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).
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,
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 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
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
Theatre captures it all with farcical 'Noises Off'
“Noises Off” by British playwright Michael J. Frayn is
one of the most popular farces of all time.
and judgments collide
in '1959 Pink Thunderbird'
- There’s a lot to enjoy and to ponder in the companion
pieces “Laundry and Bourbon” and “Lone Star,” under
the umbrella title “1959 Thunderbird.”
Patio Players stage high quality production 'Seven Brides
for Seven Brothers' includes talented cast, impressive music
MENOMONEE FALLS -
When I was asked to review a play for the Falls Patio
Players, I didn’t know what to expect, but I discovered a
lot on my first visit.
'History of Invulnerability'
soars through time
WAUKESHA - To be human is to be
vulnerable, and in view of our limitations, we often create
heroes who can save us from our weakness and
finale is laugh a minute
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
Act Theatre takes marriage through the course of time
- It is refreshing and rare to see a play that deals with
Theaterworks succeeds with brining back 'Skin Tight'
MILWAUKEE - It is
said that if something’s perfect, don’t mess with it.
Lutheran puts new spin on 'Macbeth Project'
Shakespeare continues to have his fans. Though some are
turned off by his language, some find it a treasure worth
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
lovers will get all jazzed
up about 'Ain't Misbehavin'
- “Ain’t Misbehavin” is back, this time with a little
2003, when the Skylight put on this show in the Cabot
Theatre, the cast consisted of five singers and six
'Jukebox' offers history lesson on significant past social
WAUKESHA - Viswa
Subbaraman, the Skylight Music Theatre’s new artistic
director, continues his first season with brave choices and
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”
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.”
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.
bring it all together in 'Spamalot'
- “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.
Poppins' rich on cozy Fireside Theatre stage
Staging “Mary Poppins” on the small stage at the
Fireside Theatre in Fort Atkinson is a challenge.
state actor DeVita
wows in Rep's 'An Iliad'
- If any actor can pull off a successful one-man show, it is
characters keep 'David's Heart' from beating strongly
- “Searching for David’s Heart” is a play by Cherie
Bennett, which is an adaptation of her novel by the same
makes 'Flashdance' worth the price
“Flashdance” was a very popular film in 1983, despite
the fact that most critics panned it. Critics do not always
reflect popular taste.
playwright recalls tragedy's impact in Chamber's 'October'
- Often a real-life event can inspire a given piece of
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.
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