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Author Archives: Heidi Nast
Reviewed by Heidi Nast
Philomena is a heart-wrenching 2009 investigative book transformed into a movie based from the writings of BBC correspondent Martin Sixsmith staring Steve Coogan about his journey with Philomena Lee. Starring Dame Judi Dench as Philomena, the title character sets out to find her son Anthony who was sold away from her to America at the Roscrea Abbey in Ireland when she was a child herself. This film was directed by the incomparable Stephen Frears whose credits include The Queen.
It would be unfair to give any part of this film’s story away in this review, you must experience it yourself. Philomena is beautiful to watch, highly stylized, and touches one on a much deeper level whilst brilliantly portrayed by top-notch actors.
What I will focus on is the basic Catholic tenet of penitence, and what Philomena is all about.
Cited in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary penitence is defined as: a feeling of deep sadness because you have done something wrong. Penitence surfaced in the 13th Century rooted and expressed as Anglo-French penitance, from Medieval Latin poenitentia, alteration of Latin paenitentia, regret, from paenitent-, paenitens, to present participle.
The Sacrament of Reconciliation focuses on healing, forgiveness and peace. And yet in order for this sacrament to be valid, the sinner must do more than just confess sin to the priest. They must be truly sorry, have a firm commitment to never commit sin and perform the penitence imposed by the priest. Penitence originally was a process for the sinner to appear before the bishop in a public ceremony, they admitted what they did and expressed how sorry they were for their wrong doings. A penance was then mandated, and during one’s penance, the sinner could not enter the church until the church welcomed them back. Confession plays a key component and the repetition of prayers, thus the words of Absolution releases the sinner from their transgressions.
Fifty years hence, hasn’t Philomena suffered long enough with the search for her son? Consider if Philomena Lee forgives Sister Hildegard who will never understand the loss of a child. Philomena releases her anger by admitting that is just too exhausting to hold onto any longer. Philomena never regrets her relationship and what comes from that chance moment in time. Whose transgressions does one live by with the Catholic doctrine? And I ask, how long does one have to suffer loss and at what cost? Where is the Sacrament of Reconciliation that focuses on forgiveness, peace and the Joy of Healing? Isn’t that what the Sacrament of Reconciliation is all about? Philomena has embraced that sacrament and has excused herself from her sins and past transgressions. She finds her closure, she finds her peace, and she grasps her own healing process and inner forgiveness with incredible understanding against the adversity of great pain and very final realizations.
Philomena is a must see film. Sit back, breath in her discoveries and the grace in which she handles truth in life. It is a testament of how each of us must seek forgiveness in this lifetime to find peace and tap into one’s higher self. This is a journey each of us walks everyday and I promise Philomena will give you hope that life is truly wonderful and worth living, even under great duress.
Someone needs to write Bruce Willis a thank you for laying the groundwork in 1988 for the terrorist/ hostage movie genre. If it weren’t for his lone wolf character, John McClane, we wouldn’t have his never ending sequels to Die Hard or movies such as White House Down. He had set a pretty high standard in the industry by placing an average joe in an above average hostage rescue situation. Currently we have Channing Tatum and director Roland Emmerich (director of Independence Day, Godzilla) teaming up to either rip you off or pay homage to his work.
Not unlike the 1988 movie Die Hard, the 2013 White House Down takes our hero and places him in unbelievable situations where he kills several bad guys, survives multiple explosions and saves the day with no recourse to his actions. And, why not? It’s a summer action flick, don’t take it too serious.
Our hero is divorcee John Cale (played by Tatum), a Capitol Policeman, whose duty is to escort the Speaker of the House, Eli Raphelson (played by Richard Jenkins) and to chase squirrels from the Speaker’s bird feeder. Cale has a pretty bland existence but today is a big day for him. He gets an interview with the Secret Service, a dream job of Cale’s. He picks up his 11 year old daughter on his way to the interview so she can see the White House up close.
Meanwhile, the story is being set with President Sawyer (Played by Jamie Foxx), who is returning from the G8 peace summit. He envisions a world with peace in the Middle East, therefore eliminating the need for a large American defense contract.
Cale bombs his job interview and takes his daughter, Emily (played by Joey King), who is a political and White House junkie on a tour with a very humorous tour guide. We learn a lot about the White House’s history while on this tour. Every detail that we learn comes into play later on in the film.
