Tuesday, June 16, 2015

"The French Had a Name For It" Brings Film Noir Gems Neglected for a Half-Century to Los Angeles

Rare Film Noir from France will unspool at the Aero Theatre June 19 - 22, 2015.

"The French had a Name for It: Rare French Film Noir 1948 - 1963" comes to the Aero Theatre in Santa Monica June 19 - 22, 2015 with eight rare films featuring well-known French actors such as Simone Signoret, Jean-Paul Belmondo, Jean Gabin and Brigitte Bardot among others. Although largely considered an American genre, it was French film critics who coined the term "film noir" to describe the dark stories of murder, betrayal and a doomed society, that began to crop up in the World War II era. Los Angelenos have developed a taste for international noir with the introduction over the past few years, of films from England, Argentina, Italy and other countries, at the popular, annual Film Noir Festival, co-presented in the Spring by the American Cinematheque and the Film Noir Foundation.at the American Cinematheque's Egyptian Theatre. 

Over the eight years that Don Malcolm edited Noir City for Muller’s Film Noir Foundation, he and a small army of writers worked to expand the notions of what film noir encompassed. And that effort produced essays pinpointing the existence of many notable and forgotten noir films from around the world.

In 2014, Malcolm went out on his own in order to take these exciting discoveries off the printed page and  into movie theatres, where cinephiles could engage with them directly. The first result of this effort, a series of twelve French films noir that played at San Francisco’s Roxie Theatre last November, entitled "The French Had a Name For It," created a sensation that yielded turn away business.

Malcolm muses that "many of the directors of the films we’re rediscovering were raked over the coals during the ascendancy of the Nouvelle Vague. This caused their film work to be pretty much ‘hidden in plain sight’ for a half-century.”

Un Temoin Dans La Ville
But no longer. Now a slightly revised version of that remarkable festival, one that made San Francisco Chronicle lead film critic Mick LaSalle swoon at their collectively risqué panache (“the experience is like finding gold where you thought was rock”), is coming to the American Cinematheque’s Aero Theatre for four nights beginning Friday, June 19, copresented by Midcentury Productions.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Guest Blog Post: The Joy of THE BURBS, by Scott Nye

One of the lesser-known and lesser-appreciated entries in the Egyptian Theater's series "The Atomo-Vision of Joe Dante" is his 1989 film 'The Burbs, playing at the Egyptian Theatre Friday the 12th at 7:30pm (on a bill with Matinee). Why The 'Burbs? Perhaps it starts with the title, reductive and absurd, the apostrophe helping shorten an already-abbreviated derivation of "suburban." The "sub" denotes its relation to a metropolitan area, but also suggests its landscape - and by extension its residents - are somehow "lesser than." But "the 'burbs" elides such concerns. It eliminates the socio-economic connotations to create a fact so plain it had to be monosyllabic. How to explain the silliness of so much of the life? That's the 'burbs for ya.
Ray Peterson (Tom Hanks, at his everymanliest) is taking a vacation from work, but like many men of middling ambition, he doesn't really want to do anything. A traditional vacation - driving to the lake, cleaning up the house, firing up the grill, cramming in all the necessary activities - can quickly turn into just another job. So he stays home and takes an interest in his new, unusual neighbors, the Klopeks. They're never heard from or seen, they keep bizarre hours…and they stuff large, dense, body-shaped garbage bags into the trash in the middle of the night. Before long, Ray's roped fellow neighbors Art (Rick Ducommun) and Lt. Mark Rumsfield (Bruce Dern) into the game, which has turned from casual curiosity into outright espionage. The evidence is considerable, but who's crazier - the Klopeks, or the goons chasing them?
The 'Burbs kicked off a defining streak of filmmaking for director Joe Dante. He would follow it up with his singularly masterful Gremlins 2: The New Batch and the surprisingly bleak Cold War-themed Matinee, which would end his reign as a major Hollywood filmmaker. That the three get progressively darker, more cynical, and more daring in their thematic reach might have contributed. The 'Burbs sees the filmmaker at his commercial height, finding new angles (literally) to tell this deceptively simple, clearly marketable concept. Geographically, we never leave the cul-de-sac where Ray lives. Psychologically, we traverse nightmares; some living. He builds his jokes and his suspense the same way, leaving the audience aching for a payoff, but not knowing whether they'll laugh or scream when it emerges. Jerry Goldsmith's score - bouncy, sensational, macabre - is key to this confection, matching Dante's ecstatic mania at just getting to make motion pictures.
Screenwriter Dana Olsen worked from his childhood memories, but rather than conform to nostalgia, The 'Burbs is a film very much of the present. The effects of Vietnam still linger, the teenagers seem almost repulsively disengaged with their community, the men profess a sense of independence they cannot quite sustain once their wives come a-calling. All around, waiting for the next shoe to drop, the next battle to fight, even if it must be manufactured.
So why The 'Burbs? Maybe because it never plays a false card, but never feels safe either. It's a film by outsiders and film maniacs taking full advantage of a system they adore, realized by actors willing to play fast and loose. It's a beautiful, self-contained gem. Like the title, it eliminates all the fat, which frees it to be silly, simple and pure yet somewhat surreal. The 'burbs, man; it's a state of mind.
Scott Nye writes for Battleship Pretension and podcasts/writes for CriterionCast.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Arch Oboler’s Restored 3D Classic The Bubble, by Kim Luperi

