Thursday, May 29, 2014

Audrey Tautou the Best Piece of a "Chinese Puzzle"


Love and Diversity in a New York “Chinese Puzzle”

By Skip Sheffield

Adorable French actress Audrey Tautou brightens every movie she is in. She is the shiniest part of a quartet of 40-something characters in the screwball romantic comedy, “Chinese Puzzle,” written and directed by Cedric Klapisch.
Tautou is just a supporting player- Martine, an ex-girlfriend- in the life of procrastinating novelist Xavier Rousseau (ingratiating French actor Romain Duris). Xavier's life is coming unraveled near his 40th birthday. Xavier is already divorced from Wendy (Kelly Reilly), his British wife of ten years, but he remains civil for the sake of their two children, with whom they share in joint custody.
“I have a Point B Problem,” he muses glumly. “I always keep changing direction.”
The direction changes again when Wendy finds a new love, and decides she wants a fresh start. So she abruptly takes the children from Paris and moves in with the rich, handsome new guy in his fancy New York City apartment overlooking Central Park.
Xavier is understandably upset, and rather than simply giving in, he decides to pull up roots and move to New York. This of course is easier said than done, as we see in his long and humorously futile search for an apartment he can afford. He finally finds a tiny flat in Chinatown.
The fourth element of the quartet is Isabelle (Cecile de France), a platonic friend of Xavier’s. Isabelle is a lesbian who lives with her girlfriend in New York and allows Xavier to stay temporarily.
The Chinese part of the equation is Ju (Sandrine Holt), a Chinese-American woman who agrees to “marry” Xavier (he had rescued her father from a beating) so he can get a green card and works legally in the USA.
"Chinese Puzzle” is the third and final part of a trilogy that began with “L’Auberge Espagnole” in 2002 and continued with “Russian Dolls” in 2005. The same quartet of actors plays in all three films about love and life. This one is by far my favorite because it is a both love note to New York City and all its diversity and complexity and an ode to love found again, starring winsome Audrey Tautou and handsome, humbled Romain Duris.

Monday, May 26, 2014

A Murderous Musical at Outre Theatre

A Completely Different Kind of Musical

By Skip Sheffield

And now for a completely different kind of musical we submit “Thrill Me: The Leopold and Loeb Story,” continuing through June 8 at Mizner Park Cultural Arts Center.
Outre Theatre Company is not one to shy away from controversial topics. Not only is “Thrill Me” a gay romance between two men, those men are convicted murderers.
Composer-lyricist-playwright Stephen Dolginoff was inspired by the real-life scandalous case of Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb, otherwise known simply as Leopold and Loeb.
Leopold and Loeb were two smart guys (Leopold had a genius IQ) from suburban Chicago in the year 1924. Both men were in college studying law, but apparently that was not stimulating enough. Loeb had been reading the German philosopher Nietzsche who advanced the theory of a “superman” who was somehow above mortal law. To test his theory Loeb enlisted Leopold to embark on a wave of petty crimes, each one larger than the next. After torching a warehouse Loeb urged Leopold to help him commit the “perfect crime:” the murder of a randomly chosen boy.
The unfortunate boy was named Bobby Franks, 14. He was a good kid from a well-off family. Leopold and Loeb lured him into a car and drove off to a remote area by a lake where they brutally murdered and mutilated the boy.
Normally in a musical you have characters you can identify and sympathize with. Not so in this work, first mounted in 2003 and directed by Skye Whitcomb for this revival. Instead we are shocked and appalled.
There is an underlying gay romance, presented in the lyrics of the songs, with titles such as “Everybody Wants Richard,” “Thrill Me” and “Way Too Far.”
Nathan Leopold is sung by Michael Westrich and Richard Leob is sung by Conor Walton. Musical director Kristen Long provides the solo piano accompaniment. Both men are good singers who convincingly convey the obsessive relationship of the dominant Leob and more submissive Leopold. The only song that really stuck in my mind was the finale, “Life Plus 99 Years,” which was the sentence of both men after their lives were spared by the sheer eloquence of their famous lawyer, Clarence Darrow.
If there is anything to be taken away from this show, it is the fact that when a person considers himself Godlike, really bad things can happen. Just look at the recent massacre in Santa Barbara.

