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December 29, 2009

LEE HARTGRAVE REEL FILM TWITTER

LEE HARTGRAVE REEL FILM TWITTER

RAYMOND CHANDLER IS BACK IN STYLE IN 'THE MISSING PERSON' 

At least in the new movie “The Missing Person”. Filmed in deep Noir Shadow sometimes works in this film – but on the other hand, it was so dark that all I could see at the beginning were eyes shining in the dark. Creepy, yes – but that theme prevails throughout the movie.

There are many things that I liked about it however. I liked the Noir feel of the movie – loved the train ride and the tacky Motels that the Detective stayed at along the way. In some ways it has a feel of “No Country for Old Men”.

The quality of the film varies along the way. Sometimes it is pretty good, but most of the time is has a grimy, gritty look that gives it an old time patina look. Maybe that is what the director has in mind.

There is some tough talking Dialogue in the film (which harkens back to 40’s type lingo.) Especially intriguing is the conversation between a cab driver and the detective.

There were times that I almost gave up on this movie. However I stuck to it – and began to like it better. The film has a surprise ending that I would not have guessed. The story keeps you interested and the acting is superb. Now, if only there was just a little more illumination.

Film Noir was Dark and shadowy, but we were always able to see their faces. In this movie, you really have to strain to see anything.

Brilliant performances by Michael Shannon, Amy Ryan, Margaret Colin, Linda Emond, Yul Vazquez and John Ventimglia. Masterful Direction is by Noah Buschel

RATING: THREE BOXES OF POPCORN!!! –trademarked-

YOUNG VICTORIA IS A GORGEOUS FILM

I love Castles and Palaces. I never get enough of them. Watching Monarchs stiffly sitting in their palaces is endlessly entertaining.

And no one was more prim, proper and stiff than Queen Victoria. But, of course when she was just Princess she showed that she really did have some feelings. Was this a prison? Well, yes – when you are an heir to the throne, you can’t even walk down the stairs by yourself. Someone had to hold your hand as you walked down and up. But isn’t it worth all that bother to become a queen or a king? For that kind of adulation – I would gladly hold hands with anyone, as long as they didn’t push me down the stairs.

This is a beautiful movie that is kind of a docudrama. The interiors are sumptuous beyond belief. The palace intrigue is quite interesting. There is always the danger of being poisoned – that is why Victoria has a taster, before she could touch the food.

Victoria and her mother did not get along well. The mother wanted Victoria to give up the right to be Queen. She and her Palace Boyfriend tried to get the future Queen to sign away her rights and name her mother Regent until Victoria became of age. The sassy “V” would have none of it. It was then that we found out what a force the new Queen would be. No one was going to out smart her. However, she did have to give in on a few things, like giving her new husband Prince Albert more say in how the Palace is run. Actually, Albert was very smart and was very good for the Queen. Until he came into her life, everyone hated the new Queen. He more or less made her more human. And they did go on to have nine children. My, My – did they ever get out of bed?

The entire cast was really quite Royal and fascinating. They  made the entire thing seem quite real. Emily Blunt (the Devil Wears Prada) and Rupert Friend (Prince Albert) are perfectly suited as the Royal pair. They had the pomp and circumstance down to the bottom of their royal robes. You’ve never seen so much bowing and scraping in your life.

RATING: FOUR BOXES OF POPCORN!!!! (highest rating) – trademarked-

BROKEN EMBRACES – HOT BLOODED

PEDRO AMMODOVAR AS USUAL HAS DIRECTED A MOVIE THAT BURSTS WITH PASSION AND FIRE.

There are so many twists and turns to this movie that it almost makes you dizzy. There is a blind screenwriter. His secretary and her son help him write his screenplays. There is a beautiful woman, Penelope Cruz who will complicate his life. 

All of them seem to have many secrets that are just about to pop out at any time. One lives under a double identity and a past that soon comes out in the open.

