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Allen Adams

Allen Adams

edge staff writer

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Wednesday, 18 September 2019 09:21

Martin and Short a dynamic duo

BANGOR – It isn’t every day that one is granted the opportunity to watch someone with a true mastery of a particular craft execute that craft in front of you. Witnessing greatness unfold in person is a rare and precious gift … a gift granted to the audience at the Cross Insurance Center on Saturday night.

Steve Martin and Martin Short are comedy legends, icons who have been delivering big laughs to audiences for over 40 years. And they took to the CIC stage to deliver a top-notch performance to the thousands of people who eagerly embraced the chance to share in those laughs.

For close to two hours, the crowd was regaled with banter, songs, jokes and conversation – a variety show that offered up Vaudevillian echoes while also feeling very current. Martin and Short struck a delicate balance, celebrating their lifelong love of show business while also gently satirizing and subverting the very structures that bore their affection.

Wednesday, 18 September 2019 09:18

Don’t hustle these ‘Hustlers’

Here’s a reminder for those of you who may have forgotten: Jennifer Lopez is legitimately good at everything. She is a talented pop singer, an excellent dancer and a gifted actress. She is a savvy businesswoman and a social media savant. She is smart as hell and still hungry after more than two decades in the spotlight.

She puts those skills on full display in her new film “Hustlers,” directed by Lorene Scafaria from a screenplay she adapted herself from a magazine article written by Jessica Pressler. It’s a movie that is equal parts heist story and female friendship narrative. Lopez unleashes the full force of her talents (not to mention her pure unbridled charisma), putting forward a performance that is nuanced and raw and serves as an absolutely magnetic foundation for what ultimately proves to be a damned good movie.

It’s an unapologetic look at what it takes to get ahead in a world where the deck is stacked against you, a story that refuses to condemn its characters for embracing the same tactics that the men of the world get rich employing. It’s a story about people who, instead of playing the hand that they were dealt, choose to change the rules to which they are expected to adhere.

Wednesday, 18 September 2019 09:14

Art for art’s sake – ‘The Goldfinch’

Adapting books to the big screen can be a tricky proposition. The truth is that while many times, a story is a story is a story, regardless of medium, there are some literary works – acclaimed, celebrated works – that resist that sort of translation. Sometimes, filmmakers are able to muscle through that resistance and present a great movie.

Other times, they make “The Goldfinch.”

The film, based on Donna Tartt’s 2013 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name, is an undeniably game effort. Everyone involved – director John Crowley, screenwriter Peter Straughan, the talented cast – is clearly giving their all to a project in which they clearly believe very strongly. Unfortunately, the layered, fractured nature of the source text works against them; the end result is a film that is technically well-crafted yet doesn’t cohere. It’s a series of good-looking scenes that never quite click together.

What we have in “The Goldfinch” is essentially an echo of a prestige film, an offering that bears many of the outer indicators of Oscar bait, but is largely devoid of substance once you move beyond those surface trappings. Again – a game and good faith effort, but one that falls short.

Wednesday, 18 September 2019 09:10

Fun run – ‘Brittany Runs a Marathon’

Movies don’t often surprise us anymore. That’s by design – we live in a world of massive marketing budgets and huge publicity pushes, when every major release receives multiple trailers and press junkets and the whole nine yards.

Then again, there are different kinds of surprises. There are the indie darlings that turn out to be dark horse awards contenders. There are the presumed anointed that wind up falling flat both critically and commercially. And then there are movies that surprise on a more individual level.

“Brittany Runs a Marathon” falls into that third category. Specifically, it features a lead performer – in this case, Jillian Bell – known primarily for comedic work taking the turn into something with a bit more substance. That’s not to say that comedy is somehow insubstantial, only that it’s interesting to see comedic performers taking dramatic risks.

This movie is that risk for Bell, a gifted comedian who displays a degree of emotional vulnerability and honesty that is a significant departure from the work we’re accustomed to seeing from her. The comedy isn’t gone – she’s as funny as ever – but it’s coming from a genuine place, informed by real feeling. It’s a smart, sharp story that manages to balance a comedic coarseness with an underlying message that is legitimately inspirational.

Wednesday, 18 September 2019 08:53

Celebrating Lucas! A 2019-20 BSO season preview

BANGOR – The Bangor Symphony Orchestra, led by musical director and conductor Lucas Richman, is set to kick off its 124th season next month.

The BSO is one of the cultural cornerstones of our region. It has the lengthiest history of any of our area’s arts organizations. Indeed, it has one of the lengthiest histories of any community orchestra in the entire country, bringing music to the Bangor masses since the waning days of the 19th century.

