November 11, 2015

movie rev 11-11-15

In 2002, Gonzalo “Goni” Sanchez de Lozada, a candidate for the presidency of Bolivia, was floundering in the polls with just a few months to go to election day. Since the desperate multimillionaire had been raised in the United States, he knew how a political consulting firm could influence the outcome of an election.

So, he retained the services of James Carville, who had successfully orchestrated Bill Clinton’s presidential bid in 1992, and Carville came to Bolivia with a team of media-savvy strategists.

Still, repositioning Goni would be difficult, since he was an unpopular ex-president who had been exposed as a pro-American, pro-globalization puppet controlled by powerful corporate interests. Carville and company’s only hope rested in employing smear tactics against the other two favorites in the race: a socialist and a capitalist.

Ultimately, the carpetbaggers prevailed, and that incredible feat was chronicled by Our Brand Is Crisis (2005), a documentary that showed how easy it was for money to corrupt the democratic process with the help of a team from Madison Avenue. The picture also questioned the wisdom of fixing foreign elections in this fashion, since bloody civil unrest subsequently arose in Bolivia, which forced Goni to flee the country for asylum in the U.S. a year later.

Directed by David Gordon Green (Pineapple Express), Our Brand Is Crisis 2.0 is a sanitized version of the above described events. Names have been changed and characters have been conflated and added to make the intervention almost appear benign.

Here, courtesy of revisionist history, the socialist (Louis Arcella) and capitalist (Joaquim de Almeida) candidates both rely on assistance from two American PR firms led by Pat Candy (Billy Bob Thornton) and Jane Bodine (Sandra Bullock), respectively. The entertaining adventure pits a flirtatious and crafty mercenary against an idealistic ex-alcoholic in a battle of wits marked by deception and dirty tricks.

Instead of making a pure political thriller, director Green has cut the tension with moments of levity and sexual innuendo. As a result, the movie works very well as formulaic Hollywood fare.

The movie is a light-hearted primer in how to mount a smear campaign that manipulates a banana republic to vote against its own self-interest.

Very Good (***). Rated  R for profanity and sexual references. In English and Spanish with subtitles. Running time: 108 minutes. Distributor: Warner Brothers Pictures.

Art 1

“TRENTON MAKES BRIDGE”: Local photographers capture the beauty of winter across the world in “The Quiet Months” exhibit at the Tulpehaking Nature Center in Hamilton. (Photo by Jonathan Michalik)

The Tulpehaking Nature Center will feature an exhibit that is a celebration of winter and water. Through photographs and interactive activities, The Quiet Months: An Exploration of Winter, opening December 4, takes a look at the special properties of water that make winter unique; how plants and animals survive the frigid season; and how we all can enjoy the marvels of nature in winter.

The exhibit will feature the work of regional photographers with images from near and far — from the Abbott Marshlands and Delaware River in Trenton to ice fields in Iceland. The photographs illustrate how water freezes to create varied textures and patterns, and show the beauty found by those who take the time to look. more

Book RevNear the end of her new memoir M Train (Knopf $25), Patti Smith returns from a trip to find the West Village café she considers a second home closed, for good. When she taps on the window, the owner lets her in and offers to make her a last cup of coffee. She sits there all morning in the closed café, the “picture of woebegone” shown on the cover with her camera and her coffee, head propped on one hand while she keeps the other hand palm down on the table, as if to hold it, claim it, keep it until she’s ready to give it up. The cover photo was taken by a bystander with a Polaroid camera like the one Smith uses to illustrate her travels with pictures of stations along the way, her aim being “to possess within a single image the straw hat of Robert Graves, typewriter of Hesse, spectacles of Beckett, sickbed of Keats.” After sitting at her corner table “a long time thinking of nothing,” she picks up her pen and begins to write.

When she says “good-bye to her corner,” the owner gives her the table and chair. It’s a Patti Smith moment.

