More stories

  • in

    ‘The Regime’ Review: Kate Winslet Will Make You Love Her

    Kate Winslet is commanding (and funny) in HBO’s screwball sendup of rising authoritarianism.Of all the recent reboots of 20th-century franchises, among the hottest and most terrifying is populist authoritarianism. It is playing in revival halls on multiple continents, drawing a wide range of performers and cultivating a rabid fan base.History may be repeating in real life as tragedy. But HBO’s lightly-yet-darkly entertaining “The Regime,” a six-episode series beginning on Sunday, plays it as full-on farce.“The Regime,” written by Will Tracy (“The Menu,” “Succession”), deposits us in a palace somewhere in “Middle Europe.” Chancellor Elena Vernham (Kate Winslet), who rules her small country through surveillance, violence and telegenic charisma, has developed the debilitating fear that the residence is infested with deadly mold spores.Whether the mold is real is immaterial; her retinue of advisers, oligarchs and sundry quacks must behave like it is. And the fear underlying Elena’s paranoia is clear. Seven years after taking power in the “free and fair election” that ousted her left-leaning predecessor (Hugh Grant), she senses that her kleptocratic state is rotting from within.Her deliverance arrives in the form of Herbert Zubak (Matthias Schoenaerts), a soldier reassigned to palace duties after putting down a workers’ protest a touch too enthusiastically. (The press nicknames him “The Butcher.”)We are having trouble retrieving the article content.Please enable JavaScript in your browser settings.Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and log into your Times account, or subscribe for all of The Times.Thank you for your patience while we verify access.Already a subscriber? Log in.Want all of The Times? Subscribe. More

  • in

    The Comedy, and the Horror, of the Infertility Plot

    Onscreen, assisted reproductive technology is a double-edged device, representing women’s empowerment, or their exploitation.“Scrambled” is a romantic comedy about a woman who falls in love with her decision to freeze her eggs. Nellie, a 34-year-old perma-bridesmaid, is wasted and alone at yet another wedding when she is struck by the fear that her fertility may peak before her romantic situation is resolved.The conventional romantic comedy may culminate in marriage, but “Scrambled” leads Nellie toward a procedure that extends the timeline of her own marriage plot. Nellie (Leah McKendrick, who also writes and directs the film) gets her happy ending from an embryology lab. “You were no accident,” she tells one of her cryogenically preserved eggs. “You were one of the most intentional things that I have ever done.”Reproductive technologies are increasingly assisting in human conception (even as the Alabama Supreme Court has complicated their use), and they have become familiar narrative devices, too. Their meaning is double-edged. “Scrambled,” with its oddball cheer, gives fertility treatments an empowering gloss. But an emerging horror genre sharpens the same technologies into instruments of exploitation, turning clinics into torture chambers and doctors into demons. The deus ex machina of assisted reproduction can be a blessing or a curse, depending on the god who sent the machine.After swigging from the sentimental techno-optimism of “Scrambled,” I chased it with a wave of recent downers: I watched “False Positive,” the 2021 horror movie in which Lucy (Ilana Glazer) is subdued by a creepy fertility clinic; “Dead Ringers,” the 2023 limited series in which Rachel Weisz plays a pair of twin gynecologists; and “American Horror Story: Delicate,” the latest installment of the FX horror anthology series about an actress (Emma Roberts) who attempts to secure a baby and an Oscar with the help of her ambiguously sinister publicist (Kim Kardashian).As I watched these horror stories, I found myself counting their clichés on both hands. In the standard fertility-horror plot, a wealthy white couple will report to a an experimental clinic. Its staff will forgo scrubs for bespoke costumes resembling clerics or Stepford wives. An inscrutable and potentially supernatural ultrasound reading will occur. A woman will struggle to conceive, and this difficulty will be blamed on her careerism. She will be instructed to ingest strange tinctures and coached to mistrust her own mind. Her terror will be dismissed as “pregnancy brain” or “hormones.” Her pain will be denied. Her male partner will collude with a male doctor behind her back. Her female friend will be in on it, too. In the end, her pregnancy will be simulated, sabotaged or terminated without her knowledge or consent.In “American Horror Story: Delicate,” an actress (Emma Roberts, right) attempts to secure a baby and an Oscar with the help of her sinister publicist (Kim Kardashian, left).Eric Liebowitz/FXWe are having trouble retrieving the article content.Please enable JavaScript in your browser settings.Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and log into your Times account, or subscribe for all of The Times.Thank you for your patience while we verify access.Already a subscriber? Log in.Want all of The Times? Subscribe. More

