Where to See the Oscar Nominees in DC

Or at least, where to see the harder to find nominees, since I’m assuming everyone has already seen The Help and no one has seen Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, even though it’s playing at the Georgetown AMC. Here’s your guide if you are an obsessive completest or are betting money in your office’s Academy Awards pool.

Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress
E Street Cinema & West End Cinema are both inexplicably showing War Horse, but these are your best bet for the slightly-more-indie films on this year’s Oscar list.
West End Cinema: this is your best bet to catch My Week with Marylin, and enjoy Michelle Williams’ glowing performance.
E Street: The Iron Lady & Albert Nobbs round up some more of this years Best Actress nods, and it’s also showing The Artist, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, and The Descendants.
Recommended: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (3 nominations – Actor, Score, and Adapted Screenplay)

Best Foreign Films:
National Geographic will again be showing all five foreign film nominees as part of their Global Glimpse program, the weekend of February 17th-19th. Tickets are 8 dollars. Bullhead also opens at the West End on the 24th.
Recommended: A Separation (2 nominations – best foreign film & best original screenplay).

Animated & Live Shorts
These are great to catch if you’re gunning to win your office’s Oscar pool this year, and they come to E Street Cinema starting February 10th. They play for a week, and each showing will include both nominees and honorable mentions.
Recommended: If you can only pick on, go for Animated, it’s normally a nice change of pace from heavy hitting Oscar movies. You can also catch these at the National Archives for free on February 25th.

Documentary
The National Archives will be showcasing the Oscar-nominated documentary features, one each night from the 22nd thru the 26th. You can catch the documentary on dance, Pina, in 3D as it was submitted at the Georgetown AMC.
Recommended: Hell & Back if you liked Restrepo, Pina if you like beautiful things (unfortunately it will only be showing in 2D at the Archives).

Documentary Short
Unsurprisingly, these are also being shown at the National Archives, but starting February 10th, four of the nominated shorts will be shown together at the West End Cinema.
Recommended: I got nothing, y’all, as I haven’t seen a single one…yet.

Listen to the Music: Some headphones for your Foggy Bottom ways

I’m a pretty picky fellow when it comes to headphones. I’ve gone though approximately a pair a year since I started college (2004), all in search of the perfect pair. I want something that is comfortable, excludes a lot of outside noise, and sounds good with the music I listen to. Aesthetics aren’t really a part of the discussion. Over-the-head headphones won’t cut it for me, not because they don’t look good, but rather because they aren’t too portable. I’ve got to find a pair that works well on the metro and aren’t a pain to carry around.

Well, the local DC spokesperson of AT&T, Margarita Noriega, recently gave me a trio of headphones and one Bluetooth speaker to try.  I wasn’t told to say anything, and I’m at liberty to write whatever I want (as you’ll see below). The idea was that perhaps I could find a pair worth recommending to the readers of this fine blog.

After some pretty extensive listening, I come with two pairs to avoid, one that I love, and one Bluetooth speaker that would be awesome were it not for the price tag. All three headphones came equipped with a mic for use with a smartphone, though I didn’t get the chance to test those. So these reviews are based purely on sound.

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Review: The Fab Faux at Lisner Auditorium, 04/15

Editor’s Note: Enjoy this review from our sometimes correspondent/photog/Beatles fan Mallory Thompson!

In the midst of the IMF/World Bank meetings last weekend, navigating Foggy Bottom was a bit difficult for the average person – but nothing could stop hundreds of Beatles fans from swarming GW’s Lisner Auditorium to hear the “Fab Faux”.  I managed to find a parking spot with only seconds to spare before the concert began – and when the license plate in front of me read “Ringo 1” – I immediately knew I was in for a treat.

I rushed to the doors as the opening number “Hello, Goodbye” filled the room.  As I stumbled to find my seat, I kept thinking to myself, “They really DO sound like the Beatles.”  But as I turned to face the stage, I was met with surprise – there was a large assortment of musicians and singers to create the sound – not just the regular John, Paul, George and Ringo.  It didn’t take long for me to realize that the “Fab Faux” isn’t your average Beatles cover band.

The group hails from New York City and is celebrating their 13th year this month.  The lineup includes Will Lee from the “Late Show with David Letterman” and Jimmy Vivino from “Conan” – plus drummer/producer Rich Pagano, guitarist Frank Agnello and ace keyboardist/guitarist Jack Petruzzelli.  And it’s not just these five guys who make the show – enter The Crème Tangerine Strings and Hogs Head Horns to create the full Beatles musical experience.

As an avid Beatles fan, I’ve seen my fair number of cover bands, but the “Fab Faux” version was something new to me.  Absent were the matching suits, Beatles wigs and fake British accents – but in its place was something far better – Beatles music at its core.  Instead of being whisked to 1964 at Shea Stadium, the “Fab Faux” take you on a musical tour of the inside of Abbey Road.  Their version of a Beatles cover band comes down to painstaking perfection of every sound in a Beatles recording.

The “Fab Faux” rightly has its own following – over half of the people in attendance had been to a show before – but the concert wasn’t without its slight missteps. Since the “Fab Faux” work to make themselves sound like the Beatles instead of look like the Beatles, there is a constant flurry of crews bringing in instruments and swapping guitars – a major distraction for the concert go-er.  But all this can be fixed if you simply close your eyes – you’ll be transported back to Beatles-land in no time.

