Laurie Anderson's Delusion at EMPAC (my favourite local venue) and Sam Taylor-Wood's Nowhere Boy at the Spectrum 8 (as usual). Of course there were several other things possible that night -- among them, Nick Lowe sob! -- but one can't do everything (but two might try, but how to make two of me...?).
Nowhere Boy tells the story of John Lennon's teenage years living with his aunt Mimi (Kristen Scott Thomas) while getting reacquainted with his mother (Ann-Marie Duff)who had left him at the age of five and the emotional turmoil inherent in that situation, as well as the budding musical career he got off the ground between various hooliganish larks. Initially the film's release was overshadowed by director Taylor-Wood's relationship with her much younger lead actor, Aaron Johnson -- a disparity and relationship that would raise few eyebrows if the genders were reversed. The film has a brilliant cast all around (and not too terrible with the Liverpudlian accents for the most part) and definite emotional hooks, but the script doesn't really hang together well. Despite its basis in fact, it's not always compellingly believable, but I did enjoy it on the whole. There are plenty of little tidbits for the fans, like the drawings hanging on the wall that later show up on Lennon's Walls and Bridges LP. The visual accuracy of recreating existing photos through careful wardrobe choices: a pity the same care is seldom applied to crafting the script (cf. Sid & Nancy where the "My Way" sequence mimics the video precisely, but the filmmakers can't be bothered to find out how many siblings Nancy has).
Laurie Anderson is always an interesting performer. I had seen her talk about developing this piece at MassMOCA months ago, so I was already curious to see what had come. It was a much more visual show than some of the others I'd seen in recent years, with images and words projected on the giant screen behind her, on a sofa as well as two uniquely shaped screens on either side of the stage. The show, "a meditation on life and language", ranged widely across a wide variety of subjects in a dialogue between her own voice and the "male voice" she's been using for years that now has the name of Fenway Bergamot. Many of the themes had great resonance for me particularly her thoughts on the impact of silence and her descriptions of her travels in Iceland and how they sparked revelations about her own family. She rode Icelandic ponies at Halldór Laxness' farm (I only rode them at the farm across the way) and met a man who had a brilliant idea to turn a decrepit barn into dance club. Looking around the bleak landscape, Anderson realised at last who this man reminded her of: her own father and his enthusiasm for completely impractical notions.
In one of the most moving -- and difficult -- parts of the evening, she spoke of her mother's death and her difficulty in dealing with the loss of someone she "did not love". A priest she talked to suggested that she simply say that she had always cared about her, but she never got the chance to say those words. Anderson described her mother's delusions at the end of her life, animals she could see on the ceiling, and her gratitude, thanking everyone for coming, for all they had done. It was a really naked moment. She described a dream in which she gave birth to her dog, but also caught herself out in the dream because she had engineered the experience.
There was enthusiastic applause at the end, which continued even after she had come out for another bow, and I had just thought, "well, it's not as if she could do an encore..." when she stepped out again and did just that, picking up the electric violin and stepping to the edge of the stage where we could see her without the lighting (we were in the second row) and played a plaintive tune that held the audience spellbound.