Review: After “Coco Before Chanel”

I always forget how interesting the State Theater is, but then I go and am astonished by the antique business that still has incredible artistic integrity. The theater is old, so old even that the bathrooms still have those waiting rooms with benches where the people with perfume used to sit. The advertisements are for classic movies, or maybe some independent films. People that work there seem artistic and very friendly. And the theater itself… it’s old, but it has a certain ambiance that the dollar theater in Briarwood could never muster. I was able to realize these things about the building because I happened to be the only one in the theater on Wednesday night around 9:30. Sad Face Land. There were people seeing “Serious Man” which I’ve heard is very good, but I was the only one watching “Coco Before Chanel.”

If I knew how to type with a French accent I would, but since I can’t, I’ll just ask you to imagine one before I go on. … Got it? This is important because the movie was in French… Ok, I think you’re in the right frame of mind now. “Coco Before Chanel” was an absolutely fantastic story. It composed the tale of Gabrielle Chanel’s life for us to see. Gabrielle, known by most as “Coco,” was placed in an orphanage with her sister at a very young age when her father traveled to America. She grew up an impoverished orphan, raised by nuns, and became a lounge singer/seamstress. Throughout the entire movie, Coco has this blunt confidence in herself and speaks her mind, no matter who it might hurt. As her sister runs away with a Baron, she is left alone to achieve what she hopes will be a fantastic performing career. She fails early on, but finds a “friend” in Etienne Balsan, a man whose money has bought him friends, lovers, and arrogance. Coco sort of pushes herself into his Paris country home and doesn’t leave. By the way, you shouldn’t be reading this with an accent; I just wanted you to feel the setting a little bit. Yeah, I know, I saw you there struggling trying to speak French. Don’t worry about it.

Coco learns to ride horses and starts reading, while also beginning what will become her legacy. Having only brought two dresses to her new home, she begins making new cloths from Balsan’s supply. Now I know that Chanel has one of the most artistic and fabulous clothing lines in the world, but in her meager beginnings her clothing was just awful. So many different plaids and flannels. It’s sad to say, but her clothes were terrible. Not what I expected. But her style was unflawed. A basic philosophy Chanel held about fashion was that one should remove one article of clothing before leaving the house. She disliked ornamental flowers, laces, and jewelry because she felt that they made women like peacocks, or show animals. Throughout the movie she wears a simple straw hat that is the essence of Chanel fashion, and that is the first step to the rest of her fantastic career.

Now Thats Chic
Now That's Chic

Chanel promised that she would never marry, because “A woman in love is helpless. Like a begging dog.” She is so confident in herself, and perhaps one of the first feminists in France, that the idea of being owned by a man was repulsing. That is, up until she met Capel, lovingly nicknamed “Boy.” They fall madly in love and the story takes a turn for the better. But like any true story, it can’t work. He is forced to marry another woman for social status, and Coco never marries, perhaps never falls in love, again.

Finally! Fantastic Clothing
Finally! Fantastic Clothing

I don’t want to ruin the movie for anyone, because it is so wonderful, so that is all I’m going to say about the plot. I will tell you that it ends with a fantastic scene of models showing off Coco’s clothing line. Remember though, that the State Theater, and the Michigan Theater for that matter, are both fantastic old venues that give us an idea of the past. Student tickets are only $7, pretty average, just bring your own concessions, because they are way over priced. It’s always a great experience, especially when other people are in the theater with you (it gets pretty lonely all by yourself, and I’m a talker). So overall, the setting was great, the clothing was mostly terrible, but the movie was amazing. It had a historical value and a pleasing muse. Definitely an 8 in my book.

Once again this is
Danny Fob: Artist and Art Reviewer

P.s. See you at Handel’s Messiah this Saturday!

PREVIEW: An Evening with Frank Warren

Sometimes -Frank Warren
"Sometimes we don't keep secrets, our secrets keep us" -Frank Warren

An event not to be missed, America’s “most trusted stranger,” Frank Warren, will bring his most inspirational stories and secrets to Ann Arbor this Friday.  Warren is the mastermind behind PostSecret, a community art project he started in 2004 that has since exploded into numerous publications across the globe and the largest ad-free blog,, where every Sunday new secrets are posted.  Click here to see a moving collection of Postcards submitted to PostSecret.

