Friday, January 6, 2017

Witty, Guileless, Deadpan K-2SO Firmly Takes Things in Hand in 'Rogue One'


BY VW

"DID
you know that wasn't me?"

It is one of numerous memorable lines uttered by the android, K-2SO (Alan Tudyk), in "Rogue One: A 'Star Wars' Story" and the primary reason I pronounced the film amusing when asked my impressions by a colleague.

That colleague, I and the few other souls at a screening of the film a few days ago, I wager, are among the vast minority in the United States that had not seen it.

"Rogue One" is set immediately before the original "Star Wars," "A New Hope." It opens today in China. It opened several weeks ago in the United States and other countries. The film has made a gazillion dollars.

"Rogue One" is also the name of the ship that necessity dictates be parted from its rightful, reluctant Imperial owners. It is needed to transport the rebels/terrorists/freedom fighters to the planet housing a weapon of mass destruction known as the Death Star. Not surprisingly, it has the power to destroy an entire planet.

It was built under protest by Galen Erso Mads Mikkelsen, the research scientist father of Jyn (Felicity Jones), the female protagonist of "Rogue One." In an act of defiance, Galen embeds a defect that can disarm the Death Star.

The film is an account of a motley crew's – led by rebel captain Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) and including K-2SO and Jyn – efforts to disarm/destroy the weapon. I don't give anything away by saying the mission is successful.

Though I am predisposed to like "Star Wars" and all of its sequels and anthologies, I had only seen the original and "Return of the Jedi" before "Rogue One." To that end, I viewed the latter as a standalone film. It is on this basis that I find it amusing, thanks mainly to two characters. The aforementioned K-S2O and that of the warrior, Chirrut (China's leading action star, Donnie Yen).

Baze Malbus (Jiang Wen) and Chirrut Îmwe (Donnie Yen) are brothers in arms in "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story." Photo courtesy of Lucasfilm Ltd.

Chirrut is a marvel. How anyone can perform the death-defying feats he does is indeed – to invoke a much overused word – amazing! Incredible! Unbelievable! Or, because he is blind, all can be explained by his mantra: "I am with the Force and the Force is with me."

But it is K-2 who has the best lines in the film and steals the show. A bald, black, brilliant gangly affair more than 7 feet tall, he is patterned in part on Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew) in ferocity and as a sort of protege to Cassian as Chewbacca is to Han Solo (Harrison Ford). If you, like me, are such a one who prefers a little bit more dialogue, however, you will yearn for the merest utterances from K-2.

Directed by Gareth Edwards, "Rogue One" is almost wall-to-wall action. My estimate is that it is 94 percent action and 6 percent dialogue. Quite spectacular action really. And inspired sets.

Of course, the "Star Wars" movies are known for their engaging androids. Yet K-2 has a certain je nais sais quoi. Further, because there is such a vast difference in the action-to-dialogue ratio in "Rogue One," when anyone talks, especially K-2, you will listen.

His best line is something like, "I just rescued you." It comes after he gives Jyn a smackdown, a lightning-quick response to her escape attempt from the captors who will soon become her allies. It is really quite funny.

The occasions on which he discloses the percentage probability of success or failure of any given element of the mission are usually smirk-worthy.

When K-2 calculates the probability of the crew surviving in space in the event of a crash, he asserts matter-of-factly to the cabin at-large that no one will survive, "except for me. I can survive in space."

It is he who commanded my attention during the film. K-S2's observations were something to look forward to; a respite from the monotony of the action sequences.

"Rogue One" does end on a surprising note, which is especially relevant now. I won't give it away, except to say it has nothing to do with K-2 and is of royal proportions.

"Rogue One: A Star Wars Story" is rated PG-13 for extended sequences of sci-fi violence and action; visit www.starwars.com/rogue-one/ to learn more about the film.

Monday, January 2, 2017

ON THE TOWNS: Wrapping up Christmastime With a Grand Parade Fit for Kings ... Fashion's Future is Bigger Than Ever at YMA ... Revisiting the '80s Art Scene Through the Whitney Archives


JANUARY 2017

THE holidays have been happy, wonderful, merry and exhausting, but one more important celebration with connections to Christmas is on the horizon and El Museo del Barrio celebrates it with a parade.

Another celebration, this one with ties to the Geoffrey Beene Foundation, needs more room to properly commemorate its consequence after only a few years. In its modern iteration, Outsider Art is now 25 years in the making ... and more.

