Tuesday, August 30, 2011


As I get ready to travel, I am always at a loss as to what scent to bring. In recent years, I have always made it a point to being just one, at most two scents when I travel, so I would wear it a lot, and then I would always be reminded of the places I would visit whenever I would smell that perfume. For example, Diptyque L'Ombre dans Leau will always remind me of Northern Italy from two years ago. This year I wanted a scent that would be versatile. I am going to the Baltics, and even though it is still summer over there, I read temperature only hovers around 65-70. My choice? Fresh Cannabis Rose. I have always loved this scent, I remember falling in love with it at first sniff. Ot's a rose, but it's a dirty rose. Patchouli gives it a sharp edge, making it smell earthy, like fresh soil. But, what makes it even more interesting for me is that to my nose, some citrus gets kicked in right after, making it smell clean, but not sweet clean (a la pink pepper) The tea and white musk notes kick in after, and it makes the drydown so much more interesting as it keeps the rose from being too jammy.  I have never really gotten into Fresh before - I had this idea that they are just too American, too Jo Malone, too Sex-And-The-City for me.  I don't know if they were trying to be controversial by inserting "cannabis" as the name of the scent, but it really doesn't smell like weed.  Or so I am told. 

Monday, August 29, 2011

X Derailed

I hereby nominate Joe McElderry's album "Classic" as the weirdest album of the year. If not, then maybe the most hilarious. Yes, I know, he has a story thus far: won Simon Cowell's X Factor, got signed by SyCo, album didn't sell, got dropped, and joined a reality program where pop stars "transition" to opera stars. Hence, this album. But based on this recording, I think calling him an "Opera Star" would be the stretch of all stretches.  I honestly doubt Pavarotti has any reason to be concerned. McElderry's thin voice has no depth, his interpretations have no depth, his new hairstyle has no depth.  This is karaoke at its worst, from tepid versions of songs by Sarah Brightman, Celine Dion, even Susan Boyle (Via "I DrEeamed A Dream")  I really hope this helps him gain some following, because at this point it might lose him some. I actually did not dislike his pop album "Wide Awake," and thought he had some potential. Perhaps that is why his cover of Luther Vandross' "Dance With My Father" is the most serviceable one here. If we can be real, his voice has a "pretty boy" quality that may work on an amplified role in a musical, for example. But him singing "Nessun Dorma" in either Italian or English won't get him anywhere.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Paris Match

I am very late to the party with "Midnight In Paris." Everyone I know and whose opinions I trust have implored me to see it, but somehow I have resisted. Well, maybe resisted isn't the correct word to use, but circumstances have prevented me from seeing the film...until today. It has been a weird and cruel  summer and really, I ask myself, I saw "Thor" before this? But never mind that because, as they say, better late than never. "Midnight In Paris" is totally my kind of movie. It's wistful, it's witty, it's romantic. And finally, I can look at Owen Wilson now and separate him from his juvenile discography. He is the best Woody Allen character inspired by Woody Allen I have seen in a long time. His character, Gil, is enamored with the past, specifically Paris in the 20s. So when he comes to the City of Lights via a business trip, it is no surprise that he is inspired by what he sees. The film has a fantastic visual prelude wherein Paris is photographed beautifully, warts and all. Actually, I can't remember the last time Paris so visually stunning in film: it's scrubbed up, and lit beautifully morning and night. (Cinematographer Darius Kondjii did a fantastic job) Gil's character seamlessly time travels in time to his beloved Paris 20s and we see all the characters in a literary major's wet dream: Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Gertrude Stein. Allison Pill as Zelda F, and Kathy Bates as "Gert" have fun with their roles. Oh heck, everyone has fun with their roles, and is that really the First Lady Of France playing a Rodant tour guide (it surely seems to be) I especially chuckled at Adrien Brody's Dali and there's a hilarious scene where filmmaker Benuel is suggested the plot of his future film "The Exterminating Angel" by Wilson ("Why don't they just use the door," he exclaims as he is suggested of a plot involving people who cannot leave a dinner party) There are tons of LOL moments like that in the film, and I found myself grinning ear to ear throughout the whole film.  I love Paris, but Paris doesn't seem to love me back - I keep on thinking of the song "Everything Happens To Me" whenever I am there.  Likewise, I used to be a big Woody Allen fan ("Manhattan" is one of my favorite movies of all time) but somewhere along the way I have forgotten about him. This puts him front and center again for me, artistically.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Show Stopped