  • in

    Richard Lewis and ‘The (Blank) From Hell’

    The comedian, who died this week, said he coined the ubiquitous phrase. An episode of “Curb Your Enthusiasm” about a “nanny from hell” recounted his efforts to get credit for it.Go ahead and call Richard Lewis the comedian from hell. You’d be paying him a compliment.The stand-up comedian, who died on Tuesday, was known for his dark clothes, dark sense of humor and a recurring role as a, yes, even darker version himself on HBO’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” He was a fixture in the comedy world for over half a century. But his most indelible legacy could be one simple phrase, spoken so often that its origin might never be questioned.“The (insert hated thing here) from hell.”It’s a phrase that seemingly has been around since time immemorial. The flight from hell, the day from hell, the lunch from hell. We’ve all been there, and we all know what it means, but where did it come from?According to Richard Lewis and the “Yale Book of Quotations,” it came from him.Posting on X, known then as Twitter, Mr. Lewis asked, “Where was my Nobel Peace prize?” and linked to a 2006 UPI article about his appearance in the “Yale Book of Quotations.”In a 2008 interview with Interview Magazine, Mr. Lewis said that “the truth of the matter is that whatever gift I have as a comedian, most of it was in the phrase ‘from hell.’”“I’m credited with popularizing that phrase because I felt victimized by everything,” he said.Mr. Lewis elaborated in a 2014 interview with the Nashville Scene.“I totally popularized the phrase in the late ’70s,” he said. “If you go on YouTube, you can see on Letterman, David would cut me off, and go, ‘You mean it was the bar mitzvah from hell?’ ‘That’s right!’ And I stopped saying it. I felt self-conscious. I was getting applause for it. I guess subconsciously I thought I was a victim of everything.”Bartlett’s “Familiar Quotations” did not give him credit for the phrase, which became a story line in the episode “The Nanny,” during season three of “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”The episode, which aired in 2002, weaves in Lewis’s attempts to get into Bartlett’s.“It was a real solid for Larry to do that for me,” he said. “That really immortalized it in some respects.” More

