Back in July of this year, the folks at the BBC (British Broadcasting Company) sent an inquiry to some 117 people that write film reviews for a living, asking these same folks to jot down their top ten feature films released after January 1st, 2000. These reviewers and critics range from writing for established newspapers, magazines, on-line services, and others. These critics were not necessarily limited to those writing from North America, Great Britain, or anyplace else that comes from an English language source. These critics came from “around the world”.
After tallying all of the entries that came in, the statisticians then mulled over the responses, and complied the results that were made available at the tail end of the summer blockbuster movie season.
The list of 103 films (three movies were tied in their respectable order) that came to be the “best” of them all was the 2001 release of director David Lynch’s Mullholland Dr. that holds all of the David Lynch oddities, and as Leonard Maltin described in his annual movie guide, “Not for all tastes.”
This writer won’t mull with posting the entire list of films, (that what search engines are for), but if one insists to read the results of this poll on their own, the folks at the Beeb created a hardy-dandy infographic post to read and ponder. That link to that poll is found below at
Ever since that poll was released, there has been a lot of commentary floating around on the quality and selection of titles that made the list. Most of these features listed tended to be in the range of “Independent” or “Art” films–the kind of movies that play to smaller theaters located in more upscale or “trendy” neighbors rather than a giant multiplex found in shopping malls or places that cater to more of a mainstream movie going public. A number of the movies did not originate from the USA, making them “foreign” movies that tend to be of the “art” variety. Most are heavy dramas that lean toward a dark and perhaps a depressing state of mind. (No “feel good” movies of the bunch!) And these same movies would cater to an older movie going public i.e. folks over the age of 60 that may not necessarily pay to see first run movies! A good number of these film critics tend to be loaded with screener copies of movies on DVD and/or a secure web site for streaming that are received after October 1st for the privilege and honor to vote for them in movie award presentations. (Disclaimer: This writer is one of those critics that receives their share of screener copies ever fall and winter!)
Upon looking at the list of 103 features, it’s granted that yours truly has yet to see many of these titles. A good number of them I’ve never heard of. (They somewhat slipped through the cracks I guess!) And the rest I did see, although it may have been a number of years ago since my last viewing. And upon these titles, I’ll agree, some are good for what they are. However, with the exception of a few that made the list, mostly the animated films released by Pixar Studios-a part of the Walt Disney Company, these are flicks I really have no desire to see ever again! Why is this? Because they were good, but not necessarily entertaining!
In order for a movie to become one as “good”, it would have to be a movie that is entertaining, amusing, and most of all, fun to watch! Looking at the list of money making titles the major studios released between late April through the Labor Day weekend, one can see why such features as Captain America: Civil War, Finding Dory, and The Secret Life of Pets made their nut dozens of times over! Why? Because they were movies that folks saw a multiple about of times, and they actually paid for the privilege!
I, on the other hand, would agree that Paul Thomas Anderson’s There Will Be Blood was a good movie. However, I would not want to see that film ever again! The reason? It was not fun, and a movie that isn’t fun isn’t good! ‘Nuff said!
But movies, just like anything else in this media saturated world, aren’t for everybody! Some of the bigger movies released this year (so far) did have multiple attendees by those that were willing to plunk down the $10.00 or more for admission at their local multiplex. These titles may not have all of the artistic wonder that goes with a movie that the critics rave for. Then again, people that write film reviews for a living tend to see the movies for free!
So in this final quarter of the calendar year, those studios big and small with an emphasis on the small, will place their mark of what titles would be suited for a number of film awards. (No more blockbusters for a while!) Again, these movies may be good. Perhaps great! But will they be fun and entertaining? We’ll see!
The Sacred Fools Theatre Company of Hollywood opens their 2016-17 season (their 20th year) with the world premier of SKULLDUGGERY: A MUSICAL PREQUEL TO HAMLET, Michael Shaw Fisher’s self described piece that tells the story about the prince of Denmark and the rest of the gang that The Bard didn’t write about, not so long before all of those murders and encounters with ghosts first made their marks.