What happens when you live a dream? Abigail Pogrebin did, and lived to write about it, on "Showstopper."  Pogrebin was cast in the young ensemble of "Merrily We Roll Along," Stephen Sondheim's one big flop in an otherwise successful career. What went wrong? She brings us backstage, and before and after. She muses that sometimes after you have lived your dream, there really is nothing else for you to do but live your life. After that experience, she leaves showbusiness and becomes a journalist. Thirty years later, on a Cast Reunion Concert Show,  she relives the dream, ponders what might have been, and realizes she has lived the life she has wanted to live all alone. As a show fanatic, I loved the backstage story she infuses in her piece - it's not gossipy, but more personal. But more appealing was her internal journey, and how she wrote about living the life after the show closed. I wished the piece was longer - this was a "Kindle Single" so it is just short of a novella. But what is here I cherished reading, and perfect for lovers of Broadway.  BC25

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Springs We've Seen

I have been listening to Barbra Streisand since I was a kid, and I will probably listen to her songs on my deathbed. So it won't be a big surprise when I say I love her new album, "What Matters Most." But how do I love it? Let me count the ways. First of all, gone are the dulcet hues of her young voice. The woman singing here is older, wiser, and well, the keys are much lower. I think finally she is sinking into her "new voice."  She is embracing it more, she isn't as straining as in her last album, I feel more confidence from her. Her voice is now more rich mahogany than a chirpy yellow, and at almost 70 years of age, it is pure buttered fine wine.  Like Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan in their latter years, there is more emphasis on emotional attachment to the lyrics than technical perfection. Whereas before, she had a voice of a superhuman, nowadays she just sounds more human, who just happens to be super. She starts the album with a quiet bang: singing an acapella intro to "The Windmills Of Your Mins," and it's breathtaking. It's dramatic, it's dynamic, it's acting, it's singing.  The best tracks are the ones that soar, thanks to expansive arrangements by Bill Ross. "I'll Never Say Goodbye," at first sounds familiar, but then a little sigh here, a muffled laugh there, and the song has suddenly become Barbra-ized and you will forever never hear it the same way again. Sure, the arrangements may veer towards sameness, so it may be best to listen to songs out of album succession. The tempo picks up on Sinatra's iconic "Nice And Easy,"  and Barbra has a chance to sound sultry. She even sings Portuguese on "So Many Stars," just for variety.  "Something New In My Life" is served well by her, although I have a particular dislike for that song ever since it was used heavily in a recent turgid of a movie.  But as the album ends and lingers through "What Matters Most," you find that in the course of listening to he album, you not only heard music, but felt emotions: happiness, melancholy, sorry, grateful. Only few singers in the world have that gift (another one that comes to mind is The One And Only Superstar Nora Aunor)  and we all  just has to thank The Universe that we were here to witness them. 

I leave with what Alan and Marilyn Bergman wrote about Ms. Barbra Streisand:

To hear Barbra Streisand sing a song we've written is to know why we chose to become writers.

She always gets exactly what we mean in a lyric. And more. The actor that she is, the director that she is, the singer that she is gets it. And more. Shadings, feelings, nuances emerge that never fail to surprise and thrill us. How do you sing a question mark? A smile? How do you sing the text and sub-text of a song while never sacrificing musicality for meaning or meaning for musicality? Never choosing style over substance or substance over style?


