Home reviews Rewind Spring 2015

Rewind Spring 2015

by devnym


Catching the Sun
Tony Parsons

In his own search for paradise, cabbie Tom Finn day-dreams about a life away from cabbing on the busy streets of North London. It isn’t until he is being arrested for assaulting two burglars in his own home that Finn decides to leave it all behind. Moving to Phuket, Thailand, the Finn family revels in the change which brings some of the world’s wonders into their everyday life. Finn, his wife and children all begin to flourish in nature’s beauty when the infamous tsunami of 2004 strikes the island and destroys all that the family has rebuilt. It’s up to them to decide what the future holds those who look for paradise but stumble upon disaster.

Empire of the Sun
J.G. Ballard

Adapted into the worldwide smash by Steven Spielberg, Empire of the Sun is a classic coming-of-age story for a boy who strives to pull through atrocities during WWII in China. The protagonist Jim is separated from his family and thrown into the conflict that rips apart the world as he knows it. Set in 1940’s Shanghai, Jim searches for his parents in a scene of violence, chaos and death before being thrown into a Japanese concentration camp. It is here that Jim watches as Nagasaki unfolds and the world is changed forever. This is a tale of dark suffering, death and imprisonment for a boy who must  become a man in a forever changed world of war.

Half of a Yellow Sun
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Taking place in Nigeria during the Nigerian Civil War of 1970, Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun illustrates the widespread effects of national dissent through relationships among five people, including twin daughters of a wealthy businessman, a professor, a British visitor and a domestic servant. Following the city of Biafra’s secession in the midst of the war, the characters are torn apart by brutal decisions they must make to survive. Passionate relationships between Ugwu, the servant, and the twins Olanna and Kainene dominate the novel and asks readers whats appropriate in love and war throughout the novel.

The Sun Also Rises
Ernest Hemingway

Using his own experiences as a basis, this is one of the first modernists works and the renowned writer’s best work. The novel takes place in the post-war, new-age Paris of the 1920s where WWI veteran Jake Barnes pursues the promiscuous Lady Brett Ashley, a daughter of a newfound sexual freedom. While the book promises a love story between Barnes and Ashley, the plot includes a host of realistic characters who travel from Paris to the Festival of San Fermín in Spain. This classic tale of sordid affairs in the world of pleasure is based on real people and real events within Hemingway’s life, making The Sun Also Rises that much more compelling.

Under the Tuscan Sun: At Home in Italy
Frances Mayes

Serving as the inspiration for the 2003 box-office smash, Under the Tuscan Sun: At Home in Italy is a memoir by renowned lifestyle writer Frances Mayes about her adventures after restoring an abandoned villa in Tuscany. Raw narratives invite readers into Mayes story as she recounts her personal journey in the countryside of Italy, where she finds beauty in the simplicity of life there. Her passion for the Italian culture is supplemented by an array of personal recipes, where Mayes utilized her garden and the culture around her – aspects that any travel enthusiast will just eat right up.

So Anyway
John Cleese

Monty Python’s Flying Circus made John Cleese and the rest of the team heroes in thousands of high schools and college dorms worldwide; adults didn’t get it (and some still don’t) until much later. It was his quintessentially English comedy Fawlty Towers – debunking that country’s uncrossable lines with its acute observation of the class system and supremely uptight social mores that struck an immediate chord with them. (His role in A Fish Called Wanda did much the same hatchet job.) This autobiography is so well written it is a must read for friends and foes alike.


Cream  Disraeli Gears

Their sophomore album Disraeli Gears fast became Cream’s American breakthrough album, reaching No. 4 on the Billboard 200. Remastered in 1998 and also rereleased in 2004 as a deluxe edition, it features their fondness for guitar riffs, especially on the classic “Sunshine of Your Love.” Inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999, Disraeli Gears remains the most psychedelic record of the 1960s in American history.

