of the year on the silver screen
WAUKESHA - In
about a month, on the cusp of a new year, film reviewers
near and far will be offering their top 10 lists for 2014.
of Everything' at 'St. Vincent' winners; 'Beyond the Lights'
mired in mediocrity
Oscar buzz is attaching itself to “The Theory of
Everything,” a film about physicist Stephen Hawking.
boasts solid acting, story line
- Director and co-writer Christopher Nolan’s
“Interstellar,” this year’s marginal comparison to
last year’s “Gravity,” includes enough positive
elements to qualify as recommendable.
flies high; 'Before' needs more
and co-written by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (“Babel”),
“Birdman” has everything from A to Z: A:
An apple - the Big Apple - provides “Birdman’s”
recalls classics; 'Judge' raises objections
I once knew a guy
who seemed happily married. He was even happier when he was
performing in amateur plays, however, so he opted to act
professionally. This new commitment, he decided, would
necessitate breaking up with his wife.
Best of Me' hardly a winner
- “The Best of Me” isn’t the best of movies and “The
Judge” raises some objections, as well. Here are more
bad day makes for so-so movie
- When I think of Judith Viorst, I think of an essay she
wrote regarding the several varieties of friends. Brilliant
as it was, that essay wouldn’t have made much of a movie.
Renner power worthwhile new films
- Ben Affleck and Jeremy Renner star in recommendable new
movies. Here are the reviews. "Gone Girl"
“This movie will be big,” I thought after learning about
“Gone Girl’s” plot and pedigree and seeing the names
of some of the Hollywood types involved.
Hendrix film and filmmaker feted
MILWAUKEE - While
it qualifies for the biopic genre, “Jimi: All Is by My
Side,” doesn’t exactly tell the story of Jimi
Hendrix’s life. Rather, the new movie tells the story of a
single year in the life of the musician-singer-songwriter.
too heavy on Rambo,
too light on Robin Hood
- Two inscrutable individuals, a thoroughly bad man and a
basically good one, play a cat-and-mouse game on their way
to a lethal showdown.
festival encore presentations worth seeing
- There were a number of fine movies that debuted last
weekend at the Milwaukee Film Festival. Several are
highlighted below, along with encore times and venues.
has much to offer moviegoers young and old
was thinking about how far removed animated movies are from
real life as I walked away from a screening of the 3-D film
“The Boxtrolls” earlier this week.
is Strange,' 'Tusk,' contrast in quality
- If “Love Is Strange” isn’t the very best
American-made movie I’ve seen this year, it probably ranks
second or third. On the other hand, it’s hard to imagine
“Tusk” could’ve been much worse. TimeOut reviews both
movies this week.
Man' evokes television's 'Mission: Impossible'
- First, let’s dispel any notions that “The November
Man” is some kind of baseball biopic.
sports film won't stand tall for all
- Jim Caviezel, portraying highly successful prep coach Bob
Ladouceur, spouts out, “It’s only a high school football
game” at one point of reality-based “When the Game Stands
I Stay' will give audiences
- As “If I Stay” is winding down, Mireille Enos, playing
a not altogether rehabilitated hippie, tells her mainstream
daughter, played by 17-year-old Chloe Grace Moretz, “Life
is this big, fat, gigantic, stinking mess.”
and 'Land Ho!'
cut above their peers
- While “The Hundred-Foot Journey” and “Land Ho!”
won’t become cornerstones of the movie comedy genre, both
August releases are more amusing than many 2014
Latest Woody Allen film really is
Stanley Crawford (played by Colin Firth), a.k.a., Wei Ling
Soo, is “the greatest debunker of fake spiritualists in the
world,” in a fellow illusionist’s opinion.
source of that flattering quote, Howard Burkan (a very
watchable Simon McBurney), reports a fraud he’d like Stanley
comedic movies have varying values
WAUKESHA - Comedy takes the
spotlight as three new films hit the local cinema market:
“Sex Tape,” “And So It Goes” and “Wish I Was Here.”
