April 28, 2016

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The Arts Council of Princeton’s signature art and wine spring fundraiser, Pinot to Picasso, will take place at the Technology Center of Princeton on Friday, April 29 from 6 to 10 p.m. Guests will peruse the Tombola Gallery with 90 works of art and participate in art-making throughout the event. There will also be gourmet tastings provided by local restaurants, along with world-class wines and brews. Tickets are available at www.artscouncilofprinceton.org. For more information, call (609) 924-8777. 

April 27, 2016

movie rev 4-27-16Don Cheadle has wanted to make a movie about Miles Davis (1926-1991) for over a decade. The result is a warts-and-all biopic chronicling some of the highs and lows of the legendary trumpeter’s career.

Cheadle not only produces, directs, and co-writes the movie, but he also plays the title character in a haunting performance that convincingly portrays the spirit of Miles — from his gravelly voice to his mercurial temperament.

Even though the impersonation is spot on, the surreal screenplay leaves a lot to be desired. The script eschews a conventional chronological approach to storytelling in favor of a free form structure that shows a series of vignettes that focus on his messy private life more than the man’s music.

The picture’s point of departure is 1975, when we find Miles in the midst of a self-imposed five year break from the music business. He spends his days barricaded in his New York apartment consuming drugs in order to mask the pain from a chronic hip condition.

Things change when Dave Braden, a pushy Rolling Stone reporter (Ewan McGregor), forces his way into Davis’s solitude in search of a scoop about a rumored comeback. Braden circumvents Davis’s dislike of journalists by serving as his chauffeur and procuring cocaine on his behalf. Of course, Braden has a hidden agenda, namely, gaining possession of the master tape of Miles’ next album — if it exists.

As this is going on, Davis reminisces about his past, which leads to intermittent flashbacks — mostly about his tempestuous relationship with his first wife, Frances (Emayatzy Corinealdi). Unfortunately, Miles’s impressive body of work is given short shrift. except for the handful of classics on the soundtrack.

Very Good (***). Rated R for drug use, nudity, sexuality, brief violence, and profanity. Running time: 100 minutes. Studio: Crescendo Productions. Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics.

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GETTING READY: This year’s co-chairs of “Morven in May: A Celebration of Art, Craft and Garden,” from left: Austin and Ann Starkey, and Lisa and Peter Ham, are busy putting the finishing touches on this annual Princeton rite of spring. The festivities kick off Friday evening, May 6, with a preview party which includes a first look at the fine craft work of this year’s 36 visiting artists and heirloom plant sale. Morven in May then opens to the public Saturday and Sunday, May 7 & 8. For more information call (609) 924-8144 x 113 or visit www.morven.org

Book RevAs Big Ben rang the first hour of January 1, 2014, the skies over London were overwhelmed by a fireworks display of such scope and magnitude, I was sure the occasion had to be something greater than the beginning of another year. At a loss for superlatives worthy of the spectacle, I remembered a night when I stood outside the newly reborn Globe Theatre between acts of As You Like It gazing at the floodlit dome of St. Paul, my head swimming with Shakespeare. Of course, that was it. The only word for all that glory at the midnight hour, in that place, was Shakespeare.

At the time I didn’t know that the year 2014 brought with it the 450th anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth, a connection also ironically unremarked by the organizers of a New Year’s show that had been touted as “multi-sensory,” an orgy of orange-flavored smoke, strawberry mist, peach snow, and 40,000 grams of edible banana confetti. Whatever it was, celebratory serendipity or a happy coincidence, the timely grandeur of the display made Shakespearean sense.  more

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Eddie S. Glaude Jr. will discuss and sign copies of his book “Democracy in Black: How Race Still Enslaves the American Soul” on Tuesday, May 3, at 7 p.m. at Princeton Public Library. Mr. Glaude is the chair of the Center for African-American Studies and the William S. Tod Professor of Religion and African American Studies at Princeton University. This program is presented with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this programming do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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Anthony Acciavatti will be at Labyrinth Books on Thursday, April 28, at 6 p.m. for a discussion of his new book, Ganges Water Machine: Designing New India’s Ancient River, which was awarded the John Brinckerhoff Jackson Book Prize for 2016. more

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PDS ALUMNI EXHIBITON: The Princeton Day School’s “50th Anniversary Alumni Art Exhibition” is on view until May 14. The exhibit includes a wide variety of media by 37 talented alumni including founding partner of Studio Hillier, J. Robert Hillier PCD ’52, FAIA. His River Road House model, pictured above, will be among the works exhibited.

