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Thursday, June 15, 2017

A Dispatch from African Dance Master Baba Chuck Davis's Moving Memorial Services in Durham

Posted By on Thu, Jun 15, 2017 at 1:25 PM

One memorial service wasn’t enough to honor Baba Chuck Davis. Ultimately, three separate commemorative events, hundreds of miles apart, were necessary to properly celebrate the life and achievements of the founder of the African American Dance Ensemble, a world-famous producer, choreographer, and dancer widely regarded, according to The New York Times, as “America’s foremost master of African dance.” The first service occurred in New York during DanceAfrica, the annual festival of African diaspora dance and music that Davis founded forty years ago at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. On the festival’s penultimate night, companies including Illstyle and Peace Productions celebrated...

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Theater Review: The Amusing Tea with Edie & Fitz Strains to Make Hay From a Gin-Soaked Dust-Up Between Edith Wharton and F. Scott Fitzgerald

Posted By on Thu, Jun 15, 2017 at 10:19 AM

Tea with Edie & Fitz★★★ Through June 18 N.C. State's TheatreFEST, Raleigh When youth conspicuously throws itself at age, a stratagem or two is usually involved. Whether or not brash Jazz Age chronicler F. Scott Fitzgerald actually admired the literary achievements of patrician The Age of Innocence novelist Edith Wharton, he certainly envied her financial success and old-money social connections among Manhattan’s upper crust. So, the stories say, he literally flung himself at her feet, declaring at least a belletristic ardor during a chance encounter at Scribner’s. That—plus a signed copy of The Great Gatsby, hand-delivered—got Fitzgerald an invitation to...

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Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Dance Review: Renay Aumiller Dances' boneGlow Was Full of Compelling Ideas That Were Hard to See

Posted By on Wed, Jun 14, 2017 at 3:26 PM

Renay Aumiller Dances: boneGlow ★★★ Friday, June 2 Living Arts Collective, Durham Renay Aumiller’s dances are tethered to the celestial. As a choreographer, she works to make visible the line that connects us to what’s beyond. I mean this literally: in 2015’s Blood Moon, performers took turns in a harness system, levitating in a sprawling posture one second, with a grounded dancer supporting the flyer’s body weight, and spinning in release the next. In boneGlow, which had its premiere recently as the penultimate performance of Durham Independent Dance Artists’ third season, the four dancers matched up with four metal, gemlike...

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Monday, June 12, 2017

Movie Review: Megan Leavey Lavishes Love on the Bond of a Marine and Her Bomb-Sniffing Dog but Gives Short Shrift to Everything Else

Posted By on Mon, Jun 12, 2017 at 1:19 PM

Megan Leavey★★★ Now playing Yeah, Megan Leavey feels like a fugitive from the Lifetime channel. But, with a singleminded focus on the bond between a Marine and her bomb-sniffing dog, its earnestness eventually tames its pat predictability. Leavey (Kate Mara) is a wayward twenty-something whose broken upbringing leads her to enlist in the Marine Corps. She’s an early screw-up there, too, until she finds the discipline she needs to convince a gunnery sergeant (Common) that she has the touch to become a K9 handler. Teamed with a pugnacious German Shepherd named Rex, Leavey is deployed for two tours in Iraq,...

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Friday, June 9, 2017

Sarah Dessen Shares Her Thoughts on Weddings and Writing Her New Once and for All

Posted By on Fri, Jun 9, 2017 at 9:40 AM

Sarah Dessen is “missing North Carolina, desperately” while on the phone from New York, where she’s promoting the launch of her fourteenth published novel, Once and for All, at BookCon, BookExpo, and a series of signings. “I live out in the country, so this many days in Midtown Manhattan, I’m getting nostalgic for the grass and the trees,” Dessen says. The UNC graduate and former professor will be back in the area soon enough, with signings at Quail Ridge Books on June 10 and Flyleaf Books on June 17 for Once, the tale of a wedding planner’s daughter who gets a...