'Fire & Rescue' too much
WAUKESHA - Enough, already, of the “Planes”
franchise. The second installment, “Planes: Fire & Rescue,”
isn’t bad and certainly isn’t offensive (It duplicates the
original’s PG rating).
to Echo,' 'Third Person'
share high ranking
- One is PG-rated science fiction, the other a very serious
R-rated film - and both “Earth to Echo” and “Third
Person” - have been found to merit
3 1/2 stars. The following paragraphs tell why.
stretches credulity, lacks substance
- For the record, Melissa McCarthy is 43 years old, Allison
Janney is 54 and
Susan Sarandon is 67.
Boys' vs. 'Obvious Child'?
Better to Listen to the Music!
probably comes down to this: if you enjoy the music of the
Four Seasons (and literally millions do), you’re likely to
enjoy “Jersey Boys,” the Clint Eastwood-directed film
version of the hit Broadway musical about the group.
films likely to attract audiences
- They say opposites attract. Maybe that means both “How
to Train Your Dragon 2” and “The Rover” will attract
large audiences, for the two June-premiering films are
dissimilar in several ways.
first-class film 'Million Ways' finds itself lost among
- In all honesty, “A Million Ways to Die in the West”
doesn’t contain anywhere near a million uses of the F
more cooking with
British 'Belle than 'Chef'
- Jon Favreau’s comedy “Chef” and the British period
drama “Belle” are movies now in area theaters. Here is a
look at each one: I think
I’m on to the “Chef” filmmaking strategy.
Dollar Arm' and 'Godzilla contrasting films, but good ones
- “Million Dollar Arm” and “Godzilla” both got off
to banner starts in the movie theater in terms of gross
earnings for the first weekend of their releases.
of Oz' has a few
strengths worth mentioning
- “This doesn’t look like the Oz I remember,” a
computer-animated Dorothy declares early in “Legends of
Oz: Dorothy’s Return.”
drama joined by
Spider-Man sequel in theaters
- The World War II drama “Walking with the Enemy” wraps
up its first week in area theaters Friday, the same day
“The Amazing Spider-Man 2” premieres. The following are
reviews from both films:
move never made'
debuts in local cinemas Friday
- “Jodorowsky’s Dune” comes to area movie theaters
Friday following the release of three other films last week.
The following are reviews of each film:
'Words' among new film releases
WAUKESHA - On Friday, “The
Lunchbox,” a dramatic film, will join “Bad Words,” a
comedy released March 28, in local theaters. Both movies are
reviewed below with their ratings.
March: A month for different films
- The month of March is being marked in our area by the
release of three very different films: the comedy “The Grand
Budapest Hotel” on Friday, one week after the documentary
“Tim’s Vermeer” and two weeks after the graphic novel
adaptation “300: Rise of an Empire.”
predictions and omissions
- “12 Years a Slave” will win a few major awards - and
leave another acclaimed 2013 movie, “Gravity,” in the
lurch. That’s my take on Sunday’s Oscar festivities.
Days' different, but hardly a unique film
- It’s too bad they made a movie called “Shattered
Glass” a few years back. That would’ve been a great
title for the new Kevin Costner film that instead has been
dubbed “3 Days to Kill.”
for 'Her' is only faint
- Star Joaquin Phoenix, as Theodore Twombly, dances around
in his long underwear and accompanies a crooning computer on
his ukulele. A
Twombly co-worker (Chris Pratt) praises the sensitive
ghostwriter of personal letters as “part man and part
of films made for
a very good cinematic year
- In a fine year for cinema, such as 2013, it’s not all
that challenging to compile a list of excellent movies.
County' a must-see movie
- Put “August: Osage County” near the top of your
must-see movies list. The
plot of Tracy Letts’ screenplay, based on his 2008
Pulitzer Prize- and Tony Award-winning drama, revolves
around kinfolk in Oklahoma.
stories make for good December cinema
- Truth may or may not be stranger than fiction, but it can
be just as interesting. And it certainly can make for good
more than a worthy successor
- Alexander Payne’s “Nebraska” is more than a worthy
successor to the director’s “About Schmidt” (2002),
“Sideways” (2004) and “The Descendants” (2011). For
my money, Payne’s latest picture is the best of the
Buyers Club' is worth joining
WAUKESHA - Welcome medical inroads have dulled the once
cutting-edge nature of films about the AIDS crisis (are we
even calling it a crisis anymore?).
