Friday, November 14, 2014
On May 16, 2014, I saw and wrote a review of a movie called “Belle” and ended it with “THIS IS A MUST SEE MOVIE AND YOU MUST SEE GUGU MBATHA-RAW!”
And it is still on my list of 5 of the best movies of the about 50 I have seen this year!
Today, 6 months later, I saw “Beyond The Lights” and the bottom line is THIS IS A MUST SEE MOVIE AND YOU MUST SEE GUGU MBATHA-RAW! (Also Nate Parker and Minnie Driver but more about that later.)
Unless you have never seen a show business movie there isn’t a spoiler in this movie as screenwriter Gina Prince-Bythewood has written every cliché into it from the overbearing stage mother. the super star rapper who mistreats the rising star, the record producer who manipulates her and to the boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl plot. The differences are that the screenwriter is also the director who really believes in the material and performances that lift it above the clichés. Prince-Bythewood makes this a good old romance movie that we haven’t seen in awhile.
Let’s start with Gugu Mbatha-Raw who takes a role completely opposite that of the one who played Belle in the movie of that name. She is in sexy, almost not there, outfits showing off a great figure, does choreography that show of her sexuality, sings rap and a Nina Simone song, “Blackbird”, that shows off a vocal ability she could make a living at and, yes, her acting. She takes the role of a wounded bird who learns to fly free and makes it fresh and new.
Her costar Nate Parker, as police officer, Kaz, with a police captain father, played by Danny Glover, who is grooming him to enter politics with unlimited potential, shares a chemistry with Mbatha-Raw that lights up the screen. They make a good old fashioned screen couple that makes you root for them all the way, not to mention they are both very sexy looking people.
Minnie Driver as the stage mother, who can be overbearing, does such a fine job she almost steals the picture and keeps you on her side even though you know and can see the damage she has done her daughter.
Colson ‘MGK’ Baker as the super star rapper, with more tattoos than I have ever seen on an actor, along with the rest of the cast such as India Jean-Jacques, Benito Martinez, Aml Ameen and Aisha Hinds, along with others support, the stars with first class performances.
The soundtrack featuring new songs, will also introduce Nina Simone to a new generation though I wished they had her singing a couple of songs.
Though this won’t be among my top 5 pictures to see I will end it with YOU MUST SEE GUGU MBATHA-RAW and see it on the big screen!
Tuesday, November 11, 2014
“His girlfriend looks at his tattooed penis and tells him ‘Don’t put words into my mouth.’
“Italian and Jewish mothers are the same only Italian mothers know how to cook.”
“A Hasidic Jews walks into a bar with a parrot on his shoulder. ‘Where did you get him?’ asks a man. ‘Brooklyn, ‘ says the parrot. ‘They’ve got thousands of them.’
Welcome to “Old Jews Tell Jokes” at the Stage Door Theatre in Margate, Florida. You didn’t laugh at the 3 jokes above? Wait! There are hundreds more. Too many for me to have written more than a few as they come at you one after another. Don’t worry if you don’t laugh at one as there will be 4 or 5 more within the next minute. Some will be belly laughs, some will bring a smile to your face and some will make you uncomfortable laughing but you will laugh.
There are one-liners where you expect to hear a drum go “da-boom’ and some a little more involved but there isn’t a Jew, a non-Jew, a mother, father, daughter, son or any family member that won’t get a few laughs along the way.
There are ‘dirty’ jokes minus the foal language, jokes older than anyone in the audience and jokes that have come from old Jewish comics that now belong to everyone,
Along with the old Jews Gail Byer and Michael H. Small there is middle aged Ben Prayz and younger Jews Ashley Brooke and Adam Chisnall ,all who have good comic timing and play off each other with ease. David Nagy accompanies them on the piano. They deliver the old Borscht Belt jokes as if they were being told and heard for the first time. Putting down a husband or a wife has always been part of the routine and off course there has to be a joke about the young Jewish girl and what she won’t do to the old folks and their ailments, mainly dealing with bodily functions. Also enjoy the film clip of Alan King milking a joke.
In a way “Old Jews Telling Jokes” is a history lesson in comedy, and of comics, with many laughs along the way. Sit back, relax and don’t guess at the punchline aloud!
Leaving you with one of the many self-deprecating jokes: “Why don’t Jewish mothers drink?” They don’t want to dull the pain.”
“Old Jews Telling Jokes” runs at the Stage Door Theatre until January 4, 2015. It runs 1 hour and 45 minutes including a 15 minute intermission. For ticket information call the theatre at 954-344-7765
Hope you could read the intermission slide!
Saturday, November 08, 2014
I don’t know at what point I stopped caring about the main characters in “Interstellar” but it must have been upon losing all interest as to whether they ’make it’ or don’t. Or it may have been at the one point a crew member is lost and the reaction was, “So what?”
