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Waiting for Harold

The full title is “Dark, An End of the World Play With Music and an Exercise Bike.”
Sounds Grim. It is.
It’s also funny, touching, involving. And, from the moment musician/composer Peter Wise opens the proceedings bowing the strings of his banjo, it’s clearly out there.
Mixed Company in Great Barrington has a fine history of opening new theater worlds with plays such as “QWERTY” by its artistic director Joan Ackermann and other works, like Chilean Ariel Dorfman’s mystifying “Death and the Maiden.”

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Movies: ‘Winter’s Tale’

Miles To Go

So you thought the age of millennial miraculism died with the last episode of “Touched by an Angel”? Think again.

Shorts Get Their Due At a Weekend Festival In Millerton

Movies

When was the last time you saw a short before a feature film? Or at all? Maybe at a Pixar production, but it’s rare that short films make it to the theater these days. They get seen online, says filmmaker Patrick Toole, “but people have no attention span on the Internet. The best place to see movies is in a theater, in the dark, with other people around you.”    

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Men With Toy Guns and Titians

Movies: ‘The Monuments Men’

There is an eerie similarity between the last movie I reviewed, “Saving Mr. Banks,” and the latest, “The Monuments Men.”
Both are pretty bad movies, but that’s not what I’m thinking of. Both are based on American mythological-historical events. But that’s not it either.

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Short Films Coming Into Their Own

Oscar Shorts

I was planning to review “Nebraska,” mostly so I could work in a reference to star Bruce Dern’s previous roles (especially as the lead in “The Incredible 2-Headed Transplant”), but the show was cancelled.
Instead I saw “Oscar Shorts,” in the live-action category.
When the arts editor suggested “Oscar Shorts” I replied in the only possible fashion.
“Never heard of him,” I said.
And there endeth the wisecracks.
There are five entries, ranging from the magical realism and tearjerking “Helium” to the disturbing and graphic “That Wasn’t Me.”

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Amazing Actors Badly Directed, A Pity

Movies: ‘August: Osage County’

It’s a disappointing film, “August: Osage County.” Cast with blazing star power, the movie is shockingly misdirected by John Wells, who substitutes earnestness and stilted technique for fluidity in bringing Tracy Letts’s Pulitzer Prize- and Tony Award-winning play to the screen.
A direct descendant of Chekhov, Albee, O’Neill and Williams, “Osage” is filled with enough horrors to make any family dysfunctional — sibling rivalries, adultery, addiction, even incest. Yet Letts’s play contains so much black comedy and vitriolic dialogue that everything seems fresh, vigorous, electric.

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No, Not Possible, But Almost Here

Movies: ‘Her’

Imagine that your computer’s operating system could speak to you. That’s not too much of a stretch, considering Siri is already bringing a voice to iPhones and iPads.
Now imagine that this talking OS was a product of artificial intelligence. That it could learn and grow. That it had emotions.
Imagine that you could fall in love with this disembodied voice.
Sounds crazy, right? It might, until you watch “Her.” The film, written and directed by Spike Jonze (who just won a Golden Globe Award for best screenplay), will make you believe that this love story is possible.

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A Spoonful Of Saccharin

Movies: ‘Saving Mr. Banks’

Having never read a biography of P.L. Travers, author of “Mary Poppins,” I cannot vouch for the accuracy of “Saving Mr. Banks,” which purports to tell how Walt Disney overcame the writer’s resistance to creating the beloved children’s movie musical of the same name.

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About Nothing Much, But Certainly Engrossing

Movies: ‘Inside Llewyn Davis’

Joel and Ethan Coen’s “Inside Llewyn Davis” covers a week in the tumultuous life of a young, clueless, irresponsible and somewhat talented folk singer in Greenwich Village in 1961.
Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac) is a mope, no question. He couch surfs from the apartments of close friends to academic friends to bare acquaintances to his sister in an aluminum-sided outer borough. 
He allows people’s cats to escape. He locks himself out. He wheedles non-existent funds out of his agent. He plays the unappreciated artist with great zeal and indignation — when he can muster up the energy.

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An Amazing, Witty Caper

Movies: ‘American Hustle’

“Some of this actually happened” reads the title card of David O. Russell’s rollicking, bigger-than-life caper film, “American Hustle.” Indeed Russell uses the 1978 Abscam investigation, which caught a senator and six congressmen taking bribes from fake Arab sheiks, as the unifying fact around which to create a fiction that follows a group of hilariously eccentric characters through the twists and turns of their reinvention, scamming, caring and loving.

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