Monthly Archives: September 2017

Under the Skin Job: Blade Runner 2049, reviewed.

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I seldom write same-day reviews, but because Blade Runner 2049‘s embargo was abruptly lifted before it even screened in DC, I had to scramble. I’m very happy to be able to say it’s a triumph, a satisfying much-later follow-up in the new tradition of Mad Max: Fury Road, Creed, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens. But… better than those, even, would you believe.

Here’s the review. Enhance!

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Barry, Plane and Not Tall: American Made, reviewed.

Film Title: American MadeHere’s my NPR review of American Made, Doug Liman’s heavily fictionalized but ecstatically true crime biopic starring Tom Cruise as C.I.A. gunrunner and dope smuggler Barry Seal. As I discuss in the piece, Liman’s father, Arthur Liman, was heavily involved in the 1987 U.S. Senate hearings into the Iran-Contra affair, of which Seal’s covert flights were an operational element. (Here’s Arthur.)

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Talking Skeleton Crew and Word Becomes Flesh on WETA’s Around Town

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If it ever seems like I’m about to well, actually you or anybody else, kindly remind me that this is what happens to my face.

With the return of theatre season comes the return of me trying semi-convincingly to smile on command! Robert Aubry Davis, Jane Horwitz, and I have shot a new batch of short Around Town segments discussing a great pair of shows I reviewed for the Washington City Paper last month, Studio Theatre’s production of Skeleton Crew byDominique Morisseau and Theatre Alliance’s remount of their Helen Hayes Award-winning 2016 version of Marc Bamuthi Joseph Word Becomes Flesh. How to embed those videos here eludes me because I’m an analog guy, but I’ve got links.

Skeleton Crew: http://player.pbs.org/viralplayer/3005059310

Word Becomes Flesh: http://player.pbs.org/viralplayer/3005058510
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Double-Oh Snap! Kingsman: The Golden Circle, reviewed.

KINGSMAN: THE GOLDEN CIRCLE

Would you believe that John Denver’s 1971 encomium to backwoods livin’ “Take Me Home, Country Roads” is been featured in two 2017 films starring Katherine Waterston and two starring Channing Tatum, and not the same two?

That’s the kind of piercing observation I had no room for in my review of the new sequel Kingsman: The Golden Circle, which reprises “Country Roads” from Alien: Covenant and Logan Lucky. I had the privilege of discussing both of those on Pop Culture Happy Hour in addition to writing about them. Anyway, I like British superspies. And I liked The Golden Circle. With reservations.

The Unclean House: mother!, reviewed.

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No one is under any obligation to like Darren Aronofsky’s mother! (sic) (or his mother) or any other movie (or person), obviously. Even so, mother! is the sort of challenging picture that offers a good test for whether a critic—regardless of where he or she stands on the question of the film’s artistic merit—has any imagination at all. I’ve seen some fine writing on this movie and some truly dreadful, dumb, reductive writing. I hope my own NPR review is one of the former specimens, even though it takes the form of a long argument against you reading it.

Wake Up: Studio’s Skeleton Crew and Theatre Alliance’s Word Becomes Flesh, reviewed.

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You’ve got two, two, two big shows written by and starring people of color up in the District just now: Skeleton Crew, the third entry in Dominique Morisseau’s Detroit series, has the same concerns as Lynne Nottage’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Sweat but it’s a better play, and Studio Theatre’s production is built to last. And Psalmayene 24’s multi Helen Hayes Award-winning production of Marc Bamuthi Joseph’s Word Becomes Flesh is back at Theatre Alliance for a remount starring the same superb cast it did last year. I review both in this week’s Washington City Paper. For which I also wrote the cover story, for some reason. It’s not like I get paid by the word, people.

Talk Shop: My Washington City Paper cover feature on Story District’s 20th* anniversary

2005-Speakeasy_I did it for the story-first marketing campaign as SpeakeasyDC-photo by Manuel Claros

The oral yarn-spinning concern now known by the moniker Story District is the subject of this week’s Washington City Paper cover feature—my fourth, I think. I’m reasonably happy with how it turned out. I only regret that I didn’t find the right space to mention John Kevin Boggs, who was a huge contributor to that organization, and to DC’s performing arts community in general, as a storyteller and instructor. He passed away in March of 2015, much, much too soon.

*Kinda. The Speakeasy open mics, which were started by Washington Storytellers Theatre (est. 1991), began in 1997. WST became SpeakeasyDC in 2005 and then Story District in 2015.