PREVIEW: Paris mon paradis

Monday, January 9th at 4pm in 1360 East Hall

What better way to take advantage of the brief lapse in homework before the semester really kicks off than going to see a French documentary? As part of the symposium film series “Women Visualizing Africa” they will show the new and highly acclaimed documentary, “Paris mon Paradis.” Directed by Elénore Yameogo, the film will be in French with English subtitles.

The film series’ newsletter writes, “The dream of a better life has often led Africans to immigrate to Paris, their paradise. As a symbol of the Occident, the French capital soon becomes a symbol of disillusion…Striking and emotionally truthful, Yameogo’s documentary is an abrupt awakening.”

The film is sure to be very thought-provoking and on an issue that is often overlooked. Hope to see you there!

Preview: The struggles of Nearly Modern Milk – “8”

Dustin Lance Black accepts GLAAD award for 8

From the Academy Award Winning Screenwriter of Milk, Dustin Lance Black, comes a new and modern representation of the struggles that the LGBT community is facing today. Mr. Black depicted the hardships that Harvey Milk was facing in the 70’s in a film that made a big splash in 2008. Milk, starring Sean Penn, told the story of the San Francisco politician and of his assassination in 1978. Black’s new play, “8” brings to light the struggle that Proposition 8 has produced in California recently. Prop 8, or the California Marriage Protection Act, is a constitutional amendment in California stating that, “only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.” This one amendment nullified all same-sex marriages that had already been allowed in California and prevented any future ones from happening. In the past few years, the LGBTQ and Ally Community have been working strenuously to get it repealed, and this play tells us the story of the act’s regrettable life. Please Join the UofM Spectrum Center for their 40th Anniversary this weekend and attend this free event. It takes place at 7:30pm at Stamps Auditorium in the Walgreen Center on North Campus. Yes, I know, it’s north campus, but it is sooo worth it!

Academy Award Winning Milk
Academy Award Winning "Milk"

For more info about events happening for the anniversary, please see my post on the Gala event of visit the Spectrum Center Website.

Sending you love and light,

Danny Fob

(Coffee is on me if you can name the show that my sign off is from!)

PREVIEW: Ann Arbor Film Festival

This week jumpstarts the 49th annual Ann Arbor Film Festival. Festivities begin today, Tuesday March 22nd and continue until Sunday March 27th. Over the course of six days, the Film Festival will screen a total of 188 films and live performances, each showcasing the work of independent and experimental filmmakers. Tonight a selection of short films, varying in cinematic genre, will be screened at The Michigan Theater’s Main Auditorium (located on 603 E. Liberty St. Ann Arbor, MI 48104). The Opening Night Premier represents seven shorts, ranging from animation, documentary, experimental, and independent cinema. Tickets cost $9 but student prices may be honored. To avoid waiting in line, tickets can be purchased online at: For more information on the films, filmmakers, and events, visit the Ann Arbor Film Festival’s website at

[V][S][A] Annual Đêm Việt Nam Culture Show 2011

It’s a night of Vietnamese culture.  It’s a night of dancing.  Most of all, it’s a night of great fun.

Saturday, January 29, 2011 was the night of Đêm Việt Nam, VSA’s annual culture show.  It was listed as a 7 pm show, and started promptly at 7:20 pm.  (Which, coincidentally, was exactly when I arrived – don’t try to park on Central when the folk festival is in town!)  This was the fourth Đêm Việt Nam show I’ve attended, and on Saturday night, I was delighted to see all the changes that have taken place since I started going.  I don’t know if it’s because I’m graduating, or if the effort was indeed larger this year, or a combination of both, but this 2011 show felt like a culmination of many years’ worth of work and publicity.

The first thing that struck me was attendance.  While the balcony of the Lydia Mendelssohn theater had been reserved for performers in years past, this year, it was almost full.  (It’s where I was sitting!)  The entire audience felt free to cheer for their friends on stage and converse with the emcees, giving the night a collaborative, comfortable atmosphere.  I could tell how much everyone onstage enjoyed and appreciated the energy from the crowd.

The show itself was bigger and better than ever, too.  One of my favorite segments was a dance that highlighted the way in which the Vietnamese have been influenced by Indian customs.  In a way, the night has always been a study of Vietnamese culture meeting and combining with culture in the United States, examining both the tensions and triumphs of living in a place where people from all over the world live and work side by side.  The addition of the Indian-inspired dance further explored the fluidity of cultures around the world.  The title of the show, “The Way We Are,” was especially fitting in this context.  In this day and age, nothing is static.

Speaking of collaboration, VSA had a lot of help this year:  CSN joined the women from VSA for a beautiful ribbon dance at the beginning of the show, and Element 1 joined in for the hip-hop portion of the evening.  The extra voices made the night even richer.

In addition to the new dances, all the old favorites were present on stage.  The traditional fan dance was energetic and well-choreographed, men and women danced together in Vietnamese garb, and B2Viet returned to showcase their boy band capabilities.  The highlight, as always, was the hip-hop segment, which is only getting longer and more popular as the years progress.  This year, there was even a song dedicated to breakdancing, which was an awesome thing to watch.  A fashion show closed the evening, showing off the traditional dresses that are so beautifully vibrant.  The hour and a half had passed by in a blur of color, music, and camaraderie.

REVIEW: Answer This!

