Thursday, 11 August 2022

Arts & Life




‘GHOSTBUSTERS: AFTERLIFE’ Rated PG-13

Nostalgia is a good thing to relish during the holiday season. For most, we hopefully reminisce about happy times with family and friends gathered for celebrations and seasonal parties.

The same feeling is also most welcome when a movie taps into a sentimental yearning for the past. Good news arrives for fans of “Ghostbusters” for a franchise still alive when it could have been given up for dead after the 2016 reboot.

The aptly-named “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” may evoke the spirit of the 1980s but it is rooted in contemporary times with the relatives of the late Harold Ramis’ Dr. Egon Spengler carrying on the legacy.

“Ghostbusters” is family-driven from the aspect of director Jason Reitman helming this sequel to his father Ivan’s directorial effort for the 1984 original comedic blockbuster.

To be sure, there are plenty of sly special effects with maliciously destructive apparitions, but Jason Reitman is equally focused on a character-driven story that draws the family of one of the original Ghostbusters into the picture.

Estranged from her father, the now divorced and broke Callie (Carrie Coon) learns that she has inherited Spengler’s property in Oklahoma, and she’s hoping for a fresh start with teenage son Trevor (Finn Wolfhard) and 12-year-old daughter Phoebe (Mckenna Grace).

Enrolled in a summer school class taught by flippant Gary Grooberson (Paul Rudd), the nerdy, precocious Phoebe is befriended by spirited classmate Podcast (Logan Kim), a loquacious but hilarious narrator of even the most mundane details.

Meanwhile, Trevor ends up working at a local diner where he pretends to be older only because he has a crush on Lucky (Celeste O’Connor). Not surprisingly, Grooberson develops a romantic interest in Callie.

There’s a time when Callie wistfully hopes that Phoebe might get into some trouble if only because she seems so proper. Little does Mom know that the adventurous kids are going to unearth the remnants of Spengler’s ghostbusting days.

Finn discovers the vintage Cadillac ambulance used by the Ghostbusters and the kids end up joy riding through town and get their first taste of what it is like to hunt down malevolent ghouls and also end up in the local jail.

While the plot is expectedly predictable, the delight to be had is from a very likable, charismatic cast, from the always genial Paul Rudd to the resourceful kids. A moving tribute to Harold Ramis and great cameos bring a nice touch to the pleasing “Ghostbusters: Afterlife.”

When the credits start to roll, be sure to stay for a mid-credits scene and the one at the very end when the screen goes dark. The “Ghostbusters” franchise has probably not zapped its last ethereal being. A new generation may be taking hold.





‘HOUSE OF GUCCI’ Rated R

Glamour, greed, decadence, betrayal, deceit and ambition are all on florid display in the soap opera drama “House of Gucci,” a turbulent saga about the Italian fashion empire of great wealth that was not spared a scandalous crime.

Some may enter the cinema aware of a sordid wrongdoing that roiled the Gucci family. On the other hand, what I and probably many others know about this Italian company are the famous double G logo and the replica handbags sold to the unsuspecting at flea markets.

What matters in this Ridley Scott directed film based on real life events is how the story moves from bickering Gucci family members to a Gucci empire no longer in the hands of a family member.

Maurizio Gucci (Adam Driver), son of Rodolfo Gucci (Jeremy Irons), a former actor and dilettante who appears not as connected to the business as his brother Aldo (Al Pacino), is a law student when he meets Patrizia Reggiani (Lady Gaga) at a party.

Patrizia, who works as secretary in her father’s trucking company, mistakes Maurizio for a bartender, and he charms her by saying she looks like Elizabeth Taylor, or maybe he should have said Sophia Loren.

The two fall in love and decide to marry, much to the chagrin of papa Rodolfo, who believes she’s a social climber and gold digger. He’s not far off the mark, but Patrizia turns out to be much more than that.

Where Maurizio seems quiet and a bit passive, Patrizia is bold and assertive, pushing him to his rightful place in the Gucci empire. They soon take up residence in New York and go to work with Aldo at the flagship store in Manhattan.

Aldo thinks of his own son Paolo (Jared Leto), who has no talent for business or fashion, as an idiot, and this, of course, becomes another source of tension in Gucci world.

Meanwhile, the marriage sours when Maurizio re-connects with old flame Paola (Camille Cottin) and dispatches his sidekick to inform Patrizia that their marital bond is over.

As the story spins into a reckless spiral of revenge that leads to murder, “House of Gucci” is riveting for the solid performances primarily by Lady Gaga, Adam Driver, Al Pacino and a goofy Jared Leto.

Tim Riley writes film and television reviews for Lake County News.

