Monday, 27 May 2024

Arts & Life




‘SLY’ RATED R

Baring his soul to a certain extent on the Netflix film “Sly,” the titular character burst onto the scene of public awareness in a film that has come to be a symbol of willingness to go the distance even if the outcome does not turn in the protagonist’s favor.

The film, of course, is Sylvester Stallone’s “Rocky,” the genesis of which has the makings of a fantasy story that seems to be rooted in fiction. By all accounts, Stallone forged his own path by writing the script which he insisted would not be sold unless he starred in the film.

Up to that point in his career, Stallone mostly had bit parts, usually being cast as a thug. A brief film clip from “Bananas” shows him mugging an old lady on a subway train as Woody Allen’s terrified passenger nervously sits nearby.

At the beginning of the documentary “Sly,” the actor’s opening line is “It’s really easy to become complacent.” Maybe that’s on his mind because the film’s beginning shows him packing up his Los Angeles mansion for a move to the East Coast.

By any measure, Stallone is anything but complacent, as others like director John Herzfeld and his former rival and friend Arnold Schwarzenegger attest. The Terminator himself recognizes Stallone’s astute creation of three franchises, namely “Rocky,” “Rambo” and “The Expendables.”

As for the move east, it seems to be more like a return to Stallone’s roots, as the actor was born in the summer of 1946 and lived in the tough neighborhood of New York City’s Hell’s Kitchen, a place that once lived up to its name but now has become gentrified.

Stallone’s hardscrabble childhood found him often truant and involved in fights. He attended more than a dozen schools. But a Harvard professor who was in the audience for a school play told Stallone he should think of acting as a career, and that moment became an epiphany for his life’s trajectory.

Escaping a dismal home life, Stallone spent a lot of time sneaking into movie theaters, from which he became self-taught on writing scripts. He also saw Steve Reeves in “Hercules” as the perfect male role model.

For a documentary on his life, Stallone talks not that much about his childhood or family life, even though it is apparent that he came from a broken home and let it be known that his father was physically abusive to him and his brother Frank.

While married three times with five children, there is not much said about his immediate family ties, though clips with his son Sage, who played his offspring in “Rocky V,” are illuminating. Sadly, Sage died at the age of 36 from a coronary disease.

Turning down an offer of $265,000 for his original “Rocky” script, which was a fortune for a struggling actor at the time, was the best gamble ever made.

If you wonder about the success of his franchise films, Stallone makes the interesting point that he believes in sequels because “quite often the story can’t be told in two hours.” Well, “Sly” is less than two hours but it tells a lot.




‘GENIE’ ON PEACOCK

As one holiday seemingly bleeds into another, the spirit of Christmas always arrives even before the turkey is carved on Thanksgiving Day. Right now, holiday cheer is needed more than ever.

Christmas programs are already on the air. Hallmark Channel, as usual, jump starts the season with its “Countdown to Christmas” slew of movies that launched back in late October.

Christmas also comes early on Peacock with the November 22nd streaming launch of holiday fairytale comedy “Genie,” from Oscar-nominated screenwriter Richard Curtis, who has the “Love Actually,” “Four Weddings and a Funeral,” and “Notting Hill” films to his credit.

Melissa McCarthy stars as Flora, a genie trapped for more than 2,000 years inside an antique jewelry box because of one teeny-tiny little misunderstanding with a sorcerer back in 77 B.C.

After millennia of being summoned to grant wishes of gold doubloons and hot babes for greedy men, Flora is accidentally called to service by Bernard Bottle (Paapa Kwayke Essiedu), whose life is unraveling around him.

Bernard’s been so busy working that he has lost sight of his marriage to his wife Julie (Denee Benton) and the childhood of his young daughter Eve (Jordyn Mcintosh). When Bernard misses Eve’s birthday 12 days before Christmas because of work, Julie decides it’s time for a trial separation.

Even worse, Bernard gets fired by his tyrannical boss (Alan Cumming). Alone in his New York apartment, a despondent Bernard dusts off a jewelry box in their home and unintentionally releases the one entity who just might be able to help him get his family back.

Is this a longshot for Bernard, as Christmas approaches? Maybe. Possibly. But in the process, Flora and Bernard will discover that love, and an unexpected friendship, can unleash a special holiday magic all its own. Does “Genie” end up back in the box?

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




‘THE MARVELS’ RATED PG-13

The world, here and abroad, is on fire, and maybe the only glimmer of good news is that a pair of strikes is now over. We’re talking, of course, about the scribes who produce the lines for thespians to deliver.

