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Friday, April 21, 2017

Theater Review: In On Golden Pond, Stage Veterans Contemplate What's Gone Before and What's to Come

Posted By on Fri, Apr 21, 2017 at 11:46 AM

On Golden Pond ★★★½ Through April 23 Theatre in the Park, Raleigh The thought, though it’s more than a touch morbid, applies as much to summer idylls as it does to theatrical productions, regardless of their ambition or achievement: only a finite number is allotted to any of us. What comes after is, at best, unclear. Playwright Ernest Thompson’s family drama became a part of motion picture history when the Oscar-winning film version, a box-office behemoth with Henry Fonda, Katharine Hepburn, and Jane Fonda, became the second-highest grossing movie of 1981. (The top? Raiders of the Lost Ark). A television adaptation...

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Thursday, April 20, 2017

Theater Review: Durham Newcomer Addled Muse Fire Theater Has Cirque Chops. Now It's Time to Build on the Theater Side.

Posted By on Thu, Apr 20, 2017 at 2:06 PM

Addled Muse Fire Theater: Purgatoire★★★ Saturday, April 15 Durham Central Park, Durham Theater begets theater, dance begets dance. After a group of artists honing their craft coalesce around a director, choreographer, or company, they branch out to start practices of their own. The same is true of cirque and flow arts; a brief online search now finds more than half a dozen regional groups and practitioners devoted to the style of eccentric aerial and land-based acrobatics and choreography originally championed locally by Raleigh’s Cirque de Vol. Last Saturday, on a perfect night under the stars in Durham’s Central Park, the...

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Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Meow Hear This: Author and Super Troopers Director Jay Chandrasekhar Looks Back on a Long Comedy Career

Posted By on Tue, Apr 18, 2017 at 2:47 PM

Jay Chandrasekhar stand-up April 20–22 Goodnights Comedy Club, Raleigh Jay Chandrasekhar: Mustache Shenanigans Saturday, April 22 Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh Jay Chandrasekhar recalls the experience of directing Super Troopers—the 2001 cult comedy about a group of lazy highway patrollers prone to chugging syrup and pranking those they pull over by randomly inserting “meow” into their conversation—with his colleagues from the comedy troupe Broken Lizard. “We had $1.2 million and took twenty-eight days to shoot it,” Chandrasekhar says. Last year, with help from a wildly successful Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign that raised almost $4.6 million, the Broken Lizard team was finally able to film...

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Friday, April 14, 2017

Op-Ed: Revitalization Without Gentrification: The Scrap Exchange in Durham’s Lakewood Neighborhood

Posted By on Fri, Apr 14, 2017 at 3:09 PM

The author, Ann Woodward, is the executive director of The Scrap Exchange. Working as a waitress at the Back Porch Restaurant in the early 1990s, I never could have guessed that The Scrap Exchange—my other early-1990s employer—would one day own a big portion of the shopping center where the restaurant was located. Back then, The Scrap Exchange was just getting started—I was one of only three staff members, a small fraction of today’s thirty-two employees—and the Lakewood Shopping Center was a thriving retail center. Today, the Scrap Exchange is poised to develop the northern end of the Lakewood Shopping...

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Theater Review: PlayMakers' My Fair Lady Fleshes Out Edwardian Culture and Cuts Against the Romanticism of the Songs

Posted By on Fri, Apr 14, 2017 at 1:47 PM

My Fair Lady ★★★★ Through April 29 PlayMakers Repertory Company, Chapel Hill Education changes everything. That’s one of the reasons George Bernard Shaw’s twist on the Pygmalion tale, adapted as the musical My Fair Lady at PlayMakers Repertory Company, could be something of a tender subject in a region where the transformative powers of learning have long been championed. It is widely held here that, through scholarship, people can transcend the limitations of culture, economics, class, and gender. And that statement is true—at least, insofar as it goes. But for many, transcending the limits of their native culture involves the painful...

