September 25, 2016

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Sarah Churgin and Katherine Van Dell, appraisers at Rago Auctions and “Antiques Roadshow,” will be at Morven Museum and Garden on September 27 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. to appraise jewelry. “Unused heirlooms are a source of financing for vacations, tuition or even more jewelry,” says Sarah, who directs Rago’s jewelry department. Should you choose to sell, Rago will donate a percentage of that sale to Morven Museum and Garden. Sarah and Katherine are scheduling appointments from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. (no appointment is necessary from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.).  more

September 21, 2016

movie-rev-9-21-16Earlier this year, the film Citizenfour won the Academy Award in the Best Documentary category. But because the movie made less than $4 million worldwide, one might reasonably conclude that the details of Edward Snowden’s (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) release of National Security Agency documents is relatively unknown.

This is perhaps the reasoning of Oscar-winner Oliver Stone (Platoon and Born on the Fourth of July), who turns the story into a cloak-and-dagger drama about the NSA whistleblower’s leak of classified information who then went into hiding from the U.S. government. The movie unfolds in June of 2013 in a Hong Kong hotel room where Snowden met with journalists Glenn Greenwald (Zachary Quinto), Ewen Macaskill (Tom Wilkinson), and Laura Poitras (Melissa Leo), the director of Citizenfour.

After four days of interviews, Greenwald published his first story in the British daily newspaper, The Guardian. The Pulitzer Prize-winning series related in stunning detail the extent of the NSA’s surveillance of American citizens, in direct contradiction to a recent denial — given under oath — to Congress by James Clapper the nation’s Director of National Intelligence.

Because the articles identified Snowden as the source of the information, he immediately became the subject of an international manhunt. He somehow managed to evade the dragnet and boarded a commercial airliner bound for Moscow, even though his passport had been revoked and the U.S. had requested his extradition from Hong Kong.

Upon landing in Russia, Snowden was awarded temporary asylum and has remained there ever since. However, this movie has revived interest in his case, and he has recently make a public appeal for clemency.

A presidential pardon is unlikely to be forthcoming, even though President Obama considered the apprehension of the “29 year old-hacker” a very low priority in June 2013. So today, Snowden remains a fugitive from justice charged in absentia with theft, espionage, and conversion of government property.

Through a series of flashbacks, we are informed by the film that Snowden was a high school dropout who suffers from epilepsy. He also has a lasting relationship with Lindsay Mills (Shailene Woodley), his girlfriend who followed him from Virginia, to Hawaii, and then to Moscow. The movie portrays Snowden as a patriot who was willing to jeopardize his future in order to blow the whistle on the NSA’s violations of our constitutional rights.

Excellent (***½ stars). Rated R for profanity, sexuality, and nudity. In English and Russian with subtitles. Running time: 138 minutes.

Distributor: Open Road Films.

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Author David O. Stewart

The Pennington School history department will host author David O. Stewart on Wednesday, September 21, at 6:30 p.m. in the Wesley Forum, Kenneth Kai Tai Yen Humanities Building. The event is free and open to all members of the community and general public. more

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We were sort of talking a new language. — Slim Gaillard (1916-1991) 

Asked by the editors of TIME to define the last word of his catchy line of word jazz, “the flat foot floosie with the floy-floy,” guitarist, pianist, and Johnny Appleseed of jive Slim Gaillard made the comment about “a new language,” suggesting that the “floy-floy” was just “extra business” — “you got the whole dance right there; you’re swinging. See what I mean?”  more

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“INEVITABLE NO. 3”: This 12”x11” oil on wood by Laura Rutherford Renner will be on display at the Artists’ Gallery in Lambertville starting in October.

The spaces and people that enable us to grow and thrive, the settings that are beset by transformation or neglect, are the focus of the work by Alla Podolsky and Laura Rutherford Renner at the Artists’ Gallery in Lambertville from October 6 to November 6, with an opening reception on Saturday, October 8 from 4 to 7 p.m. The closing will take place on Sunday, November 6 from 3 to 6 p.m. more

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FORBIDDEN PASSION: Father Monroe (Raul Mendez) visits Marcela (Hannia Guillen) and her struggling Cuban-American family, but his pastoral kindness turns into much more, in McCarter Theatre’s production of Nilo Cruz’s world premiere of “Bathing in Moonlight” at McCarter’s Berlind Theatre through October 9. (Photo by T. Charles Erickson)

Father Monroe (Raul Mendez) welcomes the audience into his church in the opening moments of Bathing in Moonlight, Nilo Cruz’s new play, currently at McCarter’s Berlind Theatre. The smiling priest in his 40s, attractive, warm, addressing his “parishioners” individually as friends, makes his way down the aisle to the stage, where Edward Pierce’s striking set and lighting — with a red cross in the middle of a large stained glass window and latticed wooden screen backdrop — emphasizes the church setting. more

 

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RECITAL AND MASTER CLASS AT WESTMINSTER: Pianist Alejandro Cremaschi will present a recital of works by Ginastera and others on Friday, September 23 at 8 p.m. He will lead a master class on Saturday, September 24 at 2 p.m. Admission to both events is free.

