Sunday, May 20, 2018


Last night I went to see the film Disobedience and it was an incredibly poignant experience for me.  I live in a very conservative community and I have several LGBTQ friends who have been disowned by their religious families so I was very eager to see how this film treated the subject.  Ronit Krushka (Rachel Weisz) is a New York photographer who is devastated by the news that her father, a distinguished Rabbi in an Orthodox Jewish congregation in London, has died.  She returns to her childhood home and, without a lot of exposition, it is clear that the community regards her with a mixture of curiosity and scorn.  She reconnects with Dovid (Alessandro Nivolo), a protege of her father's who is poised to take his place, and Esti (Rachel McAdams), another childhood friend.  She is stunned to learn that the two of them are married.  Through a series of interactions between the two women that are fraught with tension (it is a very slow burn) we learn that they once had a sexual relationship and were condemned by the community.  Ronit is rebellious and left but the repressed Esti submitted to the will of the Rabbi and dutifully married Dovid in order to "cure" herself.  Neither woman is happy in her choice and they eventually resume their relationship, bringing consequences for Esti.  The final resolution left me a bit conflicted because, while they seem to find a way to reconcile their sexuality with their faith, it is rather vague and I don't know if their choices will bring them happiness. I know that many of my LGBTQ friends still believe even after they have escaped the repression and it torments them (Utah has one of the highest suicide rates in the country).  Both Weisz and McAdams are incredible, giving highly nuanced performances, and their love scenes are passionate and romantic (aside from one bewildering element).  Nivolo is also good as a deeply religious man caught between his duty and his love for his wife.  It is more than just a film about forbidden love and I would recommend it for its powerful exploration of the freedom to disobey.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Utah Opera's Die Fledermaus

Utah Opera ended their 40th Anniversary Season, rather appropriately, with the pop of a champagne cork in a delightful production of Johann Strauss Jr.'s Die Fledermaus.  I was able to see this opera last night and it was the perfect way to end a stressful week.  Prince Orlofsky (Abigail Levis) is throwing a ball and Falke (Troy Cook) is using it as an opportunity to play a practical joke on his friend Eisenstein (Daniel Belcher) as revenge for abandoning him in the middle of town wearing a bat costume.  He contrives to get Eisenstein to go to the ball as Marquis Renard instead of reporting to jail for insulting an official.  He also arranges for his wife Rosalinde (Sara Gartland) to attend as a masked Hungarian countess, as well as his maid Adele (Abigail Rethwisch) and the warden of the prison (Christopher Clayton) who are also using assumed names.  Hilarity ensues as everyone attempts to conceal their identities while having fun at the ball (with a little champagne).  Meanwhile, Rosalinde's former lover Alfred (Robert Breault) has reported to jail in Eisenstein's place to keep from compromising her.  When Eisenstein arrives at the jail in the morning and discovers him there, he confronts Rosalinde over her behavior bust she reveals that she is the Hungarian countess that he flirted with at the ball!  The story is so much fun to watch (it sounds convoluted but it is actually very easy to follow) and I found myself laughing out loud on multiple occasions.   The music is incredible and all of the songs are sung in English in this production.  My favorites were "Adele's Laughing Song" and the "Champagne Song."  The entire cast is wonderful but my favorite was definitely Levis as Orlofsky, whose antics are completely over the top.  The choreography, and the addition of four professional dancers to the cast, greatly enhances the party atmosphere and I loved the opulent costumes and sets.  I had so much fun watching this opera, almost as if I had also had a glass of champagne!  I highly recommend getting a ticket to the one remaining performance (go here)!

