The Hampton Roads Show

Alive Inside documentary shows at the NARO

October 20th, 2014 at 3:31 pm by under THRS Movie Reviews

CLICK HERE to watch the trailer for Alive Inside.

That’s right we are lucky that the Tidewater Arts Outreach is bringing this documentary to the NARO this Wednesday night for a special showing.  And I am lucky to have gotten to see it in advance so I could tell you about it.

Alive Inside: the Story of Music and Memory is an award-winning documentary that literally feels like a medical magic show.  As the film points out – five million Americans suffer from Alzheimer’s disease and dementia — many of them alone in nursing homes.

Over three years filmmaker Michael Rossato-Bennett follows social worker Dan Cohen capturing on camera the magic that seems to happen when music from a patient’s life is introduced to them via iPods and earphones..

We watch as songs from a patient’s past awaken memories and emotions that have been sleeping in the recesses of their minds for years, decades for some of them. Patients who are withdrawn, never speak or recognize anyone — suddenly — with earphones and a song from their past — look up and have a completely lucid conversation — relaying memories, singing every word of the song.  The film is shot so well.  As a good documentary should, it let’s the people being film breath in their space and cuts together the right scenes at the right times, intermixing memory-esque scenes from the past jarred free by the music we hear and see them react to at the same time.

Is this the answer, the cure? Probably not. Could it lead to something new in the industry and how we treat these patients? Hopefully.

It won the Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival this year, and I can see why.  It’s heart breaking and heart warming all at once.  It’s a commentary on dementia and Alzheimer’s and how we treat it.  If this is something close to you (and even if it’s not),  you’ll want to consider making time to see this remarkable film.

FOUR OUT OF FIVE COOKIES FOR ME

Alive Inside: The Story of Music and Memory
Special Showing in partnership with Tidewater Arts Outreach
Wednesday Night, October 22nd at 7:15
NARO Cinema – Norfolk
For Tickets & Information, Visit TidewaterArtsOutreach.org

Showing will also include a healthcare panel on arts programs like this in Hampton Roads.


You be THE JUDGE

October 20th, 2014 at 3:21 pm by under THRS Movie Reviews

CLICK HERE to watch the trailer for The Judge.

The Judge is another story of a scattered dysfunctional family brought together thanks to a death and the remaining members forced to deal with each other again.  The difference between This Is Where I Leave You — which we talked about a few weeks ago–  and The Judge is that there’s very little comedy and instead a lot of legal drama.

Robert Downey, Jr. stars as Hank, the son who left the small town and his family behind to become a big city lawyer. When his mother dies, he comes home to face the ghosts that have been chasing him in his difficult relationship with his father Judge Palmer (Robert Duvall).  Also in play are the other ghosts chasing Hank —the high school accident that ended the promising baseball career of Hank’s brother Glen (Vincent D’onofrio), the disability of his little brother Dale (jeremy Strong), and his high school girlfriend (Vera Farmiga).

But it’s really all about the father-son relationship.  Ultimately the Judge has to allow his son to defend him with the help of another local lawyer not up to the task (played by Dax Shepard) and against a great local lawyer — played by Billy Bob Thornton.

The screenplay is by Nick Schenk and Bill Dubuque and it has so much crammed in you can barely keep it straight. It’s directed (a bit self-indulgently for me) by David Dobkin (Wedding Crashers, Change Up and Shanghai Knights).

The acting is what’s worth seeing here.  I really enjoy Downey, Jr. so much better in real, challenging acting like we see in this film as opposed to donning the sarcasm and superhero suits (although he is what made me love Iron Man).  But Robert Duvall’s complete submission and commitment to this role was exceptional.  As a senior facing the loss of his love, his career, and fighting for his life  — he gives a spectacular performance.

It’s too long and there’s too much going on, but you have to be The Judge.

I couldn’t give it FOUR, and THREE seemed unfair to the amazing acting going on here.

THREE AND A HALF OUT OF FIVE COOKIES

Rated R for language including some sexual references. 

Gone Girl stays in theaters

October 20th, 2014 at 3:14 pm by under THRS Movie Reviews

CLICK HERE to watch the trailer for Gone Girl.
Gone Girl is the latest thriller from Oscar-nominated (Social Network, Curious Case of Benjamin Button)/Emmy-winning (House of Cards) director David Fincher.   It’s a love story gone wrong — a dysfunctional marriage of the highest caliber.