Atmosphere

In M Train, which has been on the New York Times non-fiction best-seller list for several weeks now, Patti Smith withdraws into her own “atmosphere,” and wherever she goes, the atmosphere, like Mary’s little lamb, is sure to follow. The effect on chosen scenes, situations, places, objects, and dreams resembles Keats’s notion of the poetical character, which “has no self … is every thing and nothing … enjoys light and shade” and “lives in gusto, be it foul or fair, high or low, rich or poor, mean or elevated.”  more

Art 2

“BARNES HALL”: This still image from the “Barnes Hall 2012-14” exhibit at the Princeton Day School (PDS) Anne Reid ’72 Art Gallery will be on display from November 24 to December 17. The exhibit features the photography and video work of PDS alumna Eleanor Oakes ’03.

A new exhibition is opening at the Princeton Day School (PDS) Anne Reid ’72 Art Gallery on November 24 and will run through December 17. The exhibit titled Barnes Hall 2012-2014 features the photography and video work of PDS alumna Eleanor Oakes ‘03. There will be an opening reception on Tuesday, November 14 from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. in the gallery. There will also be an open house with the artist on Friday, November 27 from 3:30 to 5 p.m. in the gallery. Both events are free and open to the public.

PDS alumna Eleanor Oakes is an artist and photography professor currently living in Detroit. She received a BA in Visual Arts and Art History from Princeton University in 2007 and an MFA in Art Practice from Stanford University in 2014. Her work has received awards, such as a Murphy and Cadogan Contemporary Art Award from the San Francisco Foundation (2013) among others, and has been featured in publications and exhibitions such as 25 Under 25: Up-And-Coming American Photographers and a recent solo exhibition at Tyler Wood Gallery in San Francisco. Her work can be viewed online at www.eleanoroakes.com more

Princeton Symphony Orchestra continued its journey through “significant voices of our time” with a concert of appealing yet complex music Sunday afternoon in Richardson Auditorium. For this concert, in a season dedicated to women’s creativity, PSO Music Director Rossen Milanov chose to explore the topic through guest solo pianist Joyce Yang, an international superstar who mesmerized Sunday afternoon’s audience with demonically virtuosic playing.

Concerts featuring guest stars often ‘warm up’ the audience with a familiar work before the star attraction. PSO put a great deal of faith in its audience on Sunday afternoon by beginning the concert with a full-length symphony by Princeton composer Edward T. Cone. Cone’s 1953 Symphony showed the musical influence on Cone of the early 20th-century Second Viennese School in its use of small melodic fragments passed around among the players of the orchestra. In the opening Sostenuto random pitches seemed to come from throughout the stage, as conductor Mr. Milanov maintained steady control over the building intensity. The texture continually changed as different instruments came to the forefront during the course of the work.  more

Theater Bollywood

From acclaimed Artistic Director Rahis Bharti, Bollywood Masala invites audiences on a lively musical journey from Radasthan to Mumbai at McCarter Theatre on Monday, November 16 at 7:30 p.m.

For their Princeton debut, a company of 17 musicians and dancers will perform traditional Rajasthani dance, including pot balancing, standing on swords, the Maharaja (spinning dances), and even the spectacle of fire breathing. The dancers will be accompanied by musicians using a variety of instrumentation.  more

Music Flute

Swiss flutist Emmanuel Pahud will perform with guitarist Christian Rivet at Richardson Auditorium on Thursday, November 19 at 8 p.m. The musicians will perform selections from their 2014 award-winning recording titled, Around the World, a collection of music linking four continents across three centuries. The program will include both original works and special arrangements by Astor Piazzolla, Maurice Ohana, Francesco Molino, Ravi Shankar, George Frederic Handel, Elliott Carter, Christian Rivet, and Béla Bartók. There will be a musical preview at 7 p.m. free to ticketholders, featuring the Princeton Pianists Ensemble performing arrangements of Beethoven, Rachmaninov, Chopin, and Ravel for up to eight hands. more

November 4, 2015

movie revNowadays, most women take for granted the fact that they can vote. Nevertheless, they owe a big debt of gratitude to the mostly unsung suffragettes who made great sacrifices for decades before securing that hard-fought right.

