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Listening to Dry Cleaning feels like having the perfect background-noise playlist on; the music and lyrics mimic conversations that we all make up in our minds in the shower, driving to work, or as we drift off to sleep. Vocalist Florence Shaw’s writing reminds me of the things I should have said but the time was never right, or the passing thoughts and memories that bounce around in my mind as I move through life daily – nothing so obviously profound, just every-day experience within myself. Shaw invites listeners to acknowledge a creativity in simply observing without the need to narrate grandiose stories; to not try so hard to make something groundbreaking out of every idea and just let it be what it is. Her patchwork of conversation, feelings, thoughts, and observations play coyly with the rise, swell, and journey of each song. Driving bass and twinkling guitar perhaps mirror an inner voice playing devil’s advocate, an ex-lover, friend, or someone not yet introduced.
Princess Ivona inspires Trap Door Theatre to show us what it does best: Take a clever script and turn it into a carnival with exaggerated style and physical performance, while remaining true to the playwright’s original concept. In this case, Jenny Beacraft directs playwright Witold Gombrowicz’s 1935 tragicomedy, an anti-nationalist satire on class and identity, and embellishes it with an exuberant use of props, costumes and makeup. Beacraft, who grew up in Chicago, is now based in Barcelona; she has participated in several Trap Door international productions.
Review: Gentle and Moving, Broker Creates Something Beautiful from Broken Characters and Risky Subject Matter
The themes and subject matter covered in Hirokazu Kore-eda’s latest drama, a moving, gentle story of chosen family, desperate connection and generational trauma, are not easily navigated. And in lesser hands, Broker would only succeed as a smarmy, mediocre gangster film that goes too dark for its own good, and that would be a very different movie indeed. Instead, Kore-eda, who also wrote the script, ably and beautifully guides us through a story about seemingly impossible choices, the unexpected complications the world often throws at us, and how in the end, all any of us are looking for is a place, literally and figuratively, to be safe.
From the opening titles of The Seven Faces of Jane: “In the summer of 2021, eight filmmakers were invited to create a section of a feature film without any knowledge of what came before or after it. They were encouraged to stay true to their own unique life experience, vision, and style.”
Admittedly, I’m a sucker for a Western, even if it’s a half-assed attempt at one using all the tropes that the genre has at its disposal. But at some point, I have to draw the line, and today that line is the latest work from director Brett Donowho (Acts of Violence), The Old Way, starring the ever-present Nicolas Cage in his first-ever Western (I will give the film points for that). Working from a screenplay by Carl W. Lucas, Cage is Colton Briggs, a cold-blooded gunslinger who opens the film killing a man in front of his son and simply walking away. The film jumps ahead 15-20 years, where we find Briggs has shaved his beard and become a respectable family man and the owner of the local general store, with wife Ruth (Kerry Kruppe) and 12-year-old daughter Brooke (Ryan Kiera Armstrong), who may follow in her father’s footsteps more than he would like.
In 2018, writer Sev Ohanian and writer/director Aneesh Chaganty released a unique and tension-filled missing-person mystery calling Searching that features a story told entirely on screens—as in computer and phone screens, with multiple windows open, while a father (John Cho) looked frantically for his missing daughter using only the resources available to him online. Having moved fully over to executive producer roles, the filmmakers (who also get a story credit) have made Missing using their editors from Searching, Will Merrick and Nick Johnson, as writers/directors of a story about a teenage girl named June (Storm Reid) whose mother Grace (Nia Long) goes missing while on vacation in Colombia with her new boyfriend Kevin (Ken Leung).
I’ve been playing a lot of retro games lately, so when a game that’s “retro-inspired” comes across my desk to review, I’m always weary. It’s rare for something to come along that both nails the gameplay and aesthetic of a retro game, especially without making too many concessions to modern conveniences. However, Vengeful Guardian: Moonrider is a rare game that manages to feel authentically retro, and is a love letter to the Shinobi series, and other classic games like Metroid, Mega Man and more.
In Saint Omer, filmmaker Alice Diop applies her documentary skills to her first narrative film, based on an actual event that gripped France in 2016. Laurence Coly (Guslagie Malanda), a young Senegalese immigrant, is accused of killing her 15-month-old daughter by leaving her on the beach at night to be drowned by the tide. Diop uses transcripts from the hearings on the French culture. Most of the film takes place in the claustrophobic courtroom in Saint Omer, a town in northeastern France.
I’ve played a lot of deck builders and card games over the years. Most of them were roguelikes that followed the formula that was seemingly established by Slay the Spire—or at least popularized by it. It’s refreshing, then, when a game takes this popular formula and changes it up to make something new. Mahokenshi went the other way with it: developer Game Source Studio seemingly threw out the formula and decided to make a deck builder their own way.
In 2007, writer/director/editor Jason Eisener won a contest for directing the best grindhouse trailer for the Robert Rodriguez/Quentin Tarantino collaboration Grindhouse. The trailer was for a fake film called Hobo with a Shotgun, and four years later, Eisener made this fake trailer into a real feature film, starring Rutger Hauer as the titular character. Since then, the filmmaker contributed shorts to the anthology The ABCs of Death, made some short films, and created the popular wrestling documentary series Dark Side of the Ring and Tales from the Territories. He also made the “Slumber Party Alien Abduction” segment for 2013’s found-footage horror anthology V/H/S/2, which many critics consider the best chapter of the film.
I think COVID created a whole new audience of video gamers who want to play games that are peaceful and relaxing. Despite a few gun toting characters, Tchia looks like it’ll be a game that’s not only relaxing, but incredibly beautiful, filled with places to explore and treasures to uncover.
At one point in Mary Nighy’s assured feature film directing debut Alice, Darling, Anna Kendrick’s distraught and defeated titular character says meekly to the two friends she’s on a weekend getaway with, “It’s not like he’s hurting me.” It’s clear she doesn’t believe a word of it, and neither do we. She’s talking about Simon (Charlie Carrick), her long-time boyfriend who is not only not nice to her at all, but a textbook emotional abuser, manipulating Alice through fear, shame, unrealistic expectations and a general, pervading creepiness. Written by Alanna Francis (The Rest of Us), Alice, Darling is a boldly unsettling story of the type of relationship that can leave lasting, deep scars, invisible as they may be, and a kind of disturbing relationship drama rarely seen (or executed so well) on screen.
Review: At Goodman Theatre, the ripple, the wave that carried me home Dramatizes Racial Injustice Through Swimming Pool Segregation
“Water is a complicated element. It heals, destroys, rescues, erases. It drowns. It saves. It holds memory. It washes away pain….” That statement by Janice, the narrator in the ripple, the wave that carried me home, is a dramatic summary of the play itself. Directed by Jackson Gay, the play by Christina Anderson is now on stage in a world premiere co-production at Goodman Theatre with Berkeley Repertory Theatre.
Matt Muse, the Chicago/LA-based rapper and poet is keeping his game on point. He’s been releasing singles consistently over that past few years (“Rapport” & “Rockin’ / Bridges“) since the release of the fantastic LOVE & NAPPYNESS, which featured solid tracks like “AIN”T NO” and “SHOTGUN Remix”. Muse then capped off his 2022 with his fourth annual Love & Nappyness Hair Care Drive and the stellar Long Hair Don’t Care Show featuring performances from tobi lou, Senite and more. Now in 2023, he’s dropped a new single that has him at the top of his game and making it clear he knows exactly what he deserves.