Note: The Bubble will be showing again - for free! - at the Aero on Thursday, June 11, 2015 as part of our series The Golden Age of 3-D.

Bob Furmanek, Michael Schlesinger, Michael Cole, and Igo Kantor. Photo by Lee Christian
On January 22, 2015, the Aero hosted the West Coast re-premiere of Arch Oboler's 1966 3D sci-fi classic The Bubble. Before the screening began, 3D historian Bob Furmanek, who supervised the restoration of the film, gave a little background on the picture, director Arch Oboler, and the restoration process.

The Bubble premiered in 1966, and a few people in attendance at the Aero had actually seen it in its original run almost 50 years ago, but most were viewing the movie for the first time. Director Arch Oboler was a legend in the radio era; his show Lights Out was a landmark presentation of horror over the airwaves. Oboler is generally credited with starting the short-lived 3D craze of the 1950s with his 1952 film Bwana Devil. The picture was a huge success, and every studio jumped on the bandwagon; in fact, there were nearly 50 domestic 3D films released in the two years following.

The primary reason the technology fell out of favor with audiences during that period was mostly due to the projection of 3D films. At that time, 3D movies were projected on two 35mm prints, one for the left eye and one for the right, and they had to be run through two separate projectors in precise synchronization. If the prints were off just a frame, the audiences could easily detect the difference and even suffer headaches. After a few bad experiences with these films, audiences tended to stay away, no matter how good the reviews were.

Though The Bubble was produced a decade after the first wave of 3D films, the movie holds a special distinction in the 3D world: it was the first 3D feature to be photographed and exhibited on a single strip of 35mm in a process called Space-Vision. The images were stacked in a standard 4 perf frame, which left no chance for the synchronization errors that killed 3D the first time around.

When the 3D Film Archive acquired the rights to The Bubble and tracked down the original 35mm negative, they found it basically baking in an outdoor storage unit in California. The cans were also rusty and moisture had crept inside, leaving the film in poor condition. Luckily, with the care and expertise of the archive's staff and those who worked on the restoration, the film was cleaned, scanned, and examined frame by frame and any minor alignment issues were fixed. The original negative was severely faded, but fortunately, the restoration process brought most of the color back.

After the screening, moderator Michael Schlesinger took the stage to moderate a Q&A with Furmanek, star Michael Cole, and editor and music supervisor Igo Kantor (who has also worked on such cult favorites as Head and Beyond the Valley of the Dolls).

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

American Cinematheque Receives Premios Platino Award for Long-Time Support of Spanish Language Films on the Big Screen

The American Cinematheque’s Chairman Rick Nicita, accepted a Platino (Platinum) Award today on behalf of the non-profit, theatrical exhibitor that operates the Aero and Egyptian Theatres. The award was presented at a press conference to announce the nominees of the 2015 Premios Platino of Iberoamerican Cinema, at the Andaz Hotel in West Hollywood.  The award recognized the American Cinematheque’s dedication to showcasing Spanish language films in Los Angeles.  Actor and Formula 3 race car driver Eugenio Derbez from Mexico presented the award to Nicita.
American Cinematheque Chairman Rick Nicita accepts the Platinum Award from actor Eugenio Derbez.

