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Allen Adams

Allen Adams

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Sarah Bernhardt is one of the most legendary names in the world of the theater. She was the first global superstar actress, renowned for her beauty and talent on both sides of the Atlantic. Her performances were considered iconic, once in a lifetime experiences to behold. Her fame has transcended centuries; even today, lovers of the stage know her name and have heard of her exploits.

And yet … she had a rival. A rival whose naturalistic approach to acting bore a much closer resemblance to the modern theater than any of the highly stylized work being presented by Bernhardt. A rival who might have been even better. Eleonora Duse’s name has been lost to history, unfamiliar to all but the most devoted of theater historians, but in her heyday, she stood shoulder to shoulder with Berhardt’s greatness.

Peter Rader’s “Playing to the Gods: Sarah Bernhardt, Eleonora Duse, and the Rivalry that Changed Acting Forever” (Simon & Schuster, $26) takes a deep dive into this once-storied and largely-forgotten chapter of theater history, looking at the relationship between two women who ascended to the greatest heights of their profession, but took drastically different paths to get there.

Wednesday, 05 September 2018 11:04

To the extreme – ‘Superhuman’

Just what are we capable of?

That’s the question asked by biologists, psychologists, anthropologists – just about any “-ist” you can think of … what are the limits to human endeavor? It’s a question whose complicated answers evolutionary biologist Rowan Hooper hopes to unravel.

Hooper’s new book is “Superhuman: Life at the Extremes of Our Capacity” (Simon & Schuster, $27) introduces us to a vast and varied collection of outliers, individuals whose abilities in certain arenas far outstrip the capacity of the average person. Whether we’re looking at intelligence or physical endurance or courage or empathy, there are people out there who are more disposed to the extreme end of the spectrum.

Wednesday, 05 September 2018 10:59

Red Sox Report Card - August 2018

2018 has turned out to be quite a year, hasn’t it?

With one month remaining in the season, the Red Sox look poised to complete one of the best – if not THE best – regular seasons in their long and storied history. They even have an outside shot at the all-time wins record of 116, set by the 2001 Seattle Mariners, although a late August swoon put that record all but mathematically out of reach.

Still – they’ll almost certainly cruise past the century mark, a total surpassed by just three Red Sox teams. And barring a significant losing streak, they’ll probably stroll past the franchise wins record of 105 set by the 1912 Sox.

August certainly helped the cause, with Boston going 18-9. The pitching saw some periods of struggle, but the offense had yet another exceptional month, with a pair of MVP candidates leading the way. All told, this team is a strong September away from one of the highest win totals of all time.

On to the Report Card.

Wednesday, 05 September 2018 10:41

Brothers in arms – ‘Kin’

It’s always interesting to watch a feature debut. Seeing first-time directors and/or writers take their initial bow in the world of mainstream cinema … it’s bearing witness to the realization of what is almost certainly a lifelong dream. Maybe it’s an effort that promises future excellence. Maybe it’s even a fully-formed masterpiece. But really, it’s likely to be flawed and uneven, alternating quality with rookie mistakes.

The new film “Kin” definitely falls into that last category.

The movie – directed by twin brothers Jonathan and Josh Baker and based on their own 2014 short film “Bag Man” – is an ambitious effort, an attempt to bring family drama and science fiction together. Unfortunately, while there are shining examples from both ends of the spectrum, the combination never really meshes the way it needs to, despite its surprisingly robust cast and intriguing concept.

Wednesday, 05 September 2018 10:39

‘Operation Finale’ looks at real-life intrigue

We’ve talked before about the difficulties inherent to bringing stories from real life into the cinematic realm. There’s a delicate balance that needs to be struck; the raw truth isn’t always dramatically engaging, but you also want to do justice to events as they happened.

“Operation Finale,” directed by Chris Weitz from a screenplay by Matthew Orton, is particularly tricky, considering the heft of the story being told. It’s a recounting of the 1960 Israeli Mossad operation in Argentina to track down and capture the infamous Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann, the architect of the Final Solution.

While it is compelling enough, offering solid intrigue and a handful of quality performances, the film never quite rises to the level of its true-life inspiration. There’s an inconsistent energy to the proceedings that ultimately undercuts the tension and prevents the stakes from being as high as the narrative would seem to warrant. It’s quite good, but just misses being great.

Wednesday, 05 September 2018 10:31

18 films for fall 2018: A Fall Movie Preview

Labor Day has come and gone, so the time has arrived for us to offer up our annual Fall Movie Preview.

2018 doesn’t have quite the luster that some past years have had – at least in terms of sheer box office appeal. There are movies that will make plenty of money, of course, but there aren’t really any of the big franchise tentpoles that we’ve seen in year’s past. There’s no MCU offering, no “Star Wars” movie.

And that’s OK.

There are some big-budget extravaganzas and some franchise sequels, as well as some original works and even a few early Oscar possibilities. Comedy and drama, sci-fi and fantasy, horror flicks and family fare – there’s something for everyone this fall.

Check it out.

Wednesday, 05 September 2018 10:12

Celebrity Slam - Don't shame the hustle

This is not going to be the usual Celebrity Slam.

Ordinarily, we take to this space to scorn and mock those in the celebrity sphere who say and/or do things that we consider worthy of our scorn and mockery (and yes, we do power couple portmanteaus and occasional heartfelt goodbyes, but the majority of our time is spent on the aforementioned scorning and mocking).

Here’s the thing – ultimately, it’s all in good fun. It’s rare that we genuinely take anybody to task for what they’ve said and done. We make fun of them for being out-of-touch idiots, but it’s little more than teasing. Like, we don’t ACTUALLY care about whatever dips—t move got pulled by Bieber or a Kardashian. It’s just fun to make fun.

But sometimes we see a story that, while it might resemble what we do on a very surface level, is actually little more than mean-spirited shaming, intended to belittle someone who has done absolutely nothing wrong.

So yeah – we’re going to talk about Geoffrey Owens for a minute.

Wednesday, 05 September 2018 10:10

Weird National Briefs (09/05/2018)

Shells in the ghost

TOLLAND, Conn. - A Connecticut man who told police he was a paranormal investigator faces several charges after firing shots in his house at what he told police may have been a ghost.

Wednesday, 05 September 2018 10:08

Criminal Mischief (09/05/2018)

Arrests made in animal cruelty incident

WINTER HARBOR – Two men accused of burglary and animal cruelty have turned themselves in at the Hancock County Jail following warrants being issued for their arrest.

I’ve always loved the Muppets. From their anarchic weirdo beginnings through every family-friendly iteration that followed, I was all in on Jim Henson’s fuzzy felted creations … though I always had a stronger connection to their darker side, whether it was overt or subtly lingering just beneath the surface.

“The Happytime Murders,” produced by Henson Alternative, the adult-oriented arm of the company, is very much connected to that darker side. Oh, and it’s definitely overt – this movie is a lot of things, but subtle is not one of them. Brian Henson, son of the legendary puppeteer, directs from a screenplay by Todd Berger.

It’s a comic noir vision of a world in which puppets and humans exist side by side, packed with foul language and incessant innuendo. It is a film that revels in its tastelessness, unafraid to get down and really wallow in the mire. It is coarse and crass and not for everyone.

As you might have guessed, I dug it.

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