Author: Jean Vanderbilt

Dead Poets Society

I saw, in previews, the play “Dead Poets Society,” directed by the marvelous John Doyle. It is taken from the film of the same name with Robin Williams. Here the role is played by the better, to my mind, Jason …Read More

The Cherry Orchard

I am sorry to report that the Roundabout Theater’s production of “The Cherry Orchard” is a big disappointment. It stars Diane Lane as Madame Ranevskaya, Joel Grey as the old retainer, and John Glover as her brother. A minimal set …Read More

White God

I saw and was overwhelmed by a Hungarian movie called “White God.” I watched it with a knot in my stomach. It is about a dog; the cruelty that is unleashed on the animal is difficult to watch and is …Read More

The Kingdom of Ice

  In my car I listened to a book I really enjoyed, “The Kingdom of Ice,” written by Hampton Sides. It is about a polar expedition in 1881, once again to find the Northwest Passage, but this time it attempted …Read More

On The Town

  I saw “On The Town” last night. The high point is the opening number — three sailors dancing and singing “New York, New York, it’s a helluva town” against a backdrop of the Brooklyn Navy Yard. The blast of …Read More

Les Fêtes de l’Hymen et de l’Amour, ou Les Dieux d’Égypte,

A warning. This is a more than usual subjective review. I went to the Rose Auditorium at Jazz at Lincoln Center to see the Lafayette Operas production of Les Fêtes de l’Hymen et de l’Amour, ou Les Dieux d’Égypte, a …Read More

Love is Strange, My Old Lady, Calvary

Three quick movie reviews. First is “Love is Strange,” starring John Lithgow and Alfred Molina as aging gay men who get married. The Molina character works as choirmaster at a Catholic school. Although the church tolerated the two men living …Read More

The Son

I listened to “The Son” by Jo Nesbo on CDs on my car. It is so good and so gripping that I wanted to keep on driving to Utah until I had drained every last word and plot twist. The …Read More


Loved the movie. Never saw so much food; way more than any French film and “Heartburn” combined — guaranteed. It is about a chef, played by Jon Favreau, who wrote and directed it, working in a fancy California restaurant owned …Read More

Only Lovers Left Alive

I recently saw “Only Lovers Left Alive,” a soi-disant British-German romantic drama vampire film written and directed by Jim Jarmusch. It stars Tilda Swinton, with masses of hair, and Tom Hiddleston, his handsome face never seeing a smile. They are …Read More


  Not expecting to like it on a gloomy day, I took myself to “Noah,” a ferocious movie that stunned me. Directed by Darren Aronofsky and starring Russell Crowe, he of the almost Richard Burton voice, it is an epic …Read More

Afternoon of a Faun: Tanaquil le Clercq

I saw this charming film, “Afternoon of a Faun: Tanaquil le Clercq”  at the Film Society of Lincoln Center. The ballet was first choreographed and danced by Nijinsky to scandalous acclaim. Later, Jerome Robbins’ version at New York City Ballet …Read More

La Grande Bellezza (The Great Beauty)

I sat through “La Grande Bellezza” the other night. I really liked three fourths of it until my bottom started complaining. It is a Rome I wouldn’t recognize, few and quiet cars, beautiful like an opera set, but oh so …Read More

Celebrity Autobiography

Last night, I went to a tiny second-floor theater, the Triad, at 158 West 72nd (Broadway & Columbus). It seemed we entered through a Turkish restaurant. The venue is not for the claustrophobic. All this to see “Celebrity Autobiography,” a …Read More

A Story Lately Told: Coming of Age in Ireland, London, and New York

Being a devotee of books-on-CDs in the car as I barrel in and out of New York, I am reporting on my last book heard, “A Story Lately Told,” by Angelica Huston and read by her. The beginning is the …Read More

Six by Sondheim

I was thrilled by “Six by Sondheim” on HBO. Just loved it. I watched it with my granddaughter who was also fascinated, although lacking the exposure to Sondheim that I have enjoyed; Sondheim transcends generations. Through six songs chosen to …Read More

A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder

“A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder” is a bonbon of a show, a little Hasty Pudding mixed with a little Benny Hill. Very English music hall comedy. Jefferson Mays is a delight in his romp through eight-ill fated characters. …Read More

