Sorrow Takes You Into Darkness and Keeps You There

Categories: Film and TV

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In Sorrow a young woman finds herself not only being held and assaulted by a group of demented serial killers, but also by a system that is designed to ignore her suffering even when she escapes. In a sense the scariest thing about it is not the screams but the silence.

Vanessa Vasquez stars as Mila Sweeny, a brilliant but mentally troubled woman who through a series of mishaps ends up the constant prisoner of a murderous couple and their friend. She's chained and tortured for days, all while hearing them bring home more victims to abuse and murder in an elaborate mental fantasy where they are representatives of the devil. There will be a single showing tonight at the River Oaks Theatre.

The biggest knock against Sorrow is its pacing and progression. It starts strong with out Melissa Mars as Detective Salinas coming across the bloodbath left over after Mila finally confronts the monsters that held her captive. It's a gripping scene that Mars plays to the hilt, but what follows is a jumble of non-linear narrative and flashbacks that makes the movie somewhat hard to follow. From an explosive and terrifying beginning the middle muddles back and forth across atrocities.

It's little more than an arena to watch Millie Loredo explore various horror tropes, none of which has dulled. Watching the degradation of Mila at her captor's hands has as hard a punch in 2015 as it did in Last House on the Left in 1972, which tells you a little bit about how far our fight against the targeting of women by killers has not gotten.

Indeed, the fact that women are still more likely to be stalked and hunted by serial murderers is part of a powerful underlying theme of the movie, not to mention the propensity of victims to be blamed for their crimes or outright disbelieved. In that Vasquez turns in an amazing performance as her Mila furtively hides from the authorities, convinced that they will be less than helpful. Even the presence of a fellow woman in Salinas, who is actively pursuing her to understand what happened, does not dampen the righteousness of Mila.

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Bad Jews: Family Issues Make for a Comedic Yet Weighty Play

Categories: Stage

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Bruce Bennett
The joy of family get‑togethers

Family, oy! No one knows better where your buttons are or how to push them for maximum effect. Dip an already quarrelsome clan into the stress stew of a funeral's aftermath and not only do buttons get pushed, the whole darn switchboard gets trampled on. But before you think you know this play well enough from its familiar narrative outline, think again. Yes, this is a play that cooks up cousin against cousin with a healthy serving of Jewish affectation as the marinade, but Joshua Harmon's Bad Jews isn't so much a commentary on the vagaries of North American Semitic family life as it is a commentary on more far-reaching and frankly meatier concerns.

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"... a path to share..." Exhibit Includes 20 White Bells

Categories: Visual Arts

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Photo by Paul Hester
"...in honor ... of whom?" by Marie Orensanz from " ... a path to share ... " exhibit at Sicardi Gallery

With a color palette dominated by white, works by Argentinian artist Marie Orensanz in ... a path to share ... display luminously in the 5,900 square foot Sicardi Gallery, which has represented Latin American artists since 1994.

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Photo courtesy of Sicardi Gallery
"...in honor ... of whom?" by Marie Orensanz from " ... a path to share ... " exhibit at Sicardi Gallery

In honor ... of whom? is an installation of 20 white opaline bells with stainless steel tags containing cut-out messages in English and Spanish. The piece was first shown in Buenos Aires in 2002, and again in Paris in 2009; in both instances the language of the tags was changed to that of the hosting city. Hung from the ceiling at various intervals, and casting its shadow against the walls, the piece invites the viewer to explore the space, think and perhaps ring a bell.

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The Houston Bike Museum Offers Visitors a Unique Look at Bicycling History

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Photo by Chris Lane
The Houston Bicycle Museum is open and welcomes visitors.
Late last year, The Houston Bike Museum opened its doors in a temporary location in the Museum District, generously made available by the Houston Holocaust Museum. The new Bike Museum is a labor of love for its founder, Joy Boone, the owner of Daniel Boone Cycles, a local bike shop that Boone has helped run for nearly 50 years.

As Boone explains, the museum has been a longtime goal for her, "Owning a bike shop, you collect bikes, and end up with the museum idea. In our case, we tried to do it 20 years ago, but never had enough money to put it together. But now we're here, we're in this wonderful facility that the Holocaust Museum has graciously leased to us for the short term, and it gives us an opportunity to show what we have so we can get our building built."

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Game Of Thrones S05E02: "All They Understand Is Blood."

Categories: Film and TV

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Photo courtesy of HBO
"Nothing's worth anything to dead men."
There's a lot to be said about HBO's decision to take an "inspired by" approach to the Song of Ice and Fire books instead of marching in lockstep with George R.R. Martin's multiple plotlines. Readers of the series are getting a fresh look at characters and their stories, and non-readers are enjoying not being smirked at for the first time since the show began.

