Grantchester, Season 1, PBS

The U.K.’s newest mystery hit from ITV makes its first U.S. appearance on Masterpiece in six episodes starting January 18. With its winning combination of a delightful and appealing amateur sleuth, Anglican priest Sidney Chambers (James Norton, “Mr. Turner,” “Death Comes to Pemberley”), articulate writing, engaging mysteries to solve, and  ...

Garrick Ohlsson Scriabin Program, London

Talking to a reviewer colleague during the intermission of Garrick Ohlsson’s all-Scriabin recital at London’s Wigmore Hall, he commented that he just "couldn't get Scriabin." This was after we had heard the "White Mass" Piano Sonata (No. 7 in F-sharp), a work of complexity, impetuosity, luminosity, exuberance, voluptuousness and ecstatic  ...

Viva la Libertà (2013)

"Viva la Libertà" has little to do with libertà but everything to do with politics, personality, and fooling all the people all the time. We're in contemporary Italy, where Enrico (Toni Servillo--"La grande belleza," "Il Divo"), a senator and leader of the government's opposition party, is failing to ignite  ...

“The Invisible Hand”

Ayad Akhtar, whose excellent "Disgraced" won the Pulitzer last year and transferred to Broadway this year, is quickly becoming one of the most important (if not the most important) new voices in contemporary American theater.  His follow-up, "The Invisible Hand,"  currently running at the New York Theatre Workshop, is thematically consistent with the last  ...

Movies 2014: The Best & the Rest

I used to care about movies a lot more than TV growing up, because the small screen was so formulaic and predictable while the big one had all the memorable, high-quality stuff.  That equation’s pretty much flipped 180 degrees in recent years, but 2014 went a long way towards restoring  ...

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  ...