Weekend Update: Nov. 20 – 22

Theater

Hamllton on Broadway
Hamllton on Broadway

Hamilton (opened August 6) – While technically not a newly-opened show I include in this post as I was able to see it only recently. I confess that when I first read about the show I had my doubts (a historical musical? Rap? Hip-hop?) but the Public Theater pedigree and rave reviews inspired me to buy a ticket (which I had to buy months in advance to get a decent seat). The show is original, fresh, energetic and the themes most definitely of-the-moment. A must see.

A View From the Bridge
A View From the Bridge

A View From the Bridge (opened November 12) – the play transferred with cast intact from its critically-acclaimed London run (Olivier awards for Best Actor, Best Director and Best Revival). I almost didn’t see this show having seen the revival several years ago with Liev Schreiber and Scarlett Johanssen (with so many new shows to see why see one I have seen before?). I am glad I did – the awards and acclaim are well-founded and the differences between the productions are substantial. The staging is so spare that the powerful  performances and themes of the play are brought into stark relief to great effect.

Movies

The Hunger Games Mockingjay Part 2
The Hunger Games Mockingjay Part 2

The Hunger Games Mockingjay Part 2 (November 20) – In the conclusion (finally!) of the film series, Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) stakes her claim as the leader of District 13 and leads the revolution against the brutal dictatorship of President Snow (Donald Sutherland) and the Capitol.

Secret in Their Eyes
Secret in Their Eyes

Secret in Their Eyes (November 20) – Billy Ray directs this adaptation of Juan José Campanella’s 2010 Argentinian film.  Julia Roberts, Chiwetel Ejifor and Nicole Kidman star in this thriller about a close-knit team of investigators whose partnership is strained when their latest murder case involves the daughter of one of their own.

By the Sea starring the Pitts
By the Sea starring the Pitts

By the Sea (November 13) – Set in France during the mid-1970s, Vanessa (Angelina Jolie-Pitt), a former dancer, and her writer-husband Roland (Brad Pitt), an American writer, travel the country together in an attempt to rebuild their marriage. They settle in a small coastal town and bond with a few if its quirkier inhabitants. The film was written and directed by Angelina Jolie-Pitt. Reviews are mixed but when have they not been for a production with which Angelina is involved?

Love the Coopers
Love the Coopers

Love the Coopers (November 13) – Four generations of the Cooper family come together for their annual Christmas Eve celebration. As the evening unfolds, a series of unexpected visitors and unlikely events turn the night upside down, leading them all toward a surprising rediscovery of family bonds and the spirit of the holiday. Based on the reviews the strong cast (Diane Keaton, Marisa Tomei, Amanda Seyfried, John Goodman, Olivia Wilde) can do nothing to save this holiday stinker.

Museums

Jackson Pollock at the MoMA
Jackson Pollock at the MoMA

Jackson Pollock (MOMA opens November 22) – This exhibition offers a concise but detailed survey of the work of Jackson Pollock (American, 1912–1956). It tracks his artistic evolution from the 1930s and early 1940s, when he made loosely figurative images based on mythical or primeval themes, to the late 1940s and early 1950s, when he pioneered the radical abstractions for which he is best known by pouring and dripping paint onto canvas or paper.

Sneak Preview: King Charles III

I attended a preview of King Charles III yesterday – just in advance of its opening tonight (November 1) on Broadway. I wasn’t sure what to expect of the play transferring from an acclaimed run in London’s West End. I knew it won the Olivier award in London for best play which was enough to inspire me to buy a ticket (full price I might add – which I rarely do). I certainly did not expect a Shakespearian-style tragedy written in blank verse (yes, yes a quick Google search would have helped to manage my expectations).

King Charles III envisions a future in which Queen Elizabeth has died and Charles ascends the throne. His first act as monarch (even before the official coronation) is to refuse to grant the Royal Assent to a privacy law passed by Parliament. The clash between the monarch and Parliament leads to a constitutional crisis and civil unrest.

King Charles III lands on Broadway with a stellar cast intact from its run in London. Tim Pigott-Smith was nominated for the Olivier aware for Best Actor for his performance as King Charles. Mr. Pigott-Smith’s performance is exceptional – emotional, introspective, athletic – his stamina in the role is incredible to watch. Further cast members making the jump to Broadway are Oliver Chris as William, Richard Goulding as Harry, Margot Leicester as Camilla and Lydia Wilson as Kate. Rupert Goold also continues as director.

Based on the preview my guess is that the Broadway run will also receive strong reviews. If you are interested in seeing the play best bet is to buy tickets today before the reviews are out.

