Category Archives: Show Time

Vol. 16, No. 26 – Sept 20 – Oct 3, 2023 – A View from House Seats

by Shirley Lorraine

Actors Explore Asian Consciousness

The Elite Theater Company, housed in Channel Islands on Victoria Avenue, presents a tale on their South Stage of complex discussions surrounding heritage, typecasting and discrimination in Yankee Dawg, You Die written by Philip Kan Gotanda, directed by Jolyn Johnson. With just two actors, the play chronicles a chance meeting and ultimate long-term acquaintance between a neophyte Asian actor (Tae Ho Yoon) and one of his heroes, an accomplished seasoned and lauded Asian actor (Eric R. Umali).

Yoon’s character, Bradley Yamashita, questions how to represent the Asian community in a dignified way, while Umali’s Vincent Chang, having been around the business for years, has accepted the realities of “playing the game” to get roles. The disparity between them create the basic premise of the play.

The two verbally parry their way through two acts as they compare their differing views of the business of acting and theorize where and when the truth should be lines drawn in the sand.

The stage is not encumbered by set pieces. Physical movement is kept to a minimum as the rookie Bradley clings to his desire to “stay true” to his heritage but not be typecast. Chang also performs with an economy of movement, preferring to offer little in the way of sage advice, which Bradley clearly wants. The use of video reels on the back wall (well put together by up-and-coming cinematographer Wesley Umali) adds some much-needed insights into some of the conversation.

I feel that this play should be and could easily be condensed to a one-act play. The dialogue laboring over type-casting Asians in certain roles certainly can apply to any minority and the stereotypes with which actors are easily pigeon-holed. As Chang points out, however, an actor’s life is one of constant compromise. To ensure longevity, an actor must be flexible and willing/able to step beyond and take chances, a step that the idealist Bradley seems reluctant to embrace.

Umali is excellent as the staid Chang. Diction is clear, the voice carries well. His understated inflections are a work of art. Umali’s portrayal of the seasoned actor is quietly solid.

Yoon fared less well in the diction department, and I found it quite challenging to adapt to his accent and vocal pace. Much like his character, he will learn from his chosen master.

The conversation never seemed to reach a high point or reach out with any pearls of wisdom. It just went on. Several other aspects of the unlikely friendship between the characters were presented as hints but not fully explored, leaving more questions than answers.
Yankee Dawg You Die is the last play in Elite’s current season.

The theater will be presenting a spooky opportunity around Halloween and then will focus on the next season opening in January. Check their website frequently for updates and happenings.

Yankee Dawg You Die continues through October 1 with performance Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. with one Thursday performance on September 28.

Vol. 16, No. 26 – Sept 20 – Oct 3, 2023 – Movie Review

Streaming Spotlight by Cindy Summers
A Million Miles Away – Prime Video

4 out of 4 palm trees

A Million Miles Away” shares the true story of NASA flight engineer José Hernández (Michael Peña) on his quest from his childhood dream of being an astronaut to becoming the first migrant farm worker in space spending 13 days on the International Space Station. José‘s father shared with him at a young age that there were five key ingredients to achieving success in anything and José followed his father’s road map with unstoppable determination to eventually achieving what most would consider impossible.

According to José’s father, the first ingredient to success was to find your goal, and when José was seven years old he saw the Apollo 11 launch in 1969 on television and knew then that he wanted to be an astronaut. Around that same time, José‘s teacher Miss Young met with his parents expressing concern over their constant travel and his education knowing that he had some special gifts, even telling José he was a force of nature and to remember nothing will stop him. José‘s dad realized having his family work in the fields was not a good future, so they settled in Stockton, California where José grew up and graduated from the University of the Pacific.

The second Ingredient to success was to know how far you are from achieving your goal. In 1985 José got a job as a lab engineer at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and began applying to the NASA program. He met his future wife Adela (Rosa Salazar) when buying a car, but she wanted to be a chef and supported José‘s goal to be an astronaut. José received a promotion at work and things were going well until Adela found a rejection letter, discovering he had applied to NASA six times without telling her. They agreed to work together to identify why he wasn’t getting in, identifying some key skills including working on building his body, learning Russian, as well as learning to fly and scuba dive.