The Elephant Man

Just saw the 1980 movie, “The Elephant Man,” with John Hurt and Anthony Hopkins. I was stunned; it is so compelling. Directed by David Lynch, his second film after “Eraserhead,” he captures the gloom and doom of Dickensian England. Anne …Read More

Blue is the Warmest Color

What is it with blue? First “Blue Jasmine” and now “Blue is the Warmest Color. More sex in the latter than the former and twice as long. Two women making noisy love, lots of slaps and slurps — this may …Read More

The Landing

Last night, I saw “The Landing,” three one-act plays strung together with an underlying theme that is is a little hard to fathom. There are four actors including the ever-marvelous David Hyde Pierce, reason enough to see it. The book …Read More

Mr. Burns, a Post-electric Play

“Mr Burns,a Post-electric Play,” at Playwrights Horizon, got the most ecstatic review from Ben Brantley, and so I went with my son and his wife. That was a good move. The play is based on the Cape Fear episode of …Read More

Spektral Quartet

On a recent Chicago evening, I discovered this spectacular, exciting quartet of four young men — one cello, one viola, two violins. They had a great format of bite-sized pieces, much like a mix tape. What I heard was a …Read More

La Grenouille

  Run, rob a bank, commandeer a Brinks truck, but hie yourself with a fat billfold to La Grenouille. I know many of you have been there, but how refreshing it is to be in a beautiful place — flowers …Read More

The Greek House

“The Greek House: The Story of a Painter’s Love Affair with the Island of Sifnos,” is a wonderful book by Christian Brechneff. You escape to Sifnos, a Greek island, and spend three hours smelling the wild thyme, eating rustic bread …Read More

Truman Library

I was in Kansas City ten days ago and went to the Truman library in nearby Independence. The Truman Oval Office was recreated with his books — Robert Louis Stevenson, volumes of civil war photographs, Margaret’s thrillers. Ashtrays everywhere. There …Read More

Motown the Musical

Big noise for almost three hours. The audience was more fun than the show — highly vocal, responsive, and when the Diana Ross character shimmers into view, near hysteria erupts. My problem is that the original’s Smoky Robinsons, Michael Jacksons, …Read More


A quickie killjoy here: I hated “Matilda” unrelentingly – frantic, shrill and over-miked. Even the Matilda we saw playing the title role was unsympathetic. I wanted the great Bertie Carvel, its saving grace, to lock her up in his punishment …Read More

The Civil War and American Art

I saw this Metropolitan Museum show of Civil War photographs, many by Matthew Brady, more by his henchmen. It’s an echo of the Ken Burns documentary — fascinating photos of young Lincoln, battle-worn Lee, and John Wilkes Booth and company …Read More

The Testament of Mary

  I saw this Braodway play in previews this week. Yikes! Mary, the mother of Christ, prancing around starkers on stage kicking her cookpots right and left, mad as hell at all those weirdo apostles. Fiona Shaw is this ranting, …Read More

Phil Spector

Sunday night I watched the pyrotechnical Al Pacino play Phil Spector, and the inestimable Helen Mirren play his lawyer in an HBO drama written and directed by David Mamet.  Pacino was a great wig-wearing, swearing, shouting Spector. In the background one …Read More

5 X 15

At the Players Club, Gramercy Park. The club is in itself a marvel of glorious kitschy paintings of long-ago thespians, and acres of mahogany and potted plants. The event, entitled 5 x 15, is patterned after a British show in which five …Read More

Eddie Izzard

I saw Izzard the other night at the Culture Project in his monologue, which is a work in progress. He is unique — the references, the irreverence, the segues from Jesus to Judas to high voices to fox hunting to …Read More

Topping Rose House

I recently dined at the restaurant in this new hotel in Bridgehampton. The chef behind the kitchen is Tom Colicchio. You may eat in the bar or dining room. The bar is brighter, but so is the noise. I preferred …Read More

Harry Truman’s Little White House

If in Key West, do not miss the Truman museum in the Truman winter White House. The faux bamboo furniture I remember from my grandmother’s house; photographs of the presidential yacht and its silver in vitrines; the Agatha Christie books that Bess …Read More

My Afternoons with Margueritte

Once more into Netflix land. A wonderful French film starring (the now newsworthy) Gerald Depardieu made in 2010 so he looks like an overgrown potato. He plays a man who is brought up to think he is a lout, a …Read More