Founded in 1981, the American Cinematheque has a decades-long tradition of exhibiting Iberoamerican Cinema. Its longest running series, Recent Spanish Cinema,  will present its 21st edition in October 2015 and the organization regularly screens selections from Latin and South America – often providing Los Angelenos with the opportunity to see the official Foreign-Language submissions to the Academy Awards from those regions. Films from Argentina, Brazil, Cuba, Chile, Mexico and Spain are among the Spanish language offerings at the Cinematheque's theaters - giving the public opportunities to see films that may not otherwise be widely distributed. Many of these screenings are accompanied by filmmakers and actors in person for discussion. Included in the talent roster of in person appearances are filmmakers and actors (often early in their careers, before they were known in the U.S.) such as Pedro Almodovar, Alejandro Amenabar, Javier Bardem, Iciar Bollain, Penelope Cruz, Alfonso Cuaron, Emmanuel Lubezski, Carmen Maura and Sebastian Silva. The American Cinematheque continues to be a place where new talent from outside the U.S. can be discovered by audiences eager to experience world cinema.

The "Platinum Award" was designed by Javier Mariscal. The feminine form's arms are extended as she offers up planet earth.
Antonio Baderas was announced as the Lifetime Achievement Award winner and awards in a number of categories for individual films. Some of these titles will most likely turn up in Los Angeles at the American Cinematheque in the Fall. 
Actress Kate del Castillo announced Antonio Banderas as the Premios Platino Lifetime Achievement Winner.

The Premios Platinos are a co-production of the Spanish artists’ rights management agency EGEDA and the Mexican organization FIPCA (Iberoamerican Federation of Film & Audiovisual Producers). FIPCA promotes Iberoamerican co-productions and looks after the distribution and broadcast of all product, transcending borders. Additionally FIPCA celebrates Iberoamerican talent. The Premios Platinos represent 23 countries, with 700 movies participating. TNT has entered into a strategic alliance with the Premios Platinos for cable broadcasting.  The second annual Premios Platinos of Iberoamerican Cinema will take place on July 18, 2015 in Marbella, an Andalusian resort spot.

American Cinematheque president gives acceptance speech with actor Eugenio Derbez.
EGEDA Latin America director Raul Vazquez.
Text & photos by Margot G.
May 27, 2015

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Guest Blog Post: Why THE LOST WORLD: JURASSIC PARK Deserves Another Look, By Intern Joe

On Saturday, May 30th at 7:30pm, the Aero is hosting a marathon of the first three Jurassic Park movies in anticipation of this summer's upcoming, much talked-about new release Jurassic World. While Spielberg's original 1993 film is already a well-regarded genre classic, I encourage you to stick around for the underrated second feature on the bill, The Lost World: Jurassic Park.

Run for your lives... to the Aero!

The Lost World follows Jeff Goldblum's character Ian Malcom (from the first film) as he goes on an expedition to an island of free-range dinosaurs to rescue his paleontologist girlfriend, played by Julianne Moore. It's a nice change to see Goldblum playing a leading man and action hero (albeit still a science guy) as a contrast to some of the nerdier supporting characters we remember him in through the '80s and '90s. The film features a great cast, including other well-regarded character actors such as Richard Schiff (Toby from "The West Wing"), Pete Postlethwaite and Vince Vaughn. In particular, Julianne Moore's performance is a nice subversion of the damsel in distress trope. While the expedition begins as an attempt to rescue her, it soon becomes clear that she's actually the most suited character in the movie to live amongst the dinosaurs. Her instincts when it comes to predators help keep the group safe and are key at the film's conclusion. She also gets one of the film's best sequences, when she tries to set a baby dinosaur's broken leg, all while being attacked by the dinosaur's parents.

Julianne Moore in The Lost World: Jurassic Park

While the characters are well-acted, no one watches a Jurassic Park movie for the humans, do they? The dinosaurs in The Lost World are breath-taking and also often terrifying. The film's creature effects are well-done, combining practical effects with CGI that (mostly) hold up to resurrect creatures who have been extinct for millions of years. The film features a number of great dinosaur scenes, most of which I'll try not to spoil if you haven't seen it. One great scene comes in the first act, when the expedition comes across a group of peaceful Stegosauruses crossing a river. The film is at its best when it forgets about the plot and just focuses on the majesty of the gigantic dinosaurs in their natural habitat.

