The Pennsylvania Playhouse (TPP) production of "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee" creates a conundrum: Is it this community theater or regional theater?
Yes, TPP's "Spelling Bee" is that good. You might say it's letter-perfect. Wordsmiths should not miss "Bee," which spells out many unusual words (syzygy, cenacle, elanguescence), has a plethora of puns and a dollop of double-entendres.
When it comes to psychological thrillers, "Prisoners" takes no prisoners.
"Prisoners," paced by an intense, carefully-crafted and completely believable performance by Hugh Jackman, is a tension-filled nail-biter with a plot twist that you probably won't see.
Keller Dover (Jackman) is a middle-class father living in western Pennsylvania who owns his owns remodeling business. He and his wife, Grace (Maria Bello), have a teen son, Ralph (Dylan Minnette), and young daughter Anna (Erin Gerasimovich).
"The Family" is a generically-titled film that is anything but generic.
The mob comedy-drama stars the iconic Robert De Niro, in one of his best roles in years, and the magnificent Michelle Pfeiffer, also in one of her best performances.
"The Family" is smart entertainment on the order of "Goodfellas" (1990). In fact, there's a nod in the storyline to "Goodfellas," directed by Martin Scorsese, who produced "The Family."
There's also a sense of "Married to the Mob" (1988) "Analyze This" (1999), and "Meet the Fockers" (2004).
Call it "Meet the Mobsters."
"In A World ... "
You may have heard that phrase, intoned by Don LaFontaine at the beginning of movie previews, or trailers, as they are known.
LaFontaine, who died in 2008, was dubbed "the voice of God" for his recordings of more than 5,000 film trailers, and thousands of television commercials, network promotions and video game trailers.
LaFontaine parodied his own career in TV commercials for Geico Insurance and the "Mega Millions" lottery game.
"It's the end of the world as we know it," to quote the 1987 R.E.M. rock song, and I was feeling fine until near the end of the movie "The World's End."
Then, as in so many movies nowadays, it seems all apocalypse breaks lose, and "World's End" ends in fire.
"Ice would suffice," to quote the 1920 Robert Frost "Fire and Ice" poem.
Instead, director Edgar Wright ("Shaun of the Dead," 2004; "Hot Fuzz," 2007; "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World," 2010), loses his cool.
"Blue Jasmine" is the 49th film directed and 71st film written by Woody Allen, including some shorts, in the 47 years since his first movie in 1966. He's already filming his next movie, an untitled feature scheduled for release in 2014.
Allen, noted for his hilarious social satires, has also made dramas, often including funny moments. "Blue Jasmine" is one such film.
"The Butler" is an eyewitness to history through the eyes of a White House employee during the presidential administrations of Dwight Eisenhower, John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan.
In "The Butler" screenplay by Danny Strong (actor, "Mad Men"), the cauldron of the Civil Rights Movement is backdrop for the presidential procession as well as the story of Cecil Gaines (Forest Whitaker), a fictional White House butler inspired by the real-life Eugene Allen, who was on the White House staff for 34 years.
"Elysium" is a science fiction metaphor for the haves and have-nots of today.
In the year 2154, the super-rich live on a huge bicycle wheel-shaped space station orbiting Earth. It is a Garden of Eden. The wealthy are coddled in Boca-Raton meets Disney World surroundings. Health-care "med-pods" heal patients completely and quickly.
Down below, the whole Earth has become the Third World. Los Angeles is reduced to shanty towns such as those, for example, surrounding Mexico City.
"The Smurfs 2" is an amusing animated and live action feature film with excellent character voices, jokey dialogue and terrific animation that should be enjoyed by the pre-10 year-old set and hold the attention of most parents or guardians.
The characters were created by Peyo, aka Pierre Culliford, a Belgium comic-strip artist-writer. The name Smurf is a Dutch language translation of an invented French word, Schtroumpf, a made-up word for salt.
"The Wolverine" gets deeper into the psyche of Logan, aka Wolverine, the Marvel Comics superhero, thanks to an intense performance by Hugh Jackman, reprising his role as the title character, and thoughtful and compelling direction by James Mangold.