Thief' redeemed by
- Preachers, one of their number claimed, should be able to
reduce their messages to a single sentence. Movies are not
sermons; arguably, though, the best of them can also be
is no typical Kennedy film
WAUKESHA - “‘Parkland,’”
a synopsis states in part, “weaves together the chaotic
events following the tragedy (of John F. Kennedy’s
assassination) from perspectives as diverse as the young
doctors and nurses at Parkland Hospital.
Your Darlings' concept good; movie about poet doesn't
- “Thor: The Dark World,” sequel to 2011’s “Thor,”
is an intriguing movie mixture of adventure, 3-D-enhanced
special effects and humor.
sequel an intriguing blend
- “Thor: The Dark World,” sequel to 2011’s “Thor,”
is an intriguing movie mixture of adventure, 3-D-enhanced
special effects and humor.
'Free Birds' could fly higher
- The lengthy list of holiday features has grown a little
longer with the Jimmy Hayward-directed “Free Birds.”
Years A Slave' narrative moving and powerful
WAUKESHA - Very
good. Very moving. Very powerful. That’s what I told the
guy with the clipboard who asked what I thought of “12
Years A Slave” as I left a preview screening one afternoon
Said' takes sophisticated
and subtle look at love
WAUKESHA - After a certain
point, every one entering a romantic relationship carries
some baggage with them and falling in love with someone
involves accepting their quirks and flaws.
bouquet of red roses
WAUKESHA - Anne Bancroft in
“The Miracle Worker.” Maggie Smith in “The Prime of
Miss Jean Brodie.” Julie Andrews in “The Sound of
short of peak performance
WAUKESHA - Credits for the
quirkily titled “The Spectacular Now” were still rolling
when a guy sitting behind me in the theater offered his
assessment. “A good
movie,” he said.
Butler' serves up fairly
- All things considered, the rather pretentious-sounding
“Lee Daniels’ The Butler” is a good film. It’s
not excellent, not Academy Award-worthy (although, with the
considerably expanded number of films nominated in recent
years, “The Butler” could end up as a best picture
candidate on Oscar night 2014), but it’s good.
quips, but little originality
- On the big screen, the character type has existed at least
since Jimmy Stewart played it to perfection in “Mr. Smith
Goes to Washington” (1939).
Theatre sequel to Shakespeare amusing
Shakespeare is on the docket again, this time in an abridged
format, where a quartet of talented actors, all Whitewater
theater program graduates, unite to amuse us with a penchant
for parody, physical humor and expertise in rendering the
Bard’s words whenever they actually quote him.
shows why 'Oz' still captivates audiences
I recall so well when the film of “The Wizard of Oz”
came out. I think it was the first experience I had with
Technicolor. I still remember how awesome it was for me as a
little kid. There is something magic about the story as
well, and of course, the music
Disney's 'Lion King' dazzles
- It’s back in all its splendor - “The Lion King” -
ready to enrapture us again. If you love visual feasts and
technical miracles, the dazzling spectacle of the present
production of this popular musical will more than satisfy.
presents many societal cases and more
WAUKESHA - A.R.
Gurney is probably best known for his plays, “Love
Letters,” “The Dining Room” and “Sylvia.
- Excess fascinates us, whether it be money, power, talent,
daring, generosity or even evil.
Stage's 'Sherlock Holmes' a cluttered mystery
- Another mystery has hit the boards at First Stage
Children’s Theater on the heels of last season’s finale,
“Nancy Drew’s Greatest Case.”
aside, 'Lend Me A Tenor'
- I am not usually a big fan of farces, yet I can appreciate
the physical humor and the timing required to pull off their
Opera Theatre to stage 'Lucy'
MILWAUKEE - The
Milwaukee Opera Theatre is scheduled to open its first
offering of the season, a rather unusual world premiere of
an opera based on a true story.
numbers drives Sunset's 'Guys and Dolls'
“Guys and Dolls,” by Frank Loesser, Jo Swerling and Abe
Burrows, first opened in the 1950s, but it is set in the
‘30s, a time when gambling was illegal in the United
examines harrowing times for women
- The Civil War continues to enthrall and appall us.
More than 50,000 books have been written about it
during the last 150 years.
Eyes' recalls why fishermen followed Christ
- Acacia Theatre Company describes itself as a group that
offers plays of substance and moral fiber.
