April 20, 2016

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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

book rev

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

April 6, 2016

movie rev 4-6-16Annabel Beam (Kylie Rogers) was born in Burleson, Texas where she was raised by her parents on a farm surrounded by cats, dogs, goats, cows, and a donkey. She enjoyed an idyllic childhood there with her sisters, Abbie (Brighton Sharbino) and Adelynn (Courtney Fansler). However, at the age of 10 she began to experience severe stomach pains.

Christy Beam (Jennifer Garner) rushed her daughter to an emergency room doctor who diagnosed the malady as a combination of lactose intolerance and acid reflux. But when his course of treatment for those conditions failed, the frightened mother next took Anna to a a gastroenterologist (Bruce Altman) who determined that she was suffering from an obstruction of the small bowel which called for immediate surgery.

He referred them to a highly-regarded physician in Boston who specialized in intestinal disorders. However, Dr. Nurko (Eugene Derbez) had a nine month waiting list which meant the little girl was likely to pass away before her appointment.

Frustrated by her inability to help her daughter, Christy began to question her faith when Anna asked, “Why do you think God hasn’t healed me?” It didn’t help when some fellow parishioners suggested that the affliction might be punishment for sin. In response, Christy told her husband (Martin Henderson) she was through with church, at least until Anna was healed.

Desperate times call for desperate measures. So, Christy decided to go to Dr. Nurko’s office unannounced and convince him to see Anna. However, after the doctor examined Anna an MRI, endoscopy, and a battery of other tests confirmed that Anna did not have long to live.

Before they returned home, they were befriended by a waitress with a heart of gold (Queen Latifah) who took them on a whirlwind tour of Boston. The prospects weren’t good for Anna when she got back to Burleson until the fateful day when she fell into a hollowed tree trunk, hit her head, and blacks out.

When she comes out of the coma, lo and behold, her bowels have been miraculously healed. Furthermore, she tells her parents that she had just visited Heaven and met with her Creator.

Miracles from Heaven is a dramatic documentary adapted from Christy Beam’s bestselling memoir of the same name. Directed by Patricia Riggen (The 33), the movie describes a touching description of a miraculous event.

Very Good (***).

Rated PG for mature themes. Running time: 109 minutes. Studio: Affirm Films. Distributor: Sony Pictures.

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CLASSICAL BOOK COLLECTION FROM DOT & BO

Give your bookshelf a face lift with these gorgeous editions of your favorite literary classics.

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Record Rev_1It was around this time half a century ago that people began to suspect the Beatles of being the creation of supernatural forces. Had they signed a pact with Lucifer? The “more popular than Jesus” frenzy that led to the burning of their records in crazy America demonstrated that, yes, they were unthinkably, absurdly big. The “Paul McCartney is dead” madness caught fire for the same reason. Nothing less than mysterious death or divinity could explain the phenomenon; the resulting paranoia of disbelief had reached the “who really wrote Shakespeare?” level. All this cosmic commotion and they had yet to astonish the world with albums like Revolver and Sgt. Pepper and singles like “Strawberry Fields Forever,” “Penny Lane,” “I am the Walrus,” and “Hey Jude.”

“Tomorrow Never Knows”

Fifty years ago today, April 6, 1966, when the Beatles began recording Revolver in EMI’s Studio Three at Abbey Road, a tall, elegantly handsome gentleman with no evident resemblance to Mephistopheles, and no pact signed in blood in his pocket, guided John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr to the top of Mt. Revolver.  more

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“FACES OF COURAGE”: This photo by Mark Tushman is among his collection of work titled “Faces of Courage” that documents disadvantaged women from the developing world. The exhibit is open in the Wilf Family Global Commons at The Hun School until May 13.

“Faces of Courage,” a photographic exhibit by Mark Tuschman is open in the Wilf Family Global Commons at The Hun School until May 13. The exhibit is a collection of work documenting disadvantaged women from the developing world, regions like East Africa, Latin America, India, and Asia. The exhibit is open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. or by appointment.  more

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PRESERVING THROUGH ART: Trenton artist, musician, and yogi SiriOm Singh (pictured above) hopes to show that seemingly disposable items can be revived and reused through his artwork. A collection of his abstract paintings entitled “Preservation” will be on display at the Bank of Princeton in Lambertville from April 16 until May 14.