Red Queen

I always wear something red on Mondays, for good luck according to feng shui, and that includes my scents. One of my Monday "staples" is Queen by Queen Latifah, and I almost always get compliments on it. I remember first getting it so cheap at the Fragrance District, because, well, I liked the bottle, and thought to myself that I could always use a red bottle fragrance. Since it was a celebrity fragrance, I was wary. A whole lot of them smell cheap and common. But, I do think Queen is pretty well done. It's not the most original thing in the world, but it is pretty mature - no pink pepper overdose. It smells a lot like sweet liquor on my skin - like a burnt tequila with cinnamon and a boozy cognac. The drydown is kind of nice - an ambery vanilla with just a wee bit more cognac. It smells more "evening" than daytime, although I think it is as much an "office" scent. The longevity is pretty good, too. Sometimes at night, I can still smell it after wearing it for a whole day.  I bet you if this juice was in a niche bottle, a lot of perfumistas would go ga ga for it. It's a sweet boozy and reasonably-priced concoction, easy to handle and easy to wear. I plan on always having it for my red bottle days, so all Hail Queen!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Four Hearts That Beat As One

I can't remember the last Jennifer Weiner novel I read, but I remember liking the ones from when she first became famous. So I was looking forward to reading her latest novel, "Then Came You." I wasn't disappointed.  This book is a story told from points of views from four different characters, and these characters are well-fleshed out that one sentence from each of the chapters and you can immediately tell what character is "speaking."  Weiner has made their writing so nuanced that you feel like you *really* know them - like a close friend or confidante.  As theirs characters interweave, and eventually find each either, I found myself riveted at every plot turn, and it was written cleverly enough that it kept me guessing. The payoff at the end didn't disappoint me, though I thought the last couple of chapters may have been too "edited," and felt the whole thing a tad too rushed. Perhaps the editor thought the book was getting too long? Someone described this novel to me as something Jodi Picoult would have written,  probably because it deals with hot button issues like surrogacy and egg donations, but I think Picoult would have taken a more issue-oriented path, while Wiener's focus is more heart. And Heart is where the heart is. 


Not A Broken Vow.

I am not a hardcore "Grobanite," (as Josh Groban calls his fans) but about 4/5 into his show last evening at The MGM Garden Center Arena, I suddenly felt like one. After setting up four people on stage from the audience on a "romantic mood," even serving them wine, he says he will sing a song about cheating. He is being ironic, of course, but it is, in my opinion, one of the most romantic songs of all time, "Broken Vow," which is about letting go if you truly love someone. In a spare arrangement of just a piano and a trumpet, it was, in a word, just beautiful, one of those perfect marriages (pun!) of voice and lyric and music. I couldn't help but weep. He follows it up with another romantic ballad, "Per Te," this one is Italian, and suddenly I am transformed in a Florentine street, and instantly I am in love with someone, something, anything. That, I guess, is the reason why thousands, maybe millions, of people love him. His rich baritone voice was in magnificent form last night, and it is truly rich.  It's a pop baritone, easily accessible, easy to love. He wowed his audience with that and that alone, with no need for elaborate sets and pyrotechnics. This is his version of an "intimate show," and while it's not that by sheer space (it's still an Arena) he took great pains wit connecting with the audience, running around the floor a number of times, even taking questions from audience members by text. (Which artist catalog would you bring on a deserted island? He answers Bob Marley of course) I didn't realize he was so down to earth, and hilarious, with mostly self-deprecating humor. Not being too familiar with his catalog, the first part of his show was a bit of a blur - though expertly sung, I was sort of at a loss. However, by his encore, "You Raise Me Up, " I have been transformed into a believer. 

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Jeweled Children's Stories

It seems like a natural transition for female singers - the time when they have children and they get "inspired" after having a baby that they release children music albums, and now it's Jewel's turn. But then again, Jewel's music has crossed several genres - pop, country, white soul. I kind of rolled my eyes when I first started listening to this album, to be honest. But then as I listened more, I realized the great thing about it: her album doesn't get dumbed down just because this was a children's album. Jewel's music has always been most effective because her songs (especially the countrified ones) tell a story. In these cases, they just happen to tell children's stories. There's a fine of mix of self-penned tunes here with "traditional" children's songs, and they all sound like any song you would hear from any past Jewel albums.  Fans of her music will find plenty to love her, and even I, a casual admirer, appreciate the effort. I probably will not play this music constantly, but if any of these songs get picked randomly to play on my iPod, I doubt I'll skip.  

