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MOVIE REVIEWS

'Greatest move never made' 
debuts in local cinemas Friday

Chamber's finale is laugh a minute

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:

WAUKESHA - The winner of two Tony Awards and often called the second-funniest farce ever written, “Lend Me a Tenor” by Ken Ludwig has been chosen by Milwaukee Chamber Theatre for its finale of the season. 
 

'Lunchbox,' '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
WAUKESHA - 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.”

Oscar predictions and omissions
WAUKESHA - “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.


'3 Days' different, but hardly a unique film
WAUKESHA - 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.”

Praise for 'Her' is only faint
WAUKESHA - 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 woman.

Collection of films made for 
a very good cinematic year
WAUKESHA - In a fine year for cinema, such as 2013, it’s not all that challenging to compile a list of excellent movies. 

'Osage County' a must-see movie
WAUKESHA - 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. 

Reality-based stories make for good December cinema
WAUKESHA - Truth may or may not be stranger than fiction, but it can be just as interesting. And it certainly can make for good cinema.  

'Nebraska' more than a worthy successor
WAUKESHA - 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 formidable bunch.

'Dallas 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?). 

'Book Thief' redeemed by 
acting, cinematography
WAUKESHA - 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 summarized quickly.

'Parkland' 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.

'Kill Your Darlings' concept good; movie about poet doesn't resonate
WAUKESHA - “Thor: The Dark World,” sequel to 2011’s “Thor,” is an intriguing movie mixture of adventure, 3-D-enhanced special effects and humor. 

'Thor' sequel an intriguing blend
WAUKESHA - “Thor: The Dark World,” sequel to 2011’s “Thor,” is an intriguing movie mixture of adventure, 3-D-enhanced special effects and humor. 

Animated 'Free Birds' could fly higher
WAUKESHA - The lengthy list of holiday features has grown a little longer with the Jimmy Hayward-directed “Free Birds.” 

'12 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 last week.

'Enough 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.

'Blue Jasmine' merits 
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 Music.” Career-defining performances, all. 

'Spectacular Now' falls 
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.

'The Butler' serves up fairly 
good entertainment
WAUKESHA - 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.

‘Planes' offers lessons, 
quips, but little originality
WAUKESHA - 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). 

'We're the Millers' offers 
solid story, acting, but milks
 foul language, situations
WAUKESHA - In a trailer for Rawson Marshall Thurber’s “We’re the Millers,” star Jason Sudeikis pronounces the film “edgy, R-rated fun.”

No bells or whistles -
 just a darn good film
WAUKESHA - A 14-year-old boy with more potential than self-confidence. His mother, desperate to fill a void in her life. His wisecracking boss, who proves a most unlikely mentor. A wicked stepfather type. A lovely girl next door.

‘The Great Gatsby’ proves
quite satisfactory

MILWAUKEE – The most remarkable aspect of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel “The Great Gatsby” is the quality of its writing. Memorable metaphors combine with indelible poetic passages.

 

 

 

Next Act Theatre takes marriage through the course of time
WAUKESHA - It is refreshing and rare to see a play that deals with end-of-life issues.

Renaissance Theaterworks succeeds with brining back 'Skin Tight'
MILWAUKEE - It is said that if something’s perfect, don’t mess with it.  

Wisconsin Lutheran puts new spin on 'Macbeth Project'
MILWAUKEE - Shakespeare continues to have his fans. Though some are turned off by his language, some find it a treasure worth mining. 

'Crash' shares lessons
 in patience and respect
WAUKESHA - First Stage Children’s Theatre’s “Crash” offers a lesson in tolerance and respect for all ages. In a well-honed production that provided five young actors meaty roles, we observe seven out of the eight characters growing in understanding.

Music lovers will get all jazzed
up about 'Ain't Misbehavin'
WAUKESHA - “Ain’t Misbehavin” is back, this time with a little different configuration.   In 2003, when the Skylight put on this show in the Cabot Theatre, the cast consisted of five singers and six instrumentalists.

Skylight's 'Jukebox' offers history lesson on significant past social issues
WAUKESHA - Viswa Subbaraman, the Skylight Music Theatre’s new artistic director, continues his first season with brave choices and unusual offerings.  

Civic Theatre’s ‘Curtains’ a whodunit musical comedy
WAUKESHA - “Curtains” by John Kander and Fred Ebb, their last work, does not measure up to their best musicals - “Cabaret,” “Kiss of the Spider Woman” and “Chicago.”

Sunset’s ‘Joseph’ raises the bar with complete show
WAUKESHA - Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice launched their sterling careers in 1968 with “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Coat.”

Playwright's 'Almost, Maine' 
gets better with age

WAUKESHA - There are certain plays one can enjoy time after time. “Almost, Maine’ by John Cariani is certainly one of them. This is Cariani’s first play, and it has already enjoyed more than 2,000 productions throughout the country.

LC Players bring it all together in 'Spamalot'
HARTLAND - “Spamalot” is hard to classify. Is it a satirical farce, a farcical satire, a zany comedy? Perhaps all of the above, but surely good entertainment if you can handle the irreverence.

