Tag Archives: Theatre

Senseless death, an angel and a yellow submarine: a play, movies and TV

This month’s production from Playmakers Repertory Company was the premiere of JUMP, a drama in which two sisters and their father gather to dispose of mom’s things after her death from cancer, and knit together their frayed relationship. Only one of the sisters keeps going up to the nearby bridge and thinking what it would feel like to jump … This didn’t quite work for me, mostly because the big twist was quite obvious (though I didn’t get the details exactly right). Well executed, though, and a good looking set. “This is a strange place to vape.

JINDABYNE (2006) is an Aussie film based on one of the Raymnond Carver short stories adapted into Short Cuts, wherein Gabriel Byrne goes on a fishing trip with his buddies, only to discover an Aboriginal woman floating dead in the water. They do not, however, think that’s a reason to cut short the trip, which completely freaks out Byrne’s wife Laura Linney when she learns about it. This was better than Short Cuts but multiple distractions during the morning worked against me really getting into it (one break from the screen turned into several short breaks). It would double-bill well with River’s Edge in which a group of callous teens similarly discover a corpse. “So who appointed you the chief of political correctness?”

I was never a fan of the 1980s series HIGHWAY TO HEAVEN, in which Michael Landon played Jonathan, an angel earning his wings alongside mortal sidekick Mark (Victor French). Its particular style of heartwarming wasn’t to my taste, though I can see why some people found it satisfying comfort food; comforting enough it ran five seasons, second only to Touched by an Angel as far as angelic TV series go. I watched the sixth season episode Reunion though because a local friend, Hope Alexander Willis, has a supporting role as the wife of a PR guy. I’m not sure I’d have recognized Hope’s face, but I definitely tell it’s the same voice. The story itself involves Jonathan working to bring off Mark’s high school reunion, thereby helping leading man Lloyd Bochner accept he’s aged into character acting and recapture a lost love. However because that’s one of several happy endings at the reunion, I found this less focused than the few episodes I’ve watched before. “It just shows how things we think are unimportant at the time can matter the world to someone.”

THE YELLOW SUBMARINE (1968) was one of LeAnn’s Christmas gifts to me, wherein the malevolent Blue Meanies invade the utopian musical undersea realm of Pepperland with an army of apple bonkers, snapping-turtle Turks, killer clowns and the deadly flying glove. One man escapes in the eponymous vessel that brought the founders to Pepperland. Flying it to Liverpool, he finds a brooding Ringo (“Next to me, Eleanor Rigby lived a gay, mad life.”) and enlists the Beatles to liberate Pepperland. But can they survive their travels through the Sea of Time, the Sea of Holes and the foothills of the Headlands?

This film reminds me a lot of Miyazaki’s Spirited Away in that the designers just don’t seem to quit, constantly throwing in little visual details and touches to scenes that are already stunning. Delightful to look at, whimsical in story, it’s a thorough charmer. I’ve always been surprised the Beatles’ didn’t speak their parts (they sing, of course), as bringing them together in the studio proved impossible (on the commentary track, one of the production team says they stumbled across the voice for George one night in a bar). Definitely worth seeing, if you haven’t already. “Would you believe me if I told you I was being followed by a yellow submarine?”

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Scooby Doo, thieves and Robin Hood: two movies, one play

SCOOBY DOO: Mask of the Blue Falcon (2013) takes place at San Diego Comicon parody (the in-joke costumes are a sight to see) where the big event will be an early screening of the new Blue Falcon and Dynomutt movie re-imagining the corny 1960s show as a grim Dark Knight (why yes, the Batman analogy is intentional). But now Blue Falcon’s archfoe Mr. Hyde (Shaggy: “He’s the monster that taught us to be afraid of monsters.”) seems determined to kill the project — could it be the actor from the TV show? The star of the movie who wants to get back to Serious Films? This is fun, though it makes me wonder if there’s any serious Dynomutt fanbase or if he just survives from being tied to Scooby-Doo. I also wonder if one of the voice actors deliberately made his obnoxious security head sound like Paul Lynde, a comic actor who did a lot of voices for Hanna-Barbera. “I have 22 turtlenecks, all the same color — I recognize patterns.”

RIFIFI (1955) lives up to its billing as one of the great heist films. A tough hood fresh out of prison gets an offer to participate in a smash-and-grab job on a Parisian jewelry store, but suggests that cracking the store’s safe, while completely impossible, would offer a much higher ration of risk to reward. Unfortunately there’s a crime boss who discovers what’s going down and decides to horn in … A first rate film, great looking (I think it must have been location shooting) and completely absorbing. “I liked you — I really liked you — but you know the rules.”

LeAnn bought us season tickets to the Playmakers theater as an anniversary present; while we missed the first show in August, we caught this month’s production, SHERWOOD: The Legend of Robin Hood at the end of September. This retelling of how Robin grew from a shallow child of privilege into a champion of the poor (“All of us in this country are traveling together.”) reworks the familiar adventures with a lot of fun and humor, and the staging positively flaunts that they’re doing epic adventure on a small budget. Marion gets a larger role than usual (she’s the master archer) and King John is constantly quoting Shakespeare, though nothing from Shakespeare’s Prince John. A fun start to our year of viewing. “‘Manners maketh man’ — that’s what my grandmother said right before they lopped off her head”

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