Normally, we don’t necessarily discuss what has been going on during the nation (and perhaps the world) within these pages as we normally speak upon elements that fit within the scope of this news service.
However, we do wish to bring an event (or actually, events) that did occur within the past two weeks.
We have received a collection of emails from our readers on why we have not addressed the events of recent days that involved the shooting of multiple individuals, including the latest episode that involved a number of those that were under adult age.
First and foremost, the reason on why we made no commentary on these events isn’t because that we don’t care or hold no interest. It’s just the fact that we just write about the media at large. And although the events in question are (social) media oriented, enough to where it’s quite possible to stream video imagery of the said event “live” to anyone that desires to look at it, these events are more related to hard news. We do make commentary on hard news events, just it’s associated in what we do write about.
So take it from us. We are sad, confused, and downright scared of what went on. We can state that we offer our thoughts and prayers. Sadly, that term “thought and prayers” has turned into a tired cliche, meaning that there is no longer a deep emotion to that phrase, although the intentions still possess substance.
A few years ago, Theater 40 of Beverly Hills presented a stage play that speaks out for the tragic event that took place in southwest Texas, a play called 26 Pebbles that spoke about the most profound school shooting that ever happened in the USA…so far! We are going to reprint that review as originally presented that will stand as a reminder of sorts that such events that did take place. We feel that the review will still stand as our statement to what’s going on…
Theatre 40 of Beverly Hills presents as their second entry to their 2018-19 season, Eric Ulloa’s 26 PEBBLES, a melodrama about a group of townsfolk who react and speak upon a tragedy that occurred in their humble community
The town itself is Newton, Connecticut where in December of 2012, a lone gunman carrying a powerful firearm entered an elementary school and began shooting at random where 20 children and six staff members were killed. The play opened about six or so months after the event. A series of local citizens and other people speak about what had occurred, the reaction to this episode, and what the future may bring. The characters themselves range from community citizens, parents of those at the school, clergy, and others based nearby and of longer distance that show concern and curiosity toward the collection of events, and give out their feelings. These feelings are not within the notion of broad opinions on what should be disallowed or pointing their fingers to who and/or what was at fault. They express themselves with many of the same human emotions that are of and for the good, from the psyche of hope, bonding, family spirit, and perhaps the most important aspect of all, love.
This single act play was compiled by playwright Eric Ulloa based upon interviews and notations he collected from the local citizens of Newtown and nearby Sandy Hook, Connecticut where they express themselves of how their lives and emotions were shaped by what occurred. A team of six performers, consisting of as noted by their alphabetical order, Roslyn Cohn, Jean Kauffman, Jennifer Laks, Joe Lorenzo, Michele Schultz, and George Villas, play the various characters where they speak upon the aspects of how their town became the center of attention. The play doesn’t form a linear pattern of dialogue per se, but consists of shorter monologues that keeps its continuity toward the before, during, and after the facts. It avoids taking sides of why it did occur and the notions behind it all. It takes heart to mention the list of victims while the gunman’s name is never disclosed! Its real emphasis is to stay emotionally strong and to recall that love is the real grace saving.
Along with the performing troupe are the people who made this production a visual treat. Theatre 40’s residential set designer Jeff G. Rack creates a stage space that consists of a pair of tall vertical panels on each stage side with an equally tall vertical panel displaying a facade of blackboard surface material at center stage. Furnishings consist of a stock of brightly colored blocks that serve as a virtual set that move along with the townsfolk when stating their verbal pieces. Gabrieal Griego creates the projection of still and moving imagery illustrating the humble town these citizens call home. And Joseph “Sloe” Slawinski provides the sound design and original music score that sets the moods.
A debate may bring the conviction if 26 PEBBLES holds a happy ending? It actually does, but not in the traditional sense. Its content comes from the strong belief of compassion and hope that one will arise, and to know that the settlement of love will conquer all. As to the aspect of “never again”, that has still yet to be proven. Whatever the case, this play will make one think, and perhaps think twice. This showcase is indeed highly recommended.