It doesn’t take long before the terrorists show up on the scene. After exploding the Capitol’s rotunda. They make their way to the White House to capture the President. You would think that would be a difficult task because the Secret Service is there to protect the Commander in Chief. However, the terrorists have an inside track, they are working with the head of the Secret Service, Martin Walker (played by James Woods). He lets them into the White House with no real issue, only a very high body count.
Once the terrorists are in the White House it is up to Cale to not only save the President but also his own daughter. He is up against the stereotypical terrorist organization – they have a macho ex-military man, a computer hacker, and a psycho. There must be a store out there that sells these starter packages for building your own terrorist cell.
The movie takes a turn into the buddy/ cop genre quickly when Cale and Sawyer meet. They do work well off one another with Tatum’s bullet dodging sequences and Foxx’s reserved diplomat turned suburban gangsta personality.
All the while there is a back story developing in a bunker not far from the White House explaining the terrorists actions. We see Hollywood’s idea of what could possibly happen if the President did die and who would take over as the leader of the free world. It turns out that it is pretty easy for the Vice President to become President, they don’t even need a proof of death, if they see something blow up on TV that’s all the proof they need. We are just fortunate that we have President that can survive explosions several times over.
Should you see this movie? Well, have you seen “Die Hard?” The similarities were too much after a while. Here’s a short list – single dad vs terrorists, fighting terrorists shoe less, pulling glass out of the body, an armored vehicle attacking a building then being blown up, the hero being mistaken for a terrorist when fighting on a rooftop, helicopters coming in low over the city to blow up the terrorists, computer hacker easily breaking into an unbreakable computer system, and our hero stripping down to his undershirt to fight the bad guys.
All that aside, the movie is still a fun Summer action flick with plenty of cool one liners. If you have not seen the aforementioned film, a lot of this might seem relatively new to you. An additional note – for a PG-13 rating the body count is pretty high.
“Man of Steel” Saves Our Summer
By Jason Gregg
Ugh, it has been a brutal summer at America’s theaters. With expected blockbusters like the Hangover III, After Earth and Now You See Me filmed to impress us; they have fallen flat. We have been waiting patiently for a hero to rescue us (agreed we did get Iron Man 3 earlier this year), and to rise above our expectations letting us escape into a world of fantasy for a couple of hours. That hero comes in the form of Kal-El, er… I mean Superman/ Man of Steel/ Clark Kent. Call him what you will, he still gets the job done.
We begin with the birth of our hero Kal-El on planet Krypton. He is a special infant, since this is the first natural childbirth in centuries for the people of Krypton. After Kal-El’s birth, there is a violent coup by General Zod (played by Michael Shannon). We discover that Zod and Kal-El’s father, Jor-El (played by Russell Crowe) were once friends but thanks to Zod’s coup, the line between them has been drawn. That’s OK because Jor-El doesn’t live long after his son is jettisoned into space to begin his new life on planet Earth (Well, Jor-El dies but not really, I’ll explain later). General Zod is soon arrested and his fellow collaborators are banished to space prison.
Director Zack Snyder and writer David S. Goyer (who penned the stories for The Dark Knight trilogy) take a non-linear approach to Kal-El’s (played by Henry Cavill) life on earth. We see him as a grown man named Clark Kent, jumping from odd job to odd job, searching for an answer to who he is and where he comes from originally. For a drifter, he is totally ripped in the muscular sense. He has flashbacks to his childhood and how he learned to harness his strength, X-ray vision and desire for revenge. His earthly father, Jonathan Kent (played by Kevin Costner) and mother, Martha (played by Diane Lane) taught him how to be more human like.
Fortunately Clark’s journey’s leads him to the far north where the U.S. Air Force is uncovering a spaceship that has been trapped under ice for the last 20,000 years. A feisty young reporter from the Daily Planet, Lois Lane (played by Amy Adams) is there to break the story. Clark eventually steals the ship and is reunited with the consciousness of his dead father (see I told you he wasn’t dead) who teaches Clark about his backstory and gives him a snazzy new suit with a bright red cape and big S on the chest (but on Krypton it’s not an S; it’s a symbol for hope). After a few attempts Clark learns to fly and it’s pretty darn cool to take a few minutes to watch him fly over different terrains. Sure, it’s all style and little substance, but who cares.
