CHICAGO – When faced with adversity, the best way around it is to somehow break into song. That is the feeling behind the Brown Paper Box Co.’s “Positively Present: An Uplifting Cabaret,” running April 7th and 8th at Mary’s Attic in Chicago’s Andersonville neighborhood. The event features company member Kristi Szczepanek as host, and presents song stylings by other company members, including Anna Schutz, plus some special guests. For details and ticket information, click here.
Film Review: Odd Times at the Cinema with ‘The Great Wall’
CHICAGO – Taking a concept higher than the Wall that inspired it, and mostly succeeding, “The Great Wall” gets a nod as one of the oddest stories in a long time. Pre-supposedly based on a “legend,” it brings Matt Damon into ancient China to help battle lizard monsters at the Great Wall. Book it.
What makes it work is that it has a “Treasure of Sierra Madre” element to it, that the white European mercenaries are there to get the “black powder,’ the just invented and explosive gunpowder. The raid by the lizard monsters is something out of 1950s sci-fi – they are Creature-from-the-Black-Lagoon like – and would have been better if they didn’t look so cartoony. When I see 10,000 of those beasties coming at me down the valley I don’t care what Great Wall is protecting me, I’m outta there. Matt Damon, however, stays, and despite his character’s previous willingness to move on to the next job, the Chinese fascinate him enough to help in the fight. History meets destiny, or something to that effect.
It is the time of the Song Dynasty in China, approximately 900-1200 AD. Two war mercenaries William (Matt Damon) and Tovar (Pedro Pascal), after fighting bandits all in search of black (gun) powder, finds themselves captured by the Chinese. They do have some information to trade, a severed hand that belongs to a “Tao Tie,” a lizard monster that attacks China every sixty years, according to legend.
When the attack comes, it is overwhelming. Thousands of Tao Ties descend into the valley below the Great Wall of China, and try to breach the barrier. The warriors, including Commander Lin (Jing Tian), are able to fight off the first attack, but they are not sure it they can fight the attacks to come. Another westerner, Sir Ballard (Willem Dafoe), wants to help the mercenaries escape, but William wants to stay and fight.
Weapons Ready: Matt Damon is William in ‘The Great Wall’
Photo credit: Warner Bros.