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Friday, July 29, 2016

Theater Review: Honest Pint Theatre's Uncut Hamlet Is Worth Its Daunting Girth

Posted By on Fri, Jul 29, 2016 at 2:39 PM

Hamlet★★★★ Through July 31 Leggett Theatre, William Peace University Something was rotten—or clearly amiss, at least—as I topped the second-floor staircase outside Leggett Theatre at Peace University last Saturday night. Aisles of chairs were set out for mourners as an exquisitely dressed party conversed, perhaps a bit too convivially, near a coffin draped with the flag of Denmark. Meanwhile, in an outfit that hardly suggested widow’s weeds, Durham singer Mysti Mayhem lustily belted out the rock anachronism “Me and Bobby McGee” from the other end of the lobby. Strange, I thought. But then, given the sinister circumstances of the death...

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Movie Review: Like Bond, Matt Damon's Jason Bourne Is Less a Character Than a Genre

Posted By on Fri, Jul 29, 2016 at 1:30 PM

Jason Bourne★★★ Now playing Poor Jason Bourne—that guy just can’t catch a break. As an amnesiac super-spy, he's forever being shot at by people he doesn't know, for reasons he can't remember. Relentlessly hunted by every intelligence agency in the world, he must remain radically off-grid in places like Uzbekistan, Nepal, and Cleveland. When old friends get back in touch, they're invariably followed by entire platoons of elite assassins. It's hard not to isolate yourself in such circumstances. It's a drag getting old. Bourne is back in theaters this week, and once again his misery is our delight. Simply...

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Thursday, July 28, 2016

Art Review: Truth to Power, Pleiades Gallery's Annual Social Justice Show, Aptly Starts With a Cry of Pain

Posted By on Thu, Jul 28, 2016 at 1:48 PM

Truth to Power 4Through Sunday, Aug. 7 Pleiades Gallery, Durham Before you even enter downtown Durham’s Pleiades Gallery, you’re met by the face of a black man in anguish. “Rage,” which peers out of the front windows of the gallery, is by Durham’s Clarence Mayo Jr. It depicts the pained, scrunched face of a shouting man. According to the caption that accompanies the emotional painting, “Rage” symbolizes the “Black man’s voiceless cry of despair, distress, frustration, and hopelessness in a world where he is marginalized as a result of societal prejudices.” Likewise, most of the art in Pleiades annual Truth...

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Thursday, July 21, 2016

Movie Review: An Indie Short With a Clever Premise Becomes a Surprisingly Effective Horror Film in Lights Out

Posted By on Thu, Jul 21, 2016 at 3:20 PM

Lights Out ★★★ ½ Opening Friday, July 22, 2016 The story behind Lights Out, the surprisingly effective first feature film by David F. Sandberg, is the stuff of indie auteur fantasy. After Sandberg put a no-budget short starring his wife, Lotta Losten, on YouTube, it went viral, attracting the attention of horror maven James Wan (Saw, The Conjuring). Wan was impressed enough to help Sandberg develop his dialogue-free short into a major studio film, and New Line Cinema’s faith was justified. While it’s no The Babadook, Lights Out is an efficient haunted-house thriller, as witty and charming as it is...

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Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Movie Review: New Zealand Hit Hunt for the Wilderpeople Brings Genuine Emotion to Ridiculous Circumstances

Posted By on Wed, Jul 20, 2016 at 9:18 AM

Hunt for the Wilderpeople ★★★★ Now playing The focus of this film from New Zealand, which is set in the bush of that country, is Ricky, a pudgy orphaned teenager who names his dog Tupac and uses haiku as a form of self-expression. Described as a kid who never wanted to be good, Ricky is at ease with his new foster family. He runs away every night, only to make his way back every morning for a pancake breakfast. When he is told by child protective services that he must leave his foster uncle after his foster aunt’s untimely death...

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Friday, July 15, 2016

Movie Review: Todd Solondz Lightly Links Tales of Abjection and Absurdity in Wiener-Dog

Posted By on Fri, Jul 15, 2016 at 9:18 AM

Wiener-Dog★★★ ½ Opening Friday, July 15, 2016 Wiener-Dog is a funny, if modest, installment in director Todd Solondz’s series of meditations on the austere cruelty of the American middle-class family. The film consists of several episodes linked by the eponymous creature, a forlorn dachshund shuffled from one tenuous situation to the next. First, the dog lives with a shy little boy and his self-involved parents, then with an awkward and lonely veterinary assistant, followed by a bitter screenwriting teacher and an elderly woman dying of cancer. The dog’s goofy, kind-of-blank but also kind-of-sad expression is the perfect visual counterpoint...

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Thursday, July 14, 2016

Movie Review: Shut Up, Misogynists, the Ghostbusters Reboot Has a Great Cast. The Rest of the Film, Unfortunately ...

