Archive for March, 2018


Live from Jerusalem

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

As Easter comes closer, I have to admit I look forward to the annual showing of Jesus Christ Superstar.

I remember when I was a kid and people hated this version of the crucifixion story. It was too secular. The music was loud and bombastic. It seemed to have no understanding of the greatest story ever told. It was blasphemy.

I can’t remember what my very religious grandmother may have thought about the movie. I can’t imagine she was very happy about the movie as she was a bit old fashioned.

Jesus Christ Superstar Ted NeelyI must have known about it because I remember singing the title song and having a classmate tell me I was going to to to the fiery place. Nancy was Catholic and must have heard that from her parents or her priest.

As the years have past and I have seen the movie again. I found it to be heart breaking and beautiful as we walk through the last weeks of Jesus’ life. I always thought that the cast were experimenting with how things happened in that way. I always got the sense that they thought this time it would be different, that they could do this and Jesus wouldn’t die.

Ted Neely was in his prime at the time of the filming of Jesus Christ Superstar. He was young and handsome in that early 70s style. His voice could be gentle and ferocious. The scene in which Jesus destroys the temple sticks out for the anger we seldom ever saw from Jesus. The same goes for the Hosannah scene in which Jesus comes to Jerusalem in triumph.

Later scenes walk us through the various parts of the story in which Jesus confronts his immediate future and what he must do, no matter how difficult. Strangely enough, we never see the resurrection, we never see the next part of the story. It simply ends with the crucifixion and the regret of the remaining characters.

john-legend-sara-bareilles-jesus-christ-superstar-portraitsThis Sunday a new version will be shown live with John Legend in the lead role. If I have learned anything over the years, it is that Legend has a fantastic voice with a great range. His songs have great emotional scope so I feel confident that he can make the role incredible.

These live musical events have been going on for a few years now and they seem to be very successful. It is exciting to see performances in a live setting as you never know what can happen. But the other part of a live performance is that the emotions of the performers are more raw, more tangible.

Because the play was so popular with an iconic performance by Neely, it will be interesting to see how John Legend handles the role. I am also anxious to see Sara Bareilles as Mary Magdalene and Alice Cooper as King Herod in this production. While not everyone will agree with the rock opera treatment, I find telling this story in different ways brings the story to a larger audience, always an interesting challenge.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Advertisements

The Shape of Water

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

Since the Best Movie was announced at the Oscar Awards, I have been wanting to see The Shape of Water.

Directed by Guillermo del Toro, the movie is described as an other-worldly fable. I was fascinated by the character who lives in the water, a creature who looks vaguely like the creature from the Black Lagoon.

Shape of water posterMy son and I watched it together, and because it is a bit touchy at times, I found myself leaving the room occasionally. I don’t like blood or much violence or action that takes place under water.

Our main character is a mute woman who lives alone but has a lively relationship with her next door neighbor. She works at a secret government lab as a cleaning woman. One day a new ‘asset’ is brought to the lab, a creature that needs to be underwater most of the time.

What government interrogator Michael Shannon plans to do with the creature is unknown. But for the present time, torturing the creature is high on his list.

Elisa and Zelda, Elisa’a black co-worker, are allowed to clean in the locked lab. Sometimes, Elisa has lunch in there and develops a relationship with the creature. She teaches him sign language and they begin to communicate.

This is not a movie for everyone. There is violence and swearing and short bits of nudity. But there are also questions of right and wrong and how we treated people in the early sixties that was supposed to be a time of magical kingdoms. You will be required to think while watching this cinematic spectacle of wonders.

Shape of Water Sally OctaviaThis movie is gorgeous to look at. The sets of Elisa’s and Giles’ apartments are rich and detailed. The lab is retro to what we thought secrets labs should look like if they were housing a creature that required living underwater most of the time.

And our water monster is incredible as well, his gills flying out when angry. His scales coming off after hours of torture and deprivations. Sally Hawkins and Doug Jones as our mute couple display more emotions than we ever see in most Kate Hudson romantic comedies.

I know what I saw and I know that this was a beautifully realized movie. But my head is still pondering and wondering at all of the side details and unspoken commentary about life in the Cold War era. Not everyone was valued, people with good ideas and instincts were discarded because they did not fit the boundaries of normal at that time. Even the Russian spy is never everything we think that person should be.

If you plan to see this movie, be prepared for normal to not be so normal. Be prepared for something weird and out of this world. Be prepared for a fairytale where monsters walk free and others wrangle for that hope of freedom. It is a weird and strange, lovely and beguiling movie. One of my friends told me not to waste my time. I am telling you that if you like the weird and beguiling, this might be the movie for you.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

When doing the annual St. Patrick’s Day column, I try to stay away from those movies I write about every year.

