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Community Roles Available in GSC Production of ‘The Miracle Worker’

The Free Press WV

Auditions will be held for the upcoming Glenville State College Theater performance of ‘The Miracle Worker’ by William Gibson. They will take place on Monday, March 06 and Tuesday, March 07 at 7:30 p.m. in the Heflin Administration Building Presidents Auditorium. Many roles are available for men, women, and children in the local community.

The play is an inspiring drama, built around the stories of Helen Keller and her teacher, Annie Sullivan. It concentrates on the first month of Sullivan’s move to Alabama, and her struggles with her fears, her past, and the difficulty of teaching a child who has no senses through which to be taught. It also tells the story of a Boston Irish girl facing and adapting to a southern family, and their adapting to her.

The following roles will be open for auditions:

A doctor in his 30’s who treats Helen for a fever; only appears in the opening scene.

Kate, who is Helen’s mother in her early 30’s, lives in the old South; has a large recurring role.

Captain Arthur Keller, a vigorous man in his 50’s; Helen’s father, Kate’s husband, old school Southerner, a Captain in the Civil War; has a large recurring role.

Helen who was struck deaf and blind by a fever she had as an infant; now at the calendar age of seven she rules the household through intelligence and manipulation; the actress could be older than seven, but should be extraordinarily expressive because Helen doesn’t have too many lines; has a very large role.

Martha, a servant child and playmate to Helen; small role.

Percy, a servant child and playmate to Helen, who bullies him; small recurring role.

Aunt Ev, who is Arthur’s sister and in her early fifties; is more concerned with keeping the peace; small recurring role.

James Keller, Captain Keller’s teenage son by his first marriage; comes to a temporary peace with his father and Kate by the end of the play; has a large recurring role.

Anagnos, an instructor at the Perkins Institute for the Blind; he’s been both a teacher and father-figure to Annie; small role, appears in one scene.

Annie Sullivan, who is in her 20’s and is Helen’s teacher; has a severe vision impairment; she’s intelligent, principled, and capable of great love, but not much patience; very large role.

Viney, a servant in her 40’s; Kate’s second-in-command; has a small recurring role.

Blind Girls who are students at the Perkins Institute; Sarah, the youngest, and Beatrice, the oldest, are named; they appear in one scene and all have lines.

A servant and several offstage voices including a doctor, Jimmie Sullivan, and others.

The performances are currently scheduled to take place Thursday, April 20 through Saturday, April 22.

For more information call 304.462.6323.

GSC Theater Presents ‘Nightfall with Edgar Allan Poe’

The Free Press WV

Student actors in the Glenville State College Theatre present ‘Nightfall with Edgar Allan Poe’ by Eric Coble. In this performance, famed American author Edgar Allan Poe defends himself from accusations of madness.

Performances will be held in the Glenville State College Heflin Administration Building Presidents Auditorium at 7:00 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, February 23-25, 2017. The play contains scenes and suggested violence that may disturb some viewers; therefore it is not recommended for young children.

In the play, the famous author speaks about his life, loves, loss, and how he and his characters’ voices echo through the halls of madness. Four tales of subtle horror and obvious terror are brought to life through the vocal and physical explorations and performances.

‘The Raven,’ Poe’s classic tale of a dark and monotonous nighttime visitor, leads off the performances; this is followed by the tortured brother and sister from ‘The Fall of the House of Usher.’ The brave prisoner of the Spanish Inquisition will be haunted forever by his dungeon in ‘The Pit and the Pendulum.’ Finally, the old man with the terrible eye meets his fate in ‘The Tell-Tale Heart.’

The ensemble cast includes (in alphabetical order): Cathy Chambers, Zachary Dotson, Victoria Guillory, Eric Wynnrolf Jones, Andrew Mattox, Chase Rakes, Brittany Robinson, Ceara Scott, Joshua Smith, and Megan Dawn Wright.

The performance is open to the public and is free for GSC students. General admission tickets are $3.00.

For more information, call .304.462.6323.

GSC Theater to Perform ‘The Doctor in Wonderland’

The Free Press WV

Students in Glenville State College’s Theater program invite the public to attend their latest production entitled The Doctor in Wonderland by Don Zolidis. Performances, which will be held in the Heflin Administration Building Presidents Auditorium, will begin at 7:00 p.m. and run from Thursday, December 01 through Saturday, December 03. GSC student Brittany Robinson is directing.

