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Coming-of-age films a hit at the Toronto International Film Festival

Mature treatments of coming-of-age stories by international filmmakers are a staple of the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), and this year was no exception. On Day One of TIFF, I saw the touching German film “Exit Marrakech,” directed by Caroline Link (“Nowhere in Africa”), about a privileged German 17-year-old Ben (the very handsome Samuel Schneider) who is summoned to Morocco one summer by his absent father, Heinrich. In Morocco, Ben wants to meet people and see the real country they live in, while Heinrich prefers to read about it from his luxury hotel. When Ben meets a beautiful young prostitute, he impulsively follows her home to meet her family, worrying his father and putting himself in danger; Ben is diabetic and embarked on this adventure without necessary preparations.

“Henry V” at Shakespeare Santa Cruz is accessible, well-staged, and worth the trek south

Walking into Shakespeare’s “Henry V” without having read its synopsis and that of the tetralogy’s earlier plays can be challenging because there is an assumed knowledge that the average audience member likely won’t have. It falls instead to the Chorus – which in director Paul Mullins’ production of “Henry V” at Shakespeare Santa Cruz comes in the form of artistic director Marco Barricelli – to guide us through the play. Barricelli injects the past and distant world of the production with modernity, and reappears throughout the play to fill in blanks, comment on events and otherwise heighten our willingness to suspend disbelief over the spartan but well-used set

“The Spectacular Now” offers mature account of high school romance

There are times when James Ponsoldt’s “The Spectacular Now,” which was released in theaters earlier this month, perfectly captures adolescent first love: the tentativeness of it, the confidence it can instill and, most notably, its sweetness and tenderness. Sutter (Miles Teller, “Rabbit Hole”) and Aimee (Shailene Woodley, “The Descendants”) are an unlikely pair: he’s without ambition but always the life of the party while she’s academic and grounded. They start up a friendship by chance — when he wakes up on her front lawn one morning after a night of heavy drinking, and she takes him on her paper route to help him find his car – and the characters complement each other, with Sutter’s laid-back charm and wit detaching Aimee from her shyness.

An interview with jazz saxophonist Chris Potter, resident artist at the Stanford Jazz Workshop

Fresh off a fantastic show earlier this month at the Stanford Jazz Festival, jazz saxophonist Chris Potter sat down with Intermission to discuss influences on his work, his experiences as both a bandleader and a sideman and the demands of being creative.
Intermission: You play around with lots of people, as a sideman and a bandleader. What’s the trade-off between getting new ideas and really understanding and communicating with a core group?

Review: “Love, Loss, and What I Wore” at San Jose Rep

Part staged reading and part play, Karen Carpetner’s production of “Love, Loss, and What I Wore” at the San Jose Repertory Theatre is a tale of how a woman’s wardrobe chronicles her life and changes as she does, from childhood to old age. It is often uproariously funny, full of clever observations about being a woman, but it’s somewhat frustratingly unpolished. The play is a series of monologues, adapted by Nora and Delia Ephron from the book by Ilene Beckerman and performed by five actresses, each adopting multiple roles. The play perfectly charts the different stages of life through clothing: We all remember that terrible outfit our mothers infuriatingly bought us as a child, that article of clothing that seems part of someone we love, how bad clothing feeds insecurities and the curious realization that our clothes will outlive us.

“Taming of the Shrew” at Shakespeare Santa Cruz is palatable and very funny

Because Shakespeare’s “Taming of the Shrew” is about a difficult woman who needs to be made to obey and submit to her husband, it’s always a challenge to mount a palatable modern production. Even so, despite being one of Shakespeare’s lesser comedies, it still offers enough great verbal wordplay not to be neglected — Petruchio (Fred Arsenault) declares his intention with the words, “I’ve come to wive it wealthily in Padua,” a line so delicious that Cole Porter wrote a song about it in the musical Shrew adaptation “Kiss Me Kate” – and director Edward Morgan mostly manages to downplay the misogyny in his excellent, accessible, superbly acted and genuinely funny production at Shakespeare Santa Cruz.

Interview with jazz bass legend Stanley Clarke

On Saturday, jazz bass legend Stanley Clarke will take the stage at Dinkelspiel Auditorium with his trio – comprised of pianist John Beasley and drummer Mike Mitchell – for what is sure to be one of the highlights of the Stanford Jazz Festival. In anticipation of the show, Intermission talked to Clarke about his upcoming performance, his approach to composition and the future of jazz.

Cal Shakes revitalizes “Romeo and Juliet” in Shana Cooper’s brilliant new production

For a cautionary tale about youthful haste, it can be easy to forget that the entirety of the action in “Romeo and Juliet” occurs in just 72 hours. In director Shana Cooper’s brilliant new production of “Romeo and Juliet” at Cal Shakes, the lighting that changes from morning to night is just one way in which time, age and haste are always centre stage.