Murder’s Afoot in Agatha Christie’s ‘The Mousetrap’ Now Playing in Arlington Heights

Agatha Christie’s murder mystery The Mousetrap opened in London’s West End in 1952 and has been running continuously since that date, making it the longest running play in history.

The play actually had its origins in a 1947 radio play entitled Three Blind Mice. The stage play was retitled The Mousetrap before its West End opening due to another famous play entitled Three Blind Mice that had run prior to World War II.

The premise is basic – a group of strangers are stranded in a newly opened guesthouse due to fierce winter conditions. Over the radio, they learn of a nearby murder. Soon a police sergeant arrives (on skis) to question the guests. All action takes place in the U.K. countryside.

Now playing at the Metropolis Performing Arts Centre in Arlington Heights, The Mousetrap has lost none of the charm that made it famous.

Emma Baker and David Moreland play the young married couple Molllie and Giles Ralston who own the guesthouse where the action takes place. They both provide memorable performances.

The first guest to arrive is Christopher Wren, a hyperactive yet diminutive young man of 22 played very effectively by Colin Lawrence.

Mrs. Boyle, a bitter older woman played excellently by Julie Partyka, and an aloof retired army officer Major Metcalf played by Rian Jairell arrive next in a shared taxi.

Kate Incardona plays Miss Casewell, a sexually charged stranger who speaks often of her troubled childhood. Wrapping up the guest list is Guy Wicke as an odd foreigner by the name of Mr. Paravicini.

The last to arrive to the scene is Detective Sergeant Trotter played by Mac Westcott. And then the detective work begins.

The who done it keeps the audience guessing throughout the night of entertainment. While Lawrence and Wicke are the strongest actors in the bunch, the entire ensemble works well together to deliver a very enjoyable production.

The play is directed by Joe Lehman who had done an excellent job moving the chess pieces about the board throughout the night.

Dialect coach Saren Nofs Snyder has helped sculpt a living piece of art.

Scenic design by Jeremy Hollis is brought to life by master carpenter Stan Hicks.

The Mousetrap plays Thursdays through Sundays through March 16at the Metropolis Performing Arts Centre located at 111 West Campbell Street in beautiful Arlington Heights. Evening performances start at 7:30 PM, Saturday and Sunday matinees start at 3:00 PM. There are select Wednesday showings at 1:00 PM.

There is ample free parking on the street and in a public garage behind the theater.

For a full schedule of dates and for ticket information visit MetroplisArts.com or call the box office at (847) 577-2121.

Advertisements

Fox Creates Something New with RENT Live

When FOX aired Grease Live in 2016, I was offended that it was a scene-for-scene imitation of the 1978 John Travolta/Olivia Newton-John film. The Broadway show is a different animal than the film, and I was hoping that Grease Live would forge new ground by capturing the elements left out of 1978 film that make the Broadway show so good.

Fast forward to 2019 and FOX airs RENT Live. We already had the 2005 Christopher Columbus film featuring most of the original Broadway cast. We also had RENT – Filmed Live on Broadway, providing a true reflection of the magic of the stage version.

The anticipation for what version of Rent we would be seeing on FOX built right up until the program aired.

RENT Live is its own animal. It didn’t mimic the stage show. It didn’t mimic the theatrical movie. It was an entity all by itself and that I applaud and will highly recommend grabbing the DVD or Blu-ray when it comes out.

The story is loosely based on the opera La Boheme. It focuses on a group of young starving artists who exist as squatters, while many are trying to find out how to live with AIDs.

Among the fresh aspects of the television event is the remarkable set. The set is what amounts to a whole city block for New York’s Alphabet City. There are multiple building and sidewalks. It is an entire RENT city.

That’s when I realized I would be remiss if I was to compare RENT Live to any of the other versions. Interestingly enough the director for RENT Live was Michael Grief, the man who directed the original Broadway production. His co-director Alex Rudzinski played a pivotal part in both Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert and Grease Live

Jordan Fisher is an interesting choice to play Mark – the would-be journalist who documents the story of his closest friends living with HIV. The role is scripted as a bookish Jewish young man. Jordan Fisher is black. Despite the fact that I have never personally met a black Jew, they certainly do exist, so I didn’t let that aspect of the casting hold me up from liking Fisher.