But the thing about Almodovar’s movie is the realism that you feel. You care about these people. They become part of your life. It’s not like you’re looking and thinking “Oh, they are just actors.” Not in this case. You become involved with them and the story.

And the melodrama explodes on the screen. I guarantee that you will not be bored. Hey, I should know. I bore easily. My like it or not meter is when I start to nod off at the beginning of the film. I did not nod off in Broken Embraces.

This is a smooth, intriguing film that reminds at times of Fellini. Broken Embraces has some film-noir elements to it. And that is a good thing.

RATING: FOUR BOXES OF POPCORN!!!! (highest rating) –trademarked-

(((Lee Hartgrave has reviewed films for PBS KQED, California Voice, City Magazine and Los Angeles Nightlife Magazine)))

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LEE HARTGRAVE REVIEWS - KATYA GLITTERS AT NCTC




Dec. 28 2009

LEE HARTGRAVE REVIEWS 

TATYA IS EVERYTHING THAT HOLLYWOOD HAS FORGOTTON

LET THE SHOW BEGIN. The footlights light up the floor – Red Curtains hang tantalizingly and there is a picture on the wall in Front of the Drapes over the Queenly Chair – of Josef Stalin.

The overture begins just like a big Broadway Musical Production. Then, the Star appears from behind the Red Drapes wearing a Red glittery Red Sequined Gown. To complete the look – she even has a sequined Hood to match.

This time around Katya also has New Hair. Now, she is no longer just a Russian Duchess – but the ‘Hostess with the Mostest” She purrs; “Darling’s I am so thrilled to be back in NCTC’s lovely Basement.

This is a Christmas spectacular and Tatya belts out the Earth Kitt hit – “Santa Baby” with some surprising new startling lyrics.

She jokes with the Piano player. “Stand-Up. Oh, you are standing Daaaarling!” Of course, he should have smacked her – but he didn’t. And the Elves that flitter in and out of the stage? Well, Katya has a way to get them too. “The Elves come and go. But I tell you Daaarling – I might even know their names by the end of the run.”

To the audience when someone dares too say something. Katya says sweetly – “I did not pay to hear you perform.” She brings up many big names, Barry Manilow, Jerry Herman (my very, very old friend – almost dead friend). Remember – this show is a farce. You can’t believe anything that comes out of a spoiled Duchess’s mouth.

Katya wears one stunning dress after another. It’s almost like a fashion show. Maybe her next show could be about a Russian Model, who used to be a countess. Heaven knows she has the outfits. Tatya claims to be related somehow to Stalin. He was so good to me – she says. “He taught me how to look interested when people are talking to you.” – as she said this – it dawned on me – Oh, my God! It’s Leona Helmsly, the Hotel Heiress.

She sang a vibrant song from Dreamgirls called “One Night Only” – only she turned it into “Eight Nights Only.” Near the end of the set – she gave us a rousing “Proud Mary” in a Silver Glitter short Dress. Tina Turner would probably have loved it – or socked her in the face.

At the very end – Katya looks Angelic for the Xmas show in a Gossamer Green flowing dress. She looked fresh and sophisticated. Really, I couldn’t be more serious – she really did look great.

So, here’s my advice. If you lose urine when you laugh, gasp or slap your knee – then you better not see Katya. Or bring a pot to catch any residue.

AT THE NEW CONSERVATORY THEATER CENTER

RATING: FOUR GLASSES OF CHAMPAGNE!!!! (highest rating) – trademarked-

(((Lee Hartgrave has contributed many articles to the San Francisco Chronicle Datebook and produced a long-running Arts Segment on PBS KQED)))


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December 4, 2009

COTTON PATCH GOSPEL - JUBILEE. TWO ROUSING SHOWS

 LEE HARTGRAVE REVIEWS
Dec 4 2009



Cotton Patch Gospel – “Delirious fun!”
Jubilee – “Grade ‘A’ Tomfoolery!”
Patty Duke to Star in REAF Special



COTTON PATCH GOSPEL -

This rousing musical is still one of the most produced musicals in the USA because Harry Chapin’s score grabs you by the seat of your pants and won’t let go.