The performance, which is a mash-up of the classic BBC show Doctor Who and Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, features Doctor What and his companion, Cara, who crash their TARDIS into a planet that bears an odd resemblance to a certain 19th century book. While Alice in Wonderland explores the scene from the eyes of a child, this play contains a modern sci-fi adventure and the ensuing insanity.

Featuring favorite Wonderland characters, the play answers burning questions like ‘Does the Cheshire Cat have hairballs?’ and ‘What’s the difference between a White Rabbit and a March Hare?’ to ‘What’s the Catepillar got in that pipe?’ The play is rated PG-13 for a few adult innuendos and some other adult references.

The performance is open to the public and is free for GSC students, faculty, and staff. General admission tickets are $3.00.

For more information, call 304.462.6323.

GSC Theater to Hold Performance

The Free Press WV

Students in Glenville State College’s Theater program invite the public to attend their latest production entitled Apartment of the Feign by Channing Caldwell. Performances, which will be held in the Heflin Administration Building Presidents Auditorium, will begin at 7:00 p.m. and run from Monday, October 17 through Wednesday, October 19.

The play tells the story of an autistic man, Bert, who is alone in the world. He fills his life with imaginary friends because the real people he comes into contact with are a problem: abusive, insulting, and controlling. He is much more comfortable inhabiting the imaginary life in his apartment. The Feign is the play’s word to describe the life of imagination that Bert inhabits.

A young woman who is trying to get away from her drunken boyfriend, hides in his apartment. Liz has lost her brother, who was also autistic, and sets out to help Bert cope with his real world. As they become greater friends, tragedy strikes, and Bert’s world cannot stand up to the pressure.

The play is relatively short, being told in three acts.

The performance is open to the public and is free to GSC students, faculty, and staff. General admission tickets are $3.00.

For more information, call 304.462.6323.

WV Film Office Seeks Vintage Vehicles For Series

The Free Press WV

The West Virginia Film Office is seeking vintage car owners for the filming of an upcoming Netflix series, “Mindhunter.”

According to Pam Haynes, director of the West Virginia Film Office, the series is a crime drama based in the 1970s, so period cars are needed.

There is an open casting call that invites the owners of 1960-1980 model cars to a September 21 filming session in Moundsville. Vehicle owners whose cars are featured on camera will receive payment: $175 for 12 hours parked in the shot, with extra money available if the car is driven in the shot and extra money available if the vehicle owner is cast as a background actor.

“Most of the series will be filmed in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, but West Virginia has landed a few films because of our proximity to Pittsburgh,” Haynes said. “This production is also using the Moundsville prison, and a lot of other productions have used the prison, as well.”

“Mindhunter” is directed by David Fincher, who Haynes said “has a stellar reputation in the film industry.” She said to her knowledge, this is the first time Fincher has filmed in West Virginia.

However, production company Stephen David Entertainment has chosen to film several series in the Eastern Panhandle, including “American Genius,” “Making of the Mob” and “The American West.”

Haynes said large productions support the local economy by spending money on equipment rentals, hardware and paint, lodging and fuel, to name a few items.

“Most productions choose to film where there are incentives to film; they go where the money is,” Haynes said. “In West Virginia, there’s a base tax credit of 27 percent based on the spend. Production companies can receive up to 31 percent if they hire 10 or more West Virginia residents. The more they spend in West Virginia, the better the tax credit they get.”

Those interested in bringing their vintage cars to Moundsville on September 21 can submit photos of their vehicles, along with their name and cell phone number, to .

For more casting opportunities, visit www.facebook.com/mhcpittsuburgh.

Staff writer Mary Stortstrom can be reached at 304.263.8931 x 138 or twitter.com/mstortstromJN.

Did You Know?

The Free Press WV

UPSTART PARTIES UPEND SPAIN ELECTION

The far-left Podemos and business-friendly Ciudadanos parties draw strong support from voters weary of high unemployment and corruption.


WHERE BERNIE SANDERS AND HIS STAFF DISAGREE

The Democratic candidate’s pledge to avoid personal attacks in favor of policy disputes seems to frustrate his aides at times, who have occasionally gone on the offensive on their own.


‘STAR WARS’ DEBUTS WITH GALACTIC $238 MILLION WEEKEND

Walt Disney’s “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” destroys the previous opening record set by Universal’s “Jurassic World,“ which drew $208.8 million.


