Archive for the 'music' Category

26
May
14

Frozen

Frozen

I’m sorry for this pun, but I just need to say, “I was tepid about Frozen.” I started watching a few weeks back and that I can let a film languish is a sign that it isn’t a winner for me. I did like the art, the infusion of Scandinavian design and incredible icy landscapes, but the story didn’t grab me. It’s the story of Ilsa, a princess who for an inexplicable reason is cursed so that everything she touches turns to ice. Her parents are at their wits’ end, but can’t find a solution. For my money, I’d expect a king and queen to do more, lots more for their heir. Instead this woman is locked up and her younger sister is in the dark as to why her sister, with whom she was so close avoids her.

When Ilsa is coronated she inadvertently brings winter to the realm in the midst of summer. Ilsa flees to self-imposed exile and her sister pursues her. Her sister soon meets a dashing young ice seller, his reindeer and a live snowman. They’re all very endearing and clearly we’re in for some nice songs, a lesson on love, sisterly and romantic.

As I watched I was all too aware that soon Disney will put this up on Broadway or an Ice Pavilion near you. It seemed too predictable and commercial. Though I thought it could be much better, kids would like it.

08
Jan
13

En Française: Les Misérables

Les-Miserables_1

Bien que Michael Phelps d’une du Chicago Tribune et un examen étoiles et demi diminué mes attentes pour le film Les Misérables avec Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway, Russell Crowe et Amanda Seyfield et al, j’ai aimé le film. Alors que je suis d’accord avec Phelps que le travail de la caméra était bizarre avec trop de gros plans à mon goût, la musique et des spectacles surmonté cette faute.

La musique a été bien fait et j’avais oublié combien de chansons excellentes le jeu comprend. Oui, l’émotion est forte partout et il ya beaucoup de misère dans l’histoire, mais qui est destiné et sonne vrai. Je pensais que Anne Hathaway joué admirablement et que vous souhaitez l’histoire a eu plus de son sort. Les femmes sont principalement victimes de Les Mis et je pense que cela ne doit pas être le cas à être fidèle à l’histoire, non pas que la précision était l’objectif de la comédie musicale ou qu’il doit être.

Je n’ai pas été impressionné par l’acteur qui était Marius, il semblait bien d’une “average Joe” ou “average Jean,” pour définir le cœur de quelqu’un sur le feu avec un coup d’oeil.

Une autre critique est que ce film devrait être acteurs avec des accents français, pas en anglais. Je semble être le seul à cette idée que si vous allez faire un film sur un pays étranger ne doit pas le son des acteurs comme s’ils étaient de ce pays?

Tous mes critiques sont mineures. Les Mis fascine et vaut pour les habitués. Je m’attends à ce qu’il engranger plusieurs prix.

Les-Miserables-22

07
Jan
13

Les Misérables

WEB2LesMiserables

Though Michael Phelps‘ of the Chicago Tribune’s one and a half star review diminished my expectations for the film of Les Misérables with Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway, Russell Crowe and Amanda Seyfield et al, I did love the film. While I agree with Phelps that the camera work was bizarre with too many close ups for my liking, the music and performances overcame that fault.

The music was well done and I’d forgotten how many excellent songs the play includes. Yes, the emotion is strong throughout and there’s a lot of misery in the story, but that’s intended and rings true. I thought Anne Hathaway performed admirably and wish the story had more of her plight. Women were mainly victims in Les Mis and I think that needn’t be the case to be historically accurate, not that accuracy was the goal of the musical or that it needs to be.

I wasn’t impressed by the actor who played Marius, he seemed to much of an average Joe, or average Jean, to set someone’s heart on fire with a look.

One more criticism is that this film should have actors with French accents, not English. I seem to be alone in this idea that if you’re going to make a film about a foreign country shouldn’t the actors sound like they’re from that country?

All my criticisms are minor. Les Mis enthralls and is worth repeated viewings. I expect it will garner several awards.

Related articles

03
Jan
13

The Swell Season

theSwell SeasonAnother documentary.