Fisher does an excellent job in the role. He has a personable personality, and a fine singing voice. Most impressive with his delivery is that he sang the role as written. Many of the other cast spent too much time doing unneeded riffs in their delivery.

My only complaint about Fisher is his age. Fisher appears to be in his late teens or early twenties. By contrast, his best friend and roommate Roger (played by Brennin Hunt) looks to be in his mid-thirties, and his ex-girlfriend Maureen (played by Vanessa Hudgens) also appears to be in her thirties.

Hunt’s Roger is a brooding rebel would-be rock star. Hunt is a good singer and a great guitar player, but I thought his take on the character was too one dimensional – either angry or angrier. Not much in else.

As Tom Collins, a quirky adjunct college professor who offers teaching such as Actual Reality, Brandon Victor Dixon does a stellar job. The real test for this role is the delivery of the reprise of I’ll Cover You, and Dixon passes that test with nary a dry eye in the audience.

The villain of the story is Benjamin Coffin III. He lived with Roger and Mark in poverty, but when he got lucky and married into wealth, he becomes a clear Republican obsessed with money and uncaring about people. R&B singer Mario is very effective in the role.

Also crossing platforms from the world of R&B music to the Rent stage is Tinashe, who fills the role of Mimi Marquez a young exotic dancer who becomes Roger’s girlfriend.

The only really bad casting was that of Valentina as Angel Dumott Schunard. Despite being a drag queen herself as documented on RuPaul’s Drag Race, Valentina is too old for the role, and sang it miserably. The only excuse for singing that bad in a show with a budget as big as Rent Live would be if it turned out the singer had laryngitis….and even then you’d wonder why they didn’t send in the understudy.

The supporting role of street performer and protest stager Maureen is Rent Live’s big-name celebrity – Vanessa Hudgens. The role is an unforgiving one, as it must deliver the song Over the Moon. Jonathan Larson was a great composer, but not every song is going to be great. There were a great number of songs in the original workshop performances that did not make it into the final version to premier on Broadway. I think if Larson had not died before Rent made it to Broadway, this would be the one song that probably would have been rewritten or replaced.

So how does Hudgens fair? She did the best she could with the role. Her take was to be sinfully playful and oblivious to her own short comings. It’s not the choice many actresses have made in the past with the role, but it works for Hudgens. She is always a joy to see perform. I think she is simply fantastic.

As Maureen’s girlfriend Joanne, Kiersey Clemons is every bit the role. As Joanne, she isn’t as attractive as some others so she gets insanely jealous when she sees Maureen flirting with more beautiful girls. Yet in terms of determination and intelligence, Joanne is the smartest of the bunch. Clemons portrays these subtleties of the character brilliantly.

Overall, I really enjoyed the live television event.

Heck, they even found a way to slip Keala Settle into the ensemble – a true treat! I fell in love with Settle’s powerful and expressive voice when I first saw her in the movie The Greatest Showman.

The way the creative staff and cast accomplished creating something new makes seeing RENT Live worth it.

On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the best, I give RENT Live a 7.75.

Seeing ‘On the Basis of Sex’ Now is More Important than Ever

On the Basis of Sex, a new biographical film about the early law career of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, is both entertaining and important. I’ll touch on both.

The story begins with Ginsburg’s first day at Harvard Law School. She is one of only nine women in a class of approximately 500 men. Her husband, Marty Ginsburg is a second-year law student at the same prestigious institution. Together they balance their schooling with caring for a youngster at home. Sadly, at that time, women like Ruth had to endure overt discrimination. For instance, there wasn’t a woman’s bathroom at Harvard Law School.

When her husband falls ill and has to be hospitalized, Ruth attends both her and her husband’s classes until he is able to return to school. She tutors her husband at night and helps him with his homework, while never falling behind in her own studies. It is a true testament to the limitless potential of someone who refuses to let circumstances get in the way of her desires.

Although she is at the top of her class, Ruth transfers to Columbia University in New York to finish out her law degree when Marty gets a lucrative job in the city.