José‘s father said the third ingredients to success was to draw a road map, which became easier now that he had identified what skills he needed to attain. He received a promotion and shortly after was assigned to go to Russia for six months where he learned Russian. He also went to flight school and got his pilot’s license as well as earning his diving credentials. After being denied 11 times, José went directly to NASA and found Commander Sturckow (Garret Dillahunt) to ask for a explanation about being rejected from the program. José shared all of his recent accomplishments and shortly after José received an acceptance letter from NASA.

The fourth ingredient for success according to José‘s father was if you don’t know how to learn how, so in 2003 José moved this family to new home in Selma just outside of the Johnson space center for NASA having been selected from tens of thousands for a rigorous training few pass. José rescued a teammate during a water training exercise which was recognized very highly by his by Struckow and also received much support from a female trainer named Kaipana Chawla (Sarayu Blue) who was a member of the next flight of the Columbia Space Shuttle which unfortunately blew up shortly after launch.

José was told ingredient number five was when you think you’ve made it you probably have to work harder. In 2008 José was chosen for the next shuttle launch as mission specialist number two on Space Shuttle Discovery piloted by Cmd Rick Struckow. Miss Young visited him before take off sharing José‘s drawing about his dream of becoming an astronaut she kept from when he was a child in her class. José’s shuttle mission STS-128 remained on board the International Space Station for 13 days, and José was the first migrant farm worker to have traveled into space.

Runtime: 2h 1m

Vol. 16, No. 25 – Sept 6 – Sept 19, 2023 – A View from House Seats

by Shirley Lorraine

A Glimpse into Actor Training and Trials

Santa Paula Theater Center has once again brought a thought-provoking and unusual play to their main stage. The current production is Circle Mirror Transformation by Annie Baker. The play garnered an Obie Award for Best New American Play in 2009. The title refers to a specific theater game used to prepare actors for the unexpected.

Set in the small town of Shirley, Vermont, the action takes place in a community room lined with mirrors. Five students have signed up to attend the multi-week acting class designed to help them open themselves to each other, to themselves, and to be adaptable to whatever comes their way as they embark on the adventure of being on stage.

Their reasons for attending vary greatly. Theresa (Shelby Dickinson) is already a professional actress but who feels a need to get back to basics after the end of a relationship. Shultz (James James) is newly divorced and feeling out of place both in the class and in the world. Lauren (Amber Shea Hodge) is a petulant 16-year-old with a few chips on each shoulder. James (William Hubbard) is married to Marty (Victoria McGee) who is leading the class. It is unclear whether he is there of his own accord or if he is there to support his wife. In any case, he participates willingly.

The play is a true ensemble piece. Each actor has spotlight moments before blending back into the group. The circle rotates with each player having their time to shine. All five participants struggle with different aspects of the theater games, reluctant to share too much with strangers and yet willing to play along, for the most part.

As they engage in verbal and physical games requiring thoughtful or quick responses, they each stumble before finally finding solid footing. As individuals, their personal circles also grow and shrink as they find ways to relate to each other.

A few audience members were overheard questioning what the actors were supposed to gain from the seemingly fruitless and repetitive exercises. The object of the games was often not apparent. If you haven’t been to an acting or improv class, this is foreign territory.

The repetitive nature, for me, created a plodding pace. Whether that was a directional choice or written to be so, I found myself thinking there should be more. There are moments when no actors are on stage and the audience is left looking at themselves in the mirrors. Intentional? If so, in my mind, that’s a deep stretch to ask an audience to make.

While each individual character showed a flash of depth, none were fleshed out enough to make me want to root for them. The playwright attempts to pull the whole thing together in the last moments, giving a glimpse ten years into the future as a “where are they now?” Honestly, it wasn’t enough for me to be engaged. But you may feel quite differently.

Circle of Transformation continues through October 8.