1-7 January

The 40th Annual Three Kings parade will feature live camels. Photo courtesy of El Museo del Barrio.

ART. CULTURE. 11 a.m. - 2 p.m. 6 Jan. 40th Annual Three Kings Day Parade. Live camels, puppets, parrandas, music and dancing figure into the mix as El Museo del Barrio celebrates Three Kings Day (aka the Epiphany) with a Caribbean flair. Individuals who have made significant contributions to the Latino community in New York will also be honored. The festivities end at El Museo with live music and gallery visits. Free. The parade begins on 106th Street at Lexington Avenue and ends on 115th Street at Park Avenue; El Museo del Barrio, 1230 Fifth Ave. New York. http:// www.elmuseo.org/three-kings-2017/

8-14 January


ART. Through 9 Jan. Carmen Herrera: Lines of Sight. Encompasses the 30-year period between 1948 and 1978 when the abstract artist was honing her style. The first NYC museum exhibit of her oeuvre in nearly 20 years, it features three-dimensional treatments, works on paper and paintings. Whitney Museum of American Art, 99 Gansevoort. New York. The exhibit moves to the Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus Ohio on 4 Feb. (through 16 April). http://www.bit.ly/2ciWyfl

FILM. 11 - 24 Jan. The 2017 New York Jewish Film Festival. Among the highlights of the 26th edition of the film festival that celebrates the Jewish experience are an exhibit that pays homage to the life of Gene Wilder and a 50th anniversary screening of Mel Brooks’ “The Producers.” Walter Reade Theater, 165 W. 65th St. New York. http://www.filmlinc.org/festivals/new-york-jewish-film-festival/

FASHION. 12 Jan. YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund Geoffrey Beene National Scholarship Awards Dinner. In 2017, the gala dinner is the largest it has been since its inception in 2006.

Michael Strahan is wearing Collection by Michael Strahan at JCPenney. Photo courtesy of JCPenney.

YMA, whose mission is to promote and advance the fashion industry by encouraging talented young folks to pursue careers in design, merchandising, retailing and business, is primed to award scholarships from $5,000 to $30,000 to more than 200 YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund students and eight Geoffrey Beene National Scholar finalists.

Also during the evening, individuals who have made and are making notable gains in the fashion industry will be recognized. Among them will be Michael Strahan, who entered the fashion business in 2015 with a partnership with JCPenney where he has an eponymous men's clothing and accessories line. He is to have bestowed on him the Future of Fashion Award. Grand Hyatt, 109 East 42nd Street at Grand Central Terminal. New York. http://www.ymafsf.org/2017-yma-fsf-award-gala/www.bit.ly/2e5XMgK


15-21 January

Outsider Art Fair: Anne Mary Robertson Grandma Moses, "giving Day" (1942 Oil on pressed wood 13 x 20 inches (33 x 50.8 cm). Image courtesy of Galerie St. Etienne.

ART. 19-22 Jan. Outsider Art Fair: 25 Years. The art fair that celebrates creations from the self-taught practitioner (Art Brut) celebrates a quarter century. This year, work from 60 galleries representing 27 cities and nine countries. Metropolitan Pavilion, 125 W. 18th St. New York. http:///www.outsiderartfair.com/

22 January and beyond

"Fast Forward: Painting from the 1980s": Kenny Scharf , “When the Worlds Collide,” (1984. Oil and acrylic spray paint on canvas, 122 5/16 × 209 5/16 in.). Image courtesy of Whitney Museum of American Art.

ART. 27 Jan. - 14 May. Fast Forward: Painting from the 1980s. Exploiting the current interest in contemporary painting, the Whitney sourced its own extensive collection to produce this exhibit. Named for a decade that saw an explosion of art of various mediums, the show features painters, ranging from Jean-Michel Basquiat to Julia Wachtel. Whitney Museum of American Art, 99 Gansevoort. New York. http://www.whitney.org/Exhibitions/FastForward

ART. Through 5 Feb. Dreamlands: Immersive Cinema and Art, 1905–2016. The title takes its name from science fiction writer H.P. Lovecraft’s alternate fictional dimension. It features the work of artists spanning a century, illustrating the numerous techniques they have used to deconstruct conventional modes of cinema to re-imagine the moving image. Includes a film series. Whitney Museum of American Art, 99 Gansevoort. New York. http://www.bit.ly/2e5XMgK

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Wrapping Our Sneezes in Tissue Is One of the Best Gifts We Can Give to Our Fellow Man and Woman

Ecoleaf Recycled Facial Tissues are BUAV and Vegan Society-approved as well as biodegradeable and come in fully recycled packaging. They are available at Ethical Superstore. http://www.bit.ly/2i415HQ

BY VW

SOME
advice is so old, so tried-and-true. So ingrained in our psyches that it is buried; we tend to forget it because it is covered over by other good advice.