Learn more at www.rider.edu/arts.

Westminster Choir College of Rider University welcomes visiting pianist Alejandro Cremaschi, who will present a recital on Friday, September 23 at 8 p.m. and a master class on Saturday, September 24 at 2 p.m. A reception will follow the recital. Admission to both events is free. more

There is always an air of freshness at the start of a new musical season — the night air is crisp with the coming of autumn and audiences are eager with anticipation of what the new season will bring. Princeton Symphony Orchestra began its 2016-17 season a bit early this year with a concert last Thursday night which was definitely a breath of fresh air — and an approach to Antonio Vivaldi which Princeton audiences likely have not heard before. more

September 19, 2016

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Photography by Erica Cardenas

Beyond Words, the annual fall gala hosted by the Friends of the Princeton Public Library took place on Saturday, September 17. This year’s special guests were Pulitzer Prize-winning author Elizabeth Strout and novelist Jean Hanff Korelitz who spoke at Nassau Presbyterian Church. After the talk, guests gathered at Hinds Plaza for a book signing and cocktails followed by a silent auction and dinner.  more

September 14, 2016

movie-rev-9-14-16US Airways Flight 1549 had just taken off from New York’s LaGuardia Airport on the afternoon of January, 15, 2009 when the pilots sighted a flock of Canada geese flying in their path at about 2,800 feet. The Airbus 320 was unable to avoid them and the ensuing collision with the birds disabled both of the planes engines.

At that point, Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger immediately took control of the plane from co-pilot Jeff Skiles (Aaron Eckhart) and told the air traffic controller about their predicament. After weighing his options in the next few seconds, Sully ignored air traffic controller Patrick Harten’s (Patch Darragh) suggestion to return to LaGuardia and instead decided to land the crippled jet in the Hudson River.

Thanks to a combination of calm water and the veteran Captain’s years of experience as a glider pilot and flight safety instructor, he managed to make a smooth landing in the river without triggering a fire or having the plane disintegrate upon impact. As a result, the 155 passengers and crew were floating downstream as the cabin slowly started to fill with water.

Sully ordered his passengers and crew to disembark into the inflatable life rafts and move onto the wings where they were quickly rescued by the commercial ferries and emergency vessels that were rushing to the scene. Amazingly, not a single life was lost in the crash that was dubbed the “Miracle on the Hudson.”

Directed by Clint Eastwood, Sully is not only a reenactment of the landing but is also about the subsequent investigation of the incident by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). We learn that while Captain Sullenberger was publicly being celebrated as a national hero by the press, the wisdom of his water landing was being questioned behind closed doors by the NTSB’s investigators.

The specialists who had been assigned to investigate the matter thought that the plane’s engines, at the bottom of the river, might have been operational, meaning that the plane could have been brought down at a nearby airport. If this were true, then Sully would have been reprimanded instead of praised. Ultimately, divers located the left engine, and the experts confirmed that the pilot did deserve his accolades.

Kudos to Clint Eastwood and Tom Hanks for successfully conveying the courage, wisdom, and stoicism that were exhibited by Captain Sullenberger in the face of the impending disaster. Stick around for the film’s closing credits that feature a reunion between the real Sully and many of the grateful people whose lives he saved.

Excellent (****). Rated PG-13 for peril and brief profanity. Running time: 96 minutes. Distributor: Warner Brothers Pictures.

 

book-revGene Wilder’s recent death has revived Young Frankenstein — not that Mel Brooks’s classic 1974 travesty of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818) by way of the James Whale/Boris Karloff film (1931) needed reviving. You could stop strangers on the street in Princeton or any university town anywhere and soon find someone who could quote you a favorite line or describe a favorite scene. Even so, for all those who have not already revisited the 1974 film, it will be shown again on October 5 in a special one-night-only presentation in more than 500 theaters nationwide, with a “live introduction” by Mel Brooks.

