Recent Hits: TV, Film, & Theater

All the Way (now showing on HBO)

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Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad; Malcolm in the Middle) TOTALLY transformed himself into LBJ- vocally and physically!  It was also a treat to see Melissa Leo (who plays Lady Bird) after a LONG time; I’ve been a fan of hers since her days on Homicide: Life on the Street.  I saw the play (Arena stage production) about 2 mos. ago; the film is V true to that, though there are changes made (as you can do more w/ cinema).  Anthony Mackie (who has NOT aged by much) has a meaty role as MLK, Jr.  Wingnuts (fans of The West Wing) will be happy to see Bradley Whitford (who portrays liberal Democratic senator- Hubert Humphrey).    

 

The Man Who Knew Infinity (now in select theaters)

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I went to go to a free screening about 3 wks ago; I had no expectations.  Well, I really liked it- and NOT just b/c of Jeremy Irons, the music, or cinematography!  Toby Jones (who often plays baddies) is just SO sweet/delightful as G. H. Hardy’s (Irons’) BFF/fellow mathematician.  Jeremy Northam has a side role as charming philospher Bertrand Russell; it was a nice surprise to me.   This is in the time just before WWI- that conflict also affects the lives of the Oxford community.

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British-Indian actor, Dev Patel (Slumdog Millionnaire; The Newsroom), does a FINE job as S. Ramanujan, a devout Brahmin Hindu math whiz who went from Southern India to Oxford U. at the age of 26.  Patel, who is still in his 20s, has a penchant for wide-eyed/innocent/eager characters; it works well here.  Ramanujan left behind his strong-willed widowed mother and lovely new wife, Janaki (Indian-American actress Devika Bhise). It’s been a LONG time since I’ve seen a modern/Western young woman portray a traditional/demure Indian housewife in SUCH a convincing manner! 

 

The Taming of the Shrew (STC: MAY 17-JUNE 26)

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I just saw this last SAT (preview matinee) w/ a gal pal (who luckily got free tickets online)- it was FABULOUS!  This production, directed by Chinese-Indonesian Brit, Ed Sylvanus Iskander, has a beautiful/intricate set and songs (by Duncan Sheik) which are performed by characters (who were NOT given monologues in Shakespeare’s original play).  

Yes, ALL the actors are male, BUT diversity is built into the show!  Indian- American actor Maulik Pancholy (Weeds) plays Kate, Sri Lankan-American veteran actor Bernard White (Silicon Valley) plays Baptista and Dutch/Mexican-Brit, Peter Gadiot (Tut), plays Petruchio.  Chinese-American actor, Telly Leung, has the best singing voice in the cast; he recently appeared as one of the leads in Allegiance (opposite George Takei). 

Get more info here!      

 

 

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Game of Thrones: Season 6, Episode 5 (“The Door”)

SPOILERS: Don’t read this review if you have not yet seen or don’t want to know details from the latest episode of Game of Thrones 

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Did you know about Ramsay?  If you didn’t know, you’re an idiot.  If you did know, you’re my enemy.  -Sansa tells Littlefinger

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The time may come when you need an army loyal to you. -Littlefinger gives Sansa some advice

The man who knows everything either underestimated Ramsay Bolton -unlikely- or  even more severely underestimated how Sansa Stark would react to being sold into marriage with a sadist. Sonya Soraiya (Salon.com)

The servant does not question.  -Jaqen flatly tells Arya

A girl has no desires. -Arya concludes

Is Arya being merely tested by Jaqen, OR do you think she will really have to kill the actress (Essie Davis) playing Cersei?  We also get some of the history of Braavos.  Its people were former slaves who came from Valyria; one man learned and trained to become a Faceless Man, then taught the others.   

What did you think of the play w/in the ep (which poor Arya has to watch)?  It reminded me of Shakespeare’s time- that’s how commoners got their news (before newspapers and the Internet).  Ned is portrayed as clueless, Joffrey is innocent, and Tyrion is the (obvious) villain.  Sansa is seen as promiscuous- the actress’ top is torn off at the end of one scene.

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It was you- you made the Whitewalkers! -Bran says to Leaf (one of the Children of the Forest)

Yes, that is the SAME actor (above) who played the scared man being changed into a Whitewalker (see below).  The Children of the Forest created these creatures in order to protect themselves against humankind. 

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They’re [Whitewalkers] basically biological weapons.  This is nature’s way to fight the virus of humanity…  The dragons are nuclear weapons.  -Itamar Harel (GoT Academy)

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Isn’t that the point of being a fanatic? You’re always right. Everything is the Lord’s will.  -Varys sarcastically says to Kinvara, the (new) Red Priestess from Volantis

The Lord of Light brings people back from the dead- it’s not like they [the Red Priests/Priestesses] have inconsequential powers.  –Cenk Uygur (What the Flick?!)

