November 6, 1999
Wes Craven's change of heart has come far too late for many survivors of serious burn injuries, particularly young children ("A Change of 'Heart,' " by Eric Harrison, Oct. 26). I work for a personal injury firm in Los Angeles that specializes in representing survivors of serious burn injuries. I was burned at the age of 2 and I volunteer my time counseling burn survivors, a number of them children, who are inevitably taunted, teased and compared to Freddy Krueger. Although I am certain Craven did not intentionally create this character to perpetuate the Hollywood stereotype that all burn survivors are monsters, the reality is that has been the horrific result.
January 28, 2011 |
As the hangdog title character in "A Somewhat Gentle Man," Stellan Skarsgard promises a more complex and full-blooded portrait than the film is able to deliver. The adamantly deadpan story concerns a goodhearted, self-effacing killer ? a movie staple of sorts, particularly in the quasi-Coen-esque crime-comedy territory that this Norwegian feature occupies. But like the Coen brothers at their least convincing, the mix of low-grade depression and amped quirkiness never shakes off the feel of self-conscious posturing.
January 20, 1991
In his thoughtful review of "A Forest of Kings: The Untold Story of the Ancient Maya" (Dec. 23), reviewer Victor Perera says that some vignettes "suffer from insufficient underpinning." In particular, he asks: "How do we know that captives sacrificed at Chichen Itza died a gentle death 'because no one ever made a sound when his heart was cut out' ?" All of our attempts to bring the Maya world to life through dramatic interludes are extensively annotated with end notes, and the Chichen Itza dance-sacrifice scene has four notes.
June 8, 1986
I was very much taken by Holly Prado's review of Toby Olson's "The Woman Who Escaped From Shame" in the May 18 Book Review. I found the review highly readable, concise, intelligent and good-hearted. WILLIAM DAVIS South Pasadena
January 13, 1990
A response to Sheila Benson's Dec. 22 review of "Always": In what has to be the darkest slate of holiday movies ever, Benson ironically implies that hell may be realized by seeing the movie "Always." I too gaze in horror at Oliver Stone's nightmare vision of Vietnam, and the Holocaust is something that should never be forgotten, but I also mourn the certain death of sentimentality and heart in today's movies. When critics consider the only serious directors to be those who bludgeon us with the pain and torture of man's inhumanity to man, then those who choose to show life as a more uplifting and joyous experience become a rare and endangered species.
February 23, 1986 |
The cross-country Pro-Peace March, with many celebs joining in for global nuclear disarmament, doesn't begin until Saturday. But Richard Rifkin, a volunteer marcher, is already trying to peddle the rights to his story. Rifkin, who describes himself as a writer-actor, placed a trade-paper ad offering producers an option on his upcoming nine months of "adventure, romance, humor . . . all for the continued existence of humanity."
October 27, 2013 |
"Valley of the Heart" is a quintessentially California play, written by a master of the genre. It is a history lesson wrapped in a love story, with themes that could not be more contemporary: struggling immigrants, xenophobia and racism, cultural confusion and identity. Luis Valdez has drawn on his own childhood to craft what he calls a "memory play": A Mexican American sharecropper family takes over a ranch whose Japanese American owners are interned in 1942, just as Valdez's parents took over a Japanese grower's farm when he was 2 years old. The play showcases Valdez's gift for making people care about experiences far outside their own ambit.
October 29, 2012 |
Bob Baffert is flat on his back and hears those around him saying he has the "widow maker," like he doesn't already know his chest is killing him. He's in Dubai this past March. He's 59 and figures he's doomed. "It was like, 'oh man, this is it.' I'm just waiting for them to turn out the lights," he says. Because he makes his living training horses, in his business people expect the worst and hope for the best. He gives his wife, Jill, a verbal last will and testament, telling her to "keep this, sell that and here's what you need to do when I'm gone.
April 9, 2013 |
Actors' Gang stalwart Brian T. Finney invites us to once again venture deep into the interior of the African Congo in his adaptation of Joseph Conrad's "Heart of Darkness," now at the Ivy Substation. This stripped-down Actors' Gang production zooms in on Finney's intensely contained performance as Marlow, the seaman who tells the story of his obsessive pursuit of the mysterious Kurtz, an ivory trader who has come to symbolize, among other things, the insatiable greed of imperial conquest.
November 7, 2009 |
Meteor flying too close to the ground. . . . Any tragedy in Allen Iverson's life has nothing to do with his basketball career, which was inspiring and earned him hundreds of millions of dollars, some of which we hope he kept after all those widely chronicled trips to Atlantic City, N.J., when he was in Philadelphia. Everything that came before was tragic, the poverty growing up in Hampton, Va., the controversial 15-year jail sentence for his part in a bowling alley race riot as a teenager, of which he served four months before he was granted clemency and his conviction was overturned.