September 26, 2013 |
"Love finds its way" is an Arabic proverb that deftly finds its way - literally and figuratively - into the taut, compelling drama "Out in the Dark," which places a gay-themed romance at the center of the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian discord. A first-time feature helmer, the Israeli-born Michael Mayer (not to be confused with the same-named American theater and film/TV director) ratchets up the tension on its appealing lead characters in believable, heartfelt ways while spinning out an edgy tale fueled by do-or-die sociopolitical intrigue.
September 12, 2013 |
Is he an aggressive, paranoid, pathological liar or an American hero? That's the complex question director Jamie Meltzer explores - if never quite answers - regarding left-wing radical-turned-FBI mole Brandon Darby in the compelling, well-crafted documentary "Informant. " With seemingly full cooperation from Darby (strangely, he even "acts" in dramatic re-creations of key events), Meltzer lays out the disparate facts of Darby's recent past, starting in 2005 when the Texas native drove to New Orleans to help rescue a friend, former Black Panther Robert King Wilkerson, from the ravages of Hurricane Katrina.
July 4, 2013 |
First discovered by Captain James Cook in 1773, the tiny Kingdom of Tonga sits amid crystal blue waters in the southern Pacific Ocean. Much closer to home in North Hollywood, the Tonga Hut is a welcoming island in its own right amid the Valley's summer-heated suburban sprawl. This month, the Tonga Hut is celebrating 55 years of pineapple garnishes and fire-breathing totems, ensuring its continued status as the oldest operating tiki bar in Los Angeles. And it shows no signs of slowing down.
June 19, 2013 |
"L.A. Superheroes" was an obvious labor of love for Serbian-born actress-model Yelena Popovic, who stars, co-directed (with husband-cinematographer Alexandros Potter), wrote the shaggy script (with co-star Alexander Zisiades) and was a producer on this occasionally insightful and amusing Tinseltown tale apparently inspired by her own life. Sadly, she should have kept a "story by" credit and handed the creative reins over to more competent folks. Hard-luck, often clueless Helena (Popovic)
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
May 8, 2013 |
Depending on your point of view, the enduring topicality of Frank McGuinness' 1992 Middle East hostage drama, “Someone Who'll Watch Over Me,” can be seen as a testament to either the play's thematic depth or to the depressingly unsolvable problems it depicts. The ambiguity is appropriate, given McGuinness' intent to depict an all-too realistic tragedy in terms of existential psychology rather than ideology - a goal taken to heart in a gritty revival from NoHo's the Group Rep. Loosely based on Brian Keenan's memoir of his four years of captivity in Beirut during the late 1980s, the play unfolds in the claustrophobic confines of a squalid basement cell guarded by unseen Islamic fundamentalists.
April 4, 2013 |
What to make of "Silver Circle," with its low-rent animation, blunt antigovernment jabs and robotic dialogue? Directed by Pasha Roberts from a script by Steven Schwartz, this eccentric diatribe set in a dystopic near-future has a lot on its Ron Paul-esque mind but lacks the means or finesse to present an even remotely persuasive case. Call it echo chamber filmmaking. It's 2019 in Washington, D.C., and the Federal Reserve ("the ultimate secret society!") is running the show. There's explosive inflation (a beer costs $110)
March 28, 2013 |
Swathed in gunmetal blues and grays and motored by a deliriously heaving pulp sensibility, the British gangsters-and-cops thriller "Welcome to the Punch" is derivative, dumb fun. Writer-director Eran Creevy shows himself to be well versed in the mythic sweep of Christopher Nolan's and Michael Mann's crime sagas, if not their intelligence with storytelling. Plotted like a British conspiracy miniseries (think "State of Play") that's been reduced to only the juiciest, silliest moments, it pits James McAvoy's dogged, renegade detective against Mark Strong's brooding criminal mastermind, and eventually the two together against a greater threat with - naturally - political connections.
January 30, 2013 |
Robert Zemeckis' feature directorial debut, a sing-a-long and a celebration of John Lennon are among the highlights of Beatles Fest this weekend at the Laemmle Noho 7 theater in North Hollywood. The mini-film festival is part of a city-wide celebration of John, Paul, George and Ringo that includes the U.S. premiere of "Backbeat," the British musical about the birth of the legendary rock group. The musical, which opened Wednesday at the Ahmanson Theatre, plays through March 1. For the Record: An article in the Jan. 31 Calendar section about a Beatles Fest at the Laemmle Noho 7 theater in North Hollywood this weekend said that Thursday and Friday's programs would be introduced by Lee Perry, host of KCSI's “Saturday With the Beatles.” His name is Les Perry, and his program is on KCSN-FM (88.5)
December 24, 2012 |
Since mid-November, two actors who were once stars of the TV hits "L.A. Law" and "MASH" have been taking the stage four nights a week at a 99-seat North Hollywood theater. The easy assumption to make is that they have settled for local theater after years on Emmy Award-winning television. But that's not the way Harry Hamlin sees it. Hamlin - who gained fame as hunky lawyer Michael Kuzak on "L.A. Law" in the mid-1980s - says his starring turn in the NoHo Arts Center's production of "One November Yankee" opposite Loretta Swit, who played Maj. Margaret Houlihan on "MASH" for 11 years, is one of the most compelling roles he's tackled since his last episode of "L.A.
December 2, 2012 |
Apartment complexes planned before the demise of the redevelopment agencies in California continue to rise in North Hollywood. The projects in the NoHo Arts District near the northern terminus of the Red Line subway include the recently completed NoHo Senior Villas for elderly low-income tenants. A larger, $50-million market-rate complex is under construction nearby and has reached its top height of six stories. Phoenix developer Alliance Residential is building the 308-unit market-rate complex called the Ferrara at 5031 Fair Ave. It is intended to be resort-like with outdoor dining facilities and bars, pools, cabanas and an outdoor movie venue.