Tipping Point: Our picks and pans ("In the Heights," Cowsills documentary, Gresh & Keefe)
In the Heights
You need a feel-good film? Here you go. This adaptation of the Lin-Manuel Miranda and Quiara Alegria Hudes musical is joyous, a celebration of community and fulfilling dreams. Usnavi (Anthony Ramos) plans to leave Washington Heights, where he grew up, to return to the Dominican Republic, where he remembers having "the best days" of his life with his late father. He’s not the only one in the close-knit Heights who is grappling with their future. A college student wants to leave school because she feels like an outsider, even though her father is pushing her to stay. A young woman is striving to become a designer. Jon M. Chu does a fine job directing, although he could have trimmed a bit from the 2-1/2-hour run time. The music, primarily driven by Latin and hip-hop, is irresistible. The dances, particularly the pool and "Carnaval del Barrio" production numbers, are inspired. Miranda turns up in a cameo, and there are a few clever nods to his masterwork, “Hamilton.” If the framing device is a bit of a cheat and the resolution for Usnavi is too pat, well, that hardly dims the shine of “Heights.” (Oh, and: Miranda and Hudes spent time developing “In the Heights” at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center in Waterford in 2005.)
— Kristina Dorsey
Gresh & Keefe
10 a.m.-2 p.m. weekdays, WEEI 103.7, Boston
Political talk radio is like deliberately dipping your ears in napalm. You typically listen because the station's poisonous philosophy mirrors your own and you can start frothing in joy over the beliefs you share with like-minded zealots. Or steam can jet out of your nostrils in rage because you love yelling at those stupid enough to call in with opposite views. Sports talk radio, on the other (no-opposable-thumbs) hand, is a bit harder to pin down. The topics are usually geo-centric and examined through the prism of local teams. A lot of it comes down to the personalities of the hosts — who seemingly by design aren't funny. As a former north Texan who shall forever judge sports talk radio against the rare genius of Dallas's KTCK (The Ticket) and hosts like Mike Rhyner, Dunham & Miller and Gordon Keith, there's not a lot happening within my hearing range that resonates. I will say, though, that the recent midday pairing at Boston's WEEI of Rich Keefe and Andy Gresh is brilliant. They're smart, they don't rely on tired shtick or rely on weary, vintage-ESPN-inspired personnae. They have genuine chemistry and frequently make me laugh out loud. A delicate commodity! Now, if they can only devote one segment each week to my New Orleans Saints, all will be perfect.
— Rick Koster
Family Band: The Cowsills Story
Growing up in Rhode Island, I was always aware of the Cowsills, the singing family from Newport. Not that I had any of their records — too much sugary pop. And not that I would admit to watching the TV show "The Partridge Family," based on their story. Later, I had this vague sense that, like with the cast of the show, not everything was as it seemed for this group of six kids and their mom. If you've ever wondered, "Whatever happened to the Cowsills?" so did Bob Cowsill, one of the brothers in the group who set out to do this documentary to answer his own questions of what the heck happened to a band that disappeared as quickly as it shot up the charts. It's a sad story, although you'll come away with new appreciation for the family's musicianship and harmonies. And while the band didn't really survive, the kids (barely) did.
— Tim Cotter
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