Swell Season takes a look at Glen Hansard and Markėta Irglová the actors/musicians from the film Once as they tour.

The black and white documentary is simple, yet powerful; quiet, yet engaging just like its subjects. Both Hansard and Irglová seem so candid, smart and real.

We learn about their relationship, its history and get a glimpse of why it didn’t work, though most everyone watching would wish it did.

We learn about how they deal with fame and how it hits them. Fame’s not what either of them bargained for, or expected. Neither of them love the limelight or hate it, but they let us see what they think of  how people behave towards them and how they question those responses while always trying to be kind and respectful.

Much of the film focuses on Hansard’s parents and his mother’s pride at Hansard’s success. While his father doesn’t appear much, he make an important imprint. I found it fascinating that Hansard so admired his father for keeping secrets, or not sharing much with his family.

Fans of Once will appreciate The Swell Season and the opportunity to see Hansard and Irglová together again.

10
Aug
12

The Glee Project: Actability

Executive Producer, Ryan Murphy considers who should go

This week’s homework was Robert Palmer‘s “Addicted to Love” and Dianna Agron was the mentor. While the Glee Project contestants sang they each had to portray an emotion written on a big flash card Dianna held. It was pretty artificial and as there’s little context and the feelings on the cards weren’t necessarily aligned with the lyrics, the assignment felt like an exercise in a bad acting class.

No one was particularly natural in their interpretation, but Dianna was complimentary and especially thought Ali and Michael did well. Dianna chose Michael as the winner, which he could use as acting lessons. He’s going to have to demand a lot of himself to remain in the running.

Addicted to Love (song)

Addicted to Love (song) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The group number was Pink’s “Perfect” and the video was a fake movie trailer, so no dancing again this week. Dianna coached Michael with some useful advice on creating a back story to help with the ad libbing. The information she imparted was probably the most specific and helpful.

Robert, Nikki and Zach were very emotional as they announced that everyone was doing a last chance performance so that all the writers could see them. That rather sucked as if they all did so well, why should they all be in jeopardy. Professional writers should be able to work with any of these and don’t need to see

There were writers and of them only one was a woman. Michael did a fine job, but why one earth did they have a boy sing “Girls Just Want to Have Fun”?

As Lily (Mae) sang, I thought she lacks the vulnerability Ryan Murphy wants. Yes, she’s got a weight problem, but she carries her weight well enough and she’s so confident. It’s not a liability.

Some people are deliberately big as their heft makes them more heft in a group. It’s a power thing with them and I think Lily’s such a person.

Ryan said the thought Ali didn’t perform well in the video and seemed skeptical when Zach and Robert defended her. She belted out her song. Ian liked her and envisioned her as a promisculous bitch. Why that came to mind baffled me.

Blake was cute when he sang delighting the writers with his leading boy charm. Ali Adler missed his wound, honing in on what I see as Blake’s deficit.

Aylin was introduced to the writers as the Muslim in the contention. Robert mentioned that her parents are conservative, as Aylin reminds us each week, though I wonder. They did send her to a rather progressive They were excited about the freshness of Aylin’s religion. One writer thought that she was an absolute original as opposed to say a “new Rachel” or a “new Finn.”

Ryan asked the writers if they felt they were compelled to pick someone completely new and different or were they compelled to “just pick a new star.” It was a loaded question as it was posed just after they saw and discussed Aylin. The reply was pick a star, which I’d say makes the most sense. The new and different is likely to backfire, especially if the writing sticks with the goal of being provocative and comes from writers who tend to stick with slightly skewered stereotypes.

Then Ryan suggested they eliminate two more more contestants. At the start of the series, they said they’d only have one, not four winners. (Of course, they could hire someone who lost.)

I could see eliminating any of them. There’s no clear winner or losers this week. No one messed up on the words. Blake did have trouble in the studio, but no one else did. Lily dominated her scene, so that might cost her.

In the end Michael and Lily are sent home. That’s fine. Though I thought Michael’s sharp improvement had earned him a place for the finale, I see that like Lily he’s not what the writers are looking for.

