fauxklore (fauxklore) wrote,

Movies and Plays

Among the things that kept me busy over the past several weeks were long enough flights to watch movies on. United still provides headphones, while either Icelandair or American would be happy to sell you some if you don't happen to have some along. I have a pair of Continental earbuds that live in my daypack, so I was able to avail myself of Icelandair's selection for free. Except that the flight going over was a (too short) red-eye and I preferred to attempt to get a little sleep, so that only worked going home. They have a movie on demand system and mostly somewhat out of date selections. Since I see most of the movies I see on planes, that works. (That is, there is a lot of stuff I never got around to seeing).

First up was Borat which had its funny moments. I understand why it got the high praise it did, but it was too over the top for my tastes. Mostly, I was uncomfortable knowing about the deceit that Sacha Baron Cohen and company used to stage the scenes they did. I was also somewhat uncomfortable watching it on the plane as Icelandair does not censor its movies and there is a lot of full frontal nudity.

The other movie I watched on the way back was I Love You, Beth Cooper. The premise, which involves a nerdy high school valedictorian using his graduation speech for some last minute truth telling, looked promising. But the execution was simply dreadful. I'm not sure why I continued watching, especially after the scene in which a teenage girl steals and SUV and crashes it into a house where a graduation party is going on. I guess I didn't really have anything better to do. Let's just say I was glad not to pay for that one.

My United flight to L.A. was on a 777 and, therefore, had a choice of movies. I chose Bridesmaids, which I really enjoyed. Many of the characters would annoy me in real life, but were amusing to watch. Very funny and highly recommended and not nearly as gross as I'd been led to believe. (Or maybe the grossest stuff was edited out by United.) The return had no choice but I figured Something Borrowed would be okay. And that's about it - it was an okay romantic comedy but nothing special. I might have liked it better if the main character had come to her senses and ended up with the guy she obviously really belongs with. (Which might well happen in the sequel that's hinted at.)

I slept on both of my American flights so I can't say anything about whatever movies they were showing. I have my priorities.

My theatre going has been somewhat more satisfying overall. I started out with Fela! at the Shakespeare Theatre Company. This is sort of a biography of Fela Kuti, one of the greatest stars of African music and a controversial figure in Nigerian politics. It's set around what is supposed to be the final night at his nightclub ("The Shrine") before he leaves Nigeria for good. The biographical bits are somewhat too disjointed to be completely coherent, which is especially true of the death (by defenestration during a police raid) of his mother. But the music is great and the performances were excellent, especially that of Sahr Ngaujjah as Fela. Overall, the show brought back pleasant memories of Africa. (Bearing in mind, of course, that Nigeria is a country I consider too scary to go to. I do draw my lines.) Ayo!

And then there's the latest crop of new musicals from the American Musical Voices Project at Signature Theatre. Last weekend, I saw The Hollow, which is rather loosely based on The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Washington Irving's short story paints a rather different picture of Ichabod Crane than this show did. In the musical, he is somewhat of a rebel, an outsider who has brought secular books (Gulliver's Travels!, Robinson Crusoe!, Candide!) and other evil influences to the insular community, leading the Headless Horseman to reappear. And then there's his romance with Katrina van Tassel, who is supposed to be engaged to the preacher's son, Brom van Brunt. The political message is rather obvious and, combined with fairly dull music, I thought the show was just okay. The acting was, however, excellent. Sam Ludwig was a very appealing Ichabod Crane. Whitney Bashor was in fine voice as Katrina. And young Noah Chiet, as Pieter, a small boy who is excited by those terrible books, was an excellent focus for the bits of comic relief.

The other new musical, playing in repertory with The Hollow, was The Boy Detective Fails, which I saw this afternoon. That was much more to my liking, with a lively score and fairly clever lyrics by Adam Gwon. The plot involves a boy detective who enjoys great success until he goes away to college, leaving his sister (who had been one of his sidekicks) to carry on. She commits suicide and he becomes depressed over his inability to understand why. The premise of the show is that he's spent 10 years in a mental institution but is now returning home - and still trying to solve his sister's mystery. There's also some confrontation with a couple of old enemies and a romance with a woman, Penny, who has turned to kleptomania after her husband's death. That makes for somewhat too much going on and creates a few rather large plot holes. So the show could use some definite tightening up. But with amusing bits like the former child detective support group Billy goes to and a lovely scene in which Penny dances with her husband's jacket on a coat rack, I found the afternoon enjoyable even with the flaws.

By the way, if anybody is in the DC area and wants to see any of these three shows, I have discount codes available for the asking.
Tags: movies, musicals, theatre

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