Kwame Dawes. Courtesy photo.

There is a bit of slapstick comedy in this poem of conundrums.

In “Multiple Man: Guest-starring me & You,” Gary Jackson knows that he is playing a game with perception — is the “you” himself or someone else — perhaps a past lover?

But in the end, it does not matter, because the sense of loneliness and the hunger for companionship at the core of this poem are absolutely clear.

“You left me,” he says, with a hint of melodrama. But in the end, he reminds us that sometimes the perceived antidote for our need (our “dearth”) can be catastrophic (“the flood”).

Multiple Man: Guest-starring me & You
By Gary Jackson

Every night I sleep on alternate

sides of the bed, as if to duplicate
sleeping with you. If

I’m fast enough, I’m the warmth
of my own body beside me, reach

out and touch myself. Breach
the blue of my bones, breath in my own ear.

You left me. Lying here,
I left you to be with me.

Someone asks if your body
was worth trading for mine.

My sin was always pride.
Did you want a man who sleeps

with himself to keep
the bed warm? I need you like the earth

needed the flood after dearth.

American Life in Poetry does not accept unsolicited manuscripts. It is made possible by The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2021 by Gary Jackson, “Multiple Man: Guest-starring me & You” from origin story (University of New Mexico Press, 2021). Poem reprinted by permission of the author and the publisher. Introduction copyright ©2021 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction’s author, Kwame Dawes, is George W. Holmes Professor of English and Glenna Luschei Editor of Prairie Schooner at the University of Nebraska.

Kwame Dawes. Courtesy photo.

Sometimes “dream poems” give an account of the strange revelations of our subconscious, and sometimes, like here, the “dream poem” is the poem of wishes and hope, expressing a fantasy of a certain longing.

A.D. Lauren-Abunassar’s poem, “Dream in Which My Body Is a Snow Storm,” imagines a world in which the “bad” outcomes are upended by a kind of magical hope; and here we have a lesson in the innocent pleasure of wishing for the good by the force of imagining.

Dream in Which My Body Is a Snow Storm
By A.D. Lauren-Abunassar

and doesn’t make anyone cold. If I fell I would fall
in state-shaped flakes. One for every place my body
lingered. One for every little bit of light I stole
and kept. No cars startless. No tangled up roadways. Neck
becoming mountain of drift; foot becoming fierce kicking
eddies. Heat would not melt me. Hands would not help
me undo. Blanketing softly. Whimsy not pretend.
Dream in which my body is a snowstorm and the storm says
a purpose in falling.


American Life in Poetry does not accept unsolicited manuscripts. It is made possible by The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2020 by A. D. Lauren-Abunassar, “Dream in Which My Body Is a Snow Storm” from Nimrod International Journal, Fall/Winter, 2020. Poem reprinted by permission of the author and the publisher. Introduction copyright ©2021 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction’s author, Kwame Dawes, is George W. Holmes Professor of English and Glenna Luschei Editor of Prairie Schooner at the University of Nebraska.

"Hard Rain: Drought" (detail) by Alana Clearlake.

MIDDLETOWN, Calif. — The Middletown Art Center seeks strong, well-crafted artwork in any medium that expresses movement through materials and content — physical, political, spiritual, metaphorical and more.

The exhibition seeks to present a variety of perspectives and interpretations of a single word under this unifying theme.

“Move!” will be on view from Jan. 8 to March 28 in the MAC gallery and feature a collection of works in various mediums by multiple artists.

Submissions for the exhibit are due Dec. 15 to 18, via email.

The opening reception will take place Jan. 8 from 6 to 8 p.m. in person at MAC and online via Zoom and is free to the public.

Please visit www.middletownartcenter.org/calls-for-work for details on submission criteria and to download an application.

All work will be juried by the MAC Curatorial Team. In addition to the gallery exhibit, work will be showcased on MAC’s website through an interactive 3D virtual gallery, as well as on www.ArtworkArchive.com.

MAC’s current exhibit “LIGHT” is on view through Jan. 2. Be sure to catch this compelling group show which features an interactive sound and light installation by Aimee Marcinko, former Cobb Mountain Art and Ecology Project resident.

The MAC Gallery is open Thursday through Monday, 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., or by appointment by calling 707-809-8118. Social distancing and masking are always observed.

Find out more about MAC programs and events including monthly First Fridays Open Mic and Makers Faire (next is Dec. 3), Christmas in Middletown Holiday Art Market (Dec. 11), and the many ways to engage with, support, and celebrate the arts and culture in Lake County at ​www.middletownartcenter.org or by liking or following @mtownartcenter on social media.