Maybe she’ll use him [Tyrion] to make her religion more popular?  -Gil Kidron (GoT Academy)

Maybe he’s the one who created the monster who he will not be able to control?  And she [Kinvara] will turn the tables on him?  -Itamar Harel (GoT Academy)

This was a rarity- Varys being disturbed/scared (by Kinvara’s knowledge of his past)!  She inferred that it was the Lord of Light’s voice he heard when his “bits” were thrown into the fire by the sorcerer.

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She is a leader! She is a warrior! She is iron born! You will find no better leader! She is your queen!  -Theon rallies the warriors during the Kingsmoot

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I wasn’t born to be king! I paid the iron price, and here I stand!  -Euron concludes w/ confidence (before being crowned king)

Theon gets a GREAT speech- he stands by Yara (as he said he would in E4)!  The men of the Kingsmoot (leaders of the Iron Islands) choose Euron.  While the new king is being baptized, Yara, Theon, and the men loyal to her steal the best ships- YAY!    

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My father used to say Northerners are different- more loyal. Suspicious of outsiders.  -Sansa explains to Ser Davos

Finally, Sansa Stark- a politician!  A commander in chief…  A strategist…  Her goal now is to be a widow. -Gil Kidron (GoT Academy)

She is in the center of the action..  I don’t think she will marry again.  She’ll be married to her kingdom, like Elizabeth I.  -Itamar Harel (GoT Academy)

Hold the door!  -The command that decided Wyllis’ destiny

Now we come to the MOST dramatic part of the ep- the sacrifice of the Bran’s  loyal servant- Hodor.  As a boy, he was called Wyllis, and talked normally and worked w/ the horses of the Stark household.  In the big scheme of things, Hodor is NOT a main player, though he had a part to play! 

Magic has to be destroyed.  It’s too dangerous.  -Itamar Harel (GoT Academy)

Game of Thrones is so good- even my least favorite episode has continued to haunt me… like from the moment that it ended to this moment.  -Cenk Uygur (What the Flick!?)

Game of Thrones: Season 6, Episode 4 (“Book of the Stranger”)

SPOILERS: Don’t read this review if you have not yet seen or don’t want to know details from the latest episode of Game of Thrones 

Castle Black/The Wall:

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We ALL cheered (no doubt) as Brienne, Pod, & Sansa slowly rode into the yard of Castle Black! Tormund was wowed by seeing such a woman as Brienne (more to come on that, I’m sure). Sansa and Jon hugged- SUCH a satisfying moment! These half-sibs had NEVER before had a scene together in 6 seasons (as the showrunners noted on HBO site after the ep).

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In short time, Sansa explained to Jon about the severity of the situation w/ Ramsay; she knew in her gut that HE had killed Roose. But Jon, who has been fighting since leaving Winterfell, admitted that he was tired of fighting. And which houses would be their allies? Sansa said that he saved the Wildlings, so they owe him their support.  If Jon wasn’t going to lead an army, then SHE would! (Twitter was abuzz w/ love for this new badass Sansa that night.)

The Eyrie (The Vale):

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We see a teen Robin Arryn practicing archery while his reluctant teacher/protector, Lord Royce, watches w/ some of the knights of the Vale. Robin sucks at hitting the target (NO shocker there)! Then we see a carriage arrive and out comes Littlefinger! Robin runs over to hug his “Uncle Petyr” (blech).

Lord Royce confronts Littlefinger re: what happened w/ Sansa. He thought Littlefinger was talking his charge to Jon at Castle Black, so how the Hell did she end up married to Ramsay!? The schemer stays calm (as usual), saying that Ramsay and his Bolton bannermen STOLE Sansa away on the road.

Pike (The Iron Islands):

Theon (no longer in Reek mode) returns home and keeps apologizing for how he acted under Ramsay’s control. His younger sis, Yara, is mad (at first). Then she gives him some tough love- Theon has to stop saying sorry and decide what HE really wants out of life! Theon declares that Yara should lead the iron born- she’s the best candidate now that their father is dead. Theon’s personal journey continues to surprise me!

Winterfell:

Osha (Rickon’s ONLY protector) is brutally/quickly stabbed and killed by Ramsay (who she tried to seduce)- V sad ending for such a strong character! But before Osha died, she got in some nice barbs at Ramsay. I really thought that the tough Wildling gal would’ve been able to (at least) wound that evil bastard.

Meereen:

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Much to the disgust/dismay of Grey Worm and Messandei, Tyrion declares a truce w/ the slavers (who had backed the Sons of the Harpy).  Varys doesn’t look too happy, BUT this is the price of peace.  Tyrion explains that there will be a grace period (7 yrs) before they MUST  abolish slavery.  Then the slavers are left alone w/ beautiful/young women. 