03
Aug
12

The Glee Project: Romantic-ality

They’re down to 6 contestants. Only two guys remain: Michael and Blake so I’m guessing they’re safe. The theme is romantical-ity. Lily admits to having a crush on Blake and figures the others do too. So we’ve got a little romance to kick off the theme.

The homework song is “More than Words” by Extreme and the songwriter will accompany them on guitar when they perform. I’ve never particularly liked this song. It’s just way too saccharine.

The contestants decide to pair up and the pairs come down to Shanna and Michael, Ali and Blake and Lily and Aylin, who are fierce rivals. Going for some shock value, Lily and Aylin decide to kiss when they sing. Aylin seems to really not care how her parents will react to having the world see their daughter flout their religious beliefs.

Darren Criss returns as mentor. He saw Michael and Shanna as stiff and Lily and Aylin did not ge the reaction I think they expected as no one mentioned their kiss. Instead they were seen as too serious.

Blake won because he was earnest, not a quality that fits the theme. When he won, he was happy and mocked the girls who mention their previous winnings. He seemed like a poor loser when he won. Since he won, Blake could choose

Shanna struggled in the studio. Michael was good in the studio, which surprised Nikki. Lily and Ali were great when recording as well while homework winner golden boy Blake stumbled. He can’t sing harmony.

Lily toned down her acting while Michael brought his up and that really impressed the judges. Shanna and Aylin had trouble looking natural and like they weren’t just dancing.

The video takes place on a Saturday during detention. Implausibly enough it’s on a Saturday and the principal leaves all the kids in the classroom and they easily run out of the room in pairs and get “romantic” in various parts of the school. The singing was good, but the What’s weird is that although the theme is “romanticality” none of the judges make any of the performers sex it up as they forced Nellie to do. Why the difference?

[Digression: Adam Levine from Maroon 5 appeared in an ad for ADHD meds. Doesn’t singing and songwriting pay any more? Is this what happens when kids download pirated music? So sad.]

Shanna, Aylin and Blake had to perform for Ryan. Shanna harped on the fact that she felt Micahel belonged in the bottom three and that she thought they were too terrific to merit that. Blake got “Losing My Religion,” Aylin got “The First TIme Ever I Saw Your Face and Shanna had “

Aylin forgot the lyrics. Ryan asked Aylin about how she thought Muslim girls would react to seeing someone like her on TV. It seems like he’s trying to do market research as well as cast the show. His naivete is showing. I suppose he’s never heard of a fatwa. I don’t think it’s particularly bold or wise to present the Muslim teen rebelling against religion. It would be interesting to show one living out that religion, believing in it whole heartedly. Weith Aylin, we’ve only gotten superficial glimpses at her faith and culture. That’s true of all the contestants and a failing of the show.

Astutely, Robert asked her about the backlash. However, the elimination round is not the time he’d get a real answer. Usually, people say what they think will keep them in the game. I wouldn’t expect Aylin to say that “While, my family’s pretty peace loving, there are some folks I know who’d hunt you all down if you disrespect Islam the way you kinda do with Christianity.”

Ryan notes before Blake comes out that Blake lacks a bottom, depth. How true. He’s petrified to sing. He does fine with the song, but he shows no vulnerabilities.

Shanna comes out dolled up with curly hair and a short red dress, after Ryan’s told that she’s too “bubble gum-ish.” Ryan did think there isn’t much to Shanna as far as creating a character. He asked her if she was complaining about her position in the bottom three. When he asked her what kind of character she could be, Shanna suggested she’d play the athletic girl who was in a bunch of activities. Boring. Later she admitted that she thought she didn’t believe she should be in the bottom three. Kudos for speaking up to Ryan. He then said he could write for the feisty Southern girl. (That could be a character, the Southern Red State Girl, though it would be better if she played up her family background.)