“Preservation,” a collection of abstract expressionistic paintings by Trenton artist, musician, and yogi SiriOm Singh, will be on display at the gallery of The Bank of Princeton in Lambertville from April 16 to May 14. There is an opening reception Saturday, April 16 from 10-11:30 a.m. and a gallery talk Saturday, May 7 from 10-11:30 a.m. The show is open to visitors during regular bank hours. The Bank of Princeton is located at 10 Bridge Street, Lambertville. more

Theater Sedaris 4-6-16

Some things come back every year, like spring flowers and David Sedaris, who will be at McCarter Theatre on Wednesday, April 6 at 7:30 p.m. Sedaris is a commentator on PRI’s This American Life and best-selling author of “Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim,” “Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk,” and “Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls.” To purchase tickets, visit www.mccarter.org or call (609) 258-2787. 

The Richardson Chamber Players closed its 2015-16 season with a concert of French musical bonbons at Richardson Auditorium, featuring a number of Princeton University music department faculty and students. Continuing a mission of presenting music one rarely hears live, Director Michael Pratt programmed a performance of chamber music from the early part of the 20th century which might have been heard in Parisian salons and concert halls. more

March 30, 2016

movie rev 3-30-16Unfortunately Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is a disappointment. The picture was directed by Zack Snyder, who also directed the 2013 remake of Superman, called Man of Steel.

The first problem with this second movie in the DC Extended Universe series is its interminable 2½ hour running time that could have easily been trimmed to less than 90 minutes. For example, why bother revisiting the backstory about what inspired Bruce Wayne to become Batman, when the murder of his parents had previously been addressed in numerous other episodes?

The second issue with the production has to do with Batman (Ben Affleck) and Superman (Henry Cavill) being cast as adversaries for the bulk of the film. True, the source of the tension between them is adequately explained, but the audience nevertheless grows impatient because we’d much rather see our heroes resolve their differences and join forces to fight the real villain. After all, the detestable adversary, Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg), needs to be dealt with. Unfortunately this slow moving blockbuster takes forever to arrive at that epic showdown. Instead, we’re forced to watch the meaningless machinations of a convoluted adventure that is filled with atmospherics, action, and special effects.

Aside from this, director Snyder features support characters who have nothing much to do with furthering the plot, such as Clark Kent’s colleague Jimmy Olsen (Michael Cassidy), Perry White (Laurence Fishburne), and Bruce Wayne’s butler Alfred (Jeremy Irons). The film also features many cameo appearances by celebrities Neil deGrasse Tyson, Anderson Cooper, Brooke Baldwin, Soledad O’Brien, Nancy Grace, and Dana Bash who distract from, rather than advance, the plot.

More enjoyable are the roles played by Lois Lane (Amy Adams) and Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot). But by the time the battle with Luthor and his henchman Doomsday (Robin Atkin Downes) finally comes to a head, you’re so tired of peeking at your watch that you just want it over and done with as fast as possible. Make it stop!

A patience-testing blockbuster that adds up to much less than the sum of its parts.

Fair (*). Rated PG-13 for intense violence, pervasive action, and some sensuality. Running time: 151 minutes. Distributor: Warner Brothers Pictures.

Art Rev 1

“KU BI”: This artwork by John Witherspoon Middle School student Yihong (Nina) Li is part of The Princeton Symphony Orchestra’s “PSO BRAVO! Listen Up! Exhibit.” The exhibition is made up of students’ response in visual art and writing to composer Jing Jing Luo’s “Tsao Shu.” The exhibit is on display until April 17 at the Arts Council of Princeton’s Paul Robeson Center, 102 Witherspoon Street.

The Princeton Symphony Orchestra’s PSO BRAVO! Listen Up! Exhibition featuring student artwork and writing created in response to Tsao Shu, an orchestral work by Music Alive: New Partnerships Composer-in-Residence Jing Jing Luo, is on display at the Arts Council of Princeton’s (ACP) Paul Robeson Center. The students’ visual and literary works will be on display until Sunday, April 17 at the Arts Council of Princeton’s Paul Robeson Center, 102 Witherspoon Street, during regular gallery hours. The exhibit is free and open to the public.  more

Amos Music

Amos Lee will perform at McCarter Theatre with special guest Mutlu Onaral on Sunday, May 15 at 7 p.m. For more than a decade, Lee has been at the forefront of a new generation of singer-songwriters, drawing inspiration from James Taylor and John Prine. His hit single “Arms of a Woman,” put him on the map. His 2010 album “Mission Bell,” also reached the top of the charts. Ticket prices start at $25. To order, call (609) 258-2787 or visit www.mccarter.org. 