The writers have gone back to work polishing scripts and the actors are now bringing up the rear, as the film and television industry will undergo fitful starts to its fabrication of mass entertainment.

Here’s hoping the long absence from work has both parties refreshed and ready to come up with entertainment better than what we have had to endure in large measure during recent times. For obvious reasons, the pandemic didn’t help matters.

As an aside, it’s worth noting that Martin Scorsese’s “Killers of the Flower Moon” may well be a masterful cinematic achievement, but the three-and-a-hours running time poses the dilemma of an endurance test. Probably will be best for streaming to allow for an intermission, at least.

Scorsese had nothing to do with the latest Marvel Studios entry, “The Marvels,” a film running fifteen minutes short of two hours, which is a welcome relief for anyone with a weak bladder, but more so for the view that these superhero films have too often become overly long, tedious, and uninspired.

As the 33rd movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, “The Marvels,” the sequel to the 2019 “Captain Marvel,” serves up Brie Larson’s Carol Danvers aka Captain Marvel as the MCU’s first stand-alone, female-franchise title character.

With nearly three dozen movies in the canon of superhero films, one could be forgiven for failing to keep track of the loose strings of character development. Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury, appearing once again, has materialized in a third of the MCU films.

While Thor, Iron Man and Captain America are missing, Carol’s Captain Marvel will settle for a trio of girl-power to take on Dar-Benn (Zawe Ashton), the leader of the Kree Empire who holds a grudge against Captain Marvel.

The triad of female superheroes teaming up with Nick Fury include New Jersey fangirl Kamala Khan (Iman Vellani) who transforms into Ms. Marvel with a magic bangle and Carol’s estranged niece, now astronaut Captain Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris).

Aside from some lingering resentments, learning to work together is a challenge for the three heroines who discover by a strange phenomenon that their powers are linked such that they are often trading places.

Captain Marvel may have earned the moniker “The Annihilator” from the vengeful Dar-Benn who’s upset about the destruction of the Kree Empire’s home planet. At least, plenty of ferocious fights for the Marvels engaging with a mortal enemy provides some thrills.

Forgettable and at times lackluster, “The Marvels” is just not worth the time spent in a theater. The next movie would be better off featuring the fan-favorite, scene-stealing orange tabby “Goose,” the man-eating alien whose tentacles have a long reach.

THANKSGIVING PROGRAMS ON FILM, TV AND STREAMING

Thanksgiving does not generate a similar slew of holiday programs like Christmas; and it’s not even close. Even then we concede a huge chunk of the Yuletide celebration to the Hallmark Channel.

As far as the movies go, this year brings the horror film “Thanksgiving.” After a Black Friday riot ends in tragedy, a mysterious Thanksgiving-inspired killer terrorizes Plymouth, Massachusetts – the birthplace of the holiday.

Picking off residents, one by one, what begins as random revenge killings are soon revealed to be part of a larger, sinister holiday plan. Will the town uncover the killer and survive the holidays, or become guests at his twisted holiday dinner table?

NBC kicks off the holiday season on Wednesday, November 22nd with “Countdown to Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade,” providing a sneak peek at the incredible stories behind the floats, bands, and balloons to hit the streets of New York.

On Thanksgiving Eve, “A Saturday Night Live Thanksgiving” special highlights memorable holiday-themed sketches from its 47 seasons. There’s probably a good chance that Adam Sandler’s “Turkey Song” will make the list.

Of course, on November 23rd the world-famous Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade continues to bring the magic of the procession to New York City spectators and a national television audience with its exciting array of floats, marching bands, celebrities and more.

Cable channel AXS TV is trading turkey for Partridge this November, inviting viewers to spend Thanksgiving with “The Partridge Family” as part of a special 12-hour marathon airing on Thursday, November 23 at 5 a.m. Pacific Time.

The day-long event puts the spotlight on a cornucopia of classic episodes from the hit ‘70s sitcom, capturing the beloved family as they tour across the country in their iconic multi-colored school bus, performing their signature tunes and getting caught up in their sidesplitting shenanigans.

“The Partridge Family” stars Shirley Jones as matriarch Shirley Partridge, with Susan Dey, Danny Bonaduce, Suzanne Crough, Jeremy Gelbwaks, and teen sensation David Cassidy as the talented offspring who convince the young widow to leave her bank-telling job and join their fledgling family band.

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

The Mendo-Lake Singers Chorus. Courtesy photo.

LAKE COUNTY, Calif. — The Mendo-Lake Singers Chorus invites women who like to sing to join them for their holiday show.

No experience is necessary.

Rehearsals are held from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. every Tuesday at 1125 Martin St., Lakeport.

