charlotte rampling

ArtsWatch Weekly: February roars

A look at the week that was in Oregon arts. A glimpse ahead at the week that's going to be.

The Fertile Ground festival of new works is tucked safely in bed for another year, and the city’s still tuning up for the Portland Jazz Festival, coming February 18-28 (Charles Lloyd! Dianne Reeves! Sonny Fortune! Brian Blade!). That doesn’t mean you get to relax. We’re heading into an extraordinarily busy week, from theater openings to First Thursday in the galleries to a revamped Late Now to the Oregon Symphony’s visit to The Planets, with a side trip to some piano parables by Paul Schoenfeld.

Enough with the intro. Let’s dive right in, starting with theater:

Dael Orlandersmith. Photo: Mikey Mann

Dael Orlandersmith. Photo: Mikey Mann

Forever at Portland Center Stage. The newest from writer/performer Dael Orlandersmith, in the intimate Ellyn Bye Studio. Marcel Proust, Richard Wright, Jim Morrison, and the legacies of family, biological and chosen. In previews; opens Friday.

What Every Girl Should Know at Triangle. It’s 1914 in a Catholic reformatory. The new girl shows up, bringing an attitude and some contraband: pamphlets on birth control distributed by Margaret Sanger. Opens Thursday.

You for Me for You at Portland Playhouse. Gretchen Corbett directs Mia Chung’s provocative drama about two sisters attempting to flee North Korea. Opens Friday.

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Charlotte Rampling and Me: An awkward talk about a great performance

Charlotte Rampling's performance in "45 Years" is worth the Oscar, but even in an interview she can be difficult

In the span of about 48 hours last week, 69-year-old British actress Charlotte Rampling became a first-time Oscar nominee and an accused racist. The former was for her work in director Andrew Haigh’s film “45 Years,” which opens on Friday, Jan. 29, in Portland at the Living Room Theater. The latter was for some ill-advised (or, as she claims, misinterpreted), comments in the wake of the #OscarsSoWhite controversy.

Those comments may have squelched whatever minuscule chance she had of taking home a trophy on Feb. 28, but they shouldn’t detract from the marvelous performance she gives in “45 Years” opposite the equally veteran, and equally impressive, Tom Courtenay. (He had his breakthrough role in 1962’s “The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner”; hers came in 1966’s “Georgy Girl.”) They play a long-married couple (hence the title) whose marriage is tested when news arrives that the body of Courtney’s long-lost first love has been found.

Tom Courtenay and Charlotte Rampling in "45 Years."

Tom Courtenay and Charlotte Rampling in “45 Years.”

Rampling’s career has been a peripatetic one, taking her from Britain to France to America, the latter with mixed results—she was memorable in “Stardust Memories” and “The Verdict,” less so in “Zardoz” and “Orca.” She’s been an emblem of continental cool, and the subject of an admiring documentary, “Charlotte Rampling: The Look.” Throughout, she has played by her own rules, and that includes during our brief phone interview, which took place last November, well before the ups and downs of her more recent notoriety.

It was, to be honest, one of the more awkward interviews I’ve conducted. She seemed impatient, brusque, and intolerant of any questions that went beyond the scope of “45 Years.” At one point, she moved the phone away from her mouth, but I could still hear her when she asked her handler “How much longer is this? He’s starting to ask me about my whole career!” This was approximately ten minutes into our talk. In any case, at least some of the answers I could pry from her were interesting. Here are some excerpts:

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