peteg's blog

Silent Theatre Company: The Seven Secret Plays of Madam Caprice at the Chopin Theatre.

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Goldstar ticket: $10.00 + $5.25 service fee = $15.25, bought 2015-05-18. Downstairs, 4pm. Adam the ever-present bar dude was tending bar there rather than at the top of the stairs, and wasn't vending decaf, so I got a flavourless ginger ale. I walked over in grey skies: cold, windy, but at least not rainy. Lunch at Pot Pan Thai beforehand: I'm developing a taste for their chicken penang.

Tony Adler hated it, and I was worried that no-one would show. In the end there were about 15 people, which was enough to fill out the front rows. He's dead right that the seating is a long way from optimal; quite often one of the actors stood between me and the action. The Hammer Trinity guys had it figured out: a larger floor space, and more spatially linear action. Marcus Fittanto was great, as was the rest of the cast, and the production was solid, with some excellent lighting. Lauren Fisher evoked Paulette Goddard from Chaplin's days of silence, and Gillian Hastings anchored things with a fabulous voice and indefatigability. Josie Nahas floats around like she's born to it. Still, mental illness is not something to be played lightly, and scruting the plays-within-the-play is beyond me.

Infernal Affairs

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Last saw about four years ago. It's creeping up the IMDB top-250: now #208. Tony Leung is as louche as ever.

The Great Dictator

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The highest-rated Chaplin on IMDB (#56 in the top-250) but quite meh.

Irish Theatre of Chicago: The White Road at the Den Theatre.

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Goldstar ticket: $15.00 + $4.75 service fee = $19.75, bought 2015-05-18. 3pm, with my fellow oldies. A recounting of Shackleton's abortive imperial Antarctic expedition during the Great War. This is a solid production with some good acting, but I can't imagine any Irishman (and I mean any) ever saying "For England!" in a non-ironic way.

Chloe Riley got into it. I went on Grace's recommendation.

Mad Max: Fury Road

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$13.97, Regal Webster 11, 3D, 2:20pm screening. Seat B10 was a bit too close to the screen for the chopped-up action spaghetti scenes to make much sense. I got a coffee at the Starbucks in the Barnes and Noble on the corner; I can't remember the last time I was in a bookshop. The bloke just sloshed some cold milk in an espresso, and the result was one of the best coffees I've had at a Starbucks. Props to him.

This is far more vacuous than I'd been lead to believe by the reviewers. Whatever mythology Miller is trying to mint, it's essentially a bunch of post-Fight Club space monkeys engaging in mid-70s bogan behaviour, a homage to the days of the V8 streetcars tearing up the suburban streets of wherever. Lock up your daughters, and maybe your old men, Summernats without the tattoo tent. Tom Hardy was the draw but here he's back to efficient mumbling mode; I far prefer it when he has lines to deliver (see the last time he drove a vehicle any distance) and not just heads to bust. Angus Sampson channels Kenny as the organic mechanic. Richard Carter, eternal copper, is his usual arch inflexible self-character. At least he gets blown up. John Howard was in there somewhere. iOTA is the metal god. And that, of course, was Megan Gale. I far prefer the one-armed Lena Olin of Romeo is Bleeding to Charlize Theron, if only because she has so much more fun.

I struggle with Dana Stevens review (or leader writer): just because women engage in violence does not mean they are empowered, at least in my mind. ... and ultimately it is Max's plan those gals are executing, so he's not entirely surplus to their requirements. A. O. Scott convinced me to do the 3D thing. Someone has hijacked Anthony Lane's column at the New Yorker.

Hal Hartley: Henry Fool

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Last seen about four-and-a-half years ago. Remains awesome.

The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center: The Emerson Quartet.

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Goldstar ticket: $22.50 + $5.50 service fee = $28.00, bought 2015-05-18. As usual with these last-gasp ticket purchases, I should have stayed home. There's no doubt these guys are tight, but the tunes tonight were not to my taste: Liebermann: New Work for String Quartet (CMS Co-Commission, NY premiere), Mozart: Quintet in E-flat major, and Tchaikovsky: Souvenir de Florence. Uncomfortably cold too, at least in just a tshirt. Pizza at Giordarno's with Christian beforehand.

Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome

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Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior

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All the early-80s tropes: the kid, the dog, the lack of dialogue, the pointlessness of it all. Certainly superior to the original. How many dreams died on that road to Broken Hill? Most of the getups look like they're straight out of Mardi Gras. Again the stunts are awesome, but go by too fast. Arkie Whiteley is in there somewhere.

Mad Max

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The original, from 1979. I've never been very persuaded by Mel Gibson. Here Steve Bisley tries to act him off the screen and ends up getting burned to a cinder. Maybe that was the point of the whole thing. Some of the stunts are pretty cool, but they go by so fast you have to be paying attention. Remaining rapt is not eased by the repetitive and sometimes kooky dialogue. Parts of Victoria have never looked this good, or this empty of weekenders.

First Floor Theatre: The Paranoid Style in American Politics at Collaboraction, Flat Iron Arts Building.

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$20 + $1.69 processing = $21.69, bought 2015-04-24, for closing night. Goldstar had a cheaper base price but the service fee was too high. I headed over around 6.30pm to grab some dinner at Pot Pan Thai (the same-old Banmee Delight) in some heavy fog and light rain, or condensate. Their ticket clearly indicated that we should use the street-level Collaboraction door, but in actuality one needed to proceed up the main stairway of the Flat Iron Arts Building and brave the comic book geeks on the third floor landing. Being closing night, it was packed.

This was an original by Emmett Rensin, inspired by an essay of the same name by Richard J. Hofstadter from 1963/4. The promotional materials of the robust-values candidate feature a mugshot of Mickle Maher, author of Song About Himself. While the dialogue is taut, and the timeline nicely spliced up, the plot is a bit hackneyed; it must be, as I picked the perp somewhere around halfway. I hoped there'd be a twist, with the limp-wristed intern Gary (excellently played to type by Luke Michael Grimes) stepping up and really telling us why he's a Republican.

Andrew Cutler played the Sourthern dirty-tricks maestro Pete Caldwell perfectly. Mitch Salm as east-coast greaser Will Ford had some very funny scenes, especially opposite Eric Gerard, a communications director who fears the black grandmas of the inner-city Chicago churches. These nicely offset the occasional violence, which when it came was plausibly explosive. Amanda Fink as the candidate's daughter and presumable chief-of-staff rushed her lines and pouted a little too much; the pearls don't totally make the blue-blood. Kate Cornelius-Schecter played a right-wing journalist who wanted to more directly participate in the political pantomine. While I enjoyed it, in that car-crash kinda way, its central weakness was that it failed to yield any insight into why anyone with principles could be a Republican.

I went pretty much on the recommendation of Jena Cutie at the Reader. According to Jerald Raymond Pierce, Rensin mined all the cable shows I don't watch. I concur that the scene transitions were first-rate.

The Black Dahlia

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Third time around. Hilary Swank has a blast, and I dearly wish she had more screen time. I like Aaron Eckhart but he's a bit railroaded here. I'm still mystified as to how we're supposed to assemble the whole thing. The cinematography is occasionally excellent, as always with De Palma.

Hal Hartley: Simple Men

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Yeah. Weaker than his first two features, but followed up by his taut and fantastic Surviving Desire, so emphatically just a blip. I like Bill Sage's affected ineffectualness here, and Martin Donovan is always amusing in a Hartley. Karen Sillas is valliant. Damian Young, as the sheriff, is still somewhat compis mentis here.

Space Cowboys

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Eastwood stars and directs in 2000. He and Tommy Lee Jones enjoy their sparring, and Donald Sutherland chases skirt, in what adds up to a less than mediocre piece of grumpy-old-boomer triumphalism. Ironically it's the Russians who have all the space repair tech now...


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An Adrienne Shelley segue from the Hal Hartleys, second time around. I enjoyed it, with its nods to Twin Peaks. I realise now that, as a Southern Gothic manufactured by a New Yorker, it is a bit patronising, and as far as a story of self-betterment, well, all you need to do is treat that high-tipping old gent just right...