Archive for March 2014

“NOAH”–A MOVIE REVIEW   Leave a comment

There is as much good as bad in “Noah” with good being the acting of Russell Crowe as the title character doing a strong role convincingly with Jennifer Connelly as his wife, repeating a role she played opposite Crowe in “A Beautiful Mind”. Their sons are played by Douglas Booth as the eldest boy Shem, Logan Lerman themiddle son Ham and with Leo Carroll as the youngest Japheth and Emma Watson as the adopted daughter Ila.

The central story of the bible of Noah building an Ark, taking his family and two of every earthly creature, spending 40 days and nights at sea and starting a new world. (I have very little knowledge about how the world would be repopulated but I suppose that is for bible studiers to answer.) The story has been expanded—one of the bads of the film is the length of the movie–to include a super villain Tubal-cain, a descendant of the Abel killer, his brother Cain, played by Ray Winstone,–by the director Darren Aronofsky and he with co-writer Art Handel. I am almost sure there were no such characters as The Watchers, live rock formations, in the bible though I was told they were the equivalent of Nephilim, supposedly fallen angels. The Watchers are voiced by unrecognizable sounds of Frank Langella and Nick Nolte.

The watchers are the biggest waste of time–and they are a big part of the second half–but save the director and writers explaining how the Ark was built and how the creatures were gathered. The use of special effects is becoming an excuse not to explain things in movies and bringing a certain unreality to the screen.

The production values are first rate and even the musical score never overtakes the story.

“Noah” is neither a good or bad movie though it is good to see Russell Crowe handling a deep role with ease as he did in his early days but even with that though Moses will always be Charlton Heston, Crowe may not always be Noah.

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Posted March 28, 2014 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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“AMERICAN TOURIST”–TOURING COMPANY REVIEW   Leave a comment

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Green
Day’s “American Idiot”, with music by Green Day, lyrics by Billie Joe
Armstrong and a book by Billie Joe Armstrong and Michael Mayer based on
the conceptual album of the same name, landed with a bang at the Broward
Performing Arts Center in Fort Lauderdale last night where it will be
playing until April 6.

 

 

 

We
meet boyhood friends Johnny (Jared Nepute), Will (Casey O’Farrell) and
Tunny (Dan Tracy) on the cusp of manhood, bored with suburbia and make a
pact to move to the big city. At the last minute Will’s girlfriend
Heather (Mariah MacFarlane) tells him she is pregnant and he decides to
stay home. Tunny who doesn’t fit in with urban living enlists in the
army serving in Afghanistan where, when wounded, he meets The
Extraordinary Girl (Taylor Jones). Johnny finds two loves in the city,
one being heavy drugs after a figment of his imagination brings forth a
drug dealer St. Jimmy (Carson Higgins) which in turn leads to a true
love of  Whatshername (Olivia Puckett).

 

 

 

The
roots of “American Idiot” can be found in “Hair” and “Rent” with each
representing a generation, their music and their general sense of being
lost.  “American Idiot” is referred to as a 90 minute punk opera which
first came out in album form in 2004 and made it to the Broadway stage
in 2010.

 

 

 

With
a hard working cast, ensemble and band on stage of 22 people plus the
magic of Tony Award winners scenic designer Christine Jones and lighting
designer Kevin Adams plus the choreography of Steven Hoggett and
director Michael Mayer “American Idiot” captures the time. place and
music of a generation.

 

 

 

Upon
entering the theatre people of a certain age (mine!) are offered ear
plugs which I didn’t have to use but they should have offered sunglasses
as there is an overabundance of strobe light use directed straight at
the audience.

Posted March 27, 2014 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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“THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL”–MOVIE REVIEW   Leave a comment

Every year I get caught up in the buzz of a film or two, sometimes even three, and as I walk out of the theatre I wonder if I saw the same film the buzzers did. After seeing “The Grand Budapest Hotel” I came home and read about a dozen reviews as I prefer reading reviews after I have seen a film,  and I will admit up front I am certainly in the minority regarding Wes Anderson‘s latest picture.