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Thursday, April 13, 2017

Movie Review: The Fate of the Furious Does Dumb Fun Right

Posted By on Thu, Apr 13, 2017 at 4:09 PM

The Fate of the Furious ★★★½ Now playing Any notion of logic in the Fast & Furious film series has long gone the way of the Edsel. What began as a NOS-soaked Point Break knockoff morphed into muscle-bound heist films with muscle cars. With The Fate of the Furious, the series enters its Avengers mode, with Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, and Jason Statham as its Hulk, Iron Man, and Thor, superheroes forming uneasy alliances to save the world from annihilation. It’s outlandish and refreshingly self-aware, giddily embracing both elements of the label “dumb fun.” Dominic Toretto (Diesel) and new wife,...

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Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Movie Review: Animated Fable The Red Turtle Uses No Words, and No Words Do It Justice

Posted By on Tue, Apr 11, 2017 at 12:32 PM

The Red Turtle★★★★½ Now playing Dutch writer-director Michael Dudok de Wit’s first animated feature is quiet, mysterious, and breathtaking. It is almost entirely void of vocal language, other than the occasional emotive grunt. It complements silence with the audible twisting and turning of the tropics—leaves whistling in the wind, ocean waves washing onto the sand, unseen life bustling and breathing. The light bleeding off de Wit’s trademark watercolors render the island of The Red Turtle into some kind of spiritual being. When a nameless middle-aged man finds himself stranded on an island after his ship is swallowed by a storm,...

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Monday, April 10, 2017

Full Frame: Dina Is Earning Acclaim for Its Portrait of Love and Autism. But Is It Illuminating or Exploitative?

Posted By on Mon, Apr 10, 2017 at 1:36 PM

Full Frame Documentary Film Festival: Dina ★★ Friday, April 7 Carolina Theatre, Durham It speaks to the high quality of Full Frame that the films in its perennial programming range in quality from “above average” to “transcendent.” Any chagrin is typically reserved for experimental submissions that might not suit the taste of some viewers or docs that delve into controversial subject matter. You certainly don’t see many missteps among the invited films—the ones not in competition but chosen due to the pedigree of the director or the film’s previous accolades. Foremost among the invited fare at Full Frame this year...

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Sunday, April 9, 2017

Full Frame: All Skate, Everybody Skate Peeks Inside a Post-Office-Slash-Skating-Rink with a Five-Decade History on Topsail Island

Posted By on Sun, Apr 9, 2017 at 7:00 PM

We first meet Doris Jenkins onscreen at the Topsail Beach Skating Rink, standing behind a counter, flanked by a shelf of roller skates and an old record player. She wears a loose white T-shirt with her name airbrushed on the front in neon colors. You know, the kind of souvenir you get at the fair—or the beach. But at the rink she’s owned and operated for more than fifty years, this is a uniform for Jenkins. Durham filmmaker and Elon University professor Nicole Triche spent March through September of 2015 filming All Skate, Everybody Skate, a short documentary about the rink...

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Full Frame: An Avetts Agnostic Finds Some Faith in May It Last: A Portrait of the Avett Brothers

Posted By on Sun, Apr 9, 2017 at 4:59 PM

Full Frame Documentary Film Festival: May It Last: A Portrait of the Avett Brothers★★★★ Saturday, April 8 Carolina Theatre, Durham I’m not particularly a fan of the Avett Brothers, which made me the odd person out in Fletcher Hall last night, judging from the outbursts of mid-screening applause and the fawning post-screening Q-and-A. Through fifteen years of dogged persistence, the brothers from Concord, North Carolina, and their adopted musical family have built a devoted global fanbase for their soulful, punk-tinged acoustic bluegrass and folk. When singer/banjoist Scott Avett and cellist Joe Kwon showed up with codirector Michael Bonfiglio after the...

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Full Frame: 2017 Award Winners Announced

Posted By on Sun, Apr 9, 2017 at 1:11 PM

For ticketing details on this afternoon's encore screenings of the festival's award winners, visit Full Frame's website. 2017 Award Winners THE REVA AND DAVID LOGAN GRAND JURY AWARD Sponsored by The Reva and David Logan Foundation QUEST by Jonathan Olshefski Encore 4 – 4:40 pm, Fletcher Hall Honorable Mention: Last Men in Aleppo by Feras Fayyad Encore 7 – 7:20 pm, Cinema 1 FULL FRAME JURY AWARD FOR BEST SHORT Provided by Drs. Andrew and Barbra Rothschild Heaven Is a Traffic Jam on the 405 by Frank Stiefel Encore 6 – 5:00 pm, Cinema 3 Honorable Mention: The Great Theater...

