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Allen Adams

Allen Adams

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Sunday, 20 January 2019 18:47

‘Glass’ more than half full

It’s always nice to be truly, genuinely surprised by a movie. It doesn’t happen all that often, so when it does, it’s a treat.

For instance, the most delightful surprise of 2016 was the ending of M. Night Shyamalan’s “Split,” whose closing scene revealed it to be part of the same universe in which his 2000 film “Unbreakable” took place.

A surprise sequel? To a movie that I personally loved and whose deconstruction of the superhero predated the MCU-led super-movie explosion of the last decade or so? Yes, please.

And of course, the series – dubbed the Eastrail 177 trilogy, after the train crash that kicked off the events of “Unbreakable” – must be completed.

“Glass” marks the culmination of a decades-spanning story, one that addresses the aspirational mythologizing behind our fascination with the superhuman. It’s a chance to once again grapple with what a world of heroes and villains might actually mean – both to them and to the rest of us.

While “Glass” has its share of flaws – namely Shyamalan’s inability to fully divest himself of some of his more self-indulgent tendencies – it is still a worthwhile final installment. The ethical ambiguity of heroes and villains, the general implications scaled both small and large – those are here, albeit occasionally a bit muddied. And with some top-notch performances and a handful of sharp aesthetic choices, the movie succeeds far more than it fails.

All told, it wasn’t that tough to predict what was going to happen in the divisional round. The top seeds won and advanced. Try as we might to talk ourselves into thinking otherwise (like I did with Philadelphia and Stella did with Indianapolis), more often than not, it’s a pair of one- and two-seeds playing for the right to go to the Super Bowl.

Stella and I both went 3-1 in our divisional picks. We were both right on the Rams and the Patriots, while I had Kansas City and she had New Orleans. This leaves me with a lead of a single game.

However, as we differ on both conference championship games, the possibility exists for her to leapfrog me and surge into the lead going into the Super Bowl.

There’s very little overlap in the writing Venn diagram of “funny” and “literary” – even most ostensibly humorous literary fiction definitely deserves the scare quotes around “funny,” while genuinely funny stuff doesn’t often have the requisite stylistic heft to warrant the literary tag – but Sam Lipsyte lives right square in the middle of it all.

Lipsyte’s new novel “Hark” (Simon & Schuster, $27) is another example of the author’s incredible gift for balancing poetry and potty humor, for blending the profound and the profane. This latest book – his first since the 2012 story collection “The Fun Parts” – once again places the American experience square in its sights, embracing the depths of inescapable weirdness that exist just beyond casual cultural perception.

It’s a quick-fire reading experience, with short chapters and frequent perspective shifts, capturing the kind of inner turmoil that can only come from discovering someone who you believe might actually have answers to the toughest of tough questions, namely: why?

Wednesday, 16 January 2019 14:13

Wake up Maggie – ‘Cat on a Hot Tin Roof’

ORONO – A classic of the American stage from one of the 20th century’s greatest playwrights is currently in Orono – a sultry Southern night to warm audiences caught in the grip of a bracing Maine January.

The Orono-based True North Theatre is presenting the Tennessee Williams masterpiece “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” at the Cyrus Pavilion Theater on the University of Maine campus. Directed by TNT artistic director Angela Bonacasa, the show runs through January 20.

This piece – a personal favorite of Williams that won the Pulitzer Prize in 1955 – is a magnificent deconstruction of a Southern family in crisis. Insularity and infighting, fault-finding and favoritism – audiences bear witness to it all as some of the most iconic characters in American theater history crawl and sprawl across the stage.

Wednesday, 16 January 2019 14:04

‘Philip K. Dick: A Comics Biography’

I’m never sure if I want to know more about my heroes. Specifically, literary heroes.

It’s not that I have any aversion to biography as a genre – I even enjoy a good memoir now and then – but for whatever reason, I tend to tread carefully when it comes to books about the people who write the books I love. There’s a separation between art and artist that just feels more important when it comes to authors I admire.

But then I stumbled across a graphic novel biography of Philip K. Dick and I couldn’t say no.

