Watching ‘In a Better World’ after Hurricane Irene

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After losing electricity on Sunday — along with a few million of my East Coast neighbors — I had enough battery power stored in my portable DVD player to watch one movie. Should it be a fun escapist flick from my collection — “Road House” anyone? — or something important that I hadn’t seen yet? […] [Read More]

‘Gatsby’: the perfect end-of-the-summer beach book

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Danielle Ganek writes sophisticated romantic comedy that doesn’t seem to fit neatly into the “chick lit” niche of the book publishing industry. The New Yorker made a splashy debut in 2007 with the novel “Lulu Meets God and Doubts Him” which took us deep into the Chelsea gallery scene in New York City. Ganek’s lightly […] [Read More]

‘Olive’: turning New York City bile into hilarity

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In “Olive and the Bitter Herbs,” downtown cult playwright Charles Busch seems to be channeling the New York City Jewish angst that powered Neil Simon in his peak years (the late 1960s and 1970s). Simon was a master of turning sarcasm and hostility into uproarious comedy — he knew how to turn Manhattan Jewish humor […] [Read More]

Is this the end of the road for ‘Final Destination’?

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“Final Destination 5″ has been fizzling at the box office since it opened a-week-and-a-half ago, so we have probably reached the end of one of the most unusual and most interesting horror film series. Unlike most of the shocker franchises, “Final Destination” has no serial killers or monsters or even “villains” in the conventional sense. They’re films […] [Read More]

‘Unsaid’: grief, ghosts and the rights of animals

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Animal rights issues are percolating in two of the best summer movies — the science-fiction documentary “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” and the horse trainer documentary “Buck.” “Rise” puts us on the side of the apes as they revolt and begin to take over the planet. “Buck” shows us a remarkably humane man […] [Read More]

‘Completeness’: romantic comedy is alive & well on 42nd St.

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Playwrights Horizons on West 42nd St. is starting its new season with a fresh, youthful romantic comedy, “Completeness” by Itamar Moses. I caught the second preview performance Saturday night and am happy to report the show is already in great shape; it should find favor with audiences who are weary of the tired formulas that […] [Read More]

‘Life 2.0’: a big step beyond pornography and phone sex

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The Oprah Winfrey Network will unveil a new documentary Thursday at 9 p.m. — “Life 2.0” — that explores the world of people who start substituting life online for “real world” encounters. Director Jason Spingarn-Koff zeroes in on customers of the Second Life virtual reality website, but the sensitive and engrossing 90-minutes could apply to […] [Read More]

Coming: riveting Wall Street expose ‘Confidence Game’

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The financial disasters of recent years have some produced excellent documentaries including the Oscar-winning “Inside Job” and “Client 9.” The other night I watched an advance screener of another gripping Wall Street doc in the pipeline — “Confidence Game” — which zeroes in on the final week in the life of Bear Stearns which was […] [Read More]

‘HotelMotel’: sex therapy and drug running on E. 27th St.

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For those of us who have been following The Amoralists for a few years, the announcement that they were going to produce two plays in a Manhattan hotel room didn’t come as that much of a surprise. The acting troupe and their resident playwright Derek Ahonen have stressed realism and a direct connection with the […] [Read More]

‘Sweet Smell of Success’ gets the Criterion treatment

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Art and rep movie houses might be dead or dying in this age of mass releases and multiplexes, but The Criterion Collection makes it possible for you to set up shop in your own home. Classics foreign and domestic are presented on DVD from the best possible prints and the “extras” always merit that label. […] [Read More]