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Thursday, June 8, 2017

Movie Review: The Mummy Gets Resurrected in a Middling Reboot

Posted By on Thu, Jun 8, 2017 at 4:55 PM

The Mummy ★★ ½ stars Now playing At some point in the past twenty years, Tom Cruise transcended personhood as we know it to become a kind of media-age hybrid of human being and Hollywood brand. Surely the most extreme show business construct ever assembled, Cruise is like a piece of brilliantly optimized cinematic firmware. Put him in front of a camera, and he performs with maximum efficiency, deploying customized hard-coded subroutines like the Roguish Grin, the Steely Squint, and the inevitable Shirtless Scene. As a movie star, he's entirely effective and reliable without actually seeming particularly human. Maybe that's what...

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Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Movie Review: Family Apocalypse Survival Saga It Comes at Night Could Use a Dash of M. Night

Posted By on Wed, Jun 7, 2017 at 4:20 PM

It Comes at Night★★★ Opening Friday, June 9 Leading with a cold open of patricide, followed by a suffocating bleakness that never relents, It Comes at Night doesn’t suffer from a lack of atmosphere. The latest thriller/horror picture distributed by A24 is a grim fairy tale set in a black forest, a milieu that drives the narrative more than plot or dialogue. It feels as if writer-director Trey Edward Shults (the critically acclaimed Krisha) has a high concept in his head that never fully makes it onto the screen. It’s a psychological parable that’s minimalist to the point of inertia. The...

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Friday, June 2, 2017

Movie Review: The Parallels of Ancient Mythology and Modern Superheroes Become Literal in Wonder Woman

Posted By on Fri, Jun 2, 2017 at 4:18 PM

Wonder Woman★★★ ½ Now playing The long-overdue Wonder Woman film is an origin story that doesn’t shrink from the beauty or brawn of a hero in whom the parallels of ancient mythology and modern superhero fiction become literal. Diana (Gal Gadot), the precocious daughter of Queen Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen), is a princess of the superhuman Amazons. The all-female tribe, originally created by Zeus to protect mortals, eventually withdrew to the mystical "Paradise Island" of Themyscira to escape man’s wickedness. But mankind interrupts paradise when American soldier and spy Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) crash-lands on Diana’s doorstep, during the First World War,...

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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

For a Woman of Color, Seeing Renée Ahdieh, Roshani Chokshi, and S. Jae-Jones at One Signing Was Extra Inspiring

Posted By on Wed, May 31, 2017 at 11:30 AM

Renée Ahdieh: Flame in the Mist In conversation with Roshani Chokshi and S. Jae-Jones Wednesday, May 24 Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill By six-thirty last Wednesday evening, the rain had picked up its pace. People shook their coats and closed their umbrellas as they sought shelter in Flyleaf Books. Renée Ahdieh, a UNC-Chapel Hill grad and New York Times best-selling author, was hosting a book signing for her new YA book, Flame in the Mist, along with two other successful, female, Asian authors, Roshani Chokshi and S. Jae-Jones. The three fantasy fiction writers drew an audience of tween girls, women of...

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Director's Cut (For Geeks Only): Comics Writer Chris Sims Takes It Back to ’92

Posted By on Wed, May 31, 2017 at 8:45 AM

So you've read our condensed interview with comics writer Chris Sims and you still want more? Then enjoy this extended cut with extra answers, context, and details on X-Men '92, Deadpool: Bad Blood, and Swordquest. Superhero comics hit puberty in 1992, violently sprouting massive muscles, bosoms, and guns, with 'tude to match. The characters and the industry alike seemed volatile and overstated. DC Comics' "Death of Superman" stunt sparked a mainstream media frenzy. Even as the X-Men were everywhere, Marvel Comics grappled with the defection of its money-printing young stars—including X-Force creator Rob Liefeld—to Image Comics, which permanently shook up...