In the United States, women got the vote in 1919 when the 19th amendment to the constitution was adopted. The year before, England granted the franchise to females over 30 who were either landowners, college graduates, or married to a politician. However, a decade later, it was extended to all British citizens over 21 on an equal basis.

Directed by Sarah Gavron (Brick Lane), Suffragette is a moving documentary drama set in London during the critical period leading up to the Parliament’s passage of the Representation of the People Act of 1918. The film is a substantially fictionalized version of events, since only two of the characters here were real life heroines, namely, Emmeline Pankhurst (1858-1928) and Emily Wilding Davison (1872-1913), portrayed by Meryl Streep and Natalie Press, respectively.

Streep merely makes a cameo appearance as Pankhurst, a pioneer who plays an inspirational role in the movement. Still, she may earn her 20th Oscar nomination because she delivers yet another sterling performance. The picture’s other historical figure, Davison, was a fiery activist who was periodically imprisoned for advocating arson, stone throwing, and other violent tactics in her zealous pursuit of the right to vote.

The movie is about Maud Watts (Carey Mulligan), a protagonist who is a creation of scriptwriter Abi Morgan’s (The Iron Lady) imagination. Initially, she’s portrayed as a fed up steam laundry employee who desires to improve women’s lot in the workplace in the areas of wages, sexual harassment, and safe working conditions.

In many respects, Maud’s persona is reminiscent of Norma Rae (1979), the feisty union organizer played by Sally Field. Suffragette is a poignant reminder of just how far women have come over the past century. Oh, and yes, the very capable Carey Mulligan is likely to be remembered come awards season, too.

Excellent (****). Rated PG-13 for intense violence, mature themes, brief profanity, and partial nudity. Running time: 106 minutes. Distributor: Focus Features.

Art Rev 1

“MOONSCAPE”: The watercolor pictured above titled “Moonscape” will be among the paintings by Jane Adriance displayed at the University Medical Center of Princeton (UMCP) through February 2016. On Friday, November 20 there will be an opening reception for the exhibit from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. in the Art for Healing Gallery at UMCP.

The University Medical Center of Princeton (UMCP) will host a wine and cheese reception on Friday, November 20, to mark the opening of an exhibit featuring works by Princeton watercolor artist Jane Adriance.

The reception is scheduled from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. in the Art for Healing Gallery, which is located in the concourse connecting UMCP to the Medical Arts Pavilion and the Bristol-Myers Squibb Community Health Center. To attend, please RSVP at www.princetonhcs.org/art by November 13. more

Stuart RevIn the course of checking to see whether the 2015 World Series is the first to begin and end in extra innings, I found that the longest game ever played without being called a tie or suspended was between the New York Mets and the St. Louis Cardinals on September 11, 1974. The game lasted 7 hours and 45 minutes, and when the Cardinals won it 4-3 in the 25th inning, it was 3:13 a.m. and only a thousand fans were still at Shea Stadium. Writing a few weeks ago when post-season play had just begun, I quoted catcher Bengie Molina’s father telling Bengie that it was possible for a baseball game to last forever if no team scored. The idea that baseball could defy space and time sounded to Bengie “more like God than anything I heard in church.”