In continuation of Princeton Day School’s 50th Anniversary celebration, the Anne Reid ’72 Art Gallery proudly presents the 50th Anniversary Alumni Art Exhibition, on view from now through May 14.  more

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“TICK TOCK, DRIP DROP”: This lithography with chine collé and hand coloring by Eileen Foti is included in the West Windsor Arts Council’s “Generation Next” exhibit. From May 2 until June 9, the gallery will feature six established artists who selected one emerging artist to exhibit with them.

West Windsor Arts Council (WWAC) presents its annual “Generation Next” exhibit featuring original artwork by up-and-coming artists with a twist. This year WWAC invited six “established” artists to exhibit their work and choose one “up-and-coming” artist to exhibit with them. The works are on display May 2 – July 9, 2016 with an opening reception May 15, 4-6 p.m. more

Each year, the Stuart B. Mindlin Memorial Concerts at Princeton University have brought together the University Orchestra with other ensembles and guest soloists. This year, conductor Michael Pratt and the orchestra chose to go it alone, presenting two major symphonic works which not only showed off the ensemble’s collective sound, but also gave many of the student musicians the chance to play elegant solos.  more

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McCarter Theatre Center is pleased to announce its full schedule of 2016-17 dance, music, and signature presented series. An eclectic mix of the world’s greatest musicians, dance companies, and performing artists are on tap, including several returning favorites and McCarter debuts.  more

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Photo Credit: Willy Somma

On Sunday, May 15 at 4 p.m., the Princeton Symphony Orchestra (PSO) presents its Passion and Affection concert performed in honor of Arnold H. Snider, III and featuring Sarah Kirkland Snider’s Hiraeth, a multi-media work co-commissioned by the PSO with the North Carolina Symphony. more

April 22, 2016

Gala

On Saturday, April 9, over 200 guests at the Princeton Symphony Orchestra’s (PSO) sold-out gala Gershwin in Paris were treated to the sights and sounds of jazz-age Paris. Held at the grand venue Jasna Polana, patrons sipped cocktails and ate canapés prior to being called to dinner by an impressive brass fanfare by PSO musicians. Music Director Rossen Milanov welcomed everyone and conducted George Gershwin’s “I Got Rhythm” as flappers from the American Repertory Ballet performed a jazz challenge dance choreographed by Mary Pat Robertson. Pictured: Gala Co-Chairs Nora Decker and Beth Beers with spouses Keil Decker of BlackRock and David Beers of Goldman Sachs (Photo Credit: T. Kevin Birch)

April 20, 2016

movie rev 4-20-16CIA Agent Bill Pope (Ryan Reynolds) was in London on assignment to deliver a ransom to a computer hacker called the “The Dutchman” (Michael Pitt) when he was assassinated by a terrorist (Jordi Molla) and his vicious gun moll (Antje Traue). This should have been a big loss for the CIA because the veteran spy’s talents and abilities were a valuable asset for the agency.

Luckily, government scientist Dr. Franks (Tommy Lee Jones) has been working on transferring memories from one brain to another. Although he’s been successful in several attempts with animals, he thinks it will be at least five years until the procedure will be ready for trials in humans.

However, because of the emergency created by Pope’s death, Franks is ordered to immediately implant Pope’s mind into that of Jericho (Kevin Costner), a death-row inmate who is a perfect candidate to be used as a guinea pig. Lo and behold, the psychopathic murderer awakens from the experimental surgery eager to track down The Dutchman as well as the criminals who killed Pope.

That is the point of departure of Criminal, a science fiction splatterfest directed by Ariel Vromen (The Iceman). As an interesting aside, the movie is Ryan Reynolds’s third movie that involves a brain swap, his latest one being last fall’s Self/less. There, however, he played the recipient rather than the donor.