The judges thought Aylin didn’t offer much beyond good singing and that Blake coasted on his charm. Nikki thought all of them cracked. Before they presented the result, a trailer for next week showed Aylin in a hiljab, so obviously she stays. Nikki also brought up the issue that they only have two remaining men so it seemed unlikely that Blake would be eliminated, despite his

Note: Turks don’t usually wear hiljabs (the head coverings worn my Muslim women, called jilbabs in Indonesia.)

As they walk up the the list, Aylin and Blake express pessimism and Shanna seems rather confident, which was kind of a “tell.” Shanna was sent home. She’s basically too mainstream and didn’t know how to develop a character for the writers. She hadn’t been in the bottom and didn’t know what to expect. It’s a point in the competition that those who’ve been up for elimination have an edge as they know how to talk with the judges. If she had thought to mention how her mother was a druggie and that was hard, she might still be on.
Now my current favorite to win is Ali. I hope I haven’t jinxed her.

28
Jul
12

The Glee Project: Tenacity

In the teaser, everyone who’s left talks about how intense the competition has gotten.

The homework assignment is Survivor by Destiny’s Child, which the judge Amber Riley will evaluate. She proved her tenacity by showing up despite having stress fractures in both legs. Amber wanted Abraham too be less of a diva and said that Lily didn’t show the feeling that she should. Amber loved Aylin’s voice and was struck by how much Ali went for it, so she was chosen as the winner.

There was no choreography this week was

The song for the video was “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor by Abraham struggled to get the notes, while Michael had problems, again, with lyrics. Nikki said  Shanna was great as was Blake, while Lily was too loud in the group recording. Aylin seemed to savor pointing that out as their rivalry heated up.

When filming the video, they had to do an intricate obstacle course in one take. If a single person screwed up, they had to redo everything. Lily, Aylin, Michael and Abraham had to do double dutch jump roping and they kept screwing up requiring more takes. Abraham sprained his ankle, but kept plugging along showing his tenacity. At the end Ali had to shoot a basket with one hand. She kept missing, which is understandable since she’s shooting from a lower position. In the end, the director had the other contestants lift her chair up closer to the basket. The whole shoot took 34 takes and exhausted the whole crew.

The video was far better than last week’s.

Lily, Abraham and Michael were selected for the bottom 3. Lily still can’t sing well in a group and Michael keeps flubbing the lyrics.

Lily belted out a song from Funny Girl with excellence. Michael was good, but I don’t remember that performance all that well. Abraham sang Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror” and also did a good job. In the end Ryan and Co. decided Abraham should go. While he’s not the strongest contestant, I was surprised Michael’s still around since learning the lyrics is pretty basic.

N.B. In my opinion no one has more tenacity than Nellie who put up with a lot of pressure to adopt a fake pin up girl persona. I expected Shanna now to get this pressure, but she escaped that fate.

22
Jul
12

Bubbles in Space

High school students collaborated with musician Michael Andrews on this video for his song “Bubbles in Space.”

16
Jul
12

The Glee Project: Fearlessness

The theme was fearlessness and Jane Lynch was the mentor this week and she was a breath of fresh air. Not that the other cast members weren’t but Jane has an unique energy level. The contestants had to sing a rap song for their homework. They chose to do choreography involving everyone shaking their rear ends at Robert and Jane. Why didn’t anyone think that might be lame? Now that Mario’s gone there’s no one in the group that objects to the ideas.

Aylin and Charlie pledge to be less affectionate. Yeah, right. I do wonder what Aylin’s family thinks now that they can see this series. Turkey is progressive as far as Muslim countries go so they may not really be as strict as she says. A strict family would have watched Glee and then forbid their child to try out.

Lily won the personal mentoring session with Jane, who felt Lily was a young version of herself.

The video was much better than last week. This mash up of Blondie’s “One Way or Another” and Pat Benatar‘s “Hit Me With Your Best Shot”  was a slushie fight in a swimming pool.

Nellie, Aylin and Charlie were in the bottom three. I wouldn’t have had Nellie at the bottom this week. Yes, a person has to come out of her shell, but the mentors don’t have to go out of their way to insist that she be more blatantly sexual. I think she would have done fine. I’m not as impressed with Blake or Michael. Aylin was giggling and Charlie didn’t control his autism spectrum stuff so he had to perform.