If I’m thinking of extra innings in cosmic terms — baseball’s version of the afterlife — it’s because I’ve been reading W.P. Kinsella’s novel Shoeless Joe (1982), the basis for the 1989 film Field of Dreams. Among the novel’s numerous challenges to the “suspension of disbelief” are two formidable fantasies: the return of baseball legend Shoeless Joe Jackson to a ball field laid out for him (“If you build it, he will come”) and the forced return of literary legend J.D. Salinger from self-imposed exile in New Hampshire. An even more improbable leap of the imagination for Kinsella than the resurrection of Jackson was the notion of a fictional baseball-loving Salinger ultimately going along with the field-of-dreams fantasy. Still more improbable was that the real-life Salinger would allow himself to be written into someone else’s novel.  more

Dance

CONTEMPORARY CHOREOGRAPHERS: Beth Gill will be one of three choreographers to present during the Lewis Center for the Arts’ “Choreographers in Residence and in Conversation” on Tuesday, November 10 at 6:30 p.m. in the Patricia Ward Hagan ’48 Dance Studio, 185 Nassau Street. Gill is a 2015-16 Hodder Fellow at the Lewis Center. In addition to commissions from New York Live Arts, The Chocolate Factory Theater, The Kitchen, and Dance Theater Workshop, in 2011 she won two New York Dance and Performance “Bessie” Awards for Outstanding Emerging Choreographer. (Photo Credit: Chris Cameron)

The Lewis Center for the Arts’ Program in Dance will present “Choreographers in Residence and in Conversation,” featuring three choreographers associated with the Princeton Dance Program on Tuesday, November 10 at 6:30 p.m. in the Patricia and Ward Hagan ’48 Dance Studio, 185 Nassau Street. Choreographers Beth Gill, a 2015-16 Hodder Fellow; Dean Moss, a current guest artist; and Pavel Zustiak, a 2015-17 Princeton Arts Fellow, will present works-in-progress, as well as discuss the doubts, difficulties, and revelations they’ve encountered in the course of their current artistic undertakings. This event is free and open to the public. more

Music Faust

Violinist Isabelle Faust will perform the complete set of solo violin sonatas and partitas by Johann Sebastian Bach at Princeton University Chapel on Monday, November 16 at 7 p.m.

In keeping with the new concert format launched earlier this year called PUC125: Performances Up Close, this concert will be presented in-the-round with the violinist elevated on a platform. Given the intimate nature of the reconfigured space and its acoustic setting, seating is limited.  more

Felix Mendelssohn did very little in the field of opera, however, his sacred oratorios are as theatrical as any 19th-century operatic work. In particular, the oratorio Elijah, premiered in 1846, musically depicts a dramatic Biblical story through arias, recitatives, and choruses, infused with the composer’s gift for melodic writing. The more than 100-voice Princeton Pro Musica, conducted by Ryan James Brandau, presented a well-informed performance of this work to a very appreciative audience on Sunday afternoon in Richardson Auditorium, showing off the capabilities of the chorus as well as four seasoned vocal soloists. more

October 28, 2015

movie rev

Launched by Robert Lawrence Stine in 1992, Goosebumps is a popular series of spooky stories that are carefully crafted to scare 7- to 12-year-olds. The so-called Stephen King of kiddie literature has published hundreds of titles over the years and has sold about a half-billion books worldwide.

Directed by Rob Letterman, the film stars Jack Black as R. L. Stine, (the author he’s portraying makes a cameo appearance during a mob scene). Letterman and Black also collaborated in 2010 on a poorly received remake of Gulliver’s Travels.

At the point of departure, we find teenager Zach Cooper (Dylan Minnette) and his recently widowed mother (Amy Ryan) grieving their loss and in need of a change of scenery, so they move to Madison, Delaware. Their next-door neighbor, Mr. Stine (Black), is a reclusive grouch who warns the boy to keep off his property and stay away from his home-schooled daughter Hannah (Odeya Rush). However,  it’s love at first sight for Zach, who is instantly attracted to her.

On his first day of classes at Madison High, Zach becomes friends with a loner named Champ (Ryan Lee). After school, the pair’s curiosity gets the better of them, and they decide to see what’s happening at the Stine’s house.