  • in

    Late Night Speculates About Mitch McConnell’s Next Career Move

    The senator is giving up his G.O.P. leadership post. “McConnell just turned 82, so that can only mean one thing: He’s running for president,” Jimmy Fallon said.Welcome to Best of Late Night, a rundown of the previous night’s highlights that lets you sleep — and lets us get paid to watch comedy. Here are the 50 best movies on Netflix right now.Leaving So Soon?On Wednesday, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said he would step down this year from his long-held position as leader of the Senate Republicans.“McConnell just turned 82, so that can only mean one thing: He’s running for president,” said Jimmy Fallon.“McConnell said that it’s time for the next generation of leadership. Then he looked around the Senate and realized the next generation is 75.” — JIMMY FALLON“Well, thanks to the woke left, another Confederate statue has been taken down.” — SETH MEYERS“He’s not stepping down till November because, at 82, that’s how long it takes him to step.” — STEPHEN COLBERT“He will be retiring to the Galápagos Islands to spend more time with the other 500-year-old turtles.” — JIMMY KIMMELThe Punchiest Punchlines (Low-Rent Wonka Edition)“Last weekend in Glasgow, a Willy Wonka-inspired experience was brought to a halt following complaints it was ‘an absolute shambles of an event’ after families traveled from all over, paying $40 a ticket for an ‘exhilarating and immersive adventure’ called Willy’s Chocolate Experience. Still better than the English attraction: Spotted Dick’s Custard Explosion.” — STEPHEN COLBERT“But when people showed up, they found something very different from what they found on the website. What they found was basically a big empty warehouse with vinyl backdrops tacked to the wall. They got to see Willy Wonka’s famous portable power generator, and they got to meet what appears to be a meth lab Oompa Loompa.” — JIMMY KIMMEL“Parents were very upset. They called the police on the place. I have to say, though, honestly, I feel like the kids learned an important lesson about how disappointing the rest of their lives are going to be.” — JIMMY KIMMEL“Look, I don’t know why everyone is so upset that the kids were traumatized. Have you seen the movie? Traumatizing kids is the authentic Wonka experience!” — MICHAEL KOSTA, guest host of “The Daily Show”The Bits Worth WatchingOn “Late Night,” Seth Meyers recapped his highly publicized ice cream shop visit with President Biden, in a segment Meyers referred to this time as “A Closer Lick.”What We’re Excited About on Thursday NightEugene Levy, who gets a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame next week, will appear on Thursday’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live!”Also, Check This OutRichard Lewis on “Curb Your Enthusiasm” this season.HBOIn one of his last interviews, the late Richard Lewis reminisced about the early days of “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” and about meeting Larry David when they were children at summer camp. More

  • in

    Review: In ‘Brooklyn Laundry,’ There’s No Ordering Off the Menu

    John Patrick Shanley’s new play, starring Cecily Strong and David Zayas, is a romantic comedy with a penchant for the resolutely dismal.Fran and Owen have been chatting for only a few minutes, not all that companionably, when he asks her out. It’s a risky thing to do, since she’s a customer at the drop-off laundry he owns. To Owen, though, Fran resembles his ex-fiancée: “Smart, one inch from terrific, but gloomy,” he says.So bone-tired of being single that a casual insult from a guy she’s just met isn’t a deal breaker, Fran warily agrees to dinner.“But I don’t get why you want to, really,” she adds. “I’m not your old gloomy girlfriend. I’m somebody else.”Owen counters: “Well, whoever you think I am, I’m somebody else, too.”This is truer than he comprehends. Starring Cecily Strong as Fran and David Zayas as Owen, John Patrick Shanley’s enticingly cast, rather lumpy new play, “Brooklyn Laundry,” can get you thinking about warning labels — those heads-ups that we all ought to come with, so people know what they’re in for when they encounter us.Fran’s warning label would be long and convoluted, Owen’s even more so. Each of them would be surprised if they read their own. They realize that they’re a little bit broken, in need of repair. They just don’t understand quite how.Side note to Fran: While Owen seems potentially quite sweet (gruff adorability is Zayas’s bailiwick), he is way more hidebound and a whole lot more self-pitying than he lets on. Run, maybe?We are having trouble retrieving the article content.Please enable JavaScript in your browser settings.Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and log into your Times account, or subscribe for all of The Times.Thank you for your patience while we verify access.Already a subscriber? Log in.Want all of The Times? Subscribe. More

  • in

    Richard Lewis, Comedian and ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ Actor, Dies at 76