Even though she graduates at the top of her class at Columbia, Ruth can’t get a job with a legitimate law firm. As a conciliation, she takes a job at Rutgers Law School teaching “The Law and Sex Discrimination.”

The story then takes us through the start of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s passionate work in discrimination and civil rights law. Again, no matter the obstacles, her superior intelligence and unending drive bring her out on top. There is even a Rocky type build up towards the knock out fight where the film culminates.

But this isn’t a story just about a gender discrimination attorney. It is a story about a real woman and this is where the story really succeeds.

The marriage of Ruth and Marty Ginsburg is given a great deal of screen time. And deservedly so, you don’t find marriages like that anymore where the husband and wife stick by each other no matter what. They were married 58 years until Marty’s passing in 2010.

Felicity Jones does a fabulous job portraying Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She demonstrates passion for her ideals of right and wrong, a love for her partner and children, and even a romantic side in the bedroom. I applaud this move by director Mimi Leder to show Ruth as a real person with many sides to her personality.

Arnie Hammer plays Marty. And he does a fine job. The chemistry he shares with Jones is beautiful to watch. Hammer makes it believable that Marty never falters in his dedication to his wife and children. He even made me forget that he was the man behind the mask in 2013’s The Lone Ranger. Consider that high praise, as that I have a healthy obsession with playing the role of The Lone Ranger myself.

Sam Waterston and Kathy Bates provide very interesting supporting roles. Waterson plays the head of Harvard Law School, Dean Griswold. From his many years on the popular television series Law & Order, Waterson is instantly acceptable as a powerhouse in the field of law. Bates plays civil rights lawyer Dorothy Kenyon, an inspiration to Ginsburg.

The movie doesn’t take us into Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s rise to the Supreme Court. But it is that move up the ladder of success as an attorney and judge that makes this film so important.

We just had an accused rapist confirmed to the Supreme Court. Not only is Brett Kavanaugh likely guilty of multiple sex crimes, he was nominated for the post by President Donald Trump who himself has been accused by no less than 22 women of sexual misconduct and has openly bragged about sexually assaulting women. He has also openly praised neo Nazis and white supremacists as “good people.” He himself has also publicly identified himself as white nationalist. Let that sink in.

Justice Ginsburg is 85 years old. She knows that if she retires now, her replacement would be extremely right wing. Perhaps even worse than Kavanaugh.

So she serves. And she will as long as she can make a difference. This movie tells the story of why she serves – who she is as a person.

On a scale of one to ten, I give On the Basis of Sex a strong 7.75.

Trump Endorses Mimes Along the Border Plan

Already a laughing stock among world leaders, President Donald Trump expanded on his ill-planned border wall between Mexico and the USA, with the added caveat that he wants sections of the multi-billion-dollar project to be see-through.

However, this did little to close the gap between the $5 Billion Trump insists on getting from U.S. tax payers for his wall, versus what Congress is willing to allow in any proposed budget needed to bring an end to the current government shutdown.

In early December 2018, Trump announced in front of the press that he would take full blame for a government shutdown. In fact, Trump said he would be “proud” to force more than 420,000 federal employees to work without pay if he didn’t get his wall.

Since that time, Trump has tried blaming Democrats for the shutdown with no explanation as to why this would seem logical considering that the Republicans held a majority in both the House and the Senate.

Rikki Lee Travolta has emerged with a viable solution to get Trump the see-through wall he desires without spending more than $1 Billion. In exchange for $1 Billion Rikki Lee Travolta insists he can hire the largest collection of mimes ever assembled and place them along the border. Mimes are well known for their invisible wall talents.

“Building a wall of mimes is the most brilliant idea I’ve ever heard with my big boy ears. I’m like, smart and a stable genius. Even though I went bankrupt six times, I still know a great deal when I hear it,” stated Trump. This quote was confirmed according to the same irrefutable source that President Trump used to confirm that the President Obama’s house is surrounded by a 10-foot wall.

“Vladimir Putin will be so proud of me,” continued Trump. “Having mimes at the border proves I only colluded with Russia sometimes!” This quote was confirmed according to the same well-researched source that President Trump used to confirm that he is the most popular president ever.

