2021's most musical-centric musical, Kitty Cantina wins cash for cats, and another divisive Matrix

BOOM GOES THE DYNAMITE
In a cinematic sense, 2021 was chock-full of high-profile musicals: West Side Story, In the Heights, Dear Evan Hansen, Annette (and that's not even getting into the animated territory). But the most musical-centric musical of the lot is Tick, Tick... BOOM!. The Netflix adaptation of RENT composer/playwright Jonathan Larsen's one-man show about the struggles with creativity and being a young artist in New York City in the early '90s doesn't reach the exquisite heights of West Side Story, but it's an incredibly solid directorial debut for Lin-Manuel Miranda. Andrew Garfield does a bang-up job as Larsen, capturing the necrosis that pushes some of those close to him away, while bringing enough charisma and warmth to the role that you still root for him. The playfulness of lyrically looping duet "Therapy" and the Broadway cameo-packed dinner scene for "Sunday" make it a must-watch for theater lovers and a good time for casual musical enjoyers. (SETH SOMMERFELD)


click to enlarge YOUNG KWAK PHOTO
Young Kwak photo

KITTY WINNERS
Owners of Spokane's first and only cat cafe, Kitty Cantina, recently landed some sweet cash to help sweet, homeless kitties in the region. Tori and Justyn Cozza were recognized for their animal welfare efforts by winning a public vote in pet food brand Royal Canin's Feline Foster Heroes Contest. The win nets a $5,000 grant to support SpokAnimal, the local nonprofit shelter for which the Cozzas volunteer to foster kittens and with which they partner to showcase adoptable cats at Kitty Cantina in North Spokane. Read more at felinefoster.org. (CHEY SCOTT)


RETURNING TO THE CODE
It is basically impossible for the Wachowski siblings to make a non-divisive film. Ever since the original The Matrix, every entry in their collective filmography spawns legions of detractors and passionate defenders. Now solo, Lana Wachowski's The Matrix Resurrections is no different, but it's certainly worth a watch. The film, in theaters now, finds Neo (Keanu Reeves) and Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) back in the Matrix for reasons that slowly reveal, and starts off with some really sharp meta commentary on reboots and rehashes, but then kind of punts on most of that and settles into standard Matrix-y beats with action that rushes to a climax. At times it feels like a rewrite of the clunky Matrix sequels, but it arrives at a satisfying endpoint as a result. (SETH SOMMERFELD) ♦

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