The Explorer: Liven Up

Liven Up

Entertainment Headlines

  • Saturday Puzzles 10-18-14

  • ‘The Judge’ presides over superb cast

    To the excitement of movie fans, Robert Downey Jr. finally doffs his protective Iron Man suit and mega-successful Tony Stark character for his most vulnerable film role in years.  As high-priced Chicago defense attorney Hank Palmer, Downey completely dominances the big-screen and courtroom in this emotionally charged legal drama.  He flawlessly transitions this strong-willed, egotistical lawyer between bouts of anger, compassion, arrogance and humility. Called back to his hometown after the unexpected death of his mother, Downey faces two very formidable foes—his estranged father (played naturally by Robert Duvall)—the small-town judge whom Downey must defend against a hit-and-run murder charge, and, the big city prosecutor brought in from upstate to get that conviction (a perfectly cast Billy Bob Thornton).  Although Thornton steals every scene he’s in without much difficulty, this movie comes down to Downey vs. Duvall—and the application of the law. The long-standing tension between father and son goes back to Downey’s poor choices and troubled youth under Duvall’s stern household.  The film unflinchingly looks back at the punishment dealt out by Duvall to his son growing up and compares it to those consequences he ordered since that time from the bench.  Sparks once again fly between them as Downey attempts to get two sticky statements from Duvall’s character—approval from his father on Downey’s own legal career accomplishments and answers from his client, Judge Palmer, on his whereabouts the night of the murder.“The Judge” makes a compelling argument on how our legal system often maneuvers within the gray area of the law.  Where circumstances must get factored into the enforcement of the law using the system’s best judgment of one’s intent.  Likewise, frustrations and guilt over punishments strike comparisons between a father’s firm discipline and a judge’s stiff sentence. Both actions require conviction and fortitude yet remain difficult to surmise its overall effectiveness until the end.My only objection during the movie was to the unnecessary and forced subplots director David Dobkin (“Wedding Crashers”, 2005) throws at the audience.  Rather than delve deeper into the relationship and scorched past between the father and son, Dobkin spends precious screen time on an irrelevant and meaningless side story on Downey’s old high school sweetheart (Vera Farmiga) and her daughter.  This film is very watchable and flourishes when Downey and Duvall battle it out during their scenes together.  Both provide fireworks and realism not only to the father-son family dynamics but also to the film’s courtroom.  The short appearances by Billy Bob Thornton are highly flammable sequences in which both Thornton and Downey forcibly stake their legal positions. Thornton intuitively takes mere words on a movie script and, with only a glaring look, turns them into a combustible spark when opposite Downey.  “The Judge” is more than just a legal drama though.  It’s a story about acceptance, compassion and one’s reputation.

  • Tucson crawling with Halloween events

    Halloween may not be held in as high esteem as holidays with more tradition (and presents), but Tucson knows how to celebrate the spooky season nonetheless. The city is full of activities for kids and adults alike, providing keen opportunity to put on a light sweater and enjoy a scare-filled evening under the stars. One of the mainstays in Tucson’s slew of Halloween celebrations is Old Tucson’s Nightfall. Always on the agenda at Nightfall are live theatrical shows, haunted houses full of creepy characters, and even talking gargoyles prowling the town square. Old Tucson’s website warns parents that the attractions at Nightfall may be too scary for younger attendants.But Nightfall is not the only genuinely terrifying haunted destination in the Old Pueblo. The Slaughterhouse rivals the scare tactics of Old Tucson, and luckily for thrill seekers, this town is big enough for both of them. While Nightfall may be the most overall spooky production in Tucson, the Slaughterhouse is a likely the most nightmarish destination for haunted house lovers (in a good way). There are five different themed haunted houses at the Slaughterhouse this year: Twisted Tree Mortuary, Carnival, The Boiler Room, City Meats, and Apocalypse. But the haunted haven is not just about blood, guts, and gore. The Slaughterhouse is also a 501c3 certified non-profit organization that donates much of its proceeds to community charity efforts. For those of us who want to feel our heart pumping and blood chilling while holding a drink in hand, Hotel Congress is holding a 21 and over event on Oct. 25 that includes a $1,000 cash prize costume contest, carnival games, and live bands on indoor and outdoor stages. That’s not all from Tucson’s most famous haunted hotel spot. Hotel Congress will also be holding a spooky prom event on Halloween night. For nights when parents are not able to find a baby sitter, Tucson’s family-friendly Halloween events are not in short supply. Every Saturday and Sunday of October Apple Annie’s is hosting their Pumpkin Celebration. The event includes a corn maze, and wagon rides to the pumpkin patch, vegetable patch, or apple orchard. Tucson’s Valley of the Moon is not missing out on the opportunity to get festive. This year they are holding a Harry Potter and the Haunted Ruins event through Oct. 30, where 20-minute live performances will take place between 6 and 8:20 p.m. The show will also involve a walk-through tour, and will cost $10 for adults and will be free for children under the age of 15. Food will be present from vendors of Tucson’s Food Truck Rally. 

