Tag Archives: review

Wasted on the young

After my friend Kathy saw the Broadway play This Is Our Youth a few weeks ago, she quipped on Facebook:

Well, this isn’t my youth.

After seeing the show myself yesterday, I agree and disagree.

The pre-show literature had warned of some drug use in the show, which centers on 24 hours in the lives of three privileged kids on New York’s Upper West Side in the early 80’s. What it should have said is it’s about drug use. And drug dealing. And stealing for drugs. And selling your possessions for drugs.

Not my youth at all.

But the friendships and budding (and then dying) romance between the characters is very familiar and well-acted by the cast, which includes Michael Cera, Kieran Culkin and newcomer Tavi Gevinson.

They may have been fumbling around onstage in a fake stoner haze, but I’m not sure I was anymore self-assured as a clear-headed teenager back in the 80s.

That was my youth.

A true story

The movie Foxcatcher, starring Steve Carrell, Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo, is based on a true story. That’s about all I knew — well, that and Carrell wears a prosthetic nose.

And we all know a fake schnoz can land you an Oscar. Just ask Nicole Kidman.

foxcatcher

After seeing the film, I’m glad I was so uninformed.  This telling of Olympic wrestler Mike Schultz’s relationship with his sponsor, millionaire John du Pont, is so slow and deliberate that I might have lost patience if I had known how it was going to end.

But the performances — not the plot — are the reason to see this film.  All three actors disappear into these characters who, with the exception of Ruffalo, struggle with varying shades of mental illness and mommy issues.

And when actors who usually take pratfalls raise their game to this level, you simply have to see it.

Fair warning — you may never look at Michael Scott the same way again.

 

Monsters, of course

I saw Frankenstein at the Woodford Theatre Company in Versailles, Kentucky last night.

I was spooked.

Frankenstein

This production is an excellent reminder that local theater can get it right.

There’s death by every manner imaginable — hanging, gunshot, strangulation, beatings — and they all look amazingly real.  Give credit to the special effects designer and crew, and a cast that ‘dies on stage’ in the best way possible.

This is a serious translation of the original text — no campy Frank send-up here — and you have one more night to experience it.

Oh, and if you wonder about that one guy’s bloody, mangled face?

Red velvet cake. (I asked.)

 

I’m still laughing

It’s Only a Play, which is currently in previews at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre on Broadway, has an embarrassment of stars in its cast.

F. Murray Abraham. Matthew Broderick. Stockard Channing. Rupert Grint. Nathan Lane. Megan Mullally.

it's only a play

And the book by Terrence McNally is hilarious — as topical as this week’s headlines and taking swings at every celebrity in Hollywood (including a few on stage).

The laughs just keep on coming.

But if you are lucky enough to experience this hysterical evening, the real star is the one face you don’t recognize in the photo — newcomer Micah Stock, who makes his Broadway debut amongst this group of A-listers. His deadpan delivery, spot-on timing and musical number (that is a perfect send-up of Broadway itself) brought down the house and the actors on stage.

It’s Only a Play, but it’s the best one I’ve seen in years.

How I Should Have Met Your Mother

I was horrified by the series finale of How I Met Your Mother.

If you don’t know how it ended oh so many months ago, stop reading.  But suffice it to say, the last episode was like a sledgehammer to the very foundation of the show’s premise, crumbling its emotional center, its heart and its credibility.

It was awful.

Soon after the show’s creators and CBS were inundated with bad reviews and poor comments, it was revealed that there was an alternate ending that would be included on the DVD.  It has now been leaked.

It is perfect.

http://youtu.be/tLKKbXsbYbY

Whoever got to choose the version that aired?

Bad decision.

 

Schooled

kidnapped for christIf you subscribe to Showtime, I encourage you to watch the documentary Kidnapped for Christ, currently available OnDemand.

The film centers on a Christian boarding school in the Dominican Republic that advertised itself as a rehab center for troubled US teens.  The filmmaker, an evangelical school student, was allowed complete access to the teens there and, during production, uncovers disturbing information about the school’s “behavior modification program.” She also learns that some students had been kidnapped from their homes with their parents’ full knowledge and permission.

Her commitment to the project eventually morphs into a determination to help these abused teenagers — one in particular who wants to leave the school where he is essentially being held prisoner.

This story is heartbreaking and, I learned, just one case among thousands around the world.

It is a must-see.

 

Asleep in my takeout

I am fascinated by the critics’ take on the movie Chef, which is currently 88 percent fresh on RottenTomatoes.com.

I found it stale and oh-so-overcooked.

chef movie

I watch a lot of Food Network, so I had high hopes for the film’s ‘recipe': a chef gets fired after he starts a Twitter war with a restaurant critic,  and opens a food truck.

Seems new, seems current.

Turns out all the conflict that drives the film is in the first 15 minutes.  After the chef (Jon Favreau) loses his job, everyone and everything starts working in his favor.

  • Need a food truck?  His ex-wife gets her other ex-husband to provide one.  Takes him to Miami to get it. Appears to bankroll the enterprise, too. (Sure, that happens.)
  • Need help setting it up?  His former junior cook travels across the country — without pay — to help him get started. That sainted ex-wife even takes orders at one point.
  • Need to reconnect with your kid? The ex-wife — again, the most non-confrontational divorced couple in the history of movies and life, for that matter — lets an 11-year old kid work as a line cook on a food truck for the entire summer. Without checking in. Right.

I don’t want to give away the ending in case you plan to see it.  But let’s just say that, once the food truck is parked –

Nothing really happens then, either. Or if it does, they don’t show it.

Because conflict might wake you up out of your food coma.