Friday, January 27, 2012

Student artist profile: Erinn Reville finds her voice

Erinn Reville, a senior at Kennett High School, is the daughter of singer Holly Reville and sister of theater regular Shannon Reville. She has appeared in Arts in Motion’s “Disco Inferno” and “Guys and Dolls.” She will be joining Rafe Matregrano as the opening act for The Mild Revolution at The Starving Artist in Keene March 2. For more information visit and

You grew up in a musical household, what was that like?

Well, as a child, I’ve always liked to sleep a lot and my mother would always wake me up in the morning with music and so I sort of grew accustomed to that at a young age of always being around music. She was in a band, so I was around that a lot as well and that kind of formed how I am today with how I perform I think.

When did you first start singing?

I sang ever since I was a baby actually. I used to go in the shower with my mom and just sing notes. I was kind of shy with it when I was younger. Then I just blossomed and didn’t mind other people listening to me.

What was your first public performance?

Well, I guess in a play, “Guys and Dolls” and I was in “Disco Inferno.” In those I just sang along with others who had done plays a lot more and that opened me up a little more. My first time just singing alone was in “Guys and Dolls.” I had a solo part, which was interesting to sing.

Having an older sister that also performs, did you feel any pressure following in her footsteps?

Sometimes it was like that because everyone was like “Oh, Shannon is such a great singer. Shannon performers and she does so well.” I wanted to be like her, but then I realized that we are two different people. We both flourish in what we do and like to do what we do in different categories, so I think I came to terms with the fact that we are different in the things that we do. We just complement each other for what we do.

How long have you been performing with Rafe?

I’ve known Rafe since I was in seventh grade. I always looked up to him. He always brought around a guitar. We were friends, but we really didn’t sing together. Over the past probably year or two we’ve been getting together to sing a little bit, but it has been a lot more just this year getting together and performing. We write our songs together, too. That’s nice. Stay up all night.

How did this performance at Keene come about?

Over the summer I started working at Pac Sun and I met a friend of mine, John Remmetter, and he went to Kingswood. He introduced me to this band that he knows personally, which is The Mild Revolution. I did a cover of one of their songs with Rafe not knowing if they'd see it or not. The lead singer, Morgan Little, contacted me and we’ve been in contact now for a few months and he was like “Hey, I want you guys to come open for us. Just come down and we’ll make sure you get a 45 minute set.” So, Rafe and I are just pumping songs out just making sure we have enough to perform with.

Would that be a mix of originals and covers or is it all originals?

We are trying to hope for more originals than covers. We don’t want to just be that band that shows up and just plays other people’s songs. We will play one or two covers, ones that we like to make our own, like really unique, nothing that just sounds the same because we want everything to sound like us.

What would you say your influences are in terms of music and songwriting styles?

We really like The Civil Wars. They have that sound that we are going for of more like folky, airy, but at the same time dramatic, so I’d say that one is a pretty big influence. The Deer Hunter, we have been doing a lot of covers of those lately, which has really helped as a lot with our song writing at least because we have this little image going on.

What are your plans after high school?

I still want to perform, but I want to be a surgeon some day, so keeping everything that is performance-wise on the side, but keeping the dream in mind as well. That’s my goal in the end, but I am always going to have time to sing and if something comes up that way, matters well go for that, too.

Do you have any final thoughts of why you perform and what it brings to you and your life?

Performing for me is something that is almost indescribable in the fact that I just get to let out so much and express myself in a way that could be interpreted differently from other people like some people might take a lyric that I sing as something that is sad, while another person will be like “Wow, that is really inspirational.” That’s kind of what I go for. I don’t want just one meaning to a song or I don’t want just one meaning to what I say on the stage. It is how I feel and it doesn’t really matter who is watching either because I know that in the end I am making myself happy by doing it.

'Haywire' is slick, sophisticated low-budget action film

“Haywire,” director Steve Soderbergh’s low-budget answer to the “Mission: Impossible” and “Bourne” movies is more visceral and at the same time more methodical and deliberately paced than any other recent action movie.

