• City Stories

    Review: The Mousetrap

    Perhaps best known as the longest-running play ever (notching north of 28,000 performances and counting), Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap has been continuously on stage in London’s West End since 1952. Now, the reliably entertaining murder mystery set over a few snowed-in days at the remote (and fictional) Monkswell Manor finds its way to a stage much closer to home. Hyde Park’s Court Theatre presents a vibrant, comical take on this evergreen whodunnit through February 16. Directed by Sean Graney, the ensemble piece set in the “present day” (really, the post-war era of its original premiere) is here infused with bold color choices, whimsical set design and a self-aware sense of humor throughout…

  • City Stories

    Review: Once On This Island

    Just a few blocks north of the heart of Times Square and next door to the massive Gershwin Theatre (capacity: 1,900) is a more intimate space, an 800-seat theater built for unique productions that immerse their audiences into the world created on stage eight times a week. The aptly named Circle in the Square Theatre presents shows that make the most of the space’s thrust stage, with seating surrounding three of the four sides. I’ve seen a couple shows there, including the magnificent (and Tony Award-winning) revival of Oklahoma! headed on tour this fall, where they serve homemade chili on stage during intermission. Before Oklahoma!, Circle on the Square was host to another…

  • Cinephilia

    Review: The Song of Names

    The biggest problem with The Song of Names, in a film with many of them, is that it lacks a driving why behind any of the proceedings, anything to signal to an audience why on earth we should care about what’s unfolding on screen. Based on a novel by Norman Lebrecht, François Girard directs this overly wrought, listless drama (adapted by Jeffrey Caine) about a grown man seeking the Polish Jewish violinist who lived with his family in London during World War II only to disappear on the night of a post-war concert to showcase his talent. Though the film is told mostly in flashbacks, Tim Roth and Clive Owen—two actors who deliver…

  • Cinephilia

    Review: Color Out of Space

    If all you seek out of your movie-going experiences is a freaky technicolor narrative that features Nicolas Cage going full-tilt unhinged along the way, allow me to direct you toward Color Out of Space, the latest from eclectic writer/director Richard Stanley based on a story by H.P. Lovecraft. A weird, wild ride dressed up as a mainstream horror flick gone awry, Color Out of Space (Scarlett Amaris is also credited as a writer) is as head-scratchingly disjointed as it is curiously and unexpectedly entertaining. You won’t always know what’s going on or why, but you won’t be able to look away, either. Cage is Nathan Gardner, a husband and father who’s moved his…

  • Cinephilia

    Review: Troop Zero

    Jim Gaffigan has no fewer than nine credits to his name for 2019, from the beautifully rendered Light From Light to a voice role in Playmobil: The Movie, one of the year’s biggest flops. Somewhere in between is Troop Zero, a direct-to-Amazon Prime feature film about a young girl named Christmas (McKenna Grace, I, Tonya) who grows up fast one summer in small-town, 1977 Georgia when she joins a fictional scout group with her fellow misfits. Gaffigan is Ramsey, Christmas’s over-the-top Southern lawyer of a father who’d go to the ends of the Earth for his little girl since her mother died, if only he knew the first place to begin. His office assistant Miss…

  • Cinephilia

    Review: Les Misérables

    Though Victor Hugo’s classic novel—and its themes of the haves and have-nots, challenging a corrupt authority and the oppression of poverty—factor into Ladj Ly’s Les Misérables, the film is not another remake of the story of Jean Val Jean, Inspector Javert and company. Instead, the debut feature film from the French filmmaker is set in the present day and said to be inspired by the riots that country endured in 2005. Driven by tense race relations, cultural clashes and a general sense of frustration with under-employment and lack of upward mobility, the riots put the suburbs of Paris in turmoil for three weeks. But rather than let his film be consumed…