Vol. 16, No. 25 – Sept 6 – Sept 19, 2023 – Movie Review

Streaming Spotlight by Cindy Summers
Live to 100: Secrets of the Blue Zones – Netflix

4 out of 4 palm trees

In 2003, Dan Buettner researched communities with increased longevity, identified as blue zones, while collaborating with a variety of experts, including anthropologists, historians, dietitians, and geneticists, “to reverse engineer longevity”. These early trips focused on Sardinia, Italy; Okinawa, Japan; and Monterrey, Nuevo Leon and Loma Linda, California. Now twenty years later, Dan revisits these communities along with several more and shares his findings in this very informative documentary regarding how to enhance and extend our lives.

Okinawa Japan is known to have the longest lived people in the history of the world, with more women outliving men, as well as extremely low cases of heart disease, diabetes or dementia. Major reasons for Okinawa becoming a blue zone were: diet consisting of medical foods with low caloric density; practicing Hara Hachi Bu – to eat only 80% of the meal; promoting balance and core strength though daily activities; having Ikigai – a mission/purpose that contributes in a positive way; and social connection though Moais, which are a committed social circle of people who generally got together by pooling their money and helping each other in times of hardship.

Sardinia, Italy was unique in that the ratio of female to male centenarians was one-to-one instead of the average of five-to-one women over men in other blue zones. Living longer in Sardinia was attributed to: regular activity due to steepness – steep roads and houses with several flights of stairs; good carbs, high carb diet mainly of minestrone soup and sourdough bread; control stress – Men work, most as shepherds. but are not stressed by work; and care for elders.

Loma Linda, California is a Seventh Day Adventist Community where residents live longer than other place in California. The main factors for longevity in Loma Linda were: serving the community through volunteering; eating a plant-based diet prescribed when Founder Ellen White had vision to live a balanced diet focused on vegetarianism mainly comprised of fruits, legumes, cereals, vegetables and nuts; faith – being part of a faith based community; and finding the right tribe – surrounding yourself with active people and those with vegetarian lifestyles.

Ikaria, Greece is isolated and self-sufficient, where residents live on a Mediterranean diet with very little meat. Contributing factors to longevity in Ikaria were: herbal teas from local plants;
raw honey from local beehives moved around the island as the season progresses gathering from many natural elements; partnership in the form of nurturing relationships; wine made from local grapes without chemicals and considered medicinal; and dancing and laughing.

Nicoya, Costa Rica is a rural, isolated region with 3.5 times more centenarians and an average biological age of 10 years younger over chronological. Contributing to Nicoya’s large centenarian population was: Plan de Vida – a sense of purpose; doing things by hand; slow down making time for things that matter; and the three sisters diet – black beans, squash and corn.

Dan spearheaded creating a blue zone in Lea, Minnesota, initially getting residents together for walks (moais), then setup volunteer activities, then made changes for healthier food choices, and lastly changes to allow for more natural physical activity. The target was an average 2 year increase in life expectancy, and amazingly after 1 year had a 3.1 year increase. Dan discovered that in the end it’s how blue zone wisdom is applied to benefit communities by making changes to help make the best choice an easy choice and the realization that the things that help us live a long healthy life are the things that make life worth living.

Runtime: 4 – 30m episodes

Vol. 16, No. 24 – Aug 23 – Sept 5, 2023 – A View from House Seats

by Shirley Lorraine

Enjoy the Glamour of The Golden Age

Annually, the Fractured Actors Theater Company presents an underground evening of theater and music. Situated in a black box Theater at Liminal Church on Palma Drive, Fractured Actors brings to life Sweet Jay’s Speakeasy, located in an inauspicious warehouse in Ventura. Each year brings a new theme, a new look and a thoroughly fun evening.

This year, the Company presents The Golden Age, a Speakeasy Project, a glimpse back to the glamour of the silver screen and Tinseltown of old. As noted in the dialogue, it is a “celebration of celluloid.” The theater is subdued in black and red décor with dimmed lighting. Libations are available to add to the atmosphere.

The very talented Ham family leads the action with writing, directing, producing, staging, performing and encouraging participation. The one-acts are written just for each production to fit with the theme. All of the actors, many of them familiar faces from last summer’s presentation of a foray into the mysterious Area 51, fully immerse themselves in the folly of this year’s offering with some eye-catching costuming and creative staging.

