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Friday, October 2, 2015

Movie review: Apollo 13 meets Cast Away in sci-fi master Ridley Scott's The Martian

Posted By on Fri, Oct 2, 2015 at 1:48 PM

The Martian ★★★ ½ Now playing With its earnest discussions of orbital velocities and hexadecimal alphabets, director Ridley Scott’s The Martian is one nerdy-ass science fiction movie—in a good way. Matt Damon headlines as astronaut Mark Watney, a biologist on the Ares III manned mission to Mars. In a recognizable near future, NASA is properly funded and technology is sufficiently advanced to enable giant interplanetary space ships to make regular trips to Mars. Things quickly go sideways, however, when a rogue dust storm hits the Ares III landing party on the surface of the planet. Watney is separated, presumed dead...

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Friday, September 25, 2015

Movie review: Anne Hathaway and Robert De Niro trade intergenerational life lessons in The Intern

Posted By on Fri, Sep 25, 2015 at 2:29 PM

The Intern★★★ Now playing Nancy Meyers is a one-woman show. The writer-director of Something’s Gotta Give and It’s Complicated is known for tightly controlling every aspect of her films, going so far as to personally fill each side table with vases of fluffy peonies and roses to evoke a sense of manicured luxury. Her consuming attention to detail, in both her characters and their gorgeously sculpted world, is inspiring if admittedly unrealistic. In her latest, it’s easy to see Meyers in young ingénue Jules Ostin (Anne Hathaway), a woman who is so committed to her company’s success that she takes...

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Friday, September 18, 2015

Movie review: Notorious Boston mobster Whitey Bulger immortalized, if not revealed, in Black Mass

Posted By on Fri, Sep 18, 2015 at 10:19 AM

Black Mass★★★ Now playing Johnny Depp’s reptilian portrayal of James “Whitey” Bulger in Black Mass seems spawned from Method acting animal work. His translucent eyes and capacious brow connote a coiled copperhead, though his skittishness suggests one in the midst of shedding its skin. And like the wayfarer who stumbles upon an ornery ophidian, director Scott Cooper seems petrified of his star. He dares not detract focus from the danger on display, even if it means missing the forest for the tree snake. Whitey (“Call me Jimmy”) Bulger and his Winter Hill Gang ran roughshod over South Boston from the...

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Thursday, September 17, 2015

Movie review: See '70s disaster-movie throwback Everest in the theater or not at all

Posted By on Thu, Sep 17, 2015 at 2:54 PM

Everest ★★★ Opening Friday There are movies you want to see on the big screen if you're going to see them at all. Big spectacle movies just don't scale down that well to the screens and speakers of your living-room TV, computer screen or—god help us—mobile device. Everest is just that kind of movie. Based on a true story, it's an old-fashioned disaster drama with cutting-edge visual design. There are sights and sounds that will make your heart race and your stomach drop. Filmed in IMAX 3D, it's built from the ground up to be experienced on a really...

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Wednesday, September 16, 2015

M.C. Escher speaks through new downtown Raleigh murals

Posted By on Wed, Sep 16, 2015 at 8:27 AM

On Thursday morning, the first day of Hopscotch, painter David Eichenberger stares at an off-kilter A-frame ladder. One set of the ladder’s legs sits on a platform nearly a foot above the second, and the entire thing is perched atop tall metal scaffolding in front of AHPeele Studio in downtown Raleigh. Eichenberger is one word into a six-word mural, and he looks at the silver ladder, uneasy. “Are you going to climb that thing?” I ask, peering up at him from below the metal tangle. A few onlookers crane their necks to get a better view. Even cars on notoriously zippy...

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Monday, September 14, 2015

Theater review: Five playwrights walk into a bar

Posted By on Mon, Sep 14, 2015 at 4:34 PM

Cary Playwrights' Forum: Bar Plays ★★★ Mac’s Tavern, Cary Thursday, Sept. 10 Five playwrights walk into a bar. By the time the waitress gets to their table, they’re seated and everything’s set up: five manuscripts, an assortment of pens and pencils and a deck of playing cards in the middle. When the waitress asks what the cards are for, they say, “We’re playing script poker.” Thankfully, a number of the jokes were better than that when five real playwrights—and a group of their friends—walked into Mac’s Tavern Thursday night. Just over an hour later, a standing-room crowd warmly applauded Bar Plays, an...

