Steven Spielberg at the top of his powers as one of the most successful and creative film directors of the past century is the best reason I can think of to get off your duff and head for the cinema on Christmas Day. You will not believe the epic splendor, sweeping drama and heart-stopping passion he brings to War Horse. It’s a rare and genuine movie masterpiece that deserves the label in a thousand ways.
Turning a beloved play into a movie is a job for either a fool or a daredevil. Mr. Spielberg is neither, but he is a visionary with unflinching faith in his own instincts.
off the record
If Gerard Mannix Flynn’s new one-man play James X, which concerns the institutionalized abuse of children in Irish schools, smacks of direct experience with Ireland, it could be because Mr. Flynn isn’t just a playwright and actor. He spends his days working as an independent councilor for Dublin City Council. It is also because the Read More
The New York Times Company has begun shopping around for tech acquisitions for the first time since 2008, CEO Janet Robinson told Bloomberg News last week. But that doesn’t mean the paper is neglecting the mother ship.
The New York Times is in the midst of adding a slew of interactive bells and whistles, including e-commerce, to its online Theater section.
SPIDER MAN: PUT ON THE SLING
If you’re a visitor to New York, here’s a little trick to play on your hotel concierge: Slip him or her a nice tip, say $100, and let it be known that you’d be so eternally grateful for a pair of tickets to Elective Affinities, the new one-woman show starring Zoe Caldwell.
It’s not going to happen.
You’ll have no better luck if you’re a New Yorker, but the experience will be less fun, because the abject failure will be yours alone.
Elective Affinities, you see, is a very tough ticket, probably the toughest in town.
Having already received their Taiwanese animated reenactment, it was only a matter of time before the hot mess that is Spider Man: Turn Off the Dark‘s epic screw ups received a larger pop culture callback. Last night, The Simpsons aired their yearly “Treehouse of Horror” Halloween episode, which included a not-at-all-subtle slam on the show’s troubled Broadway production. The producers officially responded this morning, and of course—as is the case with any Broadway producer—are using the wildly insulting lampooning for a press moment.
Who really wrote William Shakespeare’s plays? Theories abound as scholars, dramaturges and researchers have accused the Bard of Avon of perpetrating a massive hoax through the centuries and boiled down the suspects. Now a lavish but somewhat tedious costume epic called Anonymous investigates each and every culprit in what often seems like double the time it must have taken to write the 37 plays, 154 sonnets and numerous collected poems of the Shakespeare oeuvre in the first place. It’s an exhausting film, but worth your stamina.
Shakespeare may be the most performed playwright in the history of letters, but in 400 years not one original script has been found in his own handwriting. When he died at 52, survived by an illiterate wife and daughter, he left behind in his will no mention of a single manuscript. In Anonymous, an obvious labor of love for director Roland Emmerich, the culprit is identified as Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford, a wealthy aristocrat who could not attach his real name to works of lusty romance, tragedy and political intrigue because they lampooned prominent members of the court.
In the mind’s eye, Linda Lavin is perpetually in that moment just after she has delivered a clever and cutting aperçu. She’s driving it home by raising an expensively shaped eyebrow, perhaps cocking her head, perhaps adjusting a ring, and usually jutting her tongue into her left cheek. Ms. Lavin, a star three decades ago as a blue-collar diner waitress, has become the onstage apotheosis of the well-to-do Jewish matron, her perfect I’m-not-saying-I’m-just-saying look putting a muscle-memory shiver of she’s-onto-me recognition into Jewish sons and daughters watching her across the footlights.
In Nicky Silver’s stingingly dark new comedy, The Lyons, which opened at the Vineyard Theatre last night, Ms. Lavin’s yiddishe kop runneth over.
fall arts preview
In the grand tradition of adaptation films reviled by Roger Ebert into musical productions (see also: Flashdance, The Wedding Singer, Xanadu) 1992′s musical extravaganza Newsies will be making its stage debut at the Paper Mill Theater in New Jersey September 25th.
Newsies–a (financial) bomb of a Read More
fall arts preview
The first time Nina Arianda walked on the stage at the Cort Theatre, she broke into tears.
“I was having a conversation with somebody, and I got onto the stage, and I looked out, and it was—I just started crying,” she said a few weeks ago over an afternoon cappuccino in Soho. “Because you’re there. It’s happening to you. And I can ignore that as much as I want to, to keep myself calm and focused. But when you have to actually go and look at the space, you have to face the magnitude of the theater, and the history, and the ghosts. It’s beautiful. And it’s really—it was overwhelming.”
Man and Boy, American Airlines Theatre
opens Oct. 9
Frank Langella’s back! Frost/Nixon’s Nixon returns to the stage with a drama by the beloved British playwright Terence Rattigan. Mr. Langella’s knack for being imposing, stentorian and vituperative will come in handy in Mr. Rattigan’s tale of a brutal financial wizard fallen on hard times, one who must exploit his son in order to stay afloat. Is this to be the Inside Job of Broadway—a play that exposes the vanities and degradations of the world’s financial markets? We don’t know—but with Mr. Langella involved, we’re willing to go along for the ride!