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After the meeting, they must face a group of angry former slaves in the main hall.  The men wonder at how Grey Worm can go along w/ such a plan.  In the garden, Grey Worm and Missandei (BOTH former slaves) get a nice/meaty scene w/ Tyrion.  Missandei says that he was NOT a slave long enough to know how truly terrible it can be for a person.  Grey Worm thinks that these masters will use Tyrion (NOT the other way around)- they always managed to get their way before.       

Kings Landing:

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In the Grand Sept, after telling Margaery the story of how he came to religion, the High Sparrow allows the disheveled queen to see her big bro in his jail cell. Yikes, Loras looks terrible, and is also an emotional wreck. He cries and says he just wants it to stop! Margaery embraces him, explaining that THIS is the time to be strong (the old man is probably plotting to turn them against each other).

I actually liked the High Sparrow’s story in this ep! (Some of you tweeted that you were unsure if it was true.) He was once a successful cobbler (inheriting his dad’s business) who was drawn to worldly things- fancy clothes, wine, women, and partying w/ wealthy pals. Before dawn one morning (around age of 25), he realized how hollow his life had become, and walked away (w/o his shoes- ironic). Isn’t that usually the case? People (in the real world) that had the most craziest youths (doing extreme/illegal activities) can turn out to be the ones that cling to religion tightly.

In the Red Keep, Cersei learns from Tommen what judgment (a walk of shame- YIKES!) lies in his wife’s future. The High Sparrow has been talking w/ the king now and then. Cersei and Jaime FINALLY convince Uncle Kevyn (Lancel’s dad- FYI) and Lady Olenna to get w/ their plan. The Lannister army will stay outside and guard the city; the Tyrell army (bit larger) come inside the city walls to capture (or kill) the High Sparrow. After Margaery is free and at Tommen’s side, the armies will kill the Sparrows if they don’t surrender. Hmm… wonder if MANY of those rag tag folks can even fight properly?

Vaes Dothrak (Essos):

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Daario (ugh, I barely tolerate this guy) and Jorah (still LOVE him) are outside the city limits, planning the rescue of Dany.  Jorah explains (as he did back in S1 to Viserys) that weapons are forbidden inside this city.  During the fight w/ the two Dothraki on the streets, we see that Jorah is losing (V unexpected); at one point, he throws sand in his opponent’s eyes. Daario has to save Jorah’s life- he stabs the Dothraki in the back (w/ his fave knife).

It turns out that the khaleesi can save HERSELF!  Dany has a GREAT speech in front of all the khals, before setting fire to the (VERY flammable) structure where they’ve all gathered.  Dany emerges from the roaring fire, amazing the Dothraki, who quickly bow down before her.  Then Jorah and Daario (he’s never seen this sort of thing either) bow down, too.  What a FAB ending! 

Game of Thrones: Season 6, Episode 3 (“Oathbreaker”)

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We meet young Ned Stark (Robert Aramayo) in a flashback scene!

WHO broke an oath (as mentioned in the title)?

Ned – Hmmm… this is debateable.  Ned fudged on the REAL story of what happened at the Tower of Joy; he said that HE defeated the Knight of the Morning- Ser Arthur Dayne (Luke Roberts) in combat BUT it was actually Howland Reed (one of the Crannogmen; father of Jojen and Meera) who stabbed Dayne in the back.  Now we know exactly WHY Ned held Howland in such high regard.  Aramayo’s accent was spot-on, as was the way he moved while sword fighting, and walking- making him a quite convincing Ned!

Smalljon Umber – Yes, he broke his oath to the Starks, the family that the Umbers had been allied w/ for generations.  The actor (Dean S. Jagger) did a good job w/ this role!

Jon – FINALLY, he is leaving Castle Black.  He is free to try to take back Winterfell- YAY!  Since he died, then maybe he didn’t break his oath to the Night’s Watch as some podcasters/viewers/critics said)?

Memorable Lines

Nothing.  -Jon replies when Melisandre asks what he saw after he died.

I know that [Jon is not a god].  I saw your pecker.  What kind of god would have a pecker that small?  -Tormund jokes before he embraces Jon

You are the not the queen because you are not married to the king.  Though I realize that such things can get confusing in your family.  -Lady Olenna throws some shade on Cersei during the Small Council meeting

Her love for you is more real than anything else in this world, because it doesn’t come from this world.  -The High Sparrow explains to Tommen

Your father was a c*nt.  –Smalljon Umber concludes re: Roose to Ramsay

I’ve brought you a gift.  -Umber says to Roose before Osha and Rickon are brought out, along w/ the head of Shaggydog (Rickon’s direwolf)

My watch is ended.  -Jon said after giving the black fur cloak (worn by the Lord Commander) to Edd

Game of Thrones: Season 6, Episode 2 (“Home”)

SPOILERS: Don’t read this review if you have not yet seen or don’t want to know details from the latest episode of Game of Thrones

