Scott’s ‘Martian’ looks to be among better autumn crop
End of the Tour.” “Grandma.” And now, “The
Martian.” History does seem to repeat itself: Autumn
approaches; a better crop of feature films emerges.
latest: One ‘Visit’ you need not make
the list of places you need not visit, feel free to add
theaters showing “The Visit,” M. Night Shyamalan’s
terrific as ‘Grandma’
you wish you had
may not be a technical trailblazer, but “Grandma” is a
terrific motion picture: unfailingly amusing, poignant, very
capably acted, a thorough - and thoroughly captivating -
story in 79 short minutes.
‘Walk’ should take a hike
Redford’s latest movie, “A Walk in the Woods,” has
been done before, more or less, and done better. The
previous rendition occurred last year, a drama with Reese
Witherspoon and Laura Dern instead of a comedy starring the
less impressive duo of Redford and Nick Nolte.
screen keeps it real this fall
If reboots have
figured prominently in this summer’s cinematic landscape,
the fall season promises to place emphasis on movie art
retread 'Man From U.N.C.L.E.' passes muster as feature film
I’ll add my thumb to those already thrust in the air in
support of “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.,” Guy Ritchie’s
feature film based on the old TV series with the same
movie anything but dull
proposing David Foster Wallace, late author of the
well-regarded novel “Infinite Jest” and subject of the
feature film “The End of the Tour,” for canonization.
films take two societal glimpse set in San Francisco, Ireland
It’s 1976. Patty Hearst,
seen on a TV clip in “The Diary of a Teenage Girl,” is big
news this Bicentennial year while Watergate has apparently been
truth stranger than fiction
Crystal Moselle’s “The Wolfpack” concerns a most
unusual family: the Angulo brood of seven children, all but
the youngest of them males, their Peruvian papa, Oscar, and
their mother, Susanne, of Midwestern farm stock.
Man,’ ‘Pixels’ revisit Dostoyevsky, Pac-Man
“Irrational Man” begins as a potential revisiting of “Educating
Rita” with Joaquin Phoenix in the Michael Caine role. It
becomes an updated screen version of Dostoyevsky’s “Crime
and Punishment” with Phoenix as above-the-law Raskolnikov.
a misnomer for Schumer movie?
through Judd Apatow’s “Trainwreck,” a character is
denounced as universally offensive but then immediately
lauded as likable, everybody’s favorite person.
is hell' theme dominates 'Testament of Youth'
of Youth,” based on an autobiography by the same title,
begins on Armistice Day, 1918. World War I, the inaccurately
dubbed “war to end all wars,” is over and there is
jubilation on the streets.
'Me and Earl' definitely worthwhile
find myself wondering whether it’s merely coincidental
that “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl,” the
movie based on Jesse Andrews’ novel, takes place in
'Max' isn't 'Mad,' dog story has positives
a clarification. “Max,” from “Remember the Titans”
director Boaz Yakin, is not to be confused with another new
movie, “Mad Max: Fury Road.”
Max: Fury Road” has been applauded by critics. “Max,”
although not without positives, is ultimately a middling
offers a lot of hilarity and a bit of bawdiness
latest Melissa McCarthy movie, at first looks and sounds
like a James Bond film, with handsome Jude Law in the Bond
role and a song remindful of “Goldfinger” playing as the
aside, 'Aloha' leaves little to capture the
first film since 2011 from writer-director Cameron Crowe (“Almost
Famous,” “Jerry Maguire”), has met with considerable
public grousing due to, among other things, its allegedly
disproportionate amount of Anglos for a Hawaii-set
Perfect 2' strikes several sour notes
I don’t know
that I’ve seen a theater empty quite as quickly as the one
where I watched “Pitch Perfect 2” the other day.
future could have used a lot more laughs
including the one played by George Clooney in a new Disney
extravaganza, could’ve chosen to heed the biblical
recommendation ”do not worry about tomorrow.”
Crowd' packed with performances in a beautiful film
Like Shakespeare and Dickens,
Thomas Hardy is an oft-filmed British writer. Movies have
been made of Hardy’s “Jude the Obscure,” “Tess of
the d’Urbervilles,” “The Mayor of Casterbridge” and
now, for the second time, “Far from the Madding Crowd.”
Story' is actually two stories -
and both have been better told
The movie “True
Story,” like the 2005 book on which it’s based, is
actually two stories. One concerns Michael Finkel’s
reporter job loss. The second, and larger, story deals with
Finkel’s identity loss to a man accused of murdering his
wife and three children.
can't sing in 'Collins,' Isaac
can dance in 'Machina' but both can act
I really liked
“Danny Collins,” despite some implausibilities. Agile
and captivating, the picture stars Al Pacino - still capable
of commanding the screen - as a pop singer who receives a
letter, waylaid for 40-plus years, from John Lennon.
worth 1,000 words, 'Woman' good as gold
That old adage
“One picture is worth 1,000 words” rings true, time and
again, in the documentary “The Salt of the Earth.”