Charlie went home despite a robust performance of Tom Jone’s “It’s Not Unusual.” I wouldn’t be surprised if next season we saw a character with autism of Ausberger’s, but the actor won’t actually have the condition so he’ll be easier to direct.

I’m glad Nellie and Aylin have another week.

Trivia: Aylin graduated from my sister and brother’s high school Loyola Academy, a Catholic school in Wilmette. It’s a rather progressive school so I’m surprised such strict parents would send her there.

30
Jun
12

the glee project: sexuality

This episode’s theme was sexuality and Naya Rivera (Santana) was the mentor. The gang sang a song I can’t remember and there was a lot of sultry looks and pumping and grinding. How I long for a bit more sophistication in our culture. I don’t blame the contestants they’re just seeing what’s out there and emulating. (Porpoise of Life’s blogger couldn’t remember the song either. Not a good sign. I did just watch the beginning again and the song was “I Wanna Sex You Up.” Ho hum.)

If you’ve seen the show you can pretty much predict how a lot of the contestants responded. Aylin was exuberant, but worried about what her parents thought. Yet she doesn’t really seem to care so it’s something of a non-issue. Tyler reminded us that his transgender transition makes this tough for him, yet when Robert announced the theme he was jubilant. I guess he just got caught up in the mob response.

Charlie won the homework competition and was on cloud 9 knowing that Naya considered him the success in the sexuality challenge. Yet this turned out to be a bit of a curse as it made him cocky the rest of the week.

The Star of the Week

Nellie interested me the most this week. She was honest and admitted this was a stretch since she hadn’t even seen a guy naked. I was glad someone had a different perspective. It’s interesting to watch someone who seems so real live through this fish bowl experiment.

The video for the week’s setting was a high school sex ed class in which a dowdy, non-sexy teacher assigns the class to write an essay on “What Sexuality Means to Me.” The Glee Project did get the banality and triviality that can pervade US classrooms right, but really this is an assignment that would result in parental outcry. Why should a teacher read and evaluate students’ sexuality? Is that their job? No teacher who’s right in the head would assign something that begs parents to call and complain.

Sexiness is in the eye of the beholder

In the studio, Michael stumbled over the lyrics as he sang with Mario. He just couldn’t get them right and in the end Nikki had to ask him to leave. Still over the moon from his homework win, Charlie was flirting with Aylin while recording which just made him look immature. He needs to wake up if he wants to stay.

Then during the video shoot, Charlie let his ADD and attitude get the best of him as he tried to direct Erik the Director, who was remarkably patient.

Tyler just got lost in the crowd. Lily vamped up her performance and shy Nellie got out of her shell and excelled in the shoot.

Tyler, Michael and Charlie had to do last chance performances. Charlie did a fun rendition of “I Get a Kick Out of You,” which got Ryan and Co. to overlook Charlie’s lack of professionalism that week.

Michael sang and forgot the words to “Lucky.” I thought he was a goner. Tyler sang Charlie Chaplin‘s “Smile” which he mentioned he’d never heard although it was featured in Glee‘s first season. If I were going on The Glee Project, I’d watch all the Glee episodes again since they tend to pull TGP songs from the series since those have been cleared for legal rights. I thought Tyler did a poor job and I winced at times as he was off pitch at times.

Michael and Tyler both botched their performances. Tyler’s been in the final three regularly and always reminds his judges that he’s going through a major transition vis-a-vis his gender. It’s true and sincere, but should he constantly get excused and protected? Then blowing the lyrics twice is quite a blunder. In the end the judges decided that Tyler should go. While they liked him and sympathized with his challenges, as Zach told Charlie, “This is a job.”  Tough as it was to do, the judges sent Tyler home.

I think that was the right decision, hard as it may have been. I doubt Tyler could deal — all at once — with the physical, emotional and professional challenges he signed himself up for.




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