Soderbergh is a chameleon-like filmmaker who seems like he wants to try everything at least once. This is his crack at a fight film, but he brings a certain degree of sophistication, intelligence and even grace to the proceedings.

The film starts in the middle and rewinds via flashback until it catches up with itself. As the movie opens a woman named Mallory (Gina Carano) is meeting a man (Channing Tatum) in a diner. As they start talking the audience is a bit lost, and just as we start to get the picture a fight breaks out.

This is not your ordinary movie fight. The punches are hard and brutal. Soderbergh doesn’t have the cool jazzy score by David Holmes that appears elsewhere in the movie on this or any of the other film’s numerous fight scenes. He wants you to hear every punch and kick.

Unlike other recent action movies, the fight isn’t shot in close up and full of quick edits. The compositions of the shots allow you to clearly see what happens and to realize that the fight appears to be the real deal.

The authenticity of the fighting can be partially credited to the film’s lead, Carano, a former mixed martial artist, in her first starring role. Soderbergh wanted the fights to be as real as possible. Casting an actual fighter was clearly the way to achieve that.

Accuracy is important to Soderbergh. This is the same filmmaker who when he made “The Good German,” a tribute to a 1940s film noir, he used only equipment available in the 1940s. When he directed “The Girlfriend Experience,” a movie about a high-end call girl, he cast a real porn star. These sort of gimmicks don’t always pay off in great cinema, but he’s an assured-enough filmmaker that the final products are at the very least interesting.

The casting of Carano paid off. She is a strong, beautiful woman who has a commanding screen presence. Her acting abilities are still up to debate. She isn’t bad by any means, but her emotional range is limited. She has a directness that is effective, though. Occasionally her reading of dialogue is flat, but she has an expressive face that is well utilized in quiet moments.

As the film progresses, it is revealed that Mallory is a former black-ops soldier who works for a company on various contracts from rescue missions to hits. She is very good at her job, but for convoluted reasons her boss and former lover (a slimy Ewan McGregor) decides to have her killed. This doesn’t go as planned and Mallory seeks revenge on all those involved.

That’s it in terms of plot, but that’s OK as the plot is just an excuse to have Carano go up against various male combatants including rising star Michael Fassbender.

Soderbergh, who has directed everything from the “Ocean’s” movies to “Traffic” to “Erin Brockovich” to last year’s “Contagion,” is a director who actors want to work with so this means even small roles are filled by the likes of Bill Paxton, Michael Douglas and Antonio Banderas. There’s a reason actors want to work with him: He gets quality work out of them and makes them look good.

The film is about 90 minutes, but takes it time. It allows for leisurely paced interactions between characters that are punctuated by bursts of unexpected violence. There’s also a sly sense of humor to the film, especially during a car chase in the woods, the final confrontation with McGregor and in the concluding moment of the movie with Banderas.

“Haywire” isn’t going to please action fans who have grown accustomed to the frantic editing of recent action films, but is a slick well-acted piece of entertainment.

Friday, January 20, 2012

What's so dangerous about SOPA?

Wednesday saw websites like Wikipedia doing black outs in protest of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect IP Act (PIPA). Petitions have been circulating for months. It would seem the negative of backlash may have made an impact.

Florida Senator Marco Rubio, who co-sponsored PIPA, was the first to officially withdraw his support of the act calling for more discussion before new copyright legislation is introduced. Others followed suit including Senators Orrin Hatch, of Utah, Kelly Ayotte, of New Hampshire, Roy Blunt, of Missouri, John Boozman, of Arkansas, and Mark Kirk, of Illinois.

Lamar Smith, the Texas representative who first introduced SOPA, isn’t budging though. According to a article, he promises to reintroduce the bill to the House for discussion in February, so at the very least SOPA isn’t going anywhere.

