Palindromes

Sunday, May 8th, 2005 | Film, Friends, Performance

Last night BC and I went to see Palindromes, Todd Solondz’ latest, and plopped ourselves down several rows ahead of Davide and Richard at the Castro, I in my regular seat, #107, 10th row center. It is an amazing film, about a girl, Aviva, who wants to have a baby. The role of Aviva is played by several different actresses, including a 40-year old Jennifer Jason Leigh. Her desire is thwarted by her parents’ misguided need to protect her, her age–she’s only 13 or so–and, the film seems to say, fate. At one point the older brother of Dawn Weiner (falsely, he says, accused of molesting a child), tells Aviva that we’re destined to start back where we started, that we are who we are and there’s no getting around it. The film illustrates this physically through Aviva’s storybook adventure, which ends up where it began, with her having sex with her buddy Judah, who changes his name to Otto at the end of the film to make the connection overt. Solondz creates a world in which everyone speaks very softly, yet within the softness are extremes of moral ambiguity and physical anguish. At many times we’re squeamish because he makes us laugh hysterically about something that in the next beat is heart-wrenching. The absurdity and cruelty of the world is just too much to not laugh at–that kind of laughter that sounds like sobbing. He has created a small masterpiece.

And remember Richard Masur? He plays Aviva’s dad! Remember? He was Ann Romano’s sometimes boyfriend, David Kane, on One Day at a Time! I had such a total crush on him when I was 10.

Tonight I took my sister to see Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, which reminded me of Todd Solondz in how they create hilarity by upending convention, but of course without all the depressing stuff. The all-male troupe dances playful parodies of classical ballets. Yet with all the hilarious physicality, there is an amazing poise and strength to each dancer. Odette, the queen of the swans in their Swan Lake is played by Olga Supphozova, whose comic timing and broad delivery is as impeccable as his powerful precise dancing. In Fokine’s Dying Swan, Ida Nevasayneva jiggles an endless number of feathers from his tutu as he prances histrionically across the stage and back, again and again, the flow of feathers non-stop, his death a grand guignol burlesque.

And who was seated but a few rows ahead but A.J. Kiltbear in full regalia. Before he waved me over, I thought “Another ‘kilt-bear’ in the east bay?” before I realized that there is only one Kiltbear. At least for me. Thank heavens he didn’t lean against the wall at any other time than intermission, as this swan was quite a distraction from the ones of stage.

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