April 25, 2014

Tribeca Review: The Bachelor Weekend (The Stag)

Thank God for VOD. Seriously, it’s a blessing. The fact that I can watch films from this year’s Tribeca Film Festival and not have to leave my room is a luxury. Sometimes I have seen films and thought, “Man, I wish I had actually experienced this with an actual audience.” This is not one of those times.

I was really looking forward to seeing the Irish comedy The Bachelor Weekend. It seemed like a light hearted, funny, brofest from across the pond, and it was on the top of my "must see" list. I chose to watch it On Demand, since I had fallen ill that week, and couldn’t make it to any of the screenings.

The Bachelor Weekend (or formally titled The Stag) is a story about a group of friends who decide to go out into the wilderness to celebrate their mate’s pending nuptials. However, each one of them has their own respective issues that are soon dealt with while braving the elements and trying to survive the weekend. “Uninspired” is the word I would use to describe this film. It has all the basic components of your typical “male bonding” film like The Hangover (nudity, sex jokes, gay jokes, crazy hijinks, ect.), but it just wasn’t all that funny to me. Some of the characters were very one dimensional with no real development whatsoever. It felt like I was watching an incomplete film, and I was just waiting for something more (anything really!)

I did have a few chuckles, however. Peter McDonald (The Machine. Yes, that's his name throughout the entire movie) who plays the crass older brother of the Bride, is really the only person carrying this film (and seems to overshadow the rest of the cast.) Which is disappointing, because you have some really talented actors, who could’ve been used much better. This film would be perfect to view on Netflix, on a lazy afternoon. The Bachelor Weekend is not bad, but it’s defiantly a missed opportunity for what could’ve been a really funny film. Grade: C-

April 24, 2014

REVIEW: Radcliffe and Ensemble Shine In THE CRIPPLE OF INISHMAAN

A few months ago, I wrote a piece on Daniel Radcliffe after seeing a show he was in while in London last summer (check it out HERE.) The show was called THE CRIPPLE OF INISHMAAN, an extremely dark comedy about an unfortunate cripple named Billy (Daniel Radcliffe) who dreams of a life outside his small Irish town. When I heard that the show was coming to Broadway, I was excited and nervous. Maybe, I wasn’t giving my fellow Yanks enough credit, but I wasn’t sure that the fast paced, borderline unintelligible dialogue would work with American audiences (or keep their attention for the 2 hours we were there.)

 Before the show, I was treated to a wonderful pre-show mixer at the Iroquois Hotel located at 49 W 44th St. The mixer was held at the hotel’s Lantern’s Keep, a beautifully lit bar at the back of the lobby, which provided wonderful service and a delicious array of hors d’oeuvres and drink (the drink in particular was appropriately named The Cripple of Inishmaan.)

 For a Wednesday evening the line going into the theatre was substantial at best. Right now NYC is buzzing with tourist from all over the world enjoying their spring vacation, so it can get a tad crazy around the theatre district. The out of towners, in particular, were extremely hype about seeing a “Daniel Radcliffe show” and I could spot the overzealous young fans who wanted to see Harry Potter up close and personal.

 Set on the remote island of Inishmaan off the west coast of Ireland, word arrives that a Hollywood film is being made on the neighboring island of Inishmore. The one person who wants to be in the film more than anybody is young Cripple Billy (Radcliffe), if only to break away from the bitter tedium of his daily life. McDonagh’s comic masterpiece examines an ordinary coming-of-age in extraordinary circumstances and confirms his position as one of the most original Irish voices to emerge in the second half of the twentieth century.

 This show is written by Martin McDonagh (who brought us In Bruges, The Guard, and Seven Psychopaths.) There is a darkness that shrouds the characters of the show, which makes the comedy so startling and hilarious. I love McDonagh, because his work always manages to make me laugh, and
acknowledge my own sick, twisted humor. When I say that this is one of Daniel Radcliffe’s finest performances, I really mean it. His dedication and commitment to playing a physically handicapped invalid is shown throughout the show. It is very clear that he spent a lot time and energy familiarizing himself with the movements and nuances of a handicap. There is one scene about midway through that has him lying in a dreary room, which will just break your heart.

 However, seeing the show for the second time did affect how I watched this week's performance. First of all, knowing the entire story from start to finish made me focus less on the plot and more on the excellent dialogue and subtle jokes, which I definitely missed the first time around. I also have to mention that though Radcliffe is the headliner, the ensemble cast are truly the breakout stars, delivering the show’s finest performances. The first time, I was so focused on Daniel and observing his actions, that I didn’t really take in the performances of the people around him (like his hilarious
Aunties, the abrasive and hostile Helen, the town gossip Johnny Pateen, and so on.) These are the real stars of the show, and I’m so happy that I could really appreciate their performance a second time around.

 One thing I found interesting was how the American audience reacted to certain moments of the show in comparison to the British audience last year. For one, American audiences have a tendency to clap whenever the headlining star comes out on stage (which they did with Radcliffe, who doesn’t make a grand entrance.) He did not get that same welcoming in London. No one clapped or cheered. I, personally, found this refreshing, since I find that clapping for a star when they enter, just singles them out in a way that sets them apart from the rest of the group. I feel it’s more respectful to treat them just like the rest of the cast members, and not put so much emphasis on the fact that you probably flew all the way from Bigfork, Minnesota just to see a celebrity and not the show itself.

 I also have to note that the audience was very warm and receptive to all the jokes, and clapped after every scene (which the British audience did not do.) One thing that I found hilarious was that the cruel jokes aimed at Radcliffe’s character Cripple Billy did not get a huge laugh over here. The jokes landed very well in London, igniting shrieks of laughter at poor Billy's expense. If you know McDonagh’s work, you know that these jabs at Billy and his ugly looks, and weak body are meant to be funny (because the jokes are so horrible, that they become comedic.) However, the American audience were very sympathetic and rarely laughed during those scenes. All you would hear were a flurry of "Awws" and "Oh, that's terrible." One of the rare occasions where I could clearly see the line between British humor and American humor (experienced the same thing when I saw the Book of Mormon at the West End.)

The Cripple of Inishmaan is a special gift from across the pond that should be seen during it's 14 week stint in New York. If Daniel Radcliffe peaks your interests to see this, then by all mean go and see it! The show will bring you laughs, but will also play on your heart in a way that you wouldn't expect. It is truly theatre at it's finest.

Tickets are currently available on Telecharge.com:

      The Cort Theatre
138 West 48th Street (btwn 6th & 7th Aves)
New York, NY 10036

Tuesdays: 7pm
Wednesdays: 2pm and 8pm
Thursdays: 7pm
Fridays: 8pm
Saturdays: 2pm & 8pm

Sundays: 3pm

Special Thanks to:

Thank you to the Iroquois Hotel's Lantern's Keep for the wonderful pre/post-mixer 
Lantern’s Keep is devoted to the artful enjoyment of cocktails, as displayed by these turn-of-the-century aficionados. A hidden gem tucked behind the refined lobby of the Iroquois, Lantern’s Keep is not a lobby lounge or a mere bar – it is a unique entity in its own right, serving a carefully selected slate of creative and inspired drinks in an intimate, exclusive environment. Each of the Lantern’s Keep bartenders brings his or her own personal style and experience behind some of the city’s best bars to cater to even the most experienced cocktail experts.

                       Lantern’s Keep
                      49 W 44th St., New York, NY 10036
                    (212) 453-4287

                      Website: http://www.iroquoisny.com/lanternskeep
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