While discussion of both these acts, which many fear could ruin the Internet as we know it, have been going on for months, for some this may have been the first they’ve heard of them. So. what’s so bad about them? Certainly stopping online piracy isn’t a bad thing, right? In theory it isn’t a bad idea, but how do you even define what qualifies as piracy? The legislation, in its original form, was written in a vague enough way that it could potentially be used to put a muzzle on many websites.

SOPA’s main targets are overseas sites like The Pirate Bay, which is a treasure chest of illegal downloads of movies and TV shows. U.S. copyright laws holds no jurisdiction internationally. SOPA would blacklist pirate sites by requiring U.S. search engines, advertising networks and other providers to withhold their services.

According to a CNN Money article, sites like YouTube are worried that they would be forced to more closely police their content to avoid running afoul of the new rules.

An article on features the Recording Industry Association of America explaining that SOPA could be used to deny “access to only the illegal part of the site” that is found to be questionable. Many fear this could lead to sites like YouTube being targeted.

The same article quotes Laurence Tribe, a high-profile Harvard law professor, as saying SOPA is unconstitutional because, if enacted, “an entire Web site containing tens of thousands of pages could be targeted if only a single page were accused of infringement.”

The implications of both acts stretch further than YouTube, but let’s continue to use that site as our example. It is true, a lot of videos on YouTube are blatant re-postings of copyrighted material and it is understandable why the copyright holders would want to stop this, but there are concerns that SOPA would be throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

There’s a good deal of content on YouTube that uses copyrighted material in interesting and creative ways. A popular trend for the last few years has been movie trailer mash up, which will take the audio from one film and match it with another. The better ones are done with a real sense of wit and skill. A recent example of this combines the new “Dark Knight Rises” trailer with “The Lion King” with striking results. If the fears about SOPA are true, the act could potentially put an end to content like this.

Use of copyrighted material in this way falls under fair use which allows for some of the content of a work to be used in a parody. Copyrighted material also falls under fair use in criticism and scholarly work. Using part of a song or video is comparable to quoting a literary work.

I personally encounter fair use issues on YouTube often when posting videos that feature clips of movies I am reviewing. Even though the video falls under fair use, it is flagged. Nothing usually happens and the video still stays up, but with SOPA it could be potentially taken down. Supporters of SOPA say that this is too extreme a reading of the law, but those against it don’t want to even head down a path that could lead to censorship.

The loss or crippling of a site like YouTube would be huge. While for many YouTube is just a 24/7 version of “America’s Funniest Home Videos,” it is also a valuable platform for aspiring filmmakers, animators, actors, musicians and other artists to share their work and opinions. Silencing any part of it would be a tremendous loss.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Fourth 'mission' is great fun

Four movies into a franchise fatigue tends to set in along with diminishing returns financially. With “Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol,” producer and star Tom Cruise truly has done the impossible: He has made a film that may just be the best in the series and that in four weeks has already made nearly $470 million worldwide.

Based on the popular TV series from the 1960s and 1970s, the “Mission: Impossible” films are episodic in nature and that may be the key in helping keeping the series strong 15 years in. Similar to the James Bond movies, each new film is another installment in a series that follows a formula.

The first film, directed by Brian DePalma, captured the dynamic of the show with a focus on a team working together to complete a mission. The second film, directed by John Woo, lost the team dynamic with the film becoming about Cruise single-handedly saving the world. With the third film things got a bit more on track with the teamwork aspect working its way back in, and now with “Ghost Protocol” it is once again front and center.

The new film has Cruise’s Ethan Hunt and his team, including Simon Pegg’s Benji, returning from the third film, Jeremy Renner’s William Brandt and Paula Patton’s Jane Carter, being framed for an attack on the Kremlin. This attack is a cover up to stealing a nuclear device and it is up to this now disavowed team to stop the weapon from being used.

In the past audiences and critics have complained that the plots for the “Mission: Impossible” films, particularly the first one, were needlessly over complicated. Things are straightforward here: Stop nuclear war.

