Charles Bradley and His Extraordinaires at the Cedar Cultural Center. See all of Alexa Jones’ photos.
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One of the reasons he chose to adapt Ivan Turgenev’s 1859 novel Home of the Gentry, playwright Crispin Whittell says in a program note, was that the story has “all these wonderful parts for women.” Such as? The part of the shallow and pretentious mother who wants to marry her daughter into high society! The part of the wisecracking single Woman of a Certain Age who’s not afraid to get real! The part of the sex-crazed maid! The part of the vain and manipulative married woman who can’t keep her hands on her own husband! And then of course, the part of the virginal and (natch) “intelligent” young girl who can’t marry the sketchy-but-philosophical older man she loves instead of the cocky young ass her mother would prefer!
An anti-New Wave t-shirt offered by the entrepreneurs at Barbaric Enterprises. From the August 1984 issue of Hit Parader.
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You can see what they were thinking with Iron Man 3. After the escalating robotic carnage of the first two films in the franchise, followed by the grand fracas of The Avengers—in which Iron Man went through a wormhole to another part of the universe, then plopped back down to the pavement just in time for happy hour at Guy Fieri’s—it must have seemed like it was time for a relatively low-key outing, getting Robert Downey Jr. out of the suit and going back to basics. Maybe a subplot involving a cute kid.
This Iron Man, though, is all too earthbound—both literally and in the sense of the action-movie clichés that it wearily rehashes. The villain is a zero, the romance is a snooze, the cute kid is a paper doll. To paraphrase a much more entertaining action-movie kid, there’s no time for love, Mr. Stark.
Except that there is, because the forces of evil here are so meandering that not only are they vulnerable to some personal-security gadgets Tony Stark buys at Home Depot, the bad guys wait around for Stark to buy the gadgets and rig ‘em up. (Guess whose idea the jury-rigged contraptions are, and if you don’t guess “the cute kid,” then Iron Man 3 will surprise and delight you.)
The face of evil in this film is “the Mandarin,” a classic Iron Man villain whose original incarnation was about as racist as it sounds, but who’s been cleverly updated in a manner that will please most—though it left some (coincidentally white) trufans at a preview screening howling. I could have used a lot more of the Mandarin, played by a Ben Kingsley who’s been outfitted to resemble a vaguely Asian extremist but who delivers his lines like Johnny Cash trying to imitate William S. Burroughs.
Unfortunately, instead of letting the Sexy Beast have it out in a fistfight with Iron Man, screenwriters Drew Pearce and Shane Black give the heavy lifting to a second villain, played by Guy Pearce looking like a skinny Val Kilmer but making us wish Black (who directs) had just gone ahead and cast the fat Val Kilmer. Speaking of actors of wildly variable weight, Jon Favreau is onscreen here reprising the character he originated in the previous films—but his flair behind the camera is sorely missed.
Though it’s a disappointment, Iron Man 3 isn’t a bad film. It has more than its share of sharp moments, and Downey (who, like Ali McGraw in Love Story, looks younger and haler the closer his character gets to death) is still the best super-antihero since Christopher Reeve blew out the Olympic Flame. As his love interest, recently-anointed Most Beautiful Woman in the World Gwyneth Paltrow has no memorable scenes except a climactic trapped-in-the-wreckage moment that does for her abs what The Loves of Hercules did for Jayne Mansfield’s breasts, demonstrating once again that the sports bra is the new Wonder Bra.
The series’ refreshingly sardonic snap has simply become less refreshing—and less snappy. Like Green Lantern (a much, much, much worse movie), this is a superhero film that contains a metaphor for its own failure. As the compulsively constructing Tony Stark well knows, when you keep trying to replicate and improve an invention, no matter how wonderful the original model was and no matter how many cool features you add, you’re bound to eventually turn out a clinker.
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NEEDTOBREATHE at the Orpheum Theatre: Christian music, but not really. Read Patrick Dunn’s review and view all of his photos.
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Jason Isbell and Todd Snider at the Fitzgerald Theater. See all of Ryan Cutler’s photos.
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Fleetwood Mac at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul: photos by Jeff Rutherford
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“Previewing the return to Minneapolis of the 2006 Broadway adaptation of Disney’s Mary Poppins, Rohan Preston of the Star Tribune wrote a feature about the enduring myth of the British Supernanny.
“That’s only one of the cultural tropes on display through April 28 at the Orpheum Theatre. Others include the Happy Poor, the Burdened Rich and the Abused Toys. There’s some Sigmund Freud (Mr. Banks was symbolically castrated by his overbearing nanny), some Adam Smith (Mr. Banks holds firmly to the labor theory of value) and some Michel Foucault (I’ll let you conduct your own post-colonial analysis of the Caribbean immigrant who sells - literally sells - the word supercalifragilisticexpialidocious to Mary and her charges).
“With all that theory to chew on, adapter Julian Fellowes seems to have concluded that leaving feminism in the mix would be a bit much. In contrast to the 1964 Disney film, in which Mrs. Banks was a spunky suffragette, this Mrs. Banks spends the entire show trying to convince her distant husband that she’s worthy of his attention. By the end, she decides to abandon her acting career because, she declares without a whiff of irony, she’s found her favorite role: Mrs. Banks. I guess Fellowes decided the Friedan-era movie was just too progressive for a story centered on a magical woman who solves everyone’s problems and refuses any pay.”