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Not too long ago, we all can remember ourselves groaning, Darn it! I have to miss (fill in the blank here), I have plans tonight. Well, unless you’re subletting the Unibomber’s cabin, those days are long gone—but our protestations weren’t. Soon, the viewer war cry was, Dammit, (fill in the blank here) didn’t record! Now, with the rise of Apple TV, Netflix, Hulu, Crackle, Amazon and countless other streaming sites, television suddenly is without schedule.
Play: Shirley Valentine
The weather may be warming, but that doesn’t necessarily mean there’s anything in theaters worth seeing. If you remain firmly planted to your couch, rightfully suspicious of the thaw, you have options. Here’s what’s new on DVD:
Recognition of stellar productions by nearly two dozen local theater companies will take center stage when the St. Louis Theater Circle presents its second annual awards ceremony honoring the best in local professional theater, on stage and behind the scenes, on Monday, March 17, 2014 at the Center of Creative Arts (COCA), 524 Trinity Avenue in University City.
Story: Most days, Shirley Bradshaw puts on a face that she keeps in a jar by the door. She’s only 42 years old, but she feels more like 142. It’s the mid-1980s, and Shirley lives a humdrum existence in a working-class neighborhood in Liverpool, England, where John, Paul, George and Ringo got their start.
To get you in the mood for this Sunday's 86th Annual Academy Awards, we have LN's longtime movie critic, Debbie Baldwin, comparing notes with Brandon LaMew, who's been ranked No. 15 among Netflix's top film reviewers worldwide.
Considering the options at the megaplex, it may be wise to stay in this weekend and rent a movie. Here's a list of what's out:
Story: The Wyeths share their surname with a family of famous artists who counted celebrities among their friends and admirers. So it is with Lyman Wyeth, a retired actor who gave up success on the silver screen for patronage roles with the Grand Old Party, which was led by his friend and fellow former actor Ronald Reagan. Lyman was good as a leading man in the pictures and just as polished as a genial Republican ambassador.
Story: What does a talent agent do when her prime client, a suave and popular leading man, has a “recurring case of homosexuality”? Well, if the agent is Diane and the matinee idol is Mitchell, she does her mighty best to submerge his true identity. In fact, lesbian Diane even poses as Mitchell’s ‘beard’ to allay any fears or concerns by the general public about his manliness.
To be perfectly honest, I’m a fan of young romance: I’m a fan of romantic comedies, I’m a fan of straight-up comedies, and I’m even a fan of Neanderthal male-bonding buddy movies. This is none of those.
Story: Seven women, identified only by the singular color of their clothing, appear on stage in a ‘choreopoem’ that combines dance with poetry in 20 vignettes describing various experiences of African-American women.
Well, we are mid-awards season—an underwhelming awards season at that—and we’re finally through January, notoriously the worst month of the year for movies. It’s gray outside and grim in the cineplex. Nevertheless, refusing to give up on a Hollywood that seems to have done nothing but disappoint over the past year, we look to the future. We cling to the hope that when the new buds appear, so will a new crop of movies--a bountiful harvest of action, comedy, drama and suspense. So, renew your Netflix account and Hulu Plus for the next couple of weeks, and then get excited to go to the movies.
Story: Constance Ledbelly is a quiet, unobtrusive assistant English professor at a Canadian university. She spends her time making Claude Night, a full-fledged professor at the school and the object of her unrequited love, look good by doing much of his work for him, while she toils in obscurity.
Story: Lyman Felt is recovering in the hospital after being involved in a serious car accident, careening down a mountain road in wintry conditions in upstate New York. In and out of delirium, he imagines that his wife Theo and grown daughter Bessie have arrived from New York City to visit him. He also hallucinates that Leah, his other wife, has come to the hospital to see him, too.
Well, the weather outside may still be frightful, so this weekend may be perfect for popping some popcorn and settling in with a good film. The list of recommendations is short, but there’s something for everyone. I’m skipping what’s popular and just going with what’s good.
There is no questioning the fact that Joel and Ethan Coen have secured their chapter in the annals of filmmaking. Their command of comedy, irony, satire, interpersonal relationships and character is staggering. They may strike out on occasion but they always swing for the fence; this film is no exception.
Well, it has been a strange year in cinema. We’ve had movies without plots, without dialogue and without acting—although I guess as long as Vin Diesel is in the business, that’s always a possibility. We’ve had Oscar winners churn out stinkers and first-time actors deliver award-worthy performances. Without further ado…
All of a sudden it’s nearing the end of December and thoughts of New Year’s resolutions dance in our heads. Before we enter 2014, however, let’s reflect on what the past year has given us on local stages.
Well, if the Golden Globe nominations are any indication—and they usually are—it's shaping up to be a strange awards season. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) has announced their picks for the best films, made-for-TV movies, television series and mini-series of 2013. Everyone seems to agree there were a few surprises, a few shocks, and more than a few snubs.
Story: Playwright William Gibson re-imagines the Nativity story from a variety of unusual perspectives. Joseph, e.g., is in love with the much younger Mary, but is logically confused and annoyed when he learns that she is pregnant and even more puzzled by her explanation. And who is this dapperly dressed individual who claims to be an angel sent by God to herald the arrival of the Messiah?
Story: When Ben and Franklyn met in college, they knew they’d be best friends, as in “Ben Franklin,” you know? Several years later, Ben is a successful Los Angeles businessman operating a string of ‘Big and Tall’ men’s shops, while Franklyn pays the bills as an employee of a prominent law firm run by his father-in-law. What he really wants, though, is a career as a writer, so he’s taking a night-school course to help in that endeavor.
It takes a brave visionary to make big things happen in big spaces. Bob O’Loughlin is doing just that with his renovation—or better yet, reinvention—of St. Louis Union Station.
If you need a break from your Oscar checklist, or simply prefer to watch some of the early contenders from the comfort of your couch, here are the latest releases on DVD (and most popular downloads). It’s a good week for action fans. For your convenience, I’ve divided them into two categories: Worth a Watch and Must Miss.