Thursday, January 20, 2022

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Arts and Leisure

Granger at the Movies: ‘Hamilton,’ ‘The Outpost,’ ‘Perry Mason’

By Susan Granger

Special to WestportNow

Five years ago, theatergoers and critics were dazzled by the vivacious, culturally significant musical “Hamilton” about the nation’s first Treasury secretary, political mastermind Alexander Hamilton. Now you can see the thrilling, live-capture, the 161-minute film version with the original principal Broadway cast.

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Utilizing a racially/ethnically diverse cast singing exhilarating R&B, jazz, pop and hip-hop music, writer/composer/performer Lin-Manuel Miranda tells the story of a poor immigrant kid who was born in 1775 on the tiny Caribbean island of Nevis.

Cocky, energetic and verbally blessed, Alexander Hamilton (Lin-Manuel Miranda) became known as George Washington’s (Christopher Jackson) favorite strategist — until he was killed in a duel by his perennial frenemy, manipulative Aaron Burr (Leslie Odom Jr.).

Based on Ron Chernow’s exhaustive, insightful biography (2004), it not only reveals Hamilton’s relentless ambition but also his romantic entanglements. Even after marrying Eliza Schuyler (Phillipa Soo), he maintains a relationship with her sister Angelica (Renee Elise Goldsberry), his intellectual soul mate, while indulging in an adulterous affair with Maria Reynolds, the nation’s first sex scandal.

Live Music Concert Returns to Westport

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Live music returned to Westport tonight as the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce and the Westport Library brought Supper & Soul to the Imperial Avenue Parking Lot as a drive-in tailgate concert featured the Tom Petty Project. The sold out show attracted more than 300 persons in a safe and socially distant manner. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Levitt Pavilion to aid their 2021 season. The next version is slated for early August with back to back shows by reggae artist Mystic Bowie and his Talking Dreds performance. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo

The Artists Collective of Westport Goes 24/7 @47 Main

The Artists Collective of Westport today announced the launch of a new pandemic friendly exhibition called 24/7 @ 47 Main.

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“Flag” by Elizabeth DeVoll is one of the works in the exhibition. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo

The exhibition which features 81 artists from The Collective is available 24/7 at three different locations — one physical and two online from today through Aug. 29.

The physical exhibition is a roughly 10 minute video featuring 81 artworks from artists all over Connecticut that is looped on a large screen TV in the window of 47 Main St.

For those still not comfortable venturing out in public, there are two locations online where viewers can see the show.  The first is on the Artists Collective of Westport’s YouTube Channel. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZFOdYkCtP8

Christina Tippit Brown, 94

Christina “Tina” Tippit Brown, writer, photographer, performer and longtime wife and collaborator of “The Wiz” librettist William F. Brown, died July 2 at her Westport home. She was 94.

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Tina Brown: writer Contributed photo

Brown started her writing career at the age of 19 while still attending Texas Tech University, seeing her comedic pieces published in The New Yorker and performed on “The Tonight Show.”

She went on to develop material for performers including Imogene Coca, George Gobel, Hermione Gingold and Virginia Graham. Over her long career, she authored screenplays, television projects and worked on TV’s “As the World Turns.”

With her late husband of 38 years, William F. Brown, she was co-librettist of the musical “Have a Nice Day,” co-author of the comedy “Mixed Doubles” and a musical revue, “Cole.” See full obituary HERE from Broadway.com.

Granger at the Movies: Patriotic Movies to Celebrate 4th of July

By Susan Granger

Special to WestportNow

Patriotism means loyalty to one’s country, so here are some of America’s most patriotic films — old and new — that you can stream at home (in alphabetical order):

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“1776” (1972), directed by Peter H. Hunt. Adapted from the Broadway musical, it chronicles the signing of the Declaration of Independence by the Founding Fathers (William Daniels, Howard da Silva, Ken Howard, John Cullum, Blythe Danner). Streaming on Amazon, iTunes, Vudu.

“Air Force One” (1997), directed by Wolfgang Peterson. After making a speech in Moscow stating that he’ll never negotiate with terrorists, the plane carrying the U.S. President (Harrison Ford) is hijacked by Kazakhstani terrorists. It’s an edge-of-your-seat popcorn thriller. Streaming on Apple TV, Fandango & Vudu.

“Born on the Fourth of July” (1991), directed by Oliver Stone. Based on Ron Kovic’s memoir, this realistic, powerful drama follows Kovic (Tom Cruise) from his naive teens to serving as a Marine in Vietnam, where his spine is severed. Paralyzed, he becomes an anti-war activist in the mid-70s. Ron Kovic is in the opening parade sequence, and Oliver Stone plays a TV reporter. Streaming on Netflix, Prime Video, Apple TV & Vudu.