“When I started PostSecret my motive was to create a “place” where people could feel free to share their private hopes, desires and fears,” says Warren, “A place where the secrets they could not tell their friends and family would be treated with dignity in a non-judgmental way.”

Read more:

PostSecret is a place not only for those to share their own secrets but for readers as well who identify with those secrets, possibly giving them the courage to release their own.  Even Warren himself was inspired to send his own secret on a postcard to his house about a supressed childhood incident.  The secrets sent in are so personal, heartfelt, and insightful that the ones you identify with make you feel that you are not alone.

An example of the artistic and emotional confessions of the postcards
An example of the artistic and emotional confessions of the postcards

His fall tour to colleges across the U.S. coincides with the release of his new book, “Confessions on Life, Death, and God,” which will also be available for signing during the event.  Warren says the live events usually consist of background on the project as well as display of postcards that were banned by the publisher, and also a chance for audience members to share their own secrets in an open atmosphere.

Confessions on Life, Death, and God
Confessions on Life, Death, and God

If you’ve got something to get off your chest, or you just plain love PostSecret,  I highly suggest you get your tickets asap.  Tickets are still available through MUTO or on the ticketmaster website.

Who: Frank Warren, creator of PostSecret, shares his stories as part of the ConversA2tions series.
When: Friday December 4th, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Michigan Theater
How much: $15-$35 a ticket

Hope to see you all there!


Preview: Chanel on the Big Screen

‘ >Coco Before Chanel
“Coco Before Chanel”… A film that I’ve been looking forward to seeing and didn’t think I’d get the chance. But here I am, writing about it before I get to watch it, knowing that in three hours I’ll be sitting in the State Theater enjoying a medium popcorn and watching previews with a friend. The part of the famous fashion designer is played by Audrey Tautou as the movie moves from Coco’s sad beginnings to her huge success in the design industry. From what I’ve heard, the movie is supposed to be a fantastic story with wonderful acting. This drama is a classic Rags-to-riches story with sentimental and romantic backstage themes. I’m so excited! Everyone should hurry and go though, because there are only two nights left, tonight and tomorrow (Wednesday and Thursday, December 2 & 3). Both nights the show plays twice, 7:15 and 9:30.

Link to preview \"Coco Before Chanel\"

Only $7 for student tickets! So just to remind everyone…
Fantastic show
“Coco Before Chanel” rated PG-13
Wednesday, December 2 at 7:15 and 9:30
Thursday, December 3 at 7:15 and 9:30
State Theater, Ann Arbor
Go see it!
Danny Fob: Artist and Art Reviewer

PREVIEW: The Swell Season Returns

The Swell Season
The Swell Season

The Swell Season returns again, this time with an even bigger tide.  I unfortunately missed their performance last year but the infamous duo grace the Michigan Theatre with their presence a second time this Wednesday night.  You may recognize them from the critically acclaimed indie film, “Once” which was sort of a mockumentary documenting the creative and emotional growth between Glen and Marketa (I actually saw the film at the State Theater during my freshman orientation).  The movie is beautifully touching with a soundtrack that essentially loans the film its fame (Two Grammy nominations and an Oscar win for Best Origninal Song, “Falling Slowly”).

Glen and Marketa in Once
Glen and Marketa in "Once"

If you’re into mesmerizing, soul-touching music, I suggest you check them out this Wednesday night.  Sorry to get to you so late on this one (I only just got my tickets yesterday) but you should still be able to snag a seat.  Tickets are still available at MUTO ranging from  $29.50-$39.00 and you should also be able to stop by at the Michigan Theatre before the show at 7:30 to see if there are any still available. This concert celebrates the release of the follow up to the Once soundtrack with “Strict Joy,” you can check out the preview here.  Concert opener will be Rachael Yamagata, hope to see you all there!

Eagerly Anticipated Strict Joy
Eagerly Anticipated "Strict Joy"

Who: The Swell Season
Where: Michigan Theater
When: 7:30 p.m. tonight!