The event’s hosts, Anthony Elias Contreras and Cassie Kelso-Bucey, lead the action with clever banter, jokes and quick pacing. Appearing throughout, their charming, easy manner keeps the action moving and the laughs coming.

Employing minimal set pieces, the stage is easily reset for each of the four short plays, all of which take a tongue-in-cheek approach to what could have been issues of the day in the film business. Actors take on multiple roles throughout, reappearing in new personas. Interspersed with the plays are sultry singers keeping the audience fully in the era. Everyone seems to be having a wonderful time and their enthusiasm easily blankets the audience.

Each of the plays addresses a different aspect of what may have or could have taken place in the Golden Era. Each features opportunities to explore what-ifs and what-could-have-beens. It’s a fun ride of possible alternative endings.

From silent movies to telephone operators to “the town’s most awkward welcoming committee” with a sweet ending to put a bow on the evening, Fractured Actors brings a unique theatrical experience every summer. So dust off your Fedora, get out the pearls and boas and enjoy an evening of song, film and immersive original one-act plays. Catch this one if you can. If you’ve never been, go, then mark your calendar to watch for next summer’s offering.

Sweet Jay’s offers a limited opportunity to catch these engaging evenings. Performances continue August 25-27 and September 1 & 2. Fridays and Saturdays curtain is 8 p.m., Sundays at 5 pm. There is one extra matinee performance at 2 p.m. on September 2. Space is limited so reservations are a must. Most suitable for adults.

f[email protected] for additional information.

Vol. 16, No. 24 – Aug 23 – Sept 5, 2023 – Movie Review

Streaming Spotlight by Cindy Summers
Jury Duty – Prime Video and Freevee

4 out of 4 palm trees

Jury Duty” is a clever comedic series from the producers of “The Office” and “Bad Trip” that explores the American judicial process as seen by the eyes of the jury, except for the fact that of the 12 jurors, 11 are actors and the twelfth juror Ronald Gladden had no idea that it’s all fake. Actor James Marsden plays himself, however a much more conceited celebrity version that ends up getting the whole jury sequestered after paparazzi showed up to the courthouse. Everyone including the judge, bailiff, attorneys and defendants are also all actors and cameras film the whole thing under the pretense that they are doing a documentary about the American justice system which include personal interviews with all of the jurors as they move through the process.

The first episode was jury selection and the first day it appeared that a number of people were let out of serving due to what seemed trivial reasons. On the second day, a couple of the actors called upon tried the same excuses, but were denied and 11 ended up on the jury with Ronald while James was assigned as the second alternate, Juror #14. Judge Alan Rosen is played by actor Alan Barinholtz who is actually a seasoned attorney of 40 years practicing law in Ohio and Illinois and extremely believable in his role as judge.

The colorful cast playing the other jurors are an eclectic cross-section of interesting personalities and most of the dialog is actually improvised by the actors. In the second episode, the juror the judge assigned as foreman became injured in the deliberation room after a cabinet fell on him, so the judge assigned Ronald and the new foreman and James Marsden moved to first alternate. Ronald had a very positive personality and was always very conscientious toward the other jurors, though had no idea what kind of wrangling he was in for now that he was foreman.

Ronald’s first challenge was to keep juror Barbara Goldstein (Susan Berger) from not going to sleep while court was in session, and Judge Rosen stopped the proceedings several times to tell Ronald to do his duty as foreman and keep Barbara awake. Ronald was actually a James Marsden fan and brought DVDs of his movies to have him sign as well as running lines with him back at the motel were they were sequestered without outside contacts or even the use of their cell phones.

Halfway through the series, the judge and jury take a field trip to the site involved in the case and of course get themselves in various sorts of trouble. Even though some of the stunts the other jurors pulled were sometimes outrageous, Ronald always kept a calm demeanor and offered help and advise whenever he could since the whole jury viewed him as their leader after being assigned as foreman. Since half the jury was at a different motel than Ronald and James Marsden, they all gathered under the supervision of bailiff Officer Nikki Wilder (Rashida “Sheedz” Olayiwola) at a Mexican restaurant to share some time together but the excursion mainly became a babysitting job for Ronald.

