May 11, 2018

Video Movie Review: Book Club

I got to see an advance screening of the new film, Book Club, which will open in Chicago on May 18, 2018. Click the image below to hear my review.

May 10, 2018

Video Theatre Reviews: Hang and Frost/Nixon
Video review of two plays: Hang at Remy Bumppo and Frost/Nixon at Redtwist.

May 9, 2018

Theatre Review: Jesus Christ Superstar's very time-consuming to write movie and play reviews, so I've decided to try something new, video reviews, starting with Jesus Christ Superstar, which is too fabulous to miss. I have a lot of culture to catch up on, so stay tuned for more.

November 22, 2017

Movie Review: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri *****

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is your movie to see this holiday season. It's
a beautifully told story of a mother's grief and the lengths she goes to to find justice. Frances McDormand is perfect as crass, cynical, sarcastic, no-bullshit Mildred. The first scene perfectly shows us Mildred's story - in about ten minutes, you know exactly who you're dealing with and why.
She's not lovable, not by a long shot, but you're with her all the way. And no one delivers a glance like McDormand, so little that says so much.
All the characters have their own stories and are more complicated than first glance, and all that is revealed in due time.
You get to see Woody Harrelson's acting chops in this film, more so in this role than in the much more on-screen role of LBJ, also playing now (which I recommend only for the history). He's so authentic in the part of Chief Willoughby that there's a part of me that believes what's happening to the character is happening to him in real life (I won't spoil it).
It's not a perfect film - if it were then someone wouldn't just happen to have a fire extinguisher in the car exactly when needed, and Mildred would know the police chief's wife, since she knows everyone else in town, but you can forgive things like that when a film is so right. Beautifully done.
Five out of five stars for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.

October 28, 2017

Recipe: Do you like lasagna? Do you like Mexican food?

If you like lasagna and you like Mexican food you need to make this recipe. It's pretty easy but if you don't cook then have someone make it for you. Because it's incredibly delicious.
The recipe says it serves 6-8 but I ate half the pan in one sitting because it's more addictive than truffle fries. And because I'm a pig.

Chicken Enchilasagna
Recipe courtesy of Ree Drummond
6 to 8 servings

3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, about 1 ½ lbs.
3 cups part-skim ricotta
3 cups grated Monterey Jack cheese
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
One 14-ounce can green enchilada sauce
One 14-ounce can red enchilada sauce
11 cooked lasagna noodles, cooled (I used Barilla Oven-ready Lasagne noodles - no cooking necessary)
2 cups grated sharp Cheddar

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Heat a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat and add the vegetable oil.
Mix together the chili powder, cumin, garlic powder and salt in a small bowl. Sprinkle the chicken breasts with half the spice mix. Add the chicken to the skillet and cook, flipping once, until done in the middle, about 9 minutes total. Set aside to cool, then shred.
In a large bowl, mix together the ricotta, Monterey Jack, parsley and the rest of the spice mix.
In a lasagna pan, pour in a little of both enchilada sauces. Add a layer of 4 noodles, spoon on half the ricotta mixture, sprinkle on half the chicken and pour on a little more of both enchilada sauces.
Add another layer of 4 noodles and repeat, ending with a layer of 3 lasagna noodles, the rest of the sauce and the Cheddar on top.
Bake until bubbly, about 30 minutes.

July 31, 2017

Theatre Review: Hir *

Hir is the name of the current play at Steppenwolf. Hir (pronounced here) is also a pronoun. It's not her, it's not's hir. 
In an article in the Playbill, playwright Taylor Mac talks a lot about how there's more than one gender and how the world is changing and how our society is multi-sexual, and he tells us his personal pronoun is judy (I am not making that up), and that that is what this play is about. And I guess that's so, since he wrote it, but it seems less that to me and more about a family that is turning everything upside down in a really chaotic and repulsive way in order to fight against and obliterate the past.
The play opens on a living room/kitchen that is strewn with an immense amount of junk; on the counters, on the tables, on every available surface, piles of laundry on the floor, so much junk they can't use the front door.
"I don't do laundry any more!" the mother cries happily to her son, who's just home from the Marine Corps having been dishonorably discharged. "We don't believe in cupboards any more!"
Everything about this family and home has changed and not for the better, and it wasn't good to begin with.
There's the mother, and there's the father, who's wearing clown makeup and a fright wig, and it turns out he had a stroke and is barely with us except for grunts and inappropriate self-touching for which the mother squirts him with a spray bottle (which is a pretty funny bit because it's done so casually). And there's a sister who's no longer a sister but a transgender sibling.
And if that isn't enough Francis Guinan, who plays the father, walks around for much of the play in nothing but a diaper and, believe me, that’s not something you want to see.
I'm not sure why I stayed for the second act. It was kind of like a really gruesome accident - you want to leave but you can’t drag your eyes away.
Hir is certainly provocative, and that’s a good thing in theatre. Maybe I loved it, but I think I hated it. Good performances, tho.
Here's a video of the playwright talking about this play, and this may make you want to see it. But be warned.
One star out of five for Hir.