Katrina & The Waves – Katrina & The Waves

While many consider it the triumph of all one-hit-wonders, “Walking on Sunshine” remains to date the happiest song in popular culture, filled with quick snares and blaring horns. The band’s debut album swept through Canada and sent them on tour throughout the country. It wasn’t until The Bangles covered “Going Down to Liverpool” that  “Walking on Sunshine” was picked up by radio stations and MTV.

She & Him – Volume Two

On the heels of their first album, She & Him’s M. Ward and Zooey Deschanel released “In the Sun,” reminiscent of soft-rock spanning from Linda Ronstadt to Skeeter Davis. The album debuted at No. 6 on the Billboard 200 chart and gained critical acclaim from NPR to BBC. Volume 2 is a collection of pieces that do not challenge listeners emotionally, yet soothes the soul with a soft, cool reception that takes you on summer trips to a long-lost lake. 

The Animals – The Animals

The Animals quickly became an American favorite with the classic “House of the Rising Sun.” The group covered many R&B standards, including artists such as Chuck Berry, John Lee Hooker and Fats Domino. Despite their second American album being their last here in the states before frontman Eric Burdon revamped the group in 1967, “House of the Rising Sun” continues to illustrate the heart of classic R&B. 

Abbey Road – The Beatles

This album continues to be a music lovers’ favorite especially the timeless “Here Comes the Sun,” one of George Harrison’s best compositions The songs of Abbey Road are both hopeful yet strikingly serious, an accomplishment for the group which was on the verge of breakup at the time (in fact it happened following the release). It topped the Billboard 200 album charts for 12 consecutive weeks. Still one of the group’s best.

Built to Spill – Untethered Moon

Many may recall Built to Spill as one of the quintessential indie rock bands of the 90s, running alongside other iconic indie luminaries such as Pavement and Sonic Youth. But throughout the 2000s thus far, they have been continually producing albums and bringing their signature heavy guitar hooks, whimsical synth overlays, and Doug Martsch’s voice with them. Their newest album is called Untethered Moon, and after listening to the released single “Living Zoo,” the album doesn’t seem like it will disrupt their unique sound a bit. It is ranked #35 of the top 101 Most Anticipated Albums of 2015 by Stereogum, and has been the topic of discussion for many reputable music sites awaiting its release in April.

            Additionally, Built to Spill will be touring around the U.S. for this album’s release from April through May, supporting Death Cab for Cutie on a handful of the dates—two nostalgic indie bands from different eras, so should be a great show to check out.


Fight Club

In this 1999 cult classic soap salesman Tyler Durden, played by Pitt, changes the life of the cubicle-enthusiast insomniac Norton, who has turned to free support groups to channel his emotions. Durden helps Norton to turn his emotions into a new form of therapy, a ‘fight club’ that aims at destroying the sense of order that has ruled Norton’s character his whole life. Fellow psychopath Marla, played by Bonham Carter, watches as Norton spirals out of control with Durden until the pair are one of a kind – or so it seems.


From the same mind that brought you the Batman trilogy, and now Interstellar, Christopher Nolan’s Inception has been one of the 21st century’s most hotly debated films. Leonardo Di Caprio plays Dominic Cobb, a special spy with talents of invading dreams, who works with a team of other like-minded individuals, including Ellen Page and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, to implant an idea into a CEO’s mind. Trying to bring down a corporate empire, Cobb risks his teams’ and his own life for a large reward: to return to his children and former life. Of course, viewers have contested Nolan’s Inception since it swept through awards season 2010 – was it really all just a dream?

The Machinist

Christian Bale physically reinvents himself in this drama following Trevor Reznik, a factory worker who has not slept in a year thanks to severe insomnia. Director Brad Anderson tells the story of Reznik, who doubts his sanity as the world around him haunts his every move. Keeping a system of illegible Post-It notes about his dwindling weight, Reznik deteriorates as an deformed imaginary friend invades his home and workplace. Bale’s character takes on insanity as he believes his coworkers are conspiring against him, planning his own demise. In the process, Reznik ensnares two different women as he struggles to differentiate between reality and fiction.

