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Thursday, November 3, 2016

Movie Review: In Hacksaw Ridge, Mel Gibson Clearly Identifies with the Religious Persecution of Conscientious Objector Desmond Doss

Posted By on Thu, Nov 3, 2016 at 2:09 PM

Hacksaw Ridge★★★ ½ Opening Friday, Nov. 4 The history of cinema is littered with films that serve as allegories for the real-life persecution of their writers/directors. On the Waterfront is widely viewed as Budd Schulberg and Elia Kazan’s retort to those who objected to them naming names before the House Un-American Activities Commission. By contrast, writer Carl Foreman’s screenplay for High Noon is regarded as his response to the mistreatment he suffered after not cooperating with HUAC. Roman Polanski’s 1978 conviction for child rape and subsequent flight informs a large portion of his subsequent filmography. It’s unnecessary to refute Mel Gibson’s self-subscribed...

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Wednesday, November 2, 2016

UNC Visiting Writer April Ayers Lawson Discusses Her Paris Review Prize-Winning Story "Virgin"

Posted By on Wed, Nov 2, 2016 at 4:02 PM

April Ayers Lawson and Clare Beams Friday, Nov. 4, 7 p.m., free Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill April Ayers Lawson made her surprise literary debut—her third publication ever—in The Paris Review’s Fall 2010 issue, with the smart, sensual, and devastating “Virgin,” a finely observed story of lust and infidelity that begins with the sentence, "Jake hadn't meant to stare at her breasts, but there they were, absurdly beautiful, almost glowing above the plunging neckline of the faded blue dress." In 2011, the publication’s board unanimously chose the story to receive its Plimpton Prize for Fiction. Now “Virgin” and four more emotionally and sexually tense...

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Friday, October 28, 2016

Theater Review: Once You Get Over It Not Being the Book, Fun Home Soars at DPAC

Posted By on Fri, Oct 28, 2016 at 2:45 PM

Fun Home★★★★ Through Sunday, Oct. 30 Durham Performing Arts Center, Durham The great difficulty of taking in an adaptation of a work you already love is that, inevitably, the adaptation finds a way to let you down. The things you love aren’t always represented the way you wanted; the fine details to which you cling don’t always make the cut from the original to its offspring. I found myself facing this conundrum at Tuesday night’s presentation of Fun Home, the Broadway-smashing adaptation of Alison Bechdel’s stirring 2006 graphic novel memoir of the same name. The story unravels Bechdel’s coming to...

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Art Preview: Step Inside Georges Rousse's Illusionistic Installations Before They Turn Into Photographs

Posted By on Fri, Oct 28, 2016 at 12:56 PM

Georges Rousse installation viewing Saturday, Oct. 29 , 5 p.m.–9 p.m. Durham Fruit & Produce Company 305 South Dillard Street, Durham Over the last week and a half, in a Durham warehouse space, Georges Rousse has managed a team of community members through many hours of painstaking art labor to produce a pair of illusionistic installations. On Saturday, the French artist will stand behind a camera and photograph them. And then, after the shutters click, the installations will be dead to him. On Saturday night, as part of the Click! Triangle Photography Festival, the Durham Fruit & Produce Company opens...

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Thursday, October 27, 2016

Theater Review: PlayMakers' The Crucible Is a Brisk Study in Paranoia and Suspicion

Posted By on Thu, Oct 27, 2016 at 4:29 PM

The Crucible★★★★ Through Nov. 6 PlayMakers Repertory Company, Chapel Hill From the outset, we all know what’s to come in The Crucible, Arthur Miller’s classic drama, now in a notable revival at PlayMakers Repertory Company. Stacked and dry as timber, the unspoken internecine grudges among the citizens of a small New England town will ignite when a new fear arises—that their neighbors have practiced witchcraft in secret against them. Given the homogeneity of the community’s Puritan beliefs, the conflagration will quickly spread, and with those beliefs so thoroughly codified in their laws, the courts will swiftly move against the...

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Dance Review: Fake It Till You Make It is a Delirious Fantasia with Trump and Travolta

Posted By on Thu, Oct 27, 2016 at 2:58 PM

Fake It Till You Make It★★★★ Saturday, Oct. 15, 8 p.m. Living Arts Collective at the Trotter Building, Durham When the lights went down on Tommy Noonan’s new solo, John, which formed half of DIDA’s season opener, Fake It Till You Make It, the man sitting next to me shared that he never wanted to hear the Bee Gees’ “You Should Be Dancing” again. It’s a reasonable sentiment, whether it comes from a passenger resigned to a companion’s fondness for KIX 102.9 or from someone who had just watched Noonan perform John Travolta’s disco solo from Saturday Night Fever...

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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Elizabeth Matheson Provides a Glimpse of Modern Cuba at Craven Allen Gallery

Posted By on Tue, Oct 25, 2016 at 1:28 PM

Since the U.S. loosened American travel restrictions to Cuba, boutique hotels, Wi-Fi hot spots, and restaurants have popped up in Havana. Tourists flock to the country in hopes of getting there before the arrival of McDonald’s or KFC. But the Americanization of Cuba is not a concern for North Carolinian photographer Elizabeth Matheson. “The Cubans have such a proud sense of their own identity that they are going to remain Cuban no matter what,” Matheson says. From October 1 through November 5, her photography collection, Cuba Now, will be on exhibit at the Craven Allen Gallery, portraying the boldness...

