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Pulling off a Pirandellian exercise like this demands that the emotional stakes between the characters be perilously high. Meaney has wicked comic timing, but she never summons up the august power of the goddess of the title. Clarke captures the smugness his role requires, but he’s never believable as someone moved by the prospect of submission. There’s also very little sexual chemistry between the actors, which undercuts the torrid nature of this affair. More steaminess would buttress the play’s awkward transitions between fantasy and reality.
Without the right heat sparking between Meaney and Clarke, the play’s ambiguous edges lack suspense and danger, A moment freed studio pro pointe shoes involving a knife, for instance, needs more menace, Still, it’s quite pleasurable to watch as Vanda stages a revolt against the tyranny of gender and class as embodied by Thomas, Ives nails the degradation inherent in the casting call audition process, When Thomas attempts to lecture Vanda about the differences between art and pornography, she retorts, “Hey, you don’t have to tell me about masochism, I’m in the theater!”..
The best thing about “Mistaken for Strangers,” a new documentary about the band The National, is that you don’t have to be a fan to enjoy it. In fact, it helps if you’re not an admirer of the group’s moody, monotonous sound because, as much as the film hews to typically admiring rock-doc footage of its subjects, it also sneakily portrays them as prone to the preening self-seriousness that makes indie musicians such risible cliches. That “Mistaken for Strangers” dances along that tightrope so deftly is surely because it was made by Tom Berninger, who, as the younger brother of National lead singer Matt Berninger, suffers from the complex amalgam of pride, envy, resentment and affection one might expect from the striving sibling of a rock star.
In 2010, the National was embarking on the biggest tour of its career; Matt, who grew up in a prosperous family in Cincinnati, invited Tom — nine years younger and, in terms of self-presentation, worlds away from Matt’s cooler-than-thou demeanor — to come along as part of the road team, (In the big-budget comedy version, Matt would be played by Aaron Eckhart with a five o’clock shadow; Tom, without a doubt, would be played by Zach Galifianakis, Get on it, Hollywood!), The twist is that, as Tom confesses early in “Mistaken for Strangers,” he’s not a big fan of the National, He prefers Judas freed studio pro pointe shoes Priest, He also has some long-buried issues with his brother that inevitably come to the fore during their sojourn in Europe, heightened by the fact that Matt’s four bandmates also happen to be brother duos, What might have been just another anodyne promo piece or solipsistic valentine instead becomes a funny, eccentric and finally deeply poignant depiction of art, family, self-sabotage and the prickly intricacies of brotherly love..
Even with its fascinating psychological subtext, “Mistaken for Strangers” rewards fans with plenty of footage of the National performing, as well as some priceless Spinal Tappish moments between the bumbling Tom and his hip but somberly businesslike employers. (Trying to lure the band’s drummer into partying with him, Tom shares his observations about Matt and the rest: “They seem so coffeehouse and you seem so metal.”). Once the band returns stateside, the plot thickens and the film opens up, with Tom interviewing his and Matt’s parents about their differences as kids, and revealing more about the National’s tough early years. (“Mistaken for Strangers” has benefited from co-editing by Matt’s wife, Carin Besser, and the expert guidance of executive producer Marshall Curry.) With its tight running time of just over an hour, “Mistaken for Strangers” saves the very best for last, in a triumphantly moving final sequence that somehow explains everything there is to know about two guys who, despite radically different temperaments and tastes, always have each other’s back.
NEW YORK — “Broad City,” Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer’s series on Comedy Central, finishes its triumphant, hilarious, silly, bizarre, stoned-out-of-its-mind first season this week, If you’ve been watching, you know how great this season has been, If you haven’t been watching, I am so jealous, because you get to start watching TV’s funniest comedy right now, I liked the show, and especially Ilana Glazer’s radical insouciance, from the beginning, but it took a few episodes for me to fully appreciate how original the series really is, The pilot was full of beats that are familiar from “Sex and the City,” “The Odd Couple” and “Girls,” among freed studio pro pointe shoes other shows, Abbi’s overworked, undersexed and stressed; Ilana’s fully-baked, Under Ilana’s influence, Abbi gets out of work by pretending she has to get AIDS test results, All of this made it easy to mistake “Broad City” for yet another jerk show, an NYC tragicomedy about friendship and ambition starring one girl who was all id and another who was mostly superego..
But “Broad City” is too sweet and silly to sweat the zeitgeist. It presents friendship in your 20s as, above all, joyful and free. Ilana and Abbi have a dedicated best friendship that is a constant source of delight and support, a co-dependence that’s sustaining, not undermining. It’s a relationship that trumps awful jobs and bad roommate situations and niggling worries, and permits both women to be exactly who they are. (Amy Poehler is a producer of “Broad City,” and the show has more of “Parks and Recreation’s” super kindness in its DNA than anything else.) Abbi and Ilana are constantly in motion: Except for one hurricane-related bottle episode, they roam New York City, bopping from place to place on foot or the subway (it goes without saying they can’t afford cabs), the whole metropolis their playpen, people — as specific and strange as they are — their playthings.
Not to make too much out of Ilana and Abbi’s drug of choice, freed studio pro pointe shoes but “Broad City” is the TV equivalent of a stoner: extremely good-natured, a little surreal and spacey, loose, emitting a palpable contact high, It’s not fixated on punch lines, but is really invested in putting over an expansive, anything-goes spirit, The show’s storylines spring from specific, small observations — Penn Station is terrifying; receiving packages in New York is Kafkaesque; clogged toilets are embarrassing — and then take on a surreal twist, A guy breaks up with Abbi rather than go to Penn Station; Abbi has to trek on a boat to an abandoned warehouse on an island only to fail to pick up that package; Ilana is, of course, a clog savant, Ilana and Abbi react to all these absurd situations like they are perfectly normal, just another day living in the city..