General Zod, after breaking free of his space prison, makes his appearance and with one shi, holds our entire planet of 7 billion people hostage while demanding that we release Kal-El to him. Clark is torn and seeks guidance at a local church, and in his moment of clarity, we see his Messiah moment complete with a stained glass image of Jesus Christ in the background. He realizes he must make a sacrifice for us.
And, sacrifices he does make, to the extreme. The rest of film truly his one long action packed fight after another. Lois comes to Kal-El’s rescue while aboard a spaceship and then Kal-El rescues her… quite a bit. And it goes on like this for a while. A long while – a fight destroying Superman’s hometown Smallville, Kansas (much love is given to our Jayhawks and Royals throughout the movie) and a good chunk of the fictional city Metropolis is ruined. A minor character even mentions that Superman saved them, even though half of their city is now rubble. There is fight after fight until the very end when truth and justice prevails, but not without us seeing Superman’s darker side.
Should you see this movie? Yes, it’s a solid piece of work with a great performance by Cavill who plays a quieter Superman. His dialogue is at a minimum compared to the rest of the cast, but with all that flying around and fighting, it’s hard to say much.
The story does not focus as much on the superhero fantasy but takes a science fiction approach to the plot with the reasons why General Zod his trying to destroy our hero. Many of the ships and textures used are reminiscent of War of the Worlds or the latest Star Trek films. While several of the scenes take place outside of earth’s atmosphere, we are still reminded that our hero is not an earthling but still has the characteristics of one of us.
Hitchcock … The Story Behind the Story.
Reviewed by Jason Gregg
Ed Gien, do you know who he is? Serial killer, cross dresser, psychopath. Don’t feel bad, I didn’t know who he was either. His actions were the inspiration for the book Psycho which was in turn developed into the screenplay for the 1960 thriller of the same title. How did I find this out? The reincarnation of Alfred Hitchcock told me. Well not really, but a spot on portrayal by Anthony Hopkins began the movie Hitchcock by telling me this story. And, in classic Hitchcock form he delivered it with the driest of British wit and charm.
For the casual movie viewer not much is known about the inspiration and work that went into that black and white film from more than 50 years ago. What most people on the street could tell you is that it involved a slasher shower scene by a man with mother issues. What Hitchcock (directed by Sacha Gervasi Anvil, The Terminal) does is takes the viewer further into the how and why of this movie not only by Alfred Hitchcock but also by his determined wife Alma (played by Helen Mirren).
It is true that Ed Gien’s actions started the Psycho ball rolling; however it was Hitchcock’s desire to make it into a film after it had been passed upon by many other directors. But why? He just completed North by Northwest, a spy movie. Why change gears and focus on a dark subject like this? He knew that with inside of all of us that we couldn’t look away when presented with the dark and demented. He knew the human psyche all too well and was able to be the man in the corner with a 35mm camera capturing it all.
As the audience we follow Hitch’s (that’s what everyone called him, even his wife) determination to live again by making films that he wanted to make, not films that he had to make for contractual obligations with the studios. He admits that in his last 30 years he has made some poor film decisions and this was his chance to redeem himself; he was 60 years old and by Hollywood’s standards past his prime. He needed Psycho to prove himself once again.
Alma chooses, as always, to support her husband. However, there is another man, Whitfield Cook (played by Danny Huston) who is after Alma for her script writing skills. Alma wasn’t some quiet house wife always agreeing with her famous husband. For her time she was a very domineering woman who was once Hitch’s boss.
While Alma is being pursued, Hitch is pursuing a blond bombshell, Janet Leigh (played by Scarlett Johansen) to play his leading lady. It turns out that Hitch has a thing for blond actress and once he gets them under his wing, he wants to control their every move. He also casts a mild manner (possibly gay) Anthony Perkins (played by James D’Arcy) who has mother issues of his own. Lastly he casts Vera Miles (played by Jessica Biel), who was within inches of being made a star by Hitch but she chose motherhood instead.
While production is in full swing, Hitch is also having fantasy escapist moments where he is conversing with Ed Gien (played by Michael Wincott) while Ed is performing some of the murders that made him infamous. To top it off Hitch is battling the studio and the censor board not only on the shower scene but also on the toilet in the bathroom. Here’s a bit of trivia - Psycho was the first American film to show a flushing toilet.