Because we're practically in spoiler-free territory at this point. Sure, I can think of a handful of upcoming events that might be mildly surprising to folks who haven't read the books, but there's nothing like "Baelor" or the Red Wedding on the horizon, especially since a couple of major arcs look like they aren't even going to be covered.

But another problem is cramming everything into a single hour. Last night, among other things, Arya arrived in Braavos, a dragon returned, Jon Snow ascended the corporate ladder, and we finally got our first look at Dorne. Let's get to it.


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SJW Video Game Reviews: Deadly Premonition

Categories: Gaming

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In this new series of reviews we'll be exploring video games from a social justice perspective, examining content rather than gameplay. For our gameplay review coverage please check out our Reviews for the Lazy Gamer.

Warning: spoilers ahead.

There is no more critically polarizing survival horror video game than Deadly Premonition. That's not just me saying it, either. The game actually has a Guinness World Record for being the most "love it or hate it" game ever made.

The Director's Cut version was the free PS Plus offering a few months back and I jumped at the chance to play through it because it's essentially Twin Peaks: The Video Game. In fact, back when the game was called Rainy Woods the similarities between it and the David Lynch television show were so blatant extensive changes were made to tone down the resemblance.

Twin Peaks and Deadly Premonition have the same catalyst; the murder of a popular young woman with greater significance than is initially thought. Right away, though there is a distinct and unavoidable difference between Laura Palmer and Anna Graham, and it has to do with the Women as Background Decoration trope.

While Palmer is indeed discovered nude but wrapped in plastic on the shore next to the Packard Mill in Twin Peaks, Graham is discovered hanging in a cruciform on a tree in Greenvale Forest Park. She is topless with her nipples covered by her long hair, and a snake slithers seductively across her body.

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HGO's Die Walküre Comes Complete With a Gang-Buster Finale and Powerful Voices

Categories: Opera

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Photo by Lynn Lane
The set-up:
Of the four operas that comprise Richard Wagner's magnificent epic The Ring of the Nibelung, Die Walküre (The Valkyrie) is perhaps the cycle's most beloved. For Wagnerites, especially devoted Ring-Heads, who travel the world over to experience its diverse interpretations, Walküre, the second in the series, is special. As far as I know, the titanic composer never played favorites and never definitively named which of his works he most admired, but there's something truly extraordinary in this opera's appeal and emotional wallop.

Walküre can stand alone, a unified story with a definite beginning, clear development, and gang-buster finale. You don't even need to know anything at all about the Ring's other operas (the prelude Das Rheingold, Siegfried, Götterdämmerung [Twilight of the Gods] to feel the impact of its galvanizing music, startling tale, and wondrous iconic images. Anyway, Wagner the huffy librettist will eventually fill you in on anything important you need to remember from the prologue, and he lays in plenty of background info for what's to come later in the cycle.

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Japanese Artist Kikuo Saito Shows Off His Many Styles in Houston Exhibit

Categories: Visual Arts

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Photo by Robert Lorenzson, courtesy of the artist and Octavia Art Gallery
"Summer Arrow" by Kikuo Saito from exhibit at Octavia Art Gallery, Houston
There is a restlessness to the works by New York-based Japanese artist Kikuo Saito, on display now at Octavia Art Gallery, Houston. Throughout the past 30 years, this abstract expressionist has experimented with a variety of techniques including bold abstracts with wide brush strokes and unpainted areas, jumbled snail trails of saturated color that take over the canvas, partially obscured Roman letters arranged on a grid, oil and crayon on paper and a sparse abstraction of what could be stage pieces.

Of the 17 works at the gallery (11 on display), it is interesting to note that the oldest, 1981's Golden Shadow, and the most recent, 2015's Summer Arrow, each incorporate simple compositions and unfinished canvases.

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Doctor Who: 10 Things You Probably Didn't Know About the Tardis

Categories: Doctor Who

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"The Snowmen"
When Doctor Who debuted in 1963 before you even saw William Hartnell step out as the First Doctor you saw the blue police telephone box that we all know as the Tardis. The time machine and space ship is The Doctor's constant companion in his adventures, appearing in nearly all of them across television, prose, comics, games and audio plays.

And yet, for as many times as we see it there are still hidden bits of knowledge about The Doctor's Tardis that remain fairly uncommon knowledge. For instance did you know...

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Reviews For The Easily Distracted:
Alex Of Venice

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Title: Alex of Venice

Describe This Movie In One Simpsons Quote: "I move for a 'bad court thingy.'"

Rating Using Random Objects Relevant To The Film: Three-and-a-half spotted owls out of five.


Brief Plot Synopsis: Attorney is actually a decent person.

Tagline: "Her life is just getting started. Again."

Better Tagline: "Even moms like to pop molly once in a while."

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