Chicago theater revives “Sunset Boulevard” musical

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Hollis Resnik stars as Norma Desmond alongside Billy Rude as Joe Gillis. (Image Courtesy: The Chicago Tribune).

Beginning Tuesday night, Porchlight Music Theatre artistic director Michael Weber is reviving the stage adaptation of Billy Wilder’s Sunset Boulevard (1950) at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts through December 8, according to the Chicago Tribune. With music by Andrew Lloyd Webber as well as lyrics and book by Don Black and Christopher Hampton, the two-and-a-half-hour play first opened in 1993 London after leading lady Gloria Swanson spent much of the 1950s fighting to create a musical interpretation. Patti LuPone played Norma Desmond during the production’s London run, while Glenn Close, Petula Clark, Diahann Carroll, and Kim Zimmer were cast in the role stateside.

The fight to make the film industry more green

Emile O’Brien, who founded the environmentalist film and television consultancy service Earth Angel, was inspired to do so after studying production at New York University and seeing how much waste there was on sets, according to Vice. As an example, BAFTA says a single hour of fiction or nonfiction television produced in the UK generates thirteen metric tons of carbon dioxide, which is almost as much CO2 as an American produces on average in a year. To encourage a business which prides itself on its progressivism to put its money where its mouth is environmentally, O’Brien suggests that crews departmentalize “Eco Production Assistants,” and that activist groups host awards ceremonies for sustainability.

Priyanka Chopra Jonas discusses new film

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Priyanka Chopra Jonas opens up about her family with Nick Jonas on The View also, celebrating brothers-in-law Joe and Kevin Jonas as well as sisters-in-law Sophie Turner and Danielle Jonas for the support system they’ve given her. (Image Courtesy: ABC News).

Thirty-seven-year-old Priyanka Chopra Jonas returned to Bollywood for Shonali Bose’s The Sky Is Pink (2019), telling the cohosts of The View during her Tuesday interview about how the production helped her reach a catharsis after the death of her father, according to ABC News. Ashok Chopra lost a years-long battle with cancer in June 2013, but not before raising his daughter to be confident in her opinions and decisions, knowing she had her family to back her unconditionally. Chopra Jonas says his parenting style inspired her activism, which may or may not one day mean a career in politics for her.

Samuel L. Jackson sounds off on Martin Scorsese’s MCU comments

In response to Martin Scorsese’s opinions about the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Samuel L. Jackson, who stars as head of SHIELD Nick Fury in ten MCU films, reminds Variety readers the filmmaker’s movies are controversial among Italian Americans, according to The Guardian. Scorsese told Empire that Marvel pictures are “not cinema” after trying and failing to get interested in them. Other industry insiders speaking out against what Scorsese said about the MCU include James Gunn, who directed Guardians of the Galaxy (2014), Karen Gillan (who plays Nebula in Guardians), as well as Joss Whedon, the director behind The Avengers (2012).

The most important female director you’ve never heard of

From 1896 to 1906, the largely forgotten Alice Guy-Blaché was not just the world’s first female filmmaker, she was also the world’s only female filmmaker, christening her career with no less than the first narrative film, La Fée Aux Choux (1896), according to The A.V. Club. She was inspired to make cinema after sitting in the audience for Auguste and Louis Lumière’s La Sortie de l’Usine Lumière à Lyon (1895), thinking she could do better than one of history’s first motion pictures by telling stories instead of simply shooting scenes of everyday life. Guy-Blaché also pioneered several special effects (double exposure, masking, as well as running a reel backwards), and her comedy, A Fool and His Money (1912), is believed to be the first movie with an all-black cast.

Amazon Prime review: Colin Trevorrow’s “Jurassic World” (2015)

Who knew one of the pop artistic masterpieces of our time would be about Bryce Dallas Howard running through a jungle in high heels?

If you don’t know what to watch next, Colin Trevorrow’s Jurassic World (2015) is available on Amazon Prime. The filmmaker cowrote the science fiction adventure film, the closest to authorship one is apt to come across in the blockbuster landscape.

Indeed, it ranks among the top ten highest-grossing pictures of all time.

Zach Mitchell (Nick Robinson) and his brother, Gray (Ty Simpkins), travel to Isla Nublar to visit their aunt, Claire Dearing (Howard), the overworked operations manager for Jurassic World who foists them off onto her assistant, Zara (Katie McGrath).

During their visit, a genetically engineered dinosaur called the Indominus rex makes its escape and terrorizes the theme park. Together with her ex-lover, Owen Grady (Chris Pratt), the Velociraptor handler, Claire must find her nephews before the Indominus rex does.

Rian Johnson’s Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi (2017) is to its respective series what Jurassic World is to its own. In a world where we grow up knowing Darth Vader is Luke Skywalker’s father, how is a director to subvert our expectations again?

Correspondingly, for a generation raised on Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park (1993), is it possible to feel what it’s like to lay eyes on dinosaurs for the first time again, as contemporaneous viewers did?

In the eyes of audience surrogate Zach, a bored teenager stuck babysitting his brother, more interested in the girls around him (even though he has an offscreen girlfriend) than he is in the dinosaurs, Jurassic World is old news.

As a result of such indifference, the park modifies a never-before-seen attraction, the Indominus rex. But, as always with Jurassic Park, playing God and exploiting nature for capital come at a devastating price.

The Indominus rex is as postmodern a villain as Catherine Tramell, Ghostface, and Heath Ledger’s Joker, killing for the sake of itself, creating conflict because life would be a static, existential purgatory without it.

Doctor Henry Wu (franchise alum B.D. Wong) designs a predator to kill not for survival, but because it can, to entertain an overstimulated public. To quote Ghostface himself, “Motives are incidental.”

And in a Tarantinoesque gesture, Trevorrow incorporates his product placement into his world-building. Brand names from our popular culture have plastered their logos throughout the storefronts of Jurassic World, despite the tragedies of the past, or even because of them.

In other words, the text knows it’s a text, and the Indominus rex exists because all watchable cinema has need of an Indominus rex, and Jurassic World the subject and Jurassic World the representation are both in the business of turning a profit.

As self-referential as the movie is, its storytelling still leaves a lot to be desired. Zach and Gray off-handedly introduce a divorce plot thread between their parents, Scott Mitchell (Andy Buckley) and Karen Dearing (Judy Greer), amounting to exactly nothing.

In addition to Howard’s infamously impractical shoes, it would have been more feministic if Claire’s relationship with Owen were platonic, as an alternative to the male-gaze wish fulfillment of the patriarchal hero getting the damsel in distress at the end.

These offenses are nowhere near as egregious as the fate of Zara. It is a gratuitous sequence, and worse, played for laughs. As unsympathetic a character as Zara is, she doesn’t deserve to be “punished” as women too often are in media.

Still, part of this popcorn flick’s wizardry is that it isn’t so much “style over substance” as the style IS the substance, and, if mainstream Hollywood fetishizes violence, then Jurassic World is only giving the people what they want.

Greta Garbo’s letters up for auction

Sixty-five handwritten letters between Stockholm-born star Greta Garbo and Austrian actress and writer Salka Viertel, composed from 1932 to 1973, are expected to bring in sixty thousand film collectors’ dollars at auction, according to The Guardian. The correspondences, first sold to a fan in 1993 Florida, humanize the Swedish Sphinx’s “Nordic Noir” onscreen persona, articulating the isolation and melancholy she lived behind the scenes far from home with only her European friends’ writings to accompany her through Hollywood. Viertel, who biographers say was Garbo’s closest friend, cowrote a number of her classics and appeared alongside her in Jacques Feyder’s Anna Christie (1930).