This story reviles such questions as to the whereabouts behind Ophelia (Alyssa Rupert), Laertes’s mother, as well as Yorick that Hamlet knew so well. Of course, there is the story told behind the love triangle between Claudius (John Bobek), Gertrude (Leigh Wulff), and Hamlet Senior (David Haverty) that gives this new twist to a classic tale with new life, meaning, as well as clearing out the many misunderstandings that were behind these characters. And with such tales from Willy S. comes ghosts; those supernatural beings that give these sagas their wonder and awe. And with such stage epics are some new(er) characters that are present to fill in those gaps that have been expressed in the Shakespearian theatre scene for the last 400 years–give or take a new months!
This new musical with book, musical score, and lyrics by Michael Shaw Fisher has nearly everything that is part of that Shakespearian world. This time around, the death count is a bit subdued, the ghosts serve as players (to a point) rather than beings that obey as a subliminal meaning, and perhaps the most important element of them all, this presentation is performed in English–modern English that is! There are no flowery soliloquies uttered by the cast, no words or phrases used that no longer hold a meaning in today’s post modern era, and even has some comedy added! The score itself is plentiful as well, complete with lively tunes that if far removed from sounding too “Broadway-ish”. In fact, the lulls between numbers are set to a minimum. There are sets of dialogue scenes that tie the musical numbers between one another, but for the most part, the cast that do sing place their heart and spirit (pun intended?) into the matter! Michael Teoli’s musical direction and arrangement to the score adds a lot to this showpiece. (Michael’s band consists of Kristen Klejr on marimba, Andy Moresi on second guitar and mandolin, Sean Rainey on percussion, Michael Teoli on bass and tuba, and Gordon Wimpress on first guitar.) The same enthusiasm also goes for Natasha Norman’s choreography. Granted, not everyone dances in the same method. But when they do, they all can keep up with the flow!
The cast that does appear in this grand presentation consist of Jeff Summer as Goodman Delver, Cj Merriman as Goodman Dull, Matt Valle and Goodman Piddles, Curt Bonnem as Polonius, with Brendan Hunt, Rebecca Larsen, and Pat Towne in multiple roles. (Some roles are as ghosts!)
Besides the music, singing, dancing, and performing, some other notes are worth mentioning. DeAnne Millais’ scenic design consists of a number of walled planks that are spread through the stage area with a raised platform at stage right, and a wall of skulls on stage left. The walls represent a Denmark that has a vague “Danish” look to it. (Danish as in furnishings). The platform is where the ghosts stand when they appear, perhaps as a way they could “float” above ground, but not as realistic! The skulls are there because this is all about Hamlet. And Linda Muggeridge’s costuming is more theatric than something that reeks “Shakespeare.” Then again, this isn’t a Shakespeare play per se. So being authentic isn’t necessarily in this case.
Directed by Scott Leggett, SKULLDUGGERY is witty, amusing, and very unique and original. This production is presented more as a comedy that a heavy drama since musicals are not that dramatic unless it’s an opera. The sell line to this presentation states that one should never trust a ghost. That’s smart advice because if you can’t trust a ghost, who can your trust?

SKULLDUGGERY: A MUSICAL PREQUEL TO HAMLET, presented by The Sacred Fools Theatre Company and performs at The Sacred Fools Mainstage Theatre, 1076 Lillian Way (at Santa Monica Blvd, one block west of Vine Street), Hollywood, until November 5th. Showtimes are Friday and Saturday nights at 8:00 PM, with Sunday matinees at 3:00 PM beginning on October 16th. For ticket reservations or for more information, call (310) 281-8337, or via online at
The Santa Monica Playhouse in Santa Monica presents the world premier of Jerry Mayer’s HOW TO LOVE A REPUBLICAN, a comedy about a long married couple on the opposite side of the political fence, and the daughter that comes accross two possible suitors that that are on the right and left sides of the spectrum.