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Saturday, April 8, 2017

Full Frame: What's the Use of Looking Back? In the Case of Two Towns of Jasper, It Helps Us Gauge Our Progress from Then to Now.

Posted By on Sat, Apr 8, 2017 at 4:31 PM

Full Frame Documentary Film Festival: Two Towns of Jasper Friday, April 7 Carolina Theatre, Durham In 1998, an African-American man was murdered by three white men in the seemingly peaceful town of Jasper, Texas. Not long after the incident took place, filmmaker Whitney Dow, intuiting the complexity of the story, asked his colleague Marco Williams to join the project of documenting it. Together they determined that they needed two film crews, one white and one black, which would explore the story from the perspective of the white and black townspeople, respectively. Two Towns of Jasper, the result of this unconventional...

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Friday, April 7, 2017

Full Frame: An Interview with the Director of Purple Dreams, a New Doc Capturing the Power of Art Education in a Charlotte High School

Posted By on Fri, Apr 7, 2017 at 5:58 PM

Full Frame Documentary Film Festival: Purple Dreams Friday, April 7 Carolina Theatre, Durham It was by sheer luck that I wound up sitting next to Joanne Hock and Heidi Dove, the director and assistant director of Purple Dreams (which has its world premiere in a primetime slot at Fletcher Hall tonight), at a screening this morning. “That’s the fun part about coming to these festivals, meeting people,” Hock remarked when I pulled her aside in the hall to learn more about her film, which is about the first high school (a magnet school in Charlotte) allowed to stage the musical...

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Movie Review: Do Not Go, in Style or Otherwise, to Zach Braff's Going in Style

Posted By on Fri, Apr 7, 2017 at 10:56 AM

Going in Style ★ Now playing Going in Style, the new “comedy” from “filmmaker” Zach Braff, has a familiar setup: three old friends, played by veteran actors in their golden years, run into trouble and reunite for one last caper. In this case, the actors are Morgan Freeman, Alan Arkin, and Michael Caine. The caper is a bank heist. The jokes are tame (and lame) and the entire film hinges on the accumulated good will these performers have earned over their lifetimes. If it feels like you've already seen this movie, you have, figuratively and literally. This iteration tells the story...

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Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Theater Review: The Harrowing Stories of Global Female Activists Dramatized in Seven: A Documentary Play

Posted By on Wed, Apr 5, 2017 at 2:30 PM

Seven: A Documentary Play ★★★ ½ Through April 6 Sonorous Road Theater, Raleigh Works like Seven: A Documentary Play sometimes experience difficulty attracting audiences, not despite their worthy subject matter but because of it. The 2007 project, commissioned by the Washington-based international organization Vital Voices Global Partnership, tasked a septet of playwrights, including MacArthur Foundation "Genius" grant-winner Anna Deavere Smith, to interview and dramatize the harrowing stories of seven notable women who have labored in recent decades to improve the living conditions of women in Africa, Central America, Europe, and Southeast, Central, and Western Asia. That description, in itself,...

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Thursday, March 30, 2017

A Chat with Peyton Dilweg, Who's Competing For Duke on The Price Is Right Tomorrow

Posted By on Thu, Mar 30, 2017 at 11:28 AM

March Madness may be but a memory now, but on Friday, Duke will once again face off against UNC in the glare of bright lights. But instead of a sports arena, the battle will take place in the TV studio where The Price Is Right is filmed. Representing Duke in the gameshow's upcoming "College Rivals" episode, set to air on CBS on Friday, March 31 at 11 a.m. EST, is Peyton Dilweg (of Chapel Hill—she's a rivalry of one!), while Dayci Brookshire will fight for UNC. Though Dilweg is technically competing for material wealth, all the years of accrued antipathy...

