Reviews | Arts | Indy Week
Arts
INDY Week's arts blog

Archives | RSS | Follow on

Reviews

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Movie Review: Blair Witch Takes Us Back to Ground Zero of the Found-Footage Horror Explosion

Posted By on Wed, Sep 21, 2016 at 4:04 PM

Blair Witch ★★★★ Now playing The hype was high: a Blair Witch sequel that, according to early reports from critics, reinvents the found- footage genre. Similar hype surrounded Wes Craven’s 1994 genre-busting Scream, which proved influential for horror filmmakers to come because, at that point, the slasher flick was relying on the same tired tropes. But in fact, Blair Witch doesn’t reinvent the already worn-out horror subgenre; rather, it pays imaginative homage to the trend-setting original, which kicked off the found-footage craze in 1999. Unlike others of that ilk, which devote an excruciating amount of time to backstory, director Adam Wingard...

Continue reading…

  • Pin It

Friday, September 16, 2016

Movie Review: Werner Herzog's Human Touch Lifts Lo and Behold: Reveries of the Connected World Above Tech-Bro Celebration

Posted By on Fri, Sep 16, 2016 at 7:44 AM

Lo and Behold: Reveries of the Connected World★★★★ Opening Friday, Sept. 16 As its title suggests, Werner Herzog’s latest documentary is a broad, poetic consideration of technology’s—which is to say, humanity’s—history and future. Through interviews with the likes of Elon Musk and Kevin Mitnick, the director episodically lays bare a series of utopian visions about technology’s potential to help us learn, take us to other planets, and free us from daily tasks like driving. But Herzog’s gentle, skeptical interjections keep Lo and Behold from turning into a tech-bro hagiography. He punctuates discussions with interjections like “ can’t fall in...

Continue reading…

  • Pin It

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Movie Review: Renée Zellweger's Rich Comic Character Deserves Better Than Bridget Jones's Baby

Posted By on Thu, Sep 15, 2016 at 1:46 PM

Bridget Jones's Baby ★★ ½ Opening Friday, Sept. 16 It's easy to be cynical about a movie like Bridget Jones's Baby, a sequel that was clearly assembled from the ground up as an entertainment industry product—a guaranteed payday for its stars and studio. This is a movie that's already been made twice, and the third installment is essentially an exercise in brand awareness, dutifully adherent to a commercially viable blueprint. It's also true, however, that Bridget Jones's Baby is a pretty good time at the movies. It's got plenty of laughs, a hopelessly lovable central character, and a script that...

Continue reading…

  • Pin It

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Theater Review: Lungs Is a Rewarding Drama for a Theatrically Underserved Millennial Generation

Posted By on Wed, Sep 14, 2016 at 4:10 PM

Lungs★★★★ 1/2 Through Sept. 25 Sonorous Road Theatre, Raleigh You scarcely need a critic to note the conspicuous strengths of Sonorous Road Theatre’s rewarding production of Lungs. Two eyes, two ears, and a waking mind should do the trick. Artistic director Michelle Murray Wells and a previously underutilized Jonathan King are clearly among the strongest members of an emerging generation of young regional actors. Under Tony Lea’s discerning direction, in a stripped-down show with little in the way of technical filigree, both expertly pursue the comedy and pathos in the hairpin curves of Duncan Macmillan’s script. It’s obvious why Wells...

Continue reading…

  • Pin It

Friday, September 9, 2016

Movie Review: If Atmosphere Alone Could Carry a Film, Complete Unknown Would Be Top-Notch

Posted By on Fri, Sep 9, 2016 at 2:35 PM

Complete Unknown★★★ Now playing In director Joshua Marston’s Complete Unknown, we meet Alice, a chameleonic presence (Rachel Weisz) who embodies a paradox: Who you are is profoundly influenced by context, and yet wherever you go, there you are. This proposition, initially fascinating, is made all the more compelling by Christos Voudouris’s beautiful cinematography, which perfectly captures the desolation of a nomadic life. His camera obliquely bobs just out of reach of the actors' faces, driving home the characters’ core opacity. The trouble is that atmosphere alone can’t carry a feature film. We first encounter Alice as she schemes to reconnect with...