MoCA Westport Presents American String Quartet on July 31

MoCA Westport will present the renowned American String Quartet in a special outdoor performance on Friday, July 31 at 8 p.m., it announced today.

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The American String Quartet will perform in an outdoor concert. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Peter Schaaaf photo

The concert, featuring the music of Mozart, Dvorak and Shostakovich, will take place on an outdoor stage with attendee groups spread six feet apart.

Attendees are asked to bring their own chairs and snacks for the event; drinks and food will also be available for purchase prior to the concert. All physical distancing measures will be followed, including the wearing of masks.

MoCA Westport Concert Series Curator Alexander Platt will provide his commentary as part of the concert event.

Granger at the Movies: ‘Da 5 Bloods,’  ‘The Great,’ ‘Artemis Fowl’

By Susan Granger

Special to WestportNow

Admittedly, it’s early to speculate on the 2021 Academy Awards, but I suspect Spike Lee’s new movie, “Da 5 Bloods,” streaming on Netflix, will be a factor, along with Delroy Lindo’s dynamic performance.

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Exploring racial inequity through the lens of the Vietnam War, it’s the story of four African-American veterans who gather at a bar called Apocalypse Now in Ho Chi Minh City. They’re embarking on a dual mission: to recover the body of Stormin’ Norman (Chadwick Boseman), their revered squad leader, and find a cache of gold bars they’d buried after he was killed.

Otis (Clarke Peters) has organized the expedition. When he visits Tien (Le Y Lan), a Vietnamese woman who was his lover while stationed in Saigon, he discovers he has a grown daughter (Sandy Huong Pham).

And it’s Tien who connects Otis with Deroches (Jean Reno), the shady Frenchman who will set up offshore accounts to help them launder the gold originally sent by the US as payment for South Vietnamese fighters.

Granger at the Movies: Father’s Day Movies to Stream

By Susan Granger

Special to WestportNow

This week, consider many different types of fathers and father figures. Celebrating Dad, these movies are in alphabetical order and most can be rented or bought on Amazon Prime:

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“Beginners” (2010) snagged an Oscar for Christopher Plummer, playing an elderly father, diagnosed with terminal cancer, who comes out of the closet to his son (Ewan McGregor).

“Bicycle Thieves” (1948) is Vittorio De Sica’s Italian neorealism classic, following a father and son searching for a stolen bicycle on the streets of Rome.

“Big Fish” (2003) is one of my favorite Tim Burton films. Billy Crudup stars as the skeptical son of Edward Bloom (Albert Finney), a teller of tall tales. When his fanciful father falls ill, he learns far more about his dad than he ever expected.

Granger at the (Streaming) Movies: ‘Shirley,’ ‘The Vast of Night,’ ‘The Plot Against America’

By Susan Granger

Special to WestportNow

Now that the Academy is considering ‘streaming’ films, Elisabeth Moss (TVs “The Handmaid’s Tale,” “Mad Men”) could be an Oscar contender for her ferocious performance in “Shirley” as mercurial writer Shirley Jackson, perhaps best known for her allegorical short story “The Lottery” in the New Yorker in 1948.

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In the early 1950s, newlywed Rose (Odessa Young) and Fred (Logan Lerman) Nemser arrive in Bennington, Vermont.  Ambitious Fred has snagged a coveted position as teaching assistant for lecherous literary critic Stanley Edgar Hyman (Michael Stuhlbarg), the manipulative, domineering husband of Shirley Jackson (Moss).

Until proper housing can be arranged, they’ll live with Shirley & Stanley, doing chores around the cluttered, ivy-covered house. That job falls primarily to pregnant Rose who, instead of auditing Bennington College classes, cooks and cleans, watching Fred cavort among pretty coeds.

Since Shirley is abusively agoraphobic, repelled by social contact, vulnerable Rose becomes her caretaker/companion, as Shirley voices the hope that Rose’s baby will be a boy, noting: “The world is too cruel to girls.”

Granger at the Movies: What Will Change When Movie Theaters Reopen

By Susan Granger

Special to WestportNow

The pre-pandemic world will not return. Too much has happened to change how movie studios release their pictures.

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The pivotal questions are: How long will it take for people to feel safe enough to return to the communal venues once they reopen, and what will it take to convince them to do so?

When theaters closed, Universal decided to release its animated “Trolls World Tour” as a digital rental rather than shelving it and sacrificing all the marketing dollars it had already spent. Charging $19.99, Universal pocketed $100 million in its first three weeks.

But what happened subsequently is a post-pandemic game-changer.