Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Movie Review: Brooklyn

A lush, tender immigrant tale starring an Oscar-worthy Saoirse Ronan.

Posted By on Wed, Nov 25, 2015 at 5:15 PM

STARTING OVER: Saiorse Ronan stars in Brooklyn.
  • STARTING OVER: Saiorse Ronan stars in Brooklyn.
4 out of 5 stars
Directed by John Crowley
Stars Saiorse Ronan, Jim Broadbent, Emory Cohen and Domhnall Gleeson.
113 min, PG-13
Now playing at local theaters

Brooklyn is an ode to the immigrant experience in America, released at a time when half the population seems to have forgotten immigrants' role in our history.

Directed by John Crowley (Intermission, Boy A), the coming-of-age tale stars Saoirse Ronan (Atonement, Hanna) as Eilis (pronounced ay-lish), who contends with homesickness and the torn feelings that come with starting over far from home.

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Theater review: Tender Napalm knows no limits

The actors are terrific, but good luck penetrating the script.

Posted By on Wed, Nov 25, 2015 at 12:40 PM


2 out of 5 stars
Tampa Repertory Theatre’s TRT² at Silver Meteor Gallery, 2213 E. Sixth Ave., Ybor City, Tampa.
Through Nov. 29, Fri.-Sat. at 8 p.m.; Sun. at 3 p.m. $15.

I wish I could say that I was enchanted by the word- and world-painting of Tender Napalm, Phillip Ridley’s exasperating confection currently showing at the Silver Meteor Gallery in a TRT² production. But as graphically inventive as Ridley’s dialogue is — and as talented as Betty-Jane Parks and Derrick Phillips are at speaking it — this is a game with no net, no way of telling who’s winning, who’s losing, or what’s at stake.

Imagine two lovers who can say anything to each other, compose any fantasy, verbalize any aggression. At first, the idea may seem liberating. But after a while, after he’s expressed everything from tender love to the will-to-mutilate, and she’s responded with lyrical grace and readiness-to-emasculate, you realize that there’s no start or stop to this rhapsody, that it can go on for hours without ever exhausting itself, that you the unwary spectator have wandered into someone’s private fantasia and there’s not even an intermission during which you can sneak out.

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The Laugh Tract — Who's Bringing the Funny

Gallagher, Eddie Izzard and others will help you laugh off that Turkey tryptophan.

Posted By on Wed, Nov 25, 2015 at 12:13 PM


It's time for turkey, football and braving crowds to hunt for bargains.

But it's also a time for comedy as well. Maybe not on Thursday, although dinner with the family can quickly become a comedy of errors.

Still, there are plenty of shows the rest of the week. So on Black Friday, while you shove your way toward that cheap tablet for grandma that she'll never use, think about taking in a little laughter as well.

Here are your best bets:

Theaters and Special Events

Eddie Izzard at Ruth Eckerd Hall. Izzard has certainly forged his own path with his own sense of style. His comedy seems like random thoughts strung together, but he always has something unusual to say. At times political, thoughtful and irreverent, his blend of social commentary and biting comedy has earned him fans all over the world.
Showtime is Monday at 8 p.m. $46.50-$77.50. 1111 McMullen Booth Road, Clearwater. Info: or 727-791-7400.

Joke's on You Comedy Tour featuring Gallagher at the State Theatre. Gallagher, the godfather of the cable comedy special, brings his stand-up and sledgehammer to the State Theater on Friday night. Longtime comedy vet Artie Fletcher and the "Princess of Parodies," Traci Kanaan, provide support for the comedy legend.
Showtime is Friday at 7 p.m. $20-$40. 687 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. or (727) 895-3045.

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Visual arts: St. Pete's Museum of Fine Arts celebrates female artists

An exhibition of prints by American women is a major achievement for the MFA.

Posted By on Wed, Nov 25, 2015 at 3:00 AM

Guerrilla Girls, Abrons Art Center, New York, 2015.
  • Guerrilla Girls, Abrons Art Center, New York, 2015.