'Home' has endearing hero, J. Lo songs, memorable messages
the company responsible for the “Shrek,” “Madagascar”
and “How to Train Your Dragon” series, comes another
example of stellar computer animation.
of Doubt' pits spin
doctors vs. climatologists
If, based on our
last two Wisconsin winters, you’ve decided global warming
is a myth, the new documentary “Merchants of Doubt”
might just change your mind.
captures turbulent Belfast on many levels
nighttime footage and daytime scenes of a dark nature; evil
characters and good ones whose largesse stops slightly short
of heroism; long
takes and a relatively - and appropriately - skimpy musical
score in which a drum figures prominently.
'Red' than dead
went from playing schoolboy hockey with flattened cans for
pucks to captaining what some considered the best hockey
team on earth, to building leagues and arenas - plus
bringing the 2014 Olympic Games to Sochi - as Russian
President Vladimir Putin’s minister of sport
'Leviathan' Worth Your Time
the Russian movie “Leviathan” in the worthwhile viewing
isn’t light fare, isn’t a happy story (it’s a drama
devoid of comic relief), but the subtitled “Leviathan”
is well-acted, well-directed, well-photographed and
definitely capable of holding an onlooker’s attention for
its two-plus hours.
likely to parallel Golden Globes
WAUKESHA - The
prediction here is that Academy Awards night Feb. 22 won’t
yield many surprises - at least not in the prominent
categories of leading and supporting actor and actress,
director and motion picture.
Year' tantalizingly cryptic
WAUKESHA - Tantalizingly cryptic.
That adverb-adjective combination came to mind as a
description of composer Alex Ebert’s jazzy-solemn score
for “A Most Violent Year.”
'4' movie buffs to
brush up on Oscar history
WAUKESHA - Now
that the Golden Globe Awards have been distributed, it’s
time to turn our attention to the Oscars.
‘Selma’: How far have we come?
WAUKESHA - “Selma,” the formidable screen story of the
Martin Luther King Jr.-led civil rights march between Selma
and Montgomery, Ala., in 1965, virtually ends with a rap
number called “Glory.”
'Foxcatcher' among 2014's best films
WAUKESHA - Terrifying pipsqueak may be an oxymoron, but it
also seems a spot-on description of John du Pont - or least
the du Pont portrayed by Steve Carell in “Foxcatcher.”
Cabbie' mostly drives the wrong way
- Cast an engaging actor (Vinay Virmani) as the lead in your
comedic flick and a lovely actress (Adrianne Palicki) as his
significant other. Surround the pair with cartoonish
relatives and buffoonish current and former friends.
offers enough for animation fans
WAUKESHA - “Penguins
of Madagascar” opens on a snowy scene - a meandering march
(or should I say wintry waddle?) of the titular creatures,
who are generally unconcerned about an egg hatching in their
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
flies high; 'Before' needs more
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
WAUKESHA - “The
Best of Me” isn’t the best of movies and “The Judge”
raises some objections, as well. Here are more detailed
bad day makes for so-so movie
WAUKESHA - 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
WAUKESHA - 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
I 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.
Dancing’ mesmerizes at the Marcus Center
MILWAUKEE - You
could feel it in the air as soon as the show opened.
“Dirty Dancing,” a very popular movie in 1987, starring
Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Gray, has a huge fan base, and
they were ready to experience the thrill of the dancing
again, this time live, as the opener of the Marcus Broadway
Players open 50th season with ‘Godspell’
- Patio Players opened its 50th season with a stunning
production of “Godspell,” a musical which surprised
audiences when it opened in 1971 and has been delighting
millions ever since.
treatment of loss, surprisingly, leaves one feeling
MILWAUKEE - A new
local playwright and director has hit the stage at Brumder
Mansion under the auspices of the Milwaukee
“Amused” is Megan Ann Jacobs’ first published
play, and it is a delightful, fanciful one with the theme of
moving on after a loss.
Opera amazes with Puccini’s popular ‘Tosca’
- One often hears of the artist as a pauper and one who only
achieves fame after his death. Not so in Puccini’s case.
He made more money in his lifetime than any other classical
composer before or since. He died a millionaire at 65.
‘Ghosts’ of Ibsen’s time remain issues
Henrik Ibsen, one of the most renowned Norwegian playwrights
of the 19th century, was severely criticized during his life
for tackling issues that were not culturally acceptable as
material for literature.
poets’ lives artfully captured in ‘Dear Elizabeth’
Anchored by a strong script by Sarah Ruhl and stellar
performances by Norman Moses and Carrie Hitchcock, the lives
of poets Robert Lowell and Elizabeth Bishop are brought to
light in the Milwaukee Chamber Theatre’s second offering
of the 2015-16 season.
outdoes itself musically with ‘A Little Night Music’
- Versatile, edgy, clever, unusual, creative, humorous,
moving - all these words and more cannot fully
describe the music and lyrics of Stephen Sondheim. Unlike
many composers, his music is difficult to classify.