I heart IrishNot going to talk about Into the West yet again. If you haven’t seen it, then you should. It’s a great movie featuring a legendary horse out of Irish folklore.

The same goes for Ondine and The Secret of Roan Inish. Both movies feature selkies, the latter is from the past, the former is set in modern times. While there are not chase scenes both are worth while. Check them out.

I have not talked about any Daniel Day-Lewis movies in the past. Just know that he is one of the best actors ever but his movies tend to live on the serious side of life. They are worth the time spent watching.

Before we talk movies, I will tell you that my friend once again had her wonderful potato party. I was lazy and did not bring a topping for the potatoes. Instead I focused on my green dessert. I made dark chocolate brownies with minty green frosting. Yes, the brownies had mint-flavored frosting.

They were tasty and since I under cooked them, slightly, they were soft and moist. When I took them home, there was great remorsing. I have no regrets.

Tara RoadSo this year for movies, I am suggesting chick flicks, the kind that make women cry and laugh and want to throw things at the TV. Thank God Irish novelist Maeve Binchy had two novels made into movies before she passed away in 2012.

 

 

First up is Tara Road starring Olivia Williams and Andie McDowell as two women who switch houses for two months after their lives have fallen apart irrevocably. Ria and Marilyn swap houses between Dublin and the United States. Both hope to seek a respite from their own lives while healing from the pain of loss.

Is this a first rate production? Not really but I do enjoy it for the strong performances by Williams and McDowell. They slowly meld into the other’s life while discovering strengths of their own. Its the perfect movie to watch with girlfriends.

Circle of FriendsThe other Irish movie for a chick flick festival is Circle of Friends starring Minnie Driver and Chris O’Donnell. This movie is about two friends (Benny and Nan) who go to University, meet up with a childhood friend, and discover love. Driver plays the sweet Benny who is never allowed to forget that she is heavier than most girls.

O’Donnell is the pre-med student from a wealthy family who falls in love with Benny. Some how they find each other and work towards developing a relationship. But life and other manipulations work towards disaster. Benny finds herself challenged and heart broken and ready to move forward.

This is the kind of movie to watch to remember life when everything seemed ‘simplier.’ All you need now is some popcorn and dark chocolate brownies with mint frosting.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Becoming Churchill

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

One of the things that I always find amazing about the movies is the ability of the make-up and special effects crews to create the spectacular from tiny bits of powder and cream and prosthesis skin coverings.

darkest hour oldman churchillI haven’t seen Darkest Hour yet. But it is simply incredible how Gary Oldman goes from looking like himself to Winston Churchill in all of the trailers that I have watched. We follow Churchill as he is elected Prime Minister after Neville Chamberlin. We watch as he tries to keep the country motivated to fight against Hitler’s army that seems unbeatable.

Movie watchers know Oldman from the Harry Potter series as Sirius Black and Christopher Nolan’s Batman series as Commissioner Gordon. He is a younger man who is thin and three inches taller than Churchill who was 5’6”.

The make-up used on Oldman made him look older as Churchill was 66 years old during the time period depicted in this movie. Oldman turned 59 during the shooting of the picture.

Maybe it’s me but I sometimes think we have begun to age differently. I know people in their 60s who look younger than I remember my grandparents looking at the same age. I am often told I look ten years younger than I am (for which I am grateful. I don’t care if people are just being nice to me.) When I see Gary Oldman at 59, I think I am seeing a man in his 40s.

Darkest Hour oldmanBut as Churchill. Oldman is jowly. He is heavier and moves differently. Oldman stated he intensely studied Churchill for a year in order to have his moves and quirks, speak patterns and accent. In the end, though, Oldman stated he had to do more than impersonate. He had to interpret the man who brought England through the roughest part of WWII when it looked like the war was about to be lost.

Now that was the challenge. In every clip I have seen, Oldman is Churchill, he embodies all that we have ever known about him. He sounded like Churchill, especially during the “Beaches” speech. I know it is Oldman’s job to be incredible, to capture his subject’s spirit. Not everyone succeeds at the job. But even actors who have portrayed Churchill in the past, including Robert Hardy, have stated that Oldman’s performance is the best so far.

Others must agree for Oldman has won a Golden Globe award for this performance along with nominations for Best Actor from the Screen Actors’ Guild, BAFTA, (British Academy Awards), and the Academy Awards aka the Oscars TM.

churchill-darkest-hourOldman’s performance may be trans-formative but he is supported by other actors, including Kristen Scott Thomas and Ben Mendolsohn, that brings the era to life. Director Joe Wright has been incredible in his past efforts which include Atonement.

Darkest Hour is a movie I am looking forward to seeing, not just because I am a history buff, but because I enjoy high art that is also accessible to anyone and everyone..

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.