Friday, August 31, 2012

Musk, Beautiful, And Dirty

Sometimes I encounter a scent and I fall in love with it instantly, and that was the case with Theo Fennell scent. I do not know much about Mr. Fennell except that he is a known British designer. But bless his heart for creating a great modern scent that is a throwback to the wonderful Oriental scents that very few are creating nowadays. And then bless his heart twice for creating one with skank. I used to be very afraid of cumin-centric scents but I have now learned the lesson of my ways. At first spritz, Theo Fennell is straight up dirty musk, Yet it is blended so well with rose and saffron, and orchids that it is never less than elegant. It's a white-ish musk and it is dirty, I tell ya, but thankfully the cumin never really overpowers. It is there to provide just enough balance amidst the floral petals. There is a brief heart note of powders and then it dries back down to the musk beautifully comingling with the flowers in the background with just the right mix of vanilla and sandalwood. This is a perfume that blooms, as a perfume should. It isn't as raw as Serge Lutens MKK - this is more a dirty woman in a ball gown. Imagine sex in a beaded ball gown, and you get this beautiful creation. This scent has been called a masterpiece by Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez, and they are absolutely correct. The worst part is that this scent has allegedly been discontinued, but I scored a bottle off "the bay" cheap and I will be treasuring it.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Everything Is Normal (Television Review: The New Normal, on NBC)

"The New Normal" (Tuesdays at 9:30 pm on NBC this Fall, Starting September 11) has not even premiered yet but already it has already created controversy. A Mormon-owned NBC affiliate in Utah has refused to air it because of its pro-gay content, and a nationwide boycott for it has already been started by the group One Million Moms. Based on the pilot, though, I really do not understand all the fuss. On that level, it is pretty tame, and the raciest thing gay-wise in it is a smack between the two guys in bed, fully clothed. And the "abnormal" family concept is not even that original. "Modern Family" has been churning out the same idea for a couple of years now. But make no mistake, "The New Normal" mainstreams the idea of a gay extended family, and perhaps this normalcy is what these hate groups are most scared of. I don't think there's anything in here that would shock anyone. I mean, we now have a generation who grew up watching "Will And Grace."  This show is based on that mold, and it is pretty promising. I think what would make this is the fantastic cast. Ellen Barkin has the showiest role here, as a bigoted mother who frowns upon her daughter being a surrogate mother to two gay dads. It's one of those "ironic" casting choices: she is a fierce Liberal in real life so there's some delicious juice in seeing her as a conservative. (Alec Baldwin has perfected this scenario in '30 Rock') Andrew Rannell is fantastic: he is funny, bitchy, shallow but he is such a skilled actor that you also see the humanity and pathos in his character. Justin Bartha is the more alpha-male of the couple, and would seem to be the "straight man" in all the comedic set-ups. Leslie Grossman, as the surrogate mother, plays her role the most straightforward. There's even the prerequisite precocious kid here, and crazy sidekick secretary, the latter played by RHOA Nene Leakes. This is especially promising because it was created and written by Ryan Murphy, of Glee fame.  The pilot has me hooked, and I look forward to watching this weekly.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Kathy, With Depth (Book Review: Official Book CluB Selection, Kathy griffin)

I really thought Kathy Griffin's "Official Book Selection" was one of those celebrity joke books that comedians  put out - you know, the ones with fluff and no substance, but just a series of jokes from their stand-up routines. As a matter of fact, I have had this book for a while, and have been procrastinating reading it. But I started reading it the other night, and found it to be full of depth. Griffin's act is really not a string of jokes, and she explains that she works best when she is just telling stories, and describing her reactions to issues of the day. That is definitely evident in the book, but she also delves into how she became the success that she is today, and even relates all the bumps - big and small - that got her here. I was especially touched when she talked about her relationship with a drug-addicted older brother, and when she talked about the disintegration of her marriage, you cannot help but empathize and sympathize with her. I found the book to be quite dishy, but then I expected no less, since that is the core of her act. I loved reading abotu her days from "Suddenly Susan" working with Brooke Shields, and how they went about shooting her reality series for Bravo. She has always been one of my favorites, and after reading her trials, am more besotted than ever. 


