Archive for May, 2009

Braddah IZ's birthday is today; he would have been 50

May 20th, 2009

Braddah IZ would have been 50 today, if he were alive.
Legendary singer-‘ukulele stylist Israel Kamakawiwo‘ole’s May 20, 1959 birthday is remembered and celebrated in a Mountain Apple Company tribute, posted today. Go to to see a slideshow.
IZ, who touched the world with his personal and poignant rendering of “Over the Rainbow,” is remembered today with a series of vintage photos, in black and white and in color, of his rainbow life — as a youth, as a singer and uke player, as a family man with wife Marlene, as a Na Hoku Hanohano Award winner, in the water cavorting atop a huge inflated tube, at home, with the Makaha Sons of Ni'ihau, with some celebs (see if you can identify as many as possible)... and just plain relaxing. A video clip — the lone animated element of the remembrance — is of the scattering of his ashes off Makaha, his onetime home, following his death on June 26, 1997 at age 38. His “White Sandy Beach” vocal accompanies the slideshow.
Tell a friend, a fan, and say Happy Birthday to the Braddah.

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Keola Beamer plants a seedling, builds new bridges

May 19th, 2009

In his most unusual musical outing yet, Hawaiian musician Keola Beamer taps two pals — a Native American flute player and an American jazz pianist — for his latest TV special, “Keola Beamer & Friends Bridging Worlds Through Music,” airing at 8:30 and 11 p.m. Thursday (May 21) on PBS Hawaii.
The show is all about collaboration: of singular talents who don’t normally homogenize their artistry, who bring something different to the plate in reshaping and revisiting some traditional and cherished Island music. It’s all a hearty brew and stew for the ears.
Beamer, the award-winning entertainer widely known as both a singer and a ki ho‘alu whiz, taps the considerable artistry of R. Carlos Nakai, a Navajo-Ute performer heralded as the best Native American flutist around, and jazz pianist Geoffrey Keezer, a Wisconsin native who’s performed all over the world in a myriad of circumstances.
But this is not a jam session, but a thoughtful and choreographic blending of three singular sensations.
This mounting owes its origins from the events of 9/11, when Beamer and his wife Moanalani were in San Francisco for a concert tour that was interrupted by the toppling of the Twin Towers in New York. A few days after the cancellations, Beamer — buoyed by audiences eager for fellowship and communion — found himself playing Hawaiian music with a Shinto priest, with a diverse slate that included Asian stories and other musicians from diverse genres.
Finding a common thread through music, Beamer called on his buddies Nakai and Keezer for a very acoustic and inspirational session, staged concert-style with all the intimacy of a recital, as each musician found his space and pace in essentially a Hawaiian format that was tweaked to embrace American jazz and the haunting reeds of the Native American culture. The bridge, thus, spans over the cultural canyons — yielding what Beamer calls “a seedling” of new music.
The half-hour outing includes a simple but evocative arrangement of Nona Beamer’s — the late mother of Keola — “Pupu Hinuhinu,” a lullaby classic, that features guitar and keyboard. For his part, Keezer plays counterpoint to the tranquil and traditional guitar refrains from Beamer — resulting in a scintillating new soundscape.
The synthesis is amazing, though Keezer comments midway through the show that he was a skosh concerned about “being respectful of the music,” but comforted by Beamer’s retort, “just do your own thing — that’s the Hawaiian way.”
And that’s pretty much the m.o. for the half-dozen tunes, which resonate with metaphoric hand-holding, bringing cultures and differences together to create a happy hybrid.
You can imagine history and heritage, on the likes of “Kaula Na Pua,” “E Manono,” and “Waipio Paka‘alana,” the arrangements even yield hints of an Asian flavor, with a jazz tingle, if you are creatively inclined.
This one is wonderful fodder for the PBS audience, combining enlightenment with entertainment. Besides the principal threesome, Moana Beamer and a retinue of ipu artists get some shining moments. Further, John Kolivas, a jazz bassist and longtime Beamer musician, and Calvin Hoe, a master of indigenous Hawaiian instruments, blend nicely into the cultural smoothie.
Beamer co-produced with Michael Harris, the latter also directing with a savvy eye, utilizing interviews to balance performances, adding mood-setting nature overlays to enhance the artistry.

