CHICAGO – Standing up at the Lyric Opera house in Chicago is unusual before a show. But in this case, it was the night after a tragedy, and the operetta “The Merry Widow” – set in Paris, France, in 1905 – was about to unfold. The orchestra struck up La Marseillaise, a reminder that we’ll always have Paris.
CHICAGO – There’s no television program that can be more simultaneously brilliant and frustrating as Aaron Sorkin’s “The Newsroom,” returning tonight, July 14, 2013, to start an already-tumultuous second season.
CHICAGO – Aaron Sorkin’s “The Newsroom,” recently released on Blu-ray and DVD, drives me crazy. The HBO drama can be so thematically dense and brings up subjects too often missing from the national conversation but it can also be so frustratingly self-important and deluded in its vision of the way real people operate. Do you give it credit for the topics it raises or smash it for the heavy hand with which they’re delivered? I have high hopes that season two will iron out some of the problems (stories of reshot episodes indicate that Sorkin heard his critics) but I’m still torn on how to feel about season one.
CHICAGO – Moviegoers allergic to copious amounts of talk will be hacking and wheezing minutes into “Swimming to Cambodia.” It’s a cinematically lensed 1987 recording of a show that consists entirely of actor/writer Spalding Gray sitting in a chair telling stories. He’s a vibrant presence and a brilliant wordsmith, but his mouth could literally talk one’s ear into a coma.
CHICAGO – As the late, great Sophia Petrillo of “The Golden Girls” might have philosophized, “Picture it: September 13, 1990.” When “Law & Order” premiere, “The Internet” and “Email” were barely words, “mobile phones” looked like portable hair dryers, and Google, Yahoo, and AOL weren’t even gleams in Bill Gates’ eyeglasses — let alone Twitter, MySpace, Facebook, and YouTube. HBO and Showtime had yet to produce A-list hour dramas, and F/X, TNT, AMC, and USA had yet to produce anything more than the occasional TV-movie at all.