Saturday, December 31, 2011

It's Just Another New Year's Eve

Okay, so this movie is really the cheese of all cheese it makes Velveeta look classy. But I am a sucker. A softy hopeless sucker that I stil found myself crying at its cheesy ending.  I know what it is - it's the romantic in me, who still believes that everyone deserves and will get happy endings (in the traditional, wholesome sense) and I don't think I need to tell you everyone here does. Is it too wrong to be hopeful, especially on New Year's Eve, where everyone is in the cusp of new hopes, new dreams, new beginnings? This movie has a great cast, but they are directed like they are in an overblown sitcom. Some go along with it (Sofia Vergera can always be counted on) but others (Hillary Swank, and Sarah Jessica Parker) take it too seriously, pretending they are in a movie with weight. And why cast Michele Pfeiffer and then stick her in a comely brown wig? Everyone looks like they filmed their scenes in half a day shoots, but that's me being a critic. I am not, I juts enjoy human emotions laid before me, and Zac Efron sparkles as a messenger boy who fulfills a woman's bucket list. More and more, and with ever movie, he is proving to be a versatile actor. Josh Duhamel, too is fine balancing a thankless nothing role into something you can feel. And Lea Michele, for whatever humorless side she has, has undoubtedly one of the best singing voices nowadays, and she delivers a wistful, beautiful "Auld Lang Syne" here that would make any eye tear up. So yes, this movie may be the ultimate guilty pleasure for me, but it's New Year's Eve, and I will take all the pleasure I can get. 

Exits And Museums And Hallways

I started the year vowing to read 100 books, but I was short. Actually, I fell very short, with finishing just 55, but I don't feel too bad. Nowadays, 55 books a year is pretty good, and with all these distractions around me (i.e. The Internet) I think it is still an accomplishment. And I will not give up. For 202, I am making the same challenge to myself, and I know I will make it this time 'round. As 2011 closes, though, here are the last three books.

"Exit Through The Wound," by North Morgan was a little bit of a puzzlement for me, as far as how I reacted to it. It kept my attention, for sure, but at the same time, there was nothing I read that was really original, and it really did not make me think, or ponder. This was written by the blogger better known as "London Preppy" and I read that blog. He  is a gay blogger in London, and I kind of liked reading his entries there because it gave me a glimpse of what gay London was like, since LDN has been an "adopted city" of mine since way back. For better or worse, this book is very different, and while it has touches of brilliance (it took you inside the mind of someone with clinical mental illness) it is so mind-numbingly stylized that it was hard to see anything through the rubble. Morgan idolized Brett Easton Ellis  (he even had his name tattooed on his bicep) and some parts are (for better or worse once again) derivatives of Ellis' works. All in all, it's a more than average read, and I am sure that his next book will be fuller and will have more depth in it. I await it. 

I liked the concept of the fictional museum in "Miracle At The Museum Of Broken Hearts," wherein the main character, Rose, starts curating pieces for a museum designed to showcase artifacts pertaining to broken love stories. Unfortunately, that is the most innovative thing in Talli Rolland's Christmas novella. The "Christmas" part of the novella is very incidental as this could have been set at any season and it wouldn't have made any difference. Everything else in the book is by-the-numbers and it provided a very welcome distraction for me during those busy hazy days leading to the Holidays. I would have wanted a little more interaction between the two characters who fell in love before they actually did, but maybe that's just the hopeless romantic in me. 

"Love Is In The Hallways" is the sequel to "Love Is In The Title," which I reviewed here, and we find Luke and Cameron, who fell in love in that first book, getting their love tested in a hostile High School environment. These silly kids, you wanna fall in love, then you need to suffer the consequences. Love hurts, it scars, and for teenagers who are ruthless, these consequences can be very deadly. But RJ Scott, maybe because she is British, writes with such tenderness and dignity that you could only go with the flow with these two souls as they fall in love, and face the odds. This is a very romantic book, 'tis true, but it is also quite chaste and well, a tad unrealistic. But gay teenagers in need of escapism from the real truth can't have a better book to read, ans while we are at it, even adults will find a lot to love about it as well. In these very complicated times, love is still love. 

