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Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Movie Review: Shirley MacLaine Is Great in The Last Word. Too Bad It's a Terrible Picture.

Posted By on Tue, Mar 28, 2017 at 8:57 AM

The Last Word★ ½ Now playing The reality The Last Word proposes is a thinly disguised fantasy. Its world is one where a cranky octogenarian can burst through the doors of a radio station and start up a conversation with a regionally popular host and it all goes smoothly—where any ol’ tow truck driver is more than willing to commit a felony on your behalf simply because you told him to. Eighty-one-year-old Harriet Lauler (Shirley MacLaine), a divorced and retired business mogul, is the ultimate control freak. After concluding that she isn’t satisfied with how her life will be commemorated...

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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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Thursday, March 2, 2017

Catch the Disappearing Frogs Project at FRANK Gallery This Weekend Before It Disappears

Posted By on Thu, Mar 2, 2017 at 1:46 PM

The Disappearing Frogs ProjectThrough Saturday, March 4 Frank Gallery, Chapel Hill The last mass extinction to hit Earth annihilated the dinosaurs. Sixty-five million years later, the human species—not a volcanic eruption, an ice age or asteroid—has instigated the planet’s sixth mass extinction. With 32 percent of the world’s frog population currently listed as endangered or extinct, the chief victims of this extinction are familiar creatures that live in many of our backyards. Pam Hopkins and Terry Thirion created the Disappearing Frogs Project to alleviate some of humanity’s impact on these tailless amphibians through frog-inspired art. Proceeds from their current show...

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Friday, February 24, 2017

Movie Review: Jordan Peele Crosses Guess Who's Coming to Dinner with a Racially Charged The Stepford Wives to Brilliant Effect in Get Out

Posted By on Fri, Feb 24, 2017 at 1:17 PM

Get Out ★★★★ ½ Now playing The go-to synopsis for Get Out, the brilliant new horror film from writer-director Jordan Peele (Key & Peele), is that it's Guess Who's Coming to Dinner crossed with a racially charged update of The Stepford Wives. That's about right, but Peele's game-changing film is more than that, and it's the best thing to happen to the horror genre in twenty years. Brooklyn photographer Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya) is about to meet the parents of his new girlfriend, Rose Armitage (Allison Williams), on a weekend getaway upstate. That's stressful enough as it is, but Chris...

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Theater Review: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time Lights Up the Mathematics of the Mind

Posted By on Fri, Feb 24, 2017 at 10:55 AM

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time ★★★★ Through Feb. 26 Durham Performing Arts Center, Durham Artists know that embracing restrictions can spark creativity. A visual artist who limits herself to variations on a certain hue or a composer who drastically narrows his choices in instrumentation accepts those constraints in order to explore the possibilities within them. British author Mark Haddon accepted some profound constraints when he wrote his 2003 novel, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, before Simon Stephens's stage adaptation went to London's West End, Broadway, and the touring National Theatre production currently running at DPAC....

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Friday, February 17, 2017

Theater Review: A Colony of Broken People Explore Imagination, Sex, Anesthesia, Detox, and Reinvention in The Night Alive

Posted By on Fri, Feb 17, 2017 at 4:06 PM

The Night Alive★★★★ Through Feb. 25 North Raleigh Arts and Creative Theatre, Raleigh It can be a good thing when a set triggers flashbacks before a show begins. Prior to the first light cue in Honest Pint Theatre’s The Night Alive, designer Thomas Mauney’s squalid little flat took me back to the Hotel New Hampshire. No, not the edifice in the famous John Irving novel, but the crash pad of preference to which my friends gave the same name in my undergrad days. The random decor, rundown furniture, and slovenly housekeeping was similar, down to the black garbage bags holding...

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Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Theater Review: Raleigh Little Theatre's One Man, Two Guvnors Isn't Overacted. That's an Issue for a Farce.

Posted By on Wed, Feb 15, 2017 at 11:44 AM

One Man, Two Guvnors ★★★ Through Feb. 26 Raleigh Little Theatre, Raleigh If you doubt that One Man, Two Guvnors, the theatrical time trip on offer at Raleigh Little Theatre, is up to the minute, take a moment to consider the number of jobs you have to work to make a living wage. If n > 1, then you, like me, are in the same boat as Francis, the play's central character. Richard Bean’s 2011 farce is an update of The Servant of Two Masters, Carlo Goldoni’s eighteenth-century commedia dell’arte classic. Thus Francis (an energetic Jesse R. Gephart) is roughly...

