Broken City: Forget It Mark, This Ain’t Chinatown

by Ethan Alter January 18, 2013 6:01 am
<i>Broken City</i>: Forget It Mark, This Ain’t <i>Chinatown</i>

If your goal is to make a contemporary version of Roman Polanski's Chinatown, complete with an anti-heroic private eye and a shady land-grab deal overseen by corrupt politicians and businessmen, you'd best bring your A-game. It's too bad then, that the creative forces behind Broken City -- including director Allen Hughes, screenwriter Brian Tucker and star Mark Wahlberg -- only came to play with their B-game. But hey, even second-string teams can eke out a victory now and then and Broken City turns out to be a solid, if unexceptional, urban crime yarn that updates the Chinatown template from 1930s Los Angeles for 2010s New York, although the movie's version of the Big Apple feels a heck of a lot closer to the '90s than today.

Les Miserables: The Song Remains the Same

by Ethan Alter December 21, 2012 6:02 am
<i>Les Miserables:</i> The Song Remains the Same

For Drama Club nerds of a certain age, Les Misérables -- which premiered in London in 1985 and Broadway the year after that -- was likely a formative theatergoing experience, a mega-musical that married soaring anthems with elaborate stagecraft, giving it a grand sense of scale that blew the roof off the theater. You didn't just watch Les Miz... you became part of its world. In retrospect, it's easy to slam the musical for helping to launch the still-ongoing era of Blockbuster Theater, where budget-swollen shows frequently put more effort into the spectacle than the songs and story (looking at you, Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark). But almost three decades on, Les Misérables, adapted from Victor Hugo's sprawling 19th-century tome, remains a case where all of the elements are in harmony with each other. On their own, songs like "Who Am I?", "Stars" and "One Day More" are stirring; when paired with the revolving turntable set, the intricate lighting design and the building of the barricade, they become transcendent.

The Baroness of Nottingham

by Zach Oat June 19, 2008 10:49 am
The Baroness of <i>Nottingham</i>

I'm still really confused as to why they hired Sienna Miller -- a blonde, freckled British girl -- to play the raven-haired, Eastern European killer the Baroness in the new G.I. Joe movie. She's pretty, sure, but dark-haired women are pretty, too -- why not give one of them a chance to play one of the all-time dark-haired icons? Sunny, blonde British girls should play sunny, blonde British parts, like...oh, I don't know, maybe Maid Marion in Ridley Scott's Robin Hood movie?

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