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.
is Strange,' 'Tusk,' contrast in quality
WAUKESHA - 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'
WAUKESHA - First,
let’s dispel any notions that “The November Man” is
some kind of baseball biopic.
sports film won't stand tall for all
WAUKESHA - 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
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
Woody Allen film really is ‘Magic’
Magician 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
source of that flattering quote, Howard Burkan (a very
watchable Simon McBurney), reports a fraud he’d like
Stanley to debunk.
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.”
& Rescue' too much like 'Planes'
- 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
WAUKESHA - 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
WAUKESHA - 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
WAUKESHA - In all
honesty, “A Million Ways to Die in the West” doesn’t
contain anywhere near a million uses of the F word.
more cooking with
British 'Belle than 'Chef'
WAUKESHA - 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
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
WAUKESHA - 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
WAUKESHA - “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.”
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.
Questions' explores common ground in debate on evolution versus creation
- There are issues that can be variously interpreted.
They usually involve science, religion or politics, and some
people feel so strongly about their position that they are
willing to denigrate, torture or demolish their
wrestles with gender roles for winning performance
- “Luchadora” is a premiere, an original work
commissioned and produced by First Stage Children’s
Theater. I’m sure it will find a market elsewhere for
playwright Alvaro Saar Rios, for it is a beautiful story
with an upbeat message for young people and their parents.
Down Dirty Blues' spotlights performers
- As soon as Felicia Fields saunters onto the stage in that
shimmery crimson gown and googles us with those big naughty
eyes, we sense the power of her presence, but when she opens
her mouth to sing “They Call Me Big Mama,” we know
we’re in for one unforgettable experience.
Man's Cell Phone' isn't ringing endorsement of technological
- Sarah Ruhl is a young American playwright who deserves our
is prolific and provocative and has already received her
share of awards for her rather quirky plays.
hard to see 'Wizard of Oz' too often
don’t think there’s another film I’ve seen more times
in my life than “The Wizard of Oz” since my first
thrilling experience of it in 1939, when as a child I
watched Dorothy’s world suddenly turn into a rainbow of
colors and a series of delicious adventures.
miss 'Five Presidents'
Emmy-winning playwright Rick Cleveland, having contributed
to many prominent TV shows such as “The West Wing,”
“Six Feet Under” and “Mad Men,” saw a sterling
opportunity to write about a rare gathering of four
ex-presidents and the one presently holding office in 1994
when all five men came together to attend Richard Nixon’s
OK to laugh at 'The Nerd'
Shue once acted and wrote for The Milwaukee Rep Theatre. In
the height of his career at age 39, he was killed in a plane
crash, leaving a legacy of three plays, two of which have
been staged hundreds of times - “The Nerd” and “The
of Ann Frank' poses introspective questions
Imagine what it
must have been like for a young girl of 13, teeming with
energy and hopes, to be trapped in a very confined space
with seven other people, four of whom she barely knew, for
almost two years.
Durst gets a rage on with baby boomers
Class of 1970 from Waukesha South High School might remember
Will Durst. Was
he the class clown, the most likely to succeed or just a
quiet guy you never expected to turn out to be one the best
political satirists of our time.
Have I Wings to Fly' will close this weekend
Decker, artistic director at the University of
Wisconsin-Waukesha, found a sweet-sad Irish play many years
ago when living in Chicago. Lucky for us, he never forgot
Neither Have I Wings to Fly” by Ann Noble is here for our
perusal and enjoyment.