With the adoption of the Mimes Along the Border Plan, Trump seeks to be a hero for ending a government showdown that never needed to happen.

If the mime plan works, White House contacts have confirmed that Trump will next want to install a similar border between Canada and the U.S. in order to keep Americans from defecting to Canada. Upon further review it was found that these comments came from in “A” White House, not necessary “The” White House.

Even Jason Mamoa’s Charm Can’t Save Aquaman

I wanted to like Aquaman. I tried very hard to like Aquaman.

When it started, I thought to myself, “Not bad.”

By the time we got halfway through, I thought, “There’s still time for it to get better.”

Three quarters of the way done, I thought “Maybe it will have a really great ending.”

By the time we reached the conclusion of the exhausting 2-hour and 22-minute movie, all I could say was “That sucked.”

I really like Jason Mamoa. He has this twinkle in his eye that let’s viewers know he’s in on the joke. His charm radiates from the screen. I thought that would be enough to take even a bad script and make it palatable. I was wrong.

Mamoa isn’t bad as Aquaman. In fact, he plays the character quite well. However, when a script says “have Jason Mamoa sit in a pile of excrement” … there’s not much hope for the scene.

Don’t take me literally. There was no scene in the movie of Aquaman playing in a pile of excrement. Truth be told, that might have been more entertaining.

There is a lot of action in Aquaman. In my opinion, too much. Way too much. This is a reminder that there is a growing trend in Hollywood to be lazy in the balance of story and action. Bigger and bigger fight scenes do little to impress without an emotional buildup in the story.

Director James Wan and screenwriters David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick and Will Beall really could have put together a nice movie if they focused more heavily on character development. Wan’s preference of action over substance is evident in his 2015 film Furious 7.

The romance of Aquaman’s human father and an Atlantian mother is grazed over in a few minutes. Those scenes are some of the best in the movie. More depth into this forbidden union would be welcomed.

The scenes representing Aquaman’s childhood are few and far between. What was presented was great, but not enough.

Want to know why Arthur (Aquaman) has never been to Atlantis? So would everyone else in the audience.

Want to know why rebel with a chip on his shoulder Arthur decides to use his powers to help humans – becoming a superhero? That would be nice too.

These and many other important pieces of information are missing from this film. But, hey – there’s action. Lots of action. An amount of action that is so overwhelming it becomes boring.

D.C. simply can’t seem to make good movies. Batman Versus Superman stands out as the worst superhero movie of all time. Justice League was palatable but not good. Suicide Squad? You’ve got to be kidding.

With the one exception of Wonder Woman, there hasn’t been a decent D.C. movie since Ben Affleck took over the franchise as Batman.

I don’t blame the downfall of D.C.’s movie ventures on Affleck. I wanted to like him too. I think if he had decent scripts to work from, he might have been a decent Batman.

In fact, if you really want to be fair, you could actually go back to The Dark Night Rises with Christian Bale in the cowl as the beginning of the downfall of D.C. heroes on film.

As unlikely as it may sound, there were some bright moments in this epic crapfest we shall call Aquaman.

The always beautiful Nicole Kidman is simply ethereal as Aquaman’s mother – the Queen of Atlantis. And, it’s great to see Dolph Lundgren back in a significant role in a mainstream blockbuster, returning from the ashes of straight-to-video. Willem Dafoe is always a treat.

Aquaman…should you see it? That’s up to you. Sometimes you have to witness something terrible yourself in order to appreciate that it is on a plane of awfulness that few things ever fall to.

On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the best, I rank Aquaman a solid 3.

Peace. Love. Trust.

Top 10 Hair Metal Bands

You have Heavy Metal, you have Thrash Metal, you have Speed Metal, you have Death Metal….but out of all the types of metal music there are, were, and will be, Hair Metal holds a place near and dear in my heart.

Hair Metal requires just as much musical talent as any music style, but add to that the importance of good looks (usually requiring lots of hair spray) and a flamboyant onstage routine that oozes sexuality.