Friday, August 19, 2011

One Love

 The big-screen adaptation of the novel "One Day" comes out today, and that made me want to pull out my review of that book, which I wrote on 10/23/10. As I read this now, I find that I was less kind than I thought. I like the book much more, and now really have higher hopes for the movie. 


I remember this past summer, everyone and their mother seemed to be reading "One Day," by David Nicholls. I knew it was one of those love stories, but I wasn't rushing to read it. I told myself I would when I found a cheap copy of the book. Then one day I got an email from Amazon saying that the e-Book version was on sale for $6.00 so I said why not.

The story isn't new. Two people, who obviously are so right for each other, live their lives tip-toeing around having a relationship. But timing is never right, and they move along. If done well, it could be entertainingly maddening, with you screaming to the characters: "Can't you see how much you two are meant to be together?" And, that part of the book is done so well that I did find myself screaming that to the characters. There is much wit in the dialogue that I wanted to read them out aloud. Even though much of the references are British in nature, they were all accessible enough that you got them. I found myself rooting for them to be together, cursing their obstacles. I rode the roller coaster ride of their love story.

But the last eighth of the book was so disappointing. I would have preferred for the tone to have been lighter, but it just turned dark, and I felt blind-sided. I guess that was part of the strategy, but I never want to get built up only to find I have been set up.

This book is Hollywood ready, and Anne Hathaway has been cast as the female lead, which I think is a great casting choice. It is to be directed by the man behind "An Education," so I hope the tone of the film would be similar to "Love Actually."  I do feel, though, that there would be a Nicholas Spark influence in the screen adaptation somewhere there. And that would be not good. But I will hope. They say it springs eternal.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


They say that in the darkness of the past we will always see the light of the future, and that is certainly evident in "The Help," the movie adaptation of Kathryn Stockett's best-selling novel.  I tried and tried and tried to read this book. As a matter of fact, a week before the movie came out, I started to read it again as I was expecting to see the movie. No matter how I try, though, I just couldn't get into it. So I went into the movie with only a vague idea of what it is about - black maids working for white families in the 60s in the South, specifically Jackson, Mississippi. It's  a pretty straightforward story, it's actually a couple of pretty straightforward stories of the unlikely rebellion of black maids fed up with how they are treated. A young white lady, played by Emma Stone, stirs up the rebellion by publishing these stories in an anonymously-written book. This plot is very close to my heart, as I grew up, and was raised, by one of our maids. However, my family never looked at them as maids, but more like extended family members. So this kind of story, theoretically, is much cliched. While historically this really happened, I was dreading the woe-is-me angle of these kinds of stories. And Viola Davis does a pretty terrific less-is-more version of woe-is-me. Understated and restrained, she reminds me of the iconic actress Nora Aunor, who specializes in that kind of acting style. (Interestingly, one of Aunor's iconic roles is of a maid in 'Atsay')  As a take-no-prisoners maid, though, Octavia Spencer gives a counterpart showy scene stealing performance. Between the two, there is a magnificent ying and yang that I predict will get hers and hers Oscar nominations. I wish the balance of the movie's tone was better. It's slightly off - after a scene where the activist Medgar Evans is assassinated, come lighthearted fares, and it waters down its gravity. Some people have written editorials about how this movie just makes white people feel better, without truly caring about black history, and I do understand that point, though I am much too unlearned about specifics in Black History. See this movie for the performances, at the very least. These names are bound to be honored early next year.