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Friday, May 26, 2017

Theater Review: Matilda the Musical Is Sweetly Subversive and Secretly Heady

Posted By on Fri, May 26, 2017 at 5:09 PM

Matilda the Musical★★★★ Through Sunday, May 28 Raleigh Memorial Auditorium, Raleigh We not only have the power to tell our stories and those the wide world hands us; we can edit and rewrite them as well. Count those among the heady takeaways from Matilda the Musical, the sweetly subversive musical whose kinetic, touring Royal Shakespeare Company production closes Sunday at Raleigh Memorial Auditorium, courtesy of North Carolina Theatre and Broadway Series South. Adaptor Dennis Kelly’s 2010 adaptation of Roald Dahl’s children’s novel is a broadside against a number of present-day discontents, and satirical songwriter Tim Minchin’s lyrics are the works of...

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Movie Review: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales Swashbuckles Under Its Own Weight

Posted By on Fri, May 26, 2017 at 11:27 AM

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales★★ ½ Now playing In Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, Captain Jack Sparrow, the role that once earned Johnny Depp his first Oscar nomination, literally jumps a shark. It’s a ghost shark, but the metaphor couldn’t be more conspicuous. A little of the rakish Sparrow has always gone a long way, but in the latest films in the Pirates of the Caribbean series, he's shifted to the center of the swashbuckling. In this fifth voyage, the inebriated pirate’s preening and trademark non sequiturs seem more hoary—he twice pleads for mercy...

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Thursday, May 25, 2017

Theater Review: Finding Neverland Turns a Tragedy into a Funny, Flouncy, Bouncy Crowd-Pleaser

Posted By on Thu, May 25, 2017 at 11:18 AM

Finding Neverland★★★★ Through Sunday, May 28 Durham Performing Arts Center, Durham The story of Peter Pan has never wavered in the popular imagination. That’s partly because its case for the necessity of imagination rings true universally and eternally, and partly because its premise was built to prove itself with time. Playwright and author J.M. Barrie dreamed of a gamine boy who would never grow up, but we’ve actually watched him not growing up for 113 years and counting—first onstage, and then, at regular intervals, in notable books, movies, cartoons, and musicals. Given this relentless exposure, it’s surprising that it took...

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Sunday, May 21, 2017

Hannibal Buress Announces Surprise Show at Motorco Tonight

Posted By on Sun, May 21, 2017 at 7:39 PM

"@Moogfest Is it possible to come through this year and build a synthesizer and film it? DM please," Hannibal Buress tweeted a few weeks ago. Well, seems like it was possible to come through: as you've seen or heard by now, the comedian has been knocking around the Durham music festival doing band intros and shenanigans all weekend. Now he's announced a show at Motorco at 9:30 tonight. At the time of this writing, the link for tickets has been live for thirteen minutes, get them while they last. Note that the $10 cover is cash only....

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Friday, May 19, 2017

Theater Review: For Better and Worse, Hunchback Flees the Realm of the Well Made Play for Wilder Pastures

Posted By on Fri, May 19, 2017 at 4:11 PM

Hunchback★★★ Through May 20 Walltown Children’s Theatre, Durham Kenneth Burke once compared Dadaism to a child mimicking a disabled man hobbling down a street—not out of sympathy or mockery, but sheer curiosity. There’s more than a whisper of Dada in Hunchback, the devised work replacing the adaptation of William S. Burroughs’s Naked Lunch originally slated as Little Green Pig Theatrical Concern’s season closer. Among disjunctive sequences, Dana Marks’s character entertainingly deconstructs a TED Talk when she removes everything except the nouns from John Berger’s essay “Why Look at Animals?” Before that, Germain Choffart’s suave opening tribute to Julio Iglesias is...

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Theater Review: Curious Accidents & Unintended Consequences Explores the Dramatic, Not Comical, Side of Improv

Posted By on Fri, May 19, 2017 at 3:30 PM

Curious Accidents & Unintended Consequences★★★ Through May 20 Research Triangle High School, Raleigh By now, it’s a set piece in action-adventure films: the sequence where two protagonists escape from a hundred-foot well by crouching, back to back, and walking their way up the walls. Director J. Chachula’s intriguing new theatrical experiment with Flying Machine Theatre Company is a lot like that. The long-time Meisner instructor and improvisational comedy maven has been teaching both Meisner methods and improv comedy to a sextet of actors in recent months. The goal is improvisational theater, where actors explore the dramatic instead of the comic potential...

