juliette binoche

Eiko, Koma & 9/11; Beaverton rising

ArtsWatch Weekly: Remembering an extraordinary dance after 9/11; Beaverton rising; can't stop the music; immigrant tales & more

SATURDAY WILL BE THE TWENTIETH ANNIVERSARY of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, on New York City and the Pentagon outside Washington, D.C. It was a strike that shook the world, and led, among many other things, to a twenty-year war in Afghanistan that only now is being ended – or perhaps, is shifting from a “hot” war to a cold diplomatic conflict.

Next Thursday, Sept. 16, will be the kickoff of this year’s Time-Based Art Festival, the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art’s annual fall gathering of performance and other art from the edges of the contemporary art world. 

For me, these events will always be linked by an extraordinary hour in the 2003 TBA festival, when, on the evening before the second anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, the great duo of Eiko and Koma performed a piece called Offering amid the water pools of Northwest Portland’s Jamison Square.

Sixteen years after her extraordinary performance with partner Takashi Koma Otake in the dance “Offering,” Eiko Otake returned to PICA’s 2019 TBA Festival for several projects, including “A Body in Places,” her evolving piece based on her return to post-nuclear disaster Fukushima. Photo courtesy Joseph Scheer, IEA at NYSCC, via PICA.

It was, I wrote at the time, “a sad, deep, hopeful blessing,” and linked, through the influence on Eiko and Koma’s work of the post-World War II Japanese performance movement butoh, to the devastation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.


FilmWatch Weekly: Remembering Jean-Paul Belmondo & Michael K. Williams, plus new films

An appreciation of two great actors, plus a catfishing Juliette Binoche, a Hong Kong thriller, and a mystery Paul Schrader

Jean Seberg and Jean-Paul Belmondo in Jean-Luc Godard’s “Breathless” (1960). Photo: Rialto Pictures/StudioCanal

This week saw the passing of two titanic acting talents: French screen icon Jean-Paul Belmondo and American television icon Michael K. Williams. Their respective deaths prompted two different varieties of public mourning: Belmondo was acknowledged as the face (literally) of an entire cinematic movement, the French New Wave, and an epitome of continental cool. At 88 years of age, his death was not a surprise, but presented an opportunity to appreciate his unique place in film history.

Williams’ death, at 54, was a tragedy, pure and simple. His story is the stuff of inspiration: rescued from a troubled youth by theater, sporting a trademark facial scar as a result of being slashed by a razor blade at 25, experiencing homelessness at more than one point, he persevered through stereotypical “thug” casting to land a role on, well, pretty much the best TV series ever, HBO’s The Wire. Playing Omar Little, a brutal but textured prisoner of Baltimore’s inner city, Williams brought an intensity and a poignancy to the role that only deepened when Omar’s homosexuality became a key part of his character, making him a landmark in Black Queer representation in mainstream pop culture.


FilmWatch Weekly: Queer Docs, fat Buddhas, and more

The week's notable films also include the latest from French star Juliette Binoche

As American society has taken steps—some halting, some confident—toward recognition and acceptance of a wider variety of gender and sexual identities, compelling true-life tales reflecting a previously stifled panorama of experiences have emerged. Each year, the Portland Queer Documentary Film Festival presents a thoughtfully curated selection of those stories, and its 2018 iteration, which runs from Thursday, May 17, through Sunday, May 20, at the Hollywood Theatre, is no exception.

The opening night selection looks to the past while providing hope in the face of a fraught future. “50 Years of Fabulous” examines the oldest gay and lesbian charity group in the country, The Imperial Council of San Francisco, which was founded in 1965 by José Julio Sarria, the first openly gay candidate for public office in American history. The film functions as a tribute to Sarria, who died in 2013, as well as a testimony to the group’s accomplishments and a recognition of the challenges it faces to remain relevant today.

“Fifty Years of Fabulous” leads off the Portland QDoc Film Festival.

Other highlights include “Every Act of Life,” an affecting and admiring portrait of four-time Tony Award winner Terrence McNally (“Love! Valour! Compassion!,” “Kiss of the Spider-Woman,” “Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune,” and so many others). Testimonials pour in from titans such as F. Murray Abraham, Angela Lansbury, and Rita Moreno. Audra McDonald, who was in the original cast of McNally’s “Master Class” and, coincidentally, will be appearing with the Oregon Symphony at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall on Tuesday, May 22nd, has some very nice things to say. And Nathan Lane, naturally, is irrepressible.