view counter

Arts and Culture (All)

The scariest part is knowing you paid to see this ludicrous sequel

Picking up where the last film ended, Insidious: Chapter 2 begins with the return of the Lamberts’ son Dalton (Ty Simpkins: Insidious) from The Further, a spirit realm filled with evil ghosts and demons. It’s great that Dalton is back in this Earthly realm, but a price was exacted for his return: A malevolent spirit has possessed Dalton’s dad, Josh (Patrick Wilson: The Conjuring), causing him to strangle the family’s psychic aide Elise (Lin Shaye: Crazy Kind of Love). The demon abandons Josh, leaving the Lambert
family ghost-free, but with a dead body in their living room.
    Don’t you hate when that happens?
    Luckily for the Lamberts, the police called to get rid of the body don’t seem to care about finding the murderer or locking up Josh. With no sign of those pesky spirits, no criminal charges and no need to visit The Further again, the Lamberts seek a fresh start. They leave yet another haunted house and move in with Josh’s mother.
    The only problem? The house wasn’t drawing the evil spirits. The Lamberts were.
    Not-so-friendly ghosts return. They harass harried mom Renai (Rose Byrne: The Turning), who squeals helplessly. They spook Dalton and threaten to take the youngest Lambert, baby Kali.
    The family tries to ignore the ghosts, hoping the evil otherworldly entities will get bored with haunting and perhaps take up Sudoku. Unfortunately for the Lamberts, these haunts are committed to making their lives hell.
    To make matters worse, Josh is apparently no longer possession-free. He spits out bloody teeth, has heated arguments with no one in particular and looms in doorways like a suburban version of Jason Vorhees. To stop the haunting, the family must delve into Josh’s past and find the source of their ghostly troubles.
    This sequel to the mildly chilling Insidious is a nonsensical film that offers poor writing and ridiculous plotting in place of genuine scares. Sure, there are jump scenes (loud noises and suddenly appearing entities), but they play on the reflexes and not the psyche. Insidious: Chapter 2 isn’t the type of film to make you lock the doors and check under the bed; it’s the type of film you forget about as soon as the credits role.
    The problem with the sequels to successful horror movies is logic. How many bad things could possibly happen to the same characters? Much like the Paranormal Activity films, the Insidious franchise started off with a decent idea that gets progressively more ludicrous with each installment. This weekend’s box office success ensures that you’ll be seeing more hauntings from The Further.
    Don’t feed the beast. Instead, see Wan’s much more sophisticated haunted-house yarn, The Conjuring.

Poor Horror • PG-13 • 105 mins.

Do you think watching three men silently eat olives would be funny? In Art, it is hysterical.

Dignity Players opens its 2013-2014 season — dedicated to the Power of Art — with Yasmina Reza’s 1998 Tony Award-winning comedy Art.
    Art is a 90-minute one-act comedy about relationships, truth, white lies and, of course, the meaning and value of art.
    Serge (Kevin Wallace) has splurged (wildly!) on a piece of modern art. His friend Marc (Tom Newbrough) is appalled, both by the price and the work, an entirely white canvas decorated with white lines. Yvan (James Gallagher), another friend, tries to mediate the conflict between them but gets caught in the middle.
    Director Clarice Clewell, who has an affinity for productions of thoughtful comedies populated by small casts (she directed Stones in His Pockets at Dignity Players and Trying at Colonial Players) has assembled an experienced, versatile and talented onstage crew. Off-stage she has also nurtured other talents as some volunteers take new theatrical off-stage roles joining others who are veterans.
    The single set by Laurie Nolan is sparse as it has to represent all three men’s apartments. The single change made to connote differences in the apartments is the choice of one piece of art, representing each man’s different sensibilities.
    Sound designer Jim Reiter (whose program notes are so whimsical they deserve mention) noted that the three actors in this production are “the Mount Rushmore of actors in Annapolis.” The reference is accurate in terms of craggy faces but misleading in terms of stoic stoniness.
    All three are keenly adept at using takes, double-takes and audience asides to highlight the comedy of words. Expressions run the gamut and amok. Do you think watching three men silently eat olives would be funny? In their hands, it is hysterical.
    Kevin Wallace shows us a Serge who is by turns mesmerized, delighted and awed by his new artistic purchase. He is hurt and pained by his friends’ lack of appreciation and understanding of why this piece of art is so important to him. Wallace conveys all this with expressive facial contortions and by a stance with arms constantly akimbo or crossed.
    Tom Newbrough’s Marc is a more tightly coiled character. But watch out for those arching eyebrows that give away his true feelings and bring us into his world. While Newbrough is the catalyst of the conflict, he is also the stabilizing center of this swirling trio.
    James Gallagher’s Yvan, who has the flashiest monologue, transcends emotions as he gallops from disbelief to confusion to patronizing agreement to hurt angst, landing on pained bafflement until all ultimately ends well. Gallagher gives the most introspective and self-absorbed performance, punctuated by the funniest of droll expressions.
    Together they make Art both thoughtful and funny.