WHO BENEFITS FROM NEW KIDNEY TRANSPLANT RULES

Patients who are expected to live the longest are getting a better shot at the healthiest kidneys under new guidelines.


WHAT FORMER TOP-SECRET SITE WILL BECOME NEW NATIONAL PARK

The Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington state will offer tours of the site where the world’s first atomic weapons were developed and first full-sized nuclear reactor operated.


NYC HONORS TWO SLAIN OFFICERS

Accompanied by the sounds of bagpipes and sobs, city officials, family members and police pay homage to two officers shot to death in their cruiser last December.


BOMB HOAX LEADS TO AIR FRANCE EMERGENCY LANDING

A fake explosive device forces the jet with 459 passengers to land in Kenya - the fourth such incident for the airline in recent weeks.


MISS UNIVERSE MISTAKE CROWNS COLOMBIA BEFORE PHILIPPINES

Colombian contestant Ariadna Gutierrez Arevalo was already wearing the crown as the pageant’s winner when host Steve Harvey returned to apologize, saying she was the first runner-up.


GAS DROPS TO LOWEST PRICE IN SIX YEARS

The nationwide average cost of a gallon of regular falls 4 cents to $2.06, not seen since 2009.


PANTHERS SURVIVE GIANTS ONSLAUGHT, STAY UNBEATEN

Cam Newton throws for five TDs and Carolina kicks a field goal as time expires to edge New York 38-35 and improve to 14-0.

Gilmer County Schools November 2015 Newsletter

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GSC Theatre to Perform Beauty and the Beast

The Gilmer Free Press

GLENVILLE, WV — Participants in Glenville State College’s Theatre Group are gearing up for their first production of the 2015 fall semester.

They will be performing Beauty and the Beast on Tuesday, September 22, Wednesday, September 23, and Thursday, September 24 at 7:00 p.m. in the GSC Administration Building Presidents Auditorium.

The cast for the performance includes:

  • Katie Miller of Gassaway (Braxton County), West Virginia as Beauty
  • Stephen Boyer of Weston (Lewis County), West Virginia as Beast
  • Robert Hensley of Dundalk, Maryland as the Merchant
  • Sam Edsall of Weston (Lewis County), West Virginia as Wynne
  • Andrew Mattox of Pineville (Wyoming County), West Virginia as Geoff
  • Brittany Robinson of Mabie (Randolph County), West Virginia as Iris
  • Mary Lewis of Harpers Ferry (Jefferson County), West Virginia as Lilly
  • Victoria Guillory of Harpers Ferry (Jefferson County), West Virginia as the Old Woman
  • Tyler Fortney of Elkins (Randolph County), West Virginia as Squire Gregory
  • Jacob Yocum of Elkins (Randolph County), West Virginia as Hector
  • Jeremiah Underwood of Summersville (Nicholas County), West Virginia as The Prince
  • Neysa Brown of Alum Bridge (Lewis County), West Virginia as Beast’s servant
  • Choreography for the play was coordinated by Lindsey ‘Luna’ Acree of Ripley (Jackson County), West Virginia
  • Sets were designed by Samantha Wolford of Buckhannon (Upshur County), West Virginia
  • Lighting and sound were designed by Brandon Nelson of Glenville (Gilmer County), West Virginia


In addition to the evening performances, the group plans to host several elementary schools for daytime showings of the play.

The play is a romantic adventure story with a lot of humor.

Families and small children are welcomed to attend.

For more information contact, GSC Theatre Director Dennis Wemm at or call 304.462.6323.

Movie Review: ‘Chappie’

In “Chappie,” a dystopian robot thriller from South African director Neill Blomkamp (“Elysium”), we’re introduced to an awkwardly stiff humanoid with something funny-looking sticking out of his head.

And that’s just Hugh Jackman, who, along with a ridiculous mullet, plays the movie’s wooden, one-dimensional villain. The real automaton hero — a rabbit-eared police droid that develops artificial intelligence and a streetwise swagger after being adopted by a gang of Johannesburg thugs — is Chappie (South African slang for “young man”). As voiced by Blomkamp regular Sharlto Copley, Chappie is far more human than even his human nemesis Vincent, a muscle-bound soldier-turned-robot-designer who stomps through every scene like one of his automated combat troops.

In the role of a man who will stop at nothing — including allowing the streets of Johannesburg to descend into chaos in order to create more demand for his product — Jackman is simply painful to watch.