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Friday, February 10, 2017

Lucinda Childs's Dance, with Philip Glass and Sol LeWitt, Is Literally a Motion Picture

Posted By on Fri, Feb 10, 2017 at 4:22 PM

Lucinda Childs Dance Company: Dance Tuesday, Feb. 7 UNC's Memorial Hall, Chapel Hill The Glass at 80 festival (ongoing at Carolina Performing Arts through this weekend), a ten-day celebration of composer Philip Glass’s eightieth birthday, displays the composer's cross-genre influence as well as his concert music. The festival brings to light Glass’s respect for the creative interpretation of others. He has collaborated with theater artists, opera directors, and film directors. Choreographers often came with a production, but after working with Lucinda Childs on Einstein on the Beach, Glass joined her to create something directly for the dance world in 1979....

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Sonorous Road Productions Is Moving to Hillsborough Street in June

Posted By on Fri, Feb 10, 2017 at 1:20 PM

Prospects for the region’s independent theater scene look brighter today, after Sonorous Road Productions announced that it would relocate to a new facility on Hillsborough Street in June. The news follows a span of uncertainty about Sonorous Road's fate after the building it currently occupies on Oberlin Road was sold. After months of searching and negotiations, the theater and filmmaking concern signed a five-year lease Thursday morning on a space in the Royal Bakery Building at 3801 Hillsborough Street, across from Meredith College. “It was the biggest relief,” artistic director Michelle Murray Wells said. “We’ve been under so much pressure...

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Movie Review: John Wick: Chapter 2, a Solid Return for Keanu Reeves's Laconic Hit Man, Runs on Muscle Cars and Muscle Memory

Posted By on Fri, Feb 10, 2017 at 10:24 AM

John Wick: Chapter 2 ★★★ ½ Now playing “You’re not very good at retiring,” observes a crime lord played by Laurence Fishburne in John Wick: Chapter 2. “I’m workin’ on it,” responds Wick, the laconic hit man reprised by Keanu Reeves. This reunion of Neo and Morpheus is apropos, as Reeves was very much workin’ on his de facto retirement following the end of the Matrix trilogy in 2003. Forgettable parts in forgettable films were suddenly and rather inexplicably interrupted in 2014, when the original John Wick, an unheralded neo-noir, become an instant cult classic and resuscitated Reeves’s career. Director...

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Thursday, February 9, 2017

Movie Review: Everyone Says Lego Flicks Are Uniquely Fun for Kids and Adults. We Sent One of Each to The Lego Batman Movie to Find Out.

Posted By and on Thu, Feb 9, 2017 at 12:16 PM

The Lego Batman Movie Now playing One statement you are guaranteed to hear regarding any Lego-based movie, TV special, or video game is that it offers fun for young and old alike. Testing that, the INDY sent two reviewers—one thirteen, one demonstrably older—to The Lego Batman Movie. THE KID: Not the jokes you need, but the jokes you deserve ★★★★★ I enjoyed The Lego Batman Movie immensely, mainly for the comedy. There are some absolutely hilarious jokes, like when the plane carrying a lot of bombs is called McGuffin Airlines. There are also enough butt jokes to please any kid,...

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Wednesday, February 8, 2017

An Epilogue for Unexposed Microcinema's Bold, Meaningful Year of Holding Down a Stable Venue for Experimental Film

Posted By on Wed, Feb 8, 2017 at 11:51 AM

Not all art spaces are meant to last forever. You swallow hard and get them up and running on a shoestring. You host great programming and build an audience and sustain it as long as you can. There are triumphs, when you pack the house and get good coverage, and then there are the nights when the performers outnumber the audience. And eventually, one month when you’re writing the rent check that you know will bounce or you’re snaking the stopped-up sink for the umpteenth time, you get that awful feeling in the pit of your stomach. It’s over. It’s...

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Friday, February 3, 2017

Theater Review: Yes, the Touring Version of Hedwig and the Angry Inch at DPAC Has Been Updated, and Yes, Pat McCrory Gets Called Out

Posted By on Fri, Feb 3, 2017 at 4:41 PM

Hedwig and the Angry Inch★★★ ½ Through Sunday, Feb. 5 Durham Performing Arts Center, Durham The year before the Berlin Wall came down, the title character of Hedwig and the Angry Inch, now in Durham on a national tour following a 2014 Broadway production, was in his early twenties when he was permanently disfigured by a disastrous East German gender-confirmation surgery, becoming what playwright John Cameron Mitchell calls “a gender of one." The math is unforgiving; the title character would be pushing fifty or beyond now. Perhaps it's a small point in a world where septuagenarians like Mick Jagger,...