The film is long, at 169 minutes, with a lot of forgettable science verbiage that is forgotten by most of the audience before the credits start running. Will even the science nerds in the audience remember the dialogue regarding the black hole or the worm hole? Isn’t it enough to say that one hour in space will equal 7 hours on earth without getting into quantum theories? I’d rather hear how Anne Hathaway’s hair stays so sculptured after having a space helmet on for a flight, walking in water and on ice plus the gravity experienced, which is talked about but doesn’t seem to affect hairdos!
Director Christopher Nolan and co-writer of the script with his brother Jonathan, seem to know what they want to say when dealing with family relationships but when the abruptly take off space they seem to get lost. “Gravity” set the bar high for filming in space and spaceships and “Interstellar” comes nowhere near those scenes and feelings. The Nolans, along with the Director of Photography Hoyte van Hoytema, get the feel, sights and sounds of earth drying up and the possibility of the end of earth is made believable as are the various family relations, but once the movie blasts off to space everything comes to a halt except for a robot that seems more livelier than the humans.
The cast do what they can with what they got but Matthew McConaughey as Cooper, former test pilot who is brought back to lead this mission to find a place that the humans on earth can move to before they die, is fine in the father and daughter scenes but does not bring much to the hero aspect of the film. Oh, and a side note, he does need to put on some of the weight he lost for “Dallas Buyers Club”. Anne Hathaway has a thankless part while Michael Caine as her father gets to repeat Dylan Thomas”s poem “Do not go gentle into that good night” a few times. Murph, Cooper’s daughter, is played by 3 actresses and as the 10 year old Mackenzie Foy is a stand out while Jessica Chastain as Murph in her 30s has nothing to do but being angry.
David Gyasi and Wes Bently as the crew working with McConaughey and Hathaway, along with computerized robot voiced by Bill Irwin, are more than adequate. They are 3 other actors, not to be named, in the film so as not to provide spoilers. Also Casey Affleck, as Murph’s brother, in an underwritten role does what he can with it.
Ah yes I must give credit to Hans Zimmer for the too often loud music, signifying nothing, for keeping me awake in the last hour of “Interstellar”.
Friday, November 07, 2014
The complete trademark title of the dance company is Diavolo: Architecture in Motion they certainly are in motion, many times in jaw dropping motion. The dancers are also acrobats and athletes of the highest order. Sometimes watching their feats (and feet) on stage you momentarily wonder how many injuries they suffer during rehearsals and performances.
The 10 dancers in alphabetical order are: Ana Carolina Brotons, Leandro Damasco Jr., Cal T. Chester, Ezra Masse-Mahar, Chelsea Pierce, Jesse Ryan, Connor Senning, Amy Tuley, Rico Velazquez and Chisa Yamaguchi each getting and deserving their time in the spotlight whether alone or in duets or as part of a precision troupe where each is called on to secure the safety of the other.
The evening is made up of 2 dances, the first called Transit Space which uses skateboard ramps for an urban setting of people looking for connections and the second called Trajectoire which consists of an oval platform in constant motion controlled by the dancers. The teamwork in both numbers will make you hold your breath in their solidarity and flawless performances.
Every aspect of the production values aid the dancers in accomplishing showing them at their best and almost unbelievable movements and moments.
The Diavolo Dance Company brings the modern dance of tomorrow to the stage of today and, deservedly, gets a standing ovation from the audience.
The company has scheduled performances all over the United States including West Palm Beach on Friday.
The complete program, including intermission, runs 1 hour and 30 minutes. For more information regarding the company, and their future schedule, go to www.diavolo.org
Tuesday, November 04, 2014
“Whiplash” is a winner in every aspect. You know when you want to go up to the screen and punch the bully or wrap the bloody fingers of the one being bullied that some strong acting is going on in the film.
The film starts with a drum solo and ends with one while in between you will be mesmerized by J. K. Simmons as musical conductor/teacher Terence Fletcher and a student of his, played by Miles Teller, Andrew Neyman. (By the way if a conductor has the arms that Fletcher has from conducting I am signing up immediately.)
Fletcher wants the best from his students in the hope of finding another Charlie Parker and Andrew wants to be a great, if not better, drummer than Buddy Rich and both will do whatever it takes. Fletcher abuses his students verbally and physically calling them names, throwing things at them, screaming in their faces. He is every Marine Drill Instructor who will grind his charges into the ground to get what he wants.
There are at least a minimum of 2 scenes that you will forget to breath and at least 1 scene where you will gasp out loud. There is no doubt both men will deserve nominations for all and any awards and right now they deserve to win! I don’t know if Teller did his own drumming but if he did he deserves recognition for superb drumming.
The supporting players from Paul Reiser as Andrew’s father to Melissa Benoist who Andrew pursues, and then drops because she interferes with his drumming, along with the other students who play or compete with him are all topnotch .
The music from the title song by the late great Hank Levy plus standards like “Caravan” and new music by Justin Hurwitz are all presented as jazz should be. It took me back to the jazz clubs on 52nd street, and in the Village, along with the sets at Birdland that I use to go to in New York City.
The direction by Damien Chazelle is spot on and in his writing the screenplay he leaves out a few logical things but enhances the movie with a short 1 hour and 46 minutes.
“Whiplash” is a winner all the way.
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