As things unfold we also get the back story of Nick (Ben Affleck) and Amy (Rosamund Pike, Pride & Prejudice; Jack Reacher)– how they met, Amy’s childhood as the inspiration of her mother’s “Amazing Amy” children’s books, and their move  from New York to the heartland to take care of Nick’s ailing mother. Meanwhile back in the present — police are all over the evidence in Amy’s disappearance, the media is going crazy and with all of that going on — it doesn’t take long for suspicions to turn to Nick.  His own lies start to reveal themselves and paint him as a suspect to Detective Boney, played by Kim Dickens (Footloose, The Blind Side).

Nick and the in-laws turn to the media for help, which backfires on Nick. He becomes — as one news host said — “the most hated man in America”.  Desperate to prove he didn’t do anything, and on the advice of his sister Margo (Carrie Coon), he seeks the help of a star defense attorney named Tanner Bolt (Tyler Perry) and starts an investigation of his own.  He starts with a visit to old boyfriends of Amy’s — including Desi, played by Neil Patrick Harris.

As the clues to what happened begin to materialize, twists and turns keep coming. We’re getting the narrative from Nick at some points, and from Amy at others.  I’m not giving away the twists, but my mouth was hanging open on some of the turns the film takes.  There are apparently no surprises here if you happened to have read the novel (six million hard copies were sold before paperback!), because Flynn — who adapted it for the screen — stayed meticulously true to the novel, and, in my opinion, to a fault.  Flynn appears to me to have been uninterested in sacrificing parts of the book for the good of the film.

Affleck and Pike have great turns at their characters, but surprisingly to me — Tyler Perry had the performance of the film.  His understated short turn on camera was just what was needed.

Fincher with his dark and moody structure is gripping for 2 hours of the film, but it’s nearly two and a half hours long.  That’s about 20 minutes too long for my taste.  It could have — and should have — ended a bit earlier.

Nevertheless, Gone Girl will certainly be staying in the hunt for award nominations later this year — and given the numbers at the box office… it should be staying in the top ten for awhile.

FOUR OUT OF FIVE COOKIES

Rated R for a scene of bloody violence, some strong sexual content/nudity, and language.


This Is Where I Leave You leaves much to be desired in a film

October 20th, 2014 at 2:34 pm by under THRS Movie Reviews

CLICK HERE to watch the trailer for This is Where I Leave You.

Based on the best-selling novel by Jonathan Tropper, This Is Where I Leave You is a drama/comedy with an all-star cast that seems ready for box office gold. The adult children of this dysfunctional (somewhat Jewish) family come together to bury their atheist father. ..Let the drama and hilarity begin!

Tina Fey is the not-so-happily married sister Wendy.  Judd (Jason Bateman) is the middle brother who found out his wife is cheating on him just before heading to the funeral.  Cory Stoll plays Paul, the brother who runs the family business.  And Adam Driver is Phillip, the baby of the family who still — despite being an adult — hasn’t really grown up yet.  I cannot forget to mention that Jane Fonda plays their mother Hillary – a psychologist who has shared all of their childhood secrets and her best-selling how-to books.  Imagine the surprise when the siblings learn their atheist father’s last wish is for them all to observe the Jewish tradition and sit Shiva.

This Is Where I Leave You is directed by Shawn Levy.  We know him from the Night at the Museum series fame and — then two polar opposites: Date Night — which was great — and The Internship — which was NOT.  The best thing about This Is Where I Leave You is the cast, which works sometimes and sometimes doesn’t.  Tina Fey’s and Justin Bateman’s characters are clearly the best defined, and the actors do a good job with them.  Bateman and Fey really click in their scenes together.

Jane Fonda lobbied for this role and the Oscar-winner even called for an audition.  I didn’t read the book, but I have to believe that the character in the book had to have been better written than the film version of Hillary.  She’s mostly relegated to sitcom-ish lines and, while she delivers for the most part, there are poorly written scenes that she seems to struggle through.

The biggest problem I had was that there are so many storylines running around it just becomes a bit of a mess, before finally working itself out.  It almost feels more like a first draft of a script than a final one.  The novelist Tropper adapted the book for the screen.  His first try at a screenplay.  And for me — it shows.

