Orlando Ballet’s Carmina Burana: fortune’s fury in one intense act

I am interrupting Late to the Theater’s horror month to bring you my review of Orlando Ballet’s Carmina Burana, and I will start with a confession: I did not pay close enough attention to the playbill to notice that there was no intermission, and I kept patiently waiting for it so that I could go powder my nose.

By dance number sixteen I thought: holy cow this is going to be a four-hour extravaganza! And by dance 25, I realized it was already the reprise of O Fortuna, and I’d watched the whole ballet. (And then I raced myself to the beautifully appointed Harriett’s Lady’s Lounge after the second or third curtain call…)

Clocking in at an hour-fifteen it is a spare yet intense ballet. We discussed the creation of it with Mr. Robert Hill, choreographer, in this piece a few weeks ago, and I’ll point you there for some background in the earworm-inspiring music and philosophy behind the choreography. On to the review.

Continue reading “Orlando Ballet’s Carmina Burana: fortune’s fury in one intense act”

Around Orlando – Retrogaming Done Right at Gamer’s, Inc.

They’re warm, they’re friendly, they’re knowledgeable. They can converse easily on a range of titles on any number of systems dating from the last 35 years. Best of all, they listen to you.

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Around Orlando is a new feature here at Late to the Theater, wherein Achariya and I detail local Orlando flavor. So whether you’re thinking about visiting, moving here soon, or just want to explore from the comfort of the internet, have a seat and take a gander at what The City Beautiful has to offer!

[Disclaimer: I received no compensation or special favors for writing this article – it is entirely to Gamer’s, Inc.’s credit that they inspire a dedicated following.]

Nestled in the suburban franchise paradise that is Waterford Lakes, Orlando, you will find an independently owned gaming shop. Upon first glance, you’ll notice orderly rows of cases – everything from Atari titles to used Xbox One and PS4s – and freestanding demo stations where you can sample Halo on a first-gen Xbox, or Duck Hunt on NES, complete with orange gun. As well as the clean floors and meticulously alphabetized game boxes, you’ll see gaming manuals, figurines, and locked cases with rare or collectible cartridges and discs inside. Reconditioned systems wait behind the glassed counter. Spend a few minutes roaming the aisles and you’ll hear at least one, maybe two excited customers exclaiming over some long-forgotten childhood treasure. You might see parents buying something to share with their kids.

And then the staff greets you.

That’s how you know you’re in Gamer’s, Inc.

They’re warm, they’re friendly, they’re knowledgeable. They can converse easily on a range of titles on any number of systems dating from the last 35 years. Best of all, they listen to you. Maybe things have gotten better in gamerspaces in recent years and I’m just out of touch, but in an age of Gamergate and doxing, it seems borderline miraculous to find an environment where customers aren’t dismissed as filthy casuals. Naturally, a positive environment such as the one found at Gamer’s, Inc. engenders a loyal following. Check out their Yelp review or their Facebook community if you don’t believe it.

And if you don’t believe it, believe them. They were kind enough to take time from their busy days to answer some questions for this feature.

Continue reading “Around Orlando – Retrogaming Done Right at Gamer’s, Inc.”

Old-Fashioned Tech Horror Week – Ringu (1998)

Welcome to Horror Movie Month here at Late to the Theater! Once a year we focus on one of our absolute favorite things, horror movies! For the entire month of October we’ll review at least two movies a week, some old, some new, and usually fitting into a weekly theme. So pop the corn, pour yourself a glass of whatever, and come along for the ride! I’ll do my best to avoid spoilers!

This week is Old-Fashioned Tech Horror Week, where we take a look at some classic films that jumpstarted the tech horror boom, as well as the trend of remaking Japanese horror movies for an American audience – Yes, I’m talking about that hair-raising* classic Ringu (1998) and its spiritual sister, PULSE (2001).  So defrag your hard drive, check my sound cloud (bruh!) and run a McAfee scan on that possibly haunted PDF your shady cousin just sent you, because you can’t spell ‘execution’ without .exe*!

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Before you die, you see…

If you’re familiar with the American version (and the memes it has spawned) then you know the story – you watch a cursed videotape and then have seven days to solve the mystery before a long-haired girl crawls out of a TV and does a herky-jerky murder dance at you. Copying the tape and showing it to someone else breaks the curse. Since I was still getting chain letters from elderly relatives in the early 2000s, the idea of being killed by not passing on some nonsense was legit terrifying.