At Lisner, the band first performed a set of some crowd favorites – “Strawberry Fields,” “Yellow Submarine,” “Penny Lane,” “Lady Madonna” – and “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” where Jimmy Vivano’s guitar solo brought the house down.  After brief intermission, the band returned to play the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album in its entirety.  Sgt. Pepper is one of my favorite albums to just listen to – it has the popular favorites – “With a Little Help from My Friends,” “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” “When I’m Sixty-Four” – but also the difficult Harrison tune “Within You, Without You” inspired by Indian classical music as well as “A Day In the Life,” often praised as being the best Beatles song ever for its complexity.

As the encore ended, the crowds left Lisner and poured out into the DC streets, I suddenly realized, the journey was over – until next time.  An excellent evening and worth a second trip if the “Fab Faux” happen to be back in the area again.

Photos below the cut!.

Review & Contest: Christmas Revels!

Though I’m a Buddhist, I have learned to love and embrace the Christmas season, and part of that is due to annual performances by Christmas Revels.

What is Christmas Revels, you ask? Well, it changes every year, but the basic format is the same: pick a place, a time period, and perhaps an author or culture, and then build a show around the Christmas and winter traditions, filled with songs, audience sing alongs, traditional dances, and other wonderful things.

Of course, this formula flows more smoothly some years than others, but this year’s show is excellent. Based on the books and poems of Thomas Hardy, primarily Wessex, the show takes place in the ye olde nineteenth-century English town of Mellstock. The music is absolutely lovely, and you’ll recognize some favorites (and get to sing along!). This year’s show also features guests from England, The Mellstock Band, a quartet of clarinet, violin, concertina, and the serpent (or a ye olde tuba).

You should go if: you like Christmas carols, you like to sing in groups, you need a study break, you watching dancing, you like actually dancing, you enjoy the works of Thomas Hardy, you enjoy drunken English villagers, or if you enjoy 19th century music (including time-appropriate instruments)! That means you should probably go, and FoBoBlo wants you to be able to for free!

Just like last week, send a message to invitation@revelsdc.org with “FoBoBlo blog” in the subject line. Include name, mailing address, phone number and email address. Revels will notify the winner ASAP. The tickets will be for the show on Sunday, December 12th, at 5 pm.

[Tickets & Information]

OAS Art After Dark

Art After Dark's First Night was a success

One week ago the Organization of American States tried their hand for the first time at an “after hours” event at the Art Museum of the Americas.  The result:  all 440 tickets sold, and a successful launch into the up-and-coming scene of hip museum parties.

Kudos to the event planners for figuring out just the right number to keep the place full but not too crowded.  Because this was the first “After Dark,” we asked everyone we met how they ended up getting there.  The most common answer, “a friend.”  Trace the connections and we’d invariably end up with a story that starts with a friend on the board here or at some other museum.  That probably helped explain the crowd a bit.  Compared to what we’ve seen at other events like this, this crowd was just a bit older (though still young).  That is to say, these were young professionals, not just recent grads.  A bit more reserved and put together — some of the outfits were pretty impressive and everyone was wearing nice shoes.

Still though, this was a crowd reflective of an event still seeking identity.  Consider this scene: Exactly, a band made up of local artist Adrian Parsons, Cole Sharp, and Jesse Bishop,  setting up headless mannequins, stringing rope lights, adjusting their instruments, and taking off, then putting back on, their v-neck shirts.  The lead singer, Parsons, looks absolutely crazy, shaggy, messy, sweaty.  There’s an uncomfortable distance, an 8-foot gulf between the band and the crowd of polite looking 20-somethings, many of them still in jackets and ties from their work day.  They shuffle and chat and drink and watch.  Then, one of the band members takes out his iPad, plugs it in, and starts playing Yeasayer.

We spoke with a few people responsible for putting on the event, and it seems that the identity issue (we don’t think we’d call it a problem, really — just growing pains) extends all the way up.  We were told that the event’s main goals were to 1) develop the interests of a younger crowd and 2) develop interest in Latin American art.  But here’s the problem: the walls were conspicuously empty.

Dorothy, a woman who was taking it upon herself to bring more, well, dancing, to the space on the first floor where DJ Smudge was spinning, was coming from the Decatur House. She asked the question that had been plaguing us as we traversed through the museum, “Where the hell is all the art?” Video installations were set up on each floor, but the rooms were devoid of any information on the pieces or their artists, so their origins were unknown (though some limited information was included in the projections themselves.) That didn’t stop people from crowding in to watch the exhibits, and we understand that the costs for hosting an event in a museum full of wall-hanging art are much higher than in a museum with art that no one can drunkenly disturb, but part of the appeal of these events is rooted in the ability to experience art in a less-than-formal museum setting.

Rocking out to Exactly

Ultimately, it was the performances and not the showcase of art that defined the evening: out in the courtyard, a skilled Latin American drummer played different percussion instruments to accompany a backing track as people mingled around, drinking beer and wine. The outdoor part felt the most cohesive and thematic — professionals spoke in different languages and enjoyed the breeze.

Inside, Exactly took the stage at 10 pm to do a soundcheck, and then disappeared for about 15 minutes, leaving a room full of buzzed young professionals to stand around feeling uncomfortable. The band re-emerged in skinny jeans, covered in fake blood, to do a set that started off with a bold proclamation: “We’re not a fucking electro-pop band!” Bold because Exactly is made up of two keyboards and a drumset, but they delivered to the crowds expectations with men in blazers and girls in expensive sundresses letting loose and dancing, eventually playing air guitar with mannequin legs shaking hair everywhere.

Downstairs and outside, the older members of the board and other guests continued to mingle as the sounds of drumming and throaty singing blasted through the museum’s windows.

We’re told that this is planned to be a recurring event — we’re already excited for next time.

Of Interest: Video of Exactly playing their last song [Vimeo]

Click here for the pictures!.