August 10, 2016

Art Rev_2

INSECT FRIENDS: Princeton Academy first grade boys studied insects in their class, and then created their own inventive critters out of snippets of paper. Pictured here is a colorful Stag Beetle by Jack Dowling.

D&R Greenway Land Trust’s Olivia Rainbow Gallery presents Our Insect Friends, a paper-collage artwork by Princeton Academy of the Sacred Heart first-graders, through September 8.  more

August 3, 2016

movie rev 8-3-16A Jason Bourne movie just isn’t the same without Jason Bourne, as the producers found out the hard way in 2012 when they made The Bourne Legacy without the title character. Fortunately, Matt Damon has returned to reprise the role of the renegade CIA agent that he originated in the series’ first three films.

The movie reunites Damon with Paul Greengrass, director of The Bourne Supremacy (2004) and The Bourne Ultimatum (2007), that were the series’ most successful episodes at the box office. While this film might not measure up to those earlier pictures in action, it nevertheless features riveting cloak and dagger intrigue.

The point of departure is Athens — ten years after the last time we last saw Jason. He’s now fully recovered from the amnesia that had plagued him. However, he has remained under the radar because he is still considered an outlaw by CIA Director Robert Dewey (Tommy Lee Jones).

We soon learn that Jason’s ally inside the Agency, Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles), has gone rogue. She’s off the grid in Iceland, working in concert with a whistleblower (Vinzenz Kiefer) who is attempting to hack into the CIA’s computer files.

Nicky eventually joins Jason in Greece where she provides him with some incriminating evidence about the Agency as well as answers about his own mysterious past. However, their rendezvous has been tracked by CIA analyst Heather Lee (Alicia Vikander) who has been surreptitiously monitoring Nicky’s movements.

Next, Jason finds himself on the run from an assassin (Victor Cassel), who was dispatched by Director Dewey. Then Lee joins the chase, too, hoping to talk Jason into voluntarily coming in from the cold. The ensuing cat-and-mouse caper becomes a globe-trotting affair that unfolds all across Europe and ends in a captivating showdown on “The Strip” in Las Vegas.

The film’s only distracting flaw is the sotto voce performance delivered by Oscar-winner Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl) who seems to swallow every word. Otherwise, the principal cast acquits itself admirably: from Tommy Lee Jones in the familiar role of an orders-barking boss, to Vincent Cassel as a despicable villain, and Matt Damon as the two-fisted protagonist.

Very Good (***). Rated PG-13 for brief profanity, violence, and intense action. Running time: 123 minutes. Distributor: Universal Pictures.

book rev

Just as hate knows love’s the cure

—Stevie Wonder

For psychiatrists treating patients fearful that Donald Trump might win, the most potent remedy for Trump Anxiety Disorder is absolutely natural, over the counter, no synthetics, no suspect chemicals, just stature and beauty, strength and charm, sweetness and light in the form of Michelle Obama. When she walked onstage in that bold blue dress smiling and waving, it was possible to believe that whichever side this woman was on had nothing to fear from T.A.D. more


“AUTUMN GLORY AT PHILLIPS’ MILL”: The Phillips’ Mill Art Exhibition, a juried art show in the Delaware Valley since 1929, has announced that Princeton artist Charles McVicker has been chosen as this year’s featured artist for the show. This painting by fellow artist John C. Mertz is among the impressive artworks in the exhibition that runs from September 24 to October 29 in New Hope, Pa. more


“YOUNG HARE”: This photograph of a Krishna Devotee taken by Joseph DeFay will be on display at the Artists’ Gallery in Lambertville beginning September 8.

Artists’ Gallery presents “Enchantment,” an exhibition featuring the oil paintings of Maxine Shore and the photographs of Joseph DeFay. The show runs from Thursday, September 8 through Sunday, October 2, 2016. A reception with the artists will be held at the gallery at 8 Bridge Street in Lambertville from 5 to 8 p.m. on Saturday, September 17, 2016. more

The Princeton University Summer Concerts series has thrived on presenting instrumental chamber ensembles and, to close this summer’s season, added to its offerings by bringing a refined and polished vocal ensemble to Princeton. The German vocal quintet Calmus performed a program based on the works of William Shakespeare last Wednesday night at Richardson Auditorium to one of the best houses the series has seen this summer.  more

captions   mccarter    8-3

The Board of Trustees of McCarter Theatre Center recently welcomed Leslie Vought Kuenne as its new president. Ms. Kuenne, who lives in Princeton, has been a McCarter trustee since the 2012-13 season. She has served on the boards of the Arts Council of Princeton and Stony Brook Garden Club. Brian McDonald, right, was board president since 2012 and will remain as the immediate past president.

