Thursday, October 10, 2013

LIZ SMITH: Triumphs at Sea and on Land ...

Robert Redford and Liz in 2007.
"All Is Lost" — But Not For Robert Redford, Who Triumphs at Sea! ... Ann-Margret Dazzles at "Career Transitions For Dancers" Event.  And The Dancers Dazzled Too.   
Thursday, October 10, 2013
by Liz Smith

"ALL IS LOST but then all is not lost if one can have Robert Redford kneeling down at their feet talking about his new movie," said my writer/directorfriend Linda Yellen, at the recent opening of Redford's new movie "All Is Lost" at Lincoln Center.
THE SRO CROWD for the Film Society's opening of Redford's tour de force came apart applauding and screaming after the showing in Alice Tully Hall and surged across 65th Street to the Lincoln Restaurant. They had started by cheering young J.C. Chandor who won his chance to make movies at Sundance back in 2011. (He wrote "Margin Call" as his first try; and then sent Redford a 31-page script idea about a man lost at sea. It is a miracle that such a thing was ever made; only Redford could have made it happen.)
J.C. Chandor, Sibylle Szaggars, Robert Redford, Anna Gerb, and Neal Dodson at the 2013 New York Film Festival's "All Is Lost" premiere.
Redford likes to take chances and he took a chance on Chandor, an enthusiastic fast-talking and excited-at-his-own-idea kind of guy. The movie holds at the most a dozen spoken words but the sounds of the ocean and masts rippling and storms not abating is enough for this film.

Redford is magnificent as only he can be and it will be quite a battle if the Academy ignores his heroic physical acting effort in this unusual movie. And the way his silence transmits pain. He is as charismatic and as sympathetic as ever!
A happy Liz & Robert Redford in Texas, 1973.
We are old acquaintances, Mr. Redford and I, from the halcyon days when we were young in Texas together for long thoughtful interviews and, of course, I have always been a fan. When he walked into the Lincoln, he did indeed come and kneeled down and we had an affectionate re-acquaintance. When I told him I was too old to kneel down, he laughed, "I'm gettin' there myself Liz!" he said.

I admire this guy so much, his intellect, his spark, his way with his fame, and his open-hearted willingness to take chances. The movie industry today owes Redford plenty for his creating of Sundance and what he and the process have meant to independent film-making. Even if it moved far from his original idea; it will always be his baby.
A serious Liz & Robert.
THE movie itself is unique. There is no one there for Redford to show his point of view as is usual in films. (Think back on Redford looking at Streisand in “The Way We Were.” He shows us that he thinks she is beautiful in the end shot and she is.) But Redford the actor gives you every reason to stay riveted as he endures an ordeal at sea that seems totally doomed and his every move is suspenseful and extravagantly requiring great physical effort and dexterity. The movie was well-received out of competition at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival. It should most definitely be on the Academy Award list in 2014.
Robert Redford in "All Is Lost."
There is another "star" in this film other than Robert Redford. It was there floating outside the Lincoln Theater in a big pool which boasted the life-saving raft that is featured in "All is Lost." I found myself observing it with great affection. As I did also with the ebullient creator-director, Mr. Chandor.

But all in all, my heart belongs to Robert Redford — a human being with a great talent!
IT’S ALWAYS fun to see someone great, in person, a real star, cause a bit of actual pandemonium in our current world of faux pandemonium and instant "celebrity."

I do mean Miss Ann-Margret, who arrived at City Center the other night to accept her Rolex Dance Award at the “Broadway and Beyond” benefit for Career Transitions For Dancers.

“Oh, My God! She’s going to walk!" (photos: Walter McBride).
A-M was staying at the Rihga Royal Hotel, about a block away from City Center. But instead of getting in her limo and driving around the block, the actress stunned the mob of paparazzi, fans and autograph-hunters by simply walking through the alley-way, from 54th to 55th Street.

“Oh, My God! She’s going to walk!” they screamed, as if she’d been miraculously cured of leprosy.

And walk she did, showing plenty of leg in a black and emerald gown, and instantly recognizable, still sporting that mane of flame-colored “just-got-out-of-bed” hair. By the time she reached City Center, the mob around her had grown to semi-frightening proportions, but she was sweet, serene, and gave everybody the pose or glance they wanted — or as much she could under the circumstances.

Later, onstage, introduced by Liza Minnelli, the evening’s only glitch occurred. Liza came on jaunty and looking good, but only seconds after she began her tribute, somebody miscued — the curtains parted, and there striking a dramatic pose was A-M. Arms flung out, bosom up thrust, one shapely leg on display. The crowd went wild. Liza was only momentarily flustered.

“Damn! I stayed up all night writing this!” she laughed, indicating her notes. A-M rushed over to the podium, embraced Liza, and said to her, “Can you believe the two of us are still alive?!”

Ann-Marget’s speech was touchingly emotional — and funny, when she comically lapsed into her native Swedish accent. She made a point of thanking her parents, now gone, and her dancers, who were there. Her remarks, thoughtful on the subject of the short, painful lives of dance careers, and thankful for her own life, career and long marriage to Roger Smith, was totally in keeping with what she is — a very nice woman with a big heart.
Liza and A-M.
THE SHOW itself, directed by Ann Marie DeAngelo, was superb. It was fairly brief and packed with spectacular performances.

I wish I could list every dancer and number, but I’ll highlight a few that the audience went especially wild for: Rosie O’ Donnell and her Theater Kids romping through “You Gotta Have Heart” ... Broadway Dance Lab’s “Doggy In The Window” (sexy!) ... ”The Great Lover Displays Himself” from “On The Town” (super-sexy!) ... a tribute to Danny Daniels ... and “Drum Crazy” by New York Song and Dance.
Rosie O'Donnell and Rosie's Kids.
But, every performance was superior, including Andrea McArdle who belted out her inimitable “Tomorrow” from “Annie” (Miss McArdle is quite grown up — a shapely stunner.)

Career Transition For Dancers is a marvelous program for dancers who cannot — for one reason or another — put on the red shoes anymore. I hope they raised a lot of money this night!
The show, directed by Ann Marie DeAngelo, was packed with spectacular performances ...
One odd note. The actress Lynn Cohen periodically appeared onstage and “impersonated” the great choreographer Agnes deMille, long passed away. But, unless you read your program carefully, you might have missed this. She was introduced simply as “Agnes deMille” The reaction to the saucy Ms. Cohen — probably uttering DeMille’s own thoughts on dance and dancers — was muted because, many audiences members were heard whispering, “But isn’t she dead? That can’t really be her?” It was the only iffy part of an otherwise splendid event.
MY ARTISTIC friends Christian Breschneff and Tim Lovejoy are marrying on October 26th in Hadlyme, Connecticut and have sent me a happy photograph to show what a long "engagement" does to people. (They look as if their lives together made them very happy. ) These two are among the hottest in-demand artists from here to Greece, Manhattan,and all over Connecticut.

Let's just say both of them are gifted, have traveled, have lived and know what it's all about.
Christian Brechneff and Tim Lovejoy.

Contact Liz Smith here.

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