Whitehall-Coplay Press

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Review: ‘Hacksaw Ridge’

Friday, November 11, 2016 by PAUL WILLISTEIN in Focus

At family picnics at my maternal grandparents’ house in Fullerton, Whitehall Township, Uncle Tom didn’t talk much about his military service in the South Pacific Theater during World War II, or when he tried to, after a beer, he would start sobbing quietly.

See director Mel Gibson’s landmark film, “Hacksaw Ridge,” and you will get a sense of why many veterans of “The Greatest Generation” have been reluctant to talk about what they did during the war.

Theater Review: ‘Aliens’ arrives at Touchstone Theatre

Friday, November 4, 2016 by PAUL WILLISTEIN in Focus

You could sense the aroma in the lobby of Touchstone Theatre, Bethlehem.

Who’s wearing Patchouli?

The Touchstone stage.

There, incense was wafting, votive candles to the saints burned and three skull replicas and a cross and a sign that stated “No guacamole for immigrant haters” were among the props for ”Aliens, Immigrants, and Other Evildoers,” before José Torres-Tama took the stage for his rowdy one-man show that continues at 8 p.m. Nov. 4 and 5 and 2 p.m. Nov. 6, Touchstone Theatre, 321 E. Fourth St., Bethlehem.

Movie Review: ‘Jack Reacher’

Thursday, November 3, 2016 by PAUL WILLISTEIN in Focus

“Jack Reacher: Never Go Back” is not much of a reach for actor Tom Cruise.

The action-thriller is well within the wheelhouse of Cruise. As with the original “Jack Reacher” (2012), the sequel is a kind of low-rent “Mission: Impossible,” of which Cruise has made five since 1996 with a sixth in pre-production.

The character of Jack Reacher is more simplistic, working-class and not as suave as Ethan Hunt, the James Bond inspired protagonist of “Mission: Impossible.”

The last songwriter: Jimmy Webb’s extraordinary songs to be heard in Bethlehem showcase

Thursday, November 3, 2016 by PAUL WILLISTEIN in Focus

Hear Jimmy Webb sing “Didn’t We,” as he recounts how the song is from the second act of a never-performed college musical. Then hear Sinatra sing “Didn’t We,” with a dry as Jack Daniels vocal and Don Costa arrangement and let the chill bumps start.

Listen to Webb’s intro to “The Worst That Could Happen” as he talks about Johnny Maestro introducing 40 guys “all in maroon blazers,” former members of the Brooklyn Bridge, which took the song to No. 3 in 1969.

Theater Review: A timeless ‘Time Warp’ at Bucks Playhouse

Saturday, October 29, 2016 by PAUL WILLISTEIN in Focus

Aficionados of “The Rocky Horror Show” probably can’t do better than to see, or rather, experience Bucks County Playhouse’s production, which continues through Oct. 30 in New Hope.

This is a Broadway-quality production with great performances by an incredibly-talented cast, super stage values and an on-stage sizzling four-piece rock band led by the show’s Music Director Will Shuler, who conducts and plays keyboards, with Sound Design by Bart Fasbender.

Movie Review: ‘Denial’ approved

Friday, October 28, 2016 by PAUL WILLISTEIN in Focus

There’s no denying the power of “Denial.”

“Denial” is based on a true story about Holocaust denier David Irving (Timothy Sprall in a pivotal role of muted churlishness), who sued author and university professor Deborah E. Lipstadt (radiant Rachel Weisz in an Oscar nominee-worthy role) for libel.

The author’s publisher, Penguin Books, assembled a crack defense team led by barrister (Andrew Scott), who represented Lady Diana in her divorce case, and solictior (a focused Tom Wilkinson, possible supporting Oscar actor nominee).

Movie Review: ‘Birth of a Nation’

Friday, October 21, 2016 by PAUL WILLISTEIN in Focus

Director Nate Parker, in his theatrical feature film directorial debut, couldn’t have chosen a more audacious title, “The Birth of a Nation,” intentionally referencing producer-director D.W. Griffith’s “The Birth of A Nation,” which purported to tell the story of the United States’ Civil War and the Reconstruction era that followed. The 1915 silent epic film is credited with the birth of a revived Ku Klux Klan.

The Annie Moses Band: Faith and family in classic fashion

Friday, October 21, 2016 by PAUL WILLISTEIN in Focus

While immediate comparisons to “The Partridge Family” might come to mind when describing the Annie Moses Band, the family connection is where the similarity begins and ends. The Annie Moses Band is the real deal, not some fictional fabrication.

The Annie Moses Band presents “The Art of the Love Song,” 7:30 p.m. Oct. 21, Rodale Community Room, Miller Symphony Hall, Allentown.

There are five siblings in the band, including Annie Wolaver, lead singer and violinist, and more family members behind the scenes.

Movie Review: ‘Peregrine’ a ‘Miss’

Friday, October 14, 2016 by PAUL WILLISTEIN in Focus

“Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” is peculiarly cold and distant.

Blame, or credit, director Tim Burton and the screenplay by Jane Goldman (“X-Men: First Class,” 2011) based on the novel by Ransom Riggs.

With a cast of unusual-looking children (from Great Britain), all watched over with loving menace by Miss Peregrine (Eva Green, magnificent, chewing every scenery in sight), Burton moves the actors from set to set like so many pieces on a chess board. Burton is grandmaster, albeit with too much flash.