BC - 53, 54, 55 - and that's a wrap !

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

My Only Love

Of course, when I love something, it usually disappears. "P.S. I Love You" was my favorite scent family at Bath And Body Works. In the plethora of family scents there, this, for me, was the most "grown-up." It's a rose scent, a jammy rose that isn't as sweet as there other sugary stuff there. It's maturity was because it had a hint of musk there, and at the dry down, the sandalwood/ambery base had cocoa, which made this sound a little bit dirty. It isn't the most imaginative rose scent out there, but for the reachable price points of BBW, it was more than worth the money. But then, maybe that is why this scent was discontinued way too quickly, BBW has a younger mass clientele and I am sure some of these young ladies scoffed and said "Grandma" when they smell the rose. Well, you all go back to your coconuts and vanillas, and all those sweet diabetic-inducing fruits. I will just let a sigh for one of my only loves at BBW. 

Monday, December 26, 2011

The Ick Factor

Since I don't really read thrillers, I have never read any of James Patterson's books, but I do know that he has a very devout following. So, I thought, he is probably a good storyteller, since his novels are commercially successful. After reading "The Christmas Wedding," though, I have to wonder. The only reason I finished this is because it was Christmas Eve and I wanted to read a Holiday themed book. It's really awful. I don't know how many times I wanted to throw my Kindle in exasperation. The story? Basically, a woman gets three proposals and wants to get married on Christmas Day, but she will reveal only on that day who among three guys she will marry. That has got to be one fo the stupidest plots I have ever encountered, like a cross between a bad reality show setup and a inane ripoff of the Mamma Mia movie plot. I cannot in all integrity suspend my disbelief for it. And then - and I don't care if I spoil the ending - she chooses her late husband's brother as the groom, and ait was so icky it made my skin crawl. I wanted to delete the book from my Kindle as soon as I read it. A total waste of time, and thank God I had a very wonderful Christmas that was unruinable. 


Of Days And Days

There have been numerous tribute records done for Billie Holiday that when a new one comes along, it would have to be very good for it to get my attention. Kira's  "Memories Of Days Gone By" is very very good and I highly recommend it. Maybe one should look at this without the baggage of it being compared to Billie Holiday - many have tried to emulate her, none have succeeded. First of all, who is Kira? Kira is Kira Sklov, a Danish rock singer who has "turned" to jazz singing. And that is all I know of and about her. She seems to get the tortured part of Lady Day. Though her voice is robust, there is a quiver in it that evokes pain and suffering, and thus gives shading to songs like "Good Morning Heartache," "My Man," and all other dependent songs and their ilk. But she gives a beat to "I'll Be Seeing You," and there is a melancholic juxtaposition to it that works. Her "Gloomy Sunday" is just a little short in the depth department for it to really work, and "Am I Mad" sung like a mad woman is just contrived. But she employs intelligence in her phrasing which makes this an interesting record. I think I might like her better in a pop setting, without my prejudiced trappings for the standards. 

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Looking For Love On Christmas

I am trying to augment whatever Christas spirit I have by reading Christmas stories as well, and for that reason I read "A Boyfriend Before Christmas." If one was to base a book by its cover, then one would think that this story would be fun, whimsical, lighthearted, right? (Lookie! Peekaboo Santa Hat!) But, this is a pretty serious, and bittersweet story. Rachel McDaniel loves her little chocolate shop, but her co-owner, Mama Bird thinks she should find a man, so Rachel gets set up with one date after another. And then love is found by Christmas Day, but it's not what you think. The author tries hard for heartwarming, and mostly succeeds. 