Theater Fool 8-3-16

Princeton Summer Theater closes its 47th season with Sam Shepard’s “Fool for Love,” which opens on Thursday, August 4 and runs through Sunday, August 14. Winner of multiple Obie Awards, the play unfolds in a motel room in the Mojave Desert where two lovers (pictured: Olivia Nice and Matthew Seely) unravel their tangled relationship. A dark exploration into love and family, “Fool for Love” shows us how our pasts surely come back to haunt us. Performances are at the Hamilton Murray Theater located on Princeton University’s campus. To order tickets, call the PST Box Office at (732) 997-0205. (Photo by: Ogemdi Ude) 

Theater Adams 8-3-16

On Saturday, September 10 at 1:30 p.m., the actor Peyton Dixon will portray the Honorable James Adams as he reminisces on his life in Congress, role in the Treaty of Paris, time as vice president, and relationship with George Washington. The program will take place at Rockingham’s historic Dutch Barn, located at 84 Laurel Avenue/Kingston-Rocky Hill Road in Franklin Township, one mile north of Route 27 in Kingston. Dixon is an actor-historian with over 15 years of experience portraying John Adams. The performance is free, but advance reservations are required by calling (609) 683-7132. To learn more, visit

July 27, 2016

movie rev 7-27-16Pablo Escobar (1949-1993) was an infamous mobster who ran Colombia’s Medellin drug cartel with an iron fist. During his reign, Escobar controlled about 80 percent of the global cocaine market, and took in about $70 million/day.

To maintain his power, the ruthless kingpin had his henchmen assassinate thousands of adversaries, including policemen, politicians, witnesses, judges, and journalists. Therefore, to infiltrate the ranks of such a vicious operation at its height in the 80s was certainly a very difficult and dangerous undertaking.

However, the risks didn’t deter U.S. Customs Agent Robert Mazur (Bryan Cranston), even though he had a wife (Juliet Aubrey) and two children (Lara Decaro and Niall Hayes). Robert assured his spouse that this would be his last assignment before retirement. He adopted the alias Bob Musella and pretended to be a shady Tampa businessman who was willing to turn the drug cartel’s drug money into Florida real estate.

He recruited two agents to help him bring off this daring sting. One was Kathy Ertz (Diane Kruger), a novice who posed as his fiancée on her first undercover case. The other was Emir Abreu (John Leguizamo), a new partner who has street smarts. Soon the trio is swept into a seedy underworld where they have a close brush with death at every turn. However, by proving themselves to be capable and trustworthy money launderers, they gradually work their way up the Medellin cartel food chain to the point where they gain the confidence of Roberto Alcaino (Benjamin Bratt), Escobar’s Miami-based right-hand man.

Consequently, Bob and Kathy become friends with Roberto and his wife, Gloria (Elena Anaya). They are regularly invited over for dinner to the Alcainos’ sprawling mansion, however, the host always reminds Bob and Kathy about the gruesome fate that awaits snitches and traitors.

Thus unfolds The Infiltrator, a riveting, cat-and-mouse thriller directed by Brad Furman (The Lincoln Lawyer). The screenplay was adapted by Furman’s mother Ellen from Mazur’s memoir of the same name. The film stars Bryan Cranston, who ratchets up the tension by portraying his conflicted character with a convincing combination of arrogance and existential dread.

Excellent (****). Rated R for pervasive profanity, graphic violence, drug use, and some sexuality. In English and Spanish with subtitles. Running time: 127 minutes. Distributor: Broad Green Pictures.

book revMy earliest memory of political excitement was rooting for Eisenhower during the suspenseful first roll call at what the New York Times called the “bitterly divided” 1952 Republican convention in Chicago. My childhood party loyalty was due to love of Lincoln, who the history books said was a Republican, which was good enough for me—until Kennedy came along. Even so, my first vote almost went to Richard Nixon. I have Norman Mailer’s Esquire essay “Superman Comes to the Super Market” to thank for helping save me from so ignominious a fate.