All of this starts to spiral out of control when Hitch convinces himself that Alma is cheating on him and his film becomes still born. It’s flat and he doesn’t know why, not until he pleads Alma for help to bring his film to life. Once that happens film history is made. Well, not quite. Hitch also has to do his own marketing where he sends specific instructions to theater owners to hire armed guards keeping patrons from entering Psycho late. How’s that for adding an extra touch of suspense?
Should you see this movie? Yes, but please see Psycho first. This is not a film that will ignite one’s interest in Psycho. There has to be some engagement on the viewer’s behalf to be vested in the film in the first place. This is not a film for a 17-year-old boy to take his best girl to in hopes of understanding Hitchcock. This film was intended for a mature audience who has most likely grown up watching his movies or TV series. This is for the fans who want to see one of the monumental directors reincarnated by an actor who has taken his role seriously.
Silver Linings Playbook Takes a Ride on the Bi-Polar Express
Reviewed by Jason Gregg
I am going to try to coin a new term and see if it catches on in the Internet world – “RomComDram.” I might have to hash tag it to see what happens. It might take some getting used to but it is the only word that I can think of to describe David O. Russell’s latest movie Silver Linings Playbook. It’s a little funny, a little romantic and a little dramatic.
The film doesn’t even start with opening credits, we start with Pat (played by Bradley Cooper) talking to himself in a mental institution. He is reciting lines aloud on how he is going to win his ex-wife back. We jump around to random events at the institution and out of nowhere his mother, Dolores (played wonderfully by Jacki Weaver) whisks him away, well along with his mental institution buddy Danny (played by Chris “Where has he been for the last 10 years?” Tucker), who is constantly trying to escape from the institution.
Once at home we discover that Pat Sr. (played by Robert De Niro) has lost his job and is now a bookie. We also discover that Pat Sr. has a bit of OCD; in fact, everyone in the whole darn cast has some kind of mental issue. Pat probably has it the worst with his bi-polar disorder and violent tendencies. He is on a mission to win his ex-wife back, who has a restraining order against him. This proves his mission a little more impossible. It also makes the movie a lot more dramatic. He refuses to take his meds and believes that she will take him back if he shows her that he can improve on his own while keeping physically fit. Without his meds, he becomes more and more violent.
Pat takes up running to keep fit and runs into an old friend who invites Pat to dinner. His friend isn’t necessarily crazy, but he works a job he hates to please his wife and buys her nice things even though he feels the weight of the world is suffocating him (which on a side note could be considered a bit crazy). At the dinner party, Pat is introduced to the foul mouthed sister-in-law Tiffany (played by Jennifer Lawrence) who is just as crazy as Pat. They get into a quick discussion about all the different meds they have been put on over the years.
Pat and Tiffany do not hit it off right away; he is still convinced that he is married to his ex-wife. Tiffany, a recent widow, wants to sleep with him, but the lights have to be off. Sounds like the making of a romantic movie. They could have gone their separate ways but of course being a “romcomdram”” (copyright pending), they are drawn back together when Pat’s psychiatrist helps him realize that Tiffany can get a message to his ex. As with most “romcoms” (“romantic comedy,” that one was already established years ago) to bring the two potential lovers together, there has to be a pushing off point where they need to work on something uncomfortable together. And that something is, wait for it….a dance competition. Yep, in this pop cultural world of “Dancing with the Stars” and “So You Think You Can Dance” TV shows, Russell gives us an unoriginal story about dance competitions.
While Pat is preparing for the big dance, Pat Sr. wants to spend time with him because he has good juju for the Philadelphia Eagles. He even goes out a limb and bets his life’s savings on one game where Pat blows up at a game and the Eagles lose. Now Pat Sr. is in trouble, so he goes double or nothing plus a parlay where Pat and Tiffany need to get a score of 5 at the competition. Being a “romcom” I am sure you can guess how this all ends.
Should you see this movie? Ehh…maybe. If you have someone in your life that has a mental illness this might speak to you on some level. It’s pretty predictable on the romantic endeavor front considering what will happen between the two co-stars who hate each other at first but fall for one another after working on their dance moves.