 

10) Mötley Crüe is one of the most well-known hair metal bands. Founded by bassist Nikki Sixx in 1981, the band consists of Sixx, drummer Tommy Lee, lead singer Vince Neil, and lead guitarist Mick Mars. One of the famed hair metal bands to come out of the Los Angeles club scene of the 1980s, the band has sold over 100 million records worldwide. Their records include Shout at the Devil; Theatre of Pain; Girls, Girls, Girls; and Dr. Feelgood. Aside from their radio friendly music, the band was well known for their insatiable thirst for alcohol and drugs – however the band has since found sobriety. The band performed for the last time at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on December 31, 2015, stating it will never tour again. However, the band is currently back together recording music for the biopic Dirt about the band’s years on the Sunset Strip.

9) White Lion was formed in New York in 1983 by Danish vocalist Mike Tramp. Tramp was the quintessential hair metal front man with good looks and an endless tenor voice. Surrounding Tramp were lead guitarist Vito Bratta, drummer Greg D’Angelo, and bassist James LoMenzo. Musically White Lion was one of the most gifted on the hair metal circuit, scoring hits with Wait and When the Children Cry, but aside from Tramp, their looks were subpar which hurt them in this era of music videos being the primary selling tool to young girls who made up most of their target audience.

8) Skid Row was formed in 1986 in New Jersey and released their self-titled first album in 1989. The band at that time consisted of bassist Rachel Bolan, guitarists Dave “Snake” Sabo and Scotti Hill, drummer Rob Affuso, and vocalist Sebastian Bach. Although Bach has proven to be one of the biggest assholes in rock, in terms of sheer vocal talent there will probably never be another as gifted as him. Skid Row scored hits with 18 and Life and I Remember You. Bach has since left the band and they have continued with different singers over the years. There are no plans for Bach to reunite with the band.

7) Van Halen is another very well-known hair metal bands. Named for lead guitarist Eddie Van Halen and drummer Alex Van Halen, the band added vocalist David Lee Roth and bassist Michael Anthony in 1974. The band initially played dates in Pasadena and Hollywood where they were discovered by Gene Simmons of Kiss fame. Simmons produced a demo of Van Halen, but couldn’t get album or management interest for the band. In 1977 the band impressed Mo Ostin and Ted Templeman of Warner Brothers Records and they were signed to a recording contract. Roth, long known for his ego, departed the band in 1985. Some accounts indicate Roth was fired, others propose Roth left the band to concentrate on his solo career. Sammy Hagar replaced Roth in the band from 1986-1996. With Hagar in the band, Van Halen scored number one hits, something that eluded the band under Roth’s days as front man. Gary Cherone of Extreme replaced Hagar in 1996 and stayed with the band until parting ways amicably in 1999. Hagar returned to the band in 2003 and stayed in the lineup though 2005. Roth rejoined the group in 2007 and has remained with the band through present day. Bassist Anthony was ceremonially replaced by Eddie Van Halen’s son Wolfgang Van Halen without explanation in 2006.

6) Joker is a Chicago-based hair metal band with a sound that can best be described as Journey meets Warrant. Joker release their debut album on indie label Red Light Records in 1989. The band’s lineup consisted of Tony Ingala on vocals, Joey Miroballi and Nick Sikich on guitar, Brian Smolar on bass, and Matt Stone on drums. The band recorded a sophomore album, Cool Deal, that was to be distributed by BMG Music on the Zoo Entertainment label in 1992. The album was produced by Gary Loizzo (REO Speedwagon, Styx). Unfortunately for the band, BMG and Zoo opted not to release the album due to feelings that the hair metal era was coming to a close. The band reformed in 2017 as Pavement Entertainment decided to finally release the Cool Deal album. It is one of my favorite albums in the genre.

5) Warrant formed in Hollywood in 1984. Featuring a lineup of guitarist Erik Turner, vocalist Adam Shore, drummer Max Asher, guitarist Josh Lewis, and bassist Jerry Dixon. After lead vocalist Jani Lane , guitarist Joey Allen, drummer Steven Sweet joined the band in 1986, they landed their first recording contact with Columbia Records in 1988. Their debut album Dirty Rotten Filthy Stinking Rich featured such hits as Heaven, Sometimes She Cries, and Down Boys. To support the album, Warrant toured with such bands as Poison and Mötley Crüe, The band released their sophomore album, Cherry Pie in 1990. The album featured such songs as Cherry Pie, Blind Faith, and I Saw Red. A 1992 release, Dog Eat Dog, received critical acclaim but only moderate sales. In 1994 Lane left the band to start a solo career and Columbia dropped the band from its roster. After reuniting with the band for several years, Lane quit the band again in 2004. Lane died of acute alcohol poisoning in 2011. Robert Mason has been the vocalist of the band since 2008.