Continue reading…

  • Pin It

Assessing the First Outing—and the Future—of the Women's Theatre Festival

Posted By on Fri, Sep 9, 2016 at 12:27 PM

Our region had never before seen anything like the Women’s Theatre Festival. In an organized grassroots revolt against long-term local and national gender inequity in playwriting, directing, casting, and technical design, the fully crowd-sourced endeavor produced seventy-three events in four cities over five weeks. It mounted eight mainstage productions—and eight hands-on workshops where dozens of women received an introduction to disciplines including stage combat and set design. During one intensive, participants learned arc welding while constructing a set piece that would be used during the North Carolina Dance Festival. In front of live audiences and viewers on the Internet,...

Continue reading…

  • Pin It

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Theater Review: Something Rotten in the State of Kansas Delights in Maccountant

Posted By on Wed, Sep 7, 2016 at 2:56 PM

Maccountant  ★★★★ Through Sept. 17 Little Green Pig Theatrical Concern @ Common Ground Theatre One’s first instinct is to simply laugh Maccountant off. Indeed, the gag-filled season opener for Little Green Pig Theatrical Concern provides ample reason for laughter as artistic director Jaybird O’Berski transplants his freewheeling adaptation of Shakespeare’s Macbeth from eleventh-century Scotland to downtown Wichita in the mid-1960s. O’Berski manifests the absurdity of that premise in his mise-en-scène. The bloody conflicts aren’t played out amid the industrial arc welders and heavy machinery of that city’s airplane manufacturers, nor in the wringing sweat of its surrounding farmlands. Rather, they...

Continue reading…

  • Pin It

Monday, September 5, 2016

Movie Review: Gus Van Sant's The Sea of Trees Reduces Japanese Culture to a Backdrop for American Angst

Posted By on Mon, Sep 5, 2016 at 2:42 PM

The Sea of Trees★★ ½Now playing Director Gus Van Sant’s latest film, The Sea of Trees, tells the story of Arthur Brennan (Matthew McConaughey), a man intent on killing himself in Aokigahara, Japan’s famed “suicide forest.” When he finds a suitable boulder on which to swallow a bottle of pills, he sees Takumi (Ken Watanabe) wandering the forest, seemingly lost. When Arthur finds himself moved to save this mysterious man, his survival instinct kicks in to gear. As the pair wends its way through the forest, trying to find help for Takumi’s slashed wrists, the story of Arthur’s strained...

Continue reading…

  • Pin It

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Movie Review: In The Light Between Oceans, It Turns Out They Do Make 'Em Like They Used To

Posted By on Thu, Sep 1, 2016 at 2:07 PM

The Light Between Oceans ★★★★ Opening Friday, Sept. 2, 2016   It's a common lament among those who love old-fashioned Hollywood movies: They just don't make 'em like they used to.  Except sometimes they do. The period drama The Light Between Oceans is a throwback in all the best ways, with its epic themes, grand cinematography, and tragic story of life, love, and loss. Director Derek Cianfrance made his name with gritty realist dramas—Blue Valentine, The Place Beyond the Pines —but here he delivers an old-timey moviegoing experience with deep, mythical rhythms.  The year is 1919, and soldier Tom...

Continue reading…

  • Pin It

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Theater Review: Creature Emerges Not Quite Fully Formed

Posted By on Wed, Aug 31, 2016 at 1:50 PM

Creature ★★ Through Sept. 11 Tiny Engine Theatre Company @ North Raleigh Arts & Creative Theatre Those who study acting and directing build upon their skills. Once they learn how to stage a monologue, they move on to scene work, and then full-length plays. Unfortunately, this Raleigh production of Creature is clearly stuck somewhere between the latter two. Though individual sequences amuse and occasionally move us in this Tiny Engine Theatre Company coproduction with North Raleigh Arts & Creative Theatre, they never truly cohere into a unified or satisfying whole. We’re sympathetic with playwright Heidi Schreck’s attempts to reimagine the life...

Continue reading…

  • Pin It

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Movie Review: Don't Think Twice Gets Inside the Worlds of Improv Comedy and Saturday Night ... Er, Weekend Live

Posted By on Tue, Aug 30, 2016 at 3:05 PM

Don't Think Twice ★★★ Now playing One of today's most distinctive comic voices, Mike Birbiglia has a meandering storytelling style that occupies a very specific coordinate in the Venn diagram of funny business, somewhere among the intersections of stand-up comedy, DIY theater, and confessional monologue. When Birbiglia brought his one-man show, My Girlfriend's Boyfriend, to Durham a few years ago, I remember thinking it was the leanest, meanest, funniest thing I'd seen on stage in years. His other famous long-form comedy bit, Sleepwalk With Me, went through several incarnations—radio feature, touring show, book—before evolving into Birbiglia's 2012 feature-film debut...