After closing arguments, the jury got sent to the deliberation room to decide on a verdict. It was Ronald’s job as the foreman to lead the jury through deliberations and arrive at a unanimous verdict; but the jurors’ petty issues and personal drama threatened to derail everything. Eventually Ronald helped guide the group into a unanimous “not guilty” verdict and when he presented the verdict back in court he finally learned that the whole thing was fake. To his surprise, Ronald Gladden received $100,000 for his participation and the series has received 4 Emmy nominations.

Runtime: 8 – 30m episodes

Vol. 16, No. 23 – Aug 9 – Aug 22, 2023 – A View from House Seats

by Shirley Lorraine

Murder at the Manor in Conejo’s the Mousetrap

Some classics never get old. Agatha Christie’s quintessential who-done-it The Mousetrap is one of them. Hailed as the longest running play in London’s West End, Mousetrap finally closed in 2020, earning a 68-year continuous run. That’s quite an achievement.

Conejo Players in Thousand Oaks is offering local enthusiasts an opportunity to see what the fuss has been and continues to be about, now through August 12.

A solid cast directed by seasoned Conejo stalwart Jim Diderrich embodies the quirky characters that have given this play its success. The twisty, intricate plot has been the victim of countless iterations since its inception in 1952 but remains the gold standard of murder mysteries everywhere.

Monkswell Manor is newly reopened by a young, inexperienced couple who have no staff. The inn’s rooms are full and the boarders straggle in, finding themselves stuck there by a fierce blizzard. Chaos ensues as a murder is committed and everyone immediately becomes a suspect. A Detective arrives to sort out the situation. As the interviews are conducted, we learn about each of the characters and some of the secrets they are hiding. Along the way are many hints, twists and turns and still a surprising ending.

The Ralston couple, played by Paula Smiech and Andrew Costello, are suitably alternately confident and confused as they do their best to stay on top of the many needs of their guests. They have much to learn about running an inn business, and about each other.

Matt Hudacs as the flighty Christopher Wren is a bundle of nervous energy. He fairly bounces across the stage as he tries hard to fit in., to no avail. The staid, criticize everything Mrs. Boyle is played to perfection by Judy Diderrich. Andy Brasted as Major Metcalf gives a sterling performance of controlled restraint, as a British Major should. Character Miss Casewell, well played by Elisha DeVillier, adds further elements of surprise in many ways.

Unexpected guest Mr. Paravicini is delightfully ebullient in the form of Dale Alpert. Detective Sergeant Trotter, played by Alex Greene, is a conundrum in himself, raising more questions than answers throughout.

The pace is quick. The British accents are well done. The characters are cheeky and fun. In all, even if you’ve seen it before (or many like it), the result is an evening well spent. Rediscover why The Mousetrap enjoyed such a long run in London, and still enjoys performances around the world.

The Mousetrap runs Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., Sundays at 2 p.m. There will be a 2:00 p.m. matinee on Saturday, August 12., (805) 495-3715

The following weekend offers the Conejo Improv Festival. Begins at 7 p.m. on Friday August 18 and at 6 p.m. on Saturday, August 19. Two FREE workshops are offered on Saturday the 19th. 1 p.m., scene work for adults, and 3 p.m. Introduction to improv for youth ages 6-17. See website for complete run-down and tickets.

Vol. 16, No. 23 – Aug 9 – Aug 22, 2023 – Movie Review

Streaming Spotlight by Cindy Summers
Guy Richie’s The Covenant – Prime Video

4 out of 4 palm trees

In March 2018 in Lashkar Gah, Afghanistan, United States Army Master Sergeant John Kinley (Jake Gyllenhaal) was leading a group of soldiers looking for Taliban munitions and explosive sites. Their road patrol was ambushed when a truck that had a bomb in the back exploded killing one of his troops their Afghan interpreter. They returned to Bagram Air Base in Parvan Province where he picked up a replacement and a new Afghan interpreter named Ahmed Abdullah (Dar Salim) who knew 4 languages but was known to sometimes be difficult to work with.