Call 954-300-2149 or visit for tickets.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

"To Catch a Thief" Lite


A Screwball Romantic “Love Punch” Heist

By Skip Sheffield

“The Love Punch” is a screwball romantic comedy heist caper for an older audience. The film, written and directed by Joel Hopkins, pairs the wonderful Emma Thompson with handsome, urbane Pierce Brosnan as a divorced but civil older couple who face bankruptcy on the eve of retirement.
Richard (Brosnan) is president of a London company called Culco. One morning arriving at work Richard encounters his entire staff outside the building and a notice of foreclosure on the door.
Richard assures the staff everything will be all right, but when he checks his retirement account, his balance is gone. Richard learns his business has been bought out by a French company called Lexon, which has looted the assets. Richard’s computer-savvy son hacks into Lexon’s site and discovers it is run by a man named Vincent Kruger (Laurent LaFitte). To add insult to injury, Kruger has just paid $10 million for a large diamond at a Sotheby’s auction. Kruger intends to present the diamond to his young, beautiful fiancĂ©e Sophie (Tuppence Middleton) as a wedding present.
No doubt inspired by “To Catch a Thief” and particularly “Topkapi,” Hopkins has given Richard and his wife Kate (Thompson) motive to cook up a heist scheme: steal the diamond, sell it and use the proceeds to reinstate the accounts of his former employees.
So begins a madcap misadventure as the amateur thieves first go to Paris and confront Vincent Kruger.
“You bought my company and ran it into the ground,” Richard sputters. “You stole our money and we want it back!”
Kruger admits that what he did was not ethical but he smugly adds it was completely legal. He has the couple bodily thrown out of the building.
Back in England the couple’s best friends and neighbors Jerry (Timothy Spall) and Penelope (Celia Imrie) become concerned and decide to come to Paris to help out their friends.
Timothy Spall is a dead-on comic actor and his deadpan Jerry is a delight. It seems Jerry has been everywhere and done everything unbeknownst to his wife, and he has a body full of hardware to prove it.
The actual caper takes place in beautiful Nice, France as the four inept desperadoes blunder their way to their goal.

There is a sentimental romantic core to all the shenanigans that you may or may not believe. I do not, but I do appreciate a quartet of British pros going through their paces. Pierce Brosnan is the closest thing we have to Cary Grant. Emma Thompson, well, she can do just about anything.

Cute Kids, Wild Animals and Beautiful Scenery


Kids, Animals, Africa and Barrymore-Sandler are “Blended”

By Skip Sheffield

Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore have emerged an adept romantic comedy duo. The two actors have been promoting the heck out of “Blended,” their third and latest pairing. It is evident they like and admire each other, which is a huge advantage for this movie.
“Blended” is a light soufflĂ© of a PG-rated family comedy, with tons of cute kids, funny and annoying adults and gorgeous South African settings and animals. The script, by Ivan Menchell and Clare Sera is formulaic, and the movie, directed by Frank Coraci, goes on a bit too long at almost two hours, but the ride is pleasant and quite funny at times.
Coraci helmed one of Sandler’s biggest hits, “The Wedding Singer.” He knows Sandler’s strengths and weaknesses, and here he plays to Sandler’s strength as a nice guy trying to do the right thing.
“Blended” begins with a very bad blind date of Jim (Sandler), a widower with three daughters and Lauren (Barrymore) a recent divorcee with two sons. Hooters is not the best place to take a woman you want to impress, but we later learn there is a reason for Jim’s seemingly numbskull choice.
After making all the wrong moves, Jim and Lauren figure they will never see each other again. But in a situation comedy there is always a situation to bring them back together. In this case it is a free trip to a weeklong safari vacation at Sun City in South Africa.
If you are annoyed by obvious product placement, this film will bug the heck out of you. At times it seems like one long advertisement for the Sun City resort. However you have subplots with the cute kids. The most engaging is the blossoming of Jim Tomboy daughter Hilary (Bella Thorne of Pembroke Pines, Florida) into a lovely young lady.
Kevin Nealon adds his usual annoying-guy support (this is his 11th film with Sandler), but the star supporting character is towering ex-football player Terry Crews as Nickens, the self-styled “Tom Jones of South Africa.” Nickens follows Jim and Lauren everywhere, and he in turn is followed by a “Thathoo Harmony Group” of brightly-garbed backup singers. Crews’ bouncing pectorals deserve special mention as an impressive stunt.

