Friday, October 1, 2021

Short Takes: September 2021

A Commercial Jingle for Regina Comet, Come From Away,  The Guilty 

A Commercial Jingle for Regina Comet (c) Matthew Murphy

Theater: A Commercial Jingle for Regina Comet 

Two budding songwriters are approached to write a jingle for an almost past-her-prime diva named Regina Comet (Bryonha Marie Parham) and her new line of fragrance. The jingle writers are played by Ben Fankhauser and Alex Wyse, who are the songwriters for this show, the first musical to open off-Broadway since the pandemic started. For that, the show’s energy and the easygoing songs are welcome, but the story has too many reality leaps that not even a frothy musical can overcome. If you liked “title of show,” this one might be for you. But for a show about a search for a hooky jingle, this show is just not that memorable. 

Come From Away (c) Apple TV+

Film: Come From Away 
Apple TV+ 

Sometime during the Broadway pandemic intermission, the cast and crew of the hit musical “Come From Away” got back together to capture the production of the stage show for Apple TV+. “Come From Away” takes place on September 11, 2001 in a small town of Gander in Newfoundland where many flights were diverted to land after the attacks. How the small-town citizens and the many planes full of international travelers (all played by a hard-working cast of 12) bonded during their time together is touching but also rather hit-or-miss as the story tries to tell way too many stories, thus reducing each to one or two salient features. Still, on this, the 20th anniversary of 9/11, it’s nice to have this inspiring footnote told to a wider audience. 

The Guilty (c) Netflix

Film: The Guilty 
In cinemas and Netflix 

I never saw the Danish original film from 2018, but I can’t imagine a more 2021 movie than this Antoine Fuqua-directed American version of “The Guilty” with the pandemic hovering over this production. Jake Gyllenhaal plays a cop who has been given a desk job (for reasons we find out later) as a 9-1-1 phone operator. The movie is essentially a one-man movie with a lot of celebrities playing the voices on the phone. Riley Keough has the most important vocal performance and she and Gyllenhaal have an intense chemistry. Fuqua and Gyllenhaal get all the credit for making this as nail-biting and exciting as it is, even though it’s so obvious where the story was heading. I did see this at a screening, with minimal distraction (my mask being the main one) and I think it I benefited from seeing it on the big screen. On Netflix, put away the phone and laptop and enjoy the ride.