Russell tried very hard with camera techniques to zoom in and out and make quick shots that turned most of the film into just that - a film with lots of quick, unnecessary zooms in and out. But, similar to his last film The Fighter he does have a great ear for solid music to set the scenes, using Stevie Wonder, Johnny Cash/ Bob Dylan, The White Stripes and Led Zeppelin to the film’s advantage.
Skyfall – This Time It’s Personal
Reviewed by Jason Gregg
After 22 previous Bond feature films, how much more can be said about the Double O agent? The man has saved the world countless times from super villains, slept with numerous women and probably has drunk enough martinis to intoxicate a Blue Whale several times over. So, what is left to tell? With the release of Skyfall we find that James Bond is still a complex character after 50 years of storytelling.
The first half of Skyfall (directed by Sam Mendes American Beauty, Road to Perdition) begins like any other Bond film that you might have seen before. James (played by Daniel Craig) is in Turkey chasing after a bad guy who has just killed several other agents and has stolen a hard drive. This hard drive contains information on several MI6 operatives who are currently infiltrating terrorist cells around the world. It is imperative that Bond receives this data. There is a car chase that leads into a motorcycle chase that leads into a train chase, all within the first few minutes. While fighting the bad guy atop a moving train, Bond’s back up agent, Eve (played by Naomie Harris) is forced to take a long range sniper shot. The orders are given directly by the MI6 Director - M (played by Judi Dench). The agent misses and after Bond falls to his supposed death, we are given the traditional Bond opening credits.
Three months later M is in danger of being forced into retirement due to the loss of the hard drive. All along everyone thinks Bond is dead, while he is drinking himself into oblivion in a coastal village. On her way back to the office there is an attack on MI6 where six agents die. Bond sees this on the news. He comes back to save the day, but it is not so easy. In his three month hiatus, he lost his aim and strength. The agency reluctantly reinstates him to follow the trail of the hard drive. He is introduced to a new Q (played by Ben Whishaw) for new high tech goodies. But being 2012 the exploding pen is no longer needed; he receives a high tech hand gun and a radio transmitter. How is he supposed to save the world with that?
Bond makes his way to Macau (I had Google Map it too) where he gets closer to his final target through a beautiful woman (typical Bond right?). Of course, only after a few hours of the two meeting, Bond is in a steamy shower on a yacht with his new found female companion. She leads him right to the villain, soft spoken Silva (played by a blonde Javier Bardem). Bond knows of Silva; he used to be a MI6 agent who turned into a bad guy.
So that’s it for me telling you how this is a typical Bond film, now it gets dark.
During the interrogation we discover that Bond’s nemesis might or might not be gay. We also discover that Bond might have had or not had a homosexual encounter in his past. That’s new. We also see Bond capture his arch nemesis half way through the movie. So, all is good, right? Bond got the girl and the bad guy, what is left? Quite a bit.
It turns out that this was all an elaborate plan for Silva to get caught and be brought face to face with M. We start questioning the stern M and her motives for MI6. Can she be trusted, is she really for Queen and Country? From this point forward, this is Silva’s personal vendetta for M. She sold him out years ago and now it is time for revenge.
In the escape, Bond goes old school with us. He pulls his famed Aston Martin from the days of old and we go low tech. Fans of the older films will catch onto the subtle jokes. Ending up at Bond’s childhood farmstead there is a last fight for Bond and M. There are no fancy gadgets to help him this time, not even a high power arsenal. He has no choice but to rely on a hunting shotgun and whatever he can scrounge together around the farm. Silva on the other hand has a small army. Bond is beaten down to his last hope to save himself and M.
Should you see this movie? Yes, it has given a new story to a 50 year old character. You don’t have to watch all 22 movies to enjoy this one. It will keep most audiences engaged as he globe trots to find his enemy. With Silva though we don’t see a villain who wants to take over the world or make millions of dollars. All he wants is his final revenge on the person who betrayed him.
The Sessions is based upon the autobiographical writings of California-based journalist and poet Mark O’Brien confined to an iron lung who is determined – at age 38 – to lose his virginity. With the help of his therapist and the guidance of his priest, he sets out to make his dream a reality with a sex surrogate in 6 sessions. The cast includes Helen Hunt as Cheryl the surrogate, William H. Macy as the Catholic priest, Adam Arkin as Cheryl’s husband and most notably, John Hawkes as Mark O’Brien.
