When the “TimesTalks”… people listen. In a city that never sleeps and where anything goes, we need an assured voice of reason, authority, intelligence, and ultimately, sanity to balance our daily doings. Now the times they are a changin’ faster then a rolling stone.
Our world seems beyond our control, yet I continuously count on the great “Grey Lady”, the honorable New York Times, to initiate a civilized tone to my day. Yes, their job is to report some truly chaotic events, but their cool, calm voice–no hype, no spin, just solid reporting–steadies and assures me.
Now this organization hardly needs me to celebrate its merits. Rather, I wish to inform you of another aspect of this esteemed institution–“TimesTalks”–which primarily consists of some astute, enjoyable interviews happening live, as conducted by some formidable NY Times reporters. These insightful conversations are usually well over one hour plus in length, and frequently involve a Q and A session at the close. Yet sometimes it’s a musical guest, such as Tim Rice, who brings along some powerful friends to illustrate his Broadway musicals. “TimesTalks” are open to the public for a ticket price of $30. These eclectic discussions are held in an 378 seat auditorium at “The Times Center,” located at 242 West 41st Street. It’s a comfortable, friendly venue for the world’s movers and shakers. Some top talent and thinkers…ranging from Nancy Pelosi to Robert Redford, Bill Murray to Jacques Pepin, Mary J. Blige to Helen Mirren, Tom Stoppard to Michael Stipe…have been deliciously dissected there. Many of these TimesTalks are broadcast on the CUNY Cable Channel a week or two after the live event. They are also accessible online via live streaming video, as well as podcasts.
At a recent TimesTalks, I heard the splendid actress, Tilda Swinton, who is a visual representative of the calm sartorial tone of the NY Times itself, willingly discuss her unique world. I believe Ms. Swinton is not of our planet, I am fairly certain that she is the woman who fell to Earth from a yet to be discovered and named solar system, although she claims she was born in Scotland. (There was a Q and A at the end and I wanted to ask if she and David Bowie were separated at birth, but time ran out. Next time.)
This immensely smart interview was conducted by the NYTimes crafty “Carpetbagger” herself, Milena Ryzik…a hip match for the ultimate cool of Ms. Swinton. She is a remarkably soft spoken individual with a spiritual tone inherent in her careful, intelligent answers to Ms. Ryzik’s astute questions. She did not study acting while attending Cambridge, and claims to have no technique to draw from…so when the authentic Ms. Swinton referred to herself as a “non actor” several times, and should you be at all familiar with her diverse body of work, you know just what she means. This is a “non actor” who is smartly and happily not a part of our celebrity-driven culture, and keeps out of the fray by residing in northern Scotland.
I will always identify her as Virginia Wolff’s androgynous “Orlando,” although she has done some remarkably sensuous work in Luca Guadagnino’s “I Am Love,” which she also co-produced. Her Academy Award-winning performance in “Michael Clayton,” opposite the formidable screen presence of George Clooney, brought her the acclaim that perhaps she may not relish, but certainly deserves. The camera adores her, no one achieves an intimacy in camera close-ups like Ms. Swinton.
Her new release, “We Need to Talk About Kevin,” a story concerning a Columbine-type horror in which she plays the mother, shows another facet to this jewel of a “non actor.” Ms. Ryzik conducted a probing interview, well referenced and represented by several carefully chosen clips from Ms. Swinton’s diverse body of work.
“TimesTalks” presents an affordable, enlightened venue for those who wish to enjoy the sparkling thoughts of some truly absorbing people. Check out the upcoming calendar of events at TimesTalks.com. Certain you will find something to heighten your day.
HEADS UP…Seth Rogan and Will Reiser will “50/50” themselves at The Times Center on January 8, 2012. There is also a wonderful “Arts and Leisure” weekend coming up in early January…wait till you see the programming!
WHERE: The Times Center
242 West 41st Street
New York, New York
By: Joanne Theodorou