this week: Ohio State Murders, Almost Famous, Glass Onion, and more.
About two years ago, I published two columns like this one, where in lieu of expanded reviews or in-depth articles, I jotted down all the New York City adventures I had throughout the previous week. But my nature is inherently noncommittal, and so I didn’t stick to it. With so much going on these days, I thought it might be fun to bring the format back. Hopefully this will be a nice way for a steady stream of content to populate TV and City. These pieces will be way more “blog” format than you may be used to reading on here, but rest assured, the regular reviews will continue to roll out.
So the week started off strong with the conclusion of Thanksgiving weekend. That Sunday is sort of a weird limbo zone, where you’re back from where you spent the holiday, but not much is going on before work starts back up again tomorrow. A close friend and I decided to make the most of the rainy weather and do a double feature at our local AMCs. That’s right, AMCs, plural. Around lunchtime, we saw the new Disney release Strange World, then walked down twenty blocks to the other theater that was playing Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery.
I thought Strange World was decent, but it’s extremely paint-by-the-numbers, even by Disney standards. The theater was full of kids obviously, and there were very few laughs and not many of them seemed super engaged compared to what I’ve seen at other family films. I love Jaboukie Young-White’s social media presence so it was good fun to see him in the starring role here. My biggest critique is that the movie desperately needed a villain. Modern Disney movies have moved away from big bads like Cruella de Vil or Jafar. Sometimes the no villain thing can work, like last year’s Encanto. Sometimes, it makes the movie mediocre, like Frozen 2. And sometimes, like Strange World, it really bogs it down with the lack of conflict.
Glass Onion on the other hand, was fantastic. This was one of my most anticipated movies of the year, and it undoubtedly delivered an immersive escape. I still prefer the first film, but this sequel was just as good. Knives Out was a satire of old money, and Glass Onion is a take-down of new, tech bro money. They’re extremely different in execution, which was a nice surprise. As this is a murder mystery film, it’s hard to say more without treading into spoiler territory, and most folks won’t have the chance to see the movie until its Netflix debut on Christmas weekend. So the last note I have for now is that the comedy relies far too much on cameos; we get it, the first movie was a smash hit and now every celebrity wants to be in a Knives Out movie. It may fit with the actual theme of the film’s central case, but it was kind of annoying with the exception of one cameo that seemed tailored made for my interests.
The weekend concluded with a stop in Long Island for an engagement party where we all loaded up on sushi.
On Monday night, I saw Ohio State Murders on Broadway. This was ahead of the December 8th opening night, but don’t go booking your tickets too quickly, the play put me to sleep. Audra McDonald stars in what is essentially a one woman show. There are other actors, but most of them have no spoken lines. I was excited to see her, as she’s an absolute theater legend, and her performance was indeed very strong. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to save the withering production. The runtime is just a single 70 minute act, making it what I assume is the shortest show currently on Broadway, and it still dragged. As a critic, I see a lot of theater and a lot of art. You learn quickly that most of it is going to be bad, and that the job is worth it for that sliver that elevates the form and is incredible.
Tuesday was a fun one at the Seaport downtown. My day job is there, making it convenient to pop into whatever else may be going on in the area. During lunch, I visited the Choose Love pop up “store,” where patrons can donate supplies to refugees around the globe. It’s a cool space and an even better organization. When the sun went down, the neighborhood had its annual tree lighting, drawing big crowds for free hot cocoa, ice skating, and a performance by musician Lukas Graham, which I had to miss most of to make it to the premiere of Spoiler Alert at NYU’s Skirball Center.
The premiere made for a great night, and I thank Focus Features for both the unlimited snacks and for placing me mere feet from American treasure Sally Field. Before the movie started, branded tissues were distributed, which let the crowd know exactly what they were in for. Director Michael Showalter (the mind behind two of my favorite movies, Wet Hot American Summer and They Came Together) introduced the project along with the cast including star Jim Parsons. The movie was really good and hit all the right emotional beats. I’m glad I saw it in a theater and particularly in this environment. When it was quiet, you could hear the audience crying around you.
Wednesday was a rare night in and uneventful. Spotify Wrapped dropped, and let’s just say my #2 artist of the year will not be making the list come next December. *cough* Kanye *cough*.
On Thursday I checked out Almost Famous, the new Broadway musical based on the 2000 film. I had never seen the movie so I pretty much went in blind. It was… alright! Completely fine, totally passable, and a decent amount of fun. I was very lukewarm on the whole thing, but I’d chalk that up to the fact that again, I see a lot of theater and this was subpar compared to some other shows that have opened recently. That said, there was certainly value in this, and if Broadway is going to devolve into just movie adaptations, I hope they can all be as solid as Almost Famous.
The weekend was spent up in Washington Heights visiting old friends. More importantly, I finally tried Dunkin’s new Pancake Wake-Up Wrap, which the brand describes as “a portable, pillowy pancake, folded and filled with egg, bacon or sausage, and melted cheese.” Long time followers will know my love for all things Dunkin, and I expected this to be an absolute game changer. I was wrong. The product is fun and I may even get it again, but the regular tortilla wake-up wrap is better. Maybe there’s some profound lesson here about how two things can be great on their own, but combining them only leads to trouble. Who knows.
Other movies I watched this week:
- The 39 Steps – Supposedly a Hitchcock classic, but utterly forgettable. Short though, which I love.
- Armageddon – Big dumb Michael Bay blockbuster. Probably would have been loads of fun watching this in a theater in 1998.
- Out of Order – New York Nico’s short film that I missed at Tribeca Film Festival earlier this year. It’s now on YouTube. Check it out if you spend too much time on NYC street culture Instagram.
- As You Like It – Ever since Shakespeare in the Park performed the genius musical adaptation of this play back in August, I’ve been interested in seeing the true play. This was really good and made me appreciate the musical all the more.
- Batman: Mask of the Phantasm – This is way too hyped up online. It was a fine extended episode of the animated series but didn’t do anything for me.
- Belfast – Immaculately shot and really sweet. Loved it.