This probably won’t the last pairing of Barrymore and Sandler, but they better hurry now that they are both married (not to each other) and parents themselves.

Monday, May 19, 2014

A Dangerous "Tryst"


“Tryst” an Emotional Tug of War at Palm Beach Dramaworks

By Skip Sheffield

“Tryst” is a riveting, emotional tug of war between a predatory man and a vulnerable woman, playing through June 8 at Palm Beach Dramaworks, 201 Clematis St., West Palm Beach.
There really was a George Love, though he went by other aliases too. What is known for sure is that he seduced and went through the sham of marriage with at least seven women between 1908 and 1914.
Playwright Karoline Leach has fictionalized one of these women as Adelaide Pinchin, played by Claire Brownell, last seen in “Exit The King” at PBD. George Joseph Love is played by Jim Ballard, who has been in four shows previously at PBD, most notably as El Gallo in “The Fantasticks.”
El Gallo is a bit of a rotter, but he can’t hold a candle to master seducer George Love. As we meet Love he is down on his luck; behind in his rent and in need of a conquest.
He finds it in Adelaide Pinchin, a shy, insecure London milliner who rarely leaves the back of her hat shop. One day as she is placing a fancy hat in the display window her eyes meet those of handsome George Love. Love is experienced enough to know Adelaide is smitten at first sight. Like an expert angler he sets the hook with outrageous flattery, false modesty and outright lies concerning his wealth and social position. You may chuckle at his sheer audacity.
George Love is a character you love to hate, and conversely Adelaide is a woman you long to warn and protect. While George is an outright villain, there are some surprises in Adelaide, delivered with clever conviction by Claire Brownell.
Adelaide is not a smashingly beautiful woman but she is not unattractive as represented by the petite, delicate, ginger-haired Claire Brownell. It is fascinating to see her bloom in Act Two. It is the skill of the playwright that keeps us guessing as to this emotional tug of war. We are loathe to reveal any spoilers, but we will wager many of you will be surprised at the outcome.
“Tryst” is the kind of play in which costumes are very important. Brian O’Keefe’s 1910 Edwardian designs are quite exquisite. It is a measure of the quality of this play, directed by J. Barry Lewis, that we were kept on the edge of our seats even at an old folks’ Saturday matinee.
Tickets are $60 and may be reserved by calling 561-514-4042 or by going to

A Very Creepy "German Doctor"


A Profoundly Creepy “German Doctor”

By Skip Sheffield

“The German Doctor” is one of the creepiest Holocaust-related films I have ever seen, yet it is not set in Europe or even during World War II.
“The German Doctor" is the infamous Josef Mengele, the malicious Nazi “Angel of Death” who carried out dangerous, painful and often fatal experiments on living human beings in his capacity as SS Officer and chief Nazi medical doctor.
Like many Nazi war criminals, Mengele fled to South America. “The German Doctor,” directed by Lucia Puenzo and based on her novel “Wakolda,” is set in Argentina in 1960.
A stranger approaches a family out in the wilderness of Patagonia and asks if he could follow their car to his destination, as he is unfamiliar with the area.
Eva (Natalia Oreiro), a good-hearted woman who understands German says OK, despite the misgivings of her husband Enzo (Diego Peretti).
The couple has a lovely 12-year-old daughter named Lilith (Florencia Bado), who looks much younger than her age.
“He thought I was a perfect specimen,” says Lilith in the opening voiceover, “except for height.”
The family is bound for a lakeside resort, which they intend to re-open and operate. The German stranger, who calls himself Helmut Gregor, becomes their first paying guest.
Over time Helmut ingratiates himself and becomes uncomfortably close to Lilith, who is ridiculed at school for being a “midget.” Helmut convinces her mother Eva that he can alter Lilith genetically to make her grow larger and stronger.
There are adverse side effects however, and when Eva becomes pregnant with twins (a particular fascination of Mengele’s), events make an even more sinister turn.