'all the terrible things' well-crafted story
- J. Rey Pamatmat’s “after all the terrible things I
do,” now playing at the Milwaukee Repertory Theater’s
Steimke Studio, is a drama about shame and the ways we try
to deny and live with it.
Diary of Anne Frank' compelling story of survival
- Sometimes it is good to be reminded.
Lake Country Players’ production of “The Diary of Anne
Frank” does just that. This story was for many of us our
first look at the Holocaust from a very personal viewpoint.
Cupcake Killer' doesn't meet expectations
“The Cupcake Killer,” written and directed by Katherine
Beeson, opened at the West Allis Players on Oct. 3.
opens season with powerful 'The Color Purple'
- A searing production exploded onto the Quadracci
Powerhouse stage last weekend.
prevails in Skylight's 'Cinderella'
- Everyone loves underdogs, especially when they win out
over more powerful forces.
Theatre's 'Indentita' features intriguing story
- I am not an historian. My knowledge of geography is also
quite paltry. However, the present offering at the Windfall
Theatre still intrigued me.
'Glass Menagerie' rich with age
- Somehow I never tire of seeing “The Glass Menagerie,”
one of Tennessee Williams’ first and best plays, and one
which parallels his own life, reflecting his relationship
with his younger mentally
ill sister, Rose.
Miserables' is brilliant
Dinner Theatre in Fort Atkinson is known for its quality
musicals. Their recent productions of “Annie Get Your
Act Theater presents 'Welcome Home, Jenny Sutter'
Act, with its usual provocative choices, opens its 25th season
with a post-war play called “Welcome
Home, Jenny Sutter” by the prolific playwright, Julie Marie
Myatt. The stage design by Maureen Chjavez-Kruger suggests an
emptiness and aridity.
Good Father' is a must-see
There are times
when one is viewing live theater, that one feels privileged
to be there. There are times when a theater critic feels
doubly privileged to be able to tell others - GO SEE THIS
Guyz's newest tribute show serves up doo-wop, rock 'n' roll
- The Sunset Playhouse’s Studio Theatre offers many
musical confections along with their regular season in the
Furlan Auditorium. The popular Four Guyz in Dinner
Jackets is filling the studio space with their harmonies and
comes alive with Civic Theatre's season opener
WAUKESHA - “The
Sound of Music” by Rodgers and Hammerstein has been around
for more than 50 years.
Playhouse begins new season with classic Agatha Christie
- The Sunset Playhouse opened its season with a very famous
mystery by the Grand Dame of mysteries, Agatha Christie, whose
play “The Mousetrap” is running in London for the 60th
& Debbie Show' will get y'all in country mood
- What a grand opening of the season at the Milwaukee
Rep’s Stackner Cabaret with its excruciatingly funny
parody of the country music scene, “The Doyle and Debbie
Dilemma' blends characters with complex story
WAUKESHA - George
Bernard Shaw is just as much a philosopher as a playwright.
Perhaps all writers reveal their biases and ethics in the
stories they write, in the characters they create, but some
are more obvious than others.
touching classic love story
- The story of Romeo and Juliet by Shakespeare never dies.
It is the ultimate expression of spontaneous, brash and
often rash young love.
'Cemetery Club' worth seeing again
WAUKESHA - A
smart script, quality actors, a lovely summer evening and an
ample audience all combined over the weekend in Lapham State
Park in Delafield.
group gives you
something to think about
- Outskirts Theatre, an independent group that strives to
“create experimental and thought-provoking theater that
will both educate and entertain the community, as well as
serve as a call to action against social and moral
injustices” is staging the production of “Dog Sees God:
Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead” in the Studio Theatre
at Carroll University.
players hit the high
notes in 'Wonderland
- The musical version of “Alice in Wonderland” is the
fruit of the labors of the Youth Players Summer Workshop at
Lake Country Players in Hartland.
Ianonne delivers masterful performance at Chamber Theatre
- Angela Ianonne is reprising her role as the talented,
controversial opera star Maria Callas to the delight of
audiences at Milwaukee Chamber Theatre’s opening
production in its 40th season - Terrence McNally’s
debuts new venue with twist on classic tale
- It’s always fun to visit a new theater to see what a
particular company is all about. I had that pleasure last
weekend to attend Theatre Red and Soulstice Theatre’s
premiere showing of Liz Shipe’s original version of the
Robin Hood story.