Just as I expected, Michigan Theater was packed to the brim on Friday night for the sneak preview of Answer This! I arrived right at 7:30 pm after having some parking issues (as in, there were no parking spots left), and managed to snag two seats in the very last row of the balcony.  I felt like I needed binoculars to see the men speaking on stage.  Ralph Williams delivered a few opening words – I’ll never tire of hearing him talk.  The next to speak was Mr. Farah, father to the writing/directing/production duo Michael and Christopher Farah.  He told a few amusing anecdotes about his sons, then handed them the microphone.  They thanked everybody for coming many times over, and seemed genuinely blown away by all the attention this film has received.  I saw one of them taking pictures of the crowd at the end of the show, even as many members of the crowd were taking pictures of him on stage.  Both brothers refused to take all, or even most of, the credit for the movie – a large portion of their opening speech was dedicated to pointing out all of the actors in attendance and asking us to give each one a hearty round of applause.  Around 7:50 pm, the curtain was pulled back, and the movie started.

Even with all the press surrounding this event, I really wasn’t sure what to expect.  Part of me wondered whether or not the Ann Arbor setting and Ralph Williams’ presence would be the only interesting aspects of the movie.  As it turned out, though, the recognition factor was only icing on the cake.  The script, while somewhat predictable at times, is nothing short of brilliant in most places.  A brief plot summary:  Paul Tarson (Christopher Gorham) is in his eighth year of grad school, and is being hounded by his father (the renowned Professor Tarson, portrayed by the renowned Professor Ralph Williams) to finally finish his dissertation and become a professor at U of M.  Paul has spent his entire life in Ann Arbor, and seems destined to spend the rest of it there, as well.  It takes a cute girl and a passion for a local trivia tournament to provide him with an adjusted outlook on life and his own potential.

Christopher Gorham did an excellent job as Paul, and Ralph Williams slipped into the role of Professor Tarson without a hitch, but the two standout characters were Naomi (Arielle Kebbel) and James (Nelson Franklin).  Naomi, Paul’s sort-of girlfriend, is charming, feisty, and spontaneous:  Paul’s complete opposite.  She gives him a lot to think about in terms of his own dreary, complacent way of stumbling through life.  She’s by no means perfect, but she has a lot more fun learning from mistakes than he does by not making any mistakes.

His best friend, James, is hilarious: he’s a pompous, highly intellectual man who teaches test prep and has a heart of gold.  And even amidst his complaining about his atrocious students, one can tell that he has a better grip on life than Paul does.  During the scene in which Paul yells at James and calls him a failure, I felt a strong urge to stand up and defend the man who was really a more likeable character than Paul.  (Don’t worry – I didn’t actually do it!)

The only character I didn’t appreciate was Paul’s peer, Lucas (Kip Pardue).  He’s nothing but a jerk, and not even a fully-developed one.  He shows up in several scenes, but never has much to say.  Where Naomi and James add depth to the script, Lucas seems like an afterthought.  I was left wondering what the audience was supposed to gain from Lucas’ interactions with Paul.

Overall, I thought the film was beautifully made.  For those of you who saw it, I hope you enjoyed it as well.  For those of you who didn’t get a chance, keep your eyes peeled!  It starts its festival run next year, and I imagine it will be pretty successful.  This won’t be the last we hear from the Farah brothers.

Review: Chicago…And All That Jazz!

Tonight was really my night; simply inexplicable! Just had to get that out of my system. Vaudeville really set in after such a fantastic movie. Like I said, I had never seen the Oscar award winning film Chicago, but I am so glad that I put off a paper to attend the screening. The Jazz age is so beautiful when seen through the eyes of Roxie Hart, a “poor, misunderstood girl with a sinner’s past and a saint’s heart.” Oh the tears in my eyes.

The music and character of this show are legendary and need little introduction. Anyone that has even the slightest knowledge of musicals or theater has heard some lines of All That Jazz or Mr. Cellophane. The show embraces and produces the spirit of classic Vaudeville productions with its talented chorus lines, revolutionary choreography, and jazzy show tunes. The singers give spirit to their work with voices made strong by years of struggling for their five minutes of fame and a spotlight in the public eye.

Rob Marshall and Bill Condon come together to deliver a modern swing on this jazz age extravaganza by fusing the power of today’s stage effects, the talent of popular artists, and one of the most celebrated Broadway shows in history. Renée Zellweger, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Richard Gere, Queen Latifah, John C. Reilly, and Christine Baranski show us a performance to remember as they are transformed into vaudevillians from another age. Absolutely fantastic voice performances and dance numbers give today’s actors a long forgotten skill and show us another side of what it means to be a performer. I loved the juggling, the bum clown act, and the Chicago lights circus shows that took place throughout the movie.

I figured before going that I would enjoy myself, but I had no idea that the musical would be as great as it was. It will most definitely be on my Christmas list next year! The reason the title of this review mentions All That Jazz is because this screening, provided by the University Unions Arts and Programs (AAPA) as part of their Oscar Winning Film Festival, also shows films created by students here at the University of Michigan. We watched three films; Prelude in C Major by Shannon Kohlitz, Epic Reiteration of Hey Diddle Diddle also by Shannon Kohlitz, and Free Trade by Josh Behr. These independent films are to be shown and voted on at all of the screenings this week and the winning film will be announced on Thursday. They were all well produced films that deserve the attention of Michigan’s diverse student body. This week’s program is designed to get these films some viewing and I hope everyone can take it upon themselves to attend one film this week and vote for favorite.

The other films are:

“Crash” February 24, 2010, 7 p.m. at the Michigan Union, Pendleton Room
“Casablanca” February 25, 2010, 7 p.m. in Palmer Commons, Forum Hall

Take a break from studying, or celebrate a finished exam, by attending one of these fantastic movies and participating in this campus program to support fellow students. I know for a fact that Casablanca is an amazing movie, and I’m sure that Crash is also, I mean it did win some Oscars. It will be worth it, I promise.

As always,
This is Danny Fob: Artist and Art Reviewer.