The most chilling thing about “The German Doctor” is that Mengele eluded capture by Israel’s Mossad, and went on to live a ripe old age. Now that is truly scary.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Feel-Good Disney Sports Flick


A Wholesome, Feel-Good “Million Dollar Arm”

By Skip Sheffield

“Million Dollar Arm” is a rather fantastic feel-good, wholesome sports movie that is actually based in fact.
In 2008 a sports agent named J.B. Bernstein went to India in search of athletes who might have the million-dollar pitching arm of the title.
The movie, directed by Craig Gillespie (“Fright Night”) and written by Thomas McCarthy (“Up”) stars Jon Hamm as the Bernstein character, known as JB.
Hamm is best-known as Don Draper in the hit TV series “Mad Men.” The always-reliable Alan Arkin plays old-time baseball scout Ray Poitevint.
The shallow, materialistic JB is on the spot because he has lost a star player because to a rival agency because he could not afford a million-dollar bonus the player is offered. In truth JB is near bankruptcy and desperate.
That’s when he hatches the seemingly wacky plan to go to India and hold open tryouts for anyone who might be good at baseball.  He brings along his business partner Aash (Aasif Mandvi) and sleepy Ray, who is so good at judging a baseball’s speed he can determine it with his eyes closed.
Cricket is the national sport of India, but Ray detects native pitching ability in Rinku (Suraj Sharma of “Slumdog Millionaire”) and Dinesh (Madhur Mittal of “Life of Pi”).
So begins a fish-out-of-water, clash-of-cultures underdog tale of two young Indian men plucked from poverty in their native country and plopped into JB’s posh bachelor pad in Los Angeles. The boys are under an impossible deadline to get good enough, training at USC with their doubtful coach (Bill Paxton), to impress major league coaches.
Lake Bell plays Brenda JB’s smart, pretty med school tenant and potential love interest. It’s one of those scenarios where you know selfish JB will fall for the virtuous Brenda and be the better man for it.
There are no surprises in “Million Dollar Arm,” and as we said, it is based on the true story of Rinku Singh and Dinetel, who are now professional baseball players in the USA. Stick around to the very end of this two-hour Walt Disney film and you will see the real-life boys and the man who discovered them.

"Chef" a Tasty Treat


“Chef” a Tasty Fantasy

By Skip Sheffield

Looking for a tasty romantic comedy with a soupcon of sentiment?
Look no further than “Chef,” a delightful concoction written, directed and starring Jon Favreau.
Favreau is best-known as the director of the invincible warrior saga “Iron Man.” Carl Casper, the title character of “Chef,” is anything but invincible. We meet him lording over his subordinates in a fancy Beverly Hills restaurant. Everything must be done his way.
Favreau has an A-list of Hollywood friends. The subordinates are played by John Leguizamo (Martin) and Bobby Cannavale (Tony). Riva, the restaurant’s owner, is played by Dustin Hoffman. The restaurant’s hostess is played by Scarlett Johansson in what amounts to a walk-on role.
Riva is uptight because a notorious restaurant critic is coming to dine and pass judgment. The critic is played by Oliver Platt with a convincing air of disdain.
Riva wants Carl to play it safe and stick to a conventional French menu. Grudgingly Carl does, and he pays for it big time when a scathing, insulting review results. Instead of making nice with the critic, Carl makes matters worse. After a big blowup he quits.
Since this is an A-list Hollywood fantasy, Carl’s ex-wife girlfriend Inez is played by Sofia Vergara. Need I say more?
Inez lives in a mansion thanks to the generous alimony from her ex-husband Marvin, played by Robert Downey, Jr. Carl shares joint custody of a really cute little boy named Percy (Emjay Anthony).
The action shifts to Miami Beach, where Marvin lives. It is there Carl gets the inspiration to buy a used food truck, refurbish it, and drive it cross-country to Los Angeles. Can you say road trip? It allows for scenic footage along the way, including the Everglades, New Orleans and Austin, Texas.
Plausibility is not the strong suit of “Chef,” but when has that ever gotten in the way of a fantasy?

