Archive for January 24th, 2011

Divine Sister Back

by Sam Juliano

     Since early September there’s been an off-Broadway comedy named The Divine Sister packing them in at the SoHo Playhouse, a cozy little theatre south of Houston Street, a few blocks north of the Holland Tunnel.  On an especially frigid Friday evening in the Big Apple, the show’s venerated creator, dragmaster Charles Busch acknowledged the spirited audience at the closing curtain with an air of delight and a clear sense of appreciation.  Throughout the campy homage to Hollywood’s archetypal reverent ladies, Busch offers up his own special kind of irreverance in lampooning the melodramatic movies that feature these symbols of purity and rigid discipline.  In addition to the films named in the film’s press kits and posters, one can also feel the spectre of Doubt, Agnes of God, His Girl Friday  and The Miracle of Our Lady of Fatima, while one nun bears a remarkable physical (and emotional) resemblence to Sister Margaretta in The Sound of Music.  There’s even a heady sub-plot that recalls Powell and Pressberger’s Black Narcissus.  There’s a further reference to the beloved musical film with Sister Acacius’ mishearing of Mother Superior’s question, “What is it you can’t face?”  Busch theatrically portrays the plucky Mother Superior of St. Veronica’s, a down-at-the-heels Roman Catholic school (and convent) in need of a new home in 1966 Pittsburgh.   The Mother’s ethics are questionable, and she harbors some secrets, but she’s shown here as one who’s heart in the right place. (more…)

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Tommy Jones and Ben Affleck in surprisingly-decent “The Company Men”

by Sam Juliano

Jets fans have been brought down to a somber state of reality, after Gang Green fell behind 24-0 to the Pittsburgh Steelers, relegating an inspired late rally fail that narrowed the score to 24-19, to also-ran status.  It’s the Steel Men against the Green Bay Packers in the Super Bowl.

Extreme cold has moved in to the northeast, with temperatures expected in the single digits during mid-week.  And another storm is being watched for Tuesday night.  In any case, it’s business as usual at Wonders in the Dark, with the past week producing a mega-thread under Jim Clark’s extraordinary two-prongued review of Tim Burton’s Edward Scissorhands and Big Fish.  Jamie Uhler’s exceptional “Getting over the Beatles” continued on this week, while Bob Clark penned another marathon science-fiction essay on a DVD series.

I managed myself to see three new film releases in theatres, one Film Forum classic and a popular off-Broadway play.  The films are:

Johnny Mad Dog  *** 1/2    (Friday night)  Anthology Film Archives

The Company Men  *** 1/2   (Sunday afternoon)  Edgewater multiplex

The Way Home  ** 1/2            (Sunday afternoon)   Edgewater multiplex

The Leopard   *****                (Wednesday night)    Film Forum (more…)

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