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Friday, October 14, 2016

Theater Review: In Everscape, a Gripping Collision of Real and Online Worlds

Posted By on Fri, Oct 14, 2016 at 5:00 PM

EverScape ★★★★ Through October 23 Sonorous Road Theater, Raleigh The reason I got out of database interface design? Those all-night coding sessions felt more and more like out-of-body experiences the longer they went on. Manipulating constructs in a weightless, three-dimensional environment was fun; it felt like stepping off the planet and the clock. But re-entry into an exhausted, sluggish body afterward became progressively problematic over time. Then I began wishing that I didn’t have to—re-enter, that is. That’s when I knew I had to quit. I’ve always seen more than a tinge of bait-and-switch in popular multiplayer games like the...

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Movie Review: The Accountant's Autistic Assassin Doesn't Quite Add Up

Posted By on Fri, Oct 14, 2016 at 3:52 PM

The Accountant ★★★ Now playing It's hard not to see similarities between The Accountant and some prior films featuring its star's best bud, Matt Damon. Fourteen years after Damon first launched Jason Bourne, Ben Affleck trots out his own taciturn anti-hero with a neurological condition and a murky past, carrying out violent missions with robotic precision. And nineteen years after Damon starred in Good Will Hunting, Affleck also gets to play a mathematics whiz. At best, The Accountant feels like the muddled, if generally entertaining, lead-in for a more layered and overarching film series; at worst, it’s a morass of MacGuffins....

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In Fake It Till You Make It, Tommy Noonan and Compagnie Marie Lenfant Find Unstable Common Ground in the Masks of Politicians

Posted By on Fri, Oct 14, 2016 at 10:55 AM

Tommy Noonan & Cie. Marie Lenfant: Fake It Till You Make It Saturday, Oct. 15, 8 p.m. & Sunday, Oct. 16, 5 p.m., $15 Living Arts Collective, Durham It’s hard to pinpoint exactly who is saying what in my conversation with Tommy Noonan and Murielle Elizéon of Saxapahaw’s Culture Mill and three members of France’s Compagnie Marie Lenfant. A reply might begin in English and then gradually transform into French as it travels around the table, only to be translated back for me by someone other than the original speaker. Ideas and roles dissolve into a fluid welter. That’s much...

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Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Dance Review: Gaspard&Dancers Stir Up Basquiat, the Garden of Eden, and Hip-Hop in a Memorable Fall Showcase

Posted By on Wed, Oct 12, 2016 at 5:07 PM

Gaspard&Dancers ★★★ 1/2 Friday, September 30 Reynolds Industries Theater, Durham It’s fitting that choreographer Gaspard Louis struggles with the issue of representation in Portrait (★★★), his homage to neo-expressionist painter Jean-Michel Basquiat, which premiered during his company’s annual concert at Reynolds Industries Theater. Basquiat himself grappled with varying representations of black lives and heritage, including his own, throughout a career cut tragically short at age twenty-seven. The rawness, vibrancy, and violence of Basquiat’s unquiet, layered images challenged racial constructs depicted in motion pictures, classical, jazz, modern music, and contemporary culture. His deliberately coarse, chaotic, and distorted human forms and faces captured...

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Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Discover Ovation Cinema Grill 9 in Holly Springs, the Latest Addition to the Boutique Multiplex Scene

Posted By on Tue, Oct 11, 2016 at 3:41 PM

The light green accents scattered throughout Carmike Cinemas’s Ovation Cinema Grill 9 in Holly Springs suggest, ever so subtly, the vintage Art Deco motif of the early twentieth century’s golden age of movie houses. It’s the last bit of nostalgia you’re likely to detect in western Wake County’s newest cinema, the latest addition to the burgeoning boutique movie theater scene. The long-gestating Holly Springs multiplex concludes a weeklong soft opening tomorrow and begins showing first-run films on Thursday, October 13. The nine-screen theater includes eight traditional screens, three of them 3-D capable. It also sports Carmike’s branded BigD auditorium, only the...

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Thursday, October 6, 2016

Movie Review: The Girl on the Train Is the Feel-Bad Movie of the Fall

Posted By on Thu, Oct 6, 2016 at 2:48 PM

The Girl on the Train ★★ ½ Opening Friday, Oct. 7, 2016 Rachel Watson is a mess. Two years after her husband left her (for the real estate agent!), she's unemployed, deeply depressed, and drinking vodka out of thirty-two-ounce water bottles. Every day, she rides the commuter train into Manhattan, pretending to have a job. She looks wistfully out the window at the passing houses of Westchester and the life she used to have. To be clear, Rachel, as played by Emily Blunt in the new thriller The Girl on the Train, is literally looking at the life she used...