“Chef” is an unabashed feel-good movie with beautiful people and gorgeous settings. I tip my toque to Jon Favreau. Bon appitit.

Go Go Godzilla


Godzilla Bigger, Not Badder

By Skip Sheffield

The beast is back bigger but not necessarily badder than ever 60 years after the first stop-motion papier-mache Godzilla terrorized Tokyo in 1964. Could it be that Godzilla is just a misunderstood monster?
Gareth Edwards, who did special effects on “Monsters” in 2010, is the director of the new “Godzilla.” Max Borenstein wrote the screenplay, which harkens back to the original film. The Godzilla myth has always centered on man’s arrogance and destructiveness. Godzilla was born amidst the post-war horror of Japan, where thousands died from the direct impact of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and thousands more died of radiation poisoning. It was radiation that awakened dinosaur-like Godzilla from his slumber, and it is radiation that feeds two horrible new creatures that look a bit like the beast from “Alien.” They are called Muto and there is one of each; a male and female, and they are Godzilla’s natural enemy.
The film begins with vintage footage of the bombings of World War II and the atomic bomb testing in the American West and the remote Pacific atolls. The live action shifts to a huge open pit mine in the Philippines 1999. The floor of the pit has collapsed and given way to a cavern. In that cavern is a huge fossil that looks like some kind of larvae. Meanwhile in Japan the radiation level has become dangerously high near a nuclear reactor, and a chain reaction starts to melt it down.
A engineer named Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston) and his scientist wife (Juliet Binoche) are sent to investigate. From there all Hell breaks loose.
From there we shift to San Francisco, California in the present. Joe Brody’s son Ford (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) has grown up to be a military bomb-defusing specialist. His wife Elle (Elizabeth Olen) is a nurse and mother to their young son Ben (Carson Bolde).
Back in Japan Joe Brody, who had been imprisoned after the nuclear disaster, has finally been released and sends an urgent message to his son to come to his aid.
Godzilla sets a new record in geographic destruction.  Not only is Tokyo clobbered again, so is Las Vegas, Honolulu, San Francisco and parts of the Nevada desert. It seems that no one has learned anything in 60 years. You can’t fight monsters with pistols, machine guns or rockets, yet that’s what the military does, to almost comical effect. Ken Watanabe as a scientist and voice of reason says “Let them fight,” meaning the monsters fighting amongst themselves. Fight they do, spectacularly, and in the end you get the distinct impression Godzilla is the least of the monsters.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

