CULTURE WATCH — Do a good deed while groovin’ to pop music from all eras. “Pop for Docs!” will offer an evening reviewing popular music from the 30’s to the present, including original work by show producer and lead musician/singer Steve Stajich. All proceeds of the event will be donated to Doctors Without Borders, the organization on the front lines of the Ebola epidemic.
Stajich was a singer/songwriter years ago and has continued to record original music on his own self-released CDs. Joined on vocals by improvisational comedian/singer/writer Ruth Rudnick, the show will also feature musician/writer Ed Horowitz on bass and guitars.
“Pop for Docs!” takes place at 8 p.m. next Thursday, October 9that the Little Theater, 12420Santa Monica Boulevard immediately east of Centinela Avenue, on the Santa Monica/West L.A. border. Seating is extremely limited and reservations are strongly recommended; call (310) 396-0716, tickets cost just $20 for a good and just cause.
Speaking of music, a former colleague of mine, KCRW (public radio) producer Christian Bordal is not just a local soccer star but a rockin’ Brit who never gave up his passion for music.
His band, Xian and the Infidels (get the pun-ny play on his name?), get together nearly monthly on Saturday nights at Witzend restaurant and live music club in Venice. We’re talking grown-up men with jobs and families, who bring back the vibe of their youthful merry music-making, creating a blast of sweet old soul/folk/blues tunes to rock your night away.
Their hour-long set starts at 9:30 p.m. on Saturday, October 11th, at Witzend, 1717 Lincoln Blvd., Venice. Find their band page on Facebook for more info.
FILMS WITH AN IMPACT
As a high school student at boarding school in Switzerland, I have very strong memories of reading “Lord of the Flies,” “Animal Farm” and watching two films: “I am Curious (Yellow)” and “Hiroshima Mon Amour.” They all left lasting impacts on me.
“Hiroshima Mon Amour” has not been seen in U.S. theatres for decades due to rights issues. But that is about to change as this masterpiece of French New Wave Cinema opens at Laemmle’s Royal Theatre in West Los Angeles (and other area Laemmle theatres). The newly restored film will also premiere at the New York Film Festival before opening nationally this month.
Employing a radical use of voice-over narration and rapid flashbacks, it tells the story ofa brief relationship in post-war Japan between a French film actress. played by Emmanuelle Riva (2012 Oscar nominee for “Amour”), who goes to Hiroshima to make a film and a Japanese architect played by Eiji Okada (“Woman in the Dunes”).
The Oscar-nominated screenplay was written by Marguerite Duras who, in novels likeThe Lover, often dealt with European/Asian relationships. 2014 marks Duras’ centennial.
The late director Alain Resnais was originally commissioned to create a documentary, but decided that the bombing of Hiroshima and its impact needed fiction. He brought Duras onto the project, and worked with her to create a story that would take place “in two tenses…(where) the present and the past coexist.”
A worldwide art house sensation when first released, and widely considered one of the most beautiful and influential movies ever made, “Hiroshima Mon Amour” received the International Critics’ prize at the 1959 Cannes Film Festival. Due to its anti-nuclear stance, it was kept out of the main competition to avoid offending the U.S.
“Hiroshima Mon Amour” opens at Laemmle’s Royal Theatre on October 17. Find out more atwww.laemmle.com.
And Laemmle’s Music Hall in Beverly Hills will host the new documentary film, “The Decent One” (Der Anst√§ndige) about Hitler’s henchman, Heinrich Himmler, the architect of Germany’s concentration camps.
Belgian born-and-raised filmmaker and journalist Vanessa Lapa has been living in Israel since 1995 where she produced and directed more than 100 reports for Israeli television. She gained fame for her acclaimed documentary film, “Olmert ‚Äì Concealed Documentary,” in 2009, which was hailed as a unique cin√©ma verit√© achievement, revealing the behind-the-scenes of the government and private life of Israel’s Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.
Her new documentary, “The Decent One” won the Best Documentary award at the 2014 Jerusalem Film Festival following its premiere this year at the Berlin Film Festival.
A recently discovered cache of hundreds of personal letters, diaries and photos belonging to the Nazi Gestapo chief seems to reveal a thoughtful, loving husband and devoted father to his daughter. The documents first found in the Himmler’s family house in 1945 were hidden in Tel Aviv for decades and sold Lapa’s father.
On Hitler’s behalf, Himmler formed the death squads, masterminded the concentration camps and built Nazi Germany’s extermination camps. As the facilitator and overseer of these camps, Himmler directed the killing of some six million Jews, between 200,000 and 500,000 Romani people, and an untold number of other victims including homosexuals, Communists, as well as Polish and Soviet citizens.
Through readings of Himmler’s and his family’s most personal writings and rarely seen restored film footage from key German archives, Lapa has fashioned a portrait of the man responsible for some of the worst atrocities of the Second World War, who thought of himself in heroic terms.
Revealing a remarkable account of the horrific reality of Nazi Germany, Himmler’s own words reveal the ultimate stunning paradox: “We can have but one desire as to what is said about us: these German officers, these German soldiers – they were decent.”
“The Decent One,” in German with English subtitles, opens on October 10that Laemmle’s Music Hall in Beverly Hills.
Sarah A. Spitz spent her career as a producer at public radio station KCRW-Santa Monica and produced freelance arts reports for NPR. She has also reviewed theatre forLAOpeningNights.com.