Dan Gilvezan and Rachel Galper are Tim and Ruth McCoy, a married couple living in a well to do community. Although they have been together for some thirty years, they are part of the “opposites attracts” variety. He roots for the Republican party, while she is a card carrying member of the Democratic committee. They do have their diffrences and their spats, sometimes retreating to seperate bedrooms when necessary. Their millennial aged daughter Margie (Elizabeth Ellson) who supports her mom and dad, has a person in her life named Lenny Klein (Adam Mondschein). He’s currently running for a seat in congress on the Democratic ticket. So Tim sets up a meeting between her and Mark Bliss (Matthew Wrather). Tim supports Mark because he’s also running for congress on the Republican side against Lenny! Although Margie’s position is center, who will she choose and for what cause?  Will Tim and Ruth ever get along? Generally speaking, who’s the Elephant in the room, and who is the Ass?
This new comedy by playwright Jerry Meyer is ideal for this time of the year, an election year that asks voters and even non-voters alike on who shouldn’t be king or queen of the USA for the next four years! The play itself is extremely comical and holds more wit and wisdom that what the real canidates could babble about in twenty second sound bites! The cast of five players perform in an ensemble well suited for a post modern sitcom found in today’s video landscape. They know where to charge their energy to one another while never attempting to out do each other! Chris DeCarlo, co-artistic director of the Santa Monica Playhouse, directs this show–one of many previous SM Playhouse performances he has done in the past, in such perfect timing, never letting the pacing drift off.
In addition to the writing, acting, and directing, many other elements witnessed adds to the appeal this show contains. Fritz Davis’s moving imagery design illustrates what is being spoken about during comical arguments between the characters as projected on the stage backdrop. James Cooper’s set design shows the McCoy’s dwelling space (mostly) where a lot of the action is taking place–if not at the local Republican and Democratic “clubhouses”. And Steve Mayer (Jerry’s son) provides the original background music score that adds balance toward each scene.
In spite of the diffrences found on the political front, HOW TO LOVE A REPUBLICAN is witty, clever, extremely amusing, and holds some genuine laughs! Although this writer won’t give any details on if the titled quest is reviled as that may be a spoiler alert, this same writer will note that is does have a happy ending! (Really!) With politics just what it is, this play is as much of a laugh riot as to the real campaign found in electronic media and its social media counterparts. One can be blue while seeing red! Then again, one can also host a tea party, but that’s for another play! Stay tuned!

HOW TO LOVE A REPUBLICAN, presented by and performs at The Santa Monica Playhouse, 1211 4th Street (at Wilshire Blvd.), Santa Monica, until December 18th. Showtimes are Saturday nights at 7:00 PM, and Sunday matinees at 3:00 PM. For more information of for ticket reservations, call (310) 394-9779 ext. 1, or via online at    
Theatre West presents Westfest 2016, a series of short plays and skits that consists of new works that are comical, dramatic, and all points in between.
This treasury of mini one-act plays written, directed, and performed by an eclectic collection of writers, directors, and actors, are presented in an anthology style method. For the entire month of October beginning on Friday, October 7th, four separate sets of individual plays will be presented each weekend winding down with a “best of” reprise of selected plays in its final weekend October 28th-30th. Each theatre work is unique in nature. Many are presented in an experimental mode or as a work in progress. Some of these pieces may even bloom into full length plays of their own right. Whatever the case, each stage creation will be just as entertaining. The plays will make you laugh, perhaps may have you shed a tear, or will leave you to give the piece’s theme a careful thought.
Westfest 2016 will be presented at Theatre West, 3333 Cahuenga Blvd. West, Los Angeles (Universal City ajacent) on Friday and Saturday nights at 8:00 PM, and Sunday afternoons at 2:00 PM. Westfest 2016 performs in tandem with Leslie Caveny’s One Woman Gone Wrong, running on Sunday evenings at 7:00 PM through November 27th. (See review Vol. 21, No. 37)
For ticket reservations or for more information for both Westfest 2016 and One Woman Gone Wrong, call (323) 851-7977 or through Theatre West’s website at
is a presentation of Linear Cycle Productions

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All rights reserved. The views and opinions are those of the writers,                                                      and not necessarily of the staff and management. ‘Nuff said!


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