  • Happenings for October 15 Week

    THEATERThursday to Saturday,Oct. 16-Nov. 15• Catch a performance of Heather Raffo’s off-Broadway adult hit 9 Parts of Desire inspired by the playwright’s 1993 trip to Baghdad detailing lives of Iraqi women between the Gulf Wars. Details: 7:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 3 p.m. Sunday; Live Theatre Workshop, 5317 E. Speedway Blvd.; $18-$20; 327-4242. Friday to Sunday,

  • Saturday Puzzles 10-11-14

  • Explorer's top things to do this week

    1Treat yourself to a hilarious and distinctive comedic take on life unleashed by seasoned actor, writer, producer and stand-up comedian Paul Reiser presented by the Hearth Foundation’s Comedy for a Cause. Details: 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 9; Fox Theatre, 17 W. Congress St.; $25-$52; 547-3040.2 Don’t miss an opportunity to hear Country Music Hall of Fame legend Kris Kristofferson live on stage in a solo, acoustic show reflecting four decades performing concerts all over the world. Details: 7 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 12; Fox Theatre, 17 W. Congress St.; $37-$70; 547-3040.3 Grab your girlfriends for a touching and hilarious evening at Girls Night: The Musical with a “tell-it-like-it-is” journey into the lives of a group of female friends and some of the most popular hit songs of the 80s and 90s. Details: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 11; Fox Theatre, 17 W. Congress St.; $35-$80; 547-3040.4 Enjoy the Tucson Chamber Artists season-opener America the Beautiful featuring TCA’s Chorus, Soloists and Chamber Players celebrating the diversity of American folk and spiritual music. Details: 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 12; Vista de la Montaña Methodist Church, 3001 E. Miravista Lane; $25-$30; 401-2651.5Walk, run, skip or jump and bring your kids and neighbors to the Harvest for Hope 5k Walk/Run to support the Impact of Southern Arizona food bank. Details: 5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 11; Oro Valley Marketplace, Oracle and Tangerine Roads; no entry fee, bring a bag of non-perishable food for donation; 469-7084 or www.harvest4hope.org.

  • Reel Brief - ‘Gone Girl’ provides dark, disturbing mystery

    Like a roller coaster ride, the film “Gone Girl” starts off slow and steep, the familiar clank-clank-clank sound of the ascending chain lift marking a young couple’s courtship, and, ultimately, their wedding. As the relationship strains and tightens at its highest, most vulnerable point, the movie unleashes viewers on a thrilling adventure of unexpected plot twists and turns.Ben Affleck plays Nick Dunne, a bar owner unhappy in his marriage who becomes the top suspect after his beautiful wife’s sudden disappearance on the day of their fifth wedding anniversary. The story unfolds like a headline ripped straight from today’s tabloids, generating 24/7 news coverage and intense scrutiny for Affleck’s character. Viewers will find the criminal investigation, circumstances surrounding Nick and Amy Dunne’s relationship and others, to be dark, disturbing and yet intriguing to sit restlessly through.Director David Fincher is no stranger to dark, bizarre thrillers with “Fight Club”, “Seven”, and “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” on his vast resume (and Academy Award nominated for “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” and “The Social Network”). However, in “Gone Girl” Fincher outshines all of his previous works with this believable he-said/she-said whodunit mystery.Gillian Flynn, who wrote the “Gone Girl” best seller, is sure to make faithful readers pleased with her screenplay adaptation for this film, which stays true to the story presented in her popular novel.Rosamund Pike provides an Oscar-worthy performance as the missing Amy Dunne and leads an ensemble cast that is brilliant from top to bottom. Every character’s competent portrayal spins this remarkable tale into a believable narrative yarn—particularly Kim Dickens as Detective Rhonda Boney and the high profile, celebrity attorney Tanner Bolt (played effortlessly by Tyler Perry).“Gone Girl” unravels enough surprises to moviegoers to make it an instant classic that will be talked about 40 years from now. Viewers in theaters will think they’ve got the mystery solved, only to have another sharp turn in the roller coaster ride throw them in another unexpected direction. This well cast thriller provides dark, edgy entertainment that has serious Oscar potential. Don’t miss this thrilling ride.