Friday, December 23, 2011

Over The Weekend

Andrew Haigh's "Weekend" is a small film with a big heart. Set in London, it is a story of two gay men who meet, fall in love, and learn about themselves over a course of a weekend. I wish, truly, that the movie could have been described by that sentence, but it is more than that. It is an exploration of feelings, a celebration of opposites attracting, an exercise in romantic melancholy.  The movie is set up as if we were eavesdropping on these two people who meet at a bar, "hook up," and then....what? The characters never knew what they were getting into, but you felt that once they were in, felt they were connected forever. Intimacy is a dangerous thing, for it leads to a whole slew of situations, even that L word. The beauty of the movie is that whatever it is, isn't spelled out. Like the complexity of human spirit, we interpret, we project, we see what our eyes want to see. I could have gone away with some of drug use, and I felt like I missed soem things because at time the sound was inaudible but there's no mistaking that this movie broke my heart. Fine art does that to me. 

Songs On A Winter Solstice

I was looking for something to play while celebrating the longest night of the year when I chanced upon this Holiday EP by Ingrid Michaelson, whom I have never heard before. Apparently, she is a New York based singer/songwriter, originally from Staten Island, NY, so I felt some kind of kindred spirit thing with her. It's pretty wonderful - she sings a folksy "I've Got My Love To Keep You Warm" to start the collection,  and as much as I have heard this song before, she makes it sound different enough for me to pay attention. There is a lot of honestly in her interpretation that I instantly believed. She then follows with  "Snowfall," and "When The Leaves," two originals that resonated, especially the former. The songs have a plaintive feel that you can easily relate to, and is laden with great hooks. She closes with the old chestnut  "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas," and again it's a great cover: personal, heartwarming, and in the coldest and darkest of nights brings a light. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Unclear Day Into Night

I was so looking forward to the revival of "On A Clear Day You Can See Forever," because I had never seen a production of this show. Plus, I wasn't even scared, unlike most theater cynics, of the gender change of the ingenue that they are employing for the revision of Alan Jay Lerner's original book. I had faith in Michael Meyer, who did great jobs in "Spring Awakening," and "American Idiot." I even welcomed the addition of Lerner's songs from "Royal Wedding," because I love all those songs, especially "Too Late Now." But ten minutes into the first act, I knew this production would be a mess. Harry Connick Jr, upon whose shoulder this production rests on looks so bored on stage, and I had a problem with him singing "pop versions" of these songs I dearly loved. He seemed to not know and not care about how what he was doing there, and is directed to move front stage every time he sang, as if this was one of his concerts. I didn't particularly hate the revisal of the book but I thought it could have been better if Mr. Mayer (and Mr. Connick) were more adventurous in how they tackled the material. As it was, I fet their half-heartedness in the production, as if they were scared to fully commit to the changes in the piece. The talented cast is wasted, although there is still a lot of beautiful music being sung on that stage. Jessie Mueller is beautiful and she sings like an angel, and her 10:30 number "Every Night At Seven" wins heart, and David Turner really isn't bad, and at 10:45, his "What Did I Have That I Don't Have" is well-received, but by 11:00 Connick's "On A Clear Day" pales in comparison.  The music, the songs, the lyrics : they still carry the evening so it's not a total waste, but the production framing them do not do justice. 

Sunday, December 18, 2011

I Don't Remember Christmas

There's a song called "I Don't Remember Christmas" from the musical "Starting Here, Starting Now," but it's not really a Christmas song - it's an ironic/kinda bitter song about reminiscing about someone, and of course, an image of Christmas spent together.  I don't know why, but I started humming that song in my head after reading Remembering Christmas, which is an anthology of three short stories all about gay men dealing with the Holidays. Perhaps because the holidays brings out a lot of mixed emotions to a lot of people I know? Certainly all those mixed emotions are presented in these short stories. In Tom Mendicino's "Away In A Manger," we see a "man of a certain age" Manhattanite who comes face to face with a couple of things during the Holidays: a friend's mortality, his family's expectations of him, and of meeting a younger lover unexpectedly. I loved the beginning of the story, wherein Mr. Mendecino perfectly describes how city life is for a guppie, but when I started losing interest when the story started taking unexpected turns. Plus, I didn't really feel the rushed ending. I think I would have preferred if some things were left unanswered. I just posted my thoughts about Frank Politos twin sets of 80s novels and in his contribution here, "A Christmas to Remember," we get an update on the character Jack Paterno, now almost graduating from college, and in love with a straight guy - or is he really straight? Home for the holidays, he sees him at the local gay bar, and..well, you get the drift. The story is as riddled with early 90s reference as his novels are with 80s trivia, and it is sometimes hard to get through to the story because of that, but in this small dose, his writing is more effective. And I must confess it was good to reconnect with the character. And speaking of connections, Michael Salvatore's "Missed Connections" is about a 36 year old Bostonian who decides to go home to his parent's Arizona home for Christmas after being dumped by his partner. Stranded at the airport, he chances upon an old friend/flame, and unanswered questions get closure. This, for me, was easily the best story of the three. It had a great mix of moods, light when it needed to be, but still effectively thoughtful.  All in all, I think this isn't a bad collection, a great read to take your mind away from holiday family drama when you yourself are home for the Holidays. 