One such is to cover our mouths when we yawn, cough, sneeze. Everybody knows what to do, except everybody doesn't know what to do, except everybody doesn't do it.

But winter and cold and flu season comes around like clockwork and we need gentle reminders to keep a tight leash on our germs, lest they infect others.

Do cover your mouth when you sneeze, preferably with a tissue. Archive photo.

To help, some folks at the Texas A&M Health Science Center undertook an experiment using dye to determine the best way to keep as many germs at bay as possible when sneezing. Do watch the video to see graphic illustrations.

Of course the worst, which should go without saying but won't, is to sneeze without covering your mouth. It's gross, it's ill- mannered and inconsiderate and it gives germs carte blanche to travel hither and yon, spreading illness.

The vampire sneeze has its merits and demerits. Archive photo.

Covering your mouth with your hand(s) is markedly better than hands-free but still gives germs to much free reign. Then your hands go on to touch this, that and the other.

Placing your nose and mouth at the crook of your elbow and sneezing into your sleeve, resulting in a Count Dracula-like pose, is significantly better. Alas, germs are now living high on the hog; that is, on your sleeve. But as the experimenters point out, far fewer people will come into contact with your sleeve than with your hand.

At press time, Brooks Brothers Pure Cotton Handkerchiefs (package of seven) are marked down to $26.95 (from $35.) http://www.bit.ly/2iAoaD1

By far the best way to handle the errant germs is to sneeze into a tissue and throw it away immediately.

Do note that a handkerchief can serve the same purpose as a tissue. However, it would have to be folded and stored in a secure location until it can be laundered. In the end, then, the tissue is the best option.

Hitchoooooo!!!!!

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Holiday Gift Guide 2016, BOOK BAG - 'Curlee Girlee': the Mane Lesson a Little Girl Learns; 'the Coveteur: Private Spaces, Personal Style', or Nooks & Crannies of the Rich and Famous



Two for your personal library, "Curlee Girlee" (top) and "the Coveteur: Private Spaces, Personal Style."

HEADS UP: December has rolled around again and you are shaking in your shoes. Never fear, the elves at The Wright Wreport are here! As is customary, until 24 Dec., we will introduce products, items and brands that we believe are worthy of consideration as a holiday gift(s). Happy, responsible shopping!

BY VW

TWO
books that launched last month in New York City at Dylan's Candy Bar and Bergdoff Goodman, respectively, with no small amount of fanfare are certain to capture the collective imagination.

One, an illustrated children's book, concerns a little girl who realizes that she and her hair are beautiful. The other, a coffeetable affair, ventures into the spaces of the richer and more famous.

"Curlee Girlee," written by Atara Twersky and illustrated by Karen Wolcott, recounts the adventures of a little girl with curly hair.

Curlee does not like her hair because when it finally grows it is not straight like spaghetti. It doesn't "look like other people's hair at all." It is "swoopy and loopy ... bouncy and flouncy."

Author mother and subject daughter at the launch of "Curlee Girlee." Photo from "Curlee Girlee" Facebook page.

Curlee goes to great lengths to straighten her hair, including using a rolling pin. Then, one day she realizes that her hair is unique and beautiful.

Christian Louboutin ties one on. Photo by Coveteur/Jake Rosenberg.

Both a work of empowerment and a love letter, "Curlee Girlee" grew out of the author's experiences with her curly-haired daughter, a member of a family that is mainly of the wavy- and straight-hair variety.

AT, an attorney, observed that her youngest daughter, Ariela (Ari, for short), was having issues with her hair, though the little girl had not verbalized them. To counteract what she believed might morph into a self-esteem problem, she embarked on a mission to ensure that her child, whom she started calling Curlee Girlee, would see the beauty of her mane. Mother wanted daughter to "embrace her curls and not feel the need to conform."

Cindy Crawford is sitting pretty. Photo by Coveteur/Jake Rosenberg.

"Curlee Girlee," which AT has said she hopes will resonate with the reported 1.6 billion curly-haired females in the world, is a book that every person should have and gift/recommend to others. It can help save women in particular a lot of money that would otherwise go on unnecessary hair products, hairstylists and psychologists.