    After rising to prominence for his stand-up act, he became a regular in movies and TV, most recently on “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”Richard Lewis, the stand-up comedian who first achieved fame in the 1970s and ’80s with his trademark acerbic, dark sense of humor, and who later parlayed that quality into an acting career that included movies like “Robin Hood: Men in Tights” and a recurring role as himself on HBO’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” died on Tuesday at his home in Los Angeles. He was 76.His publicist, Jeff Abraham, said the cause was a heart attack. Mr. Lewis announced last year that he had Parkinson’s disease.Mr. Lewis was among the best-known names in a generation of comedians who came of age during the 1970s and ’80s, marked by a world-weary, sarcastic wit that mapped well onto the urban malaise in which many of them plied their trade.After finding success as a comedian in New York nightclubs, he became a regular on late-night talk shows, favored as much for his tight routine as for his casual, open affability as an interviewee. He appeared on “Late Night With David Letterman” 48 times.And he was at the forefront of the boom in stand-up comedy that came with the expansion of cable television in the late 1980s.Mr. Lewis performing as a standup in Las Vegas in 2005. He called himself “the Prince of Pain.” Ethan Miller/Getty ImagesWe are having trouble retrieving the article content.Please enable JavaScript in your browser settings.Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and log into your Times account, or subscribe for all of The Times.Thank you for your patience while we verify access.Already a subscriber? Log in.Want all of The Times? Subscribe. More

  • in

    Louis Armstrong Musical ‘A Wonderful World’ Set for Broadway

    “A Wonderful World,” featuring Armstrong’s songs, is set to begin previews at Studio 54 in October after previous runs in Miami, New Orleans and Chicago.“A Wonderful World,” a new musical about Louis Armstrong, will have a run on Broadway starting in the fall.The musical, which has previously been staged in Miami, New Orleans and Chicago, will star James Monroe Iglehart, who a decade ago won a Tony Award for originating the role of the Genie in “Aladdin,” and who is now starring as King Arthur in a Broadway revival of “Spamalot.”The show is scheduled to begin previews Oct. 16 and to open Nov. 11 at Studio 54, where the musical “Days of Wine and Roses” is now playing a limited run.When Armstrong died in 1971, the trumpeter and singer left a legacy as one of the most important figures in the history of jazz. The show examines his life through the eyes of his four wives.The score is made up of Armstrong songs including the classic that gives the show its title, along with “When You’re Smiling,” “I Can’t Give You Anything but Love” and others. The book is by Aurin Squire, and Christopher Renshaw is directing; Renshaw and Andrew Delaplaine are credited with conceiving the musical.“A Wonderful World” is being produced by Thomas E. Rodgers Jr., Renee Rodgers, Martian Entertainment (Carl D. White and Gregory Rae), Vanessa Williams and Elizabeth Curtis. More

  • in

    In Justin Peck’s ‘Illinoise,’ Dance On and Feel It

    Justin Peck was around 17 when he first heard the Sufjan Stevens album “Illinois,” an epic paean to the state, nearly two dozen tracks brimming with orchestral indie rock, dense, lyrical wistfulness and sometimes obscure local history. This listening experience came long before Peck wanted to make dances, before he was even a professional dancer.But “Illinois” urged him to move. “It was an instantaneous, illuminating thing that I felt like it was so danceable,” said Peck, now the resident choreographer and artistic adviser at New York City Ballet. “And it is so rare to find someone who can conjure that, especially someone who’s alive right now.”Ever since, Peck, 36, has found artistic inspiration in Stevens — “the voice in music that has led me down paths further than I’ve ever gone before,” he said.The two collaborated regularly, including on “Year of the Rabbit,” the ballet that launched Peck as a choreographer, in 2012. Not long after they began working together, Peck, hoping to experiment with storytelling forms, and influenced by dance-pop productions like Twyla Tharp’s “Movin’ Out,” asked if he could make a theatrical piece set to “Illinois.” Stevens took nearly five years to agree.Justin Peck, left, and Jackie Sibblies Drury, who said the show “feels like the most broadly appealing thing that I have actually ever worked on.”Sasha Arutyunova for The New York TimesAlmost five years later, the result is “Illinoise,” a project that is every bit as ambitious and genre-defying as its soundtrack: a narrative dance musical that combines a coming-of-age story, a snapshot of queer identity and a meditation on death, love, community, history, politics and zombies.We are having trouble retrieving the article content.Please enable JavaScript in your browser settings.Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and log into your Times account, or subscribe for all of The Times.Thank you for your patience while we verify access.Already a subscriber? Log in.Want all of The Times? Subscribe. More