This Is Where I Leave You is somewhat entertaining while at the same time a bit boring.  I checked the time three times during the film — a film I was really looking forward to seeing.  Sometimes books are better left that way.

THREE OUT OF FIVE COOKIES

Rated R for language, sexual content and some drug use.


No Good Deed not very good

October 20th, 2014 at 2:20 pm by under THRS Movie Reviews

CLICK HERE to watch the trailer for No Good Deed.

No Good Deed has SO much potential.  In fact, I mentioned it in the fall movie preview we did on Labor Day. With the Academy Award nominated acting talents on Taraji P. Henson and Idris Elba — I was really looking forward to this one.

Elba plays Collin — a criminal serving time for manslaughter and suspected of killing five other women.  He escapes and goes looking for the girlfriend he hasn’t heard from while he’s been serving time the last five years. They have a conversation and a little more –that I won’t give away — and before you know it, he is crashing a stolen vehicle on a stormy, rainy night in the Atlanta suberbs.

Meanwhile — Terri (Henson’s character) — a former domestic violence prosecutor turned stay-at-home mom is alone with the kids for the weekend while her husband is on a golf weekend.  She is busy feeding and getting them settled and expecting her friend Meg (Leslie Bibb) for girl’s night. Ultimately she lets him in to wait for a tow truck and things go wrong almost immediately.

Surprisingly, Terri isn’t sensing many warning signs, and the ones she does pick up on she tends to ignore until it’s too late.  Her friend Meg is onto him and that’s not a good thing for her.

Elba uses much of his talent to conjure up this eerie sociopath.  He does a pretty good job despite a very lame script.  His southern accent drifts in and out though and that can be distracting.  Henson holds our attention and makes us very angry when she doesn’t do the things we feel she should be doing — again scripting problems.

Some things really made it feel more like a made-for-TV movie than a major box office thriller with starpower like Henson and Elba — a branch through the window at just the right moment among them. Sam Miller directs — he directed Elba in some episodes of the British TV series Luther.

SONY/ScreenGems canceled press screenings of No Good Deed at the last minute in advance of the release — they said to prevent the exposure of a major plot twist at the end of the film.  Not even the twist saved it for me.  On a sheerly entertaining level — I would give it a few more points, but despite the fact that it made me jump once, this film is a real waste of talent to me.

JUST THREE OUT OF FIVE COOKIES.

Rated PG-13 for sequences of violence, menace, terror, and for language.


The Last Bison Live In Philadelphia

October 20th, 2014 at 12:26 pm by under THRS Live Music

microphoneMy weekend are usually reserved for family time and time spent to re-energize from the work week – so this weekend I packed the family into the SUV and drove up Rt. 13 up to The City Of Brotherly Love.  Philadelphia is special to me because I lived there for several years in my youth and my love for many things came from that city – sports, music, attitude and soft pretzels – so I couldn’t think of a better city to see one of our favorite bands in.

The Last Bison are in the midst of a tour around the country in support of their new album, “VA” (Virginia), and after spending the last two nights in NYC and Conn., they made the trek down I-95 to Philadelphia’s World Cafe Live.  The cafe is two venues in one; a larger club setting downstairs and a more intimate cafe setting upstairs – where The Last Bison was to perform.

After dinner with the family at Nodding Head Brewery, I walked down Chestnut and across the Schuylkill River to 3025 Walnut St.  I was warmly greeted by Ben as soon as I walked in and he was excited about this evening’s show.  There were only 20 tickets remaining and they were all gone by the time they started.  Norwegian singer Monica Heldal opened the show with accompanying guitarist Oyvind Blomstorm  and set the tone for the night with her sweet bluesy voice and a great harmonic sound between hers and Oyvind’s guitar.

thelastbisonphillyAfter a 15 minute break, The Last Bison hit the stage.  The Philly crowd were eagerly awaiting this moment as it’s been a year since they last met.  The band didn’t disappoint and played 90 minute set consisting of a great mix of VA, Inheritance and Quill.  They even treated us to a couple of tunes that didn’t make ‘VA’ but said they would be on a future release “real soon”.  The ended their set with Every Time and with a healthy crowd participation of the “Ohh Whoa Ohh Whoa Ohh” after the chorus.  As they band exited stage left – the crowd filled the room with that chant to bring them back for an encore.  They closed out the evening with their Switzerland and it just left everyone wanting more.  Simply a fantastic show.