Friday, December 16, 2011


When I was at Scent Bar (Lucky Scent) over the weekend, the young lady there,perhaps sensing that I am very adventurous in scents, told me to try Comme des Garcons A New Perfume Eau de Parfum, which is the new CDG release. I really did not know much about this release, except fot two things: it was new, and a quick review of it described it as smelling like "scotch tape and Elmer's glue." So with that in mind, I spritzed it on my left arm quite liberally. I was expecting a unique olfactory experience, and well, boy did I get it. First I have to say I admire the scent - it's well done and like a piece of performance art, I get it, and know where it is coming from. When I was a kid, I used to love Fisher Price toys, and I remember I loved the plastic smell I got whenever I opened a new box. Well, I think this smells exactly like that. You think, why would anyone want to duplicate that smell, and I say why not. Why would anyone want to make that a perfume, you say? Well, I am still trying to grasp the answer to that. There is a vigorous amount of aldehydes in here, and after a while it grew acrid on my skin. After a couple more minutes, my stomach started to churn a little bit whenever I would get a whiff of this. Bottom line: it's beautiful, but totally unwearable.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Dreamer Is Still Alive

I have never seen Stacey Kent live, and after hearing her new album, "Dreamer in Concert," I just might put it on my bucket list.  Recorded at La Cigale in Paris, she sparkles here, like an earthier Diana Krall or Jane Monheit, yet still refined and pretty. Jazz purists may scoff at her slickness, but she sings like a real musician, and swings like a chandelier, and she swings with an emotive quality and you can feel she has investment in the music and knows and understands what she is singing about. I would guess she was touting her French language, "Raconte Moi," as she sings French songs in the repertoire, but then again she also mines from the Jobim songbook and from there you can see another part of her versatility. Her French sounds wonderful, and she gets the breezy Brasilian songs. I particularly liked her clear-diction reading of "Waters Of March," which she sings with intelligence.  And I totally dig that she starts "It Might As Well Be Spring" with melancholy, then shifts tempo and drives it hard to finish. I coud even forgive the too-frequent saxophone solos by her husband, Jim Tomlinson. And speaking of him, she sings one of his compositions, the beautiful "Postcard Lovers," which has lyrics by one of my favorite authors, Kazuo Ishiguro, and it is a beautiful song. But my favorite track is probably the slow-burn "They Can't Take That Away From Me," wherein she is longing, loving, and lingerie sexy all at the same time.(i particularly loved that she sang the verse in the middle of the song - works just as fine!)  Those who haven't heard her will be instant fans after hearing this recording. 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

It's A Shame

There's an awful lot of sex in "Shame" but it is never titillating.  In this movie, sex represents a person's entrapment to something that is so destructive that it almost literally kills someone. Michael Fassbender literally is naked and raw in this movie, but this bareness represents sadness. This is a man who is imprisoned by his own feelings, and they just happen to revolve around sex. Sex has no more meaning for him, but the meaning of his unfeeling for it is the true meaning of the movie. That sounds so grand and meaningless, and perhaps that is the point of the movie. His already complex world is rocked when his sister, played by Carey Mulligan, arrives in his apartment. Clearly, she is as troubled as he is, and the only clue we get is when he starts bawling when she sings a heartbreaking version of "New York, New York." (Trust me, the scene is better seen that described) Sensing the pain that they both feel, Mulligan says to him, "We are not bad people, we just come from a bad place."  It's mentioned that they both come from New Jersey (That damn Chris Christie!) There is a tug and pull on how we see these characters, chastising them for the mistakes theya re doing before our eyes, and at the same time sympathizing because we can clearly see these people are so messed up. It is to the credit of both actors because both give such beautiful confusion in their performances. Whatever it is they are doing and what is happening out there on screen, we never disbelieve it. Things come to a head and we see both characters in pain and we see Fassbander run in the evening while it is raining. I was torn between being disgusted by the movie, and admiring it. But one thing is certain, I was still thinking about the characters hours later. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Blood On My Face