Monday, August 15, 2011

God Bless Ruth

There are a few songs I love with all my heart that when I see a singer including them in an album, I at the very least give them points for good taste. One such song is Ann Hampton Callaway's "You Can't Rush Spring." And, that song is included in Ruth Aguilar's album "An Invitation..," so I was excited to hear the album, and specifically her version. Then, as I was reading her press kit, it says there that Ms. Aguilar is a protege of Tierney Sutton and Ms. Ann Hampton Callaway herself, so I was doubly excited. And then I play her version of the song...and she has got it all wrong. Her version is fast and frenetic, and seems to be at odds with the words of the song. She attributes the arrangement to her Latin roots, I claim it to her not understanding the meaning of the song. It was such a disappointment that I couldn't find any redeeming value in her other tracks. She has thin voice that cuts through the arrangements like chalk on a blackboard. So, sure, she may be young, and she needs to train, or have more life experience to sing these songs, but all I am going to say is that she has a long way to go. I very rarely go negative, but sometimes you just have to. She credits Billie Holiday as her main influence, and believe me, she has non of the soul, passion, and gravita of Ms. Holiday's music. God Bless This Child! (P.S. I hate her bangs)

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Glitter Whores

I saw SISTER ACT on a hot muggy evening and it was just what the doctor ordered: a sprightly, breezy musical. And guess what? It has one of the most tuneful, melodic scores I have heard in a while. It's pastiche of the Motown era, and it has wit and punch. I really do think Alan Menken is a gifted composer, and even without Howard Ashman, Glenn Slater is a great collaborator. We all know and have seen the Sister Act movies, so there's no need to rehash the plot, but the musical stays faithful to the movie.  The book is quite hilarious, and I can sense the hand of Douglas Carter Beane in a lot of the punchlines. I know it's a little too sentimental for the highbrows, but it works just fine for me. Patina Miller was brought in from the West End production and she is a fine singer, with a voice that shouts to the rafters, and that is exactly the voice needed for the score. As an actress, though, she seems just  a little detached and cold for the role. I sense she may be better at a dramatic role. Maybe I was looking for a more "showy" interpretation, perhaps akin to Whoopi Goldberg's performance in the movie. For this reason, I liked Tony winner Victoria Clark better here, as the Mother Superior, as she brings more arc to an essentially one-note role. The supporting nuns are all quite good, and they mirror exactly the nuns in the movie. I could just see the Casting Director saying "Get me a singing Kathy Najimy type!" As the postulate nun, Sarah Bolt resonated with me the most, and she shines in her 10:45 number. But I was happiest when the nuns are all decked out in their Swaroski-encrusted costumes (real Swaroski, I read) and singing their gospel-disco numbers. That's a lot of glitter and is perfect for a glitter whore like myself .

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Tween Hearts

I am a Gleek. So, of course, I saw "Glee, The Concert Movie" (on 3D) the first day it came out, and I loved it. I was bewitched by Lea Michele and her Broadway-trained talent. Seeing her do "Don't Rain On My Parade" is life-affirming, although really, it just apes Streisand. And even when she sings a newer song like Katy Perry's "Firework" she is mesmerizing. And break-out star Darren Criss has the chops and the star quality that you don't need 3D for him to pop off your screen. He croons "Silly Love Songs" leading-man style to make it a crowd-rouser. Amber Riley has the powerhouse soul for Aretha's "Ain't No Way" although the song may be too small for the concert. I especially liked that this concert was filmed in my old backyard - the IZOD Center (I'll always know it as the Brendan Byrne Arena) so when they sang "Empire State Of Mind" there was a hometown energy to the song.  It's funny how Corey Monteith (his face is huge but still handsome on 3D) isn't really served by this project - his vocal limitations are highlighted, and he seems ill at ease most times when on stage. And Heather Morris, while fantastic on her Britney number, does not even wince about lip-synching. (Most Gleeks don't care, anyway)  I get kind of confused if these are the television characters performing or the actors themselves - on the back stage interviews, Lea Michele is Rachel Berry in character, while Darren Cris doesn't seem to be Blaine. Interspersed with the concert footage are heartwarming stories about real-life Gleeks, and while they are quite touching, they are pretty much on the "preaching to the choir" mode. Still, I can only applaud vehicles that bring Streisand/Garland duets to the tweens of today, and have them greet it with screams and cheers. And these messages of tolerance and equality, if we feed them to the young, will give me hope for a next generation that may be wiser than mine.

