Monday, June 12, 2017

LIZ SMITH: Animal Kingdom

by Liz Smith & Denis Ferrara

Will Tom Cruise's "Mummy" Give Birth to the "Dark Universe?" Also — Chita and Tommy Make Dates ... an all-girl "Julius Caesar" ... Ellen Barkin and Veronica Falcon, the Bad, Bad, (Sexy, Sexy!)  Women of "Animal Kingdom" and "Queen of the South."

“SO Imhotep was sentenced to death not only in this world, but in the next.”

“Maybe he got too gay with the vestal virgins in the temple?”


So goes the chat between two men who have dug up a Pharaoh’s tomb, in the 1932 horror classic, “The Mummy” starring Boris Karloff as Imhotep/Mummy.
IT’S LIKELY that this bit of antique dialogue won’t pop up in the new Tom Cruise version of “The Mummy.” 

For one thing, in this movie the mummy is a woman. Well, I’m sure there have been plenty of other changes, but it’s interesting that they went this way.  Or predictable; what with Hollywood trying to get more on board with female empowerment.  (Sure, Lady Mummy seems a bad lot, judging by the trailers, but she’s also a strong woman — undead, and angry, but let’s not be too judgy. She has her reasons, no doubt.)
We will know today if Tom’s adventures in ancient muslin wrapping, did well at the box-office.  Last Friday, Universal Pictures, which is releasing “The Mummy” was nervous that “Wonder Woman” will top the list again this week. Although Tom Cruise has lost a little luster in the U.S., at age 54, he is still a huge draw in Europe and Asia, and the studio expects to recoup over there. 

A lot is riding on the success of “The Mummy.”  Universal, famed for their monster flicks of the good old days, is planning to resurrect “The Invisible Man” ... ”Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” ... “Frankenstein’s Monster” ... “The Wolf Man” and “Bride of Frankenstein.”
Names such as Dwayne Johnson, Russell Crowe, Javier Bardem, Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp have been tentatively “attached” to some of these projects. (Although after the misery inflicted upon audiences with “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales,” Depp’s attractions are muted at the moment.)

Universal is referring to its planned multi-movie monster-fest as “Dark Universe.”  Fingers crossed that “The Mummy” captures some light at the box-office.  I mean, I’d love to see Angelina Jolie as “The Bride of Frankenstein.”  (And you know that in her version, she’ll do more than scream dramatically for a few minutes, a la Elsa Lanchester in the original — as iconic as that was.)

... CHITA Rivera and Tommy Tune have announced the dates for their much-anticipated concerts for this year and next. “Chita&Tune: Two for the Road” will kick off in Union, New Jersey on September 16th.  The legendary pair will dazzle in New York, Florida, Texas, Oklahoma, Arizona and California.  Additional dates are in the works and will soon be announced. Call 212-819-1133 for further info. 
... “GIRLS, at some time, are masters of their fates ...” That is the catchphrase for a unique new interpretation of Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar.”

(Fans of the Bard know this is a re-working of Cassius speaking to Brutus, in Will’s work about the life and death of Julius, who loved honors and Egyptian queens not wisely but too well.)   

On June 23rd at the Access Theater (380 Broadway) an all-female version of “Julius Caesar” opens.  The great tale of power and envy run amok, is not only played by women, but it is updated to take place in an all-girl high school! (I’m sure William would have appreciated the pubescent perversity.)

This was conceived by Alyssa May Gold and directed by Katie Young. The cast includes Dea Julien ... Violeta Picayo ... Madeline Wolf ... Miranda Cornell ... Alyssa May Gold ... and Amie Tedesco.

To get in on what surely will be another one of those fascinating Manhattan theater events (which sometimes lead to bigger things) visit
... TWO of my favorite guilty pleasures are back. TNT’s “Animal Kingdom” and USA’s “Queen of the South.” 

“Animal ... ” based on a great Australian movie (taken from a terrible true story) tells of a seedy, dysfunctional crime family led by mama Ellen Barkin, in a role she was born to play — harshly sexy, reptilian, repulsive and utterly irresistible. You cannot tear your eyes off her.  She is given great support by the young men who play her sons and nephews, especially Scott Speedman, Shawn Hatosy and Finn Cole.
Ellen Barkin, Scott Speedman, Shawn Hatosy, and Finn Cole in “Animal Kingdom.”
“Queen of the South” another fact-based series, concerns Mexican drug cartels. This is lifted out of the commonplace by the riveting performances of Alice Braga, the up and coming drug queen, and Veronica Falcon, the royal dispenser of cocaine and heroin who is grimly hanging on to her power, by whatever means. Falcon, in particular, is a sultry, slow-mo electric charge of an actress.  In her hands an endearment is an ominous threat, and a threat seems to make men putty in her hands.  She, like Ms. Barkin, is a woman of certain years.  Those years have done nothing but ripen their striking, if un-classic beauty and their talents. 
WITH GRIM amusement I watched both sides of the aisle frantically interpret former FBI director James Comey’s appearance in Washington, D.C. last week. The Left is giddy with delight, practically ushering our current president out the door. 

The Right, has used Comey’s statements to prove their guy is ... just a guy, asking what any guy in power would ask, and anyway, he’s new to politics, an innocent. AND there is no proof of anything technically illegal.

Guess what? Both sides have their points. In fact, the drumbeat that Mr. President is imploding and will be impeached momentarily is a joke. He has BEEN imploding since the first day of his campaign. Imploding got him elected.  His faults are seen as assets to his base.  His millions of fans adore him still.  The day he said, “I could shoot somebody on Fifth Avenue and not lose a vote” was mere prepping for all this. Months ago he cannily advised fans to ignore every single mainstream story and believe only him. They do.

Democrats have a case — all is very shady in Trumpville — but shade and he said/he said won’t remove the president.  It’s time to concentrate more on the daily, little-covered, drip, drip, drip of anti-progressive  GOP policies, rather than hoping that the man in White House is going anywhere soon. (I also fail to see the joy in President Pence.) Endless (and inappropriately gleeful) piling on only assures Trump’s victimhood, which this “strong man” embraces like a swooning arrow-pierced St. Sebastian. 

Oh, and now that Kathy Griffin is out of CNN’s New Year’s Eve coverage, why doesn’t Anderson Cooper just bring on his good friend Andy Cohen

If it is simply a matter of putting the reserved, quick-to-blush Cooper up against a salty contrast as the year ends, Cohen is the perfect pretzel for this job.

Contact Liz here.