I went back and forth about seeing "Bonnie And Clyde" because initial word on it was mixed. A lot of people like it, just as many did not, and still a fair number were in the middle. Most people say, though, that this is Frank Wildhorn's best score to date, and that became a factor on why I decided to see it. Wildhoen is loathed by a lot of Broadway purists because he writes pop songs for musicals, but I do  think he writes well-crafted pop songs, so I gave this one a go. Well, count me in among the "middlers." It isn't my favorite musical, but I did not dislike it either. The whole thing seemed rather tame for a musical dealing with killers. The edgiest thing I got from it was the blood that spilled on my face towards the end of Act 1, The man behind me had it bad: his beige coat was soaked in blood that he looked like the Columbine gunman when the lights went up.  The show has four fantastic star powers in Jeremy Jordan, Laura Osnes, Melissa van der Schyff and Claybourn Elder. There's a heart in the piece, but it shows late in the show, after a lot of people may have already given up on it. The stage design is creative - hunks of wood that move and tumble, and some people have complained about the projections but I thought they were used effectively. It was enlightening to see pictures of the real crime scenes as the same situations unfolded. In my opinion, seeing this show is not a waste of an evening - there's a tuneful pop/country score that us very Wildhorn, and Jordan's and Osnes' voices and bodies are very well showcased. I hope their performances get recognized, even after this show is long gone. I suspect there will be better shows ahead for them, and now at least I can say in the future, "I saw them when..."


Tom Judson was a chorus boy, porn star and writer, he says, not necessarily in that order.  I am not that familiar with his work as Gus Mattox (his porn name) and I never saw him perform with the touring company of 42nd Street, but based on "Laid Bare: Essays And Observations," he is a pretty fine writer. Culled from essays, magazine contributions and his blog entries, he has culled his best writing into this collection and it is pretty interesting. I especially liked the memoir pieces, especially his recollections on being a rent boy in Manhattan. There is one in particular I liked, wherein he relates an experience seeing a client who stayed at Waldorf Astoria. The story happened around Christmastime, and it made me wistful about New York at Christmas. I wish he had written a full memoir, as I think there are a lot more interesting stories in him. Here he is reading from "My Huckleberry Friend," which on paper I loved:

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Ryan You Can Drive My Car

"Drive" is a movie that is style over substance, but it works.  It starts with Ryan Gosling driving a car with pumping 80s retro music, and that sets the pace. Gosling is "The Driver," who leads a double life: car stuntman and garage mechanic by day, and at night he helps criminals escape by driving them. There is a very intense opening sequence that shows how he does it, and it is brilliantly done: suspenseful, heart-pumping. Gosling plays this role with subtlety, and mystery. We get to view the character through tight closeups, but we never know what he is thinking, and a lot of times, the juxtaposition between his strikingly handsome matinee idol looks and its violent outbursts is as exciting as the movie itself. He gets attached to a neighbor, played with matching subtlety by Carey Mulligan, and we get to see their relationship only internalized between their characters. But then things go awry. Albert Brooks has been winning the Supporting Actor nod for his performance here, but as memorable as it is, it's pretty slight. And I love that CHristine Hendricks gets to play something different than a sassy swinging something. I must admit that the blood and gore here is just a little too much for squeamish me, and there were a lot of times I was turning away from the screen. It really isn't my kind of movie, but I respect it a lot. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