Marks Made: Prints By American Women Artists from the 1960s to the Present Museum of Fine Arts
255 Beach Dr. NE, St. Petersburg, through Jan. 24, 2016. 727-896-2667,

What are the advantages of being a woman artist? Working without the pressure of success? Being reassured that whatever kind of art you make, it will be labeled feminine? Or being included in revised versions of art history (after being excluded from the canon for a lifetime)?

The list, emblazoned on a 1988 poster by the Guerrilla Girls — an artist collective famed for donning gorilla masks and pseudonyms to critique art world sexism — wouldn’t be so bitingly funny if these ironic honors didn’t ring at least somewhat true. If the feminist anger simmering beneath the faux-cheery inventory of benefits seems retro, it’s not because the situation has changed by much. In just the past two years, studies have indicated that women make up only 24 percent of museum directors at institutions with budgets over $15 million, and that female artists are outnumbered by men, 30 to 70 percent, on gallery rosters in New York and LA.

Katherine Pill, a curator at the Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg, cites those statistics about the inequities faced by women in the art world in her exhibition catalogue for Marks Made: Prints By American Women Artists from the 1960s to the Present. The show, which features more than 90 prints by several dozen artists, ushers in the high point of the museum’s 50th anniversary year with evidence of the achievement of a bold goal: expanding the number of American women represented in the MFA’s permanent collection thanks to the generosity of donors Martha and Jim Sweeny, whose museum-assisted purchases and donations make up most of the works on view.

Five years in the making, that fun, smart and adventurous objective is now backed up by a fun, smart and adventurous exhibition.

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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Tampa Bay's packed with poet laureates

Gulfport's the latest town to crown a poet.

Posted By on Tue, Nov 24, 2015 at 3:34 PM

Margie Davis and Peter Hargitai. - CATHY SALUSTRI
  • Cathy Salustri
  • Margie Davis and Peter Hargitai.

True story: A group of poets is called an iamb, as in "-ambic pentameter."

Another true story: The Tampa Bay area now has an iamb not just of poets, but poet laureates. 

With the appointment of Peter Hargitai as Gulfport's poet laureate, the area now boasts four laureates. Eckerd College professor of poetry and nonfiction writing Helen Pruitt Wallace officially begins her tenure as St. Petersburg's new poet laureate in January, James Tokley serves as Hillsborough County's poet laureate, and the state poet laureate – Creative Loafing contributor Peter Meinke – lives in St. Petersburg. Before Governor Rick Scott appointed Meinke to the state poet laureate-ship, he served as St. Petersburg's poet laureate.

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Friday, November 20, 2015

Light in the tunnel

A new conversation series connects through storytelling.

Posted By on Fri, Nov 20, 2015 at 10:36 PM

From left, panelists Jerry Rawicki, Beth Morean, Amy Foster, and organizer Ya Levy La’ford. - TIMOTHY ARRUDA
  • timothy arruda
  • From left, panelists Jerry Rawicki, Beth Morean, Amy Foster, and organizer Ya Levy La’ford.

Cocooned in a colorful tunnel, surrounded by soothing blue LEDs and sparkling metallic shapes, more than 60 students studying social justice at Shorecrest High School participated in a thought-provoking discussion Friday afternoon, during a community event presented by installation artist and educator Ya Levy La’ford in partnership with the Florida Holocaust Museum.

Second in a series of three, the program brought students together with educators, artists, politicians and other community members to share powerful stories inside the 85-foot-long tunnel adjacent to Ferg’s Sports Bar & Grill in St. Petersburg — dubbed the Sunnel by La’ford, who created a permanent art installation in the space during September’s SHINE Mural Festival.

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Do This: Weekend Top 10

Festivals, sand sculptures, edgy new theater, Cranksgiving, indie bazaars and more.

Posted By on Fri, Nov 20, 2015 at 5:46 PM

CRAFTY AND DRAFTY: CL's Crafts and Drafts takes over the St. Petersburg Shuffleboard Club Saturday. - DANIEL VEINTIMILLA
  • daniel veintimilla
  • CRAFTY AND DRAFTY: CL's Crafts and Drafts takes over the St. Petersburg Shuffleboard Club Saturday.