If you’ve never seen them before live then you must make it a priority to see them and if you have seen them before, then you must see them again.  Their sound is more refined then before especially with the added full drum kit and the addition of Amos playing an electric bass.

They will end this leg of the tour in at the NorVa for their annual Gathering Saturday, November 29.  Mark it on you calendar and make sure you get out there.


Nicole’s Notes: Great food, great event, great cause!

October 15th, 2014 at 9:42 pm by under News, Personalities, The Hampton Roads Show, Uncategorized

Another great year of food, fun, and an auction to benefit the March of Dimes. The Signature Chefs event was held Sunday, October 12 at the Founders Inn and Spa in Virginia Beach.

March Of Dimes Signature Chefs' dishes

March Of Dimes Signature Chefs’ dishes

Local chefs whipped up a variety of dishes and donated culinary and travel packages to the live auction.

Chris Reckling emceeing

Chris Reckling emceeing

Nicole and Chris Reckling Photo from Wayne Pellenberg

Nicole and Chris Reckling
Photo from Wayne Pellenberg

Chris Reckling, co-host of the Hampton Roads Show was the emcee. I’ve emceed this event for the past several years, but attended as a guest with my dad and sister. The March of Dimes did ask me to fulfill a favor and participate by introducing a special honoree.

Nicole introducing Brian Winfield. Photo from Wayne Pellenberg

Nicole introducing Brian Winfield.
Photo from Wayne Pellenberg

I was honored to tell the guests about Brian Winfield. With the blessing of his lovely wife of 41 years, Carol, he has worked hard to volunteer and raise money for the organization.

Honoree and longtime volunteer Brian Winfield with family Photo from Wayne Pellenberg

Honoree and longtime volunteer Brian Winfield with family
Photo from Wayne Pellenberg

Honoree Brian Winfield speaking about his years of volunteering for the March of Dimes Photo from Wayne Pellenberg

Honoree Brian Winfield speaking about his years of volunteering for the March of Dimes
Photo from Wayne Pellenberg

Over the past three decades, Brian convinced people to participate in walks in Virginia Beach and Norfolk, volunteer and help raise funds for the organization so the research can continue to help premature babies and their mothers.

Honoree Brian Winfield speaking to guests Photo from Wayne Pellenberg

Honoree Brian Winfield speaking to guests
Photo from Wayne Pellenberg

He told the guests his healthy children and grandchildren inspired him to do his part to make sure other children stood a chance. Mr. Winfield’s family was there to cheer him on for this honor.

Guests at the March Of Dimes Signature Chefs Auction

Guests at the March Of Dimes Signature Chefs Auction

Susan Smith from the March of Dimes told me they raised $100,000!  Special recognition to Chef John Maclure from Tradewinds Restaurant in Virginia Beach for “Most Outstanding Presentation” and Chef Melinda Wilkins from Culinary Institute of Virginia won “Best Dessert”.

The food was great, the music was good and there was such a wonderful spirit in the air. It’s an event I always look forward to!

Nicole with Stephanie Cooke, Executive Producer of The Hampton Roads Show

Nicole with Stephanie Cooke, Executive Producer of The Hampton Roads Show

Chris Reckling and Nicole Livas

Chris Reckling and Nicole Livas

If you want to help the March of Dimes, check out their webpage for volunteer opportunities and to donate money.

(Special thanks to  Wayne Pellenberg, Neptune Video Creations LLC for the professional pictures from the night of the event.)

 

 


The sale of The NorVa

October 8th, 2014 at 12:18 pm by under THRS Live Music

microphoneThe big music news making the rounds yesterday was the sale of The NorVa to entertainment giant AEG Live.  The application of sale was submitted by Rising Tide Holdings and Mid-Atlantic Propco LLC – whose parent company is AEG Live – on August 7 to the City of Norfolk and the sale was approved September 25.  The adjacent FM Restaurant was also included in the sale.