4) Dan Reed Network is a lessor known hair metal band hailing from the Pacific Northwest (Portland, OR). Mixing funk with metal, the band released a six track EP, Breathless, that attracted major label interest leading to a recording contract with Mercury Records.  The band’s lineup included Reed on guitar and vocals, Brion James on guitar, Melvin Brannon II on bass, Dan Pred on drums, and Blake Sakamoto on keybords. Landing a four-star review from Rolling Stone Magazine, the band opened for such bands as Bon Jovi and The Rolling Stones. Subsequent albums include Slam and The Heat. While the band achieved great success in Europe, poor marketing in the U.S. prevented the band from gaining fame and success in the states. The band reunited in 2016 to release the album Fight Another Day, with Rob Daiker replacing Sakamoto on keys.

3) Guns n’ Roses was formed in Hollywood in 1985 and was signed to Geffen Records in 1986. The lineup featured vocalist Axl Rose, lead guitarist Slash, rhythm guitarist Izzy Stradlin, bassist Duff McKagan, and drummer Steven Adler. Their albums include Appetite for Destruction, G N R Lies, Use Your Illusion 1 & 2, and The Spaghetti Incident. Eventually all members except for Rose departed the band – some fired, some quit. Rose leaked word that Guns n’ Roses would be releasing a new album entitled Chinese Democracy  in 1994. However, the album (featuring only Rose of the original lineup) wasn’t completed until 2008 and was critically panned. Slash and McKagan rejoined the band in 2015 for the Not in this Lifetime tour. GNR’s hits include Welcome to the Jungle, It’s So Easy, Paradise City, My Michelle, Sweet Child of Mine, Patience, Used to Love Her, Civil War, Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door, and Get in the Ring.

2) Poison may not have the musical chops of some of the other popular Hair Metal bands on the list, but they embody everything that attracted teenage girls to scream allegiance and buy over 45 million albums worldwide. In many circles they are The band was formed in 1983 in Mechanisburg, Pennsylvania under then name Paris. The lineup consisted of lead vocalist Bret Michaels, guitarist Matt Smith, bassist Bobby Dall, and drummer Rikki Rockett. To further their careers, the band relocated to Los Angeles and changed their name to Poison. In 1986, guitarist Smith returned home to PA and was replaced by C.C. DeVille. The band was signed to Enigma Records and released the breakthrough album Look What the Cat Dragged In in that same year. The album spawned the hits Talk Dirty to Me, I Want Action, and I Won’t Forget You and became the highest selling album on the Enigma label. Their follow up album Open Up and Say Ahh peaked at Number 2 on the American music charts. The album included the Number 1 single Every Rose Has Its Thorn 1990 saw the release of Poison’s third album, Flesh & Blood. The multi-platinum album spawned several hits including Unskinny Bop and Something to Believe In. Clashing personalities led to the dismissal of DeVille from the band in 1993, replaced by Richie Kotzen. Kotzen didn’t last long. When it was discovered he was having an affair with Rockett’s fiancé, Kotzen was fired and replaced by Blues Saraceno. DeVille was then brought back into the band in 1996. Although new music has slowed, they continue to sell out concert tours.  They are one of the all time greatest party bands.