But not as painful as it is to contemplate how naively the film treats the concept of artificial intelligence and robotics. Co-written by Blomkamp with his “District 9” writing partner Terri Tatchell, and set in 2016 — that’s right, one short year from now, in a world that’s gone straight to hell! — “Chappie” imagines a universe in which human consciousness is capable of being uploaded to a thumb drive, and where the Internet, that repository of everything from porn to the owner’s manual for the space shuttle — is all one needs to access the entirety of human knowledge. (Never mind that last month I couldn’t find a 1987 episode of “SNL” that I was looking for.)

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“Chappie” is a ball of contradiction. It takes the concept of “Transcendence,” crosses it with the storyline of “RoboCop,” and then delivers it, seemingly, to the target demographic of “Short Circuit.” It is, in other words, simultaneously dumb, hyperviolent and cutesy.

Why, for instance, do Chappie’s “eyes” — represented by eight-bit black-and-white computer graphics that look like the screens of an old Motorola cellphone — narrow cartoonishly to slits when he gets “angry”? Why does he even have eyes, for that matter? Okay, okay, I get the anthropomorphizing. But a scene where Chappie, who is made out of bullet-resistent titanium, is shown getting some kind of tactile pleasure out of petting a dog is beyond illogical.

There’s more pleasure to be had from watching Chappie’s human caretakers, a couple of criminals called Yolandi and Ninja, who find Chappie and try to enlist him as a partner in crime. Played by non-actors Yolandi Visser and Ninja, a South African rap duo who perform as Die Antwoord (or The Answer), the antiheroic characters are the best thing about the movie, despite being largely unsympathetic (i.e.,they’re murderous thugs). They exude a raw appeal that, if not quite charm, is nonetheless highly watchable.

As Deon, the software engineer who wrote the computer code for Chappie, Dev Patel is adequate, if under-used. When he’s wounded by one of Vincent’s walking death machines — a remotely-operated war drone called the Moose — the scene fails to elicit the pathos it might otherwise warrant, simply because Patel is such a cipher. As for Sigourney Weaver, who plays Vincent and Deon’s boss, she turns in a performance that’s almost as heavy-handed as Jackman’s.

Visually, “Chappie” has the cool and expensive look of a video game. It’s adrenaline-stimulating eye candy. Despite Blomkamp’s efforts to make some kind of commentary about the human soul, which the auteur bolsters with his trademark social consciousness — a tone of preachiness that, after three films, has worn out its welcome — the movie exhibits precious little humanity.

Like Chappie, the movie seems human, but has a cold metal heart.

★ ½

R for violence, obscenity, drug content and brief nudity. 124 minutes

Movie Review: ‘Ballet 422’

Don’t expect explosive outbursts or artistic meltdowns in Jody Lee Lipes’s documentary “Ballet 422.” In this chronicle, the process of bringing a new ballet to the stage is never anything but well-mannered.

The work — the New York City Ballet’s 422nd, hence the title — was choreographed by young company member Justin Peck. The 25-year-old had been toiling away among the corps de ballet when a fortuitous workshop uncovered his wunderkind aptitude for choreography. It was decided that the only new ballet in the company’s 2013 winter season would be Peck’s.

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Lipes’s behind-the-scenes look at the creation of “Paz de la Jolla” covers everything from watching the principal dancers master every turn to politicking with the orchestra to designing the costumes.

But, despite the occasional countdown, there’s no sense of tension. Each player has such a grasp on his or her own job that there’s never any question the production will be ready on opening night. The story has all the turmoil of a movie with the full support of City Ballet’s public relations team.

That’s not to say there isn’t joy to be had. The dancing is beautiful, the music is splendid and some scenes are artistically shot. At one point, Peck is shown rehearsing using his smartphone, which is recording his movements. Later, the camera rests behind him as he sits in the theater watching a tech rehearsal. Only the silhouette of his head is in focus; the blurry images of dancers in the background appear to be literally springing from his imagination.

For fans of dance, “Ballet 422” will produce plenty of pleasures. But as with great ballet, great movies always benefit from a little drama.

★ ★ ½

PG. Contains brief strong language. 75 minutes.

Movie Review: ‘Everly’

The story of a female badass fighting an army of thugs sent by the mobster/lover she’s informing on, “Everly” is a B movie, in air quotes. It’s less an homage to the kind of grindhouse films celebrated by Quentin Tarantino than it is a slavish aping of Tarantino’s postmodern oeuvre itself. The “Pulp Fiction” filmmaker’s bloody fingerprints are all over this film’s corpse.