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Friday, September 11, 2015

Movie review: I see old people! M. Night Shyamalan does the twist in The Visit

Posted By on Fri, Sep 11, 2015 at 11:17 AM

The Visit★★★ Now playing Fairly or not, when you go into an M. Night Shyamalan movie, you expect a twist. The director made his bones in Hollywood with 1999’s The Sixth Sense, which features one of the most cleverly obscured script flips in the history of scary movies. Shyamalan's plot-twist movies since then have usually been underwhelming (Signs and The Happening) and occasionally underrated (The Village). In his prior effort, the breathtakingly awful After Earth with Will Smith, Shyamalan pulled off his greatest trick by turning a $130 million budget into nothing at all. The director's new film, The Visit,...

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Thursday, September 10, 2015

Hopscotch Design Festival gets back to basics with Herman Miller's Steve Frykholm

Posted By on Thu, Sep 10, 2015 at 4:34 PM

Iconic furniture manufacturer Herman Miller’s design pedigree requires no introduction, but just in case: think Eames, Nelson, Noguchi and the ubiquitous Aeron chair (the company claims to produce one every 17 seconds). For me, Steve Frykholm, Herman Miller’s Vice President of Creative Design, added real credibility to the Hopscotch Design Festival, which wraps up today. He was the warmest, wisest, most intelligent speaker I saw yesterday. Frykholm, an AIGA Medalist, is a designer to the core. His company picnic posters belong to MoMA’s permanent collection. Outfitted in a colorful, checked button-down and bushy gray beard, he offered some design advice he’d...

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Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Hopscotch Design Festival declares war on technology

Posted By on Wed, Sep 9, 2015 at 4:43 PM

The Hopscotch Design Festival is in full swing today (read the INDY's preview), launching with an introduction by co-founder Matthew Muñoz, chief design officer at Raleigh’s New Kind. The company's offices are in one of Raleigh’s more pristine modernist buildings, designed by a protégé of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. Muñoz noted the presence of “so many people with different backgrounds,” even though the attendees were predictably homogenous: young white people with glasses and interesting sneakers. Less predictably, the festival got started with a couple of surprisingly anti-tech presentations. The keynote guest, New York Times best-selling author Austin Kleon (Steal Like...

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Thursday, September 3, 2015

Movie review: A surprisingly slapdash adaptation of Bill Bryson's book A Walk in the Woods

Posted By on Thu, Sep 3, 2015 at 12:03 PM

A Walk in the Woods★ ½  Now playing Travel writer Bill Bryson is bored. Semi-retired in a stately New England homestead, he longs for one more grand adventure. Bryson (Robert Redford) stumbles upon his chance when he takes a stroll and discovers that the Appalachian Trail runs right through his neighborhood. Inspired, he decides to hike the entire thing, despite his advanced age and inexperience with wilderness camping. Bryson partners with his old college pal, Stephen Katz (Nick Nolte), another restless 70-something. The two men had a falling out long ago—Bryson became a publishing success; Katz a drunken womanizer—and they...

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Monday, August 31, 2015

Art review: Folk artist Sam Ezell's idealistic visions of Hillsborough

Posted By on Mon, Aug 31, 2015 at 3:34 PM

Picture Hillsborough: Folk Art by Sam Ezell The Orange County Historical Museum 201 N. Churton St., Hillsborough Through September 25 Self-taught painter Sam Ezell portrays the buildings of Hillsborough with optimism and idealism. He paints some of the historic 18th-century buildings the town is known for, but he also paints local businesses including Latta Brothers Tractor Service and Dual Supply Company. Ezell’s paintings have been making their way around town this year—first, in a group show at the Orange County Main Library; then, in a summer show at the Hillsborough Visitors Center. Now, a group of 12 paintings are on...

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Friday, August 21, 2015

Movie review: Jesse Eisenberg is more Zuckerberg than Bourne in American Ultra

Posted By on Fri, Aug 21, 2015 at 10:27 AM

American Ultra ★★ Now playing American Ultra tries to be a slacker romance, a dark comedy and an ultra-violent action thriller, but inelegant tonal shifts and slapdash production keep it from ably accomplishing any genre. Doing his time in the dog days of this summer movie season, Jesse Eisenberg plays Mike Howell, an unmotivated pothead living in frustrated obscurity in a fictional West Virginia podunk called Liman. Mike’s live-in girlfriend, Phoebe (Kristen Stewart), wants him to move away, but he suffers from a psychological aversion to leaving town. So he toils at the local five and dime and spends his...

