Thursday, January 17, 2019

A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder at HCT

Several years ago I had the opportunity to see the Broadway touring production of A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder and I thought it was one of the funniest shows that I had ever seen! I was absolutely thrilled when I learned that it would be a part of HCT's 2019 season! I got to see it last night and I laughed and laughed! After the death of his mother, Monty Navarro (Jacob Squire) learns that she was once a member of the wealthy and aristocratic D'Ysquith family but was disinherited for marrying his father. He is really Montague D'Ysquith Navarro and he is in line to inherit the earldom. However, there are eight family members in line ahead of him! When his vain and heartless girlfriend Sibella (Erin Royall Carlson) marries the rich and handsome Lionel Holland, he decides to murder all eight family members ahead of him in the succession to become the earl and win her back. Standing in his way are the Reverend Lord Ezekiel D'Ysquith (who has an unfortunate fall from a cathedral tower), Asquith D'Ysquith, Jr. (who has a bizarre ice skating accident), Henry D'Ysquith (who is stung by his hive of bees), Lady Hyacinth D'Ysquith (who disappears in deepest darkest Africa), Major Lord Bartholomew D'Ysquith (who is decapitated while lifting weights), Lady Salome D'Ysquith Pumphrey (who is killed by a prop gun with real bullets during her debut in Hedda Gabbler), Lord Asquith D'Ysquith, Sr. (who is driven to a heart attack), and, finally, Lord Adalbert D'Ysquith, the Earl of Highhurst (who is poisoned). The entire D'Ysquith family is played by Dallyn Vail Bayles and he is absolutely brilliant! I was sitting on the front row in the Jewel Box Theatre so I had a great view of his facial expressions and they are hilarious! I laughed out loud many times at his antics! Every member of the D'Ysquith family has a distinct personality. I loved them all but my favorites are the eccentric Reverend Ezekiel (there was a bit of a mishap with his prosthetic teeth but it was so funny how he played it off), the flamboyant Henry, and the over the top Lady Hyacinth. Along the way Monty falls in love with Phoebe D'Ysquith (Liza Zimmerman) and marries her to make Sibella jealous. Eventually, Monty becomes the Earl of Highhurst but he is arrested soon after for the murder of Lord Adalbert, the only D'Ysquith death for which he is not actually responsible! The charges are dismissed when both Phoebe and Sibella each give proof that the other one committed the murder! But Monty might not have long to live because Chauncey, another disinherited member of the D'Ysquith family, is lurking! The songs are all a lot of fun but my favorites are "I Don't Understand the Poor," "It's Better With a Man," "Lady Hyacinth Abroad," "Barrel of a Gun," and "That Horrible Woman."  Squire, Carlson, and Zimmerman have beautiful voices but I especially loved Bonnie Wilson Whitlock as Miss Shingle and Kacee Neff as Eugenia D'Ysquith, Countess of Highhurst, because they are such crazy characters. The set is incredibly clever with projections to depict the many locations. I especially liked the singing portraits of D'Ysquith ancestors at Highhurst Castle!  I loved this hilarious production and I can't recommend it enough! Get tickets (go here) as soon as possible!

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Bohemian Rhapsody Sing-Along

My obsession with Bohemian Rhapsody knows no bounds!  When I heard that there was a sing-along version showing in cinemas in the UK, I really hoped that it would reach the US!  When I learned that it would be in a theater near me I immediately bought a ticket and went on Saturday night.  I had heard complaints that people were not singing but I hoped for a fun and rowdy crowd.  As soon as I entered the theater I felt the energy and knew it would be completely awesome!  Sing-alongs (go here and here for others that I have attended) feature the full length movie with the lyrics to the songs on screen, much like Karaoke.  The crowd was a little bit tentative during "Somebody to Love" but once we got to "Fat Bottomed Girls" everyone was singing at full volume!  In the scenes where Queen performs "Killer Queen" on Top of the Pops and records "Seven Seas of Rhye" and "Bohemian Rhapsody," the words are not on the screen but we sang them any way, especially the Galileos!  Everyone stomped and clapped during "We Will Rock You" and it really felt as if we were at a Queen concert!  The absolute best part was the Live Aid concert.  We did the claps for "Radio Ga Ga" and we participated in Freddie's call and response (although we couldn't sustain the "Ay-Oh" for as long as Freddie did which made us all laugh).  By the time we got to "We Are The Champions," we all were swaying our arms in the air and we even applauded at the end of the concert.  They included the words to "Don't Stop Me Now" and "The Show Must Go On" in the credits and most of us stayed to sing these songs as well.  It was so much fun!  My only complaint is that, even though I know the words to every single song (I have listened to nothing but Queen since I saw the movie for the first time), I paid so much attention to the words on the screen that I missed some of what was happening.  I have seen this movie so many times that it didn't really matter but if you are seeing Bohemian Rhapsody for the first time I definitely recommend the regular format!  As far as I know, the sing-along will be in theaters through the rest of this week so check it out if you want to have a good time...