But director Joe Lynch is no Tarantino. His title character — a vessel of female empowerment along the lines of the vengeful bride of “Kill Bill” — is, to put it as charitably as possible, a crock.

Salma Hayek makes for a game but only fitfully entertaining Everly. She’s the kind of character who, in the good old days, used to be known as a gangster’s moll, but who is here referred to as a “#####” — a term that captures, less euphemistically, the transactional nature of her relationship with Taiko (Hiroyuki Watanabe), the Japanese criminal she’s been sleeping with and spying on.

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Setting the nasty tone for the tale, “Everly” opens with the sounds of Everly’s off-camera gang rape by Taiko’s goons. Later, when one of those henchmen (Akie Kotabe) — the only one Everly hasn’t killed in the gun battle following her assault — points out that he didn’t join in, Everly responds, “Should I be offended?”

Yuck.

Though meant to be sardonic (I hope), her comment undermines screenwriter Yale Hannon’s message that female power comes from strength, not sex. Equally retrograde are the six sexpot assassins who, one after the other, burst through the door of Everly’s apartment in a variety of skimpy costumes (such as the Sexy Schoolgirl) before getting killed by the heroine.

Yes, it’s all in good fun. And there’s a certain verve to the way Lynch handles the violence, even if he’s less of a stylist than Tarantino. But the film’s brutality — which includes not only the murder of a dog but also a fetishization of torture that borders on porn — is so excessive, even if tongue-in-cheek, that it leaves a bad taste in the mouth.

Late in the film, one of Everly’s tormentors, a man known only as the Sadist (Togo Igawa), shows up with a bloody, half-naked guy in a cage (Masashi Fujimoto). The caged guy is introduced as the Masochist. But at that point in the movie, you may be forgiven for thinking that was your role.

R. Contains bloody violence and torture, obscenity and nudity. In English, Japanese and Spanish with subtitles.

Movie Review: ‘Road Hard’

Adam Carolla’s brand of humor is particularly suited to the role of the sardonic sidekick or comic foil in talk-show situations. He’s a color-commentary guy, offering wry observations about life, as he did so well on “Loveline” and continues to do on his podcast “The Adam Carolla Show” and his reality series “Catch a Contractor.” Carolla isn’t much of an actor, let alone a leading man, but he tries to be both in “Road Hard,” a tonally confounding comedy that he wrote and directed with Kevin Hench.

The movie bears more than a passing resemblance to Carolla’s life. His character, Bruce Madsen, is famous for being half of the duo behind “The Bro Show,” and his partner-in-crime has moved on to a late-night hosting gig while Bruce’s career has foundered. In real life, Carolla hosted “The Man Show” with Jimmy Kimmel, who now hosts a late-night show on ABC.

But where Carolla has stayed consistently busy, Bruce has found himself back on the stand-up circuit, performing a string of thankless gigs while suffering all the indignities of life on the road, including other people’s carry-on dogs, understocked breakfast buffets and drunk women at bars who offer to perform sexual favors and then proceed to vomit in his hotel room.

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Bruce hates it but keeps going to support his ex-wife and teen daughter, all the while hoping for an easy way out. It would be great if a sitcom gig landed in his lap, for instance, though he doesn’t plan to work too hard to make it happen. In truth, he’s kind of lazy and not particularly likable.

The movie, which is intermittently humorous if never laugh-out-loud funny, flies off the rails in the second half when it shape-shifts into a romantic comedy about Bruce and a woman he meets after one of his shows.

You can make a movie that’s both sweet and crass; just look at Judd Apatow’s comedies. But the mix doesn’t work here, maybe because both the vulgarity and the cheesiness are so amped up. The transition from masturbation jokes — countless masturbation jokes — to scenes of sad-eyed longing is hardly seamless.

If there’s a bright spot in the movie, it’s David Alan Grier, playing a small role as Bruce’s friend who is trying to get his sitcom, “Milk Chocolate,” made. (It’s “Green Acres” meets “Good Times,” he explains.) Grier is a funny guy who also can act. That’s a pretty low bar for a supporting actor, but in “Road Hard” it makes him a champ.

★ ½

Not rated. Contains strong language, nudity and sexual situations. 98 minutes.