Home, for them, really resides in the relationships they can forge out of chaos.  Maybe those relationships are about power or worship or faith, but the ones that seem to have the most meaning are often about something else: Compassion, trust, resilience.  Maureen Ryan (Variety.com)

Winterfell:

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It is beautiful beneath the sea, but if you stay too long, you drown.Three-Eyed Raven comments to Bran

Awww, this was the CUTEST thing in this ep!  Bran (now a tall/lanky teen) wargs back to the past and sees his VERY young father Ned and uncle Benjen (who later became part of the Night’s Watch) sparring in the yard at Winterfell. Their older sister, Lyana, rides up on her horse, making fun of them.  (This girl looks like Arya did back in S1.) Bran comments on how happy the family looks. Hodor (then called Wyllis) is serving as a stable boy. He can talk!

Castle Black:

Davos, Edd, & few other of Jon’s pals get ready to fight Allister, BUT the Wildlings (led by Tormund) come breaking through the gate. They have a giant w/ them (YAY)! Instead of killing the brothers who stabbed Jon, Edd has them thrown into the cells.

Kings Landing:

Ser Gregor Clegane (AKA The Mountain) quickly kills the weasely jerk who was spreading jokes re: Cersei (w/ a head bash). Tommen has directed the palace guard to keep Cersei inside- she can’t go to Myrcella’s funeral.

We learn that the king did this for his mother’s protection (when he explains to Jaime in The Grand Sept). He feels helpless since the High Sparrow is basically in charge of the kingdom; he can’t even get his wife (Margaery) out.  Taking Jaime’s advice, Tommen goes to talk to Cersei (after LONG silent treatment).

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The gods won’t mind. They’ve spilled more blood than the rest of us combined.-Jaime comments to the High Sparrow

We have no wealth, no family… but together we can bring down an empire. -High Sparrow explains to Jaime

Jaime & the High Sparrow have a good/meaty scene (reminiscent of the shorter one that High Sparrow had w/ Lady Olenna in S5). The Kingsguard wants to kill the old man (drawing close/almost removing his sword), BUT decides against it in the end. Many Sparrows are in the sept, though not near Jaime.

Meereen:

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That’s what I do: I drink and I know things.  -Tyrion says to Messendei, Grey Worm & Varys (after pouring himself a drink)

I’m friends with your mother. I’m here to help. Don’t eat the help. -Tyrion gently pleads w/ one of the chained up dragons

Whoa, Tyrion is one brave guy! He tells a tale of how he wanted a dragon as a young boy for his birthday, then unshackles one of the dragons. He runs back to where Varys is standing- amazed by what he has seen/done.

Braavos:

Jaqen and Arya (still blind) have a little tussle, then he allows Arya to go back w/ him (to The House of Black & White).

Winterfell:

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Roose, Ramsay, and the new Lord Karstark (whose father was killed by Robb for disloyalty)talk about possible battle strategies, the Starks (esp. the importance of getting back Sansa), and Jon Snow.  Maester Welkin interrupts by saying that Walda had a baby- a boy (uh oh)!  Ramsay congratulates, then hugs his father, before stabbing him in the chest. Whoa, I expected a different (maybe more glamorous) death for Roose!

I am Lord Bolton.  -Ramsay coldly declares to Walda

Ramsay takes Walda and his new half brother to the kennels, then sets the vicious dogs on them. Yikes, but NOT unexpected (for his character).

On the Road:

Sansa and Brienne have a talk re: her life at Winterfell. Sansa then has an emotional scene w/ Theon, as he has decides to go back home.  They hug each other tight (as if they were actually brother and sister).

Pike (The Iron Islands):

Balon and Yara argue about how they are NOT winning. Also, she wants to keep looking for her bother (Theon). On a long/rickety bridge, Balon comes across his younger brother (Euron- had to look this up).

I am the storm, brother. The first storm and the last- and you’re in my way. -Euron comments to Balon before pushing him off the bridge.

Yara presides over the funeral of her father. Then she vows revenge, swearing on The Salt Throne. An elderly/tough man explains that she’s NOT in charge (though someday a woman may lead the iron-born). Are YOU ready for Yara?

Castle Black (Return):

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I’m not a devout man, obviously.  Seven Gods, Old Gods, the Drowned God- they’re all the same to me.  I’m not asking the Lord of Light for help- I’m asking the woman who showed me that miracles can happen. -Davos pleads with Melisandre (in his own agnostic/practical way)

Way to go, Onion Knight! His words motivated the downcast Melisandre to try a spell on Jon. (Remember how Thoros of Myr brought back Lord Beric Dondarrion?) She cut off some of his hair (on head and from beard) then put it into the fire while chanting. Eventually, everyone leaves the room, thinking that she failed to revive Jon. Then- finally- he takes in a VERY deep breath and opens his eyes!