The holiday show will be on Tuesday, Dec. 12, at 7 p.m. at the Martin Street location.

Mendo-Lake Singers is a chapter of Sweet Adelines International, the world’s largest women’s barbershop and a cappella singing organization.

For more information or to hire the Mendo-Lake Singers to sing at a holiday event, contact Director Pam Klier, 707-400-8380, or President Donna Bowen, 707-350-0644.

Megan Moore, “Silhouette Constructions,” collaged etching, photopolymer and relief prints.

UKIAH, Calif. — The Mendocino College Gallery is presenting “First Person: Explorations in Printmaking,” curated by Jazzminh Moore, through Feb. 5.

With an exciting mix of 11 local, national, and international artists, “Explorations” speaks to both the content and processes by which these diverse artists come to make their work.

The general theme “human perspectives on nature” acts as a broad container within which artists push the boundaries of printmaking, exploring process, scale, color, text, texture, materials and beyond.

The work from the 11 invited artists includes:

• Eileen Macdonald, head of Printmaking at CSU Chico, started treating paper in the same way that she would treat a copper etching plate during the mezzotint or etching process. Her works combine printmaking with paper cuts and pin pricked paper.

• Ulrike Theusner’s etchings and monotypes depict humans “trying to control the beast, the wilderness, the natural being of animals – but they can’t.” Theusner, originally from East Berlin/Weimar, currently has a solo exhibition at Galerie EIGEN + ART in Leipzig, Germany.

• Eunkang Koh, head of Printmaking at University of Nevada, Reno, often depicts half-animal and half-human figures. These hybrid creatures represent a portrait of us as social animals and the society that we live in.

• Ben Beres, professor of printmaking at Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle and one-third of the well-established collaborative trio SuttenBeresCuller, explores text and process in his hand-marbled, high-key color monotypes.

• Solange Roberdeau, 2023 Mendocino Arts Champion and new adjunct faculty in printmaking at Mendocino College, includes natural phenomena to make the work – for instance by applying ink to sheets of paper and leaving them out in the rain or allowing the wind to create patterns in suminagashi prints.

“Explorations” also features a selection of student work from Solange Roberdeau’s Introduction to Printmaking class here at Mendocino College.

The college offers an associate’s degree in art with a focus in printmaking and recently added a new 46-inch by 96-inch Takach etching press to its Ukiah campus.

Mendocino College Art Gallery is located at 1000 Hensley Creek Road, Ukiah.

Regular gallery hours are Tuesdays, noon to 3 p.m.; Wednesdays, 3 to 6 p.m.; and Thursdays, noon to 3 p.m., and by appointment.

To view more from Mendocino College Art Gallery, including the new Visiting Artist Lecture Series, visit https://www.mendocino.edu/academics/programs/arts/art-gallery.

John Parkinson conducts the Lake County Symphony. Photos by Mike Stempe.

LAKEPORT, Calif. — The Lake County Symphony will present its annual Fall Concert at 2 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 19, at Lakeport’s Soper Reese Theatre.

Musical Director/Conductor John Parkinson leads the orchestra in colorful selections by some of the greatest composers in Western history.

The orchestra begins its performance with Johannes Brahms’ Academic Festival Overture, Op. 80, followed by the “Rosamunde Overture” by Franz Peter Schubert, and “Danse Bacchanale” by French composer Camille Saint-Saens.

After a brief intermission, the audience will hear The Magic Flute Overture, K 620 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

The concert ends with Josef Haydn’s Symphony No. 99 in E flat major.

The concert starts, as is customary, with a performance by the Lake County Community and Youth Orchestra conducted by career musician Camm Linden.

Linden plays with the Lake County Symphony and is the president of the Lake County Symphony Association.

The Lake County Community and Youth Orchestra will play several familiar pieces, including Brahms’ Hungarian Dance No. 5, and Ravel’s “Bolero.”

They will also debut “Honor and Tribute,” a spirited march by Kevin Kaisershot. Formerly the LCSA Youth Orchestra, this group now welcomes all players from school age to adults with current or previous intermediate to advanced musical experience.

Tickets for Sunday’s regular concert are $25 for general seating or $30 for premium seating and may be purchased on the Soper Reese website.

There is a $5 discount for LCSA members. The 11 a.m. dress rehearsal concert is free for those under the age of 18 and just $5 for everyone else.

Tickets are also available at the Soper Reese box office at 275 S. Main Street on the day of the concert.

Please arrive 30 minutes prior to the show when buying tickets at the door.

For more information about this concert, upcoming events or to learn more about the Lake County Community and Youth Orchestra, go to www.lakecountysymphonyassociation.org.