It doesn't feel like fall outside but you can take a whirl inside Tampa's Downtown on Ice at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park will put a little chill in your cheeks and provide that elusive winter feeling. Admission is $12 per person. Ninety-minutes skating session includes skate rental. Open Friday, 4-10 p.m.; 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Visit for more info.

Also at Curtis Hixon park this weekend: the Bourbon and Brew Festival. The boozy bash offers spirits for non-beer-drinkers, including  40 bourbon, whiskey and scotch samples, ranging from regular, to ultra premium and rare. Live entertainment includes Craig Campbell, Thomas Wynn and the Believers, Southern Train, the Logan Grant Band, Heather Lucas and DJ Lesage. $40-$65, $85-$125 VIP.

Before they were glued to screens, kids whiled away hours building monuments from granules of beach sand and water. A few have grown up to be master sculptors who will show off masterpieces at Treasure Island’s Sanding Ovations Masters Cup Sand Sculpture Competition and Music Festival, this weekend. Bands playing the event include Bath Salt Zombies, Grant Peeples, Copious Jones, Rev. Funky D. & The New Diggz and other acts. Fri.-Sun. 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Click here for event schedule and parking info.

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Thursday, November 19, 2015

Movie Review: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2

A bleakly fabulous finale brings the franchise to a bittersweet end.

Posted By on Thu, Nov 19, 2015 at 11:07 PM

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2
Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars
Directed by Francis Lawrence.
Starring Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Julianne Moore, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Donald Sutherland and Liam Hemsworth.
Opens Nov. 19 at local theaters. 

The Hunger Games
franchise may have grossed more than $2.2 billion at box offices around the world, and may have dazzled us with ingenious eye candy, but critics and moviegoers alike have come away from the fashion-forward dystopia series with mixed feelings. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 does little to change this.

The story begins right where Mockingjay Part 1 leaves off, with Katniss in the hospital recovering from a near-fatal choking wound inflicted by a brainwashed Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson). Her onetime fiancee and fellow Hunger Games victor is still suspicious of her as she becomes more of a pawn, err, role model, in the revolution led by President Alma Coin (Julianne Moore, who's assisted by former Gamemaker Plutarch Heavensbee (the late Phillip Seymour Hoffman) and Katniss’s former beau, Gale Hawthorne (Liam Hemsworth).

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10 Questions for Straight No Chaser's Jerome Collins

Posted By on Thu, Nov 19, 2015 at 11:54 AM

Jerome Collins (far right) lives in Florida. - LEANN MUELLER
  • LeAnn Mueller
  • Jerome Collins (far right) lives in Florida.

We caught up with Jerome Collins from Straight No Chaser, the men's a cappella group coming to the Straz Saturday night. Collins, one of the original members of Straight No Chaser, talked to us about his loves: his dog, music, and his wife (not, he stressed, necessarily in that order). 

1. You're a Florida boy. Where did you grow up, and where's home?
My father was born and raised in Cocoa Beach; I spent my summers down here and now I currently live in West Palm Beach. I’m originally from Allentown, Pennsylvania.

2.  You’re going to ping-pong across Florida this week – before Saturday in Tampa, you’re going from Melbourne to Sarasota to West Palm and then back to Tampa. This, of course, isn’t your first trip to the Tampa Bay area. If you could stay here for more than a night, what would you do?
I’m a big fan of the Tampa zoo [Lowry Park], it’s one of the best in the country. You’re talking to a Florida boy; there’s nothing like the beach. If I had more time we’re spend some time at the beach playing bocce ball, some cornhole. Florida, to me, is a place to come and relax.

3. What did you plan to do before Straight No Chaser became as big as it is?

I always wanted to be in the music business. Before this I was doing a stint as Simba in The Lion King over in Hong Kong. We had a vision of 10 guys who just wanted to sing for girls and food. It got bigger than our wildest dreams. We’re 10 friends from college who are, 20 years later, still singing together.

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Do This: Sanding Ovations

Posted By on Thu, Nov 19, 2015 at 11:40 AM

  • Walter via Flickr/Creative Commons

Sure, creating them when we were little was an exercise in getting along with our siblings long enough to accomplish something, but face it: sand castles are not very original or interesting.

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