As has been true of all these films, there’s at least one mind-boggling sequence — and “Ghost Protocol” has one heck of a set piece. To complete a key part of the mission, Ethan must scale part of Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building. Cruise really is out there climbing up, running along and swinging from the building. It is a masterful bit of suspense. It may be a cliche to say this, but in this case it is a 100 percent true, the scene truly has you squirming on the edge of your seat.

The success of this sequence and the film on the whole goes to director Brad Bird, making his live action directing debut after having previously directed the animated features “Iron Giant,” The Incredibles” and “Ratatouille.”

“Iron Giant” and “The Incredibles” both had a retro feel to them with robotics, rockets and heroics that emulated the future as people imagined it in the 1950s and 1960s. There’s some of that in “Ghost Protocol.” Knowing Bird’s work, when a rocket is launched it is hard not to think of “The Incredibles.”

The action sequences aren’t cartoony, but there’s a whimsical logic to them that is similar to the sort you see in animated features. Everything that occurs seems plausible, but there’s a certain elegance to the design of action scenes that seems to point to Bird’s time in animation.

Cruise, who in recent years has had his star power questioned following his antics in the public, still makes a viable hero and, in a way, being a bit older enhances the role. In the first film he was brash and cocky, now he’s the veteran of the team with some deep emotional scars. The performance works.

Pegg, the reliable British star of such films as “Shaun of the Dead” and “Hot Fuzz,” provides the film with some levity. Typically a comic relief role can feel gimmicky and forced, but Pegg’s light, dry touch works well here. Pegg’s Benji is new to being a field agent after being an office worker and his excitement is charming and funny.

Renner, the Oscar nominated actor from “The Hurt Locker” and “The Town,” brings some acting heft to the film. The role isn’t completely fleshed out, but Renner is required to play both dramatic and comic moments and does them well. There’s a secret about Brandt’s past that connects to Ethan, and this is the emotional crux of the film.

Patton is the least familiar face in the film, but she is solid as the obligatory female member of the team. As is so often the case with female members of spy teams, she is required to seduce a man (Indian star Anil Kapoor in a very funny cameo). It isn’t much of a role, but it is a relief that she isn’t required to merely fall in love with Cruise.

“Ghost Protocol” is an excellent example of well-crafted, intelligent, popcorn entertainment and, against the odds, is well worth checking out.

Friday, January 06, 2012

Spielberg goes old school with 'War Horse'

In “War Horse,” director Steven Spielberg takes a relatively short children’s book by Michael Morpurgo and expands it into a rousing epic two-and-a-half-hour-long movie. It is an example of majestic film making as only few living filmmakers can do.

Set during World War I, “War Horse,” which was already turned into a successful play in London, is about a boy and his horse and the war that separated them.

The boy is Albert Narracott (Jeremy Irvine) and the the horse is the spirited Joey, who was bought by Albert’s father (Peter Mullan) as a work horse. The film spends a good amount of time in the Narracott farmstead. This is a film that takes its time.

Spielberg is making an old-fashioned film in the style of someone like John Ford. The English countryside of the early scenes bring to mind Ford’s “The Quiet Man.”

Large portions of the film almost play like a silent film only relying on visuals and the music to get across the emotions.The score is sweeping and huge. The visuals have an equally large scope with the camera slowly moving along the beautiful landscapes.

A standout sequence in this early part of the film is Albert and Joey's triumphant plowing of a rocky field during a rain storm.

Albert is the lead human character of the story, but Joey the horse is really the star. Irvine, in his first film, as Albert is solid enough. He’s earnest and sincere and not much more, but that is all the role calls of him. It is Joey’s journey that is the compelling one and it is an extraordinary one.

After Joey is sold into the cavalry he goes for the hands of British captain (Tom Hiddleston), pulling a German ambulance, the adopted hands of a French grandfather and granddaughter (Niels Arestrup and Celine Buckens), back to German hands to pull artillery and eventually back to the British army.