With Keola Beamer, R. Carlos Nakai, Geoffrey Keezer
8:30 and 11 p.m. Thursday (May 21)
PBS Hawaii

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Snow is forecast in Hawai‘i this August

May 15th, 2009

Psssst. Here’s a hot tip for a cool show:
“Slava’s Snowshow,” that Russian import that brings wintery flakes to the theatrical stage, returns to the Hawai‘i Theatre for an Aug. 12 through 23 run. Sounds like a chiller thriller for the summer heat.
Slava Polunin is the wiz behind this delightful oddity, which played here twice previously followed by a very successful holiday run on Broadway.
I’ve seen this one twice before, and you may have, too: an intimate ensemble of unusual clowns, suited in yellow or green trench coats, which create a dreamscape that embraces moonlight and an immiment snowstorm, with wind machines ultimately blowing faux snow to the far reaches of the theater. How cool is that?
In the mix, there’s fog, bouncing balls, seductive and hilarious clowning and wondrous, sensuous music — with engaging audience participation, too.
Tim Bostock Productions is bringing “Slava” back, with opening night tickets priced at an incredible $25 apiece.
The show repeats at 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays, 8 p. m. Fridays, 1:30 and 8 p.m.Saturdays, 1:30 and 7 p.m. Sundays, through Aug. 23.
Tickets: Tuesdays-Thursdays, $70 VIP, $60, $50, $40 and $30; Fridays-Sundays, $80 VIP, $70, $60, $50 and $40.
Reservations: 528-0506
Discounts available for selected ticket prices for Hawaii Theatre members, seniors 62 and older, military with ID, students with ID and groups of 10 or more.
Pre-sales under way through May 21 for Hawaii Theatre members; tickets go on sale to the public May 22.
Share your thoughts if you’ve seen this one.

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Gay filmfest mirrors the day's headlines

May 14th, 2009

Two decades ago, when the Honolulu Rainbow Film Festival was launched, a prevailing AIDS crisis here and abroad imposed some AIDS-themed films as part of the slate, however minimal.
Made sense then.
When the festival — originally called the Honolulu Adam Baran Gay Video/Film Festival, named for an AIDS victim who was an deejay/veejay at Hula’s Bar & Lei Stand — kicks off next Thursday with a screening of “Clapham Junction” at the Doris Duke Theatre at the Honolulu Academy of Arts, a big community issue has been civil union rights.
Not surprisingly, this concern — along with themes of gay adoption, lesbian alliances, gay-bashing, sexting — could well be from today’s headlines.
Thus, the plate is richer and fuller with a palate of films that reflect life and define the challenges and changes on the gaydar today.
Some films are told with unmerciful honesty, unsettling brutality, explicit sexuality. Not to shock or entertain, but to enlighten. Curiously, cell phones are part of the landscape in the story-sharing.
I imagine it would be somewhat daring for commercial cinema to show some titles, particularly since we don’t have a free-standing art house for a select audience.
Enter, the Rainbow Film Festival.
“We are vigilant about being true to our mission statement which includes ‘raising awareness of the community at large about gay and lesbian culture, arts and lifestyle through film,’” said Jeffrey L. Davis executive director of the upcoming festival about intent and scope.
“Tolerance and discrimination has ebbed and flowed through the years and in today’s society that is not enough,” said Connie Florez, veteran filmfest organizer r and now a board member of the HGLCF – the Honolulu Gay and Lesbitan Cultural Foundation, which is dedicated to educate and enlighten about the gay and lesbian culture and instill pride and respect among the gay community. “The struggle for 100 percent equality is within reach and the final destiny.”
And she feels cinema and the performing arts have a universal theme — “to search for peace and equality for all.
Where other filmfests attract traditional audiences, the Rainbow blends hues and choices suitable for everyone but aims to depict relevant storytelling concentrating on alternative lifestyles often dismissed in the mainstream. Thus, some entries could easily divide, disturb and delight viewers — both gay and straight — and would not likely to exhibited without festival sponsorship.
One film, “Shank,” shows how sexting and texting can deliver tenderness and bliss despite some horrific detours.
“Clapham Junction” (see review, in a separate blog) follows the lives of five gays and is told in an unraveling and overlapping tapestry reminiscent of “Crash,” where the stories of Los Angeles folks collided in a compelling way.
Another work, “Weak Species,” depicts how obsessive, experimental and uncertain youths can change to survive.
Yet another title, “Ferron,” chronicles a musical troubadour who views people, however diverse their orientation, as one — and leads a charmed life singing and sharing her music.
For international flavor, “When Kiran Met Karan,” is a Bollywood story with karma — and a lesbian slant with soap opera tactics.

