Category Archives: United Stage

The Unrepentant: Hart Bochner Would Rather Kill You than Kiss You

Hart Bochner is one of those deliciously rare character actors who can grab a role and make it belong only to him. Danger is his essence.  You love to loathe him.  Hart usually plays the bad guy in a movie and he does the dark side so evilly well.

Over the weekend, we watched the middling 1998 movie Break Up on Netflix starring the always fantastic Bridget Fonda – who has been sadly missing in entertainment action since her 2003 car accident when she broke her back — and the always infamous Hart Bochner.

The movie stars Bridget, but the story belongs to Hart.

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Superman, Batman and Spider-Man: How Murdering Loss Creates Comic Book Character

Over the holiday break, I decided to watch the newest Superman movie and I was certainly disappointed in the silly story, the rebooting of the franchise, and the awful acting of the lead character.  Superman should be wily, and funny, and tough.  He never preens.

It’s always boring when movie production houses feel they have to re-start a story that’s been never-endingly told for generations.  We pretty much know the backstory of Superman and we don’t need to re-live, over and over again, every 10 years or so, just how the star child becomes the Superman on earth.

In my short life, I think I’ve lived through at least a dozen iterations of Superman in film and on television and I would be perfectly fine to have a new Superman just appear in media res.  We get it he’s special and Superhuman, so just drop him in and let the story start with no explanation necessary!

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The New Rude Millennials

The “Rude Mechanicals” play a major role in Shakespeare’s beloved A Midsummer Night’s Dream:

I think we’re on pretty safe ground in saying that the only purpose the Rude Mechanicals serve is a comedic one. The question is what kind of humour is being elicited, and is it possible for us to ‘get’ all of the comedy of the play today?

Well, some of it’s plain and ageless enough: Their repeated oxymorons, “most lamentable comedy”; Bottom’s diva-like behaviour, “That will ask some tears in the true performing of it”; and the complete hash that is the product of their attempts at amateur dramatics.

Today, I argue we have a whole new class of “Rude Mechanicals” in real society — but they’re Millennials, not Mechanicals — and they’re new, and rude, and play the same role in the drama of our lives as the Shakespearean mechs before them.

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The Interpreter Impostor at the Mandela Memorial

Mandela’s memorial yesterday has ignited a firestorm today out of the Soweto rain.  No, not Obama’s failed message, or the non-Michelle approved Presidential selfie with other heads of State, but rather the fraud of an impostor posing as an interpreter for the Deaf during the ceremony.

The alleged sign language interpreter was so awful, in fact, that he had to have been in on the cruel joke that he knew nothing about even creating rudimentary signs.

Unfortunately, this sort of “faking it” is actually pretty common in the Deaf Community.  There are a lot of “professional” interpreters who are not well-trained but who are given jobs because they are cheap — even though they are incapable of proper signing.  The Deaf suffer and the incompetence gets a paycheck.

While not many working interpreters are as fraudulent on the level of what happened in Soweto — the end effect is still the same: The Deaf person has no idea what’s being said and has to guess about what’s really happening.

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Carrie Underwood’s Wooden Live Performance in the Sound of Music

I wasn’t planning on writing about Carrie Underwood’s painfully wooden live performance last night in NBC’s misbegotten, and ill-fated, “dead” re-enactment of the fabulous Rodgers & Hammerstein musical, “The Sound of Music.”

All the promotional wind leading up to the live event immediately prickled senses in the wrong direction.  The show was being sold as some sort of feel-good, happy children, sparkling story full of singing and wonder and dancing when, in reality, the musical is actually extremely dark and threatening and dreary.

The musical moments in “The Sound of Music” drive the frightening plot forward into a total, creeping, Nazi occupation — and it is in the artful context of that delicate balancing between whistling in the graveyard while staring death straight in the face — that made Rodgers & Hammerstein musical geniuses.

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Keep a Song in Your Heart: Remembering Lawrence Welk

Every time I visited my grandfather in North Loup, Nebraska — there was one unspoken, but wholly enforced rule — on Sunday nights at 7:00pm, you sat down with him and watched the Lawrence Welk Show on ABC television.

It was an hour of a painful persuasion for a young lad to bear — second only to the never-ending reruns of Hee Haw that aired every single weeknight that I was also forced to watch during each visit.

I never learned to like, or even tolerate, the Welk show.  The show was a matter of saccharine moments topped with thick frosting of faux frivolity and façade.  All show and no substance.  Complete spectacle and no plot.

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