Friday, August 24, 2012

When An Angel Sings (Music Review: David Archuleta, Begin)

So sue me, I like David Archuleta. I think he has a very unique voice - fragile and expressive, and there is a certain huskiness there that makes what he sings earthy when he gets too saccharine (and usually he does take that route). On paper, "Begin" could be a little bit too much: he says that these are the songs that best describes his decision to go on a two-year service  in Chile for The Church Of Latter Day Saints. So you get "inspirational" songs like Christina Aguilera's "Believe" and Simon & Garfunkel's "Bridge Over Troubled Water," among others. But Archuleta has such an appealing voice that whatever he lacks in interpretational depth, he compensates with beautiful vocal renditions. I was totally with him in Keane's "Somewhere Only We Know," a song so great each cover I hear of it works. And when he croons his soulful soprano on Sarah McLachlan's "Angel," you do feel that you are somewhere up there with those virginal wings. Even his almost lamentful "Everybody Hurts" packs some kind of punch. I thought some songs were too bland to be saved, like "True Colors," and "Broken." I get a strange feeling that he had different intentions in his personal meanings, and my take on how to appreciate his decisions come from a different place. This is a great aural collection, and I just hope he comes out of his missions with braver attempts in his music. (I cross my fingers)

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Don't Bother, They're Here (Book Review: Tell The Wolves I'm Home, Carol Rifka Brunt)

Sometimes you just read a book and you feel it's perfect: how it touches you right to the core, how the characters feel like people you know inside and out. That's how I felt about "Tell The Wolves I'm Home." I felt such a connection to it that I felt it was telling my story, even though my own is not as vivid, nor as poetic. The book is a coming of age, set in a time - 1987 - when I did come of age and started learning about life. June is a teenager, who has a very close relationship with his uncle Finn, who was struggling with AIDS. I flash back to that time and I remember how people living with the disease were treated. There was so much unknown about AIDS that people did not know how to deal with it. After he passes on, she strikes a friendship with his lover, Toby, and she learns everything she needs about love, about jealousy, about her mother's relationship with her uncle, and ultimately about how to repair a marred relationship with her sister. It is such a lyrical novel that I want to go back and savour sentences again - they read and sound so beautiful and elegant. I found myself weeping, caring and hating the main character, June, as she makes mistakes and tries to repair them the best way she can. After I read the last word of the book, I closed my eyes, and they were all still there- the characters still vivid, still real. This is quite possibly the best book I have read this year. 


I Miss The Hungry Years (Film Review: The Hungry Years)

I almost saw "Hunger Games" at the cinemas earlier this year, but then I never did. I tried reading the book, but got really bored by it. Or maybe I never really gave it a chance because now, after seeign the movie on Blu-Ray, I am compelled to give it a second chance. I liked "The Hunger Games," the movie. As a matter of fact, I liked it a lot, and no one is more surprised about it than I. It's really not my kind of movie, my kind of genre, my scene. But it was a lonesome Saturday night, and I got so engrossed by it. I think, because, the heart of the piece is love, and I celebrate that whenever I see it. And, it gave me a glimpse of what our society can potentially be - with our obsession with celebrity and "reality." I thought both Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Henderson gave wonderful performances, and any way  I can support Josh is energy well spent, because he is a fierce advocate of LGBT issues. SO sue me, I have become a fan of this, and I am not even ashamed of it.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

On A Desert Island, Not A Soul Can See Us (Book Thoughts: On The Island, Tracey Garvis Graves)

I won "On The Island," by Tracey Garvis Graves via Chick Lit Central and finally started reading it a day or so ago and I got so engrossed in the book that I literally could not put the book down and just had to finish it. I thought, initially that it would be a "survival" book, what with the a plot of a woman and a younger man (her student) getting stranded on an island after a plane crash. I thought the novel would feel claustrophobic (and initially, it did) but the story opened up, and all in all, is much more than that initial premise. While that part of the story was thrilling and suspenseful, the novel blossomed for me in the latter half, when they are faced to deal with dealing with the consequences of "what happens next." It made me think about a lot of things: how where we are in our lives affects the relationships we form. This novel has a great balance of internal vs external conflicts and is one of the best beach reads for me of late.

I believe in paying things forward. Since the Universe gave me this book, I would love to share it with someone else. If you think you would like to read this, comment with your email address and I will send it to you. