Head of Passes

 

HEAD OF PASSES
PUBLIC THEATER/NEWMAN THEATER
425 LAFAYETTE STREET, NEW YORK

As I took my seat for Head of Passes at the Mark Taper Forum, the new play from Tarrell Alvin McCraney (Oscar winner for Moonlight screenplay), I took notice of the set. Always the first indication of what’s about to unfold, the set depicted a beautiful living room opening to a sunroom suggesting a peaceful family scene. What unfolded was not quite that.

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One More Time to Kill the Pain

I have social anxiety. It manifests itself in different ways, mostly with me avoiding social situations, but also things as simple as trying a new restaurant or going to a party with people I don’t know can stress me out. It’s also getting worse the older I get. As I get more annoyed with myself, I am looking at ways to alleviate this stress. Couple that with my interest in drinking less, something that makes me more social in most situations, and there are signs suggesting I might benefit from an occasional hit of the old hemp.

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American Assassin

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I’m a sucker for a decent action film. I love the choreography of a well-produced fight sequence, or the energy of a crazy car chase. A decent action movie (the pinnacle being the first three Bourne movies or the original Die Hard) playing out on the big screen can be a glorious movie-going experience. American Assassin is not a decent action film by any means. And it probably could’ve been.

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Mother!

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There is a certain style of movie that I just don’t enjoy: esoteric, overly stylistic, solidly metaphorical, presenting a reality only in the surreal. There’s just nothing for me to connect with, and Mother! is precisely this type of movie. It may have worked as a short, but as a full-length feature it seemed designed to punish an audience.

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Ingrid Goes West

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Aubrey Plaza tends to stick to her wheelhouse, but she’s getting better at expanding the limitations that places on her. In her latest film, Ingrid Goes West, she is still dry and aloof, but Ingrid is probably a deeper and darker character than she has played before, give or take her Legion role.

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The Big O

Home, to some extent, is Omaha, Nebraska. It’s where I was born and raised. For those used to flying over the areas referred to as flyovers, it’s in the middle. Like for nearly everything, geographically, demographically, entertainment-wise. Not quite politically. It’s a firm red state, but as one of only two states that split their electoral college votes, it threw one of its votes to Obama (in ’08), the first time it ever actually split the vote in history. Omaha is like a large small town. It has nearly a million people in the metro area, but I can generally run into someone I know going any place. Either I went to high school with them. Or college. Or my dad played softball with their dad. Or. Or. Or. It’s a city without a tremendous identity. It’s a lot of strip malls and average-looking houses with huge yards. Everyone has a dog. Everyone talks about their part of town based on their parish. Everyone bleeds Husker red, the Cornhuskers football team being the unofficial state everything. I only remember one distinct thing throughout the first half of my life I spent in Omaha: I do not belong here.

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Logan Lucky

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It’s a little slow to kick in, but director Stephen Soderberg’s latest heist flick, Logan Lucky, Ocean’s 11 (or 12 or 13) for the redneck set, is a rollicking, spinning ride. Straddling North Carolina and West Virginia, the film follows down-on-his-luck Jimmy Logan (a winning Channing Tatum, who has inexplicably become a strong comedic presence), who cooks up a scheme to rob the vault at a major Nascar race. He enlists the aid of his brother, Clyde (Adam Driver), a one-armed er one-handed vet bartender, and Mellie, (Riley Keough), their baby-sister driver. They also secure the talents of local criminal Joe Bang (a delightful Daniel Craig) and his dimwitted brothers.

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On Top of Mt. Baldy (or I Climbed a Mountain, and I Turned Around)

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Sometimes, the best ideas come from alcohol. Mostly, the worst, but sometimes there’s a keeper in there. And that’s how it started. I was having people over for a BBQ on the fourth of July and while the adults sat on the table watching the kids play beer pong (full disclosure: I had just finished playing beer pong and joined the adults, and the kids to whom I’m referring were all mostly pushing thirty), someone had the grand idea to go climb a mountain. That’s all it was.

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Neighborhood Watched

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Sometimes, excitement can hit you from different places than you expected. I thought my Saturday evening excitement would come from the game night I was about to host, but then the police came to my neighborhood. Now, I’ll be honest, other than the police officers I know, the sight of that uniform doesn’t instill confidence in me. It’s mostly fear, even though I’m white and generally law-abiding, I still have a long-ingrained apprehension when it comes to cops. It may not be fair, but there it is. So, when my neighborhood was overrun by dozens of police officers, I was curious and wary mostly. But let me go back.

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Detroit

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Director Kathryn Bigelow has always been a master at depicting tension and aggression. Previous efforts Zero Dark Thirty and the Hurt Locker, and even going back to Point Break, are all examples of this. Detroit magnifies the tension and aggression in a true story from the 60s that is as relevant and important as it was then. Set amidst the riots in Detroit in 1967, the film focuses on one racially-charged event at the Algiers hotel, when a group of local policemen along with a national guardsman take a group of black men and two white women hostage, resulting in a wave of brutality that is as difficult to watch as it is important to understand.

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