Movies Till Dawn: Getting Dark

*indicates that the film is also available to rent, buy, or stream on various platforms.

Master Gardener” (2022, Magnolia Pictures*) Joel Edgerton tends to wealthy Sigourney Weaver’s sprawling garden (and to Weaver herself) by day and to his own troubled psyche at night, until the arrival of Weaver’s grandniece (Quintessa Swindell) upends their carefully constructed thicket of emotional reserve. Transformation and redemption of a solitary man by Paul Schrader, who places “Master Gardener” in a sort of loose trilogy with his recent (and equally solid) “First Reformed” and “The Card Counter”; like those films, this is thorny material (pun intended) and eventually comes down to violence (Schrader wrote “Taxi Driver,” “Last Temptation of Christ,” etc.). As with those films, it’s never gratuitous or particularly cathartic; Schrader carefully stacks the deck for his characters until an explosion of sorts, and its accompanying fallout, is all that remains for options. Magnolia’s Blu-ray is widescreen.

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Photo Gallery: The Million Mrs. Roper Romp Saturday in Santa Monica

The Million Mrs. Roper Romp. Photo by Mike Guerena.

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“Frankenstein 1930” Theater Review

Halloween season is upon us and the audience was in full force at last night’s preview of “Frankenstein 1930” at the Long Beach Playhouse’s Mainstage Theater, running Sept. 23rd to Oct. 21st.

Young and old alike crowded the seats to house capacity in giddy anticipation of the theatrical adaptation of the 1931 Universal classic with a large, ensemble cast.

The production was led by director David Scaglione, who also created the excellent scenic design. Stage blocking and making use of the entire thrust stage and aisles made for an immersive audience experience, although his “Directors Notes” in the program was inexplicably riddled with errors and misinformation.
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Chef Stephanie Izard’s Chili Crisp-Inspired Collab with Hidden Valley Ranch

Image credit: Galdones Photography

This Little Goat, created by Chef Stephanie Izard (Girl & the Goat, Cabra), has just launched its newest condiment. Created in collaboration with Hidden Valley Ranch, Ranch Chili Crunch merges the umami blast of Chili Crunch’s gochugaru chilis, fried garlic, puffed quinoa, and sesame oil with the zest of Hidden Valley Ranch’s classic seasoning mix. 

You can use Ranch Chili Crunch to add a kick to an ordinary bowl of ramen, elevate chicken wings, spice up scrambled or deviled eggs, add dimension to noodles or pizza, and more. 

This is just the latest in a series of interesting collaborations that Hidden Valley Ranch, dating back to 1954, has been involved in. This past March, they created a limited-edition ranch-flavored ice cream with Van Leeuwen ice cream.

This Little Goat’s Ranch Chili Crunch goes on sale on September 20. Found exclusively on This Little Goat’s website, this limited-edition chili crisp-style condiment is available only while supplies last. 

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The L.A. Times Night Market Returns This Weekend!

The L.A. Times Food Bowl Night Market is back! Now in its seventh year, The Times’ Night Market is bigger than ever, with three weekend days of food and drink festivities, from September 22-24.

Night Market is a unique opportunity to experience the enormous range of cultures and cuisines that make up LA’s diverse food scene… all in one place. Set at a historic spot – the backlot of Hollywood’s Paramount Studios – you’ll encounter unlimited tastings from more than 120 restaurants, live cooking demos from world-renowned chefs and culinary personalities, DJs, and more.

Friday night’s event, “Fiesta Friday,” will focus on restaurants and cocktails from Mexico, the Caribbean, and beyond. Bricia Lopez (co-owner of Guelaguetza and esteemed cookbook author) and Danny Trejo (actor, restauranteur, and activist) will be on The L.A. Times Food Stage for live demonstrations. Among the dozens of restaurants sharing samples: Holbox, Guelaguetza, Chichen Itza, Villa’s Tacos, Caviar Kaspia, Kogi BBQ, Fishing with Dynamite, Bridgetown Roti, East Side Cheesecakes, Ceviche Stop, Nossa Caipirinha Bar, and much more.

“Saturday Night Flavor,” on September 23 will include live on-stage demos from Food Network personality Aarti Sequeira, Chef Thitid “Ton” Tassanakajohn (chef/owner of Le Du in Bangkok, Thailand), Justin Pichetrungsi (chef/owner, Anajak Thai), Ahmad Alzahabi, a.k.a. “The Golden Balance”, and Nick DiGiovanni (author of “Knife Drop.”). Participating restaurants include Girl & the Goat, Camphor, Chao Krung, Tuk Tuk Thai, n/soto, Kinn, Sichuan Impression, STK Steakhouse, The Brothers Sushi, Osteria Mamma, Poncho’s Tlayudas, Salt & Straw, Loreto, Broad Street Oyster Company, and much more.

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John Waters Gets His Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame!!!

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Movies Till Dawn: All Points on the Map

*indicates that this title is also available to rent, purchase from, or stream on various platforms.

