a fantastic play there but not being able to tell anyone that it’s fantastic.
So while I’m not going to make a habit of reviewing shows at Gallery Theater, I have to tell you that I saw The God Game last weekend and found it utterly absorbing. It would be going too far to say that Suzanne Bradbeer’s two-act script is a great play. It has been described as uneven, which it is. And, upon reflection, I found myself with questions the script ought to have answered but didn’t.
That said, first-time director Marla Nuttman found three fine actors (none of whom I’ve worked with, including the director) who had me riveted from lights up to final curtain. Lance Nuttman plays a Republican senator celebrating his 20th wedding anniversary with his very Christian wife (Beth Sobo Turk) when fellow politico and old friend (Steve Cox) shows up to offer him the VP spot on the party’s presidential ticket. There’s one hitch: The veep candidate is expected to appeal to the more conservative presidential candidate’s evangelical followers — but he’s not the religious type.
Many people, sick of politics, might regard a play about politics as the last thing they need. If that’s your instinct, my advice is to ignore it and check out The God Game. The play was written before Trump was a thing, and while it’s not in the same vein as Ivan Reitman’s saccharine 1993 film Dave, there’s a refreshing absence of FOX News toxicity, even as it wrestles with tricky issues that remain absolutely current. I’m as weary of politics as anyone, but Gallery’s God Game took me so deeply into the characters’ lives, conflicts, and choices that for two hours I didn’t think of anything outside the theater, and that’s what the best productions do. The final scene, a speech delivered directly to the audience by Nuttman while flanked by his co-stars, is absolutely electric. See it if you can. Two more weekends only, and you can get tickets here or by calling 503-472-2227.
ONE MORE STOP in McMinnville: The Linfield College art gallery’s latest show is Parts and Parcels, by Seattle-based artist Emily Counts. The show consists of what a release calls “abstract constellations of amorphous shapes,” constructed from ceramic, wood, and glass. Some are arranged on the floor ritualistically, others on the wall are linked by tethers. Counts aims to explore “the theme of fluidity in the unconscious mind and within human-designed networks.” How does the brain and/or the mind link memories, ideas, thoughts, associations, and emotions? Proust famously explored this on the page, of course, and Counts realizes these concepts in physical space. Suggestion: First look at each display for a few moments, then examine it up close, look at the details, and make some connections of your own. Then, back away and take it all in again. The show runs through Nov. 17.
IN NEWBERG, WHEN YOU WALK through the front door of the Chehalem Cultural Center, look up and you’ll see a remarkable “Suspended Moment” by Yukiyo Kawano. Her subject is the atomic bomb, which she’s re-created here with the silk and momen (cotton) from a kimono given to her by an aunt during a visit to Hiroshima. It is the most striking piece in her show Suspended Moment, which runs through Nov. 4. The fabric is so thin and delicate that it is captured on all sides by the motion of air circulating through the spacious lobby, imperceptible to human skin, and it almost appears as if this “Little Boy” of death is breathing.
JUST IN TIME FOR LATINO HISTORY MONTH, also at the Chehalem Center, is Restropectiva del Maestro, by Portland artist Hampton Rodríguez. I haven’t seen this one yet, but a reception for Rodríguez lands roughly in the middle of the exhibition, from 4 to 6 p.m. Nov. 2. His paintings will be displayed through Nov. 30.
Rodríguez grew up in the Dominican Republic and was influenced by that country’s contemporary abstract art movement. After exhibiting his work in Spain and Belgium, he moved to Oregon in March 2002. Rodríguez notes that he strongly feels an artist belongs to the place he lives. Since moving to Portland, he writes, “I became a different artist. The focus of my work shifted to capture the idiosyncratic culture of Portland’s diverse neighborhoods; the cadence of people’s lives there, the scenes of cultural clashes, Urban vs. Rural. And the development of images that tap into shared concepts and feelings. In my recent work, I have been trying to capture the fleeting human expressions of anger and hope, desire, and sadness. My work is egalitarian, surrealistic, and filled with people’s mystiques.”
IF YOU’RE A FAN OF THE ORGAN, take note: Dan Miller, who has been playing the organ since he was 15 and has been featured with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir in Salt Lake City, among others, will play at the Oregon Hymn Festival Concert at George Fox University at 6 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 28.
Highlighting the program of traditional church music and hymns, Miller will be at the keyboards of a Rodgers digital organ, an upgrade on the auditorium’s original 36-rank Balcom and Vaughn pipe organ system with 2,067 pipes. Miller, by the way, is in his 19th year with Rodgers Instruments, a leading organ builder based in Hillsboro, where he is an artist and tonal professional.
The program will include six hymns that the audience is encouraged to join in singing, as well as several hymn stories featuring Brent Weaver, professor of music and music department chair at George Fox. The program also will include a string sextet, a four-member keyboard ensemble, and an eight-member brass ensemble, all featuring university students. General admission tickets are $5 and are available here, by calling 503-554-3844, or at the door.
ARTS JOURNAL: Over the last two or three years, I’ve read The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, the entire Harry Potter series and A Wrinkle in Time to my son (now age 9) despite having skipped most of Perrault’s Mother Goose Tales, Grimm’s Fairy Tales, and stories by Hans Christian Andersen. I was put off, candidly, by the carnage and violence, which was methodically and humorlessly annotated in 1952 by Geoffrey Handley-Taylor, who was among those calling at the time for “nursery rhyme reform.” Anyway, we’ve circled back to them by way of Chris Colfer’s The Land of Stories series, in which a book of fairy tales serves as the magic wardrobe through which the heroes discover an alternate world where all those stories are real. It’s cleverly told in crisp prose with a momentum that Wildwood (at least the first one, which we recently finished) lacked at times. Nice illustrations too, by Brandon Dorman, though I wish there were more of them.