Catasauqua Press

Friday, October 20, 2017

Movie Review: Fielding 'Elysium'

Wednesday, August 21, 2013 by PAUL WILLISTEIN in Focus

"Elysium" is a science fiction metaphor for the haves and have-nots of today.

In the year 2154, the super-rich live on a huge bicycle wheel-shaped space station orbiting Earth. It is a Garden of Eden. The wealthy are coddled in Boca-Raton meets Disney World surroundings. Health-care "med-pods" heal patients completely and quickly.

Down below, the whole Earth has become the Third World. Los Angeles is reduced to shanty towns such as those, for example, surrounding Mexico City.

Animation, actors enliven 'The Smurfs 2'

Wednesday, August 14, 2013 by PAUL WILLISTEIN in Focus

"The Smurfs 2" is an amusing animated and live action feature film with excellent character voices, jokey dialogue and terrific animation that should be enjoyed by the pre-10 year-old set and hold the attention of most parents or guardians.

The characters were created by Peyo, aka Pierre Culliford, a Belgium comic-strip artist-writer. The name Smurf is a Dutch language translation of an invented French word, Schtroumpf, a made-up word for salt.

THEATER REVIEW

Wednesday, August 7, 2013 by PAUL WILLISTEIN in Focus

A star is born in Pa. Playhouse 'Aida'

As the late theater critic Jack O'Brian (1914 - 2000) wrote in his syndicated column, "Voice of Broadway" and said on his afternoon interview show WOR-AM: "Always the young strangers."

It's uncertain whether the phrase was borrowed from the title of Carl Sandburg's 1953 book, but O'Brian used it to refer to new talent in break-through roles in Broadway shows.

THEATER REVIEWS 'Henry VIII': An abridged production too far at PSF

Wednesday, July 31, 2013 by PAUL WILLISTEIN in Focus

The Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival (PSF) production of "Henry VIII," through Aug. 4, Schubert Theatre, Labuda Center for the Arts, DeSales University, Center Valley, is a curiosity.

The so-called history play, in its PSF debut (as is "Measure for Measure," also through Aug. 4), is said by some scholars to have been a collaboration between William Shakespeare and John Fletcher. "Henry VIII" was first performed some 400 years before no-fault divorce, June 29, 1613, at the Globe Theatre, which burned to the ground when a cannon in the play misfired and ignited the thatched roof.

'20 Feet' to summer indie films

Wednesday, July 31, 2013 by PAUL WILLISTEIN in Focus

Summer and blockbusters go hand in popcorn at the movies.

The watershed year for the summer blockbuster marketing mentality of the major Hollywood movie studios was 1975 with the release of director Steven Spielberg's "Jaws," which ushered in the summer blockbuster genre of big-budget, fast-paced, thrilling entertainment.

During the summer and Thanksgiving through Christmas and New Year's holiday season, there's "counterprogramming," whereby "indie" (independently-released) films are released, sometimes to critical and box office success.

Renaud makes 'DM2' fun

Wednesday, July 24, 2013 by PAUL WILLISTEIN in Focus

"Despicable Me 2" has nearly all the things you would want to see and hear in an animated feature family comedy.

It has distinctive and charmingly-rendered characters, voice talent that is very expressive, an interesting and entertaining storyline, an overall attention to detail and, most importantly, a sense of fun.

"Despicable Me 2" ("DM2") is co-directed by Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud.

Renaud is a Parkland High School, Class of '85, graduate who attended the Baum School of Art where he received a $1,000 scholarship.

THEATER REVIEW 'Measure' up at Pa. Shakespeare Fest

Wednesday, July 24, 2013 by PAUL WILLISTEIN in Focus

The Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival production of "Measure for Measure," through Aug. 4, Labuda Center for the Performing Arts, DeSales University, Center Valley, is a marvelous feast of double-crossing stratagems, low comedy and high drama.

With Shakespeare, you usually get a drama or comedy. With the Bard's "Measure for Measure," you get both. The play could be regarded as the first of what is now known in TV and movie parlance as a "dramedy," or, more traditionally, a tragicomedy.

Depp in a 'Lone' star state

Wednesday, July 17, 2013 by PAUL WILLISTEIN in Focus

In the western genre of motion pictures, "The Lone Ranger" ranks right up there with the more unusual.

While not as odd as "Cowboys & Aliens" (2011), it's not in the classic style of director Clint Eastwood's "Unforgiven" (1992), "3:10 to Yuma" (the 2007 version and 1957 original) or director John Ford's "The Searchers" (1956), starring John Wayne.

However, "The Lone Ranger," despite the reviling reactions of many movie critics, has a lot to recommend it.

It is one of the wildest of movies about the Wild West as you're likely to see.

'Importance of Being' funny

Wednesday, July 17, 2013 by PAUL WILLISTEIN in Focus

Without being too "punny" about it, you are in for a "Wilde" time of laughter with the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival (PSF) production of Oscar Wilde's "The Importance of Being Earnest," through Aug. 4, Main Stage, Labuda Center for the Performing Arts, DeSales University, Center Valley.

While the laughs are decidedly high-brow and not low-brow puns, you don't have to be knowledgeable about the vagaries of Victorian society to be in on the jokes.