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Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Durham Independent Dance Artists reveals its second season of local indie dance

Posted By on Wed, Aug 19, 2015 at 1:00 PM

After an impressive 2014–15 debut season that significantly raised the profile of local independent dance, Durham Independent Dance Artists returns with an exciting lineup for 2015–16. Running from October to May, the nine shows include six premieres, seven artists not previously seen on DIDA stages and, for the first time, an international guest. DIDA bundles works by local independent artists into a season that tracks with the academic presenters' schedule, helping them build the surface area required to attract audiences. It paid off with many sold-out houses in the first season—no small feat in a region where indie dance more typically attracts...

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Friday, August 14, 2015

Movie reviews in brief: The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and Straight Outta Compton

Posted By and on Fri, Aug 14, 2015 at 3:13 PM

The Man From U.N.C.L.E.★★★ ½ Now playing A lightly carbonated late-summer nightcap, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. reboots the 1960s TV series about Cold War espionage with winking style and period-adventure savvy. Henry Cavill (Superman) takes a chance by bringing an old-school, mannered acting approach to American secret agent Napoleon Solo. Get on his wavelength and it works just fine. Armie Hammer is less effective as the stalwart Russian agent, but Swedish actress Alicia Vikander (Ex Machina) is bewitching as an East German defector with ambiguous allegiances. Director Guy Ritchie brings his usual visual playfulness and maintains a tone somewhere between...

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Friday, August 7, 2015

North Carolina actor Anthony Reynolds on his role in the Fantastic Four reboot

Posted By on Fri, Aug 7, 2015 at 4:00 PM

TV and film actor Anthony Reynolds, who grew up in Cary and now lives in Wilmington, is happily typecast as a stone-faced military dude. His forte, as he describes it, is “cowboys, cops and killers.” After a small role as a helicopter pilot in Iron Man 3, he expands his superhero-movie résumé in director Josh Trank’s reboot of 20th Century Fox’s struggling Fantastic Four franchise, which opens nationwide today. In the film, a quartet of gifted young people (including actors Miles Teller and Michael B. Jordan) involved in a research program gain superpowers—and a whole lot of trouble from the...

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Thursday, August 6, 2015

Performance review: Drowning, arson and other enchanting dangers in the debut Trust the Bus

Posted By on Thu, Aug 6, 2015 at 9:14 AM

Trust the Bus Private residence of Mary Harwood and Lori Oshrain, Orange County 8:15, Saturday, Aug. 1 A cheer goes up on the Blue Bird bus as it pulls away from the Saxapahaw General Store. It’s almost dusk. Families with kids in dripping swimsuits wave from the roadside when the bus rolls by, as if it were embarking on a foreign voyage. And in fact, it is, if you measure the term by its quotient of mystery rather than distance. No one knows where the bus is going or what’s in store there. In boarding, they've accepted Culture Mill’s invitation—or is...

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Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Theater review: The middle class is under attack in Lisa D'Amour's Detroit

Posted By on Wed, Aug 5, 2015 at 9:03 AM

Detroit ★★ ½  Cardinal Gibbons High School Through Aug. 8 In GASP Theatre Company’s production of state-of-the-suburbs drama Detroit, it’s hard to say which is more disturbing: realizing that neighborhoods like the one depicted on designer Pete Morello’s backyard set weren’t always as they are now, or acknowledging that future versions may be even more dysfunctional. When Sharon (a capable but not always audible Katie Barrett) asks early on why the word “neighbor” is still in our dictionaries, it’s clear that the middle class isn’t the only construct under attack in playwright Lisa D’Amour’s world; the whole notion of community may be going...

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Monday, August 3, 2015

Hopscotch Design Festival reveals initial speaker lineup

Posted By on Mon, Aug 3, 2015 at 9:07 AM

A smaller-scale offshoot of the Hopscotch Music Festival, the Hopscotch Design Festival brings the same walkabout experience to the world of engineering and entrepreneurship, spotlighting people who are designing the near-future. The festival has just announced the initial speaker lineup you’ll see when it returns Sept. 9–10. In its inaugural run last September, Hopscotch Design drew a modest 800 attendees to Raleigh for two days of talks, workshops and parties in various downtown venues. This year, it brings another mix of local and national presenters, from small start-ups and huge corporations, who work across the fields of graphic design, architecture,...

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Friday, July 31, 2015

Movie review: Tom Cruise meets his match in the senseless but satisfying Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation

Posted By on Fri, Jul 31, 2015 at 12:13 PM

Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation★★★ ½ Now playing Last year, in an LA Weekly article entitled “How YouTube and Internet Journalism Destroyed Tom Cruise, Our Last Real Movie Star,” Amy Nicholson contended that the action roles Cruise has taken in recent years are urgent attempts by an aging actor (he just turned 53) to reclaim his evaporating popularity, much of it built on skillfully chosen dramatic roles. Indeed, Cruise, a three-time Oscar nominee, hasn’t headlined a non-action film since 2008. With the Mission: Impossible franchise, he has produced a durable action serial in his own image: entertaining, bankable, polished, wacky,...