How can a movie about a man stricken with polio since age 6 move the audience from laughter to tears? Well, it does. If committed to an institution following his childhood diagnosis, Mark O’Brien’s life expectancy would have been 18 months, but his devout Catholic parents decided to care for him at home and he lived decades beyond the average age. O’Brien attends UC Berkley on a rolling flatbed and graduates along with his peers. O’Brien wrote this well before modern day computers by pecking, letter-by-letter using a stick in his mouth from the confines of his iron lung, his safety net between life and death, as he ponders his quest to be “de-flowered.”
O’Brien’s wicked sense of humor effused a love of this very special person while his handicap became secondary. Women in his life found themselves falling head over heels with his je ne sais quoi charm. O’Brien’s spirit created a very special bond with his priest that he visited often to discuss his de-flowering desires, something the Catholic Church frowns upon out of wedlock. But as O’Brien says, “My penis speaks to me and I’m getting close to my ‘use by’ expiration date.” “Go for it, O’Brien” is the quintessential endorsement from his priest, along with his blessing!
The Sessions is an amazing film, a study of human perseverance, of humor, of love, of acceptance and sex. Mark O’Brien reminds each of us the importance of expressing one’s self and to not be frightened by taking a leap of faith to communicate our deepest desires with love and kindness. Sounds simple doesn’t it? Why is it so difficult for many to express? That’s what makes this film special … A+++ for this must-see testament to strength and doing our best with the cards we are dealt.
By Heidi Nast
A Review by Heidi Nast
The Kansas City Repertory Theatre did it again … another success with its latest production, The Mystery of Irma Vep~A Penny Dreadful at the Copaken Theatre on Friday, Oct. 26. This wacky, crazy and funny play written by Charles Ludlam had the entire audience in stitches from beginning to end. What made it even better, minus the engaging story were the actors – two men playing multiple roles. Thus, a cast of two, Ron Megee with his debut at the KC Rep starred as, Jane Twisden/Lord Edgar Hillcrest/An Intruder while Mark Robbins starred as Nicodemus/Underwood/Lady Enid Hillcrest/Alcazar and Pev Amri. Multiple costume changes, men as men, men as women, a werewolf and a male cast as a female mummy offered many eye-popping characters.
The stage sets are striking; the pitched effects of the ceiling and portraits coupled with a trip to Egypt, an adventure of a lifetime, to find a sarcophagus-sera copus-sericarpis … these mispronunciations provided a raucous laughter from the gallows of the audience’s bellies.
Has there ever been a play (with roots dating back past Shakespeare’s insistence) that seeing burley men playing the role of women aren’t entertaining, then audiences completely missed the magic of this cross-gender comedy! Is this a mystery, yes; it has its twists and turns. Is The Mystery of IrmaVep~A Penny Dreadful a must see on your theater outings before it closes Nov. 18? Hands down, knee-slapping, standing ovation YES.
The inaugural performARTs groups – Coterie Theatre, Kansas City Chorale, Quality Hill Playhouse, Charlotte Street Foundation, Paul Mesner Puppets and the Kansas City Actors Theatre – met at a KCPT to talk about what the outcomes of the series that not only provided a printed story in KC Studio, KCPT produced a piece on the selected groups airing multiple times in the next 12 months on The Local Show.
Executive Director Joette Pelster says the Coterie Theatre used the exposure through the performARTs series as a want to raise funds to send Lucky Duck to New York. “The audiences are those we want to be in front of when you look at the magazine and public television,” she says. “The work represents a comprehensive and institutional piece for us.”
The Kansas City Chorale’s executive director Don Lancasty calls the chance to be part of performARTs an investment. “We had record breaking sales and we really believe significance can be placed on the combined article and feature on KCPT.”
With the spotlight firmly on each organization for two months, Rick Truman, managing director of Quality Hill Playhouse, says both the print and television pieces offered readers and viewers a chance to see the broader range of the performing arts venue. “We leveraged the coverage online and the ability to share the work. We gained some repeat customers.”
John Rensenhouse, actor and president of the Kansas City Actors Theatre, and Audrey Porsche, marketing and development director, both applauded performARTs. Rensenhouse says the ability to put a copy of the article and a CD with the Local Show segment in grant proposals is a plus. “It’s marketing we can’t afford to do,” he says. “We doubled our subscriptions.” Porsche says the information in the e-blasts helped. “We were fortunate to be one of the first six organizations, but this attention to the arts means support for the arts as a whole.”