Tuesday, January 15, 2019


I found the trailer for Replicas to be very intriguing so I decided to see as part of my Friday night double feature.  Unfortunately, that decision was a mistake because this is a terrible movie.  William Foster (Keanu Reeves) is a scientist working at Bionyne who is trying to transfer neural pathways in the brain from a human host to a synthetic host.  His latest effort has been unsuccessful and he is feeling pressure from his boss (John Ortiz) and faces losing his funding.  When Foster takes his family on vacation they are involved in an accident that kills his wife and three children.  Grief stricken, he saves their neural pathways and coerces his colleague Ed (Thomas Middleditch) to clone their bodies so he can transfer their memories to their new brains.  When they are successful he learns the true nature of the company he works for and that his boss considers his family to be the property of Bionyne.  He figures out why his experiments have been failing and successfully transfers his own neural pathways into the synthetic host so it can fight everyone tracking his family.  While the concept for this movie is really interesting, the execution is filled with flaws.  The plot makes absolutely no sense.  How did Foster survive a car crash that killed his entire family with only a scratch on his forehead?  How was Ed suddenly able to clone three human beings after minimal success with animals?  How was Foster able to survive mapping his own neural pathways when his previous experiments required a donor who had died?   With a story this implausible I am sometimes willing to suspend my disbelief if I am given a reason to care.  There are big themes here but there is absolutely no exploration of the ethics involved in playing God.  The acting is abysmal.  Reeves is known for his flat monotone delivery but some of his line readings in this movie are so bad they elicited laughter from my audience (for the wrong reasons).  The CGI is a complete mess and the scenes where the synthetic robot attacks the bad guys (who are all wearing black suits so we can tell that they are villains) are so bad I had to wonder about the budget for this movie.  Even if you thought the trailer looked interesting definitely give this a miss!

Monday, January 14, 2019

The Upside

On Friday night I decided to see a double feature and began with The Upside.  I usually don't read reviews and make my decision to see a movie based on the trailer.  This usually works (except in the case of the second movie in my double feature) and I am certainly glad I didn't read the reviews for this movie because I probably wouldn't have seen it and I would have missed out.  Phillip Lacasse (Bryan Cranston) is a billionaire quadriplegic looking for a new caregiver.  Dell (Kevin Hart) has recently been paroled and needs to find a job to avoid going back to jail.  He applies for a job as a janitor in a high-rise building but accidentally takes the elevator to the penthouse instead of the basement and interviews with Phillip and his assistant, Yvonne (Nicole Kidman).  Phillip decides to hire the vastly unqualified Dell, against the objections of Yvonne, because he is depressed and wants a caregiver who will respect his DNR order.  As the two get to know each other, Phillip finds a will to live again and Dell starts rebuilding his relationship with his son.  This movie is so funny!  Hart and Cranston have great chemistry together and have great comedic timing (I usually find Hart to be a bit too frenetic).  Comedies are a hard sell for me but I actually laughed out loud many times, as did everyone in my packed screening.  My favorite scenes are when Dell gets some marijuana for Phillip to help with nerve pain, when Phillip takes Dell to the opera, and when Dell has to change Phillip's catheter. I also found it to be quite heartwarming which is something that I am finding to be more and more appealing.  This feel-good movie did a lot to help me get over a really long week and I recommend it!

Sunday, January 13, 2019

On the Basis of Sex

Ever since I saw the documentary RBG, I've been a huge fan of Ruth Bader Ginsburg so I have been eagerly awaiting the release of On the Basis of Sex.  I was able to see a Thursday preview and it is so good.  This movie chronicles Ruth Bader Ginsbug's time as one of the first female law students at Harvard University, her inability to find a position at any NYC law firm despite graduating at the top of her class because she is a woman, her time as a professor at Rutgers Law School, and her role in a ground breaking sex discrimination case.  Ginsburg (Felicity Jones) is given a tax case by her husband Marty (Armie Hammer) in which a Denver man was denied a deduction for caring for his sick mother because he is a bachelor and caregiving roles traditionally belong to women.  Inspired to fight for the rights of women by her daughter Jane (Cailee Spaeny), she decides to take it because, if she can get a ruling on a case involving sex discrimination against a man, it will set a precedent that can be used against cases involving sex discrimination against women.  She, along with her husband and Mel Wulf (Justin Theroux) of the ACLU, files an appeal in the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, writes the brief, and, despite the fact that she has very little experience arguing cases, gives an impassioned speech about how the world has changed and the law needs to change with it.  I found this movie to be incredibly inspiring because I had no idea how many laws discriminating on the basis of sex actually existed and there were many times when I wanted to cheer out loud.  There is a moment at the end when Ruth walks up the stairs to the Supreme Court to argue her next case when everyone in my screening applauded.  One of the things I really enjoyed about RBG is Ginsburg's mutually supportive marriage to Marty and it is portrayed exceptionally well in this movie (I loved the scene with Marty chopping vegetables for dinner).  Jones and Hammer give outstanding performances, especially in their scenes together.  I think I prefer RBG because it is more comprehensive but I really loved this movie and I highly recommend it!
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