JOAN OF ART: THE END OF A CINEMATIC SAGA, MATTHEW BOURNE'S SWAN LAKE, AND THE JELLICLES ARE BACK (MEOW)

Well first I have to say, besides reviewing films, I'm in the Writers Guild so this is the time of year I've seen so many films that they are all starting to blend together except for a few outstanding ones, which I've mentioned in my columns in the past.

To remind you: FORD VS. FERRARI, 1917, THE JOKER, THE IRISHMAN, THE FAREWELL, WILD ROSE, MARRIAGE STORY, AD ASTRA, CAPITAN MARVEL, AVENGERS END GAME, CATS, JO JO RABBIT AND DOLEMITE IS MY NAME are some of the films that I absolutely loved. There are probably many more but that's all I can remember right now.

Okay so this week I have to start off with the film that everybody has been waiting to see...STAR WARS: THE RISE OF THE SKYWALKER directed by J. J. Abrams. To my surprise this film (which I saw yesterday), which is the last one in this beloved epic, has gotten very mixed reviews. In fact some critics have downright hated it. I am not one of those critics. I actually loved it.

The film stars Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega and Oscar Isaac. Of course, C-3PO, Chewbacca, BB-8 are also back along with a few new characters. Basically it doesn't matter what I or anyone says about this movie. If you're a fan you will see it. If not, then you won't.

Personally I think you will walk out of the theatre satisfied and in my case teary eyed because in the end, it's about friendship and good vs. evil with good winning out. Something that I'm sure, considering what is going on in our country now, you all can relate to.

STAR WARS; THE RISE OF THE SKYWALKER opens in theaters this Friday, December 20th. Love to know what you think.

Next up and on a totally different note is Matthew Bourne's beautiful, mesmerizing, amazing SWAN LAKE playing at The Ahmanson. This is a spectacular production that will make you laugh, dazzle you and make you cry tears of joy.

The choreography is absolutely stunning. Bourne keeps the iconic elements of the original production loved by millions around the world, but he creates an exciting reimagining of this classic. It is thrilling, audacious, and emotional. This SWAN LAKE is perhaps still best known for replacing the female corps-de-ballet with a menacing male ensemble which shattered conventions turned tradition upside down and took the dance world by storm.

It won an Olivier Award in the UK and three Tony's on Broadway. Matthew Bourne's powerful interpretation of Tchaikovsky's masterpiece is a passionate and contemporary SWAN LAKE for our time.

For tickets and more information go to CenterTheatreGroup.org. It plays through January 5th, 2020. The Ahmanson is located at 135 North Grand Avenue, Downtown LA, 90012.

I have seen the show CATS three times...Once on Broadway. Once in Los Angeles at the now closed Schubert Theatre and once in Vancouver. My poor husband hated it the first time he saw it with me in New York, but somehow I convinced him to see it with me two more times. It didn't make any difference. He still hated it.

Now the film CATS is opening and I saw it yesterday. (Yes I did a double feature.) and I thought it was so unique, beautiful, touching with amazing choreography and beautiful acting and singing. All I wanted to do after is go home and hug my cat.

Tobe Hooper directed and it's based on T. S. Eliot's poetry collection 'Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats.' Lee Hall and Tom Hooper wrote the screenplay with music by the great Andrew Lloyd Webber.

The film stars Judi Dench, James Corden, Jason Derulo, Idris Elba, Jennifer Hudson, Ian McKellen, Taylor Swift, Rebel Wilson and newcomer Francesa Hayward. The story is simple and yet it's not. A tribe of cats must decide yearly which one will ascend to the Heaviside Layer and come back to a new life.

The most famous and one of the most beautiful songs ever written is MEMORY and I have to admit, I kept waiting for Jennifer Hudson to sing this incredible piece of music. Now I am a very big fan of hers, but truly I did not like the way she sang the song. Not sure if it was the director's idea or hers. Having said that, if you are a fan of CATS you will love the film.

CATS opens in theatres this Friday, December 20th.

California natives QUITAPENAS will bring a tropical Latin heat to the holiday season at Union Station’s final Cocoa Concert on Friday, Dec. 20, at 6:30 p.m. on the South Patio, in collaboration with Metro Art Presents.

QUITAPENAS delivers a rhythmic contagion with a unique combination of Afro-Latin music. Inspired by música tropical y bailable, each song echoes a remix of history with a nod to the music of Angola, Peru, Colombia and Brazil. The band, whose name translates “to remove worries,” will have guests dancing their holiday cares away all evening.

Having lived in Peru, Columbia and Brazil for two years I am a very big fan of this genre. You can't help but feel happy while listening and moving to these incredible sounds.

The festive, family-friendly holiday celebration will transform the station into a winter wonderland featuring live music, Cocoa Bars with Elftenders, Santa selfies and a Candy Cane Lane where a custom neon photo-op will make your season bright alongside a soaring Candy Cane Queen and holiday-themed arts, crafts, interactive games and entertainment.

I'll be here Friday, dancing the night away and I suggest you all come down and join me.

For additional information go to UnionStationLA.com.

Whatever you chose to do this weekend and upcoming week, I want to wish you all a very happy, fun, joyous and loving holiday and New Year. Hopefully all the hatred and anger of 2019 will end and 2020 will bring about a new way of doing things...a way that helps mankind, helps the planet and helps all the creatures on Planet Earth.


JOAN OF ART - A Musical About Love, Winter Fun in Downtown LA, A Thousand Lights at Union Station and A Poignant, Raw, Beautifully Written, Directed, and Acted Film

After you have stuffed yourselves with delicious food, and visited friends and family, here are some fun things you might want to do that does not include eating or shopping.

First up is the return of LOVE ACTUALLY LIVE at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts. This is their biggest, record-breaking hit of the holiday season. The multimedia concert celebration of one of the most beloved holiday films of all time is back by popular demand, now as a not-to-be missed Los Angeles tradition.

The team behind LA's award winning series For the Record transforms the theatre into an immersive cinema, where the modern classic written by Richard Curtis is reborn as a revolutionary stage and screen event.

To tell the story, the film and live action seamlessly intertwine throughout the London setting. Iconic scenes on screen share the stage with an all star cast of singers and a 15-piece orchestra as they reimagine the film's hit soundtrack including 'Christmas is All Around' and 'Trouble With Love.'

'Love Actually Live' is a first-of-its-kind theatrical cinema experience. The show runs from November 27th - December 29th. To purchase tickets and for more information visit TheWallis.org/Love or call 310-745-4000.

The Wallis-Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts is located at 9390 North Santa Monica Blvd. in Beverly Hills, 90210.

Next up is something fun for the whole family and one of my favorite things to do...ICE SKATING...Growing up in New York City once the winter was upon us, you could find me with my white skates with pink pom poms ice skating at New York's famed Rockefeller Center. It was always a magical, super fun experience even when I'd fall on my butt which I did more times than not.

Now you can lace up your skates and have the same experience as I did at PERSHING SQUARE HOLIDAY ICE SKATING RINK.

Open daily as of November 14th 2019 until January 20, 2020, you won't want to miss this magical winter wonderland that promises to delight all people of all ages. So grab your family, friends, co-workers or a date and visit The Bai Holiday Ice Rink at Pershing Square for festive fun and unforgettable memories.

The is their 22nd Anniversary Season so you know they're doing something right. Also every Tuesday throughout the rink, the season will be dedicated to FROZEN. Ice rink lights will be predominantly blue and every third song played will be from the FROZEN'S original Broadway Cast Recording at 7pm, 8:30pm and 10pm.

For more information go to HolidayIceRinkDowntownLA.com. or call 313-624-4289.

 

Speaking of Downtown, at Union Station THOUSANDS OF LUMINOUS LIGHTS are setting the stage for a month long holiday celebration which started on Thursday November 21st.

The holiday season Union Station's historic south patio will be transformed into a hub of holiday entertainment with a Luminous Holiday Light Display, a Tree Lighting Ceremony, illuminating a towering tree with thousands of glistening lights as snowdrifts from the sky fall to welcome the holiday season.

Additionally, the station's iconic clock tower will be adorned with a massive 20 foot wide wreath. There will be a month-long series of eclectic Cocoa Concerts and a Holiday Festival and Artisan Market featuring a distinctive diverse performers, artists and artisans from across Los Angeles.

The Union Station Holiday Festival, a pop-up artisan market, rolls into the station's south patio on Saturday December 7th from 10am to 6pm with more than 40 of L.A.'S most sought after artists and artisans, live entertainment, a Beer Garden, food truck favorites and fun, free activities for the kids.

The Cocoa Concert series continues on Friday, December 6 at 6:40pm (Latin beats from the Congas ), Friday, December 13th, 6:30pm (The singing sounds of the HI-FI HONEYDROPS AND Friday, December 20th, 6:30pm (Special Guests to be announced).

There will also be Santa selfies, a Candy Cane Lane where custom neon photo-op will make your season bright alongside a soaring Candy Cane Queen and holiday-themed arts, crafts and interactive games and entertainment.

I'm taking my eleven year old niece there next weekend and I'm probably going to have just as much fun as she will. For additional information on holiday events at Union Station, check out 'happenings' at UnionStationLA.com.

Lastly I high recommend one of my favorite films of the year MARRIAGE STORY, written and directed by NOAH BAUMBACH, who is also one of my favorite screenwriters. This 2019 films stars the fantastic Scarlett Johansson and the equally fantastic Adam Driver along with the wonderful Laura Dern, Alan Alda, Ray Liotta and Julie Hagerty.

The film follows a married couple going through a coast to coast divorce. You can see it in theaters around town and it will also be streaming on NETFLIX starting on December 6th. The film received widespread critical acclaim particularly for Baumbach's screenplay and direction as well as the acting of Johansson, Driver and Dern.

MARRIAGE STORY is at times funny, extremely raw and deeply emotional. Driver plays a successful theatre director in New York City. His theatre company is currently producing a play that stars his wife Nicole (Johansson) a former teen film actress. That's all I really want to say about it except that I promise, you will be thinking about this film long after the credits end. I know I was.

I wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving. It's one of my favorite holidays even though I'm a staunch vegetarian. For me it's all about getting together with people that I love and sharing what we are all thankful for. I hope that you all besides having fun and experiencing delicious food, take a moment and reflect on all the things in your life that you are grateful for.