C & M

I am trying to get in the Christmas swing of things even in my reading, so I have been trying to get into some Christmas-themed stories. I found a sweet one in "Colin And Martin's First Christmas," and I love that it features two imperfect people who found each other just before Christmas. Colin is a grocery delivery boy and Martin is one of his customers. It sounds a bit trite, but there's a little twist: Martin is older and blind, and Colin is young and handsome. So, basically it's a fantasy but who can resist a Christmas fairy tale? There's a simplicity in the writing that's a breath of fresh air, and I fell in love with the characters. The book must have been successful because a sequel came out, "Colin and Martin's London Christmas," wherein we get to read about the couple five years after. This one isn't as good as the first one. They get put into a mindless conflict, and then there's a travelogue sub-plot that seemed unnecessary. But, both stories made are cute and pretty harmless. In the hustle and bustle of the season, sometimes that's all we need.  

BC 47-48

Just In Time

"Just In Time For Christmas" is quite possibly my most favorite "modern" holiday song. I love how it's slightly cynical, slightly bitter, but then something changes and it becomes probably the most romantic Christmas song ever. It touches me in the deepest sense: I go through the motions, like a zombie, and I nod and smile and make people happy and in that sense I am happy but deep inside, there's an emptiness and longing. Then maybe someone comes along and makes a difference, and all of a sudden my black and white life turns to technicolor. I have always loved my dear beloved Nancy La Mott's version of this song, and I have heard other versions but I always compare them to the original, and most of the time they don't stand up. Except now, Broadway heartthrob Max Von Essen recorded it to benefit The Trevor Project, and when I found out about this, I instantly downloaded it. Well, it has been on infinite loop the whole day now, and I haven't tired of listening to it yet. It's fantastic to hear a male version of this song, but Max gets the tenderness of the lyric, the longing in the verse, the slight acid in there. He gets it, he gets the message, he gets the song.  I knew he would sing it well, but he puts his heart into it, too. It's a great bookend version to Nancy's and I will listen to it for years to come.  

Kelly Clarkson recently also released an EP and in it, she does a version of the Holiday chestnut "I'll Be Home For Christmas," and this chestnut is lightly roasted on an open fire.  Kelly's version has a lot of ache and soul, and I love the little wails she does towards the end. They scream drama, as only a divette like Kelly can serve. The song has always been a favorite of mine, and whenever I hear this song,  I always imagine a scene wherein someone is traveling home the last hours of Christmas Eve and arriving at the door of his love with only minutes to spare. The lightly lilting arrangement for Kelly has me envisioning a couple looking into each other's eyes as they slow dance. And then there's Kelly in a chiffon white halter gown singing.  I told you I loved drama ! 

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

U Can't Stop The Beat

I don't know why, but when the weather starts getting colder - today, for example - I always reach out for Burberry The Beat For Women.  In theory, I should really hate this scent. First of all, I am not the biggest fan of genderizing perfumes. I believe that men can and should wear women's perfume and vice versa. Rose for the dude? Sure. Musk for the Lady? Why the hell not? But something about this perfume just appeals to me, like listening to Celine Dion, or having a Dunkin Donut for breakfast. It smells loud and cheap and oh so BIG, and it is really a lot of fun. The top notes are pure plastic. Remember when you used to open new toys and the thing smelled like plastic, combined with the plastic wrap? Well, add some vanilla to that and that's he opening here. It's artificial, it's overpowering, it's like a drug for me. When things start to settle down, the florals come out - the pink pepper, a hint of bluebell, some cleani-ish cardamom. It becomes a lot less interesting there, but it still holds my attention. Pink pepper is now so common that the scent starts to become familiar and boring. The base is that generic musk. Burberry The Beat For Women has great lasting power, and monster sillage. It's sort of 80s; I can imagine a big haired gal wearing it, but it's not so feminine that I can also envision a Jersey Shore boy working it, too. It's kind of tacky, seriously, but I don't know, something about this just gets to me. I enjoy it. I feel like shit afterwards, but I enjoy it for its cheap thrill, so sue me. 