'Mary Poppins' rich on cozy Fireside Theatre stage
WAUKESHA - Staging “Mary Poppins” on the small stage at the Fireside Theatre in Fort Atkinson is a challenge.

Beloved state actor DeVita 
wows in Rep's 'An Iliad'
WAUKESHA - If any actor can pull off a successful one-man show, it is James DeVita

Dialogue, characters keep 'David's Heart' from beating strongly
WAUKESHA - “Searching for David’s Heart” is a play by Cherie Bennett, which is an adaptation of her novel by the same name. 

Dancing makes 'Flashdance' worth the price
WAUKESHA - “Flashdance” was a very popular film in 1983, despite the fact that most critics panned it. Critics do not always reflect popular taste.

State playwright recalls tragedy's impact in Chamber's 'October'
WAUKESHA - Often a real-life event can inspire a given piece of literature. Such was the case with Wisconsin playwright Lori Matthews as the stories of the Tennessee Eastman Company explosion in 1960 was told to her by her relatives, many of whom who were affected by this far-reaching tragedy. 

Cast, script carry First Stage's 'Anatole'
WAUKESHA - When you enlist the talents of Gerard Neugent, Rick Pendzich, Drew Brhel and Karen Estrada, and give them a worthy musical script by John Maclay, James Valcq and Lee Becker, you can’t miss.  

Daniels dog-gone convincing in 'Chesapeake'
MILWAUKEE - If the subjects of politics, the arts and dogs interest you, you’ll find this production fascinating.  

Classic Windfall play will keep your interest
WAUKESHA - Robert Sherwood is remembered for his stage plays, movie scripts and film reviews.  He is also the winner of four Pulitzer prizes.  

'Talents & Admirers' introduces audiences to Russian playwright
MILWAUKEE - When one thinks of Russian literature, the names of Tolstoy, Gogol, Turgenev, Chekhov and Dostoevsky are the first to come to mind. 

The 'Perfect Wedding' 
strains our credulity a bit
WAUKESHA - The Brits are known for their clever farces, Robin Hawdon being one of the playwrights who has been very successful in this genre.   The Waukesha Civic Theatre is presently indulging in the craziness and laughter of one of his works - “Perfect Wedding.”  

'Whipping Man' gives powerful history lesson
WAUKESHA - Get ready to be stunned and dazzled and devastated by one of the most searing productions you will ever experience.

'Shooting Star' on thought-provoking venture
MILWAUKEE - Steven Dietz is one of the most prolific playwrights in America. His plays are usually produced regionally, which is the case right now in Milwaukee at the Boulevard Theatre.   

Broadway's 'Evita' tells inspiring 
story of Argentina's first lady
WAUKESHA - “Evita,” by the notable collaborators, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, has recently been revived on Broadway and is presently touring the country, including the Marcus Center in Milwaukee.  

Skylight's 'Heights' showcases those who follow their dreams
WAUKESHA - A combination of energy, electricity and heart characterizes the Skylight Music Theatre’s production of “In the Heights,” a Tony favorite from 2008. 

Mamet's 'Race' Turns up the heat on society
WAUKESHA - David Mamet, a very prolific playwright and screenwriter, is best known for his brutal, uncensored language and negative view of the human race.  

Agatha Christie dishes 
appetizing murder mystery 
on Egyptian pleasure cruise
WAUKESHA - I’m not a big mystery novel reader, but when I have a chance to see one of Agatha Christie’s works translated into a stage play, I am always eager to experience the grand dame of mysteries, though I can seldom figure out who the guilty party is.

Fireside's 'Solid Gold 60's' reflects music of era
WAUKESHA - After seeing “Sizzlin ‘60s” last January, I wondered how The Fireside Theatre could ever top that show, but “Solid Gold 60’s” rose to the occasion.

Playwright brings powerful 
production to First Stage
WAUKESHA - James DeVita has done it again. The multitalented writer, actor and director has composed a moving story based on a young slave, Caroline Quartis-Watkins, who successfully made use of the Underground Railroad in her trip from Missouri to Wisconsin.

'End of the Rainbow' captures Judy Garland's final months
WAUKESHA - The Milwaukee Rep’s production of Peter Quilter’s “End of the Rainbow” captures the turbulence, the drama, the anguish and the power of Judy Garland’s career. 

'Understudy' more than just a peek into a rehearsal
MILWAUKEE - Theresa Rebeck is back with another of her ingenious scripts.  Rebeck, a successful playwright, has entertained and intrigued us before with “Bad Dates” (the Milwaukee Rep) and “Mauritius” (the Milwaukee Chamber Theatre).  

'Woody Sez' draws audience in right away
MILWAUKEE - We are hooked in the first five minutes with the “Woody Sez” production at the Stackner Cabaret. 

'Reindeer Monologues' an 
alternative to holiday season
WAUKESHA - “The Eight: Reindeer Monologues” is not for the squeamish. If Christmas is an undiluted sentimental feast for you, you will have problems with the tone of scandal and irreverence that dominates this production by Jeff Goode. 

Artistry, engineering soar above all in Marcus Center Broadway show 'War Horse'
WAUKESHA - The beautiful children’s novel “War Horse,” written by Michael Marpurgo, inspired the stage version of the story in 2007 and the Steven Spielberg film in 2011.