‘Follies’: sprucing up Stephen Sondheim’s 1971 masterpiece

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The big news in Broadway musical fan circles this week is the release of a new limited edition CD of the original cast album of “Follies,” the 1971 show that Stephen Sondheim did with co-directors Harold Prince and Michael Bennett and book writer James Goldman. The original production has become legendary, and with good reason. It […] [Read More]

‘Bond Girl’: low aspirations in Wall Street chick lit novel

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When Erin Duffy’s debut novel “Bond Girl” (William Morrow) was published last winter, it got high marks from the Entertainment Weekly reviewer and a strong blurb from one of my favorite novelists, Adriana Trigiani. A romantic comedy set on Wall Street around the time of the 2008 crash — written by an insider — sounded irresistible, […] [Read More]

‘Skidoo’: when the Hollywood old guard tried to get hip

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The Otto Preminger film “Skidoo” flopped upon opening in late 1968 and then became a minor cult film after it vanished in a way that few big budget Hollywood films ever do. For more than 40 years, the picture was much sought after by bad movie cultists who had a hell of a time tracking […] [Read More]

The quintessential New York City feminist baby boomer

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Julie Salamon gave us what is probably the best book ever written about the production of a movie — “The Devil’s Candy” — and you can now read the paperback edition of her terrific 20111 glimpse into the New York theater scene of the past 40 years, “Wendy and the Lost Boys” (The Penguin Press). The book is […] [Read More]

‘Mandingo’: they don’t make them like this anymore (or do they?)

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Because I was living not that far above the Mason-Dixon line in 1975, I never had a chance to see the widely panned but hugely successful Southern plantation sex-and-violence drama, “Mandingo.” I remember reading horrible reviews — from Roger Ebert, among many others — that said Paramount Pictures and producer Dino DeLaurentiis were deeply irresponsible to […] [Read More]

‘Where We Belong’: two sides of an adoption story

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Emily Giffin displays impressive empathetic gifts in her latest novel, “Where We Belong” (St. Martin’s Press), which digs into the highly charged issue of adoption, from both sides of the equation. The book’s opening section gives a reader the impression that we will be following the story of a successful 36-year-old television producer named Marian […] [Read More]

Is there a link between movie violence and ‘real’ violence?

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The possible link between violent movies and “real” violence seems to be discussed every time we have a mass shooting incident like the one in Colorado last week. What makes the most recent massacre even more troubling is the fact that it happened in a movie theater that was showing a violent, comic-book derived film […] [Read More]

‘Broken Harbor’: another brilliant, troubling Tana French novel

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(Note: This blog post was supposed to run Saturday but because of a glitch only the headline ran.) Tana French’s debut book, “In the Woods,” was showered with awards when it appeared in 2007, but the writer did not rest on her laurels. Each new novel has been deeper and more ambitious than the previous […] [Read More]

‘David and Lisa’: indie classic celebrates 50th anniversary

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Sometimes it is best not to test a fond memory. A friend recently told me about watching a favorite film of his youth — the 1966 antiwar comedy “King of Hearts” — and being disappointed by it. The movie wasn’t nearly as good as he remembered it. I had a similar experience the other night […] [Read More]

‘Dark Knight’: who to ‘blame’ for the horror in Colorado?

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Yesterday in this space I wrote about the death threats some film critics received earlier in the week when they panned “The Dark Knight Rises” before the picture debuted at midnight showings all over the country last night. Now, some of the tone of that piece seems horribly glib in light of what happened in […] [Read More]