This Isn’t the Greatest Show (“The Greatest Showman” REVIEW)

mv5byjq0zwjkyjmtyjjmys00mjjiltg3ntytmmizn2e2y2ywzmuyxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvynjk5nda3otk-_v1_sy1000_sx675_al_The truly amazing thing about The Greatest Showman is the utter commitment and dedication the actors show to such mediocre material. And, on that note, it’s kind of a miracle that the music is somehow not the worst part of the film (and I really don’t care for Pasek and Paul’s music; they’re not bad, I just find them utterly mediocre and forgettable). Written by Jenny Bicks and Bill Condon, directed by newcomer Michael Gracey (with reshoots and edits allegedly by James Mangold), and featuring songs from Tony and Academy Award-winning songwriters Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, The Greatest Showman tells the story of P.T. Barnum (Hugh Jackman) and his rise to fame through the advent of his famous circus, Barnum’s Circus. Joined by Zac Efron, Zendaya, Rebecca Ferguson, and more, The Greatest Showman explores the lives of those around Barnum and how he and his circus forever changed the theatrical experience. (Mild spoilers ahead)  (more…)

Oh, hi, James. (“The Disaster Artist” REVIEW)

mv5bognkmzlimgmtmdi5ni00otzkltgymtytnzk5zty1njvhyjvmxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvyntazmty4mda-_v1_sy1000_sx675_al_Well, I finally got around to seeing The Disaster Artist and, man, I wish I liked this movie. I really do. It’s not that it’s a bad movie, it just doesn’t really work for me. I mean, it’s really hard to get into a film that’s about someone as supremely unlikable as Franco’s Tommy Wiseau. There are ways to successfully have a film that follows an unlikable main character, but The Disaster Artist never latches onto any of those ways. Written by Scott Neudstadter and Michael H. Weber and directed by James Franco – and based on Greg Sestero’s memoir, The Disaster Artist: My Life Inside The Room, the Greatest Bad Movie Ever Made -, The Disaster Artist tells the story of the unlikely friendship between Tommy Wiseau (James Franco) and Greg Sestero (Dave Franco) and how their friendship led to the creation of one of the worst films ever made: The RoomThe Disaster Artist also stars Seth Rogen as Sandy Schklair, Ari Graynor as Juliette Danielle, Josh Hutcherson as Philip Haldiman, Alison Brie as Amber, Mega Mullally as Mrs. Sestero, and a variety of cameos from other actors. (Mild spoilers ahead)  (more…)

A Truly Enjoyable Film That I’ll Never Watch Again (“Lady Bird” REVIEW)

mv5bmjg1ndy0ndyzmv5bml5banbnxkftztgwnziwmtewndi-_v1_sy1000_cr006761000_al_You know how there are those movies that you watch and think are really well made, really enjoyable, and very good, but you also know that you’ll never watch it again? That’s how I felt about Lady Bird. It’s a genuinely very good film, but it’s one that I doubt I’ll ever end up watching again. That’s not a testament to the quality of the film, merely a testament to my own personal interests. Written and directed by Greta Gerwig, Lady Bird tells the story of Christine “Lady Bird” MacPherson (Saoirse Ronan), a high school senior from the “wrong side of the tracks.” She longs for adventure, sophistication, and opportunity, but finds none of that in her Sacramento Catholic high school. Lady Bird follows Christine’s senior year in high school, including her first romance, friendship and family drama, her participation in the school play, and most importantly, her applying for college. Nominated for four Golden Globes, Lady Bird marks the directorial debut of Greta Gerwig. (Mild spoilers ahead)

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Goodbye, Peter Capaldi (Doctor Who – “Twice Upon a Time” REVIEW)