The Weekend Report: October 30 – November 1

Theater

Gin Game opened October 14
Gin Game opened October 14

The Gin Game – Two-time Tony Award winner James Earl Jones squares off with three-time Emmy and Tony Award winner Cicely Tyson in D.L. Coburn’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play The Gin Game. I saw the play recently. I am glad I had the opportunity to see these two masters work. James Earl Jones is 84 and Cicely Tyson is 90 so there won’t be many more opportunities. The play is directed by Leonard Foglia (Master Class) in this brand-new Broadway production.

King Charles III opening night November 1
King Charles III opening night November 1

King Charles III – Winner of the 2015 Olivier award for best new play which opens on Broadway on November 1 after a successful West End run.  This drama of political intrigue was written by Mike Bartlett and directed by Rupert Goold. King Charles III has been deemed “the most insightful and engrossing new history play in decades” by Ben Brantley of The New York Times. This production explores the people underneath the crowns, the unwritten rules of Britain’s democracy and the conscience of its most famous family.

China Doll opening November 19
China Doll opening November 19

China Doll (opening night November 1) –  Oscar, Emmy and Tony Award winner Al Pacino and Tony and Pulitzer Prize winner David Mamet join forces in a riveting story of a man of means, ready to walk away from it all to start a new life with his young fiancée. Directed by Tony Award winner Pam MacKinnon (Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Clybourne Park).

Fashion

The James Perse sample sale is back from October 27 to November 1 at 260 Fifth Avenue in New York City. Find signature knits at savings of up to 75% off retail prices. For more information: James Perse Sample Sale

Movies

Rock the Kasbah opens October 23
Rock the Kasbah opens October 23

Rock the Kasbah – Barry Levinson directs Bill Murray in this comedy-drama about a down-and-out music manager who follows a USO tour to Afghanistan to visit his one remaining client, in the process discovering a talented young singer who he sneaks into Kabul to compete on the country’s popular reality talent show “The Afghan Star.”

Suffragette opens October 23
Suffragette opens October 23

Suffragette – In this galvanizing feminist drama, a working-class laundress (Carey Mulligan) in 19th century London becomes radicalized when she meets a brave cadre of women organizing to obtain the vote. Also stars Helena Bonham Carter and Meryl Streep.

Our Brand is in Crisis opens October 30
Our Brand is in Crisis opens October 30

Our Brand is Crisis – This satirical comedy gives viewers an inside look at the high-stakes, win at all costs world of politics. Sandra Bullock plays”Calamity” Jane Bodine who is hired to work on the campaign of a Bolivian presidential candidate that has fallen behind in the polls. She faces off against her rival Pat Candy (Billy Bob Thornton) who is working on the opponent’s campaign and is looking for every opportunity to antagonize Jane. Produced by Oscar-winning producers George Clooney and Grant Heslov.

TV

Angel from Hell starring Jane Lynch
Angel from Hell starring Jane Lynch

Angel from Hell (premiers November 5, 9:30PM CBS) – stars Jane Lynch as Amy, a colorful, brassy woman claiming to be a guardian angel to Allison, an organized seemingly perfect young woman. Did I mention it stars Jane Lynch?

Must See – Something Rotten on Broadway

Something Rotten Opening April 22
Something Rotten Opening April 22

I saw Something Rotten last night (which opens tomorrow at the St James Theater). Hands down the funniest musical I have seen since Book of Mormon. The strong cast includes Brian d’Arcy James (Tony nominee for Shrek the Musical and Sweet Smell of Success) and Christian Borle (Tony award winner for Peter and the Starcatcher). Original, fun, funny and highly entertaining (2.5 hour running time felt like much less). Music and choreography were engaging and memorable – I walked out humming the final number. Get tickets soon – once the reviews start to roll in this will be a hard ticket to get. My only criticism: what was it with the codpieces?

The Week Ahead April 6-12: What to see, watch and do this week

Movies

Dior and I starring Raf Simmons, Marion Cotillard, Jennifer Lawrence
Dior and I starring Raf Simmons, Marion Cotillard, Jennifer Lawrence

Dior and I (opens April 10) –  Dior and I offers a behind-the-scenes look at the creation of Raf Simon’s highly anticipated first collection for the House of Dior. The movie stars Marion Cotillard and Jennifer Lawrence (and, of course, Raf Simons!).

Technology

Ready or not the Apple watch is  coming . . .
Ready or not the Apple watch is coming . . .

Apple watch pre-order date is Friday April 10. Will it be a hit or go the way of Google glasses?

Plays

Gershwin's "An American in Paris" opens April 12th at the Palace Theater
Gershwin’s “An American in Paris” opens April 12th at the Palace Theater

An American in Paris (opens April 12) – the musical stage adaption of the 1951 award-winning movie, based on the music by George and Ira Gershwin opens at the Palace Theater on April 12th.  The musical had its out-of-town tryout in Paris last year.