Movie Review: ‘The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’

The notorious larcenist known as Maggie Smith continues her diabolical spree of serial scene-stealing in “The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel,” a strident, over-plotty sequel to the 2012 surprise hit about a group of aging British ex-pats who move into a charming Jaipur inn to reinvent their golden years.

The “Second Best” installment finds Smith’s character, Mrs. Donnelly, racing down Route 66 in a snazzy Mustang with her Marigold co-manager Sonny Kapoor (Dev Patel), on a quest to find corporate underwriting for their next ad­ven­ture in elder-hostelry. Asked how she liked America upon her return to India, Mrs. Donnelly dryly quips, “I went with low expectations and came back disappointed.”

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Such are the withering asides, delivered with lethal aim, that make “The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” a fun, if fitfully amusing, diversion, despite being overlong and overloaded with mixed messages, misapprehensions and myriad predictable story lines. Once again directed by John Madden from a script by Ol Parker, the “Second Best” chapter seems aimed at upping the ante in sheer volume and busyness, constantly whipsawing viewers from one character’s arc to another’s. Will Madge (Celia Imrie) finally settle down with one of her two affluent, affectionate suitors? Will Norman and Carol (Ronald Pickup and Diana Hardcastle) finally get the hang of monogamy? Will Doug (Bill Nighy) and Evelyn (Judi Dench) stop hemming and hawing and hook up already?

This fine ensemble of actors manages to enliven even those low stakes with honesty, vulnerability and welcome doses of sex appeal — which also goes for the rep company’s newcomer, Richard Gere, who exudes easy, spontaneous warmth as a last-minute Marigold guest. The putative engine that’s driving the action is Sonny’s engagement to Sunaina (Tina Desai) and their impending nuptials — how else to include the Bollywood dance routine that’s now de rigeur for a film set in India? But the narrative tension that ensues is as weak as the American tea Mrs. Donnelly abhors, and Patel’s overly ingratiating performance quickly palls. Just as with the first movie, what makes the “Second Best” version work at all are the actors older than 35, as well as the splendid scenery and vibrant material culture that shimmers with light, color and rich textures.

Those elements come to life especially when Evelyn walks the Jaipur marketplace in search of fabrics, as part of a new job “liaising” between local artisans and an importer. Most of the Marigold residents have embarked on rewarding new chapters, finding renewed purpose and meaning in careers, romances and philosophical reckonings. It’s no wonder that the “Exotic Marigold” movies have found such love and loyalty from its underserved audience of older filmgoers: Sure, it’s pat and occasionally patronizing and too adorable by half, but it’s also a rare, optimistic portrait of aging that suggests it can be a productive, erotically charged time of life. Thanks to its funny, attractive, emotionally on-point cast, “The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” puts the lie to F. Scott Fitzgerald’s pronouncement about life having no second acts. In fact, it goes one step further to question why on Earth anyone would stop at just two.

★ ★

PG. Contains profanity and suggestive comments. 122 minutes.

Movie Review: ‘Unfinished Business’

For about 15 years now, scientists in the laboratories of Hollywood have been trying to replicate the success of such films as “There’s Something About Mary” and “American Pie” — two movies that, at the twilight of the 20th century, managed to achieve the delicate alchemy of turning base humor into box office gold. Both of those movies found the sweet spot — or, rather, the salty-sweet no man’s land between tender emotion and ##### jokes — that few filmmakers, with the notable exception of Judd Apatow and a handful of others, have been able to consistently hit. (Case in point: “Road Hard,” reviewed on Page 28 of Weekend.)

That’s why “Unfinished Business” is such a pleasant surprise. While by no means a masterpiece, the comedy, by Canadian director Ken Scott, is a careful calibration of crass gags and genuine sentiment that succeeds more often than it fails. It’s hard to imagine a movie that combines a scene set in a gay sex club (featuring numerous shots of male genitalia) with a subplot about parenting, but “Unfinished Business” is that thing.

Somehow, it works.

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The film centers on Dan Trunkman (Vince Vaughn), a businessman struggling to get his small start-up off the ground. Specializing in the sale of metal shavings called swarf — just the word itself is funny — Dan’s company employs a morose 67-year-old named Tim McWinters (Tom Wilkinson) and a borderline developmentally disabled kid named Mike Pancake (Dave Franco, who is far funnier here than his brother James was in “The Interview.”) As with “swarf,” many of the jokes have to do with Mike’s weird last name.

When the opportunity to close a big deal presents itself, these three misfits set out on a business trip that takes them to Berlin, where they encounter Dan’s former boss (Sienna Miller), who is competing for the same contract.

