"Peter and the Starcatcher," a five-time Tony-Award winner in its original Broadway run, played Proctors last Saturday. "Peter," based on the book "Peter and the Starcatchers" by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, is a dark tale of pirates, orphans, ships and treasure chests. There were only two performances—just a brief stop on a national tour.
While THE SECOND BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL is no Oscar contender, it is a film of great value to many who are living what is known as the advanced years of life. It has value as entertainment and equally as a practical philosophic guide to soaking up all the riches that old age can offer, if lived with zest and optimism.
Terrorist characters who are villains in Hollywood thrillers usually are clichés: broadly drawn, broadly played bad guys who hijack airplanes, threaten to blow up buildings or sports arenas, and are thwarted just in the nick of time by Sylvester Stallone or Bruce Willis. Terrorists rarely are the primary on-screen characters, and they rarely are women. In fact, there seemed to be a bit of disbelief on the part of certain media types who were reporting on the young woman who alleged was connected to the recent terrorist acts in Paris.
For years, sci-fi films and horror films and any kind of film that entertains by playing into viewers’ worst fears have relied not on coherent plot lines or relatable characters but on jarring, disturbing visuals and gory violence that is endless--- and mindless. This, unfortunately, is an old, tired story and, as long as these films bring in big bucks at the box office, the motion picture studios will keep churning them out.
Back in 2009, I offered some commentary on what then was a new and highly regarded film about the war in Iraq and the American GIs who were fighting and dying there. That film was THE HURT LOCKER. At the time, I observed that THE HURT LOCKER and other Iraq war films, which then included IN THE VALLEY OF ELAH, STOP/LOSS, THE LUCKY ONES, LIONS FOR LAMBS, and REDACTED, were not surefire box office hits. The reason was that THE HURT LOCKER and its fellow films were exploring uncomfortable themes. They were dealing with disturbing, real-life issues-- and moviegoers generally will want to avoid films that deal with real-life issues. They yearn to escape into fantasy worlds. And so they did not flock to see THE HURT LOCKER, even though it earned nine Academy Award nominations and six wins, including Best Picture and Best Director. Indeed, according to Box Office Mojo, the total lifetime domestic gross for THE HURT LOCKER was a little over $17-million.
Every once in a while, a film comes along that dares to withhold facts, to keep its intentions as a guessing game, even as the final credits are being displayed. Such a film is Jan Ole Gerster’s award-winning German feature A COFFEE IN BERLIN, also known as OH BOY! Since this is Gerster’s first feature film, it is no wonder that it has taken some bit of time for it to catch on in the United States. With an original German theatrical release in late 2012, A COFFEE IN BERLIN didn’t arrive in U.S. cinemas until June 2014. At its widest release here, it only played in twelve theaters and brought in only $150,000. Even in Europe, the film played mainly at festivals, where it has won a good number of prestige awards, and theatrically it only grossed $2,600,000.
If you plan a trip into Manhattan this holiday season, be sure to take a look at the beautiful Fifth Avenue windows and see the live Radio City Christmas Spectacular if you have a mind to do so. But if the film lover in you is bursting to come to the surface, be sure to leave some time to experience a holiday treat designed especially for pop culturists, American entertainment historians and film enthusiasts.
The term “film restoration” has lost its excitement. More often than not, when a new DVD or Blu-ray of an older film is touted as being “restored,” it only means that a minimally different version has been digitally mastered. It’s a ploy to have consumers purchase yet another copy of the same title.
When the trick-or-treaters have returned to their respective homes to sort through their goodies, it is time to dim the lights and watch Halloween movies. Many will choose from among the scariest films ever made. John Carpenter’s HALLOWEEN, an influential slasher film from 1978, and its seven sequels will light up the screens of many of our television sets. Other celebrants might choose a splatter film, such as Herschell Gordon Lewis’s BLOOD FEAST.