After several searches came up empty, Kinley felt that they had been receiving bad intel and requested to be assigned some vetted targets thinking that would not fall into the same pattern of no results. They were given the name of major target that was responsible for running a local IED (Improvised Explosive Device) factory, and Ahmed worked with Kinley to persuade him to give up the location with a bribe of cash instead of being detained by the US military. The intel provided them with two sites to check out but the first site was unsuccessful due to the other Afghan interpreter on the team attempting to lead them into an ambush.

The team next headed to search the second location which was an explosive factory in a mine and when questioning their first contact, Ahmed knew that the person was lying so they decided to do a search. They did find an IED factory and called in for a quick reaction force to assist them, but unbeknownst to them the Taliban had already communicated to bring reinforcements to the area. They killed the Taliban at the factory and set a bomb to detonate in three minutes but they were met outside with other Taliban soldiers with more heading down the road to their location.

Kinley and Ahmed jumped in one of the Taliban trucks and tried to escape with several trucks filled with Taliban soldiers pursuing them. Ultimately Kinley and Ahmed were the only US military that survived. They stayed the night in the woods and in the morning had an escape plan but they were surrounded by Taliban everywhere and were 120 miles from the base. They were able to flee on foot to take refuge in an abandon house, but were found and surrounded by Taliban. Kinley went out to investigate and was shot in the arm and leg and then surrounded in a pit by Taliban who used the butt of their gun to hit him in the head rendering him almost lifeless.

Ahmed appeared, killing several Taliban and told Kinley he would get them home but couldn’t take the roads so built and cot from sticks and began the long journey over mountainous terrain dragging Kinley behind. After finding a truck to travel, Ahmed ran into another group of Taliban who said there was a massive search for the two of them so Ahmed took the pickup to some herders and traded it for a wooden cart with wheels to transport Kinley 100 miles back to base. Ahmed made it to just outside the base, but was attacked by Taliban though was able to protect Kinley and eventually was picked up by US soldiers from Bagram Air Base.

Kinley spent several weeks there in the hospital and another month recovering back home. When he was fully recovered he found out that Ahmed was back in Afghanistan in hiding with his family due to the fact that he was on the Taliban top ten list for helping Kinley survive. Ahmed needed US visas promised to him and his family for his service, but Kinley was unable to get through the government red tape to help him so devised a plan to return to Afghanistan to rescue Ahmed and his family with the help of some well known mercenaries.

Rated: R
Runtime: 2h 3m

Vol. 16, No. 22 – July 26 – Aug 8, 2023 – A View from House Seats

by Shirley Lorraine

Richard III Reimagined in “Teenage Dick”

Imagine a world in which everyone was respected for who they are and what they can contribute to humanity. Now imagine a highly hormonal group of high schoolers as they traverse the challenging path of becoming comfortable with themselves and establishing their own identities. These two factors, while seemingly contradictory, are the basis for the Elite Theater Company’s current production of “Teenage Dick” now playing on the main stage.

Written by Mike Lew, the story is a loose reimagining of Shakespeare’s Richard III from the viewpoint of a disgruntled disabled teen and the injustices he perceives to avenge. He, himself, is contradictory, sometimes using his disability as a shield to gain extra perks and sympathies, yet sometimes using his perceived failings to fuel his insecurities and ultimately as a way for him to justify his vengeance.

An excellent student, Dick is also manipulative, bitter and self-serving in his quest to oust the current student body president, a snarky popular jock named Eddie. Eddie clearly thinks the world revolves around him and actively dismisses anyone he feels doesn’t measure up to his greatness. To add to the mix there is Clarissa, a young lady who relies on her faith to guide her in all she does and Anne, a pretty, popular, dance enthusiast who has her own sad story to tell.

Dick’s wise-cracking friend Buck is wheelchair-bound yet carries a quite different attitude about life. She accepts her limitations, collaborates well with them, and simply wants to be friends with everyone. Her wheelchair manipulation skills are impressive.

In other words, a typical day in a high school, filled with angst, doubt, insecurity and braggadocio.

Richard’s character delivers an admirable froth of Shakespearean quotations (some mildly paraphrased), firmly establishing yet another way he is different from the rest of the students.