Continue reading…

  • Pin It

Friday, August 19, 2016

Movie Review: Who Thought the Director of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter Needed a Crack at Ben-Hur?

Posted By on Fri, Aug 19, 2016 at 11:35 AM

Ben-Hur★★ Now playing It speaks volumes that the latest film version of Ben-Hur more resembles the movie-within-a-movie in the Coen brothers’ Hail, Caesar! than the famed 1959 Oscar-winning adaptation directed by William Wyler and starring Charlton Heston. After all, Wyler won three Academy Awards over his illustrious career. Timur Bekmambetov, the director of this big-screen iteration, most recently made Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. Jewish nobleman Judah Ben-Hur (Jack Huston) and Messala (Toby Kebbell) are adoptive brothers—the first of several departures from Gore Vidal’s controversial 1959 script—who split over Messala’s desire for Roman glory. When Messala returns to Jerusalem as...

Continue reading…

  • Pin It

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Movie Review: Neo-Western Hell or High Water Douses Black and White Hats in Texas Dust Until Everything Turns Gray

Posted By on Thu, Aug 18, 2016 at 3:16 PM

Hell or High Water ★★★★ Opening Friday, August 19, 2016 At its core, Hell or High Water is a traditional Western movie featuring cops and robbers and cowboys and Indians. The “outlaws” are introduced as wild-eyed, bank-robbing brothers in the vein of Frank and Jesse James. The aw-shucks lawman has a Native American sidekick. There are hayseed banks, land barons, and even an armed posse. The film’s resonance flows from how director David Mackenzie (Starred Up) and screenwriter Taylor Sheridan (Sicario) repurpose these tropes for a modern setting. The few cowpokes left are a self-loathing, dying breed. Citizens are...

Continue reading…

  • Pin It

Friday, August 12, 2016

Movie Review: When Good Actors Meet Weirdly Developed Characters, You Get Florence Foster Jenkins

Posted By on Fri, Aug 12, 2016 at 11:18 AM

Florence Foster Jenkins ★★ ½ Now playing It gives director Stephen Frears undue credit to describe Florence Foster Jenkins as an exquisite reproof of audience voyeurism. Led along by a procession of reaction shots and comedic framing, the biopic invites us to chortle at a real-life heiress’s legendarily cacophonous crooning. But it hits a sour note when Frears suddenly turns the mirror on his audience in rebuke, in effect absolving the actual enablers the film otherwise indicts. We meet Jenkins (Meryl Streep) in 1944, as a seventy-six-year-old New York City socialite and musical benefactor. The acclaimed conductor Arturo Toscanini...

Continue reading…

  • Pin It

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Theater Review: The Roaring Girl Is a Kinetic, Gender-Fluid Revisionist History of Seventeenth-Century Norms

Posted By on Thu, Aug 11, 2016 at 12:47 PM

The Roaring Girl ★★★ Through Aug. 20 Little Independent Theatre @ Murphey School Auditorium, Raleigh As they say, you gotta have a gimmick. Mary Frith was a London thief and pickpocket; her nickname, Moll Cutpurse, referred to her first primary source of income. She also dressed as a man in public, cursed like a sailor, and smoked like a house aflame—activities that were equally frowned upon for women in the year 1600. Surprisingly, however, her public disregard for gender roles and social norms earned her fame and a large degree of acceptance in King James’s England. In the years that...

Continue reading…

  • Pin It

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Theater Review: Domestic-Violence Drama The Traditionalists Leaves Us Wanting More—But Not in a Good Way

Posted By on Wed, Aug 10, 2016 at 2:46 PM

The Traditionalists★★ Through Aug. 14 Women’s Theatre Festival @ Umstead Park United Church of Christ I am an adult survivor of domestic violence. I still have the pistol my father used one night to threaten my mother’s life and my own. I keep that firearm, which is now unable to menace or injure anyone else, because people regularly doubt, discount, and second-guess accounts of domestic abuse. Evidence, I’ve learned, is important. The gun was in his hand. I can vouch for the authenticity of the damage depicted in Carol Torian’s one-act, The Traditionalists, part of the Women’s Theatre Festival’s first evening...