How has the festival matured and grown now that it leaps into its third decade? We asked Florez and Jeff Davis:

Q: Has the underlying goal of the festival — to raise awareness, increase tolerance, and ease discrimination against the gay community — changed or grown from the launch 20 years ago?
Florez: “Over the years, we have brought indie films that have become Academy Award-winning titles such as ‘Gods and Monsters,’ ‘Transamerica’ ‘Red Without Blue.’ In recent years, the digital world of filmmaking has increased the quantity and quality of films in many areas, such as transgender everyday lives, youth education, civil unions and the history of gay rights activism with major films like ‘Milk’ (the closing feature, at 5 p.m. May 24).”

Q: The slate offers dramas, musicals, comedies, to shed light to the straight community that emotions and challenges are the same, no matter what your orientation. Do play to a homogeneous audience of both gays and straights?
Lewis: "The festival has attracted an increased cross section of the community and we welcome everyone – we have worked with the Life Foundation, PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) and Aqua Hotels and Resorts to cross promote and worked tirelessly to convince local grants organizations to support us."

Q: How do you select titles for the Rainbow Film Festival — and how did you land Dustin Lance Black for an appearance?
Davis: "We are vigilant about being true to our mission statement. We were recently offered a cash sponsorship to screen a strongly political film that did not fit ... and did not address any LGBTQ message so we turned the offer down even though we could certainly have used the money. Our goal is to maintain integrity and a clear focus (and not accept bribes).
Working closely with Chris Lee (a Honolulu-born Hollywood producer and founder of the Academy for Creative Media at the University of Hawaii) as a consultant to this year’s festival we took a-four step approach to reaching out to Dustin Lance Black. (Lee asked Lance, through his agent; Gregory House’s Jonathan Berliner asked Cleve Jones, who worked with Black on ‘Milk,’ a HereTV! Source here knew Lance and dialogue with Black directly sealed the deal). The Halekulani provided a room and Continental
Airlines provided airfare."

Q: The LGBTQ community here just suffered a setback with the civil union issue at the legislature. Amid the films scheduled, there are documentaries that put a face on this plight. What's your take on art imitating life?
regarding what's depicted in film vs. what's happening in our front yard?
Florez: "When you reflect where the LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Transgender and Queer) community was 20 years ago to today…the present-day setback with Hawaii civil union issue is only temporary. With each adversity our LGBTQ community rises to a greater calling to provide more urgency for tomorrow. Film transforms each person with hope. Film can be about healing a community, it can be about the diversity of our communities from different cultures, countries and societies around the world. The evolution of change is present each year. For example we are seeing the production values increasing each year and the character stories continuously improving with the quantity of LGBTQ films from Japan, Korea, China, India, Mexico and UK to name a few. We are even seeing the first ever complete video from a single cell phone! What next!"
Davis: "Unfortunately, homophobia is still a challenge in so many areas of the gay and lesbian community, mostly in a subtle manner but recently this homophobia has manifested in such a vitriolic and disturbing platform. In film, we attempt to screen a balanced and objective view — which means we have films that are positive and light and also films that show that domestic and physical abuse and hate crimes ... to broaden our message on education and abuse prevention."