1) Bon Jovi has been making hit records since 1983 to the present. The original lineup consisted of singer Jon Bon Jovi, keyboardist David Bryan, drummer Tico Torres, guitarist Phil X, and bassist Hugh McDonald. After scoring a hit with the single Runaway, the band went through some lineup changes consisting of Richie Sambora on lead guitar and Alec John Such on bass. The band enjoyed huge success with the 1986 release Slippery When Wet which included the hit singles You Give Love a Bad Name, Living on a Prayer, and Wanted Dead or Alive. The album spent eight weeks at Number 1 on the U.S. Billboard 200 Chart. New Jersey in 1988 proved another hit album for the band including such singles as Bad Medicine, I’ll Be There for You, Born to Be My Baby,  and Lay Your Hands on Me. Subsequent albums include Keep the Faith, These Days, Crush, Bounce, Have a Nice Day, Lost Highway, The Circle, What About Now, Burning Bridges, and This House is Not For Sale. Hugh McDonald returned to the bass for the band in 1994. Phil X formally replaced Sambora on lead guitar in 2016 after Sambora left the group. Year after year, decade after decade Bon Jovi has supplied a stead stream of hits including cross-genre hit Who Says You Can’t Go Home which peaked at Number 1 on the Country Charts. Every album has shown growth and adaptation to new music trends. Ironically they earn the top slot of the Top Ten Hair Metal Bands by not staying in the Hair Metal genre, but by constantly keeping their sound relevant.

 

 

Green Book Film is Oscar Worthy Entertainment

My son and I attended an opening weekend showing of the film Green Book. My thirteen-year-old was far and away the youngest person in the crowd, but that’s not surprising given that he has very mature taste for his age. However, what was surprising is that I, a man in my 40s, was the second youngest person in the theater.

Yes the theater was packed to the gills with seniors. And if the quality of the movie is telling of anything, it is that seniors can pick a darn good movie.

My son and I agree that Green Book will be represented in several categories at the Academy Awards. It is a very moving, very entertaining, and very important movie.

The true story film stars Academy Award winner Mahershala Ali and Academy Award nominee Viggo Mortensen.

Ali plays jazz pianist Dr. Don Shirley in the 1960s story. Shirley, a highly dignified Black musicians who lives in an elaborate apartment over Carnegie Hall, is set to embark on a tour through the Deep South. The South was still heavily segregated at this point in history and Dr. Shirley must hire a driver with the street smarts to get him through the dicey pitfalls they will be navigating.

That driver turns out to be Tony Vallelonga, played by Mortensen, an Italian-American bouncer who needs temporary work while the club he works at goes through renovations.

The title of the film, Green Book, comes from a manual that Tony is given by Dr. Shirley’s record label as the they begin their journey. The book is a guide of what establishments serve colored people in each Southern state. Dr. Shirley advises Tony that they will often be staying at different hotels on the tour – the Doc at colored motels and Tony at a white’s only inns.

The existence of such a book and even the need for it is surprising to Tony. As the story unfolds, the deeper south the travelers go, the more and more Tony is astonished at the inequity of races. Doc, a wealthy, educated, famous entertainer can’t even eat at the white’s only establishments he is hired to play at.

Over the course of their journey together, Tony and Dr. Shirley learn about the hidden struggles and stereotypes they each face. And, become better people from that learned understanding.

If Mortensen gets nominated in the Best Supporting Actor Academy Award he will win. If he is nominated in the Best Leading Actor category, he has a shot. Mortensen put on 50 pounds for the role and is very convincing in his role as an Italian-American, despite actually being Danish-American. In my opinion, he is a very underrated actor.

Ali is radiant in his role as piano virtuoso Dr. Don Shirley. As fabulous as he is, I don’t expect an Oscar for Ali, who became the first Muslim actor to win an Academy Award last year. But he might score a nomination. That is not a dig at Ali’s performance, which is incredible, it just didn’t strike me as an Oscar lock.

I have been a fan of Ali since his performance in the television series The 4400. I always feared that his long unusual name would get in the way of fame for the talented actor, but name be damned he has achieved the highest honors in his field. It’s good to see a truly talented guy be recognized for his skills.

On a scale of one to ten, I give Green Book a solid 9.25. It is a remarkable movie. It features great performances by Mortensen and Ali and shines a light on race relations. Sadly, even today, we face racism at every turn. There has been progress, but not nearly enough.

But, I digress. The subject here is the film Green Book, and my teenage son and I both agree it will be a contender for Best Picture. The best part is, you don’t have to be a senior to enjoy it.

Peace. Love. Trust.