Grading trash TV — where does ‘Next Big Thing NY’ fit?

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I think all of us have moments when we just want to go home and veg out with mindless TV — i.e. a reality show that you would be half-embarrassed to tell anyone you watch. It’s always liberating when a smart friend pauses for a moment when they’re talking about what they were watching last […] [Read More]

‘The Columnist’: when pundits (thought they) ruled the world

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David Auburn’s play about the once very influential journalist Joseph Alsop — “The Columnist” — is such a well made, old-fashioned play that you probably don’t have to be a politics or journalism junkie to enjoy it. Auburn has shaped the life of Alsop for maximum drama. The curtain goes up on a room in […] [Read More]

‘The Daytrippers’: a slice of Manhattan life from 1995

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I’ve had the best time hosting the “Martini and a Movie” series at the Fairfield Theatre Company over the past ten months. The theme of the fall-to-spring season has been New York City movies — films that used it as a primary location, stories that could only be told in Manhattan. We’ve looked at everything […] [Read More]

‘Coriolanus’: one of the ‘losers’ in the 2011 Oscar derby

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It seems that every year’s end includes a few good movies that are put into limited release in New York and Los Angeles for awards consideration and then quickly disappear when they are passed over. That was the fate that befell “Shame” and “We Need to Talk About Kevin” when the films’ stars — Michael […] [Read More]

‘The Last Trade’: making a (financial) killing from terrorism

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Save a spot near the top of your summer beach book bag for “The Last Trade” by James Conway, the terrific thriller Dutton will publish Thursday about the lengths to which some people will go to make money. The novel uses as its jumping off point the reports a decade ago that someone made a […] [Read More]

The Marilyn Monroe death industry gears up again

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There should be a tremendous outpouring of entertainment feature stories, columns and photo essays on Marilyn Monroe in early August when we mark the 50th anniversary of the iconic star’s death. Vanity Fair has already done a June cover story with excerpts from photographer Lawrence Schiller’s new book “Marilyn & Me” (Doubleday) about his relationship […] [Read More]

‘Marigold Hotel’ or, actresses who don’t go under the knife

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The British comedy-drama “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” has many virtues but one of the most refreshing aspects of the movie is to see a company of UK actors who have clearly avoided the plastic surgery nightmares suffered by so many performers on this side of the Atlantic. It’s refreshing to see mature people in […] [Read More]

‘Diner’: the 1982 classic that was saved by a film critic

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Oscar-winning screenwriter William Goldman made an often quoted statement about Hollywood that it’s a business in which “Nobody knows anything.” Hits can’t be manufactured by computers and focus groups and many films that have been written off as failures by studio brass have turned out to be very popular. It was Francis Coppola, coming off […] [Read More]

‘Gossip’: three New York City women moving through time

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There’s something deeply satisfying about stories that allow us to follow a small group of friends over many years — watching careers rise and fall, personal lives fit together or fly to pieces. Trios of young women trying to make a place for themselves in the big bad city were the subject of Rona Jaffe’s […] [Read More]

‘Too Big to Fail’: HBO film too short to be coherent

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Last spring’s made-for-HBO movie “Too Big to Fail” — based on New York Times reporter Andrew Ross Sorkin’s book of the same title — races so quickly through the events of the financial collapse of 2008 that there is virtually no way for it to land as drama. (HBO Video is making “Too Big to […] [Read More]