Monthly Archives: April 2016

Blue Velvet movie review

I f you are in the mood for a strange, sexy and dark mystery movie, then we recommend the 1986 film Blue Velvet. It shows the bizarre underside of what at first appears to be an idyllic and peaceful suburban town. This facade is shattered when college student Jeffrey (played by Kyle MacLachlan) finds a severed human ear in a field.

Laura Dern and Kyle MacLachlan in "Blue Velvet"

Laura Dern and Kyle MacLachlan in “Blue Velvet”

Jeffrey, of course, turns this evidence into the local police detective. However, instead of leaving the matter to the police, Jeffrey and the detective’s daughter Sandy (played by Laura Dern) decide to start their own investigation. They are really just trying to have a little excitement and an excuse to spend time with each other. They are both too naive to understand just how much danger they are putting themselves into.

Isabella Rosselini and Kyle MacLachlan in "Blue Velvet"

Isabella Rosselini and Kyle MacLachlan in “Blue Velvet”

Since Sandy is still in high school, Jeffrey ends up doing most of the investigating himself. This brings him into contact with a beautiful and deadly lounge singer names Dorthy (planed by Isabella Rosselini).

Dennis Hopper and Isabella Rosselini in "Blue Velvet"

Dennis Hopper and Isabella Rosselini in “Blue Velvet”

Jeffrey becomes almost a Jekyll and Hyde personality. During the day he is with the innocent and pure Sandy, meeting in places like the local soda shop. But at night he keeps going back to the older and sexual Dorthy, despite the fact that he know this could put his very life in danger.

Dennis Hopper plays the local crime boss Frank Booth. As usual, Dennis Hopper plays a deranged character so well, you begin to wonder about the sanity of Mr. Hopper himself.

Laura Dern, Isabella Rosselini and Klye MacLachlan in "Blue Velvet"

Laura Dern, Isabella Rosselini and Klye MacLachlan in “Blue Velvet”

These two worlds, the innocent and the evil, finally come crashing together in a dramatic conclusion. Blue Velvet is a great film that will leave you wondering what really lies just below the surface of even the most peaceful of settings.

 

Tavi Gevinson deserves a Tony

Tavi Gevinson deserves a Tony award for Best Supporting Actress for her role of Mary Warren in The Crucible. It would  be a nice belated birthday present for Tavi, who just  tuned 20 on April 21. As we mentioned in our review of The Crucible, the stage performance of Tavi Gevinson was amazing.

Tavi Gevinson

Tavi Gevinson

Tavi Gevinson is not well know as a stage actor, but she is well know as an expert on the pressures of teenage life. At the age of 12, she started the blog Style Rookie, which immediately became a huge success.

It may seem like a giant leap from writing about teenage life to performing on Broadway, but The Crucible is the perfect play for that transition. In The Crucible, Mary Warren is a tormented teenage girl whose life is being ripped apart by the conflicting pressures of giving in to peer pressure or doing what she knows is right.

In The Crucible Mary has accused numerous adults of witchcraft, and later tries to recant her testimony when she finally realizes the horrible consequences of her actions.  However, a recantation will mean being permanently ostracized by all her friends.

Tavi  Gevinson plays the tortured soul of Mary Warren to perfection. The conflicting emotions has her being torn apart to the point where it seems as if the tension will physically kill her. It never appeared that Tavi Gevinson was acting the part of Mary Warren – She was Mary Warren.

Tavi Gevinson is a talented actor and writer who is only just beginning to show the World her full talent. We look forward to seeing her career progress in the years ahead.

The Crucible on Broadway Should Win the Tony Award

The Crucible at Walter Kerr Theater,  should win the The 2016 Tony Award. The cast of this production has to be one of the bast that has ever performed the play. The message of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible  resonates as powerfully today as it did when it was first performed in 1953.  Every actor on stage is a master of the craft in what has to be an exhausting undertaking.

Saoirse Ronan stars as Abigail Williams, the girl who starts the witchcraft accusations that soon have the entire town of Salem at each others throats. Saoirse Ronan was recently nominated for (and in our opinion should have won) the Academy Award for  Best Actress in her film Brooklyn.

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Ben Whishaw is Thomas Putnam, the handsome married farmer who had a affair with Abigail, not understanding the deadly consequences of his actions. The interactions between Ben Whishaw and Saoirse Ronan are riveting to watch.

Veteran stage actor Jim Norton is Giles Corey, a crotchety old man who loves to make jokes about the strange habits of his wife. At first these are funny and have the audience laughing. However, in the poisoned atmosphere of witchcraft trials his jokes become a weapon that other people can use to attack his beloved wife.

Jenny Jules is the slave Tituba who is the first person accused of witchcraft.  Although an uneducated slave, Tituba is clever enough to save herself by quickly confessing and then deflecting the blame to others.

There were also some very well known television actors on stage. Ciarin Hinds plays deputy Governor Dunforth who has the final word on who lives and who dies. Ciarin Hinds you will recognize as the “King Beyond The Wall” on Game of Thrones. His commanding voice and powerful physique make him the perfect actor to play the man who will make the ultimate decisions from which there can be no appeal.

Tina Benko plays Anna Putnam, a woman who is eager to blame the  deaths of her babies on witchcraft.  Tina Benko has true range as an actor. We last saw her as the embezzling ex-ballerina on Flesh and Bone.