‘NASH BRIDGES: THE MOVIE’ ON USA NETWORK

Don Johnson as Inspector Nash Bridges and his partner Cheech Marin’s Inspector Joe Dominguez, elite investigators in the San Francisco Police Department’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU), had a nice run of six seasons on the CBS Network in the series “Nash Bridges.”

Now more than 20 years later Johnson and Marin are reunited in their original roles for “Nash Bridges: The Movie,” a two-hour film on the USA Network that finds these initial cast members facing a new world of policing.

Nash Bridges, with a keen sense of humor and charm, comes back to SIU after a suspension and unfortunately has to report to a new boss Steve Colton (Joe Dinicol), a young, uptight officer who is wrapped up in political correctness.

Time has not mellowed the wisecracking Bridges’ penchant for bending the rules in pursuit of the bad guys, even if his partner Dominguez is more cautious, and maybe that’s because he’s running a side business of a legal marijuana retail shop.

Bridges remains the freewheeling character who now disdains how the SIU headquarters has been turned into a modern data-driven enterprise that relies on technology for police work. He prefers the old streetwise methods rather than predictive policing.

Part of the fun is seeing how Bridges irritates his new boss Colton without crossing a red line of insubordination, though a reckless chase that results in a huge explosion and the destruction of his beloved yellow Barracuda convertible puts him in a precarious position.

While Bridges dances on the fine line between team player and going rogue, he doesn’t much care how the world around him has changed because he’s going to rely on instincts that are usually correct.

Whether during the series run or the new movie, the action in “Nash Bridges” involves the police duo chasing down murderers, drug dealers, and the whole gamut of despicable criminals.

Remembering the storyline of any episode or the movie itself only days later may be a little hazy. However, the excitement happens during the moment, and Johnson and Marin do not disappoint in their advancing years.

Aside from Johnson and Marin, the cast is all-new with the exception of Jeff Perry’s return as retired Inspector Harvey Leek, who helps the pair hack into computer systems. There’s no mention of Bridges’ daughter Cassidy (Jodi Lyn O’Keefe), who by now must be nearing middle age.

Fans of the original series will want to tune into “Nash Bridges: The Movie,” and if all goes well in the ratings, it appears that the producers are hoping for a relaunch of the series.

Undeniably, the chemistry between Don Johnson and Cheech Marin is what ultimately drives the enjoyment of a police procedural that’s all about crime-busting but doesn’t take itself too seriously.





‘THE HOT ZONE: ANTHRAX’ ON NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC

The nation was on edge 20 years ago following the devastating terrorist on 9/11, and while the nightmare of that day is burned into our conscious mind, we may not so readily recall another deadly act of terrorism when letters containing anthrax were sent to unsuspecting victims.

“The Hot Zone: Anthrax,” a three-night event on the National Geographic Channel and also streaming on Hulu, depicts the plight and eventual triumph over a national threat.

The anthrax letters were sent to Florida, Washington, D.C., and New York. This anonymous assault claimed five lives and caused panic. Despite many false leads, a team of FBI agents and scientists slowly closed in on a shocking prime suspect.

Inspired by true events, “The Hot Zone: Anthrax” follows parallel stories of FBI agent Matthew Ryker (Daniel Dae Kim) and Dr. Bruce Ivins (Tony Goldwyn), a brilliant microbiologist.

Agent Ryker, with a specialty in microbiology, risks his career to convince his superiors of the unthinkable just three weeks after the 9/11 attacks. Yet, the nation is under attack again.

Dr. Ivins becomes embroiled in the hunt to find the 2001 anthrax killer, working closely with the FBI to uncover who is behind the deadly anthrax letters, while his growing instability and paranoia give way to deeper unnerving discoveries.

The cast also includes FBI Special Agent Dani Toretti (Dawn Olivieri), who is tough enough to maneuver through the boys club in the bureau and is among the first agents on the ground at the 2001 Capitol Hill anthrax attack.

Morgan Kelly’s FBI agent Eric Sykes is a cocky agent who delights in mocking Ryker for his hunt for “elusive bio weapons.” Denyce Lawton’s Sheila Willis, a pharmaceutical lobbyist dating Ryker, starts rethinking her priorities after 9/11.

Newbie FBI agent and graduate of Quantico, Chris Moore (Ian Colletti) is eager to learn under a seasoned agent. While high-ranking FBI lifer Ed Copak (Dylan Baker) feels the weight of responsibility to get justice for a wounded nation after the recent events of 9/11.

Recognizable public figures are also portrayed. Enrico Colantoni’s Mayor Rudy Giuliani emerges as a bold advocate for the citizens of New York, and Harry Hamlin’s NBC news anchor Tom Brokaw becomes a trusted voice of reason.