Continue reading…

  • Pin It

Friday, August 5, 2016

Movie Review: Though Flawed, Suicide Squad Brings Much-Needed Depth and Levity to the DC Extended Universe

Posted By on Fri, Aug 5, 2016 at 3:05 PM

Suicide Squad ★★★ Now playing The high ideals of the Bush-era War on Terror included plunging our hands into the filth of rendition and “enhanced interrogation techniques,” usually carried out by foreign contractors at black sites outside the United States’ jurisdiction. Today, the U.S. is part of an uneasy confederation of foes with the shared aim of defeating ISIL, a terrorist group armed with American weaponry seized after the U.S. pullout from the Iraq War, an occupation initiated to topple a dictator once propped up by American treasure. Relying on bad people to do our dirty business is the fulcrum...

Continue reading…

  • Pin It

In Raleigh, the First Women's Theatre Festival Hit the Ground Running With a Round-the-Clock Marathon of Staged Readings

Posted By on Fri, Aug 5, 2016 at 11:51 AM

Women’s Theatre Festival: Occupy the Stage Saturday, July 30–Sunday, July 31 Umstead Park United Church of Christ Staged readings are hardly the most glamorous side of live theater. Production values are thin—other than a clump of music stands to hold the actors’ scripts, there’s usually little or no set. Though the actors may have dressed up for the occasion, they’re generally not in costume or theatrical makeup. So why would a new theater festival open a month of programs and productions with twenty-one staged readings? And why did sixteen volunteers, 100 regional theater artists, and 250 audience members occupy a...

Continue reading…

  • Pin It

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Theater Review: Three Shakespeare Plays Are Pared Down to a Ninety-Minute Game of Dramatic Chess in Henry VI

Posted By on Wed, Aug 3, 2016 at 3:02 PM

Henry VI: The War of the Roses★★★ Through Aug. 7 Stephenson Amphitheatre, Raleigh I wish I could just fast-forward through the rest of this election. So it’s understandable if Lucinda Danner Gainey, director of Bare Theatre and Raleigh Little Theatre’s coproduction of Shakespeare’s Henry VI, feels the same way about the War of the Roses. Historians generally say the open conflict between the houses of Lancaster and York lasted from 1455 to 1485, with a few skirmishes and mopping-up actions outside those dates. It’s more apt, though, to observe that the power vacuum that destabilized the British monarchy began...

Continue reading…

  • Pin It

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...

Continue reading…

  • Pin It

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...

Continue reading…

  • Pin It

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...

Continue reading…

  • Pin It

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...

Continue reading…

  • Pin It

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...

Continue reading…

  • Pin It

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...

Continue reading…

  • Pin It

Calendar



Twitter Activity

Most Recent Comments

I've been to the last 2 NC ComiCons in Durham. It's a great event, but the panels are kind of …

by Ruby Sinreich on NC Comicon and Oak City Comicon Consolidate Brands as New Competition From Florida Looms (Arts)

Also, don't miss Illogicon this weekend http://illogicon.org/ - it's another great fan event!

by Mike S Broder on NC Comicon and Oak City Comicon Consolidate Brands as New Competition From Florida Looms (Arts)

I'm excited for http://raleighsupercon.com, but i mean I'm always excited for NC Comicon too lol! no reason to pick one, …

by Way P Stark on NC Comicon and Oak City Comicon Consolidate Brands as New Competition From Florida Looms (Arts)

I dont know what why all the complaints about the ending. Its not horrible and its the most obvious ending …

by Helena Hayes on Movie Review: Passengers Proves a Bad Ending Can Ruin an Otherwise Good Movie (Arts)

Great post,thanks for sharing this.
http://www.freemahj.com/free-mahjong/ …

by AnamZara on The "legacy" of TRON is real: Looking back at a ground-breaking movie (Arts)

Comments

I've been to the last 2 NC ComiCons in Durham. It's a great event, but the panels are kind of …

by Ruby Sinreich on NC Comicon and Oak City Comicon Consolidate Brands as New Competition From Florida Looms (Arts)

Also, don't miss Illogicon this weekend http://illogicon.org/ - it's another great fan event!

by Mike S Broder on NC Comicon and Oak City Comicon Consolidate Brands as New Competition From Florida Looms (Arts)

© 2017 Indy Week • 201 W. Main St., Suite 101, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation