Saturday, May 30, 2015


The Visit's Chita Rivera Has My Vote for Tony for Best Actress in a Musical

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Recently I had the opportunity to see The Visit on Broadway. Swiss dramatist Friedrich Durrenmatt's tragicomic play Der Besuch der Alten Dame (The Visit) is a tale of sweet revenge. It's always been one of my favorites. And this production is masterful. As a musical it is magic. Legendary Tony Award-winning duo John Kander and Fred Ebb have served up the music and are nominated for Tony's.
And while The Visit is nominated for Best Musical, it is made magical by none other than Chita Rivera. Ms. Rivera, at the remarkable age of 82, brings vivid life to Claire Zachanassian. Her portrayal of Claire is chilling. Riveting. Regal. And above all sympathic. Ms. Rivera makes Claire Zachanassian a loving heroine. She gives understanding as to why Claire, who becomes the richest woman in the world, bought off her hometown inhabitants to murder the man who jilted her in her youth. Feeling worthless, sexless, Claire was propelled into a life of promiscuous sex. A whore she became and sings her sadness from her core. As a whore, she went on to become the wife of seven men who left her fortunes. Ms. Rivera owns the stage and sings about the denigrating life that her former lover--the only true love of her life-- Anton Schell caused her to be reduced to. Claire wisely turns her humiliation and denigration into cash. Durrenmatt sardonically serves up the role of wealthy wife and whore and how they can relate. But it is Ms. Rivera's lilting yet commanding voice that gives sympathy to her suffering. Because of her love for Anton Schell, she is consumed with a desire to pay off her entire hometown-- who witnessed her being jilted and who falsely testified against her-- to murder him. The denizens of this dilapidated, despicable village represent universal greed, another theme of The Visit. As is corruption of the sexist judicial system. The corrupt Judge of this town takes Claire's child with Anton from her by paying off witnesses to testify against her. These evil, greedy witnesses paint Claire as the town whore instead of the faithful lover of Anton Schell who is the true father of her baby. Because of these dishonest, paid-off witnesses, Claire loses her beloved baby. The Visit is about revenge, greed, a corrupt judicial system, sexism and ultimately love.
Chita Rivera brings sympathy to murderess Claire Zachanassian who wants to bring Anton Schell's coffin to her home in Italy and finally in death separate him from the woman he married instead of her, so that Claire Zachanassian and Anton Schell can be together for the rest of her life. After Anton's body is placed in the coffin, Ms. Rivera strokes it with tenderness with her one good hand. Her other hand is plastic. Her one leg is wooden. She has suffered, but with Anton Schell's dead body by her side, she smiles and suffers no more. Ironically playwrite Terrence Mc Nally who wrote The Visit is nominated for Best Book of a Musical. John Doyle, two time Tony Award winner (Sweeney Todd), has directed The Visit and Tony winner Roger Rees co-stars with Ms. Rivera.
My only criticism of The Visit was the lack of pomp and circumstance of Ms. Rivera's entrance. The coffin needed to be brought onto stage with a grand, majestic, sinister air, but it merely appeared on stage surrounded by two eunuchs and a servant wearing a top hat. In some versions of the play live cheetahs drew a gold chariot holding the coffin. But this weakness did not take away from Ms. Rivera's performance which has deservedly earned her a nomination for a Tony as Best Actress in a Musical. Based on what I saw of her performance in the Visit, she has my vote.
After Chita Rivera's mesmerizing singing, dancing and acting, my friend Heather Mac Rae, took me backstage to meet her. Heather had replaced Diane Keaton in the original Broadway production ofHair so going to a play with Heather opens up a world of backstage glamor. We climbed up a spiral staircase as I huffed and puffed, amazed that Ms. Rivera does this for each performance.
"How do you do those stairs at 82?" I asked her as she continued to radiate enthusiasm. She just laughed as I struggled to catch my breath and was so proud to shake the hand of the woman who should win the Tony for Best Actress in a Musical... And who is a true beauty and radiant spirit up close and personal.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015


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Movie Review -- Tomorrowland... Hang in There

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Tomorrowland begins when Academy Award winner George Clooney enters the story perhaps twenty minutes in. Gorgeous George bursts on the screen and makes it all happen with his quirky, thoughtful, quizzical caring reactions. His ability to listen and his cockamamy facial expressions say more than the dialogue. He makes Tomorrowland. Disney's science fiction fantasy is slow in its set up that reverts to the past then zippidy do da's into the future with Tim Mc Graw holding down the present. Yawns can happen early on, but if you hang in there you will be mesmerized by the creative minds at work that blast off midway through the film. There is a bit of the Wizard of Oz and a bit of Hugo. Surprises keep happening and move the plot along like a beautiful flower blossoming. Two-time Oscar winner Brad Bird directs this mystery, adventure which is also written by Bird, Jeff Jensen and Damon Lindelof.
The plot begins in the past. Boy genius Frank (Clooney played skillfully as a child by Thomas Robinson), fails at his experiment to fly with a jet pack into space, but instead flies into a corn field. An adult Frank meets up with Casey (Britt Robertson), a precocious teen filled with a scientific knowledge and together they take off on a journey to unlock the secrets of a mysterious place called Tomorrowland. A sophomoric thesis and a lecturing of 'let's save the planet' routine are worthy of stuffing your ears with cotton during their preaching, but please ignore and enjoy the splendor of the special effects and fine acting. Clooney is top notch. Britt Robertson a distant third and a robot named Athena (Raffey Cassidy) steals the acting kudos.
Tim Mc Graw is fine as Casey's pop and the talented Hugh Laurie plays a monstrous Nix, a character determined to destroy Earth. Just ignore the plot and enjoy a child's fantasy with space ships contained within the Eiffel Tower and a spooky farm houses filled with computers and technology worthy of the CIA (shades of Enemy of the State). This is a fun movie. Don't look too closely, but sit back and enjoy. And you, too, will have a good time. You do not need to be seven to have a good time viewing Tomorrowland.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015


I am within this documentary and am referred to as Robin Williams former girlfriend.  I believe with proper support and nurturing care Robin could still be with us and say this in this film.


After His Art was Destroyed in 9/11, Ronald Mallory's Creative Muse is Back!

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On April 24, at a private VIP opening at the new 220,000 sq. ft., Renzo Piano-designed Whitney Museum in Manhattan's Meatpacking District, Ronald Mallory's contained mercury sculpture will be on display. Purchased by the Whitney in 1968 this black and silver piece is motorized kinetic art. It rotates every two minutes and has an exploding orgasmic sensuality when the mercury hits an air pocket. Mesmerizing. That's it!
And Mallory's life like his dedication to his art has been explosive. On 9/11 his magnificent painting of the Andrea Doria at the Windows of the World on the 106th floor of the World Trade Center was destroyed by terrorists. Could Mallory create again? His muse had been pummeled. He was haunted by the question, "Why make art?" After a period of mourning, Mallory's tortured muse began to paint, one stroke at a time. His recovery was slow. Music helped as well as living in the gentle climate of Mexico where he resides.
Finally Ron Mallory's muse is back on track. Today he creates in his studio daily preparing for a show in Paris at the RCM Gallery on the Rue de Lille beginning 10/29/2015 through 11/30. The show will feature mixed media and 9 mercury sculptures created from 1973 to 2013. Like his kinetic art Mallory rotates from creating sculpture to oil on canvas. He even designs jewelry when inspired. In 2016 he will have a show at the Patrick Parrish Gallery in N.Y.'s West Village.
However on April 24, he will be making an appearance at the Private Opening of the Whitney.
In 1966, he first gathered acclaim exhibiting his mercury wonders at the Stable Gallery along with Warhol. His sculptures went on to be purchased by: the Museum of Modern Art NYC, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Cooper Hewitt, the Chase, the Albright Knox, the Lannan Foundation, the Aldrich Museum, LACM and many more notable institutions.
Like the Court painters of yore, handsome Ron Mallory has a gift of socializing with collectors. He had been spotted at dinner parties at the home of collector extraordinaire J. Patrick Lannan, at lunch with Princess Grace and Prince Rainier on the yacht of producer Sam Spiegel, at dinner with the Shah of Iran at the Palace Hotel in St. Moritz, sailing on the Mediterranean seas, having aperitifs with a King of Spain at the port of St. Tropez. But Mallory's attraction for the jet set lifestyle and its attraction for him have never taken his focus away from his dedicated muse who has kept him creating through all the chintz and glitz of St. Tropez, Sardinia, Venice, Megeve, Paris, Milan, London etc. For me Ronald Mallory is reminiscent of Edouard Manet. Like many of his paintings, Manet was a contradiction, both bourgeoisie and common, conventional and radical. A year after the first impressionist exhibit, he was offered the opportunity to draw illustrations for Edgar Allan Poe's book-length French edition of "The Raven." In 1881, the French government awarded him the L├ęgion d'honneur.
Forever the artist, Mallory still can be found jetting from Mexico to New York to Paris and back again to his humble studio in Estado de Mexico eager to play some classical music and to pick up a brush or to create a mercury masterpiece.