Thursday, August 11, 2011


"Take The Lead" is the second book I read by Johnny Diaz, after distinctly remembering how I was underwhelmed by the first one. I got this as a free download from Amazon, so I said why not. I should really learn my lesson - there are just so many hours in one's lifetime, and there are much too man books in my TBR pile. But anyway, maybe his writing his style is just not too my liking. He is a newspaper journalist, so maybe that's why I think the book is more "descriptions" than "feelings." The main character/narrator is likeable enough but I just couldn't help but roll my eyes whenever he describes himself as "most handsome teacher in the college," which he repeats several times. And, on the first few pages of the book he describes himself as "over the bar and club scene" but what does he do for the rest of the book? Go to bars and clubs. When he finally meets Adam, we are supposed to empathize with their love story, but at that point, I ended up no longer caring. 'Tis a pity because there were real touches in the story that were unique and interesting, like him dealing with a sick father who is far away. The exploration of how Cuban Americans live was unique, and that would have been far more indulging, for it would have given me a glimpse of something I would normally not have known. Perhaps, in the end, Mr. Diaz needs a little more maturity for me to truly appreciate his novels. I just don't know if I have the desire and inclination to even wait for that time. (BC23)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Lessons Of Love

There are songs you can listen to at 2 in the morning, and can make you think. It can make you embrace life, can make you wonder about its miracles. "I Was Here," from Kristen Chenoweth's new album "Some Lessons Learned" is such a song. It talks about being alive in this world and making a difference, of making sense of our "being here," and trying to do some good in the world. It is a song that makes you want to do something - anything - so your presence in the universe isn't wasted.  wept when I first heard the song. I can't say I am the biggest fan of country music, but I totally adored this album. You really don't have to be a fan of country music nor Ms. Chenoweth to love this album, because it is a fully-realized piece of work that speaks. One of my favorite songs in the album is "God And Me," which is about a woman asking God why he makes a heart that gets broken. Actually, there's a underlying thread of spirituality in the whole thing which I thought would turn me off at first, but I found myself acquiescing to the idea. I am more spiritual than religious, but I felt that connection that one has with a Higher Power, and one's sometimes frustrations with it all. there's a bit of camp, too, with songs such as "What Would Dolly Do," which deals about that other higher power, Dolly Parton. I love the playful chorus (W, W, Double D!) All in all, this is an album about love - the search of (I Want Somebody) unconditional (Fathers And Daughters) even metaphorically messed up (Wreck You) I have been listening to it non stop for the past two days or so, and it's so richly layered that I always find something new in any or each of the songs as I play them over. And yes, I have even realized some lessons learned somewhere along the way.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Lonely Planet

I want to remind myself that it's summer and they are showing movies geared for certain demographics, mostly kids who are out of school and are looking for some kind of diversion from the heat. "Rise Of The Planet Of the Apes" is one such movie, and it's a great fix for that target market.  It's mostly fun, eagerly earnest, and will push you at the edge of your seat. I sat next to my friend who kept on nudging me and saying "Why are you covering your eyes," because, indeed, I was. You can almost anticipate what's going to happen next by the musical score. Once those snare drums start appearing, impending doom is coming. Oh, a heartwarming moment is coming up, I hear strings. Oh, but the chimps are cute, and the animatronic effects are astounding (apparently done by the same gentleman responsible for the LOTR ones) and ooooh, they get menacing looking once they start their revolution. Subtlety isn't welcome here folks. James Franco looks like he is phoning it in, I can just imagine his agent telling him he "needs" this movie for his commercial career. Who wouldn't want a franchise? I have an intense dislike for Frida Pinto, and she is useless here. I may have liked the movie a little more had she not been in it. But it's a summer night, and why not go out, and why not see a movie, and why not this movie? It is what it is. 

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Let 'Em Smell Good!