Steven Spielberg directing a Stegosaurus

Of course, most of the other dinosaurs are more aggressive. The biggest threat to the group is the Tyrannosaurus Rex, arguably the greatest predator in animal history. While I'll remain vague, the film's third act involves a T-Rex laying waste to a major city in an exciting climax. While the T-Rex are quite frightening, Spielberg wisely gives them an emotional motivation which elevates them beyond generic movie monsters. Furthermore, the Velociraptors, one of the best parts of the original film, continue to terrorize. One standout moment involves two Velociraptors fighting and competing to eat a human. Finally, the Compsognathus dinosaurs, which are very small dinosaurs (slightly bigger than a lizard) that hunt in packs, are particularly terrifying, despite their cute and non-threatening appearance. It's worth the trip to the theater just to witness the magic of these magnificent creatures on the big screen again!

The Lost World: Jurassic Park comes to the Aero Theatre in Santa Monica as part of a triple feature on Saturday May 30th. It's a fun dinosaur movie, and I hope to see you there. 

-Joe, Intern

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Conversations at the Cinematheque: Mel Brooks for THE PRODUCERS, 3/7/15

Photo by Jim Pease/American Cinematheque
By Lisa Horowitz

Mel Brooks came to the Aero on March 7, 2015 to pay tribute to his old friend, Zero Mostel, who would have been 100 that day. 

“He was a great, great talent,” Brooks said, after being greeted by a warm Aero standing ovation. 

He was introduced by Larry Karaszewski, who, as Brooks explained, co-wrote “Ed Wood,” “so he has every right to introduce me.”

“Zero was heaven and hell,” the “Producers” writer-director continued. “When he felt like being nice, he was heaven. And when he felt like working, he was one of the greatest talents that ever lived. And when he felt like not working, he was hell.”

Mel brought along Alfa-Betty Olsen, whom he met “a little before ‘Get Smart,’” which he created with Buck Henry. He shared with her his idea, then called “Springtime for Hitler,” and she encouraged him to write it. But “I couldn’t really type,” he admitted. “I could write on a legal pad with an Everhard No. 2 pencil, but I’d talk and talk and Betty would type and type. She’d put it on onionskin, that’s how far back this was. And she really put together a screenplay called ‘Springtime for Hitler.’ She was there for the whole process.”

“I met Zero in the ‘50s,” Brooks said. “He was a painter, and he had a little atelier in a brownstone on 28th Street in New York, and my best friend, Speed Vogel, was a sculptor who was in the same little brownstone. And we hung out together.

“I knew Zero, but I had not yet proposed that he play... but I knew Zero, I knew his animal ways,” he said with great emphasis on the last two words.

Turning things over to Karazewski, Brooks discussed the genesis of “The Producers.” “I always thought it was a book,” he explained, “and I started writing it as a book.” He showed it to one of the members of his Chinese Gourmet Society, “either Mario or Joe” -- whom Karaszewski broke in to identify as Mario Puzo and Joseph Heller, “minor novelists.” “And Joe said, ‘It talks too much, there’s too much dialogue. It’s probably a play.’ So I knew Kermit Bloomgarten,” a major Broadway producer, Brooks continued. “Bloomgarten said, ‘The rule of the theater is one set, five actors. Any more than that and we’re out of business.’ He said, ‘You have 32 scenes here, 35 actors -- it’s not a play. I don’t know what the hell it is. It might be a movie, because in a movie they can cut from one scene to another.’”

Olsen also kept saying it’s a movie, but Brooks hadn’t written a movie before. But with Olsen’s help, and her super-speedy typing, he got through it.

“When you came to making it actually into a movie, it was more like a home movie. Everything was put together on the spur of the moment,” Olsen said. One example: “When we were going to do the audition scene for all the Hitlers, they were going to sing ‘I Could Have Danced All Night.’ It was going to be a montage of an actor with a Hitler mustache, and he’d sing one line of the song, and then we’d cut to another actor, and he’d sing the next line. Well, the rights to  ‘I Could Have Danced All Night’ were too hard to get. Meanwhile, we were already shooting -- we had nothing for that. Lore Noto, who produced ‘The Fantasticks,’ which was the longest-running show Off-Broadway, loaned us his office, and I was sitting in the office and two actors walked in. They were on Broadway in ‘Most Happy Fella,’ and they wanted to be in our movie. I hired them.”

“Betty became casting director,” Brooks interjected.

“And when it came time to do that scene,” Olsen continued, “it was made up on the spot, it was improvised. Mel had ideas, he told some people what to do, some people had their own ideas.

“And he really did insist on finishing his song!” Brooks added.