After entering the house, they rummage through the author’s mysterious manuscripts that are hidden in the basement, but they don’t realize that they have just unleashed an army of monsters. They’re all characters from Mr. Stine’s fertile imagination: a giant praying mantis, the abominable snowman, the werewolf, lawn gnomes, zombies, venus fly traps, the invisible boy, and so on.

What’s more, the zombies are controlled by a diabolical dummy who wants to wreak mayhem in Madison, and possibly go on to rule the world. Can the creatures be corralled and safely redeposited between the covers of the author’s journal? Can Zach win the heart of Hannah in spite of the objections of her overprotective father? The movie is a family-friendly adventure that provides a perfect blend of light hearted humor and spine tingling fright that will scare and delight children of all ages.

Excellent (****). Rated PG for scary images, intense action, and rude humor. Running time: 103 minutes. Distributor: Sony Pictures.

Book Rev

Like everyone else, I’ve never gotten over The Recognitions. — Harold Bloom

When I told a friend who likes big, difficult novels that I was about to begin William Gaddis’s 956-page tour de force The Recognitions, which was published by Harcourt Brace 60 years ago, he wished me luck: “I’ve tried at least 4 or 5 times to crack that book, but without success.” In a later message, after hearing that I’d embarked on so daunting a journey, he said, “I’ll pray for you.”

Over the decades, for every person who told me I had to read The Recognitions, someone else told me it was unreadable. Yet people who had “been there” carried on as if they’d returned from the journey of a lifetime. Having arrived safely, if dazed and word-weary, I’ll tell you some of what I experienced on my four-month sojurn in Gaddis’s mid-century wasteland. more

Rider Art

“ABRAHAM AND ISAAC”: This 62” x 62” oil on canvas by orthopedic surgeon, drawer, and painter Marc Malberg will be among the artworks displayed in the Rider University Art Gallery’s newest exhibit, “Biblical Inspiration in a Secular Age” running from November 5 to December 6. Malberg is one of five exhibiting artists whose work is based on a 21st century revisionist perspective on the Bible. Malberg’s images of Abraham and Isaac, Abraham and Aaron, Moses and the Burning Bush, and Absalom, King David’s son, will be on view in the exhibition.

Rider University’s Art Gallery opens an exhibition on Thursday, November 5 titled Biblical Inspiration in a Secular Age. Organized by guest curator Judith Brodsky, the exhibition will run from November 5 through Sunday, December 6. A reception in honor of the artists will take place on Thursday, November 5, and is free and open to the public. The artists will speak about their work in a free program open to the public on Thursday, November 12 at 7 p.m. more

Music Rev

The Princeton University Orchestra launched its 2015-16 season this past weekend with both old and new, challenging this year’s roster of musicians to draw on their highest level of playing. Conductor Michael Pratt paired the newest in performance imagination with a masterwork rooted in orchestral tradition, at the same time showing off one of the orchestra’s more talented members.

This year the University Department of Music has established a collaboration with the innovative So Percussion group as Edward T. Cone Performers-in-Residence. In its residency, So Percussion has been deeply entrenched in bringing their unique approach to the percussion around us to the students at the University, and Friday night’s concert at Richardson Auditorium was one more example of this creative and inventive combination of ensembles. Composer David Lang’s concerto man made, for percussion quartet and orchestra, made full use of the unique performance techniques and instruments of the So ensemble, complemented by the backdrop of a full orchestra. Lang’s man made began with the members of So Percussion supplying a rhythmic base with twigs snapped in various timings. No part of the twig was wasted — even dropping the pieces on the floor became part of the rhythmic pattern. The four percussionists were gradually joined by the orchestra in varying degrees of instrumentation.  more

October 21, 2015

movie rev

Twenty-nine-year-old Ravi Patel’s parents, Champa and Vasant, are Indian immigrants living in America who have begun pressuring Ravi to find a wife in accordance with their traditional courting customs. That means that they would initiate a process that would only consider a woman from the same caste as theirs, and preferably someone who already shares the family’s surname.

