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‘Starred Up’: the rise of Jack O’Connell

The 24-year-old English actor Jack O’Connell should be receiving lots of press attention when the film version of the best-selling Laura Hillenbrand book “Unbroken” opens in December. O’Connell landed the plum role of Louis Zamperini, the World War II hero who survived 47 days in a life raft after his plane went down in the […] [Read More]
Tennessee Mech F2-23 May 14.indd

John Lahr’s ‘Tennessee Williams’ an instant classic

12 years in the research and writing, John Lahr’s “Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh” (Norton) examines the great playwright primarily through his work and the result is both definitive and a great read. Because of his dual perspective as a stage critic and someone who has worked in the theater, Lahr is especially […] [Read More]

Bad Movies We Love: ‘Staying Alive’ — Broadway hell

Theater fans bitched about the “unreality” of NBC’s 2012 Broadway drama “Smash” and then they complained about the ludicrous depiction of the life of a New York stage actress in a short-lived Kirstie Alley sitcom. Clearly, these scolds have forgotten the long and dishonorable tradition of insane backstage musical dramas that Hollywood served up for […] [Read More]

Extending the summer vibe with Elin Hilderbrand

Autumn might be arriving on Tuesday, but a good way to extend that summer vibe is to read Elin Hilderbrand. I was introduced to the bestselling writer’s work when she came to Connecticut a few years ago to promote “Silver Girl.” Bookstores fill up with beach-themed “women’s fiction” every summer, so it can be hard […] [Read More]

Melina Mercouri & ‘10:30 P.M. Summer’ — magnificent over-acting

The Greek actress Melina Mercouri was always an acquired taste — she believed in playing everything larger than life, which turned off as many people as it turned on — but for those who locked on to her wavelength, she quickly became an addiction. Mercouri was as passionate off screen as she was on, risking […] [Read More]

‘The Swimmer’ gets deluxe DVD treatment

The Frank and Eleanor Perry film version of the John Cheever story “The Swimmer” was a resounding flop in 1968, but over the years it has acquired a cult following. The movie has always been of particular interest in Connecticut because the Perrys and star Burt Lancaster spent the summer of 1966 filming in and […] [Read More]

Rent it now: Woody Allen’s underrated ‘Manhattan Murder Mystery’

Woody Allen has made so many movies over the past five decades that some of them don’t receive as much attention as they deserve. Everyone knows about the masterpieces — “Annie Hall,” “Manhattan,” “Hannah and Her Sisters” and a few others — but I’m often surprised by the blank looks I get when I mention […] [Read More]

Is Pierce Brosnan in his prime at 61?

Ignoring the rather lousy reviews — and the dismal 36 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes — I made “The November Man” my rainy day movie during a beach vacation last week. The combination of an espionage drama derived from a Bill Granger novel (“There Are No Spies”) and Pierce Brosnan in the lead left me […] [Read More]

‘Dirty Movies’: a porn world love story

For most of his career, New Yorker Joe Sarno worked in obscurity, producing and directing sexploitation films during the 1960s — under his own name — and then hardcore porn films from the late 1970s through the 1990s (under a variety of pseudonyms). Sarno had an early and influential fan in the Village Voice film […] [Read More]

‘Smoke’: flirting with sexual danger at a New York party

The already intimate basement space at the Flea Theater has been reconfigured to be even more up-close-and-personal for the new Kim Davies play “Smoke.” By clustering the seating around the small set — the kitchen of an apartment in Harlem — the audience is given a voyeuristic view of the action that is both exciting […] [Read More]