SCRIPT REVIEW: Lorraine Hansberry’s “A Raisin in the Sun” is a Truly Remarkable Play with a Script That’s Bogged Down With Too Many Stage Directions

5517*NOTE: THIS IS A REVIEW OF THE SCRIPT, ONLY*
As part of my Directing class in school, I’ve had to some plays in preparation for the scene work that’s to come later in the semester. One of those plays was Lorraine Hansberry’s classic A Raisin in the Sun. Nominated for four Tony Awards – including Best New Play, A Raisin in the Sun details the lives of the Younger family, an African American family living in Chicago in the 1950s. Set on Chicago’s South Side, the plot revolves around the divergent dreams and conflicts within three generations of the Younger family: son Walter Lee, his wife Ruth, his sister Beneatha, his son Travis and matriarch Lena, called Mama. When her deceased husband’s insurance money comes through, Mama dreams of moving to a new home and a better neighborhood in Chicago. Walter Lee, a chauffeur, has other plans, however: buying a liquor store and being his own man. Beneatha dreams of medical school. The tensions and prejudice they face form this seminal American drama. Sacrifice, trust, and love among the Younger family and their heroic struggle to retain dignity in a harsh and changing world is a searing and timeless document of hope and inspiration.  (more…)

A Mixed Bag of an Album That (in a way) Perfectly Lives Up to its Name. (Fall Out Boy – “Mania” album review)

fall out boy maniaA new Fall Out Boy album has been released, which means it’s time for me to revisit my days as a pop-punk kid! Released by Island Records and DCD2, Mania is the seventh studio album from Fall Out Boy and the followup to 2015’s American Beauty/American PsychoMania features a runtime of 36 minutes and contains the songs Stay Frosty Royal Milk Tea”, “The Last of the Real Ones”, “Hold Me Tight or Don’t”, “Wilson (Expensive Mistakes)”, “Church”, “Heaven’s Gate”, “Champion”, “Sunshine Riptide (featuring Burna Boy)”, “Young and Menace”, and “Bishops Knife Trick”.  (more…)

An In-Depth Behind the Scenes Look at a “Fairy Tale for Troubled Times” (“The Shape of Water: Creating a Fairy Tale for Troubled Times” REVIEW)

81wgzinxhzlEveryone loves a good making-of documentary in the bonus features of the DVD of a film. Well, this book is the next best thing. Written by Gina McIntyre, The Shape of Water: Creating a Fairy Tale for Troubled Times details the making of director Guillermo del Toro’s latest film, The Shape of Water. From the Publisher: From master storyteller, Guillermo del Toro, comes The Shape of Water—an other-worldly fairy tale set against the backdrop of the Cold War-era United States circa 1962. In the hidden high-security government laboratory where she works, lonely Elisa (Sally Hawkins) is trapped in a life of silence and isolation. Elisa’s life is changed forever when she and coworker Zelda (Octavia Spencer) discover a secret classified experiment. Rounding out the cast are Michael Shannon, Richard Jenkins, Michael Stuhlbarg, and Doug Jones. Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water: Creating a Fairy Tale for Troubled Times chronicles the entire filmmaking journey, from development to design to filming. Featuring interviews and commentary from key actors and members of the creative team, the book also showcases the amazing concept art and design work created for the film. For del Toro fans and movie lovers everywhere, it’s the perfect way to explore this exciting new movie from a master filmmaker known for his poignant storytelling and visual grandeur. (more…)

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…)