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Baron Wolman’s ‘Woodstock’: captivated by the crowd

It’s hard to imagine a music festival today having anything like the cultural impact of the 1969 Woodstock gathering. The three-day event that started on August 15 attracted a crowd of somewhere around 500,000 people to Bethel, N.Y., but it took months for the festival to sink into the consciousness of the millions of young […] [Read More]

‘A Dangerous Fiction’: stalking, murder in Manhattan

Murder is more than a plot device in Barbara Rogan’s remarkable 2013 mystery, “A Dangerous Fiction,” which is being republished in paperback today by Penguin Books. It’s a tale set in the upper reaches of Manhattan’s literary scene. The two violent deaths in the novel pack an unusually powerful punch because Rogan shows how they […] [Read More]

Rent it now: ‘La Ceremonie’ – Ruth Rendell via Claude Chabrol

Luckily for us, there are not too many moments of pure horror in movies — images and scenes that cannot be shaken no matter how hard you try. The hacks who make most shockers don’t have the intelligence or technical skill to truly unsettle us, so most of us can brush off junk like the […] [Read More]

Bad Movies We Love: ‘Palm Springs Weekend’

Released just a few weeks before JFK was killed in Dallas, the Warner Bros. release “Palm Springs Weekend” bears out many people’s belief that our pop culture idea of “the ’50s” lasted until November 22, 1963. The movie about a spring break trip to Palm Springs by a bunch of (very mature-looking) college students feels […] [Read More]

‘Nora’: Ingmar Bergman’s fast and furious ‘Doll’s House’

How lucky we are that Westport Country Playhouse associate artistic director David Kennedy and actress Liv Rooth have formed such a strong partnership in recent seasons. Playhouse audiences have already seen Rooth deliver strong performances in “Suddenly Last Summer” and “Loot.” Now, she is doing her most dazzling work to date in the title role […] [Read More]

#FridayReads ‘The Psalmist’ by James Lilliefors

Combine a terrific, offbeat pair of sleuths and a fresh setting and you have a real winner in “The Psalmist” by James Lilliefors. The novel launches a new series via the Witness Impulse e-book imprint of HarperCollins, so you will have to throw your Kindle into the beach bag to check out this perfect summer […] [Read More]

‘Sex with Strangers’: a smart, believable romantic comedy

Laura Eason’s play “Sex with Strangers” has just arrived at the Second Stage in Manhattan, via Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre, and it’s the sort of charming love story that delights audiences looking for solid entertainment, but gets tagged as “slight” by some critics. The play is a smart contemporary piece about writers that reminded me of […] [Read More]

Seeing ‘The Purge: Anarchy’ on 42nd Street

Most summer movies wash over audiences, numbing them with special effects and totally disconnected plots. So it was exciting — to say the least — to watch “The Purge: Anarchy” in a packed house on 42nd St. in Manhattan last weekend and to feel the movie connecting with the crowd in such a visceral way. […] [Read More]

The tell-it-like-it-is 2011 memoir by James Garner

The death of James Garner on Sunday prompted a remarkable outpouring of affection by co-workers and fans. The star had an easy-going style that was often overlooked in favor of the more ostentatious acting that gets rave reviews and wins acting prizes. Garner never seemed to break a sweat in his work, whether he was […] [Read More]

Another challenge for the physical book

The anxiety of book publishers and authors escalated again on Friday when Amazon unleashed its KindleUnlimited program. In what has been described as a “Netflix for books” subscribers will pay a fee of $9.99 a month to access unlimited downloading of several hundred thousand titles. The fear of the publishing industry is that avid readers, […] [Read More]