Marketing & Community Relations Manager Jen Vogrin says Charlotte Street Foundation, which just marked 15 years in the community, is not an easy organization to label. The group’s mission is to serve as a catalyst for grassroots arts and artists in the visual and performing arts. “The channels of communication have opened with a local magazine and a local show featuring local artists.” She said the Artist Walk & Talks at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art will continue this fall and into the spring.
Paul Mesner, whose organization, Paul Mesner Puppets is celebrating its 25th season, was the last to be featured in the first round, says the chance to be part of performARTS brings even more notice to the quality productions and the reach the group has.
This year, six more arts organizations begin with The Folly Theater (November/December 2012); Unicorn Theatre (January/February 2013); Kansas City Ballet (March/April 2013); Jewish Community Center – Performances at the White Theatre (May/June 2013); American Jazz Museum/Gem Theater (July/August 2013); and Mid-America Arts Alliance (September/October 2013).
“Looper” Fights for the Future
Reviewed by Jason Gregg
If you had the chance to go back in time to eliminate Hitler or Hussein or Bin Laden before they took power, would you? Well, that’s a dumb question most people would say yes. What about this – if you had a chance to go back and eliminate any of those terrible people when they were still children, would you? Not a dumb question now, is it?
In a way that is the question the new time travel movie “Looper” asks of its audience. Looper’s are run-of-the-mill hit men working for the mob in Kansas, the year is 2044. What makes these hit men different is that their mob bosses are living 30 years in the future. In vague terms when the mob boss needs a guy whacked in the future they send their victims back in time to a guy like Joe (played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt) who is waiting in a corn field to kill whoever shows up without question. The reason behind this is that are new tracking methods in the future so it is hard to kill a guy without getting caught.
Killing is Joe’s business and business is good. He kills during the day and gets high at night with other Looper’s. This is a good life for a street thug. Their victims also come with the Looper’s pay, silver bars, attached to their bodies. No muss no fuss.
This would be an ideal job for any street thug except the problem is that the mob retires these Looper’s when they are done with their services. It is called closing their loop. We see a live example where Seth (played by Paul Dano) has to kill his future self. The mob sends the Looper’s own self back to 2044 to be killed, quick suicide that has a 30-year lifespan. The Looper gets paid in gold and spends the next 30 years having an idea of how his life ends.
With Seth, a simple screw-up turns the system on its head and his older version of himself escapes. The 2044 mob eventually tracks him down after Joe turns his buddy over to the mob boss Abe (played by Jeff Daniels).
This part of the story could go on forever; Joe is planning on retiring soon and going to France. However, 30 years in the future there’s a boss called “The Rainmaker” who is eliminating the Looper program. In the 30-year time span, Joe made the wrong people upset and he soon becomes his own victim back in 2044. Old Joe (played by Bruce Willis) is zapped to 2044 but escapes the deadly blast of Young Joe. The chase is on between Young and Old Joe.
The past and present Joe’s finally meet up. Like most time travel movies, it is hard to really explain time travel. The best explanation that I can think of is when Doc Brown hit his head in “Back to the Future”” and invented the Flux Capacitor. Simple and to the point. Old Joe makes light of the physics behind his arrival and the chase continues. Old Joe is on a “Terminator” style mission to destroy “The Rainmaker.”
In a scuffle, the two Joe’s tear apart a map and it leads Young Joe to a farm not too far away (luckily all these events that take place 30 years in the future lead back to a 100-mile radius in Kansas). On the farm is a young, attractive, foul-mouthed mother named Sara (played by Emily Blunt) and her son Cid (played Pierce Gagnon). While Young Joe is hiding out here, Old Joe is hunting down The Rainmaker who is only 6 years old now (should be an easy target). While Joe is hunting the kid, the mob is hunting both Joe’s.
The story starts to climax when we discover who The Rainmaker is and how dark Old Joe can really be on his quest for his revenge. We also see what a street thug like Young Joe is willing to do to maintain or change the future for humanity.