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Movie Review: Men Are From Mars and Women Are Typecast in The Space Between Us, a Garishly Inauthentic Interplanetary Romance

Posted By on Fri, Feb 3, 2017 at 2:17 PM

The Space Between Us ★ Now playing As if the surfeit of YA weepies hadn’t proliferated enough, now it’s invading other planets. Men are from Mars and women are typecast in The Space Between Us, which may as well describe the void left by an absence of adequate filmmaking. Set in the not-too-distant-future, it imagines a world with private space travel, self-driving cars, and the ability to Skype between planets, yet teen slang and the products and prices at Sam’s Club haven’t changed a bit. A blustering, floundering Gary Oldman plays Nathaniel Shepherd, the Richard Branson-esque head of a billion-dollar...

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Thursday, February 2, 2017

Movie Review: In The Comedian, De Niro Gives Us Too Much Insult and Not Enough Comic

Posted By on Thu, Feb 2, 2017 at 9:42 AM

The Comedian ★★ Opening Friday, Feb. 3 Comedy is equal parts material and delivery. The funniest quip will flop if told with bad timing, and a sharp style can’t carry leaden content. Unfortunately, both afflictions affect The Comedian, a character study that never digs below its protagonist's loathsome surface and a comedy in which the jokes fall flat. Robert De Niro plays Jackie Burke, a former sitcom star and comedy icon spending the twilight of his life slogging through the grimy stand-up circuit. He abhors his fading TV stardom, but his bitter temperament self-sabotages any effort to jump-start his...

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Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Theater Review: Don't Dismiss Intimate Apparel at PlayMakers as a Mere Period Piece

Posted By on Tue, Jan 31, 2017 at 1:54 PM

Intimate Apparel ★★★★ Through Feb. 12 PlayMakers Repertory Company, Chapel Hill It’s tempting to dismiss the faithful production by PlayMakers Rep of Lynn Nottage’s Intimate Apparel as a period piece. Based on the life of the playwright’s great-grandmother, the 2003 drama chronicles the life and the loneliness of Esther (Rasool Jahan) a black woman who carved out a life for herself as an independent seamstress in New York City, eighteen years after fleeing the South as a teenager during the northern migration in 1887. Her gifts at designing and handcrafting the titled commodity—colorful lingerie for the boudoirs of both the social upper-crust,...

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Friday, January 27, 2017

Scott Crawford Refused to Sell Us a Plate of Food at Crawford and Son

Posted By on Fri, Jan 27, 2017 at 3:18 PM

I expected to spend hours at Crawford and Son, the new restaurant from four-time James Beard semifinalist Scott Crawford, to review it for the INDY. Instead, I was there for barely twenty minutes before being told to leave. We were late for our reservation, made under my partner’s name. As he greeted the host, she stared at me, abruptly excused herself, and brought back a man who, well, stared at me. She then showed us to our table—a four-top, far from the other diners, close to the door. I counted the empty two-tops as one server, then another asked for...

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When discussing this play, you need to be cautious not to imply that it's an accurate depiction of autism. Mark …

by Curio Onscreen on Theater Review: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time Lights Up the Mathematics of the Mind (Arts)

First comment sounds like Crawford wrote it.

by Chris Kassel on Scott Crawford Refused to Sell Us a Plate of Food at Crawford and Son (Arts)

Best ending should have been:

Aurora got really hurt by projectile (in movie it hit her arm). It should …

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I'd keep an eye on the Facebook page and expect to see events there as they finish reshuffling, but if …

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sorry i missed these events. how do I find out about future ones? Web link is dead. FB/Twitter links appear …

by Geoff Dunkak on An Epilogue for Unexposed Microcinema's Bold, Meaningful Year of Holding Down a Stable Venue for Experimental Film (Arts)

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When discussing this play, you need to be cautious not to imply that it's an accurate depiction of autism. Mark …

by Curio Onscreen on Theater Review: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time Lights Up the Mathematics of the Mind (Arts)

First comment sounds like Crawford wrote it.

by Chris Kassel on Scott Crawford Refused to Sell Us a Plate of Food at Crawford and Son (Arts)

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