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Movie Review: Alien: Covenant Gets Psychosexual In a Bloody, Baroque, Deeply Weird Story

Posted By on Fri, May 19, 2017 at 2:20 PM

Alien: Covenant ★★★★ Now playing It's generally acknowledged that the creature in the Alien franchise is the scariest monster in all of science-fiction cinema. Based on original designs by Swiss artist H.R. Giger, it's a triumph of sinister design—a Freudian nightmare of biomechanical sex and death. Alien: Covenant, the latest installation by veteran sci-fi director Ridley Scott, burrows into the psychosexual roots of the monster to present a bloody, baroque, deeply weird story. A sequel to 2012's inscrutable misfire, Prometheus, the new film concerns yet another spaceship crew encountering yet another alien infestation. All the franchise elements are present: derelict...

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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Dance Review: Rabble & Twine's The Mesoplanets Shines in Multimedia Atmosphere but Needs Stronger Movement

Posted By on Wed, May 17, 2017 at 3:51 PM

Rabble and Twine: The Mesoplanets★★ Saturday, May 6 Living Arts Collective, Durham When the music, projections, and visual design of a dance performance are as strong as those in Rabble & Twine’s The Mesoplanets, the most recent offering from Durham Independent Dance Artists, it’s disappointing when the choreography lags well behind. But the polish and flashes of imagination that we repeatedly experienced during a drolly narrated guided tour of our interplanetary B-team—ten moons, asteroids and dwarf planets selected from the host that meander throughout or at the edges of our solar system—came for the most part from the costume and...

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Friday, May 12, 2017

Movie Review: In King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, Guy Ritchie Gets Medieval on Our Collective Asses

Posted By on Fri, May 12, 2017 at 4:50 PM

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword ★★★ Now playing In the would-be franchise starter King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, director Guy Ritchie gets medieval on our collective asses by twisting Arthurian legend into a British caper film. Hunky Charlie Hunnam is our hero, Jude Law is the baddie, and the future Knights of the Round Table are portrayed as a gang of streetwise fixers from the mean streets of Londinium circa 573 AD. Critics are slamming the movie as a ridiculous attempt to transpose an august mythology onto a laddish action picture. They're not wrong, but they're mad for...

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Common Ground Theatre Is Gone, But Some of Its Resources and Its Role Live on in Walltown Children's Theatre

Posted By on Fri, May 12, 2017 at 1:53 PM

Cynthia Penn-Halal is beaming as she stands amid the clutter of construction at Walltown Children’s Theatre. The company’s executive director points out a neighborhood worker painting the wooden side rails on new risers for the audience, while theatrical carpenter Jeff Alguire puts the finishing touches on the technical booth he’s made out of what was once the baptistry in a former church building on Berkeley Street. “I’ve wanted to do this since 2005,” Penn-Halal says of a monthlong project that has transformed the main room of her facility into a commercial-grade black box theater, capable of hosting the region’s...

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Thursday, May 11, 2017

Film Review: The Rise and Fall of Liberty Asks What Is Lost in Durham’s Urban Renewal

Posted By on Thu, May 11, 2017 at 10:23 AM

Walker Stone’s voice is gruff but flavorful, like the tobacco leaves that were once hauled into his auction warehouse in Durham to be sold to the tobacco companies that dotted downtown. “Durham was built on tobacco,” Stone says at the onset of The Rise and Fall of Liberty, a film by local documentary filmmaker Carol Thomson and a project of the Southern Documentary Fund. One only needs to walk Durham’s streets and landmarks to see the truth of Walker’s words. But Liberty tells the story behind—and literally inside—those familiar landmarks and raises questions about the consequences of unchecked economic...