However, Ravi, who was born and raised in the United States, had little interest in choosing a mate in such a limited fashion, especially since he’s been secretly dating Audrey (who is not from India) for the past few years and he has fallen in love with her. Nevertheless, he decided to allow his parents to play matchmakers, but also arranged for his big sister Geeta to film the family’s comical attempts to find Ms. Right through a series of carefully arranged introductions.

Can an American college graduate agree to an arranged marriage when it’s time to settle down? That is the question posed by Meet the Patels, a delightful documentary that is co-directed by Ravi and Geeta.

The picture is hilarious, thanks to Champa and Vasant’s well-intentioned but overbearing style of parenting. It is clear that they want the best for their son, even if their concerns reflect values that Ravi believes in.

They escort Ravi to India to attend a Patel matrimonial convention where he speed-dates a number of eligible women. When he fails to make a connection with any of them, the family returns to California where there is a much smaller pool of appropriate potential wives to choose from.

“We’re paying the price, culturally, for moving to the U.S.,” his mother moans when her son rejects an overweight engineer she found for him at an online website. Meanwhile, comments from relatives like, “I need a marriage this year; I might die soon,” only serve to ratchet up the tension. Meanwhile, Audrey is patiently waiting in the wings and reminds Ravi that, “I have an interest in being your partner.”

Ravi’s difficult decision ultimately rests on whether ethnicity matters more to him than compatibility in the selection of a mate.

Excellent (****). Rated PG for mature themes, suggestive images, and smoking. In English and Gurjarati with subtitles. Running time: 88 minutes. Distributor: Alchemy.

Art TCNJ

Back in the late 1970s when video games were still a novelty, visual art was prominent in packaging and marketing but had yet to transfer to the screen. Fast forward a decade or so. Video game designers, some of whom are traditional painters and artists, are now able to experiment and express themselves in ways they may have imagined but didn’t think were possible.

It is this progression, and beyond, that an ambitious exhibit at The College of New Jersey Art Gallery is exploring through December 13. “A Palette of Pixels: The Evolving Art of Video Games” looks at the last three decades of the medium with concept art, sketches, and sculptures from video games, as well as interactive game stations. Curator Chris Ault, associate professor of interactive multimedia and the former chair of the department at TCNJ, said the question of whether video games are art has been a hot topic in recent years. more

Art Review 2

Cézanne…was the greatest. The greatest for always. — Ernest Hemingway

Hemingway’s love of Cézanne is expressed more guardedly in his posthumous Paris memoir, A Moveable Feast (1964). Even there, after saying he was learning “very much” from Cézanne, he admits he was “not articulate enough to explain it to anyone. Besides it was a secret.” Here’s a world-famous writer entering his 60s and he’s still celebrating his enthusiasm as if he were a boy with a secret. Writing as his youthful alter ego in The Nick Adams Stories (1972) he lets his feelings show (Cezanne “was the greatest”) in a short hitherto unpublished piece titled “On Writing.”  more

Art Leon

“HEAR, SEE, SPEAK”: Leon Rainbow’s “Hear, See, Speak” is among 32 works by 22 artists in “Art Served Up Trenton Style,” at the Gallery at Mercer County Community College until October 29. More information is available at www.mccc.edu/gallery.

