February Highlights in the Region

This month’s highlights PLUS: Home Theater and Broadway Box Office

Circa 2011

The circus is great but—with up to three rings of action going full speed for hours—it can be a bit much. For those with shorter attention spans, there’s CiRCA. The Australian group promises “46 Circus Acts in 45 Minutes.” And, lest you think they’re pulling the wool over your eyes, there’s a big clock that counts down those 45 minutes for you. But, chances are, you won’t have time to check it—you’ll be too busy watching the acrobats, aerialists, jugglers, and magicians tromping in and out of the spotlight at breakneck speed. CiRCA comes to the Performing Arts Center on February 27.

Cook Out

Chef, author, and TV personality Anthony Bourdain has eaten haji kadir (red-dyed meat and bone marrow) in Singapore. He has shopped at the Duala Market—where they sell monkey meat—in Liberia. He’s tasted the best falafel in Beirut. But the No Reservations star and frequent Top Chef guest judge started his globetrotting career more or less in our area; he graduated from Vassar College in Poughkeepsie and refined his palate at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park. A recent episode of No Reservations had him returning to his Hudson Valley roots, eating crabs from the Hudson River and dining—with Bill Murray, no less—at X2O. You can ask him about his culinary adventures—both around the world, and close to home—when he visits the Stamford Center for the Arts on February 12. There, he’ll share the behind-the-scenes stories that don’t make it into his books (Kitchen Confidential, Medium Raw) or TV shows.

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According to Jim

Saturday Night Live comedian Jim Breuer is most popular with a certain segment of the population—you know, the type of people who watch his movie Half Baked over and over. But, with his new book, Breuer is trying to appeal to people other than college students with the munchies. Appropriately titled I’m Not High (But I’ve Got a Lot of Crazy Stories About Life as a Goat Boy, a Dad, and a Spiritual Warrior), the book describes his life as a (sober) family man and caretaker of his elderly father. And, to top it off—he still manages to make it funny. Hear how he does it when he performs stand-up at the Tarrytown Music Hall on February 26.

True Colors

It’s African American History Month, and the Hudson River Museum is celebrating by exploring African American history in fine art. Its newest exhibition, The Chemistry of Color: The Sorgenti Collection of Contemporary African American Art, traces the evolution of African American art throughout the 20th century, focusing primarily on the period between 1970 and 1990. There are 70 works in the exhibition, which was organized by the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and artists represented include Romare Bearden, Jacob Lawrence, Benny Andrews, Sam Gilliam, Howardena Pindell, Faith Ringgold, Betye Saar, and Raymond Saunders. The Chemistry of Color will be on view through May 8.

Step Up

This isn’t just dancing. This is stepping. Steppers stomp, clap, and shout in intricate percussive rhythms, sometimes throwing in tap and gymnastics moves for good measure. And, while most steppers perform in college competitions, Step Afrika has gone pro. In fact, the troupe, founded in 1994, was the first professional troupe dedicated to stepping. See Step Afrika in action on February 12, when it performs at the Paramount Center for the Arts in Peekskill.

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Step Afrika takes bold steps.

Continue reading for our Home Theater and Broadway Box Office sections


Home Theater

Movies to add to your queue this month.
It’s Kind of a Funny Story
DVD Release Date: February 8, Focus Features Home Entertainment
Think of it as a kind of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest for the texting generation. Poor teenaged Craig, played by Keir Gilchrist, finds himself clinically depressed and checks himself onto the psych ward of a hospital—only to find out that the teen floor has been closed, so he’s in with the adults. Zach Galifianakis, the breakout star of The Hangover, stretches his actual-acting muscles as the patient who takes young Craig under his wing. No, he’s no Randle Patrick McMurphy, but, under the direction of Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck—the directors of Sugar and Half Nelson—he’s surprisingly moving.
Let Me In
DVD Release Date: February 1, Anchor Bay Home Entertainment
You’d think our culture has an unending appetite for vampire stories, but sometimes the bloodsuckers slip through the cracks. This fall, Let Me In—a simultaneously violent and heartbreaking film about teen vampires—was lost among the shuffle of Saw and Paranormal Activity 2. Still, even among the deluge of Halloween horror movies, critics noticed and raved about the film—which Cloverfield director Matt Reeves made, adapting from the Swedish movie Let the Right One In—so vampire fans should make a point of seeking out the DVD.
DVD Release Date: February 1, Magnolia Home Entertainment
If District 9 has taught us anything, it’s that pretty great alien movies can be made with even the tiniest of budgets. Monsters follows in that mold, costing less than a million dollars to make (chump change in Hollywood). The film is about a journalist who has to help his boss’s daughter get home by crossing through the “infected zone”—a place where aliens have taken up residence (in Mexico, naturally). And, despite the skimpy budget, they’re cool-looking beings, to boot.
A Woman, a Gun, and a Noodle Shop
DVD Release Date: February 1, Sony Pictures Classics Home Entertainment
Think the Coen Brothers couldn’t be made any wackier? How about transplanting one of their films to a desert noodle shop in China? For A Woman, a Gun, and a Noodle Shop, director Yimou Zhang takes the Coen’s Blood Simple to feudal China. The result is a noir that A.O. Scott of the New York Times calls “pastiche of a pastiche…a grim folk tale.”

Continue reading for Broadway Box Office


Broadway Box Office

5 Winning Movie Romances for Valentine’s Day

Film advocate John Farr offers up five of his favorite movie romances, some of which tickle the funny bone, all of which touch the heart.

Woman of the Year (1942)
A sports reporter (Spencer Tracy) and a foreign correspondent (Katharine Hepburn) work for the same paper, and start a feud in print. When the editor has them meet to make peace, the sparks of romance fly. This was Tracy and Hepburn’s first outing; the two really fell in love on this picture, and it shows. This one never gets old.
The Apartment (1960)
A junior insurance man (Jack Lemmon) gets promoted by allowing his superiors to use his apartment for assignations. Meanwhile, he falls for the elevator girl (Shirley MacLaine), not knowing she’s still involved with the big boss, who also wants to use the apartment. An eternally tender, touching romance from the great Billy Wilder.
The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1963)
A beautiful young woman (Catherine Deneuve) experiences first love, then gets pregnant just as her boyfriend goes off for military service in Algeria. Will their romance last? Glorious Technicolor musical romance from Jacques Demy is all sung, and that Michel Legrand score is beyond brilliant.
Tootsie (1982)
A struggling actor (Dustin Hoffman) cross-dresses to get a key part in a soap opera, so no one knows he’s a man. This complicates matters considerably when he becomes enamored with the show’s ingénue (Jessica Lange). Funny, sweet, and unexpectedly moving, Tootsie will steal your heart again and again.
Jerry Maguire (1996)
A hot sports agent (Tom Cruise) suddenly gets fired for taking an unpopular stand and finds his career stalled, with just one impatient client (Cuba Gooding, Jr.). But when Jerry meets a young widow (Renee Zellweger) who really believes in him, it’s comeback time. Cameron Crowe’s delightful, refreshingly human comedy benefits from the adorable Zellweger, whose career was launched by this film.

Now here’s all you do: take your pick, cuddle up, and enjoy.

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// John Farr

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