The musical paraphrases the New Testament. It takes place in modern Georgia -- and the story is based on Jesus and the New Testament. It’s thrilling to hear the Blue Grass musicians along with the fresh, young new talents on the stage.

How does the Gospel translate to the 21st Century? Quite well. It brings up many questions during the musical. The one that really resonates is – would people recognize Jesus if he showed up in Georgia. Not likely.

The S—t kickin’ music starts with a fantastic “Somethin’s Brewin’ in Gainesville. “Then there is great harmony in “I Did It”. The song “Jubilation” brings up memories of hair – but without the Broadway glitz. There are promises that if you follow the gospel you’ll get “A Gold AmexCard”.

Harrod in this play is the Governor of Georgia. It’s such a camp – but so-so true.  Absolutely loved “Dangerous Man”. Think Sweeney Todd.

These electronic evangelists of the airwaves will keep your toes a tapping. Well, gee gosh – you might even be tempted to go up on the stage and get saved.  This is one of my favorite lines: A preacher questions why Jesus is preaching and drawing such big crowds. He complains: “Why would he do it for nothing?” And, of course, that nails the Churches to the cross and their constant asking for ‘small change!” What the heck – biz is biz. You just can’t compete with the Free Jesus out in front of your Church.

What you’ll see and hear at the Custom Made Theatre production is an evening of talent that matches Broadway performances. It’s Chair Rockin' Baby. And as one sings: “If you’ve got a problem – you must flush it out!” Yes you do, and yes they did.

Oh, and get this: Pontius Pilate (Preacher) is complaining that Jesus is operating without a permit to run a fast-food-joint. He says in his imperial way ‘”He’s serving 5,000 people a day, without a permit.” He’s such a nice guy. But, kind-a-dumb, wouldn’t you say?

EXTRAS: THE STORYTELLER – EDWARD HIGHTOWER IS A DYNAMO. HE HAS SPIRIT THAT ABSOLUTELY SOARS. ALL HAIL A NEW ECECTRIFING STAR.

THE AMAZING COTTON PATCH TRIO STARS KATIE KIMBALL, ERICA RICHARDSON AND RONA SIDIQUI. “WONDERFUL FLAT-OUT SINGING!”

THE COTTON PICKERS: PAMELA BRANDON – BASS. JOHN CROIZAT/DAVID FINCH – FIDDLE/MANDOLIN. JEFF (UNCLE JAKE) KAPLAN -- BANJO/GUITAR.   AND MATT LAUER, ALSO ON GUITAR. THEY BRING OUT THE TIMELESS MUSIC (Bluegrass) WITH EVERY NUANCE AND EVERY CRAZY NOTE WITH PRECISION NOT OFTEN HEARD. “THE PICKERS ARE SPELLBINDING!”

DIRECTOR: MARILYN LANGBEHN HAS GIVEN US AN INVENTIVE FRESH NEW TAKE ON THE MUSICAL.

M USICAL DIRECTOR RONA SIDDIQUI WORKED MAGIC. THE SET/SCENIC DESIGN BY LEWIS CAMPBELL IS CRISP AND POWERFUL. THE LIGHTING DESIGNER KEDAR LAWRENCE HAS KEPT THE MOOD GOING WITH FASCINATING AND EVOCATIVE PLAYS OF LIGHT AND SHADOW.

“The show is a triumph!”

RATING: FOUR GLASSES OF CHAMPAGNE!!!! (highest rating) – trademarked-


JUBILEE  -- AN EXQUISITE PRODUCTION! 

The 42nd Moon production of Jubilee is really something to celebrate. The impeccable ensemble lands every laugh with perfect timing. Dyan McBride (Eva Standing) is truly one of the most fun performances that I have seen in a long time. She match’s brittleness with heart and showy gestures of faux affection.