Photo by Jim Pease/American Cinematheque

Apparently Dustin Hoffman, who was doing “The Graduate” at the time with Brooks’ wife, Anne Bancroft, read the script and wanted to play the part of the German playwright, Franz Liebkind. Hoffman asked Olsen to push the shooting date back so he could take the part, but, as Olsen said, “It was not to be.” Brooks got a huge laugh by adding, “I didn’t want him, I didn’t want him. Who knew he’d turn out to be Dustin Hoffman?”

But Olsen found Kenneth Mars, who ended up playing the role -- Brooks described him as “a miracle.” Olsen explained, “Someone told us about him. He was in a play and he was playing a psychiatrist, and I remember he did tremendous things with Kleenex!

“We thought he was incredibly funny. And then we met with him and he had this great German accent,” she said.
Brooks added, “He had such a good German accent that finally I said, ‘Kenny, we need you to bring it more American, because no one can understand a f####ing word!’”

Among other “inside information” dispensed by Olsen: The movie was being shot in a studio on West 26th Street, and they didn’t have anything for the audition scene, and she went to Lincoln Center to see if she could find an old show that had something public-domain they could use. “And I walked past the fountain, and I did not go to the theater library, I turned right around and came down to 23rd Street, finished shooting. We got in a cab and went up to Lincoln Center, looked at the fountain. And the next day the production manager talked to Lincoln Center, and the guy who ran the fountain said, ‘I can make it go up 40 feet!’ And he did, for the movie!”

Karaszewski interjected: “But to talk about Zero ... he said no to you, right?” To which Brooks replied, “Zero said no. He just said no. He wouldn’t say why!” But mutual friend Speed Vogel offered to get the script to Mostel’s wife, Kate, “because she’s smart,” and Mostel trusted her judgment. Within a week she’d gotten him to agree to do it.

With Mostel on board, Brooks had to find the money to make the movie. He got Oscar-winning producer Sidney Glazer to read the script, which left Glazer laughing so hard he couldn’t breathe. Together they took it to Universal Studios, whose Lew Wasserman sent them a letter. “It said, ‘Very funny script. Universal could be aboard. One small change: Could you please change Hitler to Mussolini?””

Photo by Jim Pease/American Cinematheque
Finally they got producer Joseph E. Levine to come on, bringing his money from “possibly the worst movie ever made, ‘Hercules Unchained,’” Brooks said. Levine also made “Two Women” starring Sophia Loren. As Karaszewski interjected, “Levine was kind of a combination of Bob AND Harvey Weinstein.”

But that wasn’t the end of the attempted interference. “The one crazy thing that [Levine] did was he came to my office, and he said, there’s nothing wrong with this movie, but you gotta get rid of that funny-looking guy,” Brooks said. “I said, ‘Who’s that?’ and he said, ‘Gene Wilder.’ He said, ‘I’ll pay for a good-looking actor.’ I said, ‘But he’s perfect for the part. He’s delicious!’ I said, ‘Watch his development,’ and Bobby Weston, who worked for Joe, said, ‘Joe, Joe, he’s good.’ And he laid off Gene Wilder. We kept Gene Wilder, thank God.”

Wilder did “Mother Courage” on Broadway with Bancroft two years before he was cast as Leo Bloom -- as Karaszewski pointed out, “the only guy to get laughs” in that play. Brooks said, “Gene  asked why they were laughing, and I said, ‘You ever see a mirror?’”

Gene Wilder was in a Murray Schisgal play and Brooks walked into his dressing room, threw the “Producers” script on his dressing table, and told him they’d got the money and Wilder was to play Leo starting in a month and a half. “He burst into tears,” Brooks reported. “It was so beautiful.”

But Wilder still had to meet Mostel. “Zero was very cold and crazy when he met” Wilder, Brooks said. “He didn’t say a word, he just looked at him. Gene didn’t know what to do. Then he took Gene’s head in his hands and kissed him. Gene looked at me and he said [sotto voce], ‘He likes me.’

“Zero liked him very much. For some reason he hated Kenny Mars. ... I think he believed he was a Nazi!” Brooks said.

But, Brooks said, “I wouldn’t even look at anyone else” for the role of Max. “I said, if we don’t have Zero, we don’t have the movie.” There was “Fat” Jack Leonard, he allowed, but he wasn’t an actor -- he just told jokes. “Zero was a profound actor,” Brooks said.

