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Wednesday, 15 January 2020 13:47

New to view - 20 of 2020's early TV offerings

Written by Allen Adams

Remember when the fall television lineups were all that mattered?

It wasn't so long ago that that autumn offerings were the be-all and end-all of new TV. Shows that made their debuts in January were considered little more than filler, with the term “midseason replacement” taking on a derogatory tone.

However, as the ways in which we consume television have changed, so too have our attitudes regarding when shows join their respective lineups. Instead of an afterthought, this second season has become a viable entity in its own right, with loads of interesting programming arriving on your screens of choice.

Broadcast networks, premium and basic cable outlets, streaming services - everybody has something for the viewer looking for something new to consume this winter. If nothing else, it seems likely that all tastes - highbrow, lowbrow and everything in-between - will be addressed.

Have a look at some of the intriguing options coming your way.

Welcome to the first Maine Edge cover story of the Roaring (20)20s!

As such, I thought we might have some fun looking back at the last decade’s best cinematic offerings. I’ve been reviewing movies here since 2008. In the ‘10s, I wrote about movies roughly a thousand times. Yeah – I’m as shocked as you are. That’s a lot of ink spilled in celebration and derision of Hollywood’s finest.

So yes, while this story might be a little late to the party, it was important to me to share my Best of the Decade movie list. As per usual with this sort of feature, there’s a real chance that this list could be a little different depending on the day. However, this feels like the right list.

Here they are, in alphabetical order. Have a look!

Monday, 23 December 2019 22:08

2019: The Year in Review

Written by Allen Adams & Mike Dow

Wow – so that was 2019.

We’ve come to the end of another year, and so we thought we’d take a look back at some of our favorite stories from the past 12 months.

It’s a wide variety, featuring interviews with actors, comedians, authors, scientists and more. As always, we did our best to offer up informative and entertaining stories to engage our readers.

Join us as we remember the stories of 2019; here’s hoping you enjoyed reading these stories as much as we enjoyed writing them.

Can you believe I’m doing this again?

Once more, college football’s bowl season is upon us. And once again I, glutton for punishment that I am, embark on my annual Quixotic quest of picking the winners of every single bowl game. You’d think I’d get sick of tilting at this particular windmill, but no one ever accused me of being sensible.

As always, this feature comes with the standard caveat: while I've had some success in the past, I absolutely do not have any real idea what I'm doing.

But bowl season can be fun regardless of your level of knowledgeability. It's an opportunity to watch a bunch of college football teams about which you know nothing. It’s a wonderful dice roll; you never know if you might happen upon a game where something unprecedented takes place. I personally have a bit of a history of stumbling onto wild and unexpectedly entertaining bowl matchups. I’m hoping that tradition continues this year.

And with that - let's go bowling.

Tuesday, 10 December 2019 11:35

2019’s best (and worst) at the movies

Written by Allen Adams

We’ve arrived at the end of another year, a year of films good, bad and in-between.

That means it’s time for a look back at what 2019 has wrought in terms of cinema. These lists – both best and worst – are accurate as of press time, though there are some highly-regarded movies that I simply haven’t yet had a chance to see. I imagine that films that have yet to see wide release – “Uncut Gems,” “Little Women,” “Bombshell” – would otherwise be in contention for this list.

(Special note should be made of the glaring absence of Bong Joon-Ho’s “Parasite” – a film that circumstances have prevented me thus far from seeing. I have little doubt that it would be prominently featured; every indication is that it is exceptional.)

And again – there’s no denying the subjectivity of lists such as these. In truth, things could break very differently depending on my mood when asked. Still, these are good, representative lists of movies that you should either a) see as soon as possible, or b) avoid at all costs. Check out full reviews of these movies and the rest of 2019’s slate at our website, located at www.themaineedge.com/movies. You can also find them at Rotten Tomatoes (www.rottentomatoes.com/critic/allen-adams/movies).

(All films listed alphabetically)

December is here, and hence the holiday season is in full force. The snow has started falling, the lights have started shining and the shopping has started in earnest. Hopefully, you’re out there shopping local whenever you can – a thriving community depends on consumers buying from their neighbors.

But shopping local doesn’t end with retail. You should shop local when it comes to your Yuletide entertainment as well. And here’s the thing – you can do that, because there is an embarrassment of riches out there for locally-offered holiday performance.

Sure, you could sit at home and watch “It’s a Wonderful Life” for the umpteenth time or run through your Christmas Spotify playlist. But where’s the fun in that?

Especially when you take into account that our region is absolutely jammed with possibilities. There are stage shows and concerts galore. There is comedy and drama and so much music. There are holiday classics and brand-new creations. All of it right here in your backyard.

