Author: Jack Rosenthal


An unusually positive reaction for us to an Oliver Stone film. We’d probably give it 5 stars except that Laura Poitras made such an outstanding documentary, “Citizenfour,” that won an Oscar last year. We very much admire Snowden and thus …Read More

The Queen of Katwe

The real-life story of a girl who soars out of muddy Ugandan streets through, of all things, chess. Applause to Disney for producing it, Mair Nair for making it and to David Oyelowo [Dr. King in “Selma”] and Lupita Nyong’o …Read More

Some Catching-Up Reviews

Homeland: How consistently thrilling it has been — up to what next Sunday will be the last of the 5th season.     Spotlight: Probably the best journalism movie ever, even more than “All the President’s Men.” It’s honest, showing …Read More

A Short History of Decay

The first time Holly and I saw “A Short History of Decay” we liked it because we were rooting for Michael Maren, its writer and director. We just saw it again and realize it’s a wonderful film, one that connects …Read More

Casa Valentina

Transvestite, Transgression, Transgender, Transformation “Casa Valentina,” a Manhattan Theatre Club production at the Samuel Friedman Theater. In a word: Revelatory. For us, this work by Harvey Fierstein is more than an affecting play. It’s a documentary about a facet of …Read More

My Brilliant Friend

To anyone who knows Positano, Capri or the Amalfi coast, “My Brilliant Friend,” by Elena Ferrante, Europa editions, comes as a revelation. To all readers, it is a book of quiet, steady power about young women growing up in Naples. …Read More

No Man’s Land and Waiting for Godot

We had a monumental theater experience yesterday that prompts us to urge all VDP diners to do the same: go see a doubleheader at the Cort Theater, with Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen in “No Man’s Land” in the matinee …Read More

Movie Theater Comfort and Convenience

Why, we’ve all wondered, hasn’t someone made it possible to reserve seats at a popular movie instead of having to get to the theater 30 or more minutes early to ensure a decent seat? Well, someone has. The AMC theater …Read More

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater

Dance of course has the power to touch the senses. The program we saw Thursday night touched the heart, and in ways that could not be more different. “Memoria” was the late Alvin Ailey’s 1979 celebration of the life of …Read More

Bad Jews

At the Laura Pels (Roundabout) Theater. Bad headaches was more like it, which is what this claustrophobic play gave us after 100 minutes of what seemed like nonstop screaming. The characters, and main prop, are blunt metaphors. Worse, the dialogue …Read More

My Promised Land: The Triumph and Tragedy of Israel

I was born in Tel-Aviv when it was still part of Palestine and have tried ever since to understand the birth and life of Israel. After reading this book, I realize that my understanding feels as though rendered in crayon. …Read More

Double Rarity: Tartt and Art

Fortuity, thy name is Goldfinch. New Yorkers are now blessed with the possibility of reading Donna Tartt’s majestic new novel of that name and also seeing that eponymous painting at the Frick Collection, part of its new Vermeer, Rembrandt and …Read More


We’re eager to join Howard Morgan and Ken Roman in applauding this work by a Saudi film maker, a young woman no less. One could describe it as a small drama in the life of a near-adolescent girl — but …Read More

Enough Said

How much did we like this movie? Enough to see it a second time within days! And even then, it has stayed with us for days. Nicole Holofcener is the accomplished director of this slice of ordinary life for two …Read More

Love’s Labour’s Lost

At the Public Theater/Shakespeare in the Park. If you’re going to update Shakespeare, why not go all the way — and boy, the Public sure does that in this second production of the season in the Delacorte Theater. Alex Timbers …Read More

Fruitvale Station

“Fruitvale Station” left us nearly in tears, cathartic tears and we sat stunned in our seats through all the credit crawl. This true story of a murder in Oakland would have opened a window into racial reality even in a …Read More

Monkey: Journey to the West

At the Lincoln Center Festival through July 28. It’s amazing. How? Let me count the ways: Animation, good in its own terms, but then spectacularly well integrated with live-action performances. Performances covers a spectrum of talents: broad comic acting, strong …Read More

