Monthly Archives: June 2016

Dealer’s Choice: The Trump Card, reviewed.

Mike-DaiseyThis took a few days longer to appear than it should’ve, for boring reasons only partly within my control. Anyway, last Friday I attended a workshop of a new monologue by Mike Daisey — an artist I’ve written a lot over the last six or seven years. I didn’t find room in the piece to mention that the monologue was directed by Isaac Butler, who has been doing some terrific writing on the theatre for Slate. The oral history of Angels and America that he and my sometimes-editor Dan Kois posted this week is marvelous piece of historical journalism. Anyway, my Washington City Paper review of the still-developing The Trump Card is (finally) here.

Gay for Play: La Cage Aux Folles, reviewed.

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My review of Signature Theatre’s robust revival of Jerry Herman and Harvey Fierstein’s beloved Reagan-era musical farce La Cage Aux Folles is in this week’s Washington City Paper. I like the show, but I don’t like my review as much as the one I wrote of the Goodspeed Opera House’s production about a year ago, as part of my coursework for the Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center’s National Critics Institute. Which is odd, because I remember thinking I was producing mostly unpublishable copy while I was there. I’ve never been a fast writer. Most days we had copy due at 8:30 or 9 a.m. about the show we’d seen the night before. Anyway, the Critic Class of 2016 starts their two-week term on Saturday. Good luck, you guys. I envy you, sort of — just not your early-a.m. deadlines or your accommodations or your on-campus meals.

Actually, the coffee was pretty decent. I drank a lot of it, at any rate.

Bay Twelve, Please: Independence Day: Resurgence, reviewed.

INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE

The barely-screened-for critics Independence Day: Resurgence is not by any stretch a good movie, but neither was Independence Day, a film I saw at least twice and possibly three times during the grim summer of 1996. I’d even go so far as to say I enjoyed this barely-coherent follow-up a little more. Here’s my alien autopsy, for the Village Voice.

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This Time It’s Personal Again: The Shallows, reviewed.

Nancy (Blake Lively) in Columbia Pictures' THE SHALLOWS.

Nancy (Blake Lively) in Columbia Pictures’ THE SHALLOWS.

My NPR review of The Shallows, a Blake Lively-versus-sharks movie from Non-Stop and Run All Night director Jaume Collet-Serra, arrives just when it is needed. I am sorry I did not name the cinematographer in my review of a film about a woman trying to avoid becoming a shark’s meal, because his name is Flavio Labiano. Continue reading

Law and Border: District Merchants and El Paso Blue, reviewed.

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District Merchants, Aaron Posner’s new Reconstruction-era DC gloss on The Merchant of Venice for the Folger Theatre, is an intriguing muddle; GALA Hispanic Theatre’s production of Octavio Solis’ El Paso Blue is a surrealist hoot. Both reviews appear in this week’s Washington City Paper, available wherever finer alt-weeklies are still hanging on.

Spy School Confidential: Central Intelligence, reviewed.

CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE

My NPR review of the not-great-but-plenty-good-enough-for-the-drive-in comedy that I keep thinking is called National Security but is in fact being released under the equally bland title Central Intelligence is up now.  You are alerted.

Bonfire of the Vanitas: De Palma, reviewed.

de-palma-De Palma Still - MI 4_rgbFor NPR, I reviewed Noah Baumbach and Jake Paltrow’s documentary De Palma, wherein the man behind Carrie and Dressed to Kill and The Untouchables and about three dozen other features walks us through his long, idiosyncratic career. This film won’t change anyone’s mind about the guy, but it’s a candid, briskly edited retrospective. I enjoyed it.

Pop Culture Happy Hour No. 298: X-Men: Apocalypse and Supervillans

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My four-or-five-year tenure buying The Uncanny X-Men faithfully each month had expired by No. 298, cover-dated March 1993. Neither Daoud nor I could identify anyone on the cover with certainty save for Bishop and Gambit.

On this week’s Pop Culture Happy Hour, I join host Linda Holmes and regular panelist Stephen Thompson — and, I am excited to tell you, fellow guest-star Daoud Tyler-Ameen, who sounds and is smarter than any of us — to search or feelings in RE: X-Men: Apocalypse. It’s Bryan Singer’s fourth X-Men movie and third X-Men prequel and second trilogy capper, so no preamble required. I have done the math, and Apocalypse is the second-worst of the six X-Men features. It doesn’t make a lick of sense, even by the relaxed standards of coherence that govern superhero movies, but I didn’t hate it. Anyway, you can listen to the podcast here.

For more of my feelings, please see my NPR review of the film. And for a much longer discussion of do-overs in long-lived franchises, see this essay that I published on The Dissolve last year. I believe that The Dissolve shall, like Jean Grey, rise again. Continue reading

The Man Trap: STC’s The Taming of the Shrew and Mosaic Theatre’s When January Feels Like Summer, reviewed.

Directors have reckoned with the misogyny of The Taming of the Shrew in many ways. Ed Sylvanus Iskandar’s fix — cast only men, and let the female characters express themselves via covers of old songs from Duncan Sheik, a man — is at least, and most, strange. I review Iskandar’s perplexing boys-only Shakespeare Theatre Company Shrew in today’s Washington City Paper.

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