"Boom" Goes Blue Man in Miami


Blue Man Goes Boom in Miami Only Through May 18

By Skip Sheffield

The Blue Man Group has been around since 1987. It embarked on its first U.S. National Tour Sept. 2, 2010, but this is the first time the innovative, whatchamacallit performing troupe has made it to South Florida. You can see their unique semi-improvised show through Sunday, May 18 at Arsht Center in Miami.
Blue Man Group defies easy description. Its three men (and the occasional woman) in anonymous blue latex bald caps are but the tip of the iceberg of a much larger company of musicians and technicians. Blue Man Group is a truly multi-media experience that blends music (heavy on the percussion), comedy, video projections and audience participation that make every show one of a kind.
The National Tour is a kind of “greatest hits” show for the troupe, which has permanent companies in New York City, Boston, Chicago, Universal Orlando and Las Vegas. The original creators of the concept are Matt Goldman, Phil Stanton and Chris Wink.
“Thunderous” is the best way to describe Blue Man Group. They pound on all kinds of drums including a huge gong-like bass drum that sounds like a cannon. They also play weird fabricated instruments made of PVC pipe and other household items. The most ambitious instrument is a kind of PVC xylophone, which the guys play without ever glancing at the striking pads. They even take requests.
“Wonder” is the best way to describe the attitude of the anonymous, silent  performers. They look at ordinary things like marshmallows or Captain Crunch cereal as if they had never seen them before, staring in bafflement before they spring into action.
The real fun comes when the Blue Men enter the audience, crawling over chairs, stroking bald heads, peering into the eyes of strangers. The Blue Men seem to have an instinct as to whom to pick and lead onstage to become part of the act. At the opening act, they chose a petite, well-dressed older lady with a bouffant hairdo who proved to be a real sport, going along with the seemingly random, ridiculous improvisations. Later they picked a good-looking younger man whom they outfitted with a helmet and jump suit and led backstage. Video cameras captured him doused with blue and magenta paint and used as a human paintbrush on a large canvas.
This is the kind of show where you really have to be there for full appreciation. I had seen the Blue Man Group on television a number of times, but it does not compare with their live show. Catch it while you can if you want to be part of a unique, really loud and hilarious experience. Be advised the first three rows are designed “poncho section” as the action can get pretty messy and splattering.
Tickets are $26 to $125. Call 800-939-8587 or go to

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

At Long Last Waterstone Hotel


Waterstone Resort & Marina

By Skip Sheffield

It has been a long wait with many delays and detours, but it looks like the new Waterstone Resort & Marina was well worth the wait.
The Bridge Hotel at 999 Camino Real opened in 1976. It was really showing its age before its sale to become a Doubletree by Hilton resort. Co-owner Matt Lane of AWH Partners Spire Hospitality grew up in Boca Raton staying with his grandparents at the Polo Club, so he had a vested interest in making the best of what is a unique property: the only hotel, restaurant and marina complex open to the public.
“We want to stress that the community is invited to take advantage of our facilities,” he said Monday at a media sneak preview. “Location is the reason we became involved. There is nothing like the Waterstone in Boca Raton.”
Lane does not want to put an exact figure on the cost of taking the Bridge Hotel to its bare structural skeleton and redesigning key components, but he allows it was more than $10 million.
The most apparent structural change is a re-configured entrance on the south side of the hotel. Visitors formerly went through a dank auto tunnel and disembarked in a lobby. Now visitors disembark right out front and walk to a tastefully decorated, art-festooned entryway, all with nautical theme.
“Water is the recurring theme here,” Lane explained. “All our rooms have either lake or ocean water views, as do the restaurants.”
There are two ground level restaurants. The poolside Waterstone Bar & Grill features locally resourced comfort food and offers dock-to-dine service for boaters, who may tie up at the 280-foot seawall. A dockmaster can supply boat valet service.
The indoor restaurant Boca Landing presents more formal dining featuring fresh-caught Florida seafood.
A major change is the 4,650 square foot penthouse level which has been repurposed as a special event facility with two venues: the Atlantic Ballroom which can accommodate up to 200 guests and the smaller Starlight Room.
Hotel guests can take advantage of a free three-minute private shuttle to the nearby South Inlet Park. Jet ski, ocean kayak, paddle boat and bicycle rentals are available.
Each of Waterstone’s 139 rooms has a balcony for enjoying the fresh air. There are 10 larger executive suites and one two-bedroom Presidential Suite. Free WiFi is available throughout the hotel. The Promenade Lawn features brightly colored all weather sofa, table and even compartments for ladies to stow their handbags.
Waterstone is offering some introductory package deals through September with all-inclusive rates starting at $219 for two nights, which includes a $25 food credit. For more information, call 866-909-2622 or go to

