Downton Abbey, Season 5, PBS

An extremely entertaining Season 5 of “Downton Abbey” continues the spellbinding costume drama created and written by Oscar-winning writer Julian Fellowes. This season’s focus is the modernity of the mid-1920s. It is a time of expanding opportunities for the Crawleys as well as their staff, as all the Downton residents  ...

Best of 2014: TV

Has the recent TV renaissance peaked? Probably not, given some of 2014’s strong debuts and continuing favorites. And while the big screen actually impressed me a bit more than the small one this year, the general quality of the best television still remains higher, its writing sharper, its characters more  ...

Mr. Turner (2014)

The brilliant film “Mr. Turner” examines the great, albeit, peculiar, British Romantic landscape and seascape painter, Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851). Writer and director Mike Leigh (“Secret and Lies,” “Topsy Turvy”) has made a remarkable dramatic film, which presents a close exploration of the life and work of the artist,  ...

Pericles

Chicago Shakespeare’s new production of "Pericles" begins as the prince arrives in Antioch to bid for the hand of King Antiochus’ daughter. Pericles must solve Antiochus’ riddle, because those who fail to do so are beheaded. The stage décor includes a half dozen heads on poles as proof. Pericles (Ben  ...

Our Town

In "Our Town," three-time Pulitzer prize-winning author Thornton Wilder created a profound and intimate exploration into American life and death. And, although it was written over 76 years ago, the Shotgun Players’ version of the drama remains fresh and vibrant — still an important piece of American theater. Congratulations to  ...

Blithe Spirit, LA

Here is the perfect Christmas gift for the "Downton Abbey"/"Upstairs Downstairs"/antimacassar set. Anglophiles will probably thrill to the (sometimes hard to catch) British accents, Designer Simon Higlett's perfect English drawing room, and Noël Coward's ever-so-tasteful, black-tie double entendres. Angela Lansbury steals the show with her doughty antics as Madam Arcati,  ...

Florencia en el Amazonas, LA Opera

Reader beware. This is not a review for the opera cognoscenti whose weary ears may be seeking newer, less familiar fodder. You know who you are. This is a review for the reader who may be a touch tired of "Madame Butterfly" — allowing a few years between productions might  ...

“National Gallery” (2014)

How do we look when we’re looking at art? That’s one of the intriguing facets of this gorgeous art tour of London’s National Gallery. Frederick Wiseman’s documentary, "National Gallery", which opened in November, shows us many scenes of faces looking at faces. Human faces peering, pondering, smiling, puzzling at portraits  ...

Irish Theatre’s “Shining City”

The scene is a dingy therapist’s office in Dublin. Ian (Coburn Goss), a former priest, is preparing his new office for his first client. Over the course of the 100-minute, five-scene, production, the office is the scene of poignant therapy sessions with John (Brad Armacost) and Ian’s interactions with his  ...