TV

Game of Thrones new season starts April 12th
Game of Thrones new season starts April 12th

Sunday April 12th HBO launches the new seasons of three of its hit series:  Game of Thrones, Veep and Silicon Valley.  Don’t say you weren’t warned – as I mentioned in a previous post the previous seasons released a couple of weeks ago.

The Week Ahead: March 15 – 21

Movies

Insurgent is the second movie in the Divergent series
Insurgent is the second movie in the Divergent series

The Divergent Series : Insurgent (open March 20) – In the second film in the Divergent series (directed by Robert Schwentke) Tris (Shailene Woodley) and Four (Theo James) are on the run from Jeanine Matthews (Kate Winslet) and trying to figure out the secret that will help the rebels build a better future.

The Gunman stars Sean Penn
The Gunman stars Sean Penn

The Gunman (opens March 20) – Sean Penn stars in this action thriller as a traumatized special forces veteran trying to put his past behind him and settle down with the woman he loves.   The cast includes Javier Bardem and Idris Elba and was directed by Pierre Morel (“Taken”).  Despite the all-star cast early reviews have not been strong. . .

Spring
Spring

Spring (opens March 20) – Lou Taylor Pucci stars as Evan, a man who flees to Italy to escape his past (a barfight – must be one bad barfight).  While traveling the Italian coast he meets and connects with an enigmatic woman who harbors a dark secret.

Plays

The Heidi Chronicles (opens March 19, Music Box Theater) – this revival of Wendy Wasserstein’s Tony and Pulitzer Prize-winning play stars Elisabeth Moss (“Mad Men,” “Top of the Lake”), Jason Biggs (“Orange is the New Black,” American Pie) and Tony nominee Bryce Pinkham (A Gentlemen’s Guide to Love and Murder).  The play tells the coming-of-age story about Heidi Holland and her diverse circle of friends across three decades.  It is being directed by Pam MacKinnon (Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?).

Kiin Thai and The Lion at the Lynn Redgrave Theater

The dining room at Kiin Thai
The dining room at Kiin Thai

Lovely afternoon!  Started with lunch at Kiin Thai – a new restaurant in the Village from the owners of East Village favorite Somtum Der. The restaurant was still in soft opening mode but based on the Sai Qua sausage and Gaeng Hung Lay curry it is worth a visit.  See more information from the Village Voice and Eater NY:

http://blogs.villagevoice.com/forkintheroad/2015/02/kiin.php

http://ny.eater.com/2015/2/27/8121643/open-somtum-der-kiin-thai-east-village

Benjamin Scheuer in The Lion
Benjamin Scheuer in The Lion

After lunch I took a snowy walk to the Lynn Redgrave Theater to see The Lion, Benjamin Scheuer’s autobiographical coming of age musical.  A compelling story in an intimate setting – and the perfect amount of time – 70 minute run time with no intermission! Runs through end of March.

Home in time to open a nice pinot and watch the snow fall in front of a fire in the fireplace.

The Week Ahead – February 1

Movies

Jupiter Ascending – a sci fi movie starring Mila Kunis, Eddie Redmayne and Channing Tatum.  Mila Kunis is Jupiter Jones, a young woman of modest origins who discovers she is destined to play an important role as savior of the universe.  The screenplay was written by Andy and Lara Wachowski who also produced and directed. Over the past couple of years (after seeing him in Red on Broadway, My Week with Marilyn and The Theory of Everything) I have become a big fan of Eddie Redmayne – and would see the movie just because he is in the cast.  Given that the team behind the move was also responsible for The Matrix Trilogy the special effects will most likely be spectacular.

Jupiter Ascending

Matt Shephard is a Friend of Mine – the story of Matthew Shepard, the gay University of Wyoming student who was killed in a hate crime in 1998Matt Shephard

Plays

Rasheeda Speaking – from The New Group and playing at Signature Theatre on West 42nd Street. Rasheeda Speaking is directed by Cynthia Nixon and stars Tonya Pinkins and Dianne Wiest who play co-workers driven apart by their boss and into a power struggle that spins out of control.

Museums

Last chance for Matisse – the Matisse exhibit at the MOMA closes on February 10th.  I saw it a couple weeks ago.  Great exhibit.   Popular and crowded though so I recommend going during Members Hours or non-peak times (if there is such a thing).Matisse CutOuts

 Restaurants

Chez Jef – the permanent version of the pop-up French bistro Mathieu Palombino opened in the Bowery Diner last year is now open.  The pop-up got strong reviews so the permanent restaurant promises to be a good place for French bistro classics.  It looks like the $35 prix-fixe is also still on the menu.