Movie Review: The Water Diviner... Russell Crowe Should Crow About

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A tender, soulful Russell Crowe makes The Water Diviner work. Crowe as a farmer who has lost his wife and three sons gives a masterful performance. Russell Crowe not only stars in this epic, but has directed The Water Diviner and proves his Oscar -winning talent for best actor needs no direction. Instead of seeing New Zealand born-Australian bred Crowe flex his pecks as he did in his early days as The Gladiator we see him portray the gentle farmer, Connor, who has an uncanny gift to locate water in the driest parts of the Australian Outback. Connor is a tortured man who mourns his missing three sons who fought in the Ottoman Empire during the Battle of Gallipoli in 1914. Connor had promised his wife to bury their sons next to her and so he sets out on a journey to Turkey to find their bones and remains.
The filming of Istanbul and the Turkish countryside is spectacular as is the authenticity of the turn of the century sets and period costumes. Dark sepia tones dominate the film and create the somber mood as Connor travels from Australia to Turkey by boat, horseback and antiquated locomotive. The acting of the entire cast of relative unknowns is first rate.
Recently on CBS Sunday Morning Crowe said how he longed for the day when he could only direct. He had to cast himself as the star in The Water Diviner because he needed to do so to get financing. Crowe said, "Directing was the most complete experience because so much is under your control. This is the language I speak."
The writing by Andrew Knight and Andrew Anastasios is original and uses flash backs to fill in the gaps in the story line which moves quickly. The folly and futility of war are the themes of The Water Diviner as well as a faith based perseverance. Pity the ending is flawed, and has a scotch tape feel to it in an otherwise heart wrenching tale.
The Turkish actor Yilmaz Erdogan as Major Hasan is particularly outstanding. Major Hasan could possibly have killed Connors sons and yet they form a friendship that defies the hatred that is normally associated with the wartime enemy. Spectacular beauty and Quantum of Solace Bond girl Olga Kurylenko as Ayshe portrays a widow and adds a much needed love interest to an occasionally too bleak scenario.
What bothered me was the implausibility of a man searching for his sons' corpses and being willing to uproot his life from is vast farm in the Australian Outback to chase helter skelter to Turkey for charred remains. But his journey justifies my inaccurately perceived futility. This is Hollywood in the Outback with a sojourn to Istanbul folks! Just go with it. If feeling good is to your liking, see The Water Diviner.

Saturday, April 4, 2015


Movie Review: Furious Seven ...Fabulous!
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Furious Seven is the best in this franchise. Fresh. Crazy. Riveting. Cars parachuted from an airplane in a sequence that will raise your blood pressure. The team is back! Vin Diesel heads the charge. The sounds of the revving of engines, the double clutching, the down shifting, the brakes screeching become characters onto themselves and make you feel as though you are in the driver's seat. And some seat to be in. These men do it again. Original, imaginative, action scenes never before filmed.
And there is a tender tribute to Paul Walker (Brian O'Connor) at the end that is welcomed by the audience with deferential silence.
Vin Diesel (Dominic Torretto) leads the pack of mercenaries who take on Jason Strathan (Deckard Shaw) who is seeking revenge for the death of his brother. Shaw is killing Torretto's men one by one. Vin Diesel has sex appeal that is raw and refreshing while Jason Strathan has a polished, manicured tough guy look. The one two wallop of these refreshingly macho men keeps you on the edge of your denim as does the courage of Torretto's gang
Kurt Russell (Mr. Nobody) a shady government official contacts Torretto to help him retrieve God's Eye, a computer program that can turn technology into a weapon. A terrorist from Somalia, Jakande (Djimon Hounsou, is also trying to get God's Eye. A woman computer expert, Nathalie Emmanuel, (Ramsey) is the only hacker who can hack into God's Eye and she is held captive by Jakande. Mr. Nobody backs Torretto in his efforts to off killer Shaw, who is out to destroy Torretto's family. Mr. Nobody's deal is if Torretto will retrieve God's Eye for Mr. Nobody, he will give Toretto arms and technology to get Shaw. Dwayne Johnson (Hobbs), Michele Rodriguez (Letty), Tyrese Gibson (Roman), Ludicris (Taj), Elsa Pataky (Elena) Gal Gadot (Gisele), Lucas Black (Sean) round out the cast. Gibson and Ludicris add humor needed to play off the action sequences and Rodriguez is her usual brave, pit bull of a woman whose feisty nature charms. These actors engage in individual fights for survival which criss cross as the tension mounts.
Director James Wan triumphs with his masterful direction. The editing is terrific as Furious 7 is a series of stories with a big cast that is cut in such a way to keep you guessing and guessing as it spirals and builds into one huge thrill. Chris Morgan and Gary Thompson have written this with a gusto and spirit about characters you care about. This franchise has legs and can surely go on to Furious 8. But don't miss Furious 7 and decide for yourself.

Saturday, March 28, 2015


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Movie Review: 'Get Hard' ... Not Sure

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Not sure about this one. Kevin Hart is terrific. Will Ferrell starts broad while setting up plot, but his performance is forced. Whereas Hart, who plays it straight, is a delight. Once the plot is in full swing Ferrell's comedic wings take off. Nevertheless it is Hart who -- when he segues into doing characters -- is like lightening. But where was the director? In a magnificent scene in which Hart plays three characters while Ferrell stands dumbfounded, director Etan Cohen was needed by these great talents, but this scene goes on too long which kills the humor. Director Cohen (Men in Black 3) is responsible for the missteps in this clever comedy. The timing is off in several scenes and Get Hard goes on too long.
The plot is unique. Ferrell, James King, is a millionaire airhead who is found to have committed fraud in his investment firm. Hart (Darnell) has washed his cars regularly. King is sentence to San Quentin. Darnell convinces King that within moments of entering prison King will be initiated into being someone's bitch. King believes Darnell who lies that he has been in jail which gives him license to give lessons to King in how not to be sexually assaulted in jail. Craig T. Nelson plays Martin, the head of the investment firm, which employs King. Nelson does so with flair and perfect timing. Jay Martel, Ian Roberts, Adam Mc Kay, and Etan Cohen wrote this story and screenplay in which King is sentenced to San Quentin. Darnell demands $30,000 from King for Darnell to teach him how to protect him from being assaulted and raped by inmates. These lessons include graphic set-ups in which King fakes oral sex with a man in a urinal. These overt attempts at humor fail, but the smooth interaction between members of the hood and King are hilarious and show Ferrell's skills to the max. The leader of the hood, Russell, who is played by T.I., is magnificent. His acting is so real, so natural, that all the shtick going on around him works. T.I. is magic.
As to whether or not King goes to San Quentin, you will have to discover by seeing this film. It is worth a gander, but do not go out of your way to see a cameo by John Mayer and an uneven performance by the beloved Will Ferrell. Ferrell's performance is uneven only due to the poor direction and the ho-hum writing in the screenplay though it is based on a clever story. Kevin Hart steals this one. Your price of admission will be justified just to see Hart.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015


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Run, Don't Walk, to Final Days of Natvar Bhavsar Exhibit at Tower49 Gallery N.Y.C.