High jinks, as they say, ensue. Along with the aforementioned sex club scene, there is a protracted business meeting in a coed sauna, a bit of sex and drugs, and a running gag about the fact that the only hotel room that Dan can find in Berlin is a glass-walled “American Businessman” installation in a contemporary art museum. Miraculously, these dumb things are all more amusing than they deserve to be.

Most of the credit goes to Scott, who pulled off a similar trick in “Starbuck,” a surprisingly charming 2011 French-language comedy about a man who discovers that, due to a mix-up at the sperm bank where he was once a donor, he is the father of 142 grown children. Scott attempted a repeat with the English remake, “Delivery Man” (also starring Vaughn), but with mixed success. He’s a smart filmmaker, though, and he knows how to mine genuine sweetness, even out of the most vulgar material. Steve Conrad (“The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”) is the screenwriter.

And let’s not forget the cast. Vaughn heads up a strong ensemble that also features Nick Frost and James Marsden as employees of the company with which Dan is trying to do business. Britton Sear and Ella Anderson also shine as Dan’s young children, both of whom are dealing with school bullying while Daddy is away on business. This substantial — and unexpectedly touching — subplot, conducted mostly on video chat, revolves around Dan’s long-distance parenting. Superficially, it has nothing to do with the rest of the story, but it helps to humanize and round out Vaughn’s character in ways that pay off and make us care about him.

Although “Unfinished Business” swerves and wobbles at times, Scott has an assured hand on the wheel. This hybrid vehicle may take an unwise detour here and there — even hitting a mud-filled pothole or two — but in the end you just might find that it’s been an entertaining ride.

Unfinished Business

★ ★ ½

R for a lot of nudity and sexual humor, drug use and obscenity. 91 minutes

Movie Review: ‘Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem’

On paper, “Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem” doesn’t sound like much. Except for a couple of short scenes that take place in a hallway, most of the nearly two-hour film’s action — if that’s even the right word for it — occurs in a room the size of a police interrogation chamber, where the title character has petitioned a tribunal of three Israeli rabbis for a religious divorce, or “gett.” Despite the seemingly uncinematic nature of this inert, even claustrophobic scenario, the film mesmerizes, utterly.

That is in no small measure thanks to Ronit Elkabetz in the title role. The actress, who co-wrote and directed the film with her brother Shlomi Elkabetz, makes for a luminous onscreen presence. Despite a part requiring long periods of silence, her character’s emotions are as visible — and as changeable — as clouds passing in the sky.

It should be noted that there’s no such thing as civil divorce in Israel, where, even today, the termination of a marriage cannot be granted — or even enforced, regardless of grounds — without the husband’s consent. This is true for all Israelis, whether secular or religious. Needless to say, this could lead to some potentially Kafka-esque impasses, if a husband refuses to grant his wife a divorce.

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That is exactly the predicament in which Viviane finds herself at the beginning of this startling and powerful tale. For reasons that are initially rather opaque, her husband Elisha (Simon Abkarian) refuses to accept the dissolution of his loveless 30-year marriage, at times not even showing up for the compulsory hearings. Although Abkarian delivers an obstinate, even malevolent portrayal when his character does deign to answer the court’s summons — over the course of a trial that lasts for years, not months — this is not Elisha’s film. Viviane’s lawyer (Menashe Noy) does most of the talking, but it is Viviane who communicates the film’s central message — a searing indictment of patriarchy — if only with her sadly expressive eyes.

There is, of course, a bit of courtroom drama here and there — even, at times, moments of comedy. The testimony of Viviane and Elisha’s neighbors and relatives, for instance, ranges from the amusing to the melodramatic. Is there something going on between Viviane and her attorney? And is Elisha merely a man of devout, if distorted, principle or a psychotic?

Along with Elisha’s intransigence, the unanswered questions are, at times, maddening. More infuriating, however, is the deadlock that keeps this couple from getting on with their lives. Can this marriage be saved? Are you kidding me? It’s like a rotting corpse that hasn’t been buried yet.

It’s not Viviane who’s on trial in “Gett.” Nor is it Elisha, who’s holding her hostage to some muleheaded notion of propriety. Rather, it’s the system that’s perverse, in the way that it treats wives not like people, but property.

★ ★ ★½

Unrated. Contains some crude language. In Hebrew, French and Arabic with subtitles. 115 minutes.

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