Zero Mostel and Kenneth Mars in "The Producers"

Brooks talked a little bit about the more recent “Producers” movie as well -- the one based on the Broadway hit musical. “It’s a sore subject, because I didn’t want to make a film of the new musical. It was a perfectly thrilling Broadway show, absolutely thrilling. Susan Stroman did an incredible job with it, with its physical transference from the screen to the stage. And Tom Meehan and I worked almost around the clock to see if we could get the best of that movie onto the stage. And we did. It was smooth as silk -- you never saw the stitching we did.
“But you see it in the [new] movie. And I think that’s because [the original] was such a good movie. It’s so tight, and it’s so natural, and it flows from one scene to another so perfectly, so correctly. In the new musical, on screen, the music gets in the way, the numbers get in the way of the storytelling. And that’s why the movie is not nearly as good as the original movie. But thanks for bring that up [to audience member], I’ve wanted to get that off my chest for a long time.””

Asked by an audience member if there was anyone he’d always wanted to work with but hadn’t, Brooks allowed: “I used to dream of working with Jean Harlow: ‘Have you ever kissed a Jew?’”

Asked, “If you could go back in time, what would you tell young Mel?” Brooks first spouted some Yiddish gibberish, then said, “I wouldn’t tell myself anything. It all worked out.”

Asked if there were any “subjects you wanted to touch but haven’t been able to,” Brooks first cracked a joke about Gypsy Rose Lee’s sister June’s breasts -- “not to do anything dirty, just to feel them, they were so perfect!” But turning serious, he asked Olsen if there was anything that he ever avoided. She replied, “I think, quite amazingly, everything you ever wanted to do, somehow you got it done.” Brooks agreed: “Yeah.”

Photo by Jim Pease/American Cinematheque

F.X. Feeney on 'American Crime' Created by '12 Years A Slave' Writer John Ridley

AMERICAN CRIME! ... I've been going on so much about Orson Welles this week that I'd like to catch my breath a moment and celebrate this outstanding prime time show created by John Ridley, screenwriter of "12 YEARS A SLAVE." The American Cinematheque is celebrating it Wednesday evening May 6th at the Aero Theatre.

That also happens to be the hundredth anniversary of Orson Welles's birth. Since I'm joining in celebrations of THAT blessed event every other night of this coming week, I don't feel disloyal spending that particular evening at the Aero Theatre in Santa Monica, watching excerpts from AMERICAN CRIME in tandem with a panel discussion between Ridley and his principal cast. If anything the anniversary and the occasion are a good fit because this isn't "television," it's Long Form Cinema such as the most dedicated Cineastes have come to expect after the past 15 years of revolutions perpetrated at HBO, Showtime, A&E and Starz.

What's new and unique about AMERICAN CRIME is that it accomplishes this excellence on a mainstream network, without a jot of compromise anywhere in evidence.

Timothy Hutton has a moment, early in the first show, when his character is led into a morgue to identify the body of his murdered son. Despite that he is "ready" his gasp of recognition and sorrow is so eloquent, no words are needed. His reaction sets everything to come on its feet. It's a great dramatist who provides such a moment for an actor to complete. Ridley does the same for Felicity Huffman. Time and again her very driven, very controlled and controlling mother-in-grief must confront, as if in a self-torture chamber, exactly how out-of-control her torrents of angry, righteous, well-meant words are causing things to become.

The man accused of their son's murder -- Elvis Nolasco -- communicates with his whole body that he is innocent that particular crime. Yet in the same breath he reveals a man content to navigate a world in which he is guilty of so much else, because paradoxically that's the only world he can inhabit with the woman he loves. Richard Cabral by contrast communicates danger in every flash of his eyes -- for many episodes I've just assumed, "he's the killer," though (courtesy of Ridley's design) I've lately been sucker-punched out of that comfortable assumption, not just by developments in the story but by the depth of tender pride that Cabral reveals in this man when he first meets his baby daughter. At the opposite end of this lethal universe is the other suffering mother, played by Penelope Ann Miller: She struggles to surrender her outrage; to live in the moment; to help her comatose daughter survive a brutal attack she (and through her, we) can only imagine and re-imagine in ever new and worse ways as new information so relentlessly emerges.

THESE are the talents joining John Ridley onstage at the Aero Theatre, Wednesday night, May 6, 2015, and I can't wait to listen to them.

-- F.X. Feeney

For tickets, details, click here.