Fleshing out Hawaii’s bones: hula, lava, and mahu

In my early 20s, when I was living in Boston, I had a dream about my home town. I dreamed that I was on a black sand beach in Hilo, but ash and rock fell all around me. I tried to run to save myself, but I couldn’t run fast enough — and I heard a voice speaking, and it came from the falling rock. “Your father is in my protection,” the voice said. “He is doing my work.”

I remember the dream still, because whether or not the dream held any truth, my father’s work was, in fact, Madam Pele’s work.

The work that Dr. Fred Stone did was this: he explored and surveyed many, many of the lava tubes in Hawaii, so that they could be protected from development and saved for future Hawaiians. He took me on these journeys with him during my years growing up in Hilo, under the land and deep into its veins, stepping where only the Hawaiians stepped before us.

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Orlando Ballet Presents: Contemporary Wonders

Once again, Late to the Theater was very graciously invited to the Orlando Ballet. For a write up of Romeo and Juliet, go here. For a write up of Beauty and the Beast, go here.

For the final performance of Orlando Ballet’s 2017-2018 season, Artistic Director Robert Hill decided to do something more experimental than the season’s previous offerings: three different styles of performance. Although they ranged from modern/experimental to classical, all were united by the common theme of love.

Some guest artists also lent their considerable talents to the show: New York based choreographer Jessica Lang, and local chanteuse Sisaundra Lewis.

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The Avengers: Infinity War Debrief

AIW_Lineup
The Lineup

By now Infinity War is on track to possibly have the best opening of all time. No one is surprised, but people are walking out of the theater shook, and for good reason.

The spoiler-free review is: Oh man, that was amazing with all the fight scenes and effects and great character moments and whatnot. Casual viewers of Marvel films will be able to keep up, and anyone who’s seen at least half of the 19 Marvel films will also be fine. People who’ve never seen a Marvel movie will more than likely be entertained in between action set pieces and character building.

The spoilery discussion is below the cut.

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In Theaters Now: A Quiet Place

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Shhhh….

After all the buzz surrounding it and a few recommendations from friends, I decided to see A Quiet Place in theaters. Being a horror fan, how could I not?

What A Quiet Place does well, it does very well. Tension draws out and there are genuine emotional scenes with real payoff, such as those moments when a character is finally, finally able to scream or even speak. However, I admit to being underwhelmed.

I am not saying this film was bad; far from it. I would rank it as above average for a mainstream Hollywood horror movie, which any horror fan will recognize as damning praise. From a technical filmmaking perspective, it was beautiful: John Krasinski, who stars and also directs, knows how to frame beautiful compositions, how to work with ambient lighting, how to film action so it’s exciting and tension so it’s heart-pumping, and how to draw evocative performances from his actors. The creatures look cool and their CGI is great.

As mentioned, the actors’ performances are strong, and there are several character moments that really resonate. Krasinski is great as a patient paternal figure, Emily Blunt is his tired, blonde, and eventually pregnant wife, Millicent Simmonds and Noah Jupe as the children work well together and the whole ensemble effectively portrays a nuclear family.

Most filmgoers and horror fans will enjoy the jump scares and leave the movie rattled, but I found myself frustrated by the end. There were a number of weaknesses that leapt out and jarred me right out of the narrative, and created what ultimately felt like a missed opportunity.

A more detailed unpacking appears below the cut. As always, there will be spoilers.

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Early to the Theater: Final Portrait

I’ve been to the Dali museum in St. Petersburg, Florida, twice. It’s a small gem of a place nestled onto a point of the town’s little bay, right next to a marina. The landscaping is wonderful, and stepping inside the glass-globed building is like walking into the landscape of your own dreams and nightmares.

On my second visit, though, I had the misfortune to be trapped behind a tour group, just as the guide began to describe Salvador Dali’s deep insecurity about his “little Salvi,” both its size and its performance, and how this insecurity informed his art and caused him to mistreat the people around him.

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