6As must always happen, another Doctor’s time has come to a close. This time we must say goodbye to Peter Capaldi, the Twelfth Doctor. Not only is this Capaldi’s swan song, but it’s also showrunner Steven Moffat’s final episode. For Doctor Who fans, the regeneration episode is always a bag of mixed emotions. It’s sad to see a beloved Doctor leave, but it’s exciting to get a glimpse of the new one and all the surprises that await us in the episodes ahead. In Twice Upon a Time (written by Steven Moffat and directed by Rachel Talalay), the Twelfth Doctor (Peter Capaldi) teams up with his former self, the First Doctor (David Bradley) and a returning Bill Potts (Pearl Mackie), for one last adventure. Two Doctors stranded in an Arctic snowscape, refusing to face regeneration. Enchanted glass people, stealing their victims from frozen time. And a World War One captain destined to die on the battlefield, but taken from the trenches to play his part in the Doctor s story. An uplifting new tale about the power of hope in humanity s darkest hours, Twice Upon A Time marks the end of an era. But as the Doctor must face his past to decide his future, his journey is only just beginning… The 60-minute special guest stars Mark Gatiss as The Captain and Nikki Amuka-Bird as the voice of the glass woman, and will see Peter Capaldi’s Doctor regenerate into the Thirteenth Doctor (Jodie Whittaker). (Mild spoilers ahead)  (more…)

Maybe WE are the real monsters (“The Shape of Water” review)

mv5bodq4otm0mdaznl5bml5banbnxkftztgwotaxmzgzndm-_v1_What if the Creature from The Creature From the Black Lagoon wasn’t actually the monster of that film? Well, you’d have something similar to The Shape of Water, which clearly takes inspiration from The Creature From the Black Lagoon and other classic Universal monster movies. Written and directed by Guillermo del Toro, The Shape of Water is an otherworldly fable set against the backdrop of Cold War-era America circa 1962. In the hidden high-security government laboratory where she works, lonely Elisa (Sally Hawkins) is trapped in a life of isolation. Elisa’s life is changed forever when she and co-worker Zelda (Octavia Spencer) discover a secret classified experiment. Rounding out the cast are Michael Shannon as Colonel Richard Strickland, the man in charge of the creature research team; Richard Jenkins as Giles, Elisa’s friend and neighbor, a closeted commercial artist; Michael Stuhlbarg as Dr. Robert Hoffstetler, one of the lab’s scientists; and Doug Jones as the Creature. (Mild spoilers follow)  (more…)

Some Thoughts on “The Greatest Showman” Soundtrack, “A Christmas Story Live!”, and Pasek and Paul

pasekpaul7473rtsmallIt never truly feels like Christmas for me unless there’s some kind of musical event in either the television or film world. Whether it’s a new movie musical for Hollywood or another one of those live musicals on TV (via NBC or FOX), a big part of my Christmas tradition nowadays is a new musical to watch and enjoy right before the big holiday. This year was no exception, bringing two musicals to my eyeballs. FOX just aired A Christmas Story Live! this past weekend (with a book by Robert Cary and Jonathan Tolins and music and lyrics by the songwriting duo Pasek and Paul) and 20th Century Fox is releasing a new movie musical about P.T. Barnum (of Barnum and Bailey Circus fame) directed by Michael Gracey, with a screenplay by Jenny Bicks and Bill Condon and music and lyrics by Pasek and Paul. You might have noticed a theme there with both of this year’s big, new musical offerings: they both feature the music of Benj Pasek and Justin Paul. Fresh off their recent success with Broadway’s Dear Evan Hansen, Pasek and Paul have written original lyrics and music for The Greatest Showman as well as composing a new song for the live telecast of their 2012 Broadway musical A Christmas Story. (Also of note: one of last year’s big musical offerings, La La Land, also featured the lyrics of Pasek and Paul.) So with Pasek and Paul taking over my screens in both of the big new filmed musical offerings, I thought it worthwhile to give my thoughts on the soundtrack for The Greatest Showman (I haven’t seen the movie yet), FOX’s telecast of A Christmas Story Live!, and my general thoughts on the music of Pasek and Paul.  (more…)

