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Defender Picks


Film Review: John Wick

By Jason Raymond

While it seems I review a “ one man kills entire Russian Mob” movie once a month, John Wick has clearly risen to the top of those movies and even recent action movies. People often ask me if I like “normal movies” wherein lots of people get shot to death under preposterous circumstances while everyone displays minimal emotion. Sure, I do sometimes and this is one of them. John Wick rates higher than Liam Neeson’s recent A Walk Among the Tombstones. It’s at least twice the equal of The Equalizer.

Film Review: Good Vibrations

By Jason Raymond

If you wonder why I’m so critical of American cinema, it’s because they don’t make films like Good Vibrations anymore. I don’t particularly need a movie to transcend to a work of art, but it would be nice to occasionally see something original. Developed characters, conflict that isn’t always resolved through violence, and smart composition go along way. Good Vibrations is fun to watch because it delivers on all these criteria.

Theatre Review: Broomstick

By Michael Martin

How do you make a hit? Give your audience something familiar, yes, but with enough of a spin to make them feel that leaving the house, finding a sitter and a place to park, is worth all the trouble. Two shows now running excel at crowd-pleasing craftsmanship.

Film Review: This Ain't No Mouse Music

Though narrative feature films continue to disappoint, documentaries continue to shine. This Ain't No Mouse Music represents the latest documentary that's just a pleasure to see. Ostensibly the story of Chris Strachwitz, who founded Arhoolie Records in 1960, the documentary works as a tour of "roots music" i.e. music created by people rather than professionals and corporations looking for money. In a music world dominated by Clear Channel and rotating teeny-booper-twits (yes, Katy Perry, I mean you), the true depth and variety of music embedded in America is often quickly forgotten.

Film Review: As It Is In Heaven

I can't claim any particular affinity for movies about religious cults. I believe Sinclair Lewis' 1927 Elmer Gantry to be one of the finest American novels, far better than anything F. Scott Fitzgerald could manage. Yet that's as far into the literary River Jordan as I go. Right up until the end of the so-so As It Is In Heaven (2014), I wondered if my religious antipathy detracted from watching the movie. Then the movie suddenly ended when the true test for the characters should begin, leaving me to conclude I had merely wasted 90 minutes wondering about all this.

Parsing the Veil

Theatre Review: Thin Walls

Here’s an insider’s tip for adventurous theatergoers: If Richard Mayer is listed in the cast, call for reservations. By day, a cheerful egalitarian booking shows for the Shadowbox Theatre (a venue that grows more valuable by the month), Mayer’s limited time onstage makes him extremely choosy about roles. Every show he’s done since his award winner, Red Light Winter, has been unusual thematically or structurally or both.

Film Review: The Trip to Italy

I haven't seen a film as fun as The Trip to Italy perhaps since original The Trip arrived in America in 2011. Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon return in a followup film as their bickering alter-egos, this time touring Italy vaguely following Romantic poets Shelley and Lord Byron while eating and drinking at fine restaurants. Just like the last time, witticisms and impressions flow across dinner tables. Old Coogan/Brydon staples like the James Bonds, Michael Caine, Pacino and Hugh Grant are joined by Tom Hardy and Christian Bale (unable to annunciate to a put-up A.D.), British TV show host Michael Parkinson, and musings on Alanis Morrissette's Jagged Little Pill.

Film Review: Tusk

As I sat stupefied through Tusk, I realized the only good coming from this experience would be my continued ability to vilify Kevin Smith and scorn his supporters. I find Smith alright on personal level. His frequent podcast appearances often amuse me. I love his famous story about how he and Barbara Streisand's former lover/hair stylist turned studio executive almost made a dreadful, black-suited Superman movie. I don't think he's a bad guy, just a horrible filmmaker.

Film Review: A Walk Among The Tombstones

Currently, Liam Neeson stars in movies at about the same rate as Michael Caine from the late 60s through 1990. A Walk Among The Tombstones feels like a throwback to Caine’s era: a lean, workman-like detective story whose pacing and editing isn't flashy. In Caine's better efforts like The Black Windmill or The Fourth Protocol , he played a spy. Here the source material comes from Lawrence Block, who has thrived as a second-tier detective mystery staple for decades. There's nothing original, but everything fits and functions. The movie doesn't shatter style like Michael Mann's Manhuter [1986], but it's better than a lot of recent crime movies.

Freedom Summer Reviewed

The American Theatre Project (with Dillard University and the Ashé Center) production of Freedom Summer opens with an arresting image: Most of the cast, backs bent low, facing away from us mime their way across the stage in two lines, sharecroppers picking cotton. Silmultaneously, a good musician billed only as Alex plays blues guitar. It’s a bit under-rehearsed (and most of the actors are plainly untrained in movement) but the ragged edges enhance its simple power, at once engaging and moving.

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Renard Boissiere, Evan Z.E. Hammond, Naimonu James, Wilson Koewing, J.A. Lloyd, Nina Luckman, Dead Huey Long, Alexis Manrodt, Joseph Santiago, Andrew Smith, Cynthia Via, Austin Yde


Art Director

Michael Weber, B.A.


Listings Editor

Linzi Falk

Editor Emeritus

Alexis Manrodt

B. E. Mintz

Stephen Babcock

Published Daily