Hugh Make Me Crazy

Sometimes you see a show and think. "I am so fortunate to be here, to be seeing this show tonight," and that is exactly how I felt watching "Hugh Jackman Back On Broadway."  I felt like it was one of this historic moments that happens a couple of times in a lifetime when you chance upon a real honest-to-goodness entertainer. Some people compare his shows to those of Frank Sinatra, Nora Aunor, and Judy Garland, and I think they are right - Hugh Jackman is the real deal. He is a showman of the first caliber. Technically, though, he doesn't seem to fit the bill - his voice could be nasal, his dancing is good. But put them all together, he creates magic. And he has a blinding stage presence, with star wattage that could light four Broadway houses. And he connects with the audience wonderfully, reaching every one from the front row to the very back of the rear mezzannine. His show is a "Greatest Hits" one in concept, but I always felt each number so fresh, as if I were seeing for the first time. My most favorite one was  "Soliloquy" from Carousel, where he showed that above all his musical talents, he was also a brilliant actor, transforming into Billy Bigelow right before my eyes. Later on, he transformed into Peter Allen, gaming a gold lame disco outfit. I could go on and on, but I really just felt very lucky that in my lifetime I was able to see this show, and years from now I could say I was there. Some people say that the glitz of the show makes it more suitable for Las Vegas, and I could only laugh at the irony of that. I truly wish someone records the show so all the world can see it. 

Marilyn, Marvelously

Marilyn Monroe is a 20th century icon that portraying her would be a kiss of death for a lesser actress. But Michele Williams is a thinking actress, and she chooses to go the subtle route - a laugh while she raises her head, an eyebrow raised - that she totally embodies Marilyn, even if physically they don't really look alike. Minutes into watching the movie, you will not even care about that, because you believe Michele Williams is Marilyn Monroe. And i believe every second of Monroe's characterization here, for I have met artists just like her that it's almost a cliche. They are tortured characters, consumed by their talent, dependent on hangers on, tough and difficult to deal with but when they are on their game, totally irresistible, like a flickering flame that's so beautiful to look at yet hot to the touch as you come nearer.  In that sense, the Marilyn Monroe here is as real as real gets. But this movie is also about Colin Clark, and the friendship he forged with her while she was filming "The Prince And The Showgirl" in England with Sir Laurence Olivier.  Some historians have expressed some doubts as to the authenticity of his story, but in the end, this is a wonderful story of first love. I don't care if it's real, fabricated, fiction - it is sincere, and sweet, and touching - just like this movie. This is one of those "small" movies that deal with real human emotions, and about how people each touch our lives and changes us. Anchored by Michele WIlliams' Marilyn, this is as perfect as a cast gets. Eddie Redemeyer is perfect as the young man who falls madly in love with Marilyn Monroe, or at least the concept of her. Kenneth Branagh is wonderfully over-the-top, and Dame Judi Dench as Sybil Thorndike is a perfect picture of royal elegance. I sincerely hope these people get Oscar nominations and in an overcrowded field they don't get lost in the shuffle. All I know is that I now know who I will be rooting for Best Actress at The Oscars. 

Monday, December 5, 2011

Classic Ordinary

Because I didn't much like Joe McElderry's last album, Classic (as reviewed here), I wasn't expecting much from the follow-up album, "Classic Christmas." But it's a solid Christmas album. It isn't very inventive or original, but it will serve its purpose: satisfy his fans, and it will sell well enough that it should satisfy his label as well.  For me, the whole thing seems perfunctory: it was made as a comercial product, manufacturing something and putting a red bow on it. It will play at the shopping malls while people buy commercial gifts, and it will offend anyone. I have played it twice now and, honestly, don't remember much about it. It didn't produce a negative reaction from me, so I guess that's a good thing. But it also did not excite me either. So...what to make of this? I don't know, but he sings these songs competently and is in tune, so that may be more than what other singers offer. I appreciate his version of "Driving Home For Christmas," because that song isn't as played here in the States, but the least he could personalize "Last Christmas" a little beat instead of aping George Michael. But besides that, I really cannot think of anything else to say. Oh, I do, atcually: he is very handsome on the cover picture, thoguh the snow on his lapel makes him look like he has dandruff.