The narrow, confining parameters of Benjie Aerenson’s new play, “Paradise Island,” are established so early on that claustrophobia may grip you before the lights have gone down on the first of its many short scenes. Emma (Lynn Cohen) and her unmarried, 32-year-old daughter, Terri (Adrienne Shelly), are on vacation in the Bahamas, and even before their respective suitcases are unpacked they are at loggerheads over clothes, dieting and who is the bigger bitch on TV, Jenny Jones or Marcia Clark. Theatergoers ready to take the first flight home should avoid the impulse, however: “Paradise Island” is no vacation, but Emma and Terri are worth the arduous trip.
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Timothy McNeil’s coming-of-age drama recalls a time in middle class, middle America when husbands went off to work and wives took care of tidy little homes with well-manicured lawns and children. It is his premise that the inexplicable suicide of a teenage girl sets in motion an emotional catharsis among the girl’s family and neighbors that inevitably re-structures all of their lives. Under the balanced staging of actor/director Mark Ruffalo (co-star of “You Can Count On Me”), McNeil’s study of the evolution-by-crisis of four families certainly captures the aura of late-’60s suburban life but does not offer enough substance to warrant the time we spend in their company.
Musicians that aim for the head often end up missing their target because they end up firing their missives far too high to be grasped. While Kurt Rosenwinkel, perhaps the most admired of jazz’s young Turk guitarists, is certainly cerebral in his approach, his aim is invariably true and his gray matter stimulation unflaggingly electric.
The spectacle of the distinguished actor Larry Pine flailing his way through the unspeakable new play “Krisit” could just be the sorriest sight to be seen on a New York stage right now. Playing a has-been movie director trying to clinch a new picture, Pine expends a dispiriting amount of energy trying to perform CPR on a play that’s DOA. Penned by one Y York, who might want to finish writing her own name before embarking on more ambitious literary projects, this satire of Hollywood iniquity is about as sharp as a makeup sponge, and scarcely more entertaining.
Maverick Quebecois filmmaker Pierre Falardeau takes a decidedly partisan look at the Rebellion of 1837, a key event in Canuck history, in “February 15, 1839,” a politically charged period piece that will please his hard-core fans in French Canada but is not liable to expand his audience elsewhere.
Marc Levin invokes equal parts “West Side Story” and his “Slam” with mostly bombastic results. “Brooklyn Babylon” was shown as a “surprise” opening-night attraction at Slamdance, and while it’s not a terrible stretch to say that the controversy is more interesting than the film’s content, pic is not without modest commercial potential.
The great tap-dancer Bill “Bojangles” Robinson receives an affectionate tribute with this Showtime telefilm from star and exec producer Gregory Hines. We’ve seen plenty of these biopics before, and the form itself is becoming a bit tired — they tend to follow the same reliable, and undoubtedly reductive, pattern to condense a life to under two hours. This particular effort, directed by Joseph Sargent, compensates for its standard storytelling with some visual stylishness and Hines’ fast footwork.
An impressive cross-section of Paris’ expat community from the Antilles islands bands together to set matters right when the wife of a mayor back home is kidnapped in the capital. Although “Antilles-sur-Seine” is often more forced than convincingly jaunty, black culture is celebrated as a given, which augurs well for fests.
Sony’s “The Wedding Planner” bowed to $14 million atop all weekend grosses. Perf cut in on Paramount’s youthful “Save the Last Dance,” as the box office leader in the preceding two frames waltzed to another $10 million.