The sets, costumes, production values covering 36-40 years, from the 1930s to the 1960s are all first class and I fell in love with the funicular going up the mountain. Anderson directs at the right pace for a farce but in the screenplay, with Hugo Guinness, he tries to cover too many different aspects of a world in change.

Ralph Fiennes is the center of the picture in a different role than he usually takes and he becomes the character making the film a little easier to follow. He is surrounded by many professional  actors such as an almost unrecognizable Jude Law along with a very aged, with makeup, Tilda Swinton plus F. Murray Abraham, Adrien Brody, Edward Norton, Owen Wilson and Bill Murray just to name a few and newcomers Tony Revolori and Saoirse Ronan playing pivotal roles but this is Fiennes’s film.

Though I won’t recommend this film I have to tell you Allen liked it and I did hear a couple of laughs from other audience members.

Posted March 22, 2014 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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PATTI LUPONE WITH SETH RUDETSKY—REVIEW   Leave a comment


 

Patti LuPone is of the ‘old school’. She talks about signing a contract–heavy emphasis on ‘contract’–to do 8 performances a week–“That is your job, that is your commitment, that is your contract.” She talks about how you can’t hear most lyrics in a Broadway show because the music is too loud and the singers of today don’t enunciate their words. She takes pot shots at Susan Strohan as a director, talks about her ‘sometimes I love him and sometimes I hate him’ talking about Steven Sondheim and her love and respect for the late Arthur Laurents. And she has quite a few things to say about rumors and rumor spreaders, tackling some of the rumors about her but, no, she doesn’t talk about the ‘elephant in the room’ the flashbulb incident that took place when she was doing “Gypsy”.

She is caustic, funny, direct and, obviously very much at home on the stage. You listen when she talks because she has something to say and says it! She and Seth Rudetsky have been working together for a few years now and they know how to play off each other and they, along with the audience, have fun with it.

When Patti LuPone gets up to sing you know you are in the presence of a star. She is a ‘belter’ more in the tradition of an Ethel Merman and Barbra Streisand rather than in the current American Idol belters. With each song she is telling a story and she is the person in that song.

She started off with “Come To The Supermarket in Old Peking” followed by the song she sang at ‘cattle calls’ when she started “Don’t Rain On My Parade”. After talking about the original “Hair” and not being kind to the revival, she did a song from the show. Next came a few stories about “Gypsy” and Arthur Laurents and how she saw Rose Havoc with her bringing the house down with “Everything is Coming Up Roses” going onto a number from “Woman On The Verge” which she feels was an extremely under-rated show and will be revived in the future to great success. “Stealing a song from Mandy Patinkin” she belted out a rousing “Trouble” from “The Music Man” then  her signature song from “Evita” called “Don’t Cry For Me Argentina” after explaining what a hard score that show was to sing and telling why. She finished with 2 songs from “Company” doing a very moving “Being Alone” and angry/funny “Ladies Who Lunch” ending with an explosion fromtheaudiencethat I am sure was heard in Miami!

I have seen Patti LuPone on Tv–just recently on the “Girls”–but she started her stage career on Broadway in the 1970s, starring in “the Robber Bridegroom”, after I had moved to Memphis and I had never seen her on stage until this show. I did see the televised version of “Company” but now wish I had seen it in person. Patti LuPone is a legend and she showed why at the Parker Playhouse Thursday night.

Posted March 15, 2014 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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“BETTER LIVING THROUGH CHEMISTRY”–A MOVIE REVIEW   Leave a comment

Within 15 minutes of “Better Living Through Chemistry” movie vets will think they are in for a pale “Double Indemnity” or “The Postman Always Rings Twice” but Olivia Wilde ,a blond beauty, is not as sexy in white as Lana Turner nor is she as cold and calculating as Barbara Stanwyck . Sam Rockwell, as a pharmacist, is turned on to his pills by Wilde and soon they are having an affair, each cheating on their spouses, jokingly talking about killing her very wealth husband and running off together.