Debra Fredrickson writes for the Lake County Symphony Association.

John Parkinson conducts the Lake County Symphony. Photos by Mike Stempe.



‘OLD DADS’ RATED R ON NETFLIX

If you have ever watched stand-up comedian Bill Burr on any of his comedy specials found on streaming services, you have a good idea of how his angry-man persona delivering the zingers that upset the easily offended remains his schtick in “Old Dads” now running on Netflix.

Middle-aged and married to a much younger wife Leah (Katie Aselton), Burr’s Jack Kelly is a father to a preschool son at an elite school run by the unbearable Dr. Lois Schmieckel-Turner (Rachael Harris). Confrontation with the principal’s political correctness is inevitable.

Jack ends up in hot water when he takes crass umbrage to the principal berating him for being two minutes late to pick up his son. A torment of verbal abuse puts him in the uncomfortable spot of having to make amends, lest his child fails to get a coveted recommendation to a private grade school.

Meanwhile, Jack and his two partners, Connor (Bobby Cannavale) and Mike (Bokeem Woodbine), sell their sportswear company and stay on as employees answering to insufferable millennial CEO Aspen Bell (Miles Robbins) who views the trio as unhip dinosaurs.

Divorced with sons in college, Mike thinks his life is unraveling when his much-younger girlfriend Britney (Reign Edwards) gets pregnant. Desperately trying to be young and hip, Connor deals with a nightmarishly bratty preschool son and overbearing wife Cara (Jackie Thon).

As family and business woes pile up, the trio decides to go on a road trip to Vegas but only make it so far as Palm Desert, where hijinks ensue while partying with strippers and engaging in general misbehavior.

Much of what happens involves the three buddies acting out their amusing man-child aggressions, ranting about parking spaces, scooters hogging the road, and PC culture. It’s mostly Jack, though, with comical anger management issues.

Granted, the three old guys yell and loudly curse to such an extent that some may find the comedy to be exceedingly vulgar and ill-mannered. The gauge of willingness to enjoy “Old Dads” will be familiarity as well as delight in Bill Burr’s outrageous, overblown biting humor.



‘GOOD COP, BAD COP’ ON ID TV

A staple of police shows is often the “good cop, bad cop” routine to interrogate suspects. For the six-episode series on ID TV, “Good Cop, Bad Cop” takes on a completely different connotation.

Retired detective Garry McFadden, a highly decorated veteran of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department in North Carolina, worked over 800 homicide cases and never lost a homicide case during a trial.

With his stellar career in police work, McFadden is a perfect choice to host a series that recounts the pursuits of detectives to solve a complicated murder investigation with a startling twist: the perpetrator is a fellow member of law enforcement.

The synopses for episodes that start on Sunday, Nov. 12, are intriguing. In “Hunting Ground,” San Diego is in a state of panic after discovering the body of Cara Knott tossed over a highway bridge.

With dead-end leads and the city demanding answers, police must work quickly while leaving no stone unturned to bring this monster to justice.

A city’s worst fear comes to fruition when the body of University of Toledo sorority sister turns up riddled with bullets on campus in the “Handcuffs” episode. The investigation’s findings shock the community and test the public’s faith in law enforcement.

“Did You Kill Your Wife” episode finds state troopers arriving at the scene of a woman shot to death in her bed. They rule it suicide, but a tenacious detective reopens the case decades later. Modern forensics, a double life and new witnesses turn the facts of the case on its head.

When police in Jacksonville, Florida discover Sami Safar’s corpse, they have no idea of the scale of criminality they stumbled upon in the “Blind Spot” episode. The murder of a hardworking Syrian immigrant unravels a web of theft and violence spanning years.

In “Ticking time Bomb,” a woman’s corpse is found in flames outside of Atlanta. Police use surveillance footage to witness the victim’s last moment, including getting into the car that would take her to her death and ultimately lead police to her killer.

The last episode lands on Sunday, December 17th, with “Hunting the Hunter.” Calls flood into the Silverton PD dispatch about a man shooting Rashawn Berry in broad daylight and fleeing the scene.

A key piece of surveillance footage on the killer’s escape route shows that a broken heart could be at the center of this violent act.

Featuring interviews with those closely connected to the case and expert insight from the host, who solved hundreds of cases in his career, “Good Cop, Bad Cop” stories reveal just how difficult and dangerous it is when the killer is on the inside.

Staged and covered-up crime scenes make the investigations all the more complex. But these dedicated detectives are committed to capturing the criminals and bringing them to justice, no matter the cost or badge they wear.

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

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