Amish Project' is
a complex one-woman show
Staples has proved again that she is capable of handling the
complexity of a one-woman show.
a Pop Opera' tackles the struggle for acceptance
Northey makes his directorial debut with an electric
production of “Bare: a Pop Opera” at Soulstice Theatre
in St. Francis.
is a comic drama replete with memorable characters
Davies, a Welshman who early on settled in London, is best
known for his film and TV scripts and adaptations.
music show off the charts
- Along with jazz and spirituals, the American Musical is
said to be an original with us. It has often been called the
Money' cashes in on some laughter
- Ray Cooney is considered one of the best British
playwrights. He has even been called the British Neil Simon,
which I think is a stretch because their comedies are quite
Players' 'Mama' filled with hilarious moments
FALLS - The Patio Players has discovered an outlandish
comedy for our entertainment. A rather recent work by Jessie
Jones, Nicholas Hope and Jamie Wooten, “Mama Won’t
Fly,” is enjoying success since its inception in 2011, and
I’m sure will continue to do so in many community theaters
across the country.
stages moving 'Once on this Island'
- The third production in Skylight Music Theatre’s fairy
tale season is the delightfully colorful and soulful story
of star-crossed lovers, set in the Caribbean French
Antilles, where there is a big divide between the
dark-skinned peasants and the lighter-skinned French
offers appreciation for American music
- Occasionally, one meets people that are hard to describe.
They’re often referred to as “characters.”
course, each person is unique, one of a kind, but some stand
out as being quite different from any others.
Act pulls at heart strings with 'No Child'
MILWAUKEE - It is
gratifying to encounter a play that praises teachers for
their grit and dedication. Having spent 35 years of my own
life teaching high school (and 10 teaching college, which is
a piece of cake by comparison), I often wanted to say to
those who were quick to criticize and thought we had a cushy
job and were overpaid, that they should try it sometime,
even for one year, and then we’d talk.
'Cuckoo's Nest' delivers
GROVE - The novel “One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest” by
Ken Kesey was a very controversial one when it was published
in 1962. It poked its nose into mental institutions and
wrote a scathing story about the inhumane treatment afforded
the mentally ill.
taps into struggles of lower class
- I always look forward to seeing a play by David Lindsay-Abaire,
an American playwright with a quirky sense of humor, the
ability to create characters we care about, and a man with
many successes behind him, including a Pulitzer Prize for
stages engaging show based on Tolstoy
Tolstoy, best known for his lengthy “War and Peace,”
also wrote many lesser-known shorter pieces, one of which is
being featured in its adaptation by Nancy Harris.
brings 1970s music to life
ATKINSON - I wouldn’t have believed that the Fireside
Dinner Theatre could top its two recent musical revues from
issue put front and center
- The theme of bullying is still getting a lot of focus
these days, and well it should. Often the person who is
different is the one that’s bullied, whether it be a
difference in religion, ethnicity or cultural
'Macbeth' tackles greed and power
ST. FRANCIS -
Because the themes of greed and power continue to resonate
in the modern world, Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” will
always have something to say to us.
Lake Country Players offer unusual twist
The Lake Country Playhouse has found an unusual offering to
ring in the new year. Presently playing is a quirky creation
by playwright Emily Schwartz, a writer who has garnered a
few awards from her Chicago site of operation.
Songs headline production
- Many older musicals have little substance and rather vapid
plots, but in “Anything Goes,” playing at the Marcus Center
for the Performing Arts, with so many memorable tunes by
Cole Porter, the production numbers compensate for the
overall literary sparseness. The precise and elaborate dance
numbers are also a visual and rhythmic treat.
shows that made an impression in 2014
WAUKESHA - Another year has
passed, and again we have been amused, instructed, inspired
and awed by many memorable theatrical productions at
professional, community and college theaters in the metro
fabulous holiday songs
The Waukesha Civic Theatre is staging its traditional
“Candy Canes” Christmas show for the sixth time.
brings back classic holiday favorite
- “Miracle on 34th Street” originated in a black and
white film in 1947. It has survived the ravages of time and
is still a Christmas favorite.
Country Players go above and beyond with Christmas classic
Charles Dickens, when in financial straits himself,
hurriedly wrote “A Christmas Carol.” It was an instant
hit and has been sending a strong message to millions of
people ever since its inception as a novella in 1843.
Stage brings back most
famous reindeer of them all
- It’s always fun to re-experience an old classic with
some new twists.
Stage Children’s Theater dusted off “Rudolph the
Red-Nosed Reindeer” and is offering the musical version