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How I probably look to my cat when we play the ‘I’m coming! I’m gonna gitcha!’ game

Continue reading “Old-Fashioned Tech Horror Week – Ringu (1998)”

The Family That Slays Together Week – Hidden (2015)

Welcome to Horror Movie Month here at Late to the Theater! Once a year we focus on one of our absolute favorite things, horror movies! For the entire month of October we’ll review at least two movies a week, some old, some new, and usually fitting into a weekly theme. So pop the corn, pour yourself a glass of whatever, and come along for the ride! I’ll do my best to avoid spoilers!

Hola, and welcome to The Family That Slays Together Week here at Late to the Theater, a week dedicated to – you guessed it– families in peril! We’re looking at movies that imperil those most complex of situations, the family, in apocalypses both zombie and not. So sit back, relax, and stop touching your brother/sister/cousin/dog/whatever or so help me I will turn this car RIGHT AROUND.

As always, There Will Be Spoilers below the cut.

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Hidden, 2015

As mentioned in Monday’s entry Cargo, there’s such a glut of post-apocalyptic media in the world that it takes something extra special to grab one’s attention. While scrolling through Amazon’s horror offerings one night, three things about Hidden (2015) leapt out:

  • Written and directed by the Duffer Brothers, well known these days for blockbuster hit Stranger Things
  • A Skarsgard – Alexander! My favorite Skarsgard — until I remember Bill is also my favorite
  • Family survival

Ray (Skarsgard), Claire (Andrea Riseborough), and Zoe (Emily Alyn Lind) are a family fortunate enough to have happened upon a bomb shelter. Their routine is rigid: sleep is important, canned food is rationed to make it last as long as possible, Ray keeps watch at times, and Claire gives Zoe educational lessons. Meaningful rituals relieve the boredom and mark the days, such as making the daily hashtag on the wall (301 so far) and taking ‘trips’ where Ray narrates imaginary outings to Zoe.  Ray insists the family wear shoes at all times.

And always, always, they listen for signs of Breathers – gasping, throat-rattling creatures who prowl the surface in search of prey.

Fans of the Duffers’ Stranger Things will encounter notes common to both: an intelligent female child who has hidden strengths; suburban landscapes burned and blasted into unfamiliar and menacing shapes, a la Silent Hill; the military as an amorphous, untrustworthy entity. Ray even presents a warm and caring father figure a bit similar to Hopper. In a refreshing change from Stranger Things, there’s Claire, a strong and uncompromising maternal figure.

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A complaint – when rocks fall on your car, do not walk TOWARD the danger.

There’s a lot to like in Hidden –  a tightly written story, balanced and well-acted characters, decent production value, and effective use of  tension as well as a few well-placed jump scares. Skarsgard as a dad is a joy to watch (keep an eye out for his silly English matron accent). In Lind’s performance, the Duffers show again they have a great eye for spotting and working with talented kids. The actors look suitably disheveled and filthy, as they have gone almost a year without a bath. Riseborough’s hair in the bunker scenes looks like it washed up on a beach, and the light does her lovely face no favors, either.

See it if you’re patient with slow-burn thriller/horror, but not if you’re looking for lots of loud scares and pithy dialogue. This is horror aimed at a more mature, discerning audience and won’t appeal to everyone.

Continue reading “The Family That Slays Together Week – Hidden (2015)”

The Family That Slays Together Week – Cargo

Welcome to Horror Movie Month here at Late to the Theater! Once a year we focus on one of our absolute favorite things, horror movies! For the entire month of October we’ll review at least two movies a week, some old, some new, and usually fitting into a weekly theme. So pop the corn, pour yourself a glass of whatever, and come along for the ride! I’ll do my best to avoid spoilers!

Hola, and welcome to The Family That Slays Together Week here at Late to the Theater, a week dedicated to – you guessed it– families in peril! We’re looking at movies that imperil those most complex of situations, the family, in apocalypses both zombie and not. So sit back, relax, and stop touching your brother/sister/cousin/dog/whatever or so help me I will turn this car RIGHT AROUND.

As always, There Will Be Spoilers below the cut.

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The Future is Fragile

The zombie apocalypse (or ‘zompocalypse’ if you’re in a rush) genre has largely gone stale for me. It’s a trend that originated in the 60s in horror films, toodled around in genre films for a few decades, went mainstream in the early 2000s, and just never really went away. It’s a formula that always boils down to if there are zombies, then there is a race to survive during civilization’s downfall. Nowadays, for an entry to catch my notice there needs to be something extra, some additional element to get me intrigued.

Something like a baby.

A baby being carried through the Australian outback, one of the most unforgiving of natural environments, during a zombie pandemic — I’m listening.

A baby being carried by a father whose time is running out due to a zombie bite — Now you have my attention.

A baby being carried by Martin Freeman — YOU HAVE ME. 

Continue reading “The Family That Slays Together Week – Cargo”