James Gray’s Ad Astra is a stirring, soulful space odyssey in the tradition of 2001, Sunshine, and Interstellar—but its real antecedent is Apocalypse Now. My NPR review is mes Gray’s Ad Astra is a stirring, plausible space odyssey in the tradition of 2001, Sunshine, and Interstellar—but its real antecedent is Apocalypse Now. My NPR review is here.
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When I saw Woolly Mammoth Theater Company's production of Jackie Sibblies Drury's We Are Proud to Present... in 2014, it was the worst show I'd ever seen. Five-and-a-half years later, it still is. So to say that I liked Woolly's production of Fairview, Drury's Pulitzer Prize-winner that made its debut last year, better than her previous work is of little value. But I liked it a lot. I appreciated it, more like.
I do understand that my approval is not required. It never is. My Washington City Paper review is here.
Today’s Pop Culture Happy Hour is a special one for me because Jess Reedy summoned me to huddle with Barry Hardymon, Katie Pressley, and host Stephen Thompson on The Goldfinch — John Crowley’s new film adaptation of a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Donna Tartt that remains far afield of my usual bailiwicks of fisticuffs and rocketships. Plus I get to shout out Meow Wolf, perhaps the highlight of my visit to New Mexico last week.
Lynn Nottage has won two Pulitzer Prizes for Drama in the 15 years since her play Fabulation, or the Re-Education of Undine was first performed; there is no Pulitzer Prize for Comedy. Mosaic Theater's production of Undine gets its weakest scenes out of the way early, though even in its most heart-rending moments I yearned for a little more variation in the rhythm of star Felicia Curry's speech. I've loved her in many other shows. My Washington City Paper review is here.
My colleague Jane Horwitz liked Fabulation more than I did, as you can hear her say in our brief Around Town discussion.
Whether a production of Assassins uses period-accurate prop guns doesn’t matter. Whether the director of a 2019 Assassins has thought about how our relationship to gun violence, mental illness, & presidential politics has changed since 1990 matters a lot. My review of Signature Theatre's second, and weaker, 21st-c. take on Stephen Sondheim's scandalous late-20th century musical is in this week's Washington City Paper.
Here’s the Pulitzer Prize-winning 1998 Washington Post series about DC’s raft of police shootings in the 1990s that informed my long lede graf.
And here I am with my pal Trey Graham, still failing miserably at smiling on command before we briefly discuss this production—which I still liked more than he did!—on WETA's Around Town.
My abiding love and respect for the work of Bruce Springsteen is a matter of public record and of a couple dozen records. But I must report to you that Bend It Like Beckham director Gurinder Chadha’s new movie Blinded by the Light, about how The Boss inspired Pakistani-British journalist Sarfraz Manzoor to pursue his dream of becoming a writer despite the poverty and racism that surrounded him in Margaret Thatcher’s England, is the jazz-handsy Springsteen jukebox musical that Springsteen on Broadway was supposed to protect us from. It boasts some wonderful performances, though, as well as a previously unreleased Springsteen song that at one point was going to appear on the soundtrack of… Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Huh.
Anyway, my NPR review of Blinded by the Light is here.
Yesterday's exciting episode of Pop Culture Happy Hour featured Linda Holmes' triumphant return to the host chair after the triumphant publication of her debut novel. Hooray! In a deleted scene, I asked the panel—my forever Fast & Furious viewing-mate Linda, my sister-from-another-mother Daisy Rosario, and new friend Christina Tucker of the Unfriendly Black Hotties podcast—if I was the only one of use suffering from what I am loath to call "Johnson Fatigue."
Yes, came the three ladies' reply. It's just you. So be it! This was an especially fun episode. My review of Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw is right here.
Our Pop Culture Happy Hour dissection of Quentin Tarantino's ninth picture gave me the opportunity to be on a panel with Monica Castillo, a fellow Eugene O'Neill National Critics Institute fellow and someone with whom I'd not previously had the pleasure of speaking, though we have friends and colleagues in common. A fun episode. After some deliberation, we elected to avoid any in-depth discussion of the ending of the film.