The Light in the Piazza (c) Joan Marcus
Friday, June 23, 2023
Theater Review: “The Light in the Piazza” Is a Triumph for Actress Ruthie Ann Miles as a Woman Haunted by Statues and Stories in 1950s Italy
☆ Theater: The Light in the Piazza
Thursday, June 22, 2023
Film Review: “Asteroid City” Is Wes Anderson’s Most Wes Anderson Film That Feels Less of An Opus Than a Minor, Enjoyable Diversion
Asteroid City (c) Focus Features
Film: “Asteroid City”
Premise: We are in the titular Asteroid City, a small town with a population of 87, hosting a Junior Stargazer convention in 1955, chosen (and named) because an asteroid hit it and created a crater many centuries ago. Among the young scientists vying for the big cash prize is Woodrow Steenbeck (Jones Hall), accompanied by his father Augie (Jason Schwartzman), his three younger sisters and his mother’s father (Tom Hanks). Another is Dinah (Grace Edwards), whose mother Midge (Scarlett Johansson) is a famous actress. A sort of flirtation begins between the two partnerless parents and their hormonal offspring, which plays out at the convention. During a nighttime observation of a planetary alignment, a UFO arrives, and the whole town, along with the conventioneers, is quarantined by the US Government. This story, we’re told, is actually a play (hence the title of the movie is in quotes), and the subject of a TV show narrated by a host (Bryan Cranston), about the historical significance of the play, its playwright Conrad Earp (Edward Norton) and its historical first production, directed by Schubert Green (Adrien Brody).
Friday, June 16, 2023
'The Last of Us' and 'Somebody Somewhere' Lead GALECA: The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics Dorian TV Award Nominations
Somebody Somewhere (c) Sandy Morris/HBO
GALECA: The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics today announced its Dorian TV Award nominations for the best in television and streaming, mainstream to niche. HBO’s heart-rending apocalyptic drama The Last of Us topped the list with eight nominations, starting with Best TV Drama, where it faces the same network’s the-rich-must-pay parables Succession and The White Lotus, Showtime’s regretful cannibals opus Yellowjackets, and AMC’s delectably daring series version of Interview with the Vampire.
Somebody Somewhere, HBO’s poignant comedy about a single Kansas woman and friends navigating the questions of life, notched six nominations, including Best TV Comedy. Last year’s Dorian winner in that category, Abbott Elementary, chalked up four nods from GALECA, a national group of over 480 professional journalists writing on entertainment for some of the most respected media outlets in the world.
Some trademark Dorian Awards categories include Visually Striking Show—Disney+’s Star Wars spinoff Andor, Amazon’s Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power are in the mix there—and Campiest TV Show. Pulling the proverbial wigs off in the latter race: Dead Ringers, Eurovision Song Contest, Hocus Pocus 2, Schmigadoon!, She-Hulk: Attorney at Law, and Netflix’s cheeky-kooky Wednesday.
Tuesday, June 13, 2023
Theater Review: Nostalgia Is Tarnished by History in Off-Broadway’s “This Land Was Made” and “Love + Science” as Well as Broadway’s “The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window”
This Land Was Made (c) Carol Rosegg
Theater: This Land Was Made
At Vineyard Theater
Taking a page out of Quentin Tarantino, playwright Tori Sampson, who made quite a splash with her play If Pretty Hurts, Ugly Must Be a Muhfucka a few seasons ago, has decided to write some speculative history surrounding Huey P. Newton, the Black Panthers and who they affect in a small bar in Oakland, California in 1967. As a proud product of the Oakland ethos myself, I was happy to have a play set in my hometown, with the lingos and the landmarks intact. Sampson’s play is set in Miss Trish’s Bar in a primarily Black neighborhood in Oakland, run by a North Carolina transplant named Miss Trish (Libya V. Pugh), who tries to bring a bit of Southern cuisine to the Bay Area. Her daughter (and our narrator), Sassy (the dynamic Antoinette Crowe-Legacy), takes over a little corner of the bar to cut hair, but what she really wants to do is write a book about Oakland. Her love interest is Troy (Matthew Griffin), a Berkeley undergrad who, through circumstances that make up the bulk of the first act, attends a speech being made by Newton (a very persuasive Julian Elijah Martinez) on the infamous night in which Newton was accused of shooting police officers. Sampson inserts her fictional characters into the real-life drama to humanize the story beneath the headlines. This all plays out in Taylor Reynolds’ surprising subdued production, with Wilson Chin’s gorgeously retro bar set and unflashy but period-accurate costumes by Dominique Fawn Hall helping to create an evocative mood. As much I as enjoyed If Pretty Hurts, it seemed like a young playwright showing off her language wordplay and devil-may-care play structure. Here, Sampson has written a more traditional play that may be imperfect but I found way more engaging. The Huey Newton shooting may have been the jumping off point, it was her other characters that stayed with me.
Wednesday, June 7, 2023
New York, New York (c) Paul Kolnik
Final Tony Predictions: May 2023
Here are my Tony Award prediction and one runner-up (with percentage of likelihood) in all the categories as well as The Interested Bystander’s own preference if I was a Tony voter. Unlike the Oscars this year, there are no slam dunks (90% and higher) and it’s a lot harder to predict than usual. There’s even one tie in the runner-ups, that’s how close some of these categories are.
And thanks to the Writers Guild for allowing the Tony Awards to be telecast with no picket lines. If it weren’t not for the writers, there would be no entertainment to enjoy, let alone Broadway. I stand with them.
Monday, June 5, 2023
Film Reviews: Indie Films Tackle Sexual Topics Revolving Around Toxic Masculinity (“Horseplay”), Dominance (“Sanctuary”) and Gender Identity (“L’Immensità”)
Horseplay (c) Dark Star Pictures