Stage and screen

A Monster Calls is a gorgeous, heartfelt fable about letting go of a dying parent

A Monster Calls is a gorgeous, heartfelt fable about letting go of a dying parent

On the surface, A Monster Calls looks a CGI-heavy thrill ride for the YA crowd, and the elaborate special effects involved in bringing one of Great Britain’s ancient yew trees to terrifying life are indeed impressive. But this is no conventional monster movie. It’s a powerfully emotional, intimate parable about the internal struggle between denial and acceptance in a child whose beloved parent is dying of a slow, wasting disease.

Eva Hesse documentary at Upstate Films in Rhinebeck

Eva Hesse documentary at Upstate Films in Rhinebeck

Eva Hesse’s sculptures were different: Though mainly employing latex, fiberglass and plastics as materials, they were messy, complex, organic, out-of-control. Art critic Arthur Danto described her work as “full of life, of Eros, even of comedy.” She died too young of a brain tumor – in 1970, at age 34 – to enjoy the level of critical regard that would eventually attach to her oeuvre, but today she is seen as a pioneer of Post-Minimalism.

La La Land is a lovely, lightweight retro-Hollywood diversion

La La Land is a lovely, lightweight retro-Hollywood diversion

Surprisingly, director Damien Chazelle’s original concept for La La Land – a student film from his Harvard days, titled Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench and developed with then-classmate Hurwitz – was set in Boston. It wasn’t until they adapted it into one of those paeans-to-itself that Hollywood loves so much that they were able to find backers. (The critical and commercial success of Chazelle’s 2014 project, Whiplash, didn’t hurt either.)