If Only the Force Was With this Film (“Star Wars: The Last Jedi” review)

mv5bmjq1mzcxnjg4n15bml5banbnxkftztgwnzgwmjy4mzi-_v1_sy1000_cr006751000_al_I mean, it’s not the worst Star Wars film ever made nor is it the best. It’s better than Rogue One was, at least, though I didn’t much care for Rogue One, to be honest. It’s on the same level as The Force Awakens was, for me. Written and directed by Rian Johnson, Star Wars: The Last Jedi is the eighth entry in the main series of Star Wars films. Picking up from where The Force Awakens left off, Star Wars: The Last Jedi follows the fledgling Resistance, led by General Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher), as they continue to wage war against the evil First Order, led by Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis) and his apprentice, Kylo Ren (Adam Driver). Scavenger Rey (Daisy Ridley) seeks help from Jedi Master (and hermit) Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) while First Order defector Finn (John Boyega) and low-level Resistance fighter Rose Tico (Kelly Marie Tran) embark on a secret mission to aid the Resistance. (Mild spoilers follow)  (more…)

An actor is murdered! Then, nothing much happens as the mystery unravels. (REVIEW: “Act One, Scene One—Murder” by A.H. Richardson)

31368681What happens when you take the central premise of loads of murder mysteries – a group of people who end up locked in a house as they start dying one by one – and replace that group with a group of actors/theatre people? Well, you get Act One, Scene One – Murder, the second novel in A.H. Richardson’s mystery novels starring Sir. Victor Hazlitt and actor Berry Beresford.

(From the Publisher): Talk about drama! To celebrate the opening of his new play, the playwright invites the entire cast to his mysteriously medieval mansion for a gala dinner. As the curtain rises on this festive feast, a scene of chaos occurs when the leading man is murdered. Who could have done it? And why? Old friends — Inspector Stan Burgess, Actor Berry Beresford, and Sir Victor Hazlitt — question an outlandish cast of frightened actors and household staff. The plot thickens with yet another murder occurs, and the intrigue continues until…

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History is More Magical Than You Think (“Harry Potter: A History of Magic book/BBC Documentary REVIEW) 

Harry-Potter-A-History-of-Magic-CoverI’m only a month late in talking about this, but what’s a month or two between friends? Two books, a BBC Two documentary, and an entire museum exhibit. These are the latest developments in the Harry Potter universe (as of October 2017) as the British Library launches its look into the real-life history of magic and how it intercepts J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World. As a fan of both the Wizarding World and really great museum exhibits, I have to say that this excited me. I haven’t been able to go to the actual museum exhibit (as it’s in London and I am not), but I have read the official book of the exhibit: Harry Potter: A History of Magic and see the accompanying BBC Two Documentary. And it’s fab. Harry Potter: A History of Magic explores the intersection of history and fantasy. It’s common knowledge that much of J.K. Rowling’s world-building in the Wizarding World series originates from real history and myth, but just how much of it was real? Harry Potter: A History of Magic seeks to answer that question, and answer it, it does – with lots of panache. (more…)

Time To Wait for the Ultimate Cut of Justice League – Because It’s Clear There is One (“Justice League” (2017) REVIEW)

mv5bndgwnjmwnjm1ov5bml5banbnxkftztgwnja2njk5mzi-_v1_Man, I desperately wanted to like this. I will go to my grave defending Batman v Superman (particularly the Ultimate Edition, where the story actually made sense), but Justice League is, unfortunately, a bit of a mess. A fairly enjoyable – at times – mess, but a mess, nonetheless, and I’m not sure whose fault it is. Directed by Zack Snyder (with substantial reshoots and editing supervised by Joss Whedon) and written by Chris Terrio and Joss Whedon, Justice League is the DCEU’s equivalent of 2012’s The Avengers (also directed by Whedon). It brings the mightiest DC superheroes – Batman (Ben Affleck), Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), The Flash (Ezra Miller), Aquaman (Jason Momoa), Cyborg (Ray Fisher), and Superman (Henry Cavill) – together for the first time as they team up to defend the earth from an intergalactic – and multi-dimensional? – threat: Steppenwolf (Ciarán Hinds). (Mild spoilers ahead)  (more…)