A Bizarre Course

What takes Young Frankenstein to a level beyond the gags is Gene Wilder’s kindly, horny, out-of-it Dr. Frankensteen. While a stranger on the street may not be able to name the actor who played the monster (Peter Boyle), no one is likely to forget his loving, fatherly creator. In the new Rutgers University Press book, Monstrous Progeny: A History of the Frankenstein Narratives, there’s an image of a blissed-out Wilder cuddling his “emotionally needy creation”; his expression is the other side of rhapsodic, he might be Chopin caressing the score of a nocturne or listening to the music of the spheres. Co-authored by Lester D. Friedman and Allison B. Kavey, Monstrous Progeny may be the most thorough exploration of the bizarre course the Frankenstein myth has taken since Mary Shelley conceived it 200 years ago this summer. Besides tracing the stagings and filmings through the years, the book looks at “laff riots” like Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, biological mutation movies like The Fly, reanimation films (Re-Animator and sequels), cyborg films (RoboCop), robot movies (Blade Runner and A.I.), and more. more

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ILLUSTRATED LECTURE AT TRENT HOUSE: Archivist and photographer Gary Saretzky will present an illustrated lecture on 19th century New Jersey-based photographers at the Trent House Museum on September 24. Pictured here is Edward H. Stokes. He was a photographer in Trenton and is one of the subjects of the lecture. He also resided at the Trent House for many years. His son donated the Trent House to the City of Trenton to be used as a museum.

Of the approximately 3,000 different photographers who were active in New Jersey before 1900, more than 250 lived or worked in Mercer County, most of them in Trenton. In a slide lecture, Gary D. Saretzky will profile these pioneers, including Edward H. Stokes who lived in what is now the William Trent House, and discuss them within the larger context of New Jersey photography in the 19th century.  more

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BARNS AND BEYOND: This painting by Lisa Walsh titled “Red Barn, Winter,” is representative of the artworks that will be on sale at the Annual Art Show and Sale at the historic Parsonage Barn in Cranbury. The exhibit features many paintings of the barns located on the site where the show will take place, as well as other Cranbury scenes.

Watercolorists Unlimited will host their annual Fall Art Show and Sale at the historic Parsonage Barn on Cranbury Neck Road, one block away from Main Street in Cranbury, on Saturday, September 17 from 10 a.m.–4 p.m.  more

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SWINGING SOUNDS: “It’s an exciting milestone year for JazzFeast,” says Palmer Square Marketing Director Anita Fresolone, who oversees the planning of this very popular open air jazz festival. Prominent jazz musicians will be on hand, as will an array of various cuisines from Princeton area eateries. 

The 25h annual JazzFeast will be held on the Green and the west side of Palmer Square from noon to 6 p.m. on Sunday, September 18, rain or shine. more

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Acclaimed Irish actress Lisa Dwan will give a talk entitled “Performing Beckett” on Friday, September 16 at 4:30 p.m. at the Lewis Center for the Arts’ James M. Stewart ’32 Theater, 185 Nassau Street. Part of the 2016-17 Fund for Irish Studies series at Princeton University, the event is free and open to the public. more

McCarter Theatre Center will renew its annual tradition in December of 2016 with a reimagined version of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. As part of this new theatrical endeavor, McCarter is looking for a new group of young actors ages 5 to 13 to form this year’s Young Ensemble.

Sign-Ups for A Christmas Carol Young Ensemble Auditions will be held at McCarter Theatre Center on Wednesday, September 14 from 3 to 6 p.m.  more

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MUSIC AND MIRTH AT KELSEY THEATRE: Virginia Repertory Theatre presents “The Princess and the Pea” at Mercer County Community College’s Kelsey Theatre on Saturday, October 1 at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. Tickets are $12 for adults and $10 for seniors, students, and children. To purchase, call the Box Office at (609) 570-3333 or visit www.kelseytheatre.net.

Love will always find a way. It’s never been more true than in “The Princess and The Pea,” to be presented by Virginia Repertory Theatre at Mercer County Community College’s (MCCC’s) Kelsey Theatre on Saturday, October 1 at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. Kelsey Theatre is located on the college’s West Windsor Campus at 1200 Old Trenton Road. more

September 13, 2016

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The Manny L. Friedman Foundation has partnered with The Blue Man Group for their first annual fundraising event, which will be held at the Astor Place Theater in New York City on Sunday, September 25 at 1:30 p.m. The mission of the Manny L. Freidman Foundation is to make every animal smile! Proceeds from the evening’s event will benefit no-kill shelters nationwide. A Lawrenceville, NJ resident, Manny lived his 28 years with an unwavering commitment to caring for animals of all kinds. To purchase tickets, visit www.mannyfriedman.org.

September 9, 2016

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As New Jersey kids head back to school, join Room to Read: Central New Jersey Chapter this Sunday,  September 11 at 3 p.m. at Princeton High School, 151 Moore Street, Princeton for A World of Music Benefit Concert. Performances by celebrated musical artists Neeraj Prem, Cloud Nine, Nadam – Serenity in Sound, Jenna Rose Venturi, and more. Tickets are $20 for adults, $12 for teachers/students, and $5 for children ages 14 and younger. For group rates, contact raortr@gmail.com. For more information, visit www.roomtoread.org/centralnj. To purchase tickets in advance, visit www.eventbrite.com/e/a-world-of-music-tickets-26877560507.