Tim Riley writes film and television reviews for Lake County News.



‘YELLOWJACKETS' ON SHOWTIME

Showtime’s 10-episode drama “Yellowjackets” works off the premise that a female-centric version of “Lord of the Flies” is compelling for the mystery of the survivors’ saga in the aftermath of a shocking airplane crash.

This series takes its name from a New Jersey girls high school soccer team with players so talented they have qualified to enter the national championship match. Hence, the ill-fated journey by air travel with their coach and a few others.

Even though the team name “Yellowjackets” is the series’ title, this is not a sports show about soccer competition. As a survival drama, the series is steeped in psychological and supernatural mystery that fluctuates with wild swings between the past and the present.

The storytelling about the fate of the girls and their accompanying adults is, in the words of writer Ashley Lyle, structured as a show not “about what happened, but about why it happened.”

Told in flashbacks from the time of the 1996 crash in the Canadian wilderness to the present day of 2021, we get to see how the passage of time has affected the survivors, most particularly the four characters in the leading roles.

Christina Ricci’s Misty was a friendless nerd serving as a team assistant. Melanie Lynskey’s Shauna, a player once destined to attend an Ivy League college, has now fallen into the rut of a loveless marriage and conflict with her spiteful teenage daughter.

Closeted in her school days, Taissa (Tawny Cypress) is an ambitious candidate for state senate who is haunted by her past as well as present-day coping with a son troubled by an inexplicable supernatural undercurrent.

Last of the group is erstwhile gothic teen Natalie (Juliette Lewis) who seems to have spent her adult life in a revolving pattern of drug and alcohol abuse and stints in rehab. Moreover, she was frequently slut-shamed as a cynical youth.

Seeing these women as their teen versions offers clues to their struggles and tribulations in adulthood. Misty’s younger self (Samantha Hanratty) was always weird and showed her cruel tendencies that carried over into her nursing home duties as an adult.

As for the rest of the teens, Taissa (Jasmin Savoy Brown) is a driven competitor; sweet-natured Shauna (Sophie Nelisse) may be deceptive and cunning; and Natalie’s (Sophie Thatcher) stoner image belies her soccer talent.

There’s also a mystery about team captain Jackie (Ella Purnell), who is not seen in her adult years, at least in the episodes made available for review. But the real mystery lies elsewhere.

The featured adults harbor secrets that a fake reporter seeks to uncover with ludicrous offers of a book deal. What happened to the teens while in the woods is the pressing mystery and why are they receiving identical postcards suggesting a conspiracy of silence?

“Yellowjackets” is smartly written as a wickedly fascinating drama that at times dwells on the gore and macabre but ultimately relies on character and the tenuous bonds of relationships to deliver the goods.

DEAN STOCKWELL TRIBUTE ON TCM

Noted character actor Dean Stockwell, who recently passed away at the age of 85, started his entertainment career as a child actor and continued working in film and television for more than seventy years.

The TCM cable channel celebrates his life and career as we approach the Thanksgiving holiday with a retrospective of films while he was under contract with MGM for most of his childhood.

TCM’s on-air tribute to Stockwell includes “Anchors Aweigh” (1945), a story about a pair of sailors on leave trying to help a movie extra become a singing star.

In “The Green Years” (1946), an orphaned Irish boy is taken in by his mother’s Scottish relations. “The Mighty McGurk” (146) is about a punch-drunk prizefighter living on the Bowery who takes in an orphaned boy.

Friends and family try to tame an unruly student at the turn of the century in 1950’s “The Happy Years.” In “The Secret Garden” (1946), an orphaned girl changes the lives of those she encounters at a remote estate.

An orphaned boy mystically acquires green hair and a mission to end war in 1948’s “The Boy with Green Hair.” “Kim” (1951) is based on Rudyard Kipling’s classic tale of an orphaned boy who helps the British Army against Indian rebels.

While the majority of these films being aired as a tribute to the late actor are about an orphaned child, you might wonder if this is a reflection of Stockwell’s own circumstances. The short answer is in the negative.

Born into an entertainment family, Stockwell’s father was a stage and film actor and his mother had performed in vaudeville. The parents split up when he was little, but that didn’t make him an orphan.

A film that is not part of the TCM tribute is 1948’s “Deep Waters,” in which Stockwell played an orphan runaway longing to go to sea. With a 70-year career, at least he grew out of being cast as a child without parents.

Tim Riley writes film and television reviews for Lake County News.

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Movies in the Park: ‘Sing 2’
15Aug
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16Aug
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