  • Gamer's Scoop - Blizzard cancels to the mysterious MMO project

    Blizzard Entertainment announced last week that they have canceled their seven year in the making MMO (Massively Multiplayer Online) project called “Titan”. For years now, the project has remained a mystery to all but those in-the-know on Blizzard’s development team. With the game in the can, the mystery remains. What was Titan?Speculation regarding the game began in 2007 when Blizzard announced that they would begin development of a new game, something that fans of the developer had never seen before. The biggest part of this announcement was that this game would not be based on one of the three long running franchises that Blizzard has become so well known for: Diablo, Starcraft, and Warcraft.Everything began with a simple job posting. The company posted a wanted ad on their website looking for character and environmental artists to join their development team for a “Next-Gen MMO” that was going to remain top secret. By 2008 it was verified by multiple higher ups in Blizzard and parent company Activision that it would be a new game franchise entirely. The name Titan was given to the project in a leaked development schedule in 2010, finally giving a name to the unknown. After years of working on the most popular MMO of all time, World of Warcraft, Blizzard was taking its senior development staff and reassigning them to the Titan project.The game was originally set to be released in the fourth quarter of 2013 but as the date came closer and closer, there was nothing to be heard. In May 2013, it was announced that the project was going through a reboot, with over half of the development team being assigned to other projects and the release date for the game being pushed back. Later in the same year, Blizzard president Mike Morhaime said the company was looking for a new direction to take the game, reevaluating the project in its entirety.All of the time and money dumped into the project has been flushed down the drain, though. When asked what had happened to the game, he had this to say:“We had created World of Warcraft, and we felt really confident that we knew how to make MMOs,” Morhaime said. “So we set out to make the most ambitious thing that you could possibly imagine. And it didn’t come together. We didn’t find the fun. We didn’t find the passion. We talked about how we put it through a reevaluation period, and actually, what we reevaluated is whether that’s the game we really wanted to be making. The answer is no.”

  • Saturday Crossword 10-4-14

  • ‘This Is Where I Leave You’ - Handles life’s difficulties with humor and family