September 7, 2016

movie rev 9-7-16Roberto Duran (Edgar Ramirez) is considered by most fight experts to be one of the greatest boxers of all time. He earned his nickname “Hands of Stone” because of his punching power.

Born in Panama in 1951, Roberto exhibited promise from the moment he first entered the ring at the age of 8. He turned pro at 16 and won the World Lightweight title at Madison Square Garden in 1972 after Ken Buchanan (John Duddy) failed to answer the bell for the 14th round. Roberto went on to knock out over 50 foes and compiled an impressive 62-1 record as a lightweight before moving up in weight class.

When he retired in 2002, Roberto held the world welterweight, light middleweight, and middleweight titles. But despite that incredible feat, he is remembered for crying “No mas!” before quitting midway through his Welterweight World Championship rematch with Sugar Ray Leonard (Usher Raymond). And although he would eventually return to the ring, that one display of cowardice effectively overshadowed his subsequent achievements.

Written and directed by Jonathan Jakubowicz (Secuestro Express), Hands of Stone is a biopic that humanizes Roberto and puts a positive spin on his indelible stain. This version of his career blames Duran’s failing on his manager, Carlos Eleta (Ruben Blades), and pressure from the fight’s promoter, Don King (Reg E. Cathey).

In the movie, we see the backstage image of a burnt-out Roberto bemoaning his being exploited. “I worked all my life. I didn’t have any fun, when I was a kid.” He not only began boxing young, he also married when he was 17 to Felicidad (Ana de Armas), who was only 14. However, the couple went on to have eight children and are still together after 47 years.

If the movie has a flaw, it’s in the fight scenes which leave a lot to be desired. Anyone expecting cinema verite as in Rocky or Raging Bull, will be disappointed.

Robert De Niro plays the legendary Ray Arcel who came out of retirement, in spite of death threats from the Mafia, to train a teenaged Duran. He whips the promising protege into fighting shape, and it’s just a matter of time before Roberto becomes successful.

Very Good (***). Rated R for sexuality, nudity, and profanity. In English and Spanish with subtitles. Running time: 105 minutes. Distributor: The Weinstein Company.

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I’m an actor, not a clown.

— Gene Wilder (1933-2016)

Gene Wilder made his acting debut at 15 with a small role in a high-school staging of Romeo and Juliet. Shakespeare was his teacher again at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School in 1955, and his first professional performance was as the Second Officer in a Cambridge, Mass. production of Twelfth Night. After studying method acting with Lee Strasberg, he changed his birth name to Gene Wilder because, according to a 2005 interview in the Daily Telegraph, “Jerry Silberman in Macbeth did not have the right ring to it.” more

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“RED HEADED WOODPECKER”: D&R Greenway Land Trust will host the premiere exhibition of “Conserve Wildlife’s Rare Wildlife Revealed: The James Fiorentino Traveling Art Exhibition,” on view September 12 through October 14. Former New Jersey Governor Tom Kean will be a special guest at the reception. Pictured here is James Florentino’s “Red Headed Woodpecker.” His works depict some of the state’s most endangered and vulnerable species.

D&R Greenway Land Trust will host the premiere exhibition of Conserve Wildlife’s Rare Wildlife Revealed: The James Fiorentino Traveling Art Exhibition, on view September 12 through October 14, with an opening reception Friday, September 30, 5:30–7:30 p.m.  more

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The Hunterdon Art Museum and Hoffman’s Crossing are partnering to offer a variety of classes and workshops focused largely on the environment and the beautiful space at Hoffman’s Crossing. (Photo Courtesy of Dennis Balodis)

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Suspend disbelief this September and be entertained by hundreds of performers at the 17th Annual Village Renaissance Faire at the Middletown Grange Fairgrounds, 576 Penns Park Road in Wrightstown, Pa on September 17 and 18 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Visitors of all ages will enjoy performances of jousting, falconry, fire breathing, human chess, archery, puppetry, juggling, dancing, petting zoo, and more. Admission is $10 for adults and $5 for students. Parking is free. 

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PRINCETON FRENCH THEATER FESTIVAL: Antoine Mathieu and Marie Desgranges in “Ceux qui restent (The Ones Who Remain),” which will be presented on September 30 and October 1 as part of the Princeton French Theater Festival. Most performances will be in French, some with English supertitles, and are free and open to the public. Performances will be held at venues across Princeton University. (Photo Credit: Raynaud de Lage)

Princeton University’s Lewis Center for the Arts, Department of French and Italian, and L’Avant-Scène will present the fifth annual Seuls en Scène, French Theater Festival, which will take place from September 22 through October 6 at venues across the University’s campus. Most performances will be in French, some with English supertitles, and are free and open to the public. more