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Friday, March 10, 2017

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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Movie Review: A Dog's Purpose Rolls Over and Plays Dead Under Its Own Heart-Tugging Weight

Posted By on Fri, Jan 27, 2017 at 2:17 PM

A Dog's Purpose ★★ Now playing Commercials for the new family film A Dog's Purpose give away the entire premise and plot, right up to the final scene. The movie follows the various embodiments of a reincarnating dog as he lives and loves his people over the course of multiple lifetimes. If you're a dog lover, it's a tearjerker of a pitch. If you're a dog lover with kids, you'll get immediate petitions and pleadings. Even if you just have fond memories of a childhood pet, you're going to get the urge to see this movie. You'll want to resist...

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Wednesday, January 25, 2017

UNC-Chapel Hill's Ackland Art Museum Receives a Major Trove of Dutch and Flemish Art

Posted By on Wed, Jan 25, 2017 at 4:04 PM

January 2017 may be full of tumult, but it’s brought unexpected windfalls to university museums in the Triangle. Earlier in the month, Duke’s Nasher Museum of Art announced it had been gifted with a major work by Archibald Motley, an acclaimed painter of the African-American Jazz Age experience. And UNC’s Ackland Art Museum in Chapel Hill just announced that it had been given a major collection of Dutch and Flemish drawings, including seven works by Rembrandt van Rijn himself, collected by UNC alumnus Sheldon Peck and his wife, Leena, over the past four decades. The Peck Collection consists of...

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Friday, January 20, 2017

Movie Review: How M. Night Shyamalan Got His Groove Back in Split

Posted By on Fri, Jan 20, 2017 at 11:33 AM

Split★★★ Now playing The time when M. Night Shyamalan was poised to become cinema’s next great master of suspense has long since come and gone, bulldozed by the hubris of effects-driven hokum and recycled self-parody. After a decade of five consecutive whiffs, last year’s The Visit was a cautious, low-budget return to form. Shyamalan’s comeback continues with Split, a psychological thriller (natch) blessed with competent acting and adroit direction. And just when it feels like the script is jumping the rails, well, here comes the Twist™. During a well-staged cold open, three teenage girls—Casey (Anya Taylor-Joy from The Witch), Claire...

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Thursday, January 19, 2017

Movie Review: Family Is a Slippery Thing in Mike Mills's Loopy, Lovely 20th Century Women

Posted By on Thu, Jan 19, 2017 at 11:52 AM

20th Century Women ★★★★ Opening Friday, Jan. 20 The slippery concept of family is at the heart of director Mike Mills's loopy, lovely, and largely autobiographical new film, 20th Century Women, a story that aches with bittersweet memory. It's 1979 in the Southern California enclave of Santa Barbara, and fifteen-year-old Jamie (Lucas Jade Zumann) is coming of age the traditional way, learning about sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll from his family, friends, and pop culture. Jamie shares a strong bond with his single mom, Dorothea (Annette Bening), but his teenage years are taking the usual toll on their relationship. Jamie...

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Monday, January 16, 2017

Matthew Griffin Snags 2017 Crook's Corner Book Prize for His Graceful Novel, Hide

Posted By on Mon, Jan 16, 2017 at 6:08 PM

Greensboro native Matthew Griffin has won the fourth-annual Crook's Corner Book Prize for a debut novel set in the South. Griffin, now based in New Orleans, attended the ceremony to accept the honor, which was selected by Tom Franklin, a novelist and writing professor at the University of Mississippi at Oxford. Announced Monday night during a reception at the award's namesake Chapel Hill restaurant, the prize includes $5,000 and confers the privilege of a glass of wine at Crook's every day for a year. Griffin's Hide, described in a Booklist starred review as "something like a miracle," is set in...

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Friday, January 13, 2017

Theater Review: An In-Process Adaptation of De Profundis Is Still Floundering in Oscar Wilde's Seas

Posted By on Fri, Jan 13, 2017 at 4:49 PM

De Profundis ★ ½ PlayMakers Repertory Company, Chapel Hill Through Sunday, Jan. 15 Last year, PlayMakers Repertory Company's second-stage series devoted an entire season to two-to-five-year-old repertory solo works by out-of-town playwrights, in a drastically smaller-scale, alt-theater version of the itinerant shows that visit DPAC and DECPA. So it was entirely appropriate to raise the stakes this season. In August, PRC² presented the world premiere of Mashuq Mushtaq Deen’s autobiographical solo, Draw the Circle. In late December, director Brian Mertes, designer Jim Findlay, and actor Nicole Villamil began a three-week residency to create a new stage adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s De Profundis,...

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Thursday, January 12, 2017

Movie Review: In Silence, Scorsese Taps a Deeply Spiritual Vein in a Visceral Story of Faith

Posted By on Thu, Jan 12, 2017 at 1:19 PM

Silence ★★★★ ½ Opening Friday, Jan. 13 We may never see the likes of Martin Scorsese again in American cinema. He’s the embodiment of what Orson Welles should have become: the master auteur and leader of a New Hollywood movement who nimbly balances fan-friendly and money-making gangster flicks, psychological thrillers, and edgy character dissections with highly personal and profound films. While his American New Wave contemporaries like Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, and Francis Ford Coppola have migrated to effects-driven sequels and semi-retirement, Scorsese continues to produces masterworks like Silence, one of the most deeply spiritual and religiously layered films...

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Wednesday, January 11, 2017

NC Comicon and Oak City Comicon Consolidate Brands as New Competition From Florida Looms

Posted By on Wed, Jan 11, 2017 at 3:38 PM

Basking in the success of November’s annual NC Comicon in Durham and its Raleigh-based spinoff, Oak City Comicon, the conventions' owners recently announced plans to consolidate their brands. The Oak City show on March 18 and 19 is now called “NC Comicon: Oak City” and the traditional Durham Convention Center show planned for November is “NC Comicon: Bull City.” Underlying NC Comicon’s expansion, as the owners are calling it, might be a concerted effort to fend off new competition. It's not the first time NC Comicon has faced down a bigger challenger. A few years ago, another convention, Wizard World—part of...

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