There isn’t much point in reciting the storyline, since it makes even less sense than the picture’s farfetched premise. Still, this high body count action thriller may appeal to people who enjoy watching folks being blown away in a spectacular fashion.

The film fritters away the talents of an impressive cast which includes Reynolds, Tommy Lee Jones, Gary Oldman, and Kevin Costner. There are also a fair amount of beautiful women, such as Antje Traue, Alice Eve, Natalie Burn, and Gal Gadot (who plays Pope’s widow, Jill). As you might expect, Jill and her daughter, Emma (Lara Decaro), are in for the surprise of their lives when their husband and father returns reincarnated as a redeemed convict who needs a loving family.

Good (**). Rated R for pervasive profanity and graphic violence. Running time: 113 minutes. Distributor: Summit Entertainment.

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The move to an earlier date worked out nicely for Communiversity 2016, with blue skies, sunshine, and a busy midway overlooked by the facades and variously shaped rooftops of buildings of Nassau Street. In this week’s Town Talk people who were at the fair talk about their favorite things. (Photo by Charles R. Plohn)

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Assistant Professor of French at Princeton University Christy Wampole will be reading from her new book Rootedness: The Ramifications of a Metaphor (Univ. of Chicago Press) at Labyrinth Books on Tuesday, April 26 at 6 p.m. She will be joined in a discussion of the book by her Princeton colleague, critic and theorist Eduardo Cadava. more

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You can’t write a sentence in English without Shakespeare being in there somewhere. — C.K. Williams

The Writers House is located on Locust Walk, which runs through the heart of the Penn campus, like McCosh Walk at Princeton. For just over two decades the 165-year-old cottage has been a venue for readings, seminars, lectures, and events like the April 11 memorial celebration of the life and work of poet C.K. Williams (1936-2015), who died last September. more

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“IN OBSERVANCE OF THE DAY”: This photo by Richard DeFalco was one of 180 works accepted for Ellarslie Open 33, on display at the Trenton City museum from May 7-June 26. A record-breaking 240 artists submitted 472 works for consideration for this year’s event.

The Trenton Museum Society is proud to announce the works accepted for Ellarslie Open 33, on display at the Trenton City Museum from May 7 — June 26, 2016. The Ellarslie Open annual juried exhibit continues a long tradition of supporting area artists and bringing the finest in visual art to patrons and visitors.  more

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MUSIC AND POETRY OF PENELOPE: Playwright Ellen McLaughlin’s poetry inspired Sarah Kirkland Snider to create her song cycle “Penelope,” which will be performed by PSO musicians and conducted by John Devlin on Tuesday, May 17 at Princeton Public Library. It also relates to the performance of Ms. Snider’s PSO co-commissioned work “Hiraeth,” which will be performed by the PSO on Sunday, May 15. (Photo Credit: Jamie Clifford)

On Wednesday, May 4 at 7 pm, in partnership with the Princeton Public Library, the Princeton Symphony Orchestra (PSO) presents Soundtracks: Music and Poetry of Penelope in the library’s Community Room. Homer’s Penelope is a central figure in the poetry of The Odyssey. Composer Sarah Kirkland Snider and playwright Ellen McLaughlin, via video, discuss the iconic figure and the influence of her story upon their works in a presentation led by PSO Assistant Conductor John Devlin.  more

Johann Sebastian Bach never heard a complete performance of his now classic Mass in B Minor in his lifetime, but over the past 150 years, this five-part work has become a staple of the choral repertory. Loaded with instrumentally-conceived choral coloratura and exacting counterpoint, the Mass in B Minor is considered a pinnacle of choral performance toward which choruses aspire. The Princeton University Glee Club undertook this vocal and instrumental challenge last Sunday evening with a historically informed and clean performance in Richardson Auditorium. Conductor Gabriel Crouch led the 80-voice Glee Club, chamber orchestra, and four vocal soloists in a performance which was lean, sensitive to the text, and strong to the very last note.  more

April 16, 2016

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Best-selling author and Pulitzer Prize winner Jhumpa Lahiri will be reading from her nonfiction debut, In Other Words, at Labyrinth Books on Wednesday, April 20 at 6 p.m.