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Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Watch John Darnielle of the Mountain Goats Kick Off a New Storytelling Series From Dogwood Alliance

Posted By on Tue, May 9, 2017 at 2:15 PM

The Dogwood Alliance has launched a new initiative that springs from the special connection humans have with forests. “Stories Happen in Forests” is a video series that will focus on stories about the magic, mystery, and beauty of Southern forests. The project, which grew out of a conversation between author and Mountain Goats musician John Darnielle and his friend Sami Grover, aims to collect stories from a broad range of people that love forests. Darnielle himself offers up the first story, about kayaking in the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge in southeastern North Carolina, and you can watch it below. The organization is seeking...

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Friday, May 5, 2017

Theater Review: In Marjorie Prime, Human Replicas Help the Living, But at What Cost?

Posted By on Fri, May 5, 2017 at 4:27 PM

Marjorie Prime ★★★ ½ Through May 13 Manbites Dog Theater, Durham The theory of the “uncanny valley” has taken on increasing importance in recent years. It refers to the phenomenon that human replicas prompt feelings of distaste and distrust when they  look, talk, act or move like human beings, but not quite. The idea has become a subject of significant research and the subject of films like Ex Machina, television shows like Star Trek: The Next Generation, and plays including Francesca Talenti’s 2013 drama The Uncanny Valley at UNC and Marjorie Prime, now at Manbites Dog Theater. But the concept is actually...

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Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Interview: Cory Doctorow's Walkaway Puts an Optimistic Spin on the Disaster Novel

Posted By on Wed, May 3, 2017 at 4:41 PM

Cory Doctorow: Walkaway Friday, May 5, 7 p.m., free (signing line with book purchase) Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill In his new book, Walkaway, the writer, activist, and digital polymath Cory Doctorow envisions a quasi-utopian future in which people walk away from a corrupt society that has ignored climate change and allowed inequality to rise, making new lives in the forgotten spaces of the post-industrial world. Reluctantly dragged by his friend Seth to a rave in an abandoned factory outside Toronto, everyman protagonist Hubert meets Natalie, the daughter of an ultra-rich, connected family. Together, the three "go walkaway", escaping (for Seth...

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Friday, April 28, 2017

Movie Review: Land of Mine Is Both a Classic War Film and a Powerful Anti-War Statement

Posted By on Fri, Apr 28, 2017 at 1:34 PM

Land of Mine ★★★★ Now playing In the final months of World War II, German forces buried more than 1.5 million landmines on the western beaches of Denmark. Germany believed that the Danish shore was one of the probable landing spots for an Allied invasion. After Germany's surrender, Danish officials commandeered four thousand German POWs to remove the landmines. By then, most of the original occupying forces were dead or gone. The final wave of German soldiers sent to Denmark were mostly teenagers—children, essentially—conscripted by Hitler in a cruel last gasp. This largely forgotten episode of World War II history...

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I certainly heard the accents.

by Elizabeth A Margolis on Theater Review: The South Is Hard to Hear in the Opera Version of Charles Frazier's Cold Mountain (Arts)

Nice write up. Love the twists and turns and I hardily agree with the ultimate statement (and Camus since I …

by Perry on As the Durham Bulls Enter the Playoffs, We Wonder: What Exactly Is the Value of a Minor-League Championship? (Arts)

Just saw this last night. Did Rubin say that being around the Avetts would make life "matter" or just that …

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

She made me a peanut butter and banana sandwichwithout bread. Now that's art.

by Geoff Dunkak on ADF Review: Queering Objects and Decoding the Body in Cherdonna's Clock that Mug or Dusted (Arts)

Maybe the lack of young people in attendance is partly because of the way the NC Gay and Lesbian Film …

by Jonathan H on A Twenty-One-Year-Old Finds a Welcoming Space at the Twenty-Two-Year-Old N.C. Gay and Lesbian Film Festival (Arts)

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I certainly heard the accents.

by Elizabeth A Margolis on Theater Review: The South Is Hard to Hear in the Opera Version of Charles Frazier's Cold Mountain (Arts)

Nice write up. Love the twists and turns and I hardily agree with the ultimate statement (and Camus since I …

by Perry on As the Durham Bulls Enter the Playoffs, We Wonder: What Exactly Is the Value of a Minor-League Championship? (Arts)

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