Friday, May 18, 2018

Deadpool Double Feature

Last night I went to a double feature of Deadpool and Deadpool 2 and it was so much fun!  I thought the first movie was absolutely hilarious (and I really enjoyed seeing it again) so I have been anticipating the sequel for quite a while.  Everything that I loved about the first movie was bigger and better in this one!  A drug lord that Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds) was unable to kill follows him home to attack him and ends up killing Vanessa (Morena Baccarin).  To help him through his grief, Colossus (Stefan Kapicic) and Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand) once again try to recruit him as a member of the X-Men.  As a trainee,  Deadpool accompanies them when they are called to respond to a standoff at an orphanage for mutants.  They encounter Firefist (Julian Dennison) and learn that Cable (Josh Brolin), a mutant soldier from the future, wants to kill him in order to stop him from killing his family in the future.  Deapool decides to assemble his own team, calling them the X-Force, to stop Cable because he feels that Firefist is worth saving.  In addition to the snarky humor, the self-awareness, the breaking of the fourth wall, the cheesy pop songs (the montage to "9 to 5" by Dolly Parton just about killed me), and the epic action sequences, I really loved the character arc for Deadpool in this installment.  He comes to the realization that killing is not necessarily the way to solve every problem.  There was real heart and a bit of humanity in the character which was quite unexpected.  Just like with the first movie I laughed out loud during the opening credits (a spoof of the Bond opening credits) and that was certainly not the last time I did so.  There are so many hilarious references and I'm sure I didn't catch them all!  I really liked Cable as a villain because he has a sympathetic backstory and I really liked Zazie Beetz as Domino, a member of the X-Force.  This movie is just a little bit naughty but it is so entertaining!  If you liked the first movie, you will absolutely love this one!

Note:  There are some hilarious mid-credits scenes (one made me laugh out loud) so definitely stay for those!

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Sunset Boulevard

Last night I took my Mom to see Sunset Boulevard as part of the TCM Big Screen Classics series and we both loved it.  I had seen the Andrew Lloyd Webber stage musical but I had never seen the Billy Wilder classic film before and I was really excited for the opportunity to see it for the first time on the big screen!  Joe Gillis (William Holden) is a down and out Hollywood screenwriter who turns into a driveway on Sunset Boulevard to avoid having his car repossessed.  The driveway belongs to Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson) a former actress of silent movies who has been forgotten but lives in a fantasy world where she is still a star.  She is aided and abetted in this fantasy by her butler Max (Erich von Stroheim) who is in reality her first director Max von Mayerling and her first husband.  Gillis cunningly arranges a job writing a screenplay for Desmond and moves into her mansion.  Soon Gillis realizes that Desmond is in love with him and he tries to leave but, when she threatens suicide, he returns to her to become a kept man.  When Desmond's illusions of making a Hollywood comeback are dashed and she realizes that Gillis is in love with someone else, she comes undone in one of the most famous scenes in film.  Sunset Boulevard is a classic example of film noir with atmospheric lighting, black and white cinematography, and a pessimistic portrayal of the underbelly of Hollywood.  I also think it is a great example of a dark comedy.  Both my Mom and I found ourselves laughing but immediately stifled that laughter because it seemed inappropriate given the drama.  Swanson gives the performance of her career and, while she is imperious and hysterical, she is somehow incredibly sympathetic as a woman trapped in the past.  Holden is very charismatic (and quite good looking) as a man who despises what he has become but can't bring himself to leave.  The production design is incredible.  Desmond's house is suitably ghoulish and ostentatious (I particularly loved all of the photos of her in her glory days) and her costumes are fantastic (the feathers!).  I am glad that I finally had the chance to see such a classic movie and it was so much fun with my Mom!

Sunday, May 13, 2018

A Day in Las Vegas

I love Las small doses.  It is a really fun place with lots to see and do but it can also provide sensory overload.  I can only handle it for about a day so I usually plan short excursions to Sin City.  The reason for my most recent excursion was the U2 concert last Friday night but I got there early in the afternoon with some time to play.  My base of operations was the MGM Grand and from there I ventured out to the famous Strip.  I am a people-watcher and the people here put on quite the show but I soon become very weary of all of the hustlers on the street trying to get you to come to various shows (be careful about accepting any flyers from people, trust me on this!).
The Las Vegas Golden Knights have made it to the semifinal round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs in their very first year in existence and the whole city is incredibly excited which was really fun to see.  There were banners and billboards everywhere but my favorite show of support was the jersey on the Statue of Liberty at the New York, New York Hotel.  By the way, now that my Colorado Avalanche are out of the playoffs I have temporarily transferred my affections to the Knights!
Of course, no visit to Las Vegas (or any other major city, for that matter) would be complete without a visit to the Hard Rock Cafe.  I started the tradition of collecting pins at the first HRC I visited (in London) and now I have hundreds of them.  I didn't get another one from this one because I have so many but I had lunch.  My waiter looked like Daveed Diggs and he flirted with me outrageously!  I continued wandering around for a while and then went back to the hotel for a quick nap.
The concert was in the brand-new T-Mobile Arena and it was pretty amazing (so was the concert).  I especially loved all of the Stanley Cup Playoff banners all over the arena.  I had a lot of fun on this quick trip (I will be back in one month to see Hamilton again) and it was just what I needed to make it through the final weeks of school!
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