Nobody Loves You

At Second Stage Theatre. Parody is easy but can easily turn into a repetitive one-trick pony. This lively little musical, parodying reality dating shows like “The Bachelor,” is sophisticated enough to have kept us laughing till the end. The performances …Read More

Ken Price

At the Metropolitan Museum. We went to see this lifetime retrospective for a superb California ceramic sculptor for, it turned out, three reasons. One, we were just about the last visitors decorated with the traditional tin buttons, aqua in our …Read More

El Anatsui

At the Brooklyn Museum. El Anatsui is a Ghanaian-born artist who for years has worked out of studios in Nigeria making sculpted constructions, which is a wan way of describing his work. It has only recently been recognized as a …Read More

Red Sparrow

By Jason Matthews. Though neither of us is a fan of spy novels, we were entranced by this one, by someone who worked for the CIA for 33 years. Entranced and also astonished that it got agency clearance considering its …Read More

Half of a Yellow Sun

By Chimamanda Adichie. I just caught up with this novel. To say “novel” does not do it justice. She brings to life a profound moment in history, the Biafra war of 1967-70 that raised horror around the world. It was …Read More

The Brightest Day — Turrell at the Guggenheim

June 21 was not only the longest day of the year but, with the opening of the James Turrell show at the Guggenheim, it was also the brightest.  It was, as the critics say, an immersive experience, looking up, up, …Read More

Frances Ha

Even in black and white, Greta Gerwig is such a luminous, likable figure on screen that she would have had my complete attention no matter what.  But her story portrays the life of young singles in New York with all …Read More

The Great Gatsby

We finally saw it and had differing opinions.  The early scenes of grandiose decadence repelled us both: excess to the extent of self-parody. After that, Holly thought the pared-down narrative worked well and she, who read the book several times, …Read More

All That Is

By James Salter.  Quite likely the last novel by this master.  It includes some memorable set pieces, like the suicidal mission of the Japanese dreadnaught Yamato at the end of World War II, told with the  precision and economy of words that …Read More

Museum of Jewish Heritage

 This museum offers a remarkable exhibition, “Against All Odds,” about the ordeal of Jewish refugees trying to escape to America from Nazi Germany.  Starting with the simple, inspired mise en scene of paper, paper, paper, it’s superbly done and had Holly in …Read More

On Your Toes

Encores! at City Center. It’s too late to urge buying tickets — the show closed last Sunday — but not too late to pay tribute to the pleasure that exceptional talent can extract from a thin musical. Ben’s fine account …Read More

42 – The Jackie Robinson Story

Yes, as the mainstream critics have said, this is a first-rate film about how Branch Rickey brought Jackie Robinson to major league baseball. The strong performances by Chadwick Boseman and Harrison Ford give a documentary cast to the movie, showing …Read More

New York City Transit Museum

Schermerhorn and Boerum Place, near Livingston Street in Brooklyn.  A succession of surprises, starting with the entrance.  At first, we couldn’t find it anywhere near the subway stairs at that corner.  Then it dawned us:  the entrance, appropriately enough, is the subway stairs, …Read More

A Short History of Decay

We just saw an advance screening of this new movie by Michael Maren and it leaves us urging one and all: as soon as it’s out, see it. We would have cheered this movie if only because its creator is our …Read More

The Invisible War

We thought we understood the dimension of violence against women in the military – until we saw this documentary at a Women’s Foundation screening Thursday night.  It shows  a succession of women brave enough to lend their voices and their …Read More

St. Matthew Passion

Music on Madison at the Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church.  Whatever one’s religion, to hear this is to believe in at least one miracle, the music of J.S. Bach.  What a moving example this is of the power of genius and …Read More

It’s a Bird… It’s a Plane… It’s Superman

The 47 years since this comic book musical flopped on Broadway have given it a big, warm dimension: nostalgia.  Though still a silly confection, the Encores! production at City Center was sweetened by skilled comic acting and strong voices.  For those …Read More


A rustic little Italian restaurant about three minutes away from the Cherry Lane Theatre.   Even before the food arrived, Holly and Bonnie Strauss said they wanted to move in.  After the food arrived, Roger Gould and I said we …Read More