Posted By on Thu, Jul 14, 2016 at 3:57 PM

Ghostbusters ★★  Opening Friday, July 15, 2016 Contrary to all the sexist noise online, remaking Ghostbusters with a female cast was not a bad idea. Of course not—with director Paul Feig behind the camera and Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy in front of it, it was an empirically good idea. Unfortunately, the result of that good idea is a pretty bad movie. In fact, the new Ghostbusters is lazy, uninspired, and really close to insulting. Feig and the film's four leads—Wiig, McCarthy, Leslie Jones, and Kate McKinnon—are all comedy professionals with strong track records. But this is a highly...

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Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Dance Review: John Jasperse Somehow Stops Time While Moving It Forward in Remains

Posted By on Tue, Jul 12, 2016 at 2:42 PM

John Jasperse Projects: Remains ★★★★ Wednesday, July 6, 2016 Reynolds Industries Theater, Durham When the curtain rises—only slightly—on John Jasperse Projects’ Remains, dancer Maggie Cloud is prostrate on the stage, her limbs arranged like a classical Greek statue. Later she will return to a similar position, albeit shifted downstage, in an embrace with dancer Claire Westby. This reprisal of the work’s opening image seems, suddenly, like an ending, but it's a tease—the picture would be too perfectly circular. Cloud exits the scene, leaving Westby with her legs suspended in the air. Westby gets up and the dance goes on....

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Friday, July 8, 2016

Movie Review: The Secret Life of Pets Riffs on Our Animal Obsession

Posted By on Fri, Jul 8, 2016 at 4:21 PM

The Secret Life of Pets★★★ ½ stars Opening Friday, July 8, 2016 From the creative team that brought you Despicable Me and those rascally Minions, The Secret Life of Pets is an exquisitely calibrated family movie with plenty of laughs for both grown-ups and kids. The concept is simple: What do our pets actually do while we're away? Animators have been riffing on this idea since the heyday of Looney Tunes, of course, and with good reason. It's a virtually inexhaustible comedy premise. As approximately ten billion YouTube clips demonstrate daily, pets are funny. We like to watch them,...

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Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Tim Carless's Live Score for Peter Greenaway's Cook Was Appetizing at The ArtsCenter

Posted By on Tue, Jul 5, 2016 at 7:42 AM

The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover: Reimagined Saturday, June 25, 2016 The ArtsCenter, Carrboro The Saturday before last at The ArtsCenter, Tim Carless premiered his original score for an abridged version of the cult classic The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover, director Peter Greenaway’s most celebrated film. When Greenaway began filming it in the 1980s, he already had a reputation noble enough to attract Michael Gambon, Tim Roth, and Helen Mirren to the project. The film is billed as a black comedy centering on the foursome of the title as they enjoy adultery, sumptuous...

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Friday, July 1, 2016

Movie Review: Harry Potter Is Dead in Swiss Army Man, a Weird, Touching Mash-Up of Cast Away and Weekend at Bernie's

Posted By on Fri, Jul 1, 2016 at 2:44 PM

Swiss Army Man ★★★ Opening Friday, July 1, 2016 Deciding whether or not you like Swiss Army Man is like trying to decide whether to keep your arm or your leg. You’re going to be somewhat dissatisfied either way, but grateful that you at least have something to appreciate. Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, two writers and directors known mostly for creating eccentric music videos, push the weirdness over the edge in their first feature film. There are times where what’s happening makes sense only to the characters, leaving the audience lost. But in the moments when we’re able...

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Monday, June 27, 2016

Dance Review: Kate Weare Sculpts With Bodies in the Premiere of Marksman at ADF

Posted By on Mon, Jun 27, 2016 at 3:35 PM

Kate Weare Company: Marksman ★★★ Wednesday, June 22, 2016 Reynolds Industries Theater, Durham Kate Weare’s Marksman, an American Dance Festival commission that premiered at Reynolds Theater last week, is a molded and folded dance. The six dancers act as architects: They build houses, live in them, and vacate. They sculpt their bodies into notches for others to push and pull through. A bent leg folds perfectly over a crouched back; an arm pierces the negative space between other limbs. The performers greet one another in undulations; they unfurl and then halt. Eventually they part, dissipating. Most often the sextet...

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Friday, June 24, 2016

Dance Review: Sara Juli Will Tickle You at Motorco. No, Actually Tickle You.

Posted By on Fri, Jun 24, 2016 at 11:54 AM

Tense Vagina: an actual diagnosis ★★★★★ Wednesday, June 22–Friday, June 24, 7 & 9 p.m., $20  Motorco Music Hall, Durham You can read our interview this week to catch up on the background of Sara Juli’s Tense Vagina: an actual diagnosis, which finishes its three-night stand in ADF at Motorco tonight. Basically, it’s a dance-theater-comedy show about postpartum urinary incontinence, pelvic floor rehabilitation, and the madder side of early motherhood. It’s OK if you need a moment to take that in. The first performance on Wednesday night left the whole audience tickled, and not always metaphorically. At several points...