Should you see this movie? Yes. It has action; it has heart. It was well planned out from the beginning (just don’t over think the theory of time travel too much and how one minor event in the past can change the future). This is a sci-fi film that doesn’t try to wow its audience with flashy futuristic designs or flying cars. With most of the cars in the film they just slapped some solar panels on the hood and called it a day. Abe makes light of Young Joe’s clothes which looks like they are 30 years out of date. The director, Rian Johnson, wanted us to see the future is not at all it is cracked up to be.
Mostly see this film for Pierce Cagnon’s performance, for being a child he dominated the screen when put up against a long-time actor like Gordon-Levitt. Cagnon was funny yet intimidating at times and borderline scary. This kid seems to have years of experience when it came to owning his character.
“Trouble with the Curve” Throws a Sinker.
Reviewed by Jason Gregg
I am not going to do it. There is no way that I am going to review the new Clint Eastwood movie and force my dear readers’ attention to anything mentioning an empty chair or make sly Republican jokes (I am not that clever). So, don’t expect it. I am jumping right into the review, tell you about the movie and if it’s worth your $10. I am a better reviewer than that (at least I think so).
“Trouble with the Curve” a Robert Lorenz directorial debut tries to generate on screen chemistry between mega-stars Clint Eastwood, Amy Adams and Justin Timberlake. Each actor having had success with movies like “Million Dollar Baby,” “The Fighter” and “The Social Network,” it would seem like an easy home-run (I promised I was not going to make any chair references I never said anything about not making baseball references).
Lorenz had trouble revving up the film’s pace in time for us to deeply care about the father- daughter relationship between Eastwood’s and Adams’ characters. We are introduced to Gus (played by Eastwood), an aging baseball scout for the Atlanta Braves, as he tries to urinate with intense trouble then hits the fridge for a can of Spam. Most of the first 30 minutes is setting the agenda of how old Gus is and how out of touch he is with technology as he still relies on instinct and experience to draft young men into the majors. We also experience Gus’s eating habits from eating Spam to pizza for breakfast to burnt hamburgers.
Gus has a strained relationship with his 33-year-old daughter, Mickey (played by Adams). She is an emotionally unavailable, yet successful attorney up for a partnership position at her firm. She sees her old man infrequently and they have nothing in common. They argue often, she storms off and he acts like nothing is bothering him. He drifts into his typical Eastwood grunting style of acting.
Gus heads to North Carolina to scout a high school home run prodigy, Bo Gentry, an arrogant little brat that you just want to hit over the head with a chair (not the chair). Gus, being in his eighties, is having eyesight issues so his reluctant daughter skips out on a very important case at her firm to help dad. While in North Carolina they run into one of Gus’s old recruits, Johnny “The Flame” (played by Timberlake). When you have two attractive people on the same screen, there should be some on screen chemistry. Right? Well, there is and there isn’t. Timberlake and Adams seem to jive but it’s nothing that jumps out off the screen and says this is a good thing. They go out drinking and quiz each other on baseball history, while the audience can easily see Johnny will soon be stealing second (wink, wink) but not without Mickey giving the stay on first signal.
After their relationship is established, we are giving an insight to Mickey’s trouble past with her dad. Her mom died when Mickey was 6 and Gus had trouble raising her as a single dad. At age 13, he ships her off to boarding school without speaking to her for years. Gus is around 80, which means he must have been about 60 years old when he shipped his kid off so he can focus on being a scout. How can we feel sympathy for this man’s decision? What 60-year-old is too busy or too uncertain of his parenting abilities to raise a teenager?
The movie finally picks up speed when draft day is upon us and Gus uses his old instinct on draft choices. It causes trouble for everyone involved but luckily the lady attorney with some baseball experience comes into save the day. She drafts her own prodigy to the Braves. Really? Someone who has no professional affiliation with Major League Baseball gets to draft an unknown player. After a long movie, it felt as if the Hollywood ending was given to us in a neat package with a bow on top.
Should you see this movie? Are you over the age of 60? Are you an avid baseball fan that can pick up on obscure baseball trivia? If yes, then this will be a good movie for you. I don’t see how young viewers would relate to Gus’s problems as an old man. This movie had a demographic in mind when it was written – anyone with daddy issues; that has a great love for the sport; or is experiencing old-age issues. There is some heart here and some funny Eastwood one-liners, but not enough to cover up the slow pace of the film.