The production, directed by Hayley Silvers, is partly double cast, giving many young actors an opportunity to take the stage. Check the company’s website for specifics of who plays whom on various performance dates.

Opening night’s cast featured AJ Ma as Richard, Rey Sailer as Buck and Kyra McConnell as Clarissa. Tatiana Juarez as Anne, Theo Liscotti Rodriguez as Eddie and Dolores Dyer Castellano as teacher Elizabeth remain constant throughout.

The play provides an interesting viewpoint of Shakespeare’s dastardly disabled villain in a light of introspection and the questioning minds of youth.

Castellano’s solid portrayal of the harried junior class teacher provides numerous opportunities for laughter, highlighting the thin line a teacher must tread interacting with students of all types, abilities and temperaments.

Sunday performance on July 30 features a special talk back time with the cast following the show. As in Richard III, the original, the play is harsh and disturbing, both in language and content.

Teenage Dick continues through August 21. Performances are Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., Sundays at 2 p.m. and Thursday, August 17 at 8 p.m. Channel Islands, Oxnard.

Vol. 16, No. 22 – July 26 – Aug 8, 2023 – Movie Review

Streaming Spotlight by Cindy Summers
Plane – Prime Video

4 out of 4 palm trees

Pilot Brodie Torrence (Gerard Butler) was a bit of a maverick as far as commercial pilots go and was piloting a flight on New Years Eve from Singapore to Hawaii with plans to see his daughter who was attending school there. The crew included co-pilot Samuel Dele (Yoson An) and the flight had only 14 passengers, one of which was Louis Gaspare (Mike Colter) who boarded the plane in handcuffs with a marshal for a fugitive extradition.

They flew through a storm and got hit by lightning causing the plane to loose power. While going down the turbulence killed one flight attendant and the marshal, and they eventually crash landed in a remote jungle area called the Jolo Islands. Having seen something that indicated Gaspare was ex-military, Brodie took his cuffs off and had him accompany him back to a building they had flown over while leaving co-pilot Dele with the rest of the passengers.

They got to the building and Brodie was able to rig a phone and called the corporate headquarters of his airline, but the woman who answered said that she had been getting lots of prank calls and didn’t believe it was actually him and hung up. He called his daughter and told her that they had crashed and that she needed to contact the airlines but the call was cut short so he was uncertain how much his daughter heard. They found some guns and also a truck outside that they used to return to the passengers and the plane.

A villager saw the plane go down and told the leader of the village who gathered a small army and headed toward the plane. They got to the plane before Brodie did and killed two passengers and took the rest hostage, driving away in a bus while Brodie and Gaspare had to watch helplessly nearby. The leader was Datu Junmar, who took the passengers to Dandulit village where they were kept in a warehouse to be taken on a boat down river. Brodie didn’t want to wait for help as he felt the passengers where his responsibility, so he and Gaspare headed to the village.

Back at airline headquarters they brought in a specialist named Scarsdale (Tony Goldwyn) who used satellite imagery to locate the plane in the Jolo islands in the Philippines. They came up with a plan to parachute in but that they would need assistance getting everyone out. Unfortunately there was no military on the Jolo Islands as it was run by militia and separatists and a dangerous area that not even the Filipino army would go into anymore.

Back at the plane several special ops military personnel landed in parachutes and found the plane empty, but found the note that Brodie had scribbled on a shirt in the cockpit to let them know where the prisoners were and what was happening. At the village Brodie and Gaspare quietly snuck around the village stealthily killing guards and made their way to where the passengers and crew were being held. They freed the passengers and crew and got on the bus at the same time the special ops team showed up.

After a gun battle they were able to flee the village and get back to the plane, but there would be no help to get them off the island for 24 hours so Brodie felt their only option was to return in the damaged plane. Due to the damage they couldn’t get above a few hundred feet so he asked to be guided to land on neighboring Siasi island. The plane was out of control as it tried to land on the runway with the wings tipping back and forth hitting the runway as well as the brakes and tires gave way, but Brodie was able to stop it at the very end of the runway rescuing everyone.

Rated: R (Violence and Language)
Runtime: 1h 47m