I only wish Mailer, who died in 2007, had been covering events in Cleveland last week. Is there a writer in the summer of 2016 brash or brilliant or courageous enough to make something novelistically engaging out of that festival of hate and its nightmare nominee? Trump would have been rich dessert for Mailer’s hungry, equally huge and infinitely more stylish and self-aware ego. In a photo online of the two tuxedo-clad men with their wives taken at a 1987 Trump Plaza party for Trump’s The Art of the Deal, Mailer is looking boisterously genial at 64, a barrel-chested battler ever ready for a brawl, while Trump looks hale and handsome at 41, an age at which he had “the attention span of a 9-year-old,” according to a Fox News interview with Tony Schwartz, who ghostwrote the book being so lavishly celebrated.  more

Art Grounds for Sculp 7-27-16

“SATURN’S RINGS”: Elyn Zimmerman will have a solo exhibition titled “Wind, Water, Stone” at the Grounds for Sculpture starting August 27.  

Grounds For Sculpture has announced its Fall/Winter 2016-17 season featuring major solo exhibitions by two distinguished American sculptors, Elyn Zimmerman and Ned Smyth. Both artists are pioneers of public art and long-time participants in the New York art world, exhibiting at some of the most prominent galleries and museums. Their works are represented in museum, private, and public collections throughout the United States and beyond. more

Art Mujeres 7-27-16

“MUJERES”:  Artworks Trenton’s September exhibit titled “Mujeres” will showcase the range of Latina women’s creativity and culture.  Artist Guadalupe Reyes’ untitled work, pictured above, will be including in the showcases, which runs from September 10 to October 1. 

Exploding stereotypes and showing there’s a world of Latina art beyond Frida, Artworks will present “Mujeres,” a group show in September featuring the work of five women artists: Esperanza Cortes, Guadalupe Reyes, Jennifer Rivera, Tamara Torres and Mary Valverde.  more

Recycling company TerraCycle is hosting the 11th annual Jersey Fresh Jam, New Jersey’s biggest showcase of hip hop art and culture on Saturday, August 6. In partnership with Trenton based graffiti artists, Leon Rainbow and Vicious Styles Crew, TerraCycle is providing their headquarters as a canvas for talent around the country to express their artistic freedom. more

Open call auditions for The Pennington Players’ October show, In the Heights, will take place at Kelsey Theatre at Mercer County Community College (MCCC) on Saturday, July 30 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Sunday, August 7 from 2 to 6 p.m. All roles are open and will remain so until the end of auditions. This is a non-equity and non-paying production.  more

July 20, 2016

movie rev 7-20-16First released in 1984, Ghostbusters grossed almost a quarter-billion dollars at the box office, making it the most successful comedy of the 80s. In the 2016 remake, director Paul Feig (Bridesmaids) has tweaked the story by changing the gender of the leads from male to female.

Wisely, Feig chose four excellent comediennes: Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, and Leslie Jones. The director developed a script that plays to each of their respective strengths. The result is a hilarious remake that pays homage to the first film while remaining refreshingly unique in its own right. Plus, the movie features amusing appearances by original cast members Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Sigourney Weaver, Ernie Hudson, and Annie Potts.

The point of departure is stately Aldridge mansion in Manhattan, where a tour guide (Zach Woods) inadvertently releases the disembodied spirit of Gertrude Aldridge (Bess Rous), a serial killer who had been locked in a dungeon and fed through a slot in the door after killing all of her family servants in 1894. The attack by the evil apparition causes the slimed victim to enlist the assistance of Abby Yates (McCarthy) and Jillian Holtzmann (McKinnon), professors of the paranormal at the mythical Higgins Institute of Science to exorcise the evil spirit.

The two academics are anxious to explore the haunted house. On their way to the mansion they are joined by Abby’s friend Columbia Professor Erin Gilbert (Wiig), and Patty Tolan (Jones), a token booth clerk who was scared by a spook she saw in a subway tunnel. Unfortunately for the foursome, they are unable to find any evidence of a ghost in the building.

As a result, all three professors lose their jobs. Undeterred, they turn a loft above a Chinese restaurant into a research lab, hire a secretary (Chris Hemsworth), and convert a hearse, borrowed from Patty’s mortician uncle (Ernie Hudson), into a Ghostbuster-mobile.