Vol. 23-No. 39-Week of September 24th, 2018
TOP GUN MAVERICK (Paramount) stars Tom Cruise as Captain Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, who had been one of the Navy’s top fighter pilots serving in that capacity for over thirty years. But he was in form from another era. Now considered as a relic, the Navy brass instructed by Admiral Beau “Cyclone” Simpson (John Hamm) tells him that he won’t be testing out the new jets as part of the Navy’s Topgun team, but will serve as instructor to a new generation of trainees consisting of Lt. Natasha “Phoenix” Trace (Monica Barbaro), Lt. Robert “Bob” Floyd (Lewis Pullman), Lt. Ruben “Payback” Fitch (Jay Ellis), Lt. Mickey “Fanboy” Garcia, Lt. Jake “Hangman” Seresin (Glen Powell), Lt. Neil “Omaha” Vikander (Jack Schumacher), Lt. Billy “Fritz” Avalone, Lt. Callie “Halo” Bassett (Kara Wang), Lt. Javy “Coyote” Machado (Greg Tarzan Davis), Lt. Brigham “Harvard” Lennox, Lt. Logan “Yale” Lee (Raymond Lee), and Lt. Bradley “Rooster” Bradshaw (Miles Teller), the son of Radar Intercept Officer Lt. Nick “Goose” Bradshaw, who served as a companion of Maverick from those glory days from decades before. Based upon the skills that Maverick acquired, he faces the challenges and perhaps the ghosts and images that he sees in Rooster, and how he trains this group that’s considered as the “best of the best”, though Maverick latches on in being a seasoned elite fighter pilot.
This long awaited sequel to the 1986 release of Top Gun is an ideal setting for Tom Cruise, who still has his charm, grace, on screen sexiness that made him a name in movies, especially in the action/adventure category that doesn’t involve comic book superheroes. In fact, this entire movie does play as a comic book loaded with characters that aren’t necessarily believable, but as just as gung-ho to what they can do and how they stand within the naval fleet, the way that a comic book should depict them. After all, they aren’t just “gobs” swabbing the deck, yet they do play with the jets and all of the toys related to flying high as if they were indeed toys.
The screenplay written by Ehran Kruger and Eric Warren Singer and Christopher McQuarrie with a story by Peter Craig and Justin Mark, based upon the characters originally created by Jim Cash & Jack Epps, Jr. show how this old versus new setting fits into the Naval program. It’s loaded with lots of great photographic stunts as provided by Claudio Maranda’s cinematography, and features a music soundtrack that would be considered as “classic rock”, including the use of a snippet of Glen Frey’s Danger Zone from the original TG release. It does feature new music by Lady Gaga performing Hold My Hand & Onerepublic with I Ain’t Worried, so the songs aren’t totally “retro”. The musical score is a reminder that fans of the ’86 release could relate to the tunes once heard on record albums or on Album Oriented Rock (AOR) FM radio stations more than to an audience that were to hear those same tunes via a streaming service on their smartphones. And for the record (no pun intended), Lorne Balfe, Harold Faltermeyer, Lady Gaga, and Hans Zimmer create the musical score played during the action and non-action scenes that adds with the pacing this pic provides.
Another notable entry in this feature is Val Kilmer as Admiral Tom “Iceman” Kazansky, who Maverick once flew with during those early days. He holds a higher ranking as Maverick, but Tom Cruise as Maverick is the real star here, and his presence makes this movie worthwhile since Val Kilmer is the only other person (and character) that appeared in the original release.
This movie directed by Joseph Kosinski has been in the making to be seen on the big screen for a number of years. Its first release date was scheduled for July 12th, 2019. Paramount moved the date nearly a year later to June 26th, 2020. Thanks to the pandemic that shut down movie theaters around the nation and the globe, the new date was pushed for December 23rd of 2020 with the anticipation that movie theaters would be open by then. The pandemic didn’t go away and neither did open movie theaters, so the revised date was now July 2nd of ’21. Then a new date was set for November 19th of ’21. So after a number of delays, May 27th of ’22 finally saw this film hitting big movie screens. Was it worth the wait? This reviewer believes so as it’s a very entertaining movie just as long as it’s not taken too seriously. Then again, when did a superhero movie meet the same serious factor as let’s say a drama? Then again, dramas belong on some streaming platform!
PS…This title was dedicated to the late Tony Scott, director of the first Top Gun that was planning to become involved in its new follow up, but passed on shortly after this sequel was within its development.
TOP GUN MAVERICK is rated “PG-13” for its action sequences and mild cussing. Now playing in multiplexes nationwide.
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