Flora and Son (c) Apple TV+
Thursday, September 21, 2023
Thursday, September 14, 2023
Film Review: “A Haunting in Venice” Engulfs Kenneth Branagh’s Hercule Poirot Into the Dark Arts of Divination, Ghost Stories and Murder
A Haunting in Venice (c) 20th Century Studios
Film: A Haunting in Venice
Premise: The famous and infamous sleuth Hecule Poirot (Kenneth Branagh) has decided to retire in Venice after his last two cases (one on the Orient Express and the other on the Nile) tested his moral compass. Enter American mystery writer Ariadne Oliver (Tina Fey), who claims her fictional version of Poirot in her novels made him a celebrity. She’s disappointed in his retirement and convinces Poirot to attend a séance where she hopes he will discredit the medium, Joyce Reynolds (Michelle Yeoh), who has been hired by the grieving opera singer Rowena Drake (Kelly Reilly) to contact her dead daughter, Alicia, who committed suicide a year ago. So, when Reynolds inhabits the spirit of Alicia and says foul play may be involved in her death, things start to go awry in the spooky Venetian palazzo. Is Mrs. Reynolds’ talents fake or was Alicia actually murdered? Luckily, also attending the séance are a host of suspects, including Alicia’s ex-boyfriend (Kyle Allen), Rowena’s religious and disapproving housekeeper (Camille Cottin), Alicia’s mentally unstable former doctor and his young son (Jamie Dornan and Jude Hill, playing father and son as they did in Branagh’s Belfast) and Reynolds’ two assistants (Emma Laird and Ali Khan), who may have some secrets as well. And while Poirot starts the evening as a spiritual skeptic, he starts to have visions and visitations from other worldly spirits. Is this an actual haunting in Venice or can Poirot prove otherwise?
Friday, September 8, 2023
Theater Review: The Final Shakespeare in the Park Production Before a 20-Month Closure Immerses Us into the Brave New World of an Enjoyable “The Tempest”
The Tempest (c) Joan Marcus
Theater: The Tempest
Shakespeare in the Park/Public Works (closed)
Premise: As the final full production at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park before a lengthy year-and-a-half renovation project, you can’t get any more joyous and crowd-pleasing than this musical take on “The Tempest.” With songs written by the immensely talented Benjamin Velez dropped in between Shakespeare’s text, “The Tempest” is a rousing production by the Public Works leg of the Public Theater. These are not the kind of adjectives normally associated with “The Tempest,” one of Shakespeare’s late comedies (only in its most academic definition) in which the exiled Duke of Milan, Prospero (Renée Elise Goldsberry), having been stranded on an island for years with only her daughter Miranda (Naomi Pierre) as her comfort, exacts revenge on the people who usurped her crown by summoning a tempest to crash their ship onto her island prison. They include her false and malicious brother Antonio (Anthony Chatmon II) and Alonso (Joel Frost), the King of Naples, who believes his son Ferdinand (Jordan Best) to have drowned in the shipwreck. But Ferdinand is alive and, having been separated from the other survivors, has fallen in love with Miranda. Prospero gleefully plays the two like pieces on a chess board (literalized in Alexis Distler’s serviceable set). Also in the story are two natives of the island: the sprite Ariel (Jo Lampert) and the savage Caliban (Theo Stockman), both now in servitude to Prospero. But is the angry, vengeful Prospero going to take his revenge on his captives, or will he be able to summon a grace towards forgiveness?
Tuesday, September 5, 2023
Strange Way of Life (c) Sony Pictures Classics, Foe (c) Amazon Studios,
Janet Planet (c) A24, Evil Does Not Exist (c) Neopa Fictive
Every year, I look at the line-up at the New York Film Festival, which runs from September 29 to October 15 to see what interesting and arty films are going to open this fall. Yes, this doesn’t include a lot of the blockbusters from major studios, but in solidarity with the striking SAG-AFTRA and WGA members, I really don’t want to promote those big studios films. Yes, there are some films mentioned below that will be released by studios like Netflix and subsidiaries of Disney, I want to celebrate the artistic visions of directors, actors, writers, and the crews of these films.
Friday, August 18, 2023
Maestro (c) Netflix