The Gallery at Mercer County Community College (MCCC) presents “Art Served Up Trenton Style,” an exhibition of works from the Trenton Artists Workshop Association (TAWA) and the SAGE Coalition. The show runs now until Thursday, October 29 with an opening reception today, Wednesday, October 14 from 5 to 7 p.m. The MCCC Gallery is located on the second floor of the Communications Building on the College’s West Windsor campus, 1200 Old Trenton Road. Directions and a campus map can be found at www.mccc.edu. more

Photo By Roger Mastroianni

At dinner Saturday night before the show, with some old friends I hadn’t seen for a few months, the conversation was not unexpected. With a pleasant balance of seriousness and humor, we caught up on the latest news in our middle age (late middle age?) lives: our children and their challenges in school and in starting out in the world after college; other friends and family, and how difficult it can be for adults to get along with each other; politics and our worries about the dysfunctions in our government; the state of our environment, and what sort of world we’re leaving for our children; mortality, aging, and and how fast the decades have sped by. more

Music RevA great deal of music came out of World War II, including patriotic songs and battle-inspired orchestral works from leading composers of the time, but none was more poignant than the music composed in Theresienstadt, the ghetto established in the city of Terezin, outside of Prague, in which 140,000 individuals were imprisoned by the Nazis between June 1940 and the end of the war. This European wartime center of music-making was one of its most productive but also one of its most horrific locales — a walled “Main Fortress” used both as a transport center and artistic “model settlement” for German propaganda.

Theresienstadt was a city unto itself, with a cultural life rivaling any European major city. The collective art and music of Terezin has been the subject of books and films, and pieces by imprisoned composers are heard on concert programs, sandwiched among secure and comforting war horses. It is a brave ensemble that presents an entire program on the works originating from such a devastating creative environment. The Richardson Chamber Players became one such ensemble this past Sunday afternoon in Richardson Auditorium, with “Voices out of the Storm,” a program of five rarely-heard chamber pieces composed by composers of Theresienstadt. More poignant than the music itself was the fact that four of the composers died in 1944, with the fifth in early 1945, characterizing the program as a concert of talent unrealized. more

October 14, 2015

movie rev

MacGyver was a TV series about a character who was famous for using his scientific knowledge to use everyday household items in order to survive in a variety of life-and-death situations. The Martian is an outer space adventure in which a stranded astronaut, with an uncanny knack for improvisation, uses a similar approach to survive on Mars.

The picture stars Matt Damon as Mark Watney, a wounded botanist who was mistakenly presumed dead and left behind by his fellow crew members in the wake of a dangerous dust storm on Mars. However, he is actually very much alive, but doesn’t have enough oxygen, water, food, equipment, and other resources necessary to last the four years it will take for NASA to rescue him.

Undaunted, resourceful Mark proceeds, among many other things, to perform surgery on himself and grow potatoes in a makeshift garden that is fertilized using his own waste products. And, like an intergalactic variation on Tom Hanks’s role in Cast Away, Matt Damon appears alone on the screen for most of the movie.

The great news is that Damon is captivating, and the 141 minutes running time flies by in a flash. Besides captivating us with his ingenious inventions, Matt repeatedly makes us laugh with his many humorous asides.

Directed by three-time Oscar-nominee Ridley Scott (Thelma and Louise, Gladiator, and Black Hawk Down), The Martian has all the tension of the movie Gravity. In addition, its visual effects are the equal of Interstellar.

Excellent (****). Rated  PG-13 for profanity, injury images, and brief profanity. Running time: 141 minutes. Distributor: 20th Century Fox.

book rev

Book love is your pass to the greatest, the purest, the most perfect pleasure….The habit of reading is the only joy in which there us no alloy; it lasts when all other pleasures fade.

—Anthony Trollope (1815-1882)

The quotes about “book love” and “the habit of reading” spearheading this introduction to the upcoming Friends of the Library Book Sale surfaced while I was gazing into the sprawling immensity of Anthony Trollope’s beard. Of all the views of Trollopian facial hair shown in an online gallery of images, this prodigious display most fittingly suggests the depth and range of the event that begins Friday morning at ten in the Community Room. Seen here in full flower compared to the more crafted and contained incarnations, the author’s beard spreads hugely east and west, a veritable landscape, offering in its sheer breadth not only an evocation of the scope of the sale but a definitive image of its owner’s productivity, at rough count 40-plus novels, 15 story collections, and 15 works of non-fiction. more