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Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Dance Review: Ashley McCullough's Conscious Oblivion Leaps Out at Emergence

Posted By on Wed, Oct 5, 2016 at 2:23 PM

Emergence Saturday, October 1, 2016 PSI Theatre, Durham What’s the appropriate context of a dance showcase? Is it a gallery where we view (and, inevitably, compare) art works placed alongside one another? A hothouse where different specimens at different stages of development can be observed? Can it provide a preview or forecast of changing times in a creative ecosystem? Over its three-year run, the Emergence series at PSI Theatre has served these as well as other functions. Kristi Vincent Johnson’s well-named initiative, an outgrowth of her Triangle Dance Project, has provided a place for developing choreographers to emerge in...

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Friday, September 30, 2016

Theater Review: Fallout and Reckoning with the AIDS Epidemic in Mothers and Sons

Posted By on Fri, Sep 30, 2016 at 8:33 AM

Mothers and Sons★★★★ ½ Through October 9 Raleigh Little Theatre, Raleigh You almost have to delve into the speculative side of evolutionary biology to understand Katherine Gerard, the aging matriarch in Terrence McNally’s Mothers and Sons. After her outer layer of skin was permanently stripped away—metaphorically, at least—by the death of her son, Andre, some twenty years ago, Katherine developed a protective trait that is on constant display throughout this gripping family drama at Raleigh Little Theatre. The concentrated venom of her views renders her immediate surroundings so toxic that no one can possibly get close enough to attack her....

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Thursday, September 29, 2016

In Rooftop Performance Quadrants, Stephanie Leathers Summons Humanity in the Face of Development

Posted By on Thu, Sep 29, 2016 at 2:31 PM

Stephanie Leathers Monday, September 26, 6:30 p.m. The Durham Hotel/The Viget building, Durham There’s the city that you live in, with its buildings and roads, neighborhoods and commercial zones, power lines and signage. And then there’s the city in your mind and body: the feeling of your favorite café’s door handle in your hand, the park you loved that they dug up for a high-rise, the sounds that put you to sleep when you leave the bedroom windows open all night. Durham-based choreographer, dancer, photographer, and artist Stephanie Leathers has been exploring the tension between those two cities—especially as rapid...

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Wednesday, September 28, 2016

A Tale of Two Galleries: Raleigh’s Lump and Flanders to Merge

Posted By on Wed, Sep 28, 2016 at 11:02 AM

In a lot of ways, Bill Thelen and Kelly McChesney’s stories as gallery directors couldn’t be more different. But they have been subtly bending toward each other for years, which culminates in the merger of the two galleries under one name and director, functionally by the end of this year and officially in February. Thelen is an artist; you can see one of his pieces in Southern Accent at the Nasher right now. Twenty years ago, he founded the experimental, collective-spirited project space Lump, as if bringing a grungy little slice of Bushwick to Blount Street, and never moved. McChesney...

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Friday, September 23, 2016

Movie Review: The Magnificent Seven Not Even a Five

Posted By on Fri, Sep 23, 2016 at 9:42 AM

The Magnificent Seven ★★ 1/2 Now Playing The only thing intriguing about The Magnificent Seven is its sledgehammer-subtle symbolism. A black man rides into town and, aided by his garrulous Irish sidekick, assembles a multicultural coalition to beat back the evils of twisted capitalism, embodied by a corrupt industrialist who wants to take over through fear and intimidation. In the end, our Obama analogue wants to head home, leaving it all in the charge of a woman who finds her mettle through adversity’s fire. The film’s script is a mixed-up bag, full of the promise you’d expect from screenwriter...

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Dance Preview: A Rooftop Pop-Up Performance of quadrants by Stephanie Leathers

Posted By on Fri, Sep 23, 2016 at 9:38 AM

Durham Independent Dance Artists (DIDA) Pop-Up Stephanie Leathers: quadrants Monday, September 26, 6:30 p.m. The Durham Hotel (rooftop) Free With the recent announcement of their 2016–17 season, the organizers of Durham Independent Dance Artists (DIDA) promised occasional pop-up preview events scattered between the group's “mainstage” offerings. “Mainstage,” isn’t the right term, though, since all this season’s shows take place outside traditional theater venues. And, from the looks of DIDA’s first scheduled pop-up—announced this week—these miniature performances will follow suit. This coming Monday, Stephanie Leathers will show quadrants, performed at sunset on the roof of the Viget building downtown. The...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Comedy Preview: F is for Family Creator Bill Burr Makes His Dreams Come True

Posted By on Wed, Sep 14, 2016 at 4:33 PM

Bill Burr Thursday, Sept. 15–Saturday, Sept. 17, 8 p.m., $42–$60 The Carolina Theatre, Durham Stand-up comedian Bill Burr has recently garnered attention for his animated Netflix series, F is for Family, where his credits include co-creator, voice actor, writer, and co-producer. For nearly a decade, his Monday Morning Podcast has stood on its own without relying on pretentious intro music, stock sponsors—Burr humorously riffs when reading advertisements—or guests (he has just a handful each year). Now the second season of F is for Family is in post-production, the recording of Burr’s new comedy special is coming up, and he...

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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...

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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...

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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.

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