Dale’ reflects grim life reflected in ‘Orphan’s Home
WAUWATOSA - In
Horton Foote’s last years, after a life of prolific
playwriting, he ventured into his last ambitious work,
“Orphan’s Home Cycle,” a series of nine plays about
small-town life in Texas over a period of 30 years,
following the fortunes and misfortunes of three families.
examines human cruelty, spirit
- Based on a 1991 film of the same name, “Dogfight,” the
musical, opened off-Broadway in 2012. This is its first
showing in the Milwaukee area.
‘Final Adventure’ adds laughs to mystery
ELM GROVE - For
more than 125 years, Sherlock Holmes has been an icon among
of ‘West Side’ won’t be let down by Fireside
FORT ATKINSON -
Fireside has taken on the challenge of an American
masterpiece, “West Side Story,” a 1957 update of
Shakespeare’s classic romance “Romeo and Juliet.”
‘Othello’ explodes at APT
GREEN - Shakespeare has created many memorable tragic
heroes, but none among them is more heart-wrenching and
gullible than Othello, nor is there another villain more
conniving, ruthless and despicable than Iago.
of quiet desperation on full display in ‘Picnic’
OF DELAFIELD - Whenever I see a William Inge play, I am
reminded of that Henry David Thoreau quotation about most
people leading lives of quiet desperation. Born in
Kansas, Inge is sometimes called the artist who was the
voice of small-town life in the Midwest.
Theatre provokes thought with ‘Rabbit Hole’
Outskirts Theatre has provided a nice niche in summer
theater programming, using
Carroll University as its venue.
farce set in high-flying ‘60s takes some unexpected turns
MILWAUKEE - ”Boeing
Boeing” by the prolific Marc CamolettI has enjoyed a long
and rich history.
of Banquo’ offers insight into Shakespearian actor
ST. FRANCIS -
Angela Iannone, widely revered as actor and director, now
has added playwright to her list of impressive
a lot of work, but they sure can play
FORT ATKINSON -
The subtitle of this show is “A Country Music Revue,”
which is somewhat misleading.
It’s more pop-rock than typical country, although
country is expanding its style.
a lot of
when you get to ‘Avenue Q’
WAUKESHA - When
the University of Wisconsin-Waukesha took on the
Tony-award-winning, adult-Sesame Street musical “Avenue Q”
by Robert Lopez, Jeff Marx and Jeff Whitty, it faced quite
the challenge. Under the guidance of multitalented director
and choreographer Ryan Cappleman and a gifted cast, they met
Pan Jr.’ smoothly takes to Lake Country stage
Whenever I see any version of the Peter Pan story (and there
are many), I garner some new messages inherent in it.
Jarecki doesn’t stop learning
WAUKESHA - Over
the years, the Waukesha Civic Theatres’s Doug Jarecki has
demonstrated his talent, his versatility and his
the Musical Jr.' entertains
WAUKESHA - The Waukesha Civic
Theatre took on over 60 children in two casts to present the
beloved “Shrek the Musical Jr.,” a very brave and
generous undertaking indeed.
Millie' thoroughly entertains
ELM GROVE - “Thoroughly
Modern Millie” is a musical based on a beloved 1967 movie
starring Julie Andrews and Carol Burnett.
Over Buffalo' provides pleasant evening outside
If you’re a
theatergoer, you’ve probably encountered one of Ken
Ludwig’s comedies. His
many awards and his millions of fans who have marveled at
his cleverness and his prolific output attest to his
‘Opal’ wins over hearts as Oconomowoc’s
Kleefisch sure to be heard from again
— Acacia Theatre opened last weekend with a little gem
called “Opal,” a musical based on a true story of a young
immigrant from France who lost her parents in 1904 when a
fierce storm arose on their passage to Oregon.