So what does this mean for the future of the venue?  AEG Live owns 345 clubs/theaters around the world including Club Nokia and The El Rey Theater in LA, Hammersmith Apollo in London, Royal Oak Theater in Detroit and The Joint at The Hard Rock in Las Vegas – so they are no strangers to running major concert facilities.  Yes, the NorVa will stay as a concert venue – I’ve heard a lot of rumblings that they might not keep it as that but several people I’ve talked to who are in the know have stated that The NorVa will remain a concert venue.

The ability of local bands playing the venue might change with the change of ownership.  With AEG coming to town, they plan on filling the calendar with more national touring acts which will leave open dates for local showcases sparse but they are big supporters of locals musicians as opening support.  Royal Oak Theater in Detroit regularly offers an additional support slot for local acts.

As I mentioned above, the big thing I see happening with this new ownership is the increase of national acts coming down 64.  AEG is also a big concert promoter that book their touring acts to AEG-owned venues.  The National will benefit from this at a much great capacity since they are right off of I-95 (touring acts like to book cities along major interstates) but I do anticipate a heavier lineup for The NorVa.

More details will emerge as the transition moves forward, so I’ll keep my eye on all of the latest developments.


2014 Artistree Festival

September 25th, 2014 at 12:13 pm by under THRS Live Music

Formerly known as Localpalooza, Artistree will takeover downtown Norfolk October 23 -25.  Hosted at several downtown venues including The NorVa, Granby Theater, The Plot, FM Restaurant, The Parlor on Granby, The Naro and many more, Artistree will feature more than a hundred local, national and regional musician and artists.

Many Live Music Friday alums will take part including Bria Kelly, RastaMiles, Corbin Dallas, The Dahus, The Wet Boys, SicMan of VA, The Muckrakes and Traprock Misfit.  Headliners include Biz Markie and Darkest Hour and the much-anticipated reunion of Left Wing Fascists.

Music will not be the only thing you can see and hear – you can check out the several independent films that will be screened and take part in education panels that will cover music industry-related topics.  Panelist include Dave Ravikoff of Warner Brothers Records, Bill Reid of The NorVa and Nick Chappell of 96X.

The Festival will also be working with Music 4 More to raise funds and collect instruments to school and community music programs.  Chesterfield Elementary, Blair Middle School and Granby High School will benefit from this year’s donations.

Click here for more information, full lineup and how to get tickets to Artistree Festival.


When the Game Stands Tall shares life lessons

August 26th, 2014 at 2:03 pm by under THRS Movie Reviews

CLICK HERE to watch the trailer for When the Game Stands Tall.

Football season is coming!  Full disclosure here – I am a huge football fan. I love the game and all the teamwork, hard hits, wins losses and growth that goes with it.  I love an underdog story and a dominant successful team story.  When the Game Stands Tall brings both of those together.

When the film starts the De La Salle high school football team is on an incredible record-shattering win streak – the most wins by any sports team ever of any kind.  Graduating seniors are riding the wave, college offers are coming in, and everybody is thrilled with the streak!

The head football coach is Bob Ladouceur (Jim Caviesel).  He preaches, he inspires, he teaches, and he does it all with his Assistant Coach Teddy (Michael Chicklis) by his side.  But when a health crisis sidelines the coach, he has to focus on his family (some great scenes with his wife — played by Laura Dern) and the team…  has to find it’s way again.  And so does the coach.

The movie is not about the streak it’s about what happens when the streak ends. The emotion, the humanity, the love of the game and what it teaches you… that’s what the movie is about. It is very heavy handed on the preaching and inspiring, to the point of sappy in a screenplay written by Neil Hayes.  I recognize the sappy, especially when the melodramatic score signals a sappy scene.

But! Being a fan of the game, I’m also a fan of football movies. This particular film is probably the best shot film in terms of actual football that I have seen. The hits are hard, the plays are real.  Kudos to the director Thomas Carter for bringing the realness of the game to the screen. The audience in my theater were cheering as if they were watching a real game… that’s how real it felt.

Be prepared -there are a lot of storylines flying around and a lot of locker room speeches.  Technically — in terms of good movie-making — it fails more than it succeeds, but in my book it’s still a winner.

THREE OUT OF FIVE COOKIES.

Rated PG for thematic material, a scene of violence, and brief smoking.