Halfway into the movie we know this isn’t a film noire, aside from being filmed in beautiful technicolor, and it becomes a not so funny comedy which is hard to point the blame. The film was written and directed by Geoff Moore and David Posamentier with the screenplay being sharp with some snappy lines along the way eventually going astray and too many coincidences but the director doesn’t bring out the best in his actors. Sam Rockwell with Michelle Monaghan as his wife, Ken Howard his father-in-law, Harrison Holzer as his 12 year old son, Norbert Leo Butz as a fumbling DEA agent, slightly ‘off’ and Ray Liotta as Wilde’s husband are all good actors but only Liotta seems real in his brief scenes.

There is also a puzzling narration by Jane Fonda, who has one brief scene at the end, which seems completely out of place in the film.

“Better Living Through Chemistry” isn’t a bad film but doesn’t seem to have a point of view and is all over the place veering from comedy to farce to romance while whatever mystery the directors and writers hoped to bring to the family doesn’t exist.

Posted March 14, 2014 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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“ADULT WORLD”–FILM REVIEW   Leave a comment

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At the age of 22, a college graduate, Amy (Emma Roberts) still lives at home supported financially, and in her dreams, by her parents. We meet Amy, who sees herself as a poet on the verge of fame, trying to commit suicide, practicing putting her head in the oven as her heroine Sylvia Path did and the film takes us back a year earlier to explain how she got to this point.

With her college loans plus their parents taking  a hit they tell her she has to get a job. After several interviews that don’t work out she finds herself getting a job as a clerk in Adult World owned by an old couple John Cullman and Cloris Leachman and managed by a cute curly-head Alex (Evan Peters) and where a transgender person Rubia (Armando Riesco) who has Amy move in with her for a short time.

Amy’s ‘favorite living poet’, as she tells him, is having a reading and she goes to him, hoping to be his protégé.  Rat Billings (John Cusack) had a taste of fame and is now, more or less, a has-been. He has no plans to be Amy’s mentor no matter what she tries, and does, to get in his good graces, including getting very drunk (an embarrassing scene) and coming on to him. Aside from the fact that she is a very bad poet Amy doesn’t really have much else going for her, except maybe, the fact hat she is a virgin

Anyone who has ever seen a romantic comedy knows exactly where this is heading and the director Scott Coffey, along with screenwriter Andy Cochran, really add nothing to the film that hasn’t been said or done before.

The cast, pleasant to watch, does what they can do with what they are given but I don’t see any of them putting this film high on their resume.

Posted March 7, 2014 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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“WARHORSE”–TOURING COMPANY–YEAR LATER–SECOND REVIEW   Leave a comment

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Last week in my review of “Memphis” I talked about the magic that an actor and actress could bring to the stage that elevates the whole production. Last night at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the performing Arts in “Warhorse” there was another kind of theatre magic that could only be presented on stage and that was 13 puppeteers bringing 5 horses to life to the point you forget that young Joey, Joey, Topthorn and Heine are being manipulated by people.

The play by Nick Stafford, based on the book by Michael Morpurgo, tells the story of Albert (Michael Wyatt Cox) and his young foal and how the former’s life is affected by the latter before, during and after WW1. We meet the friends, family and enemies of Albert and the friends and enemies of Joey.

With a cast of over 30, some, including puppeteers, playing multiple roles “Warhorse” is an adult puppetry marvel that equals any special  effects that you may have seen on a movie screen but they are performed by actors making you believe the horses, and even the funny goose, are real flesh and blood. When something bad happens to Joey you gasp and when Topthorn is hurt you might even shed a tear!

The puppet design, fabrication and direction originated with Adrian Kohler and Basil Jones for the Handspring Puppet Company. They, and the puppeteers on stage, bring magic to the theatre and make “Warhorse” definitely a must see!

Running time is 2 and a half hours with a 20 minute intermission.

Next at The Adrienne Arsht Performing Arts Center in Miami will be “The Blue Man Group” May 13-18 followed by “Evita” May 27-June 1.

Posted March 5, 2014 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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