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Friday, July 24, 2015

Movie review: Not even a shockingly ripped Donnie Darko can punch up Southpaw's soapy script

Posted By on Fri, Jul 24, 2015 at 11:50 AM

Southpaw★★ ½  Now playing Costarring Jake Gyllenhaal and his torso, Southpaw is a technically competent but largely uninteresting boxing movie with the soapiest script this side of the daytime Emmys. The movie's main appeal is watching Gyllenhaal muscle his way through it with a powerful physical performance. Directed by Antoine Fuqua (Training Day), Southpaw chronicles the fall of light heavyweight champ Billy Hope, a brawler who wins matches with stamina and rage. Billy has an inhuman tolerance for punishment—the more punches he takes, the stronger he gets. And Billy has taken a lot of punches in his life. Raised in...

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Movie review: Pixels pumps '80s video game nostalgia into an enjoyable throwaway farce

Posted By on Fri, Jul 24, 2015 at 8:08 AM

Pixels★★★ Now playing Adam Sandler has spent so many years producing one abominable film after another (while still inexplicably turning tidy profits) that there’s an understandable impulse to assail anything with the faintest echoes of his previous affronts to cinema. So when grown men are called upon to employ their dormant video gaming skills to save Earth in Pixels, it automatically has to be an example of Sandler’s arrested development. When the geeks get the beautiful, younger girls, it’s another instance of male wish fulfillment. Or perhaps Pixels is just kooky, kitschy amusement along the lines of Ghostbusters, or even...

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Thursday, July 23, 2015

Dance review: This American Life meets dance-theater in a worthy experiment at ADF

Posted By on Thu, Jul 23, 2015 at 11:57 AM

Three Acts, Two Dancers, One Radio Host Durham Performing Arts Center, Durham Saturday, July 18 As the lights dim at DPAC, the disembodied voices of radio host Ira Glass and choreographer Monica Bill Barnes ponder how to begin: with an idea or with movement? “Perhaps the idea is movement,” Glass suggests. The lights come back up on a miniature proscenium arch with a tiny red curtain and flashing lights. Barnes and dancer Anna Bass enter through the stage within a stage, beginning a jazzy dance routine to the sound of recorded applause. Though Three Acts, Two Dancers, One Radio Host...

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Wednesday, July 22, 2015

ADF Journal: Searching for dance amid all the dance-theater

Posted By on Wed, Jul 22, 2015 at 9:07 AM

As the American Dance Festival nears its end, you feel as though you’ve been running a marathon. But when you stop to catch your breath, you realize this year’s festival has been a substantial look at the current dance scene, with few disappointments. One exception was Dynamic Duos (Reynolds Theater, July 1). Its four duets seemed too academic, and dance took a secondary role to theater—something that has been true of much of the festival. It makes you wonder whether dance in its purest form can survive. The funkiest offering so far was Awkward Magic (June 30, Motorco Music Hall),...

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Friday, July 17, 2015

Movie review: Amy Schumer's brilliant sketch comedy goes off the rails in Trainwreck

Posted By on Fri, Jul 17, 2015 at 4:21 PM

Trainwreck ★★ Now playing Trainwreck, the much-anticipated collaboration between director Judd Apatow and writer/star Amy Schumer, is a new twist on an old scam. It's a bait-and-switch in which the viewer is promised one kind of film in the marketing blitz and then finds an inferior product in the theater. Schumer plays a version of her own comic persona, simply named Amy, who works as a magazine writer in New York City. The first several scenes establish her as a serial bed-hopper staunchly in favor of casual hookups. Her parents' disastrous marriage has convinced her that monogamy isn't just undesirable;...

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Movie review: Ant-Man clears the bar by lowering the stakes

Posted By on Fri, Jul 17, 2015 at 12:26 PM

Ant-Man ★★★★ Now playing So you planted your lore in World War II and then hurled it outward, filling a universe with superheroes, aliens and gods. You steadily pumped up the stakes, from a man saving himself (Iron Man) to a man saving the world (Captain America: The First Avenger) to a team saving the world (The Avengers) to aliens saving the galaxy (Guardians of the Galaxy). What do you do when you can’t go bigger? The Marvel Cinematic Universe offers a clever answer with Ant-Man—think very small. In some ways, Ant-Man is a lot like Guardians. Both are affable...

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

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