Back in time: Cole Porter and Moss Hart took a long luxury cruise to tour the world. They wrote this musical during the cruise. They used inside jokes about their famous friends; there is Johnny Weissmuller, Elsa Maxwell, Ginger Rogers, playwrights, a King, Queen, Princess and the Prince.

 The Princess is wooed by playwright/composer/actor Eric Dare. A hostile uprising forces the Royal family to abandon the palace. They romped around with commoners, and loved the freedoms of being on their own.

The musical opened on Broadway at the Imperial Theatre and ran for 169 performances. Here are some of the great/clever songs: “The Kling-Kling Bird on the Divi-Divi Tree”, “My Most intimate Friend”, “A Picture of Me Without You”, “Begin The Beguine”, “Just One Of Those Things”, and “Everybodee Who’s Anybodee.”

This is a warm, funny and tender musical. It’s a very special evening.  A perfect mix of Royalty, humor and commoners make the Cole Porter musical wildly enjoyable!

C.J. Blankenship (Mowgli) is the icing on the cake. He reveals almost all to the audience (sexy outfit) – and his voice is strong, vibrant. He makes a strong, assertive and sexy statement.

Megan Cavanagh (The Queen) – couldn’t be more stately. I was almost convinced that it was Queen Elizabeth. Benjamin Pither is always a delight. He plays Prince Rudolph, among several other characters. In fact he changed clothes so often that he must have been naked back stage most of the time as he slipped into one character after another in seconds. Zack Thomas Wilde (Eric Dare) was born to play the snob Playwright. Andrew Willlis-Woodward (Prince James) reminds of Ashton Kutcher in looks. He has that cinematic charm. It’s hard to not focus on him. But, then he is a Prince.

EXTRA: So many great actors and so little time. Everyone in the cast is so brilliant – here is the rest of the cast of thousands:
Peter Budinger, Derek Travis Collard (Prime Minister), Alison Ewing, Sarah Kathleen Farrell, Michael Patrick Gaffney (King), Juliet Heller (Princess Diana), Alexis Papedo, Celeste Russi and Justin Torres and Giana De Geiso (Lady Zendl, and others)  “REMARKABLE TALENTS!”

The spectacular Direction is by Greg MacKelllan. Dave Dobrusky, Musical Director is always the genius at the piano. And brilliant Choreographer Tom Segal is mind-blowingly fantastic.  The Costumes by Louise Jamilowicz are just fabulous. Every scene looks like it jumped right off the cover of the Saturday Evening Post. Visually stunning!

RATING: FOUR GLASSES OF CHAMPAGNE!!!!  (highest rating) –trademarked-

WHERE: 42ND MOON THEATRE at THE EUREKA THEATRE.  FOLLOW 42ND MOON ON TWITTER.

(((Lee Hartgrave has contributed many articles to the San Francisco Chronicle Sunday Datebook section and produced a long-running Arts Segment on PBS KQED)))

REAF PRESENTS A SPECIAL AT THE J’LaCHIC THEATRE 39

The one Night Event stars the terrific and fun Patty Duke is a star from the successful and wonderful “Wicked” at the Orpheum. Also you will love Lucie Arnaz, Broadway star and singer. Ron Abel will accompany Arnaz.

Then there is the American idol Star RJ Helton – he will make your socks roll up and down. Connie Champagne & Leanne Borghesi – Cabaret Stars will certain keep you guessing. You never know what they are up to. But whatever it is – is bound too be fun.

Another ‘Wicked’ star, Teal Wicks will also perform. And the wonderful Motown Singers Top Shelf. will bring down the walls. Well, not literally, I might be sitting next to one of them. But they will keep your toes tapping.

All the entertainers will ring in the Holidays with upbeat, high-energy music, dance and comedy. The One Night Only Cabaret raises funds to provide to direct them to services that help people with HIV/AIDS. To date, REAF has distributed over $2.25 million.

INFO: FOR TIX: 425-273-2620. Or online: http://www.helpisontheway/ 

Ask about the Dessert party with the cast following the show.

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