Black Circle” (2018, Synapse Films*) A self-help record from the 1970s which promises to reduce the negative elements in the listener’s life proves accurate for sisters Felice Jankell and Erika Midfjall, albeit with one unsettling side effect: said negative elements manifest as doppelgangers of the listener that gain more power with every spin of the LP. Mexican-Swedish horror from Spanish director Adrian Garcia Bogliano plays a neat trick with two well-worn genre tropes – the Undying Influence of the Forbidden Object (see: M.R. James, Clive Barker, etc.) and the Secret Danger of Cult Thought – and merges them together in a largely cohesive and creepy film; the disorienting audio/visual palette is its chief selling point, though Eurocult fans will appreciate the presence of ’60s/’70s era exploitation star Christina Lindberg as the record’s creator. Synapse’s Blu-ray includes commentary by Bogliano, who’s also featured in an interview with Lindberg; the disc also includes a making-of featurette, Bogliano’s short “Don’t Open Your Eyes” (on which “Black Circle” is based), and a CD of Rickard Gramfors’ unnerving score.

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“As You Like It” theater review





For those who are not particularly fans of Shakespeare, the bugbear is always the same: “I have no clue what they’re talking about!”

The immortal Bard’s poetic dialogue can indeed be daunting for some. It’s definitely flowery and verbose and can even be damned wordy and difficult at times to comprehend or follow. That being said, audiences checking out the Long Beach Playhouse’ current Shakespeare offering of his classic “As You Like It”( on the Studio Stage upstairs) will have no trouble thoroughly enjoying this delightful comedy set in 1955 Manhattan.

Standout direction by Michael Hernandez-Phillips keeps things moving quite well in spite of the two and a half hour running time. Excellent blocking and utilizing of the playing spaces with an ensemble cast that fills every square inch of the stage.

A very cleverly designed set design by Spencer Richardson is employed to full effect by most of the cast who all double as valued stagehands in moving set pieces, backdrops and the like around to coincide with each scene. Kudos for the teamwork that made the dream work!

Costume and wardrobe design Christina Bayer and team is equally on par with the proceedings. Everyone looks terrific and right out of the “Mad Men” TV show or a beatnik coffeehouse of the era.

Comprising the cast are many veterans of the Long Beach Playhouse and newcomers alike. David Clark Hutchison, Zion Aguilar, Jessica Plotin, Marco Estrada, Jared Gaxiola, Jacob Gerard Caldwell and Taylar Ann all play multiple roles and are never wasted in each respective role. There are quiet moments and, of course, bombastic moments applied equally with relish for the front seats and the back row. Lots of fun with much physical comedy that completely serves the play. Well done to all!

Standout performances by the lead cast are Andy Justus in the role of Oliver. His choreographed fight is great and his zeal is present in every scene! Zion Aguilar plays two roles but his Jaques is romantic and passionate whether quoting poetry or spitting out his contempt. Really fun to watch and his French accent is right on point.

Ryan Hollon is a joy to cheer on with her endless enthusiasm for Shakespeare as the dialogue rolls off of her tongue, matched with a humor that completely “gets” how to perform the Bard. Ben Trotter has the weight of playing “the straight man” as his long suffering Orlando patiently waits at the feet of love and its infinite possibilities of a happy future, but his performance is never boring as it propels the plot forward.

Courtney Johnson and Skylar Alexis respectively command their portrayals of Rosalind and Celia in their own right, but their stage time is so intertwined that it’s hard to come away with anything but that these two characters have known each other for so long that they can practically finish the others’ sentences. It’s magnificent to watch Johnson and Alexis; their razor sharp timing, the business of LISTENING when the other is speaking or the silent movements of each actress in moments where the focus is not on them. These two are total pros and THAT good in what they’re doing. There’s no doubt that each of them will hit loftier heights in their acting careers.

Whether you like Shakespeare or not, do yourself a favor and see this charming production at the Studio Stage. You’ll come away with a much larger appreciation for good local theater, a solid ensemble cast and how easily they’ll convince you that you suddenly became a Shakespeare fan.


Playing in the Long Beach Playhouse’s Studio Theater

As You Like It

By William Shakespeare

Sept. 2 – Sept. 30, 2023

Directed by Michael Hernandez-Phillips

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Pete Shelley, The Buzzcocks, Boston, November 1980. Photo by Michael Grecco.

Set the date for Thursday, September 14, 2023, in Beverly Hills for two Los Angeles-based fine art photographers (and partners), Michael Grecco and Elizabeth Waterman, and their opening night receptions at the Leica Gallery LA in Beverly Hills.

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Uncover The Meaning Of Life House In The Ten-Disc Super Deluxe Edition of Who’s Next

What is Life House?

Does Life House exist? If it does, what exactly is it?

What is the meaning of Life House?

These are questions that Who fans have asked since first hearing it described by Pete Townshend in interviews from the year 1971. Today, lots of people claim to know exactly what it was, and what the artist’s intent was, though these people can’t seem to agree on much. They don’t even agree on this question: Does Life House bloody exist?

How can a thing that thousands upon thousands have contemplated at length be said not to exist? But if it does exist definitively, what is it? And does this new ten-CD boxed set, with an additional BluRay disc of HD audio, get us any closer to a final answer? It has Life House in the title, so is this finally it? Or is it just “Who’s Next plus extras, with all the songs recorded after Tommy, that didn’t end up on Quadrophenia”? Can it be said to contain the completeness of the Life House thing that was never properly produced? Continue reading

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