‘Smokey Joe’s’ production
— Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller have written a ton of songs
together, and they are featured in the Fireside Theatre’s
present offering, “Smokey Joe’s Café.”
doles out plenty
of visual and sound effects
Marcus Center for the Performing Arts in Milwaukee opened
its dazzling production last weekend to sellout crowds of
Folly' doesn't fit
with SummerStage venue
“Talley’s Folly,” a Pulitizer Prize-winning play by
Lanford Wilson, is a sweet little love story, involving a
pair of mismatched people having a 97-minute conversation in
a dilapidated boathouse.
and songs from 'Kiss Me, Kate' make for must-see productions
- “Kiss Me, Kate,” which took the stage in 1948, is an
example of Cole Porter’s genius and was honored with the
first Tony Award for best musical in 1949.
of Martinsek as lead role in 'Gypsy' ideal
- The musical “Gypsy” touts several well-known names in
the world of American musicals - Arthur Laurents (libretto),
Jules Styne (music) and Stephen Sondheim (lyrics).
Wedding Singer' is fun experience for all audiences
WEST ALLIS - Ever
since I’ve started reviewing the West Allis Players,
I’ve been impressed with the level of enthusiasm and broad
participation among the performers and supporters of this
Talented duo spearheads
‘Bonnie & Clyde’
WAUKESHA - If you enjoyed
“Legally Blonde” last summer starring Shannon Straka and
Bryan Noll, get ready for an even more amazing performance
by this talented duo in the Lake Country Players’ gritty
production of “Bonnie & Clyde, The Musical” a much darker,
more moving musical.
'Driving Miss Daisy'
ATKINSON - It is a rarity for a playwright to win an Oscar,
a Tony and the Pulitzer Prize, but Alfred Uhry can boast of
this triple honor.
has some flow to it
WAUKESHA - SummerStage in the
Town of Delafield opened its 2014 theatrical summer series
with Woody Allen’s “Don’t Drink the Water,” one of
the famous writer’s early stage plays, which was later
converted into a film starring Jackie Gleason as the
crotchety New Jersey caterer.
University's summer rep
series stages 2 worthy shows
- Carroll University launched a Summer Repertory Series with
a pair of delightful plays, one by the mysterious playwright
who hides behind the pen name of Jane Martin, and the other
by the famous Oscar Wilde.
from the Bridge' dramatic, moving production
- Arthur Miller’s most famous plays are “The
Crucible,” “Death of a Salesman” and “All My
Sons,” but there is another one, which should join the
ranks of this impressive triumvirate
meets the challenge with 'On Golden Pond'
- We probably all remember the 1981 film “On Golden
Pond” starring Henry and Jane Fonda and Katherine Hepburn.
revolutionary time in history
WAUKESHA - “Hair,” the
controversial musical of the 1960s, is alive and well at
Skylight Music Theatre’s finale of the 2013-2014 season,
the first year of Viswa Subbaraman’s tutelage as artistic
Stage Theatre captures
spirit of Nancy Drew
- Playwrights John Maclay and Jeff Frank studied 25 Nancy
Drew novels and consulted with expert Jennifer Fisher of
nancydrewsleuth.com to research their adaptation of this
popular young detective’s achievements.
'Storefront Church' probes our choices
- John Patrick Shanley is probably best known for his
Pulitzer Prize-winning play “Doubt,” which also received
notice as a film starring Meryl Streep.
'America Singing' doesn't meet expectations
MILWAUKEE - I
suppose a person always has expectations when entering a
theater, whether it is a show or a company one is familiar
with or not.
'I Hate Hamlet'
show Shakespearean diversity
- When most people hear the name Shakespeare, they have some
sort of reaction.
Country Players peak with enjoyable comedy
- The Lake Country Players in Hartland is staging an old
romantic comedy that is still relevant and continues to
generate much enjoyment.
returns to Fireside Theatre in 'Fiddler on the Roof'
- Although Ed Flesch said he was doing his swan song in his
role as Tevye in “Fiddler on the Roof” at the Fireside
Theatre seven years ago, he decided to change his mind in
honor of the dinner theater’s 15th anniversary