Written in Italian and presented in a dual-language format, In Other Words investigates the process of learning to express oneself in another language, and describes the “journey of a writer seeking a new voice.”  more

April 15, 2016

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These watches offer practicality and a splash of style.

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April 13, 2016

movie rev 4-13-16There’s been a big change at Calvin’s Barbershop since the last movie was made over 10 years ago. The male sanctuary has been converted to a unisex salon, and some feisty female employees — including manager Angie (Regina Hall), flamboyant Draya (Nicki Minaj), and cynical Bree (Margot Bingham) — have brought a new flava to the former man cave.

In addition to Ice Cube as Calvin, among the regulars reprising their roles are Jazmin Lewis as his wife Jennifer, Eve as Terri, Cedric the Entertainer as Eddie, Anthony Anderson as J.D., Sean Patrick Harris as Jimmy, and Troy Garrity as Isaac. The cast has several newcomers; most notably scene-stealing J.B. Smoove as One-Stop; Deon Cole as Dante; and Common, whose character, Rashad, is married to Eve.

As the film unfolds, we’re shown a montage of file footage featuring Reverend Al Sharpton and Father Pfleger, as well as news stories about the increase in drive-by shootings on the South Side of Chicago. The situation has Calvin thinking that it might be better to relocate the establishment to a safer section of the city.

More importantly, he’s worried about the safety of his adolescent son, Jalen (Michael Rainey, Jr.), who is attending the Holy Cross Catholic School. It seems that on his way home, Jalen has to negotiate his way through a gauntlet of gangstas who are pressuring him to join their gangs.

Street violence appears to be claiming a young person’s life on a daily basis, with some of it hitting a little too close to home. This inspires Calvin to call a peace summit in a desperate attempt to negotiate a ceasefire between the bitter rivals, the Vice Lords and the G.D.s.

In addition to addressing the escalating murder rate, the picture has plenty of its trademark levity. One moment, we’re treated to an old-fashioned battle-of-the-sexes. Next, there’s a debate over President Obama’s commitment to the black community. And the best comic relief comes from trash-talking One-Stop, who has an endless supply of market items for sale: nickel bags of weed, baby pit bulls, and watermelon-flavored fried chicken.

Directed by Malcolm Lee (The Best Man), Barbershop: The Next Cut is a pleasant surprise because it combines the campy comedy with a serious social agenda. Easily the best film in the series, the movie entertains and also delivers a sobering message that’s long overdue.

Excellent (****). Rated PG-13 for profanity, ethnic slurs, and sexuality. Running time: 112 minutes. Distributor: New Line Cinema/Warner Brothers.

Communiversity

Communiversity has become a rite of spring for Princeton. On the Princeton University campus and throughout the downtown, this celebration of local arts and culture is an annual event that draws more than 40,000 to town, and this year’s event on April 17, 1-6 p.m. will be no exception. more

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Musical protest helps the Japanese “to voice what they cannot ordinarily express in words” according to Princeton resident Noriko Manabe’s The Revolution Will Not Be Televised: Protest Music After Fukushima (Oxford $27.95). It’s a formidable work: 433 pages, 35 pages of notes, a nearly 15-page-long bibliography, with web icons interspersed throughout the text highlighting links to pronuclear public relations videos, press conferences, music videos, extensive footage from anti-nuclear demonstrations and rallies, plus color photos on a companion website. more

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MORVEN IN MAY JURIED EXHIBIT/SALE: These hand-spun wool tapestries were created by master tribal weaver Wence Matrinez, in collaboration with his wife, biomorphic painter, Sandra Martinez. The artists of Martinez Studio, based out of Door County Wisconsin, are just two of the 36 fine craft artists from around the country exhibiting at this year’s Morven in May craft show on May 7-8. (Photo From www.martinezstudio.com)

Morven in May, one of New Jersey’s most anticipated spring rituals, is a juried exhibition and sale of contemporary, American-made fine craft. The museum brings together 36 professional fine craft artists from around the U.S., all working at the highest levels in their respective medium, including decorative and wearable textiles, jewelry, furniture, ceramics, glass, metal, and more. more