A Serious Man: Seriously Good

A Serious Man, click to view trailer
A Serious Man, click to view trailer

A Serious Man, the new Coen brothers’ film, is not one of those indie flicks that take you on some long-winded journey in an attempt to make you feel empowered and boisterous. But rather, this witty film spins you around and around in circles until you get dizzy. And when you catch your breath to refocus, you realize you are exactly where you started off: comfortable and confused.

A Serious Man, features Larry Gopnik (Michael Stuhlbarg) a father, husband and physics professor at a quiet Midwestern university.  He is a figure everyone can relate to. Larry is somewhere in his 40’s, has a stable career, and what would seem like a stable life. His hopeless brother Arthur (Richard Kind) yells at him for being given everything. However, the grass is always greener on the other side, Larry is tormented with the everyday.

The everyday, in Larry’s case is: Bribery from students for a passing grade; a wife heavily engaged in a love affair- ensuing a request for a divorce; a daughter who launders his money for the purpose of a nose job; a financial and emotionally dependent brother; a taunting naked sun-bathing neighbor and an anonymous writer who sends vulgar letters to the University in an effort to hinder his chances at tenure. Okay, so this is not everyone’s everyday qualms; but everybody has those little everyday issues that poke at us, as they squeal for a non-existent resolution.

In an attempt to rid himself of the constantly jabbing everyday qualms, Larry turns to the temple­­–more specifically, the Rabbi. Larry meets with three different Rabbis, each of which offers little insight into his dilemmas.  One Rabbi almost outright argues that it all means nothing and that he should just continue on with his life. Of course this was not the eye-opening insight Larry, or the viewer was hoping for. With this analysis, Larry continues to continue with the everyday, struggling and juggling his problems as the plot bounces between dilemmas.

So, I guess the question becomes, why watch a movie that just makes you dizzy? I am no Rabbi, and I too don’t have an answer. But, perhaps it is a chance to get away from our nagging everyday issues and instead, relish in the fact that squirming characters like Larry are getting no further in relinquishing their personal issues than we all are.

Conclusion:  Not a must-see, but a good way to appreciate your own lawn.

PREVIEW: Vienna Boy’s Choir

What better way to ease back into the daily grind after an overstuffed thanksgiving break than with a lovely afternoon seranade? If you want to prolong this mini break as much as I do, I suggest  you bring in the holiday cheer this Sunday and check out the world renowned Vienna Boy’s Choir (a.k.a. Die Wiener Sängerknaben).

Here We Come
"Here We Come"

Formed during the late middle ages by Emperor Maximilian I of Austria, the Vienna Boy’s Choir is a long standing tradition, having worked with such big names as Mozart, Bruckner, Haydn, and Schubert (The names of their four respective touring choirs).  The choir itself is composed of 100 choristers from all over the country known for their angelic voices and skill but by the looks of it, seem to be regular 14 year old boys.  Check out this epic commercial they did last year for the European Football Championship, it won the best commercial at the ITB Berlin!  (BTW: If I could have O’Fortuna play everywhere I walked, I would be one happy gal)

Kickflippin it
Kickflippin' it

Aside from touring the globe, working with world renowned composers, and being some of the most skilled choristers, I find it hard to believe these kids are all under the age of 14.  Their lives will be featured in the upcoming documentary, Silk Road-Songs Along the Road and Time, which aims to explore the history of the choir and its influence and unity through a year spent with the choir boys on tour and at home.

Majestic Melodies
Majestic Melodies

The choir originated exclusively for the Viennese Court and it wasn’t until 1918 that the choir disbanded and formed their own institution, allowing them to tour the globe.  Now in 2009, the choir boys return again, since their first performance at Michigan in 1933, and bring Christmas in Vienna all the way to Ann Arbor.  If you’re looking for a way to cure those coming winter blues, you should grab some hot cocoa and head over to Hill Auditorium at 3 tomorrow. where there will be carolers on the steps before the show at 4.  You can still snag some tickets for as little as $12 but unfortunately you can only buy them online (Click here to buy).


What: Vienna Boy’s Choir

Where: Hill Auditorium

When: Sunday at 4 p.m. (Carolers on the steps at 3)

Why: To be inspired and amazed? For Christmas cheer? Something new? Insert reason here?

How much: 18 euros, or 12 buckaroos

See you there? Alright!

Later skater,