Lubin's Black Jade debuted on Bastille Day this year.  Reportedly, this perfume was inspired and created for Marie Antoinette baed on her Trianon gardens in Versailles. It's called Black Jade because she used to carry this perfume on a black jade container. Reportedly, she even brought this with her while she was imprisoned. Created by my favorite nose Olivia Gicobetti, it's very typical Giacobetti. It's light and ethereal, even though the opening notes are quite spicy: cinnamon and incense were the first things I smelled. Yet it never felt overwhelmingly spicy. The jasmine gave it a little floral twist, but again it's so well-behaved that it blended quite well to the spice bouquet. The spice turns floral, with the rose making a grand entrance. Again, the rose is well behaved, and quite subtle and never really takes over the proceedings. I guess there's tonka bean, and sandalwood and amber somewhere there, but they all get along. The result: a floral that's more spicy than flowery. I like it, though honestly it's not making such a strong impact with me that I am craving it. And just like a lot of Giacobetti's scents, it disappears much too quickly on my skin. I tested this recently on one of the hottest and most humid days of the year, and I felt it was gone so quickly. I have to try it again, maybe it will more than like on second smell.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Not Enough Love

I should, in theory, have enjoyed "Crazy Stupid Love more.  it's your modern rom-com: a little raunchy, a lot of comedy, heart. And I tried, I really did. But sometimes you just don't connect with something, and I just, well to coin a cliche, wasn't into this movie. I loved the performances, mind you. Steve Carrell has perfected this part, but it seems like I have seen it do it before. Julianne Moore is Juliane Moore, and she has a huge investment here that pays off, but still I felt she was underserved by the movie. And who knew that Ryan Gosling had such comedic flair (I guess all that training in 'The Mickey Mouse Club' paid off) because his modern-day Henry Higgins turn here was pretty awesome. And Emma Stone can add another step into her climb to be the next best thing.  Marisa Tomei, always dependable, is fantastic here, and I really do think she has never been better artistically. I just wonder why all in all, these pieces didn't quite fit as well as they should have. Perhaps a little more focus would have been better? There was a lot going on, with  story lines that dragged the whole movie downwards. Maybe I am just an old romantic - when I see the word "love" on a title, I expect to be emotionally swept off my feet.  Maybe there were just too much crazy and stupid, and not enough love.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Trip To Jerusalem

Mark Rylance won the Tony this year for his work in JERUSALEM, and ten minutes into this production, you can kind of sense why. He gives an all-out flesh-eating performance. He does everything in here he could possibly do to show everyone, "Hey I am doing everything...Give me a Tony." Well, that's what it seemed like to me, anyway. At most times, it seemed exhausting in an everything-but-the-kitchen sink kind of way. Actually scrap that - even the kitchen sink and everything else is included. It feels almost as if he was begging, and doing everything so he would win that Tony. Moreover, I thought the play was interminable bore, with an almost unbearable first act. I felt the same way about "Rent." Who and why would you want to watch a bunch of kids do nothing but drink and do drugs? Maybe it's my age showing, maybe it's my ignorance of a lot of the British slang words that they use, but I thought that the whole act was pointless. Things pick up (plot-wise) by the second and third act for me, but I fear that they have lost me by then. Even John Gallagher Jr, couldn't make me rise up from being annoyed. I was asking myself, almost all the critics loved this - did they see the same thing I am seeing right now?  Well, it turns out I am not alone, because because audiences are sharply divided about the play, too. So, I feel better about not feeling it.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The One That Got Away

"Love The One You're With" starts with a question: What do you do if you suddenly bumped into the one that got away? Of course, there is never really a simple answer, and Emily Giffin's book mines that situation. Ellen has a chance encounter with her ex, and she wonders what would have happened if....never mind the fact that she has a perfect husband, a perfect job, a perfect life. Then she realizes she never really understood her definition of perfect. I love the way Giffin's character was so introspective it verged on obsessive-compulsive - in the best way possible. The character should really you, you feel like you want to hit her head and say, "The answer is right in front of you!" But at the same time, I understand what she is going through, I understand what she is feeling, and I cannot blame her. I love that her character is flawed, it made her seem more real to me. I had to stop myself from reading this book sometimes, it was cutting on my sleep time. When I finally finished reading, I felt like I was losing touch with a friend.