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Friday, March 24, 2017

Movie Review: Life Wants to Be Alien SO. BAD. But It's Just Another Creature Feature.

Posted By on Fri, Mar 24, 2017 at 12:45 PM

Life ★★ ½ Now playing As a B-minus movie with an A-plus cast, the sci-fi horror specimen Life is the latest in a looong line of films that recycle the same imperishable plot: a group of explorers in a hermetically sealed environment encounters a hostile creature, which sneaks through the facility and picks off the crew one-by-one. This monster-in-space template has been around since at least 1958 (It! The Terror From Beyond Space) and it was, of course, perfected by Ridley Scott in 1979 with Alien. So, with a movie like Life, it's not a matter of whether it's derivative; it's an...

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Friday, March 17, 2017

Theater Review: 13 The Musical Highlights the Absurdity and Occasional Insight of Adolescence

Posted By on Fri, Mar 17, 2017 at 3:35 PM

13 The Musical ★★★ North Raleigh Arts and Creative Theatre Through March 26 Adolescent transitions are already tough. Then life finds little ways to raise the stakes. Evan Goldman, the central character in Jason Robert Brown’s engaging musical, 13, is already facing the expectations and responsibilities surrounding his thirteenth birthday and upcoming bar mitzvah. That’s before his parents suddenly break up and he’s forced to move with his mom from the Upper West Side of New York to Appleton, Indiana, a town that Patrice, a social misfit at the local junior high, poetically terms “the lamest place in the...

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President Trump Wants to Gut the National Endowment for the Arts. Here’s What That Will Mean for Local Arts Groups.

Posted By on Fri, Mar 17, 2017 at 2:52 PM

It’s official: if Donald Trump has his way, the arts will suffer—bigly. The president’s proposed budget, unveiled yesterday, calls for the elimination of federal funding to several arts and humanities organizations including the National Endowment for the Arts. Coupled with the defunding of the NEH, that would shave a mere $148 million off his proposed $1.15 trillion budget. It’s a minuscule amount, one that would save Americans just forty-six cents each per year. Calling art “a nation’s most precious heritage,” President Lyndon Johnson created America’s federal arts-funding organizations in 1965, and Republican resistance was not instantaneous. The newly reelected Richard...

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Live Comedy Review: Two Months In Elevates Topical Sketch Comedy in the Age of Trump

Posted By on Fri, Mar 17, 2017 at 1:40 PM

Two Months In: An Original Sketch Comedy Revue ★★★ ½ Mettlesome The ArtsCenter through March 18 Why is sketch comedy a rarity in the region, despite a robust improvisational comedy community? For starters, different theatrical, literary, and editorial skills are involved in generating the material. Plus there’s a diametrical shift in focus between the two. Where improv follows the catch-and-release principle when it comes to characters and situations, creating short-term bits that are never seen again, in sketch comedy, writers work with performers to capture, develop, and perpetuate the moments they present onstage. These two strains of comedy employ very...

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Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Movie Review: Is Disney's Live-Action Beauty the Beast They Could Do?

Posted By on Wed, Mar 15, 2017 at 11:34 AM

Beauty and the Beast ★★★ An absolutely classic live-action version of the Beauty and the Beast story served as the basis for the 1991 animated blockbuster—it’s the 1946 Jean Cocteau film, which too many fans of the Disney film still do not know about. The new live-action version pays tribute to this source, complete with partially French closing credits, and while it’s a film of a stage musical of a cartoon of another film based on a fairy tale, it’s also a reminder that the most romantic depiction of Stockholm Syndrome ever told keeps getting revived for a reason....

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Saturday, March 11, 2017

Theater Review: Echoes of Tennessee Williams in Bartlett Theater's Production of Lynn Nottage's Crumbs From the Table of Joy

Posted By on Sat, Mar 11, 2017 at 11:58 AM

Crumbs From the Table of Joy★★★ ½ Through March 12 Bartlett Theater at PSI Theatre, Durham An enigmatic narrator is telling a theater audience a poetic but fraught coming-of-age story, looking back at a distant adolescence in a dingy city tenement. In this memory play, the world has outflanked a family of rural Southern transplants and a parent hopelessly trapped in outdated folkways and superstitions. Though excursions to the movies provide them with temporary sensations of liberation, the walls have been closing in, and the elder’s constrictive rules and dead-end plans will never accommodate the narrator's need to learn, create, and...