Monday, May 12, 2014

Joint is Jumpin' at the Wick Theatre

A Harlem Fats Waller Celebration in Boca Raton

By Skip Sheffield

Fats Waller jammed a lot of living into his short 39-year lifespan. Waller’s musical achievement is celebrated in the revival of the 1978 musical revue “Ain’t Misbehavin’,” continuing through June 1 at the Wick Theatre, 7901 N. Federal Highway, Boca Raton.
“Ain’t Misbehavin’” is not a biographical show but a fast-moving musical parade of hits by Harlem prodigy Thomas “Fats,” Waller, 1904-1943. In addition to the sly 1929 title tune, the show, conceived by Richard Maltby, Jr. and Murray Horwitz includes such Waller standards as “Honeysuckle Rose,” “The Joint is Jumpin’,” “Spreadin’ Rhythm Around” and “Black and Blue” as well as a slam-bang finale with hits by contemporary composers Waller made his own.
The five-member cast includes Phillip Boykin, Joy Lynn Jacobs, Shirley Tripp, Debra Walton and Reggie Whitehead, under the direction of Ron Hutchins. Musical direction is by Charles Creath, who is the onstage pianist.
Live piano is essential to this show, as that was Waller’s instrument, played in the revolutionary “Harlem Stride” style. For the first time at The Wick there is a full onstage band with bass, drums, woodwinds, trumpet and trombone. This really brings the singers and Waller’s musical to full, vibrant life.
The cast is comprised of five polished pros, all with prestigious Broadway and regional credits. The performer most familiar to area audiences is Reggie Whitehead, who is capable of carrying an entire show on his slim shoulders. In this case Whitehead is a utility player on the team that is greater than the sum of its parts.
Waller was a self-taught musician who turned pro at 15, angering his preacher dad. He could be seen as a tragic example of a man with talent to burn who lived fast and died young. The closest we get to any "misbehavin' " is is comical tribute to the reefer man, "The Viper's Drag," written in the last year of his life.
There is nothing tragic about “Ain’t Misbehavin’.”  It’s all about the joy of making music. Odds are you will be in a better mood once you see this show.
Tickets are $58, with group discounts available. Call 561-995-2333 or go to

Friday, May 9, 2014

Woody Allen Pimps It in "Fading Gigolo"


John Turturro is a “Fading Gigolo” in an Unlikely Comedy

By Skip Sheffield

“Fading Gigolo” is one curious little movie.
How curious? Woody Allen stars in it as an actor- not writer or director. He plays a pimp.
The writer, director and star of “Fading Gigolo” is John Turturro, who in this unlikely story goes by the unusual name Fiorvane, a flower shop worker. He is urged to rent out his body by his friend Murray (Woody Allen), a cash-strapped bookstore owner. Murray learned from his dermatologist, Dr. Parker (Sharon Stone) that she would like to try a threesome with her gorgeous friend Selima (Sofia Vergara).
That’s right, Sharon Stone and Sofia Vergara are willing to pay money ($1000!) for a guy to have sex with both of them. That’s a likely story huh?
Before you get the wrong idea, be advised this is not softcore porn, though with those beautiful actresses the imagination runs wild.
No “Fading Gigolo” is really a romance, and a rather sweet one at that.
After meeting with Dr. Parker and Selima (we won’t divulge the outcome) Murray comes up with another woman looking for love.
Her name is Avigal (Vanessa Paradis), the lonely widow of a much-revered Chasidic Rabbi with whom she had six children. So Avigal visits Fiorvane and they hit it off.
Unbeknownst to Avigal and Fiorvane, Avigal is being stalked by another Chasidic Jew, Dovi (Liev Schreiber). Dovi is no Rabbi. Actually he is a neighborhood watch cop in their Orthodox Brooklyn area, so he has a perfect cover for his snooping.
Schreiber plays his unrequited, protective admirer deadly serious, which makes it all the funnier.
It helps to know something about New York and Brooklyn in particular to get on the wavelength of this oddball romantic comedy. It certainly is something you don’t see everyday, and any movie that pairs Sharon Stone with Sofia Vergara can’t be all bad.


