Epic-in-the-Brechtian-Sense Fail: Kiss, reviewed.


Feeling compelled to write a play about war or genocide? You’ve got your work cut out for you, but God bless. Feel compelled to turn your frustration over how hard it is to write a good play about war or genocide into a play? Please stop. A lot of things are about you, but not everything.

Woolly Mammoth’s American premiere of Chilean playwright Guillermo Calderón’s Kiss is not as bad as Jackie Sibblies Drury’s We Are Proud to Present, because nothing I’ve ever seen on a stage is as myopic and offensive as Jackie Sibblies Drury’s We Are Proud to Present. But it ain’t good. I break it down in today’s Washington City Paper, available wherever finer alt-weeklies are given away gratis.

Jack Reacher? I Hardly Know ‘Er! Never Go Back, reviewed.

Cobie Smulders and Tom Cruise "Jack Reacher: Never Go Back" (Paramount / Skydance)

I am a big, unapologetic fan of 2012’s Jack Reacher, and the shrugging reviews I’ve seen of its new follow-up, Never Go Back, insult the original with their baffling assertion the new one is just as good. It’s not remotely as good. The crispness of the action stuff, the weird jokes, the superb supporting players; the new one has none of that. Cobie Smulders is great, but she’s not exactly underexposed like Reacher‘s deep bench—Richard Jenkins and David Oyelowo and Jai Courtney and Werner goddamn Herzog—was in 2012. We did not know then how ubiquitous Courtney would become in shitty sequels to 80s classics. Or that Rosamund Pike’s stock would rise so fast with Gone Girl. Continue reading

Rain Man on Fire: The Accountant, reviewed.

Ben Affeck and Anna Kendrick in "The Accountant." (Chuck Zlotnick/Warner Bros.)

Here, for NPR, is my rough accounting of The Accountant, a very strange action drama. It’s basically Good Jason Bourne-ing, and yet still more fun than Jason Bourne.

Hey, Girl. Sorry About the Gallbladder Thing.


I ride public transit. Every day. And at the risk of saying a deeply male-privileged thing, I enjoy it. Decrying the crumbling state of Metro is—like paying federal taxes while being denied voting representation in Congress—a part of life in Our Nation’s Capital, and it is indeed embarrassing that what is ostensibly the seat of power on Earth has such an easily stymied subway system, one that now shuts down at midnight even on weekends. But my commute is short, six stops, and the number of times I’ve missed having to sit in traffic every day since I moved to DC 11 years ago is exactly zero. Zero times.

I love people-watching on the subway and the bus. I especially like to peek at what they’re reading. This is becoming more difficult as Kindles and other tablets replace paper books, but if I see that someone has a book I feel compelled to angle for a glimpse of the cover.

Sometimes a specific person will catch my eye for no easily identifiable reason—and sometimes for the most obvious, lizard-brain reason. Continue reading

The Heaven Over New York: Angels in America, Part I: Millennium Approaches and Angels in America, Part II: Perestroika, reviewed.

Tom Story, Dawn Ursula, and the cast of "Perestroika." (Danisha Crosby)

Lemme tell ya, people: It was much easier to figure out why Tony Kusher’s most recent play is lousy than it was to try to figure out why Angels in America, the epic masterpiece that shall be his legacy, is so good. You have countless other, more reputable sources on that, of course. I was just writing about the show’s latest and largest local revival, the product of a Marvel Team-Up between Olney Theatre Center and Round House Theatre.

While researching this review I discovered that Mike Nichols’ 2003 HBO miniseries of Angels in America earned four-stars-out-of-four for its artistic merit and four-for-four for its depiction of the nursing profession on the website The Truth About Nursing. Continue reading

Pop Culture Happy Hour No. 315: The Magnificent Seven (2016) and Fleabag

Denzel Washington and Chris Pratt star in Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures and Columbia Pictures' THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN.

Curiously, the lineup for this week’s Pop Culture Happy Hour is the same as it ever was last time I was on the show: Host Linda Holmes was once again away living a life of intrigue and excitement, leaving her pal Stephen Thompson to moderate a panel that included regular bloviator Glen Weldon and guest-talkers Tanya Ballard Brown and me. Our topics: The remake of The Magnificent Seven, which I reviewed for NPR, and Fleabag, an Amazon series written by and starring Phoebe Waller-Bridge, an English actor of whom I was previously unaware. One of these two items is terrific! Continue reading

Vernacular Spectacular: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, reviewed.


The evergreen Eva Green is the best thing about Tim Burton’s adaptation of Ransom Riggs’ bestselling, “vernacular”-photography-inspired YA novel. But the stop-motion sequences are great, too. I reviewed the film for NPR.