    In this family comedy-drama, Jason Bateman (from TV’s “Arrested Development) plays Judd Altman, a guy who sees his life seemingly fall apart right before his eyes—and ours.  With the unexpected death of his father, Judd must head to his parents’ home in the New York suburbs to rally his mother (two-time Oscar winner Jane Fonda) and siblings, led by strong-willed sister Wendy (aptly portrayed by Golden Globe and Emmy Award winning actress Tina Fey).  Unfortunately, his father’s death is only the beginning of several difficulties about to face Judd, as one serious life-changing moment strikes after another.  It’s from these unfortunate circumstances that viewers will find entertainment value—similar to how motorists rubberneck a traffic accident, passing the victim off to the side of the road and eyes fixed upon the how and why.Judd’s difficult life becomes even more complicated as the family mourns together during a “sitting Shiva” ritual, a week-long Jewish custom in which the family receives visitors to the house following the father’s burial.  Under the same roof for seven days, the movie’s storyline expands to include the extended family members, all carrying their own personal problems for everyone to comment upon and capitalize for laughs.Director Shawn Levy (“Night at the Museum” collection) deserves credit for nicely balancing a rather large ensemble cast around Bateman’s Judd, while keeping all the focus and family dynamics squarely on the son and brother whose life is being turned upside down.  Levy strides for and succeeds at making the film part funny and part serious, skillfully combining our vulnerable human nature with our resiliency to bounce back from adversity.  The fact we can laugh at, and find entertainment in, Judd Altman’s life is proof that our problems pale in comparison to his.  It’s also indicative of how useful humor is in coping with life’s hurdles.  Although the film is far from a slapstick comedy, it does provide enough smiles throughout to earn an above-average grade.“This Is Where I Leave You” achieves laughs and entertainment from others’ misfortunes, due mostly to a strong, supportive family with funny and endearing characters.  Director Shawn Levy smartly makes no attempt to correct or solve every problem for Judd or the other family members by the film’s end.  This allows the audience to reconcile their own conclusions to the story. A diverse cast manages to stand apart at times, and yet, come together at other moments to shine bright.  Judd Altman faces personal, professional and family adversity with humor and resolve. Together they make this movie more believable along the way and watchable in the end.Grade: B-

  • Prime Time Review: University of Arizona and Fox Theatre team up for new downtown lecture series

    Last month the Arizona Daily Wildcat reported that the University of Arizona had been ranked among the nation’s most healthy campuses by greatest.com. It should be no surprise, then, that the university is teaming up with The Fox Theater to bring a new and informative lecture series on nutrition to the local community.Beginning this month, The Fox Theater will open up its doors to “Food”, the second installment of the annual U of A Downtown Lecture Series provided by the College of Social & Behavioral Sciences. Though not a traditional date night event that would normally be held in the theater, the lecture series should provide an offbeat opportunity to head downtown, and could even teach theatergoers a thing or two that may better their lives in the long term. In fact, this is exactly what the goals of the lecture series are. The College of Social and Behavioral Sciences aims not only to share new research from University faculty, but also to support the community’s investment in a vibrant city center by drawing commercial business to downtown merchants.The lectures will take place weekly on Wednesday nights at 6:30 p.m, with the first beginning on Oct. 15. The kick-off lecture is titled “Changing Geographies of Food”, and will be presented by Dr. Diana Liverman of the School of Geography and Development and Institute of the Environment. The lecture will explore how our food choices bring about changes to the planet, and will also look into the present state and geography of the global food system.  The goal of this lecture is to trace trends and identify choices that promote a more sustainable future worldwide.The second lecture will be called “Tucson: City of Gastronomy, Hub for Food Diversity”, and will be presented by Dr. Gary Nabhan of the UofA Southwest Center. This lecture will take a local approach, highlighting the ways in which Tucson has become a model for re-diversifying the American diet.The third lecture will be called “We Eat What We Are” and will be given by Dr. Maribel Alvarez from the school of anthropology. Alvarez, who is also the director of Tucson Meet Yourself, intends to take a more anthropological approach to the food discussion, describing how our nutritional choices reflect our definition of our habits, our traditions, our practices, and ourselves.The fourth lecture will be “Edible Roman Empire” and will be led by Dr. Emma Blake of the U of A’s School of Anthropology Mass production, agribusiness, unsustainable harvests. Blake’s lecture will explore recent archaeological discoveries about the Roman Empire’s food practices, how they impacted the historical society, and what we can learn from this example.

  • RA Sushi supports the American Heart Association

    From Feb. 1 to Feb. 28, all 25 RA Sushi locations nationwide will be helping to increase awareness and raise funds for the number one cause of death in women: heart disease. RA Sushi has created a special “Go Red” menu that will benefit the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women initiative.  For every Go Red item purchased throughout the month of February, $3 will benefit the American Heart Association. The Red Dress Martini, offered for $9, is a blush-worthy blend of Absolut Citron vodka, Pama liqueur and fresh lemon and grapefruit juices. The slightly spicy Red Heart Roll, available for $12, is made with kani kami crab mix, cucumber, and avocado, rolled and topped with spicy tuna mix.   Support the American Heart Association fundraiser at any RA Sushi location in the United States Visit www.RAsushi.com

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