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Thursday, June 23, 2016

Theater Review: Patrick Torres Finds a Fresh Take on an American Classic, The Glass Menagerie, at Raleigh Little Theatre

Posted By on Thu, Jun 23, 2016 at 9:42 AM

The Glass Menagerie★★★★ Through June 26 Raleigh Little Theatre, Raleigh They’re conventions of theater criticism: no spoilers, and please, don’t give away the end. But my hand is forced when it comes to Raleigh Little Theatre’s production of The Glass Menagerie, since the conclusions artistic director Patrick Torres reaches are the most noteworthy element of the endeavor by far. Besides, given the canonical status of Tennessee Williams’s memory play in American literature classes—and its myriad productions in film and television and on the local stage—for most of us, the element of surprise left this particular text long ago. Still,...

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Friday, June 17, 2016

Theater Review: Caryl Churchill Scrambles Post-Colonial Roles in Ludicrous, Rewarding Farce Cloud 9

Posted By on Fri, Jun 17, 2016 at 9:45 AM

Cloud 9 ★★★★ ½ Through June 25 Common Ground Theatre, Durham There are only two things missing in the opening act of Tiny Engine Theatre Company’s production of Cloud 9 at Common Ground Theatre. The first is a cheesy, sinister organ cue to underscore all the cheesy, sinister plot revelations. The second is what people used to call a lick of common sense. The latter’s absence fuels the ludicrous potboiler that begins this rewarding farce of colonialism and gender roles. The year is 1880, and the British Empire is still presumably on the rise—somewhere far from this sagging outpost in the...

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Thursday, June 16, 2016

Dance Review: Tap Genius Michelle Dorrance Brings It Home at the NC Rhythm Tap Festival

Posted By on Thu, Jun 16, 2016 at 2:12 PM

NC Rhythm Tap Festival: “The Greatest Tap Show Ever” Saturday, June 11, 2016 The ArtsCenter, Carrboro Fans of Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, Gregory Hines, Eleanor Powell, and other hoofers might disagree that last Saturday's performances by the faculty artists of the 2016 NC Rhythm Tap Festival at The ArtsCenter deserved the title of “The Greatest Tap Show Ever," but it was indisputably among the best presentations of state-of-the-art tap anyone is likely to see anywhere. Sure, Savion Glover, America’s reigning king of tap, will appear later this month courtesy of Duke Performances and the American Dance Festival, and Michelle Dorrance, who was...

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Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Dance Review: In Feature Presentation, Anna Barker and Leah Wilks Comedically Remind Us of a Harsh Fact: Art Hurts

Posted By on Wed, Jun 15, 2016 at 4:04 PM

real.live.people.durham: Feature Presentation ★★★★ Friday, June 10, 2016 The Trotter Building, Durham A high school teacher of mine had many quotations painted in purplish blue on the cinderblocks outside her classroom, but the one I remember best is by the poet Gwendolyn Brooks: “Art hurts. Art urges voyages—and it is easier to stay at home.” I left real.live.people.durham’s Feature Presentation thinking of that quote. It’s not that the performance hurt or upset me—on the contrary, it was bitingly clever and gorgeously, generously executed—but that it placed me and, I suspect, others in unusually close proximity to difficult artistic labors...

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Friday, June 10, 2016

Movie Review: The Conjuring 2 Checks Off Every Horror Movie Trope of the Last Fifty Years

Posted By on Fri, Jun 10, 2016 at 11:25 AM

The Conjuring 2★★★ Opening Friday, June 10, 2016 Supernatural thriller The Conjuring 2 doesn't have an original idea in its scary little head. It borrows most of its plot and imagery from other horror movies, rearranges them, and then spits them back out in a gob of blood and teeth. But if you've been paying attention to mainstream horror movies of late, that's pretty much the template. With a hundred years’ worth of cinematic ghost stories in the vault, it's difficult to conjure genuinely new ideas. At least director James Wan commits his larceny with skill and style, as...

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Friday, June 3, 2016

Movie Review: For Better and Worse, Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Is a Feature-Length Lonely Island Video

Posted By on Fri, Jun 3, 2016 at 3:46 PM

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping★★ ½   Opening Friday, June 3, 2016 The satirical targets of Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping aren’t just the vapid pop music industry and the boy bands that inevitably splinter when the marketplace lures their key members to solo stardom. The more self-referential sendup is of Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer, and Jorma Taccone, the film’s writers, directors, and stars. Collectively known as The Lonely Island, they've grown from childhood friends in California to writers on Saturday Night Live, where popular shorts like “Dick in a Box” propelled Samberg to, well, solo stardom. In Popstar, The Lonely...