On a much lighter note is the Coveteur: Private Spaces, Personal Style.

The question is whether Christian Louboutin is wearing Christian Louboutins. Meanwhile, Ariana Huffington is in possession of some kicka_ _ slingbacks. Ah, here is Cindy Crawford in a chill-out moment. And a shelf in Amar'e Stoudemire’s house is laden with treasures.

Ariana Huffington rests her soles. Photo by Coveteur/Jake Rosenberg.

The first book from the luxury brand,Coveteur, is a photo diary of ... well ... the personal style and/or spaces of some folk more well-known and better financially situated than you, you, you and you.

Lots of eye candy.

Knickknacks from a shelf in the home of former New York Knickerbocker Amar'e Stoudemire. Photo by Coveteur/Renée Rodenkirchen.

Visit the websites that follow to learn more about "Curlee Girlee" and "the Coveteur: Private Spaces, Personal Style":
http://www.curleegirlee.com/
http://www.coveteur.com/book-the-coveteur-private-spaces-personal-style/.

Friday, December 23, 2016

'Fences' Extends From the Stage to Film, Bringing With It All of Its Intensity and Verbosity

Viola Davis and Denzel Washington reprise their Tony-winning roles as Rose and Troy Maxson in the film adaptation of "Fences." Photos courtesy of Paramount Pictures.

BY VW

NEAR
the beginning of "Fences,"  Troy (star, director and producer Denzel Washington) delivers a long monologue during a backyard scene.

My first thought was "Oh, Lord, it's going to be a play on the big screen." I wasn't prepared for this, thus prepared to be bored, for "Fences" is a very loquacious play.

It feels less like a play as the film unfolds, but never sheds that imprint. This is intentional.

"Denzel went back to the original screenplay, and he wanted to stay close to spirit of the stage play," Constanza Romero disclosed to the New York Film Critics Online (NYFCO) after its screening of "Fences" at Walter Reade Theater.

CR, a Tony-nominated costume designer, is the widow of August Wilson, the creator of "Fences," the Pulitzer Prize-winning play from which the film is adapted.

When DW phoned to get her blessing to direct the film version, she said she obliged.  "I felt like a green light  all the way, " CR said during the NYFCO Q&A.

"Fences," AW's slice of Americana set in 1950s Pittsburgh concerning the life of Troy Maxson, a onetime baseball great and garbage collector, as well as his family, opens widely on Christmas Day.

For those laboring under the assumption that "Fences" marks DW's directorial debut, it does not. That distinction goes  to "Antwone Fisher."

It has taken a while for "Fences" to come to the big screen mainly because of AW's edict  that it be directed by a black person. He produced a script, which was touched up by an uncredited Tony Kushner.

In his third outing as a director,  DW excels, particularly with himself by not overwhelming the proceedings with his consequence as the main character. The pacing is brisk  enough. "Fences" does not seem overlong at 139 minutes. Characters have organic movements,  seamlessly distractimg from all of the talk, for "Fences" is a loquacious film.

Emotions are on a tight coil, though the medium of film allows the players to let it rip. The camera subtly lingers on important details, such as an image of Pittsburgh steelworkers sans any black men, without looking askance. 

No doubt, DW admonished production designer David Gropman to keep the sets spare in deference to his source material. Surely, he had the budget to be more lavish.

The tension present in the play is as papable on screen. Viewers will find it difficult to watch at their ease, for almost every interaction is a tinderbox on the point of exploding. Even the most innocuous-seeming, as when best friend, Jim (Stephen McKinley Henderson), tracks Troy to a favorite haunt where they have a conversation heavy laden with meaningful nonverbal communication.

Troy (Denzel Washington) and Jim (Stephen McKinley Henderson) return from a day's work in "Fences."

Incidentally, the performances are generally stellar. The actors deliver like cogs in a well-oiled machine. All of the principals are reprising their Broadway roles, except the two youngest, Cory (Jovan Adepo) and Raynell (Saniyya Sidney).

Virtually every scene is powerful and significant. Two in particular stand out. The one between Troy and youngest son, Cory, is one. The boy stubbornly refuses to exhibit the manners he has been taught - Strike 3. Consequently, Troy is forced to demonstrate who is the man of his house.

A young lady with whom this reporter chatted during the reception following the film's New York premiere (at Frederick P. Rose Hall, home of Jazz at Lincoln Center Rose Hall) at Tavern on the Green, judged Troy's treatment of his son harsh.