SPOOKS

Head of MI-5 Sir Harry Pearce (Peter Firth) with his most trusted asset Ruth Evershed (Nicola Walker) 

“Hold the right thought,” my father used to tell me. That dated variation of “Look on the bright side” didn’t count for much on the morning of September 11, 2001. In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in Brussels, we’re better off turning to Shakespeare.  more

Westminster Conservatory will observe the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare by presenting three faculty recitals in April.

On Sunday, April 3 at 3 p.m. “Shakespeare Revisited” will offer new compositions based on texts and themes of Shakespeare by Westminster composers. On Sunday, April 17 at 3 p.m. “Shakespeare in Song” will feature members of the Westminster Conservatory voice faculty performing settings of Shakespearian texts from the 18th to 21st centuries. These two recitals are part of the Kaleidoscope Chamber Series and will take place in Gill Chapel on the Rider University campus in Lawrenceville. Admission is free. more

The Lewis Center for the Arts’ Programs in Dance and Theater present there.remaining… a dance-theater fusion of text, movement, music, and projections, created and directed by senior Ogemdi Ude and featuring original music by Lewis Center Resident Musical Director and Composer Vince di Mura. Performances will take place on April 1, 2, 7, 8 and 9 at 8 p.m. in the Marie and Edward Matthews ’53 Acting Studio at 185 Nassau Street. The production is free and open to the public, however, advance tickets are recommended and are available through arts.princeton.edu.  more

March 29, 2016

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Now that spring has arrived, there is no excuse not to take advantage of the beautiful weather. Whether you’re running, walking, biking or surfing, exercising outdoors is a great stress reliever. These products will help to track your workouts and progress, allowing you to keep a helpful record and to stay accountable of your daily fitness. Simply click on each product image to purchase.  more

March 23, 2016

movie revIt is Colonial New England in 1630, and William (Ralph Ineson) and his family have just been banished from the Puritan plantation because of religious differences with the settlement’s elders. The proud patriarch stoically prepares to move from the safe confines of the fort to an unprotected and undeveloped plot of land located on the edge of the forest.

Naturally, William expects to face some serious challenges in trying to overcome the harsh elements, especially since he and his wife, Katherine (Kate Dickie), have five children to raise. But as devout Christians, they trust in the Lord to help them. Still, they didn’t anticipate the host of supernatural horrors that were about to unfold that would test their faith.

Their troubles begin when their newborn son Samuel vanishes into thin air while being watched by his oldest sister Thomasin (Anya Taylor-Joy). William tries to explain the disappearance as an abduction by a wild animal, even though his teenage daughter has confessed to the sinful self-indulgence of pangs of sexual arousal. The twins, Mercy (Ellie Grainger) and Jonas (Lucas Dawson), hint at Satanism, while Caleb (Harvey Scrimshaw) refuses to ascribe any evil to his big sister.

Their plight continues to deteriorate as crops fail, livestock produce blood instead of milk, and Caleb falls ill and slips into a catatonic state. At this juncture, inconsolable Katherine starts yearning to return home to England and even questions whether God exists.

Since this is Massachusetts in the 17th century, suspicions of sorcery soon swirl around Thomasin, in spite of her vehement protestations of innocence. However, this was a time when a rumors of witchcraft could have serious consequences for a young woman.

Winner of the Best Director Award at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, The Witch is the directorial and script writing debut of Robert Eggers. Thanks to the period costumes and palpable atmospherics, the movie generates an eerie air of authenticity. Also, the members of the talented cast are totally convincing as Puritans

Excellent (****). Rated R for disturbing violence and nudity. Running time: 92 minutes. Distributor: A24 Films.

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This painting will be among the artwork utilized in the illustrated lecture on March 26th. It is by Gio Botta Colomba and is entitled “Landscape Mountain Scenery.”

At his Bordentown estate Point Breeze, king-in-exile Joseph Bonaparte maintained the largest and finest collection of European fine art in America during the 1820’s and 1830’s, including works by Titian, Canova, and Murillo. His estate was dispersed by auction in 1847, and his paintings by Old Masters made their way to museums and private collections throughout the United States. Six of the paintings in Bonaparte’s famed collection were acquired and displayed by the Stokes family, who occupied the Trent House from 1861 until 1929.  more