You-review-it Monday

February 8, 2009
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For me, the last few days included an opening at the Phoenix, a world premiere with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, and finally getting around to watching "Love Actually."

How about your weekend? Did you take in any First Friday events? Catch "Durang-O-Rama" or "To Kill a Mockingbird"? Check out the new show at the Indianapolis Art Center?

Okay, admit it. You saw "Paul Blart, Mall Cop," didn't you?

It's Monday, that means it's time for you to share.
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  • I usually don't comment on movies I see over the weekend here, but I have to make an exception this time. I caught Coraline in 3D over the weekend and I was blown away. The movie itself is fantastic and has a lot of depth, but the 3D looked incredible. 3D is making a big comeback this year with approximately 20 movies coming out this year. This movie wasn't about throwing gimmicky things through the screen, but to fully create this world.

    The movie is a real achievement in stop-motion animation, 3D technology, and perhaps more importantly story. I strongly recommend it for all ages, well at least above ten years old or so.
  • I caught two shows last week. Thursday, we went to see Enchanted April at the Civic Theatre followed by Alonzo King's Lines ballet with the Shaolin Monks on Friday night.

    Enchanted April was, in fact, an enchanting story of 4 women, all strangers, who rent a castle in Italy for a month-long holiday. Each character evolved as she took the emotional journey to healing their broken hearts and finding happiness. The show was full of great moments of laughter and I know of more than a few ladies in the audience who found themselves identifying with the different characters.

    After such a terrific evening Thursday, I was even more disappointed on Friday by the Lines Ballet with the Shaolin Monks. Rather, I was disappointed in the so-called Ballet portion of the evening. First, I must praise the Monks. They were amazing, demonstrating various skills and routine drills as well as tremendous feats of strength, speed, and agility. Given a choice, I would have preferred the entire evening be devoted solely to their performances.

    The choreography for the dancers, however, was disjointed and without substance or originality. The press release for the show claimed that this production would blend classical ballet with the Monk's traditional style. This was modern dance at its worst, in my opinion. There were almost no elements of classical ballet whatsoever. The movement did not match the music, it was repetitive and spastic, and it seemed to be utterly without purpose. The only element of story-telling to be found was when one dancer appeared to have some sort of drug-induced belly ache and the Monks appeared to be doing an intervention. Instead of swan lake it was more like watching Monk's practicing drills along the river of constipated geese. My recommendation - see the Monk's by themselves and skip the so-called ballet.
  • The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
    * * *1/2 out of 4 stars
    Benjamin Button (Brad Pitt) was literally born old. Abandoned at a nursing home and raised there, Benjamin goes from having the body of a senior citizen at age 8 to that of a 25-year-old at 50. Based on the popular story by F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is a film about living life to its fullest. David Fincher directs the film on a grand level, using CGI in interesting places and a bright look and feel throughout the movie. Cate Blanchett steals the show as Benjamin's love interest, who ages throughout the film. Blanchett ages flawlessly with her character, and blends right in. The Oscars are in two weeks. Watch for this one.
  • We were delighted to enjoy the IRT's presentation of To Kill a Mockingbird on Saturday evening. Harper Lee's classic does not make an easy transition to the stage, but we thought IRT did a good job. The youngsters, especially the Scout and Dill characters, seemed to try to over project a bit and maybe could have been mic'd a little better. None the less, a nice performance from all. (And noted that they've started posting their own reviews on an IRT Facebook page as the local paper's reviews have waned.)
    Dinner following at The Meridian was equally pleasing. Our waiter (Bradford) was outstanding and dining a little later meant a bit of a thinner crowd by the time we finished. Which was great as our only comment was it's a little loud in here -- no doubt a by-product of the hardwood floors, paneled wall and wood-beamed ceiling. But great ambiance ... don't go there without ordering the smoked corn chowder.
  • This past weekend we saw Taken - which was an interesting vehicle for Liam Neesen. Drove to Louisville to dine at our favorite kitschy restaurant for breakfast: Lynne's Paradise Cafe and stopped at Edinburgh on the way back to make our contribution to the economy.

    A lovely weekend.

    To Kill a Mockingbird this coming weekend, as well as Bladerunner at the IMA.
  • Despite economic gloom, healthy Indianapolis audiences heard a world premiere of a work written and performed by some of the top names in concert music -- composer Jennifer Higdon and violinist Hilary Hahn. There was a palpable energy in the house and a sincere enthusiasm for this new violin concerto and the soloist's performance of it and her two encores. This was a remarkable event for the ISO and the city, and I am glad I was THERE.
  • Lou,

    I'm interested to know what you thought of Love Actually and why you choose to watch it now.
  • Jaclyn,
    Sometimes, my movie viewing habits--like my reading habits--disregard timetables. If I don't see a preview of a film, or see it early in its run, I sometimes wait a long while to watch it. This way, I've forgotten that trailers and clips on TV have pretty much given everything away. All of which is to say there's no set reason why I waited on Love Actually but it happened and I let it go at that.
    Since it's a favorite film of my wife and daughter's, though, I knew that I'd eventually get to it.
    I really liked that the film had a point of view about the world. It clearly stated what that world view was and then splashed stories for two hours or so. Taken individually, the stories weren't all that substantial or original, but that's not what these sorts of tapestry films are about. They are about offering up sketches of characters, filled out by talented actors, that you care about almost instantly, aching and celebrating with them along the way. I was begging, for instance, for the box under the tree to contain the necklace.
    In some ways, Love Actually took me back to one of my favorite 70s films, Between the Lines (which I hope to see again soon to see if it holds up).
    So smiles all around. I'm glad I saw it. But I don't regret waiting.
    How about you?
    Lou
  • I saw it in the theater when it was released and personally was taken with the love is all around us message. I enjoyed each of the stories presented (even though as you stated they were very brief) and my favorite part is watching all of the interconnections between the story lines. It's a little like watching a good mystery unfold to see how many connections were made between the characters.

    I wondered if you, as a reviewer, enjoyed the movie or thought it was sappy - because I have met people who feel both ways.

    I'll have to check out Between the Lines sometime soon - thanks for the tip.
  • As a big fan of the Indy Fringe Festival, I was excited to go see Durang-O-Rama Friday night. It is a group of five 1 act plays written by Christopher Durang. Our group of 4 people was unanimous in liking The Book of Leviticus Show the best. Diane Kondrat, of the Indy Fringe's A%^holes & Aureolias, showed her deadpan comedic skills as a southern belle in For Whom the Southern Belle Tolls and a wide range of emotions in The Funeral Parlor (I could swear those were real tears). The first 4 plays take up the 1st hour before intermission. The final play is the entire 2nd half. Like the Fringe plays, 2 were a lot of laughs and outstanding, 2 were so-so with some nice moments and one (Titanic) was too long. But for $15, I recommend going.
  • FYI to A Ball (above): My review of Durang-O-Rama is posted at www.ibj.com/arts.

    --Lou
  • I saw To Kill a Mocking Bird at IRT on January 30. Not having been to IRT in several years, I was reminded what a great venue it is -- I don't think there is a bad seat in the house.

    I agree w/Pat who said the youngsters seemed to overproject a bit. I thought a more apt name for Scout would be Shout. But I can overlook that a bit as they did handle an enormous volume of dialogue quite successfully. I found myself a bit smitten with Atticus and thought Miss Stephanie did a great job as the Glady Cravatts type character.

    A link to my full review can be found on the IRT website at www.irtlive.com

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