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Monday, March 18,2013

Something to 'Scream' about

John Lepard recalls having a hot time on the set of 'Scream 4'

by James Sanford
“Scream 4” is certain to be a hot ticket this weekend — and it was definitely a sultry set as well, according to John Lepard. You’ll see Lepard about 15 minutes into the film. The Williamston Theatre executive director (and director of the theater’s current show “While We Were Bowling”) plays a Woodsboro High School English teacher, identified in the credits as Mr. Baker. One of his students is Jill Roberts (played by the winsome Emma Roberts of “It’s Kind of a Funny Story,” “Nancy Drew” and Nickelodeon’s “Unfabulous”), the cousin of Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell), the pivotal player — and frequent near-victim — in the first three “Scream” movies.
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Monday, March 18,2013

Capital City Film Festival: 'Chasing Che' and 'Answer This!'

Features screen Sunday at Washington Street Armory

by James Sanford
What do you do after one of your relatives ruins your business and steals all your money? Many of us would seek revenge or wallow in self-pity, but Iranian Alireza Rofougaran chose another path: He decided to learn as much as he could about the life of Che Guevara.
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Monday, March 18,2013

Stunning 'Last Train Home' goes straight to the heart

East Lansing Film Society documentary examines Chinese family life — and emotional alienation

by James Sanford
We've all had to cope with the trials of holiday traffic, but few of us have ever faced the kinds of challenges encountered by the Chinese family at the center of the stunning documentary "Last Train Home"; they're battling 130 million other travelers who are trying to get somewhere during the pre-Chinese New Year rush.
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Monday, March 18,2013

Mighty -- and flighty

'Thor' soars, thanks to a smart screenplay, a great cast and director Kenneth Branagh's balancing of humor and heroism

by James Sanford
Bringing a superhero to the big screen is not unlike staging a Shakespeare play: You want to be faithful to the source material, of course, but there's also a temptation to do something a little different with the story, to find unusual angles on the characters and to make it accessible to viewers who aren't familiar with the original work.
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Monday, March 18,2013

It's a nice day for a Wiig wedding

The 'Saturday Night Live' star catches the bouquet as a memorably messed-up maid of honor in 'Bridesmaids'

by James Sanford
The royal wedding has come and gone. Now it’s time for a coronation and, in “Bridesmaids,” Kristen Wiig demonstrates she’s more than qualified to be the new queen of comedy.
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Monday, March 18,2013

'Chicago' crackles intermittently — but where's the fire?

Latest version of the Kander/Ebb/Fosse classic has more polish than pizzazz

by James Sanford
Some shows are like wines: They need to be opened at just the right time. When "Chicago" debuted on Broadway in 1975, even the star power of Gwen Verdon and co-author and choreographer Bob Fosse could only do so much to sell a project that was completely out of tune with America's attitude. In the wake of Watergate and the resignation of president Richard M. Nixon, audiences were resistant to the John Kander/Fred Ebb musical that celebrates the glory of doing the crime without doing the time, of bamboozling the public into believing ridiculous, manufactured melodrama instead of looking for the truth.
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Monday, March 18,2013

Clown prince of 'Tides'

Johnny Depp swaggers and staggers again as Captain Jack Sparrow in an OK 'Pirates' spinoff

by James Sanford
Friday, May 20 -- It used to be that supporting characters were the ones who landed spinoffs of hit shows. Remember how Rhoda and Phyllis went from being Mary Tyler Moore’s quirky friends to having showcases of their own? Or when the outspoken Maude and the movin’-on-up Jeffersons made their marks on “All in the Family” and then made it big with self-titled series shortly thereafter? But it’s the ever-unsteady, bobble-headed Captain Jack Sparrow, unarguably the main attraction of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise, who has been propelled out of the original trilogy and into — what should we call it?: A postscript? A sequel? A footnote? An afterword? — “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.”
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Monday, March 18,2013

Happy hour(s) at the Barn

Augusta summer theater returns with rousing revue that celebrates its history and looks into its future

by James Sanford
AUGUSTA — “Holey moley!” veteran Barn Theatre star Eric Parker gasped as he surveyed the crowd for Tuesday evening’s “The Great Big Bar Show.” “We’re here — and they’re here! The Barn Theatre is back, and it’s here to stay!” A year ago, those words might have been less convincing. The Barn, an Equity theater that had been in operation for 64 years, did not launch a 2010 season in the wake of what producer/owner Brendan Ragotzy called a “horrible” year in 2009 that left the theater approximately $200,000 in the hole. But if there were any hard feelings or misgivings among the patrons who crowded into the cozy Rehearsal Shed Lounge for the first night of the “Bar Show,” they weren’t evident: From the opening medley of “As If We’d Never Said Goodbye” (from “Sunset Blvd.,” which the Barn will produce in August) and “Another Openin’, Another Show” (from “Kiss Me, Kate”), the Barn received a rousing welcome back. Number after number was greeted with hearty applause, whistles and cheers.
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Monday, March 18,2013

Big trouble in a small town

Teen filmmakers get a lensful of frightening footage in the retro-creepy 'Super 8'

by James Sanford
Thursday, June 9 — Set in 1979, “Super 8” is a super-deluxe nostalgia trip, courtesy of writer-director J.J. Abrams and producer Steven Spielberg. Anyone adventurous enough to try to keep track of all the movies, TV shows, commercials and celebrities referenced here had better watch very carefully and keep a running tally; otherwise, you’ll miss a Three Mile Island mention here or a “1941” homage there. But the movie is more than just an avalanche of pop-culture pop-ups — it’s also a very 1979 movie, infused with the high-impact visual effects and post-modern perspective of 2011.
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Monday, March 18,2013

'Getting By' the easy way

Freddie Highmore and Emma Roberts make a winning couple in a pleasantly mellow comedy-drama

by James Sanford
Moviegoers who need a vacation from superheroes, explosions, sub-standard sequels and 3D headaches can find a bit of solace in “The Art of Getting By,” an easygoing comedy-drama that takes its cues from the relaxed, no-nonsense performances of stars Freddie Highmore and Emma Roberts. In a time when the term “romantic comedy” can either mean a strident, obnoxious mess like “Something Borrowed” or a raunchfest like “Bridesmaids,” “Art” goes its own way, providing quiet charm, appealing characters and that sort of 1990s off-the-cuff indie-film attitude that rarely seems to show up these days.
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