Jeff F. Davis recommends:

1 — “Clapham Junction”
2 — “When Kiran Met Karen”
3 — “Soundless Wind Chime”

Connie Florez recommends:

1 — “Ferron”
2 — “Weak Species”
3 — “Shank”


May 21-24
Doris Duke Theatre, Honolulu Academy of Arts
Opening night: 7 p.m. Thursday
“Clapham Junction,” with “Change We Need” short and a performance by the Tau Dance Theatre
Closing night: 5 p.m. May 24
“Milk,” with guest appearance by Oscar-winning screenwriter-executive producer Dustin Lance Black, with “Let’s Not Even Go There!” and “Beauty Brawl” shorts
$20 opening night
$10 single tickets
$100 VIP Pass for all films and Gayla Reception May 24, $75 Pass to all films, $45 Gayla reception only
Student and military passes available

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Film review: 'Clapham' a tapestry of gay issues, rights

May 14th, 2009

Think “Crash,” with a gay orientation — lives of folks criss-crossing, some with disastrous results — over a sweaty and gritty 36-hour period in South London.
That’s “Clapham Junction,” the opening feature next Thursday in the 20th Honolulu Rainbow Film Festival, at Doris Duke Theatre, Honolulu Academy of Arts.
A gay couple, Will (Richard Lintern) and Gavin (Stuart Bunce), get married in civil ceremonies, with a fancy reception.
Will disappears and has a quick liaison with Alfie (Richard Lintern), a waiter, and gives the kid (unbeknownst to him, till later) his just-received wedding band as a lustful guise to see him again.
Alfie goes to a gay bar when his shift is over, where Terry (Paul Nicholls) tries to pick him up.
At a public restroom, Robin (Rupert Graves), an employed screenwriter, is flashed by Julian (James Wilby), and they later meet at a dinner hosted by Belinda (Rachel Blake) and Roger (Tom Beard)...that becomes boisterous with political blather.
Meanwhile, Theo (Luke Treadaway), a 14-year-old student, cruises the library history stacks with his eyes, particularly a dude named Tim (Joseph Mawle), a suspected pedophile, who happens to live in an apartment dwelling across the street from Tim’s family.
Oh, and a black violin student who is feared by thugs, keeps the secret to himself, throughout the landscape.
That’s the tapestry — frayed, colorful, beautiful, cloying — with some loose threads by the final credits. The victim is the predator in one instance; there’s public toilet sex, gay bashing in the park, constant lip locks, coke-snorting, nudity and other bizarre haps, with the quick overlaps and editing from director Adrian Shergold, working from Kevin Elyot's revealing and exploitative script handsomely lensed, means adult fare from start to finish. It's not for everyone, however, so approach with caution.
The film attempts to share real gay situations with some clichés, real straight lifers demonstrating infidelity, lack of responsibility even downright stupidity, equal rights denied. It’s possible that some viewers will get a negative conclusions about gays from the film. However, some elements — like the stalking antics of a very assertive teen, in the film’s most controversial seduction involving a suspected pedophile — shed light on wrongful assumptions by the parents of the child and viewers. A predator could be a victim, too — compelling thoughts that should elicit both rage and trigger discussion.

Opening film of the 20th Honolulu Rainbow Film Festival
Unrated, but R orientation, for gay sex, nudity, language and other adult themes
120 minutes
5 p.m. Thursday
Doris Duke Theatre, Honolulu Academy of Arts

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