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Recently, I visited New York to see an exhibition of Natvar Bhavsar's magnificent paintings at the Tower49 Gallery. Natu's wife, Janet, and I had taught art together in suburban Philadelphia when I first met Natu. The enclosed photo of Janet, Natu and me is taken in front of my favorite canvas of his titled,THEER-A-THEER-A.
Janet, Natu and Carole
Tower 49 Gallery is displaying these splendid works of pure pigments, acrylic and oil mediums on canvas. Rang Rasa (Transcendent Color), is an exhibition of his luminous works shown until March 15. Spanning over forty years, the exhibition comprises seventeen large scale compositions on canvas and six works on paper. His technique of sifting and layering dry pigments over canvases laid on the floor was inspired by Rangoli, a festival ritual in which patterns are designed on the floors of interior and exterior domestic spaces. When Natu describes this process, he recalls memories of Holi, a Hindu holiday in which celebrants douse one another in water infused with brightly colored pigments.
Rang Rasa incorporates two Sanskrit words that express an ecstatic spirituality achieved through color and the practice of one's art -- they also aptly define the aesthetic sensibilities and ethereal aspects of Natvar Bhavsar's work.
Natu recently celebrated his 80th birthday, and upon reflection recalls, "I have engaged my last sixty years in the quest guided by an inner spiritual force and the requisite knowledge of my profession as an artist."
Natu, who was born in Gujurat, India, came to the U.S. in 1962. After a year of undergraduate study in Philadelphia, he was accepted into the graduate art department at the University of Pennsylvania. At this time he met my friend Janet Brosious who today is a skilled photographer and also has had museum shows celebrating her talent.
Today they live in lower Manhattan in a loft.
"Would you like to have lunch near Rockefeller Center," Natu asked as we proceeded to a tiny bistro nearby.
"Congratulations," I said to Natu. "Your work is mesmerizing."
"Thank you, Carole. Good to see you. What brings you to N.Y.?"
"I wanted to see your show and some old friends, Heather Mac Rae and Geraldine Smith."
"Well, we're sure happy to see you. I remember Heather. Wasn't she in Hair," Janet asked.
"That's right."
After lunch, I returned to Geraldine's apartment in Manhattan Plaza where I was staying. A former Warhol superstar, Geraldine and I had a dinner with Heather who was in the midst of packing for a six week stint in Kansas celebrating Hair, in which she will sing her show stopper, "Easy to be Hard." In the middle of dinner another old friend, the author Paul Alexander, known for his biographies on Sylvia Plath, James Dean and Andy Warhol joined us. It felt good to listen to Paul and Geri reminisce about Andy.
Geri, Heather, Paul and Carole
But it felt better to return to my cozy apartment near the snow covered battlefields of Valley Forge, now home.


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Movie Review: Run All Night -- Here We Go Again!

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Liam Neeson does it again. He not only has you care about his character, but the whole dang movie. Even if he is a retired hit man. Even if the plot is similar to Taken 1, 2 or 300. But this time Neeson is protecting his 'son' from some real bad ass duds. They are so bad they take the whole movie and run all night...did I say that? Yes I did, cause this is the plot. Running, car chasing, evading, hijacking, mauling, shooting, stabbing, bang bang and more people are dead. Yet you care. The camera work is a character onto itself. Stop action, flash, rhythmic, fast paced. Colors splash. Downtrodden areas of NY at night have rarely looked this good. And all the while you are caught up in this high octane chase following Neeson, aka big daddy bear, Jimmy Conlon, protecting his innocent cub, played skillfully by Joel Kinnaman, as Mike Conlon.
Gangster Ed Harris, as Shawn MacGuire, is Neeson's good friend until Neeson offs MacGuire's son, acted with sinister intent and a totally bent M.O. by Boyd Holbrook. Now there is trouble galore in the Big Apple. Big time. But always at night. You want to scream, "Hey, I've seen this all before," but you can't 'cause it's too darn good. Neeson as the protective father is so good that you just want to save his life. Forever. However this is an impossibility. Run for your Life, begins with a Neeson in the woods with a very large wound in his side. Then we back flip to some 16 hours earlier.
Jaume Collet-Serra directs with pistol-like momentum. Once the set up is established between Ed Harris and Liam Neeson, the well-oiled, action packed, machine of a thriller begins to fly. Brad Ingelsby has written some fine dialogue, but Run All Night is a visual film. A don't blink film. A no bathroom or popcorn break or you might miss something film. Genesis Rodriguez plays Gabrielle, the wife of Mike Conlon with sensitivity, but, oh, did I miss some bad ass female cops like the Fast and Furious sagas employ. Please more women in films, please?
With all the macho evil, Vincent D'Onofero as Detective Harding, adds a balance. D'Onofero has a genuine, sincere, delivery that makes you believe there may be some good cops out there. And with the powerful performance by professional killer Common who plays Mr. Price you need some light in this bleak histoire.
Enfin a good time was had --though there were moments where the violence was cringe worthy. Catch Run All Night, but not on an empty stomach.