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Friday, March 10, 2017

Theater Review: Twelfth Night Returns, Reimagined in Bright Hues Among the Idle Rich

Posted By on Fri, Mar 10, 2017 at 11:54 AM

Twelfth Night ★★★ ½ PlayMakers Repertory Company Through March 19 You’ve just survived a shipwreck off the coast of a foreign land in the company of your captain. Immediately, you: (A) collect your wits and belongings and book safe passage home (B) turn transvestite, then seek a position in the court of the local head of state ​Since Twelfth Night's central character, Viola, chooses the second option instead of the first, the question of necessity arises early in such an outlandish opening plot choice. A few years back, I would have said a similar question of necessity faced any further...

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Movie Review: Kong: Skull Island Is a Thrilling Ride to the Heart of Darkness

Posted By on Fri, Mar 10, 2017 at 7:57 AM

Kong: Skull Island ★★★ ½ Now playing Samuel L. Jackson is tired of this muthaf**king ape on this muthaf**king island, and everybody else in Kong: Skull Island is caught in the maelstrom generated by his face-offs with the gargantuan gorilla of the title. Jackson’s Lieutenant Colonel Preston Packard is an air cavalry commander, mere days out of Danang, who eagerly accepts one last mission before reluctantly rejoining the world. When Kong takes out the bulk of his helicopter squadron during a “scientific” expedition to uncharted Skull Island, Packard is not about to “cut and run” from another fight before exacting...

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Friday, March 3, 2017

Movie Review: Table 19 Goes for Grown-Up John Hughes But Spreads Out a Banquet of Winces and Cringes

Posted By on Fri, Mar 3, 2017 at 3:54 PM

Table 19 ★ ½ Now playing Science has yet to identify the precise biomechanical workings of the cringe. A function of the sympathetic nervous system, it's an involuntary muscular reaction that occurs when we see or hear something embarrassing or unpleasant. Watching Table 19, the new ensemble comedy starring Anna Kendrick, I'm pretty sure I strained several important cringe muscles. It's a surprisingly bad movie, the kind that usually get detoured into foreign markets or a DVD/digital release well before any U.S. theatrical distribution is negotiated. It's a genuine curiosity to see a specimen like this on the big screen....

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Revitalization = Gentrification and a mentality that says the area needs to be made great again. I don't get how …

by John Curtis Smith on Op-Ed: Revitalization Without Gentrification: The Scrap Exchange in Durham’s Lakewood Neighborhood (Arts)

I haven't seen the movie, so I won't comment on the reading of the documentary. Just want to say that …

by Max Brzezinski on Full Frame: Dina Is Earning Acclaim for Its Portrait of Love and Autism. But Is It Illuminating or Exploitative? (Arts)

BTW, I see that Indy Week expresses the right to remove comments that include ad hominem attacks. Do you remove …

by Robin Elizabeth on Full Frame: An Avetts Agnostic Finds Some Faith in May It Last: A Portrait of the Avett Brothers (Arts)

Oy! Here we go again. You guys are like a dog with a bone. Let it go.

by Robin Elizabeth on Full Frame: An Avetts Agnostic Finds Some Faith in May It Last: A Portrait of the Avett Brothers (Arts)

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Revitalization = Gentrification and a mentality that says the area needs to be made great again. I don't get how …

by John Curtis Smith on Op-Ed: Revitalization Without Gentrification: The Scrap Exchange in Durham’s Lakewood Neighborhood (Arts)

I haven't seen the movie, so I won't comment on the reading of the documentary. Just want to say that …

by Max Brzezinski on Full Frame: Dina Is Earning Acclaim for Its Portrait of Love and Autism. But Is It Illuminating or Exploitative? (Arts)

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