Look, if you want to stay home and drink hot toddies in front of a roaring fireplace, that’s perfectly OK. No judgment – sounds like you’ve figured out what it is you want from the holiday season and life in general. But if you’re looking to be entertained, well … you’re in luck.

In recent years, it seems as though every December has had a wealth of options. But this year more than ever, it feels like there really is something for everyone out there.

Please note that this isn’t even close to everything out there. I’ve just chosen a handful of options that might pique your interest. Keep your eyes open and your ears to the ground, because there is just so much out there, with so many people celebrating with their own joyful noises.

Wednesday, 27 November 2019 11:15

The year in books: 2019’s recommended reads

Written by Allen Adams

It has been yet another fantastic year for the written word, with many tremendous literary offerings hitting shelves in 2019.

Reviewing books is one of the best parts of my job. As part of that job, I’ve read dozens of books over the course of the past year. I freely admit that I tend to seek out works that I know will resonate for me – and hence usually enjoy the books I review – but even with that degree of curation, there’s no denying that there are always some that particularly stand out.

This is not your traditional “best of” list – that’s not my style. Instead, consider this a collection of recommendations. These are suggestions; I enjoyed them, so I thought that you might as well. I’ve also included selections from my writings about these books (please note that the full reviews are available eslewhere on our website). Bear in mind that this is not a comprehensive list. I’m just one man – there are scores more books out there, exceptional works that I simply never got a chance to read.

So are these the best books of 2019? I don’t know – it’s all subjective. What I can say is that every one of these works captured my imagination and my attention … and perhaps one or more of them will do the same for you.

Here are my recommended reads from 2019.

As we come to the end of another cinematic year, certain elements of the Hollywood machine are ramping up.

We’re entering into prestige season, where studios have traditionally trotted out their awards contenders in order to ensure that they are fresh in the minds of voters when balloting takes place.

Granted, that has changed somewhat in recent years – the combination of an expanded Best Picture field and a willingness to recognize more mainstream and commercial fare has led to less specificity with regards to where a film lands on the calendar. As such, there are a number of prominent prestige films either already in theaters or already come and gone.

Plus, there’s the recent entry into the fray of the streaming behemoths. We’ve also included a few movies from Netflix and Amazon, films that received limited theatrical releases in order to qualify for these awards but whose REAL release date is when their availability for streaming arrives.)

On the flip side, this late part of the year has also become a sort of summer redux as far as blockbuster fare. Films expected to do massive box office are no longer just the purview of June and July – November and December have now become perfectly acceptable spots to drop your nine-figure franchise powerhouse, turning the always-popular holiday movie season into something truly huge.

What follows is a look at some of the upcoming films that are closing out 2019. We’ve got some movies looking to win awards, others just looking to have a good time. As for what YOU are looking for? Well – whatever it is, you might well find it somewhere on this list.

It’s been 25 years since Kenny Wayne Shepherd stepped into a recording studio, giddy with anticipation over the sessions that would become his platinum-selling debut record “Ledbetter Heights.” Barely 17 years old at the time, the Shreveport, Louisiana guitar-slinger had been labeled heir apparent to the blues-rock throne, or alternately, simply “The Kid,” for years. Keenly aware that an army of brow-furrowing blues purists were prepared to pounce upon anything they perceived as inauthentic, Shepherd opted to let his fingers do the talking.

After nine albums (including seven #1 blues records), many hundreds of performances, world tours, five Grammy nominations, Blues Music Awards, Billboard Music Awards and stages and studios shared with his heroes, Shepherd long ago ceased the need to prove his worth to others, but he says he’ll never stop trying to create the best music he’s ever made.

Tuesday, 05 November 2019 12:13

Improv ME Festival says ‘Yes, and…’ once again

Written by Allen Adams

BREWER – Some of the best improvisational comedy groups from all over the state of Maine are descending on the Next Generation Theatre in Brewer this weekend.

On Nov. 8 and 9, local improv troupe The Focus Group will once again be playing host to the Improv ME Festival. Sessions will take place at 8 p.m. on Nov. 2 and at 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Nov. 3.

Now in its fifth year, Improv ME is the largest annual assemblage of improv talent in the state of Maine. With three sessions over two days featuring seven different groups, audiences will get the chance to experience some of the best improv that Maine has to offer. The producing sponsor of the Improv ME Festival is Geaghan Brothers Brewing Company, a role they have filled since the festival's inception. The media sponsor is The Maine Edge.

Joining The Focus Group will be: Bar Harbor’s ImprovAcadia, Farmington’s Teachers Lounge Mafia, Orono’s Improv In Sanity, Camden’s The Cool Kids’ Table, Bangor’s Queen City Improv and southern Maine’s You Should Smile More.

In addition to the groups listed, the festival will close out with an improv surprise featuring players from a variety of different troupes; expect the unexpected even more than usual from Improv ME’s final set.

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