The 2019-2020 season features the symphony’s standard selection of excellence, with the six shows of the Masterworks series taking place at the Collins Center for the Arts on the campus of the University of Maine. Other BSO traditions will continue to be observed as well – their beloved partnership with the Robinson Ballet on a production of “The Nutcracker” will happen in December, while their annual Pops concert (titled “Music of the Knights” for reasons that will soon be made clear) has moved from its usual slot in March into late May.

It also marks the tenth year in the tenure of the BSO’s music director and conductor Lucas Richman; this season is intended to celebrate his time here in Bangor, with original works and performances from the man himself along with the usual excellence of the orchestra and its guest artists.

In addition, thanks to the symphony’s partnership with the Bangor Arts Exchange, the BSO is also providing a wealth of smaller-scale programming over the course of the year, with numerous events – many of them free to the public – taking place in the BAE building, located on Exchange Street in downtown Bangor.

Wednesday, 18 September 2019 08:34

Celebrity Slam - So long, Shane Gillis

There are weeks when this feature essentially writes itself. Something ridiculous is said or done by/happens to an incredibly famous person and we’re off to the races. Maybe there’s an incongruous and surprising Twitter beef. Maybe a celebrity couple makes it official. Whatever – it happens a lot.

But then there are the weeks – much more infrequent – where we’re left to decide whether or not we want to cover a particular story. For whatever reason, it isn’t necessarily an item that really demands that we cover it. It’s too complicated or too serious or too … something.

So we weren’t sure that we were going to weigh in on the whole Shane Gillis thing. But hey – nothing else presented itself, so we’re just going to go ahead and wade in. Wish us luck.

Wednesday, 18 September 2019 08:32

Weird National Briefs (09/18/2019)

Flightless flight

FRESNO, Calif. - California authorities have captured an emu after the flightless fugitive led officers down a highway.

The Fresno Bee reported Friday that the bird was apprehended following a brief pursuit by California Highway Patrol officers.

Authorities say officers responded to a report that an ostrich was wandering along the right-hand shoulder of U.S. Highway 99 northwest of Fresno.

Authorities say Madera County Animal Services took the bird into custody uninjured.

Officers say they do not know whether the emu escaped a nearby farm or a moving vehicle.

Animal experts say the flightless native Australian birds can sprint at up to 30 mph (48 kph) and trot quickly for longer distances.

Emus are the second-largest birds in the world behind the ostrich.

TME – What an emu-sing story.

Wednesday, 18 September 2019 08:31

Criminal Mischief (09/18/2019)

Hands-free laws taking effect

AUGUSTA – If you’re reading this, you’d better not be reading it on your phone while driving your car.

Thursday, 12 September 2019 13:28

Kibbles and Picks 2019 - Week 2

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

I got off to a good start, putting together a solid Week 1 – I went 10-5-1 (ties remain a bit of a wild card here at K&P, so the Lions/Cardinals tilt skews the numbers a touch). Still, double-digit wins is a strong showing.

Of course, Stella went ahead and put up a 12-3-1. Because OF COURSE she did.

That puts me in the hole to start things off. It’s a not-unfamiliar position – almost every season sees her come out of the gate hot, leaving me to spend the rest of the year struggling to catch up. It’s no surprise that she’s beating me, but her hitting at 75% on winners in the first week does not bode well for me going forward.

That said, there’s room for a whole lot of change this week. Stella and I are rarely at odds on as much as half the slate in a given week, but Week 2 sees us differ on 10 games. That means I’ve been given a huge opportunity to erase her early lead. It also means that she’s been given the chance to completely bury me before we even get to the bye weeks, so who knows?

Tuesday, 10 September 2019 17:54

A lie of the mind - ‘The Institute’

Stephen King’s reputation is that of a master of horror, a writer who plumbs the depths and brings forth supernatural terrors to be confronted and defeated by regular people who have been thrust into irregular circumstances. And that reputation is well-earned.

But make no mistake – King is often at his horrifying best when his villains are ordinary rather than extraordinary. Finding the evil that lurks within the human heart – that’s a skill for which Mr. King doesn’t always get his full due.

Those are the villains in King’s latest novel “The Institute” (Scribner, $30), regular people willing to do unspeakable things simply because they have been told those things are necessary. There’s a timeliness to this book, an of-the-moment quality that also possesses a sense of universality. It is a look at the evil that men do when they believe their cause is just.

But while these villains may not be possessed of paranormal girts, the targets of their villainy certainly are – children. Children, stolen from their homes in the dead of night and confined to an isolated compound, selected for imprisonment and torture so that a shadowy cabal might somehow bring forth the full force of the children’s inexplicable talents.

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