“Philip K. Dick: A Comics Biography” (NBM Publishing, $24.99) – written by Laurent Queyssi and illustrated by Mauro Marchesi – tells the story of one of the most prolific and belatedly iconic science fiction writers of the 20th century. It follows Dick through the trials and tribulations of his life, from his early concerns to his later paranoia to his lifelong struggles with money. While there’s not much new here for longtime fans, those with limited knowledge of the writer whose work inspired movies like “Blade Runner” and “Minority Report” and TV shows like “The Man in the High Castle” will encounter some surprises.

Wednesday, 16 January 2019 13:55

Celtics Check-In 2019 - Halftime

We’re just past the halfway point of this NBA season and the Boston Celtics have not been living up to expectations.

After 43 games played, the Celtics sit at 25-18, a mere seven games over .500 and a record good for just fifth place in the Eastern Conference. Worse, all four of the teams above them look poised to continue their relative success going forward.

It’s not all bad – the team has actually played significantly better since hitting the quarter-pole at a mediocre 11-10. It’s just that this team looked ready to take a big leap forward after last season’s successes. Instead, the C’s have stumbled backwards, though they might still find a way to turn it all around.

Let’s check in.

Wednesday, 16 January 2019 13:50

OG RBG – ‘On the Basis of Sex’

Biopics are harder than you think. Telling the story of a real person – a person that your audience likely has some foreknowledge of and feelings about – requires a delicate touch, finding the balance between veracity and narrative. You want it to be true, but you also need it to be engaging.

And when you’re dealing with a person who’s currently living, it’s a good deal tougher still.

That’s where we are with “On the Basis of Sex,” the new biopic telling the story of the early days of Ruth Bader Ginsburg as she crusaded for the cause of gender equality in classrooms and courtrooms – the same Ruth Bader Ginsburg currently sitting on our country’s Supreme Court. It’s the story of one brilliant woman’s efforts to be taken seriously in a world ruled by men who doubt not just her, but everyone with whom she shares a gender.

It’s a story with its compelling moments, to be sure, with a young RBG unapologetically striving to do what is right against seemingly insurmountable odds. And the cast is really talented from the top down. But it never really rises. It’s a nice enough movie, well-acted with a fascinating subject, but it isn’t much more than that – the kind of pretty good film that you expected to be a bit better.

BANGOR – For 11 years, gaming enthusiasts of all stripes have descended on Bangor in the throes of winter to come together in celebration of their passion. For 11 Januarys, people have come to our area with the sole intent to play games for a weekend. Board games, role playing games, you name it – if it’s a game, you can find someone with whom to play it.

The eleventh SnowCon is nigh.

For the uninitiated, SnowCon is an annual celebration of all things gaming. It is devoted to the enjoyment of games of all stripes. No matter what sort of game you’re into, you’ll almost certainly find some kindred spirits wandering the wilds of SnowCon.

The gaming convention will once again take place at the Cross Insurance Center on January 19-20, with the delightfully (and aptly) named “So You Meet in a Tavern” kickoff event taking place on January 18.

Wednesday, 16 January 2019 13:34

Celebrity Slam - Long live Prattzenegger!

It’s that time again, folks. We here at Celebrity Slam are once again getting the opportunity to do one of our favorite things ever. It’s another installment of Celebrity Portmanteau Time! Two famous people have hooked up!

Chris Pratt is marrying Katherine Schwarzenegger and we’ve never been as excited to officially jam two names together. It has been quite the whirlwind romance for these two – they only met last summer, introduced by Katherine’s mother Maria Shriver – but they apparently have decided to go ahead and put a ring on it.

(For those concerned, Pratt’s ex Anna Faris expressed what seemed to be genuine happiness for the newly-engaged couple. While no divorce is going to be without strife, Pratt and Faris seem to have managed to end their marriage fairly amicably.)

Rather than relitigate the whole portmanteau situation, we ask that you enjoy this excerpt from our previous exploration of the pairing.

Wednesday, 16 January 2019 13:33

Weird National Briefs (01/16/2019)

Not so grate

NEW YORK - Police in New York City say they helped a couple ring in the new year by reuniting them with their missing engagement ring.

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