Monday, May 5, 2014

Cirque du Michael Jacksom May 23 and 24 BB&T Center


Michael Jackson The Immortal World Tour Comes to Sunrise

By Skip Sheffield

Cirque du Soleil (Circus of the Sun for you non-French speakers) has come a long way since its formation by two former street performers in Quebec, Canada in 1984. It is an international sensation with more than 30 elaborate productions that have toured worldwide.
The latest to our area, “Michael Jackson The Immortal World Tour” has a limited run Friday and Saturday May 23 and 14 at BB&T Center in Sunrise.
Like “Love,” which blended The Beatles Music catalog and fantastic staging with incredible and graceful feats of human dexterity and balance, “Michael Jackson The Immortal World Tour,” which is already one of the top 10-grossing music tours of all time, plays tribute to the late singer-songwriter and his timeless musical contributions to the world.
“Michael Jackson” varies from the usual Cirque du Soleil fantasy in that it is staged as a rock concert with a cast of 49 dancers, musicians and acrobats. The underlying message is Michael Jackson’s commitment to love, world peace and unity. The band features some of the very musicians who worked with the late Jackson, who died prematurely at age 50 in 2009. The death was attributed to a prescription drug overdose. Jackson, the eighth of 10 children born to a poor Gary, Indiana family, shot to stardom at age 10 as the pint-sized lead singer of the brothers act The Jackson 5.
Jackson’s music on the other hand will never die. After all, his 1982 album “Thriller” is the best-selling recording of all time. The show incorporates video of Jackson performing and costumed performers representing his various looks and dance moves. In all there are 32 Jackson songs in part or whole, recorded and played live by an onstage band.
Tickets range in price from $50 to $125. Call TicketMaster at 800-745-3000 or go to

Friday, May 2, 2014

Spidey's Heart and Soul


Spidey’s No Run-of-the-Mill Superhero

By Skip Sheffield

Spider-Man is no run-of-the-mill super hero. Spidey’s got heart and soul as portrayed by Andrew Garfield.
This is Garfield’s second time around as the Spandex-suited good guy in the unimaginatively-titled “The Amazing Spider-Man 2.”
This is also the second time around for director Marc Webb, who directed the first “The Amazing Spider-Man” in 2012 and was responsible for one of my favorite movies of 2009: “(500) Days of Summer.”
It was that film that proved Webb’s grasp of the fleeting, elusive nature of romantic love. This sequel to the 2012 re-launch returns Garfield to the dual role of Peter Parker/Spider-Man and Emma Stone as his girl friend Gwen Stacy. The star-crossed lovers are graduating from Mid Town Science High School and planning for college.
It is that graduation that starts the story off with a shot. Brainy Stacy is school Valedictorian and is scheduled the deliver the keynote address. Peter is busy saving New York City from various catastrophes and is running late for his own graduation.
“Spidey 2” is surprisingly funny and jammed with CG special effects, but its heart is the relationship between Peter and Stacy. The chemistry between Garfield and Stone is palpable. It comes as no surprise they are a couple in real life.
Denis Leary returns as Stacy’s disapproving cop dad, Capt. Stacy. It is he who provides the initial conflict in their storybook love affair.
Peter’s aunt (Sally Field) is still mourning the death of her husband, Peter’s Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen), who was killed off in the first film.
Peter is still trying to solve the sudden disappearance of his parents when he was 10. It is linked somehow to the leviathan Oscorp, whose co-founder Norman Osborn (Chris Cooper) is dying of a fatal genetic disease.
The mantle is passed to Osborn’s son Harry (Dane DeHaan) who was a childhood of Peter’s before being shipped off to private school. Harry becomes the new head of Oscorp at age 20, but the real power behind the throne is wielded by board president Donald Menken (Colm Feore), who has dark intentions for the company’s future.
“Spidey 2” was filmed completely in New York, and it makes wonderful use of real and imaginary locations in New York City. Set pieces include real vintage subway tokens, an abandoned subway station and imagined skullduggery on Roosevelt Island.
Jamie Foxx is great fun as nerdy electrical engineer Max Dillon, who after and accident that lands him in a pool of electric eels, morphs into the hulking, enraged Electro. "Sparkles" as he is called has a particular grudge against Spidey. So does Harry Osborn, soon to devolve into a Green Goblin.
Sally Field’s part is not large, but she makes the most of it with a heartfelt pep talk to Peter that centers on hope.
Hope is what Spider-Man gives to people. He may be imaginary but the message can’t be bad.