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Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Theater Review: Two Leads Diverge in a Darkened Dive in Hughie

Posted By on Wed, Jun 1, 2016 at 9:47 AM

Hughie ★★★★ (David Klionsky version) ★★ (Brook North version)  Through June 5 Sonorous Road Theatre, Raleigh A few occupations, like Formula One racing, rattlesnake farming—and acting, of all things—demand an acute, ongoing focus on the present. But in most other trades, it’s an eye for the longer term that survival favors. No one thinks, “You know, if I play my cards right, fifteen years from now I should be coming off a five-day bender in a third-rate dive somewhere in New York City.” It’s the kind of fate that happens when someone hasn’t looked ahead. But that’s where we find...

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Monday, May 30, 2016

Movie Review: Whit Stillman's Classist Nostalgia Is Untempered by Wit in Love & Friendship

Posted By on Mon, May 30, 2016 at 11:47 AM

Love & Friendship ★★ Now playing Whit Stillman’s latest, Love & Friendship, finds the director treading new territory in a period adaptation of a Jane Austen short epistolary novel, Lady Susan. Kate Beckinsale plays the cunning, eponymous lady, with Chloë Sevigny as her meek American sidekick, Alicia Johnson. It’s an intertextual echo of their 1998 roles as frenemies Charlotte and Alice in Stillman’s The Last Days of Disco. But while the film's title tantalizingly suggests a return to the repulsion-attraction dynamic that Last Days captured so well, both love and friendship are conspicuously absent. Love & Friendship tells the story...

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Friday, May 27, 2016

Movie Review: Go See Alice Through the Looking Glass For the Visual Design or Not at All

Posted By on Fri, May 27, 2016 at 11:52 AM

Alice Through the Looking Glass★★★ ½  Opening Friday, May 27, 2016 Disney has been in the spectacle business for more than eighty years now, and its fantasy movies, both live action and animation, tend toward visual extravaganzas, especially in the modern summer blockbuster season. In this regard, Alice Through the Looking Glass does not disappoint. There are maybe half a dozen glorious set pieces designed to pop your eyeballs right out of your skull. That's all you really need to know before springing for the 3-D version, which is the version to see if you're going to see it at all....

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Thursday, May 26, 2016

Theater Review: In Musical Thought Experiment If/Then, There Is No Road Not Taken

Posted By on Thu, May 26, 2016 at 11:39 AM

If/Then★★★ ½  Through May 29 DPAC, Durham Overthinkers of the Triangle: arise, and see If/Then at DPAC. Yes, I realize this unambiguous endorsement raises many more questions than it answers: Which night? Which seat? Invite a friend or go stag? Which restaurant—and which appetizer? Climb those decision trees. Just go. As for the rest of the region’s theatergoers? You might want to think about it a bit first. At the start, Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey’s optimistic follow-up to 2008’s Next to Normal merely seems devoted to a different mental malady than the manic depression that was the focus...

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Friday, May 20, 2016

Movie Reviews: The Nice Guys, The Meddler, and Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising

Posted By on Fri, May 20, 2016 at 10:00 AM

The Nice Guys ★★★ ½ The Meddler ★★★ Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising  ★ Opening Friday, May 20, 2016 Hollywood in the 1970s is not just the seamy backdrop for The Nice Guys. It’s the uproarious foreground of the buddy action comedy, which smartly borrows from its genre forerunners—an homage giddily reflected in a funhouse mirror. The narrative is immersed in the adult film milieu of 1977 Los Angeles, accented by such era touchstones as smog alerts, The Waltons, and the hysteria over killer bees. As a boy ogles a nude centerfold featuring a porn actress named Misty Mountains (Murielle Telio),...

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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Movie Review: Captain America: Civil War Is Like Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice with a Marvel Smirk Instead of a DC Frown

Posted By on Wed, May 4, 2016 at 4:01 PM

Captain America: Civil War★★★½ Opening Friday, May 6 Given the factious fervor of fans on both sides of the aisle between Marvel and DC Comics films, it’s a droll coincidence that Captain America: Civil War, the latest entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, shares the same general premise as Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, DC’s most recent blockbuster. Both films revolve around humankind’s attempts to rein in demigods and the collateral damage of their heroism. Both feature clashes between seminal superheroes who are manipulated by a bad guy and at odds over how much power they should be...

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Good for a quick stop”... Gettysburg Museum of History of History museum that is packed wall to wall. Made a …

by Batista Sh on Movie Review: Captain America: Civil War Is Like Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice with a Marvel Smirk Instead of a DC Frown (Arts)

Awesome summation of the beauty and skill surrounding this tap festival! Great Job Dan!
Annabel's mom💕 …

by Dcable on Dance Review: Tap Genius Michelle Dorrance Brings It Home at the NC Rhythm Tap Festival (Arts)

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