"Enough Said" Portraits - 2013 Toronto International Film Festival

Special mention must to go Tavi Gevinson. The acting skills of this young woman are astounding. She plays Mary Warren, a girl who accuses many of witchcraft and then tries to recant her story when she sees the terrible consequences of her lies. We were in the second row of the theater and Tavi was performing at the front of the stage no more than 5 feet from us. During her recantation testimony her tears were real and her trembling made us feel as if we were truly witnessing an individual having a nervous breakdown. We predict that Tavi Gevinson will go on to become a major screen and theatrical star.

The staging of the play was also very unusual and fascinating. Director Iva Van Hove chose to mix numerous time periods. Although supposedly taking place in Salem Massachusetts in 1692, many of the actresses are wearing what are Catholic schoolgirl uniforms from the 1950s. There are also numerous African-American actors playing officials who in 1692 certainly would have been White.  The point, of course, is to show that hysteria, false accusations about and hatred of anyone considered “different”  still exist in modern times and did not end in 1692.

The run of this play is almost complete. If you can get a ticket you should try. There is nothing like seeing actors at the top of their craft with no cameras or screens between them and the audience.

 

Hard Core Henry – movie review by Gregory F. Farrell

We do not really want  give Hard Core Henry the compliment of calling it a movie. It is basically 96 minutes of watching someone else play a video game. Anyone who has ever been the passive viewer of a video game knows that gets very boring very fast. What makes actual video games exciting is that you get to control the character and your skill determines whether or not the character succeeds or dies.

Hard 1

The plot is much the same as many video games. The title character (Henry) wakes up in a strange laboratory  with no memory of who he is. A beautiful young woman tells him he has been in an accident and he has been repaired with many robotic parts that give him almost super-human powers. The lab is then broken into by an strange looking bad guy who tries to kill Henry and the beautiful woman (Estelle).

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The entire rest of the movie goes into full video game mode. The bad guy captures Estelle, and Henry spends the rest of the film searching for her and killing attackers by the hundreds.

One of the most annoying aspects of the movie is that it is all filmed with a hand-held camera using the first person view.  During the chase scenes the film is so shaky that for many long periods the audience cannot even clearly see what is happening.

It is hard to tell who this movie’s target audience is. Most adults will just find it stupid. Kids should not go to this movie. It has extreme bloody violence, and a very long scene takes place in a whore house with many naked prostitutes. (Most of them also get killed)

The frustrating part is that the actors do an excellent job with the material they were given. Haley Bennett is the beautiful damsel in distress who any man would be willing to risk his life to rescue. Sharlto Copley plays Jimmy, a character who, like in video games, comes magically back to life each time he is killed. Danila Kozlousky is the bizarre bad guy.

But in the final analysis, it would be a lot more fun to play a video game based on Hard Core Henry than to actually watch the movie.

 

The Blending Time -book review

The Blending Time by Michael Kinch is a Sci-Fi novel in the YA (Young Adult) category.  Those two classifications immediately mean that most reviewers will not take the book seriously.  That’s a shame, since The Blending Time is a very will written novel that has a lot to say about human nature, race relations and the consequences of environmental change.

The Blending Time take place in the near future when the Western Wold has a severe water shortage, and Africa is suffering from the genetic impacts of a Solar Flare. The genetic mutation is a recessive gene making it impossible for any two pure Africans to successfully have children.

Blend 1

The world  government (The Global Alliance) has come up with a solution to the problems of both hemispheres. Young people from the overcrowded and drought-stricken Western Hemisphere are sent to Africa to marry and mate with pure Africans.  In this way the gene pool will be “blended” and people in Africa will once again be successfully able to have children.

Blend 2

While this plan sounds brilliant in practice, the leaders of the Global Alliance never thought out the details. There are huge social and racial implications to moving thousands of young, untrained White people  to Africa where they are not welcomed by everyone.

Michael Kinch is actually  using The Blending Time to tell the story of current-day Africa and the misguided attempts of Western Governments to “help”. Anyone who has closely followed the operations of the Peace Corps or the United Nations knows that their well meaning efforts often do more harm than good.

This is an excellent book and I recommend it, whether you are a YA (Young Adult), or like me an OF (Old Fart).

 

Bike For The Buns Charity Event

Safe Haven Rabbit Rescue’s  annual Bike For The Buns will be held on Saturday June 18th at the Bulls Island Recreation Area in Stockton, NJ.

Bunny Contest 004

This is a fun, family event with all proceeds going to charity. Safe Haven Rabbit Rescue provides shelter for abandoned, abused and neglected domestic rabbits. It also has educational seminars and events to teach people how to properly care for these misunderstood little creatures.

Right now is the most dangerous time of the year for domestic business.  Lots of people get rabbits at Easter, thinking they will be a simple pet to take care of. Once they discover that bunnies are more work than they thought, some people simply” throw out” the rabbits.

The little rabbit pictured above (named Sunshine) had been tossed out of a car window at a stop light. Luckily, a passing motorist found him wandering in the street and brought him to Safe Haven Rabbit Rescue.

The Bike For the Buns is a non-competitive bicycle ride along the beautiful river towpaths of the Bulls Island Recreational Area.

Please join us to have fun and help this worthy cause.