Point taken, Father might have spared the rod a bit more, after all, the boy was not without some righteous indignation. Further, the punishment did not fit the crime. However, the young pup needed to be taught some facts of life. Specifically, some  respect; a non too-gentle reminder about who pays the bills; a refresher on to whom he owes his surly, ungrateful existence.

Rose (Viola Davis and Gab (Mykelti Williamson), far left, are spectators as Cory (Jovan Adepo) and Troy (Denzel Washington) talk football.

The other scene is Rose's (Viola Davis) confronting Troy about the fallout from his infidelity. Her dissertation is so passionate that viewers will be jolted by her pain, anguish and fury; an utter betrayal of one who has been unwaveringly loyal.

"In all of his plays, August tried to pay homage to his mother, CR responded when I asked her whether he would be pleased with the film.

The short answer is yes. However, she alluded to the aforesaid and a companion scene by way of a fuller answer. "He was very reverent of his mother," she added.

"Fences" is an important work in the pantheon of American artistic expression and important for numerous other reasons.

My preference is that it remained a play only. Alas, as such, far too few would have an opportunity to see it. As a film, it opens up to the world. One hopes the world will embrace it.

Jim (Stephen McKinley Henderson), Troy (Denzel Washington) and Cory (Jovan Adepo) in the Maxson backyard where a fence construction is in progress.

"Fences" has myriad teachable moments. About dreams destroyed. About extremely limited opportunities sanctioned by the State. About injustice. About the basic unfairness of life. About brokenness. About forgiveness. About love. About the black experience in America. About black history.  About American history. 

Just as important, it is a fine entertainment, showcasing fine performances.

"Fences" is rated PG-13 for thematic elements, language and some suggestive references; visit www.fencesmovie.com to learn more about the film.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Holiday Gift Guide 2016: At Judie's Bungalow, A Beret for You and Only You

A beret with flower attached from Judie's Bungalow can brighten a winter day. Photos by Marie Driscoll.

HEADS UP: December has rolled around again and you are shaking in your shoes. What to get Aunt? And those other hard-to-shop-for-persons on your list? Never fear, the elves at The Wright Wreport are here! As is customary, until 24 Dec., we will introduce products, items and brands that we believe are worthy of consideration as a holiday gift(s). Happy, responsible shopping!

BY MARIE DRISCOLL

IN
case you didn’t notice, flowers are in!

From Andy Warhol to Gucci embroidered and painted handbags and accessories, to the prints at Zara. They seem to be everywhere.

The display window at Judie's Bungalow provides a glimpse of some of its unique wares.

If hats are your thing, then a trip to Cold Spring, New York (about 60 miles from midtown New York City via NY-9A) is well worth it. Judie’s Bungalow, a house of handcrafted accessories has an assortment of one-of-a-kind berets with wool-felted flowers that are just so girly and incredible artisanal in this age of massive scale. Take note, this old-school boutique does not have a website, Facebook page or Twitter feed.

I fell in love and bought two; one for me and one for … me? So hard to gift this. At $40 each, they are a deal and bound to make your day brighter.

Who said a flower a day?

One-of-a-kind hats and berets are a specialty of Judie's Bungalow.

Judie’s Bungalow is at 90 Main St. Cold Spring, NY 10516. Telephone: 845-265-1032.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Holiday Gift Guide 2016: AliveCor Mobile ECG Can Be Great Comfort for Those With Troubled Hearts

The Alive Cor Mobile ECG is a pocket lifesaver. Photos from Alive Cor website.

HEADS UP: December has rolled around again and you are shaking in your shoes. What to get Aunt? And those other hard-to-shop-for-persons on your list? Never fear, the elves at The Wright Wreport are here! As is customary, until 24 Dec., we will introduce products, items and brands that we believe are worthy of consideration as a holiday gift(s). Happy, responsible shopping!

BY NEIL WOLFSON

I
was somewhat overwhelmed by the many impressive gizmos and gadgets about to come onto the world market at the recent Pepcom Wine, Dine & Demo holiday technology show in New York City.

However, one device in particular resonated with me as a person living with cardiovascular issues. It's called the AliveCor Mobile ECG. This user-friendly tiny miracle provides an accurate electrocardiogram to your smartphone or tablet. Results can be quickly relayed to your cardiologist.

The lifesaving implications of this product are mind-boggling. It retails for around $100, though the device is 25 percent off online until 31. Dec. At checkout, use code, LASTCHANCE2016.





Visit http://www.alivecor.com to learn more about the AliveCor Mobile ECG.
 
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