‘Assassins’ proves provocative
HARTLAND — Stephen Sondheim has
never been a writer and composer who has given us fluffy
lyrics or easy harmonies. He likes dealing with controversy
and provocative ideas in his musicals. “Assassins,” now
playing at the Lake Country Playhouse, is a testament to his
artistic leanings and his incisive insights.
dominates in energetic 'Motown'
- The Marcus Center was rocking in its opening of “Motown
the Musical,” directed by Charles Randolph-Wright. The
orchestration was a bit too overpowering at times, but the
strong, able vocalists could not be overcome by a
too-zealous pit of musicians.
on Ice' appeals beyond regional references as play
gets to the heart of guys
ATKINSON - Milwaukee-area audiences are familiar with the
late Fred Alley’s work. As a playwright and a lyricist, he
has delighted us before with “Lumberjacks in Love,”
“Goodnight Irene” and “The Spitfire Grill,” to name
features some colorful, intense characters
University Players in conjunction with Outskirts Theatre
Company opened a vigorous production of Jonathan Larson’s
“Rent,” a rock musical loosely based on Puccini’s
opera “La Boehme.”
in Manhattan' has it's share of humor
Patrick Shanley is best known for his award-winning play and
film “Doubt” and his script for the movie
“Moonstruck” with Cher and Nicolas Cage, but he is quite
Shop of Horrors' cast, plant demand attention
— “Little Shop of Horrors,” now on tap at Next Act
Theatre in Milwaukee and produced by All In Productions,
made its debut in 1960 as a cult movie, and in 1982 opened
off-Broadway to become a big hit.
ado' does well on chilly night at Lapham
TOWN OF DELAFIELD
— A chilly night and a sparse crowd did not diminish the
energy of the cast at Summerstage in the Lapham Peak Unit on
opening night. They muscled through the complex
Shakespearian plot in his romantic comedy “Much Ado About
Nothing” with verve and aplomb.
about anybody can relate to 'Father of the Bride'
“Father of the Bride,” which was popularized in two
films, one starring Spencer Tracy (1950) and the other Steve
Martin (1991), also ended up as a stage play adapted from
the novel by Edward Streeter (1949).
'Into the Woods' to
discover ones humanity
- “Into the Woods,” one of the many successful musicals
by Stephen Sondheim (music and lyrics) and James Lapine
(book), opened last weekend in the Cabot Theatre in the
Broadway Theatre Center.
of Mormons' takes sharp jabs at religion
- The Broadway hit and winner of many Tony awards, “The
Book of Mormon” exploded onto the Milwaukee stage at the
Marcus Center on May 20.
Ring' condenses, but surprisingly doesn't confuse
— Skylight Music Theatre has just pulled off an
amazing feat by condensing a 14-hour opera into two
things up with 'All Shook Up'
ATKINSON - People continue to be fascinated by the ‘50s -
its music, its fashions, its post-war feelings.
Fish' reels in audience of all ages
“Big Fish,” based on a novel by Daniel Wallace, explores
the need for imagination as the path to making one’s life
fuller. First Stage Children’s Theatre gives the
production a lot of flair and a ton of heart.
and the Starcatcher' adds to Peter Pan lore
- The story of Peter Pan, the boy who refused to grow up,
was created in 1902 by James M. Barrie. It has inspired
countless spin-off films, TV shows, novels, musicals and
interactive murder mystery that entertains
Prepare yourself for a different theatrical experience as
Brumder Mansion closes its production of “Murder is a Fine
Simon's 'Rumors' sparkles
on Lake Country Players stage
- Neil Simon, probably the greatest comic American
playwright, has written more than 30 plays and almost an
equal number of screenplays, many adaptations of his stage
productions. “Rumors,” one of his most successful
farces, is presently sparkling on stage in the intimate Lake
Country Playhose. It is a treat.
‘Les Miserables’ thrills from start to
In the past 20 years,
I have certainly witnessed some impressive musicals at
Waukesha Civic Theatre. “Miss Saigon” and “Sound of Music”
come to mind as the recent best. Their present production,
however, breaks all the former boundaries.
of Angels' offers a fun ride
Windfall Theatre in little Village Church on Juneau Avenue
has taken on an ambitious project in its production of Cy
Coleman and David Zippel’s musical creation, “City of
Angels.” Considering its length, its scope, its complexity
and the large cast required, the end result is quite
actors, 140-plus characters
make for frenzied mystery
GROVE - We don’t usually expect a comedy when we hear the
word “Hitchcock.” Not that the man didn’t have a sense
of wry humor, but his comical mystery “The 39 Steps”
doesn’t match the formula we’ve become accustomed to.
MENOMONEE FALLS -
With a cadre of talented artists and technical engineers, a
cast of enthusiastic, energized actors and vocalists, and an
accomplished director, “Hairspray”
exploded upon the stage via The Patio Players. Wow!
and Lovage' is sure to 'enlarge, enlighten and enliven'
- There is something about British wit that is easy to
recognize but hard to define. It usually appeals to
those who relish subtlety as well as outlandishness, who see
the blatant incongruities so prevalent in the human
Third time’s a clever charmer for
MILWAUKEE — Milwaukee
Chamber closes out its season with its third Jeeves show.
The British playwright P.G. Wodehouse created this famous
butler, who has become an iconic figure, appearing in
countless of Wodehouse’s short stories for 59 years.