The Matrix

The Wachowski Bros. directed and wrote the genre-defining The Matrix, where Keanu Reeves’s Neo leads a double life that catches up with him. An average computer programmer by day and hacker at night, Neo finds himself in trouble when notorious hacker Morpheus, played by Laurence Fishburne, asks Neo to join him in a quest to save humanity. Neo finds himself in the real world, a wasteland where machines have captured humanity and force them to live within a simulation known as the Matrix. Rebelling against the machines, Neo and Morpheus work together within the Matrix to battle against the machines who seek to end all humanity.

Unbreakabale Kimmy Schimidt

The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt has been a hot topic since it’s debut on Netflix March 6. This is partly because it’s a Netflix original series—all of which have a reputation for being pretty good—and partly because it’s the renowned Tina Fey’s new project with Robert Carlock. The first season has received high critical acclaim, receiving a 95% on Rotten Tomatoes with the comment, “blessed with originality and a spot-on performance from Ellie Kemper (Kimmy Schmidt), [it] is as odd as it is hilarious.”

About a girl that’s rescued from a doomsday cult that tries to make it in New York on her own, it turns into a tale of struggle and innocence that is charming and quirky. Another element that adds some spunk are the amazing celebrity cameos such as Matt Lauer, Martin Short, Dean Morris, and Jon Hamm just to name a few. Definitely a show to check out if you’re looking to take a load off and have some good, clean laughs.


The 39 Steps
Union Square Theater Opens April 9

A melodrama adapted from the 1935 film by Alfred Hitchcock, and rewritten by Patrick Barlow in 2005, this production is a return for Patrick Barlow, Simon Corble, and Nobby Dimon’s hilarious re-imagining of the John Buchan classic. A cast of four performs it; one actor plays the hero, an actress plays three women, and the two other actors play everything from heroes, children, men, women, inanimate objects, and even sometimes multiple characters at once—thus changing the serious spy adventure to a play supremely for laughs.

The Sound and the Fury
The Public Theatre Opens May 21

Performed by the award-winning ensemble Elevator Repair Service, this is their widely praised representation of William Faulkner’s masterpiece, The Sound and the Fury. They perform the first chapter of the novel, “the Benjy Chapter,” which is Faulkner’s famous practice with memory and language (and to refresh your memory, it is from the point of view of the retarded little brother).  This play delivers humor and pathos against a backdrop of a Southern living room, and brings new life to the literary classic.

The Qualms
Playwrights Horizons – Mainstage Theater Opening: TBA

A New York premier of Bruce Norris’ play about a newly married couple, Chris and Kristy, that attend a bacchanalias partner-swapping party. While at the party, Chris and Kristy find themselves confused with the idea of free love, and then shortly each other. Idealism of sexuality becomes chaotic and bitter in this play about the power struggle in a relationship, and the sexual politics of intercourse.

New York Theatre Workshop Opening: TBA

A solo show performed by Dael Orlandersmith that follows her trip to the famed Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris, where artists like Oscar Wilde, Jim Morrison, and Marcel Proust lay to rest. When Dael visits the cemetery, she becomes inspired by the artists’ gravesides to tell a captivating tale about the legacy she has inherited from her mother. This tale makes the show an uplifting, semi-autobiographical story about the family we are born into and the family we choose.

York Theatre Company

Opens May 28

An award-winning musical based on the legendary Hollywood star James Cagney, the infamous tough-guy on the screen.  It follows his poor beginnings in New York City’s Lower East Side, through his climb to superstardom, where he was a versatile dancer, singer, gangster, and bad guy. With a new original score by Robert Creighton and Christopher McGovern, and choreography Joshua Bergasse, this is sure to be an explosive and lively show.

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