Even though there are war sequences, this is not a film that chooses sides. If there is a villain it is war in general, not the specific combatants. There are no good guys or bad guys. This is best shown in a scene in which a British soldier and German solider work to save Joey from being entangled in barbed wire.

Like Much of Spielberg’s work, “War Horse” plays on a big emotional scale. This isn’t a subtle movie. There aren’t so much characters as types. In lesser hands this would be an issue, but not with Spielberg.

The script by Lee Hall and Richard Curtis is at times hokey or too sincere, but Spielberg is such a strong filmmaker that even in the moments in which you know you’re being manipulated it is hard to not succumb to the emotions at hand. This is a weepy, for sure, with both tears of sadness and joy.

The caliber of the performance also helps sell the more forced moments. Emily Watson as Albert’s mother gives a performance of quiet grace. It is the familiar stubborn, sassy, but loving mother archetype, but she instills the character with real warmth.

Hiddleston, who was so good as Loki in last summer’s “Thor,” also makes a lasting impression as the British captain who promises to take care of Joey. It is small role, but Hiddleston is an actor with tremendous screen presence and likability.

Arestrup is wonderful as the French grandfather. It is a performance full of tenderness and humor.

The film plays almost exclusively on an emotional level rather than intellectual one and is effective in how direct and open it is. The movie is made in a way that is easily accessible and digestible. This is mainstream film making of the highest order.

Paul Allen is hooked on 'Peter Pan'

For Paul Allen, getting to play the role of Captain Hook is a dream that, thanks to Arts in Motion Theater Company, has come true.

“I've loved the mythos of Peter Pan from a young age,” Allen said “My favorite movie of all time is ‘Hook’ and, as a kid, I watched it so much that I wore out my VHS copy.”

Arts in Motion’s production of “Peter Pan: The Musical” opens Friday, Jan. 6, at 7 p.m. at the Leura Hill Eastman Performing Arts Center at Fryeburg Academy in Fryeburg, Maine and is playing again at 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. Jan. 7 and at 7 p.m. Jan. 13, 20 and 21.

The production, which was originally scheduled to be put on in November, has been a long gestating labor of love.

“The rehearsal process has been crazy,” Allen said. “We have a humongous cast, which is something I have never experienced before. ‘Peter Pan’ is a monumental show, and it has been kind of daunting at times. That being said, [director] Glenn [Noble] is so sure of his vision, and believes in us and this material so much that it's hard not to believe in it as well.”

Musical director Mary Bastoni-Rebmann also notes that the production, despite some hardships, has been a positive experience.

“Despite some setbacks, the cast has been dedicated and a joy to watch,” Bastoni-Rebmann said. “The cast is made up of 65 community children and adults and they seem to have thoroughly enjoyed being lost boys, Indians and pirates. It is great to see the local children become so involved in this process and project.”

The lead roles are played by adults with Allen playing across from two different Peters, Natasha Repass and Taylor Hill, who trade off playing the role between performances.

“The adult leads have done a great job embracing their characters,” Bastoni-Rebmann.

Allen has enjoyed playing against Hill for the second time, having previously worked with her on Arts in Motion’s production of “Rent.”

“Taylor and I have great stage chemistry,” Allen said. “We found that out when playing opposite of each other in ‘Rent.’ It has been weird going from lovers to sworn enemies, but it's a fun change of pace.”

But Allen has been equally pleased working with Repass as well.

“Natasha is great,” Allen said. “She's so passionate about the role of Peter, and you can definitely see that in her performance.”

Of his own performance, Allen is harder on himself because he wants to live up to the expectations of a character he loves so much.

“It's so iconic that I'm rough on myself at times,” Allen said. “I'm trying to live up to all the actors who have played him before and live up to the signature Captain Hook that is in everyone's mind. It's a real balancing act between disgustingly evil and effeminately funny.”

Tickets are $12 or $40 for a family four pack and may be purchased online at, at the door or reserved by calling the box office at (207) 935-9232. The box office is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.