Who you gonna call when you want to see a hilarious spoof of the 1984 film “Ghostbusters”? The Gaslight Theatre, of course. In its latest production, “Ghostblasters,” the Gaslight Theatre manifests another comedic work of art under writer/director Peter Van Slyke, starring Mike Yarema and Jake Chapman as ghost-hunting protagonists tasked with saving the city from a flurry of trouble-making spirits. As is the usual with Gaslight shows, this one starts out high-energy and doesn’t let up for the duration, in the process seamlessly revisiting some of the most memorable scenes from the “Ghostbusters” series, the third and latest film of which is rumored to be going into production next year. But “Ghostblasters” doesn’t share in that speculation. With a running date of June 12 through Aug. 31, this one is already made, and made well.Initially set in New York City’s Metro University Science Lab, we are introduced to scientist/ghostblaster Zack Freeman (Yarema), and parapsychologist/ghostblaster Wally Beaker (Chapman), who are in the process of creating a hi-tech device that will allow them to visualize ghostly spirits.
The summer has fully engulfed our city, bringing with it sweltering heat and burning winds. As the days get hotter and hotter, many are looking for a way to have fun without melting outdoors. Whether it is going to a movie at the theatre, a local trampoline—world, or finding some nighttime entertainment, the cool route is always the better route. For those with an inclination for hip-hop music and a good concert, there are two events coming up in the next few months that you won’t want to miss.On Aug. 31st Atmosphere is coming to The Rialto Theatre with guests Prof, Dem Atlas, and DJ Fundo. While not everyone may be familiar with the prolific Atmosphere, they are a group well worth knowing about.Formed in 1989, Atmosphere has been called the group that has, “…transformed the city [Minneapolis] into something else entirely: a nexus from which underground rap spiraled-out to the masses.” The group was originally composed primarily of rapper Sean Daley, better known as Slug, and Anthony “Ant” Davis, as well as other artists who toured with the group and worked on their early albums. The duo, joined with other local Minnesota artists and formed the record label Rhymesayers Entertainment. Now more of a family than a simple record label, Rhymesayers is composed primarily of local Minnesota artists but has also expanded to representing nationally recognized hip-hop and rap artists.Atmosphere sits at the head of what many consider to be the most well-composed collection of artists in the underground hip-hop industry. The label hosts its own Soundset Festival, a multi-day concert that draws well over 20,000 attendees. And now, the group, currently composed of Slug, Ant, Nate Collis playing guitar, and Erick Anderson on the keyboard, is bringing their perfected sound to the Old Pueblo. Only one month after Atmosphere comes to town, Club Congress will be hosting another Rhymesayers artist, Brother Ali. The blind, Islamic emcee has earned a reputation that goes well beyond such simple classifications. Ali could be called more of a musical activist than a simple artist. “In an age of hip-hop where the paradigm of swag over substance reigns supreme, few emcees are willing to use their platform to tackle the hot-button topics and pressing social maladies of our time - but it’s apparent that Minneapolis-based hip-hop artist Brother Ali is one of those few.”Ali released his fourth full-length album under the guidance of platinum selling producer, Jake One. Jake One has worked with big name rap artists the likes of 50 Cent, T.I., and Wiz Khalifa. Ali’s newest album, Mourning in America and Dreaming in Color, “presents a scathing yet honest critique of America and its many flaws while simultaneously presenting a hopeful outlook of its possibilities.” Brother Ali’s music taps deep into the beating heart of hip-hop and attempts to shine the light on the real problems in the world, not just the fancy clothes and big parties found in many different artists’ repertoire. Ali’s show will be at Congress on Oct. 8.
The late, four-time Oscar nominee Philip Seymour Hoffman provides us with another gripping keystone performance in “A Most Wanted Man” —the last film appearance for Hoffman before his accidental death earlier this year from drug intoxication. Unfortunately, Hoffman’s role as the leader a German spy agency was the only remarkable screen presence. This yawner from director Anton Corbijn leaves viewers more informed on the underground funding for terrorist cells but fails to captivate and draw in audiences due to its shallow support characters and weak storyline. Hoffman’s character, Gunter Bachmann, heads a small group of German spies tasked with counterterrorism intelligence gathering inside the city of Hamburg—the epicenter from where terrorists plotted and planned the attacks on the U.S. during 9/11. Hoffman’s Bachmann must balance chasing and catching smaller terrorist targets with restraint and gaining additional intelligence in the hopes of netting even bigger al Qaeda fish. Director Corbijn nimbly highlights the challenges of enticing ordinary people to assist government agencies in getting the upper hand against terrorist organizations. The problem is that this film doesn’t give Rachel McAdams’ lawyer, or Willem Dafoe’s banking exec character, the space or time to fully develop into the plot and solidify the storyline. Another incomplete theme transpires when Corbijn attempts to depict how well different spy agencies play together and share information in today’s covert world. Hoffman’s professional courtesy with a CIA operative (played by Robin Wright) could have been further developed but was fragmented and largely untapped.Without stronger backup support on screen, Hoffman is left dragging on cigarette after cigarette in almost every scene. When the super spook isn’t smoking he’s slowly contemplating terrorist money trails—perhaps too cautiously, voiding any chance for excitement on the big screen until the movie’s final scene. With bourbon in his hand and little screen action to raise audiences’ pulse rates, the film battles boredom before finally dissipating into what feels like a nightcap for viewers. The pace slows to the point that every scene with Hoffman turns into a constant reminder of the gigantic acting talent we lost in real life—and wasted in this film.Philip Seymour Hoffman’s last film role is persuading and powerful to watch—but the movie ultimately falls victim to an incomplete story with weak supporting characters. Catching terrorists is supposed to be dramatic and suspenseful on film, not a dull chase following bank accounts and paper money. “A Most Wanted Man” squandered the perfect chance to showcase a phenomenal cast led by Academy Award winner Hoffman ... a missed opportunity that we won’t ever again see with Hoffman’s shocking death. It’s appropriate that Hoffman’s last word on film is an expletive shouted in a fit of emotion, a result of the film’s only excitement and drama. Perhaps Hoffman knew that his edgy finale still wasn’t enough to bring merit to this movie.Grade: C