Playing Th-Sa Sept. 19-21 & 26-28 at 8pm; Su Sept. 22 at 3pm at Dignity Players, Unitarian Universalist Church of Annapolis: $20 w/age and Th discount: 410-266-8044 x 127;

Bird enthusiasts will be tickled at holiday gifts of Feeding Wild Birds in America ($27.95). You, however, may have to endure their know-it-all-ness — unless you checkmate them by buying yourself a copy in self-defense.

For Rod ‘N’ Reel’s Chef Rudy, Thanksgiving is a piece of cake

From the first-time turkey roaster to the kitchen master, who among us can anticipate cooking the Thanksgiving dinner without a bit of a flutter?
    Chef Rudy Volpe can.
    The 54-year-old chef looks forward to serving 1,000 to 1,200 hungry eaters at Rod ‘N’ Reel’s Thanksgiving Day Buffet.

A rested bird and a sharp knife are essential

1. Carve out a proper amount of time to cook the turkey. When coordinating your schedule Thanksgiving morning, keep in mind that between taking the turkey out of the oven and carving it, you should allot about 20 minutes. This waiting period is not frivolous. It makes the handling of the hot turkey easier on your hands, and it gives the meat’s juices crucial time to redistribute.


A story of Greek proportions

Anyone who’s visited Annapolis is familiar with the site of the white-uniformed Midshipmen from the U.S. Naval Academy. But unless you’re one of the 1,000 or so to graduate from the service academy each year, life behind its stone walls and iron fences is full of mystery like some secret society.

Interspecies relationships have shaped history

Brian Fagan, anthropologist and scholar (professor at the University of California Santa Barbara), is the author of this and other interesting and deeply researched books in the field of archeology. The complexity of relationships in his family menagerie inspired The Intimate Bond’s history of how humans and animals have interacted from the Ice Age to modern times.

Colonial Players awards $1,000 to 2015 contest winner Mark Costello

Over 67 years, The Colonial Players of Annapolis has made its reputation by producing top-quality plays and musicals like The Liar, which earned the British Embassy’s 2015 Ruby Griffith Award as the best overall community theater production in the Washington-Baltimore area.
    The all-volunteer company also encourages new works. Since 1973 it has sponsored a biennial Promising Playwright competition. 2015’s winner was in the spotlight last weekend.

See the world according to young artists

“Write plays that matter,” playwright Terrence McNally admonishes. “Raise the stakes. Shout, yell, holler, but make yourself heard. … Speak from the heart about the things that matter most.” This sage advice for aspiring dramatists comes from one of the best contemporary American playwrights.

How Eddie McGowan made a local stop on the Celtic circuit

There may be nothing quite as rousing as men in kilts wailing away on bagpipes — at least to Eddie McGowan.
    A group of bagpipers walked into a bar, and he was smitten. “I knew I had to learn how to play,” says McGowan, whose appreciation of all things Celtic has grown into the Annapolis Irish Festival.
    Back in 2010, McGowan talked a few bands into coming to Annapolis for a weekend of music.