English teachers around the country will have their hearts burst with joy when they see In the House, François Ozon’s latest wry thriller. Through smart characters and an emphasis on literature, Ozon goes high-concept but never loses grasp of an emotional core. Small moments are suspenseful because it’s impossible to tell how or when the characters will have the proverbial rug pulled from under them, and Ozon’s restraint with the material is remarkable. Even when the fourth wall gets broken, In the Houseworks because it has the confidence to go for the laugh, and not anything deeper.
The Folger Theater is consistently successful because they never forget that Shakespeare is meant to be populist fun. When they were originally performed, the playwright had to appeal to the groundlings as well as the aristocracy. The Folger’s production of Twelfth Night continues this tradition: filled with music and broadly physical humor, director Robert Richmond keeps his audience laughing. There are problems with the text itself, yet the strength of the cast overshadows the play’s dubious, borderline creepy plot points.
For a generation of people all over the planet, the Kon-Tiki voyage was an early precursor to the fascination with space exploration. Explorer Thor Heyerdahl his crew of five drifted from Peru to Polynesia, just so he could prove a historical thesis. My dad remembers reading Heyerdahl’s subsequent book about the journey when he was a boy (he’s from Bucharest, and the edition was conveniently translated into Romanian). I can see why everyone was attracted to the material: it’s a stunning yarn with a happy ending. Kon-Tiki, the Norwegian film by Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg, handsomely dramatizes the trip. Even with a few embellishments, it’s still a stirring story of survival.
Pas de Deux combines two one-act plays, one from New Zealand and the other from Canada, and they complement each other well. Gary Henderson’s Skin Tight and Daniel MacIvor’s 2-2 Tango are more physical than most plays, and they focus on the complexities of relationships. Both plays veer quickly from the highs to the lows of romance, and there is something universal about the way the playwrights deconstruct our notion of love. It’s inevitable that one play is better than another, yet they’re both striking and funny.
When whiskey rests in an oak barrel, two percent of it evaporates every year and Scottish distillers call this phenomenon as the “angel’s share.” When a reformed hooligan learns about the evaporating whiskey, it’s no surprise he sees an unlikely opportunity there. The Angel’s Share, the new film from director Ken Loach, ably shifts from a scruffy blue-collar drama into a feel-good heist comedy. Both parts are necessary: without blunt realism from Robbie’s past, his redemption would be sickly-sweet. With a script from longtime collaborator Paul Laverty, Loach’s deft command of tone practically ensures everyone will leave the theater with a smile on their face.