The self-proclaimed “Conductors of the Metaphysical” develop an arsenal of high-tech weapons including ray guns, a ghost shredder, and a motion-activated proton glove. And just in time, because New York City is being invaded by an army of menacing apparitions.

Excellent (****). Rated PG-13 for action and crude humor. Running time: 116 minutes. Distributor: Sony Pictures.

Harry Potter

A release party is being held Saturday, July 30, starting at 9 p.m., at Princeton Public Library to celebrate Harry Potter’s birthday and the midnight release of the official script for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, a new play based on an original story by J.K. Rowling. The play is the eighth story in the Harry Potter series and the first to be presented on stage. more

book rev

The time’s right for a column about baseball. The All-Star game’s behind us, the World Series of American politics has begun, and I’ve been reading The Baseball Whisperer (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt $26), a book by Michael Tackett subtitled “A Small-Town Coach Who Shaped Big League Dreams.” The town is Clarinda, Iowa, named for Clarinda Buck, who, legend has it, carried water to workmen when the area was being surveyed 150 years ago.  more

Art HAM Terrace 7-20-16

THE TOSHIKO TAKAEZU TERRACE: The Hunterdon Art Museum’s (HAM) terrace was named in honor of artist Toshiko Takaezu, one of the 20th century’s most influential ceramists. Ms. Takaezu moved to Clinton because she loved the waterfall that separates HAM from the Red Mill. She donated much of her time to the museum, and taught at Princeton University for many years.

When renowned ceramic artist Toshiko Takaezu first gazed upon the charming waterfall beside the Hunterdon Art Museum (HAM) in the summer of 1964, she knew she had found just what she was looking for: a home and a peaceful place where she could focus on her work. more

Art Homefront 7-20-16

“ICY TAIWAN MOUNTAINS”: This painting by Lynn Varga will be included in the “Celebration” exhibit hosted by the Creative Collective and HomeFront’s Artspace. The work on display brings awareness to homelessness and the transformative power of art.

The Gourgaud Gallery will host an art exhibition titled, “Celebration” that features members of the Creative Collective and showcasing the artists of HomeFront’s ArtSpace. The exhibit celebrates the work of local artists and highlights the artists of ArtSpace, and aims to build self-confidence through therapeutic art.  more

Art Birds of a Feather 7-20-16

“BLUE JAY” BY MICHAEL YANG: Johnson Park Elementary School artists created scratch-art images of local birds for the “Birds of a Feather” exhibit that are on display at the D&R Greenway Land Trust’s Olivia Rainbow Gallery until July 29.

Through July 29, D&R Greenway Land Trust’s Olivia Rainbow Gallery exhibits Birds of a Feather, scratch-art images of local birds by Johnson Park Elementary School fourth graders. Art teacher Linda Gates inspired this celebration of predominantly New Jersey natives.  more

For the past three years, the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra has teamed up with Princeton University to present a week-long Composition Institute sponsored by the Edward T. Cone Foundation. Last week, four emerging composers, selected from an international applicant pool of university composition students and composers in the early stages of their careers, worked on the details and refinements of their pieces, aided by the players of the NJSO, Institute conductor David Robertson, and Institute Director and composer Steven Mackey. The week culminated in a performance by the NJSO Saturday night in Richardson Auditorium.  more

Music Martiba 7-20-16

THIS ONE’S FOR THE GIRLS: See 14-time Grammy nominated country star Martina McBride perform at the State Theatre of NJ in New Brunswick on Thursday, August 25 at 8 p.m. McBride is well-known for her soprano singing range and country pop materials. Her greatest hits include “Independence Day,” “A Broken Wing,” “Wild Angels,” and “This One’s for the Girls.”

Theater rev 7-20-16

In pursuing its theme of “the Other,” Princeton Summer Theater (PST), last weekend opened its third production of the season, a funny, philosophical, verbally dazzling production of Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead, Tom Stoppard’s 1966 masterpiece spin-off from Shakespeare’s Hamletmore

Oscar October (his stage name) introduced Spacetime Riffs, a local improvisational theater group of about ten performers, to the assembled audience at a recent performance.

“It’s not stand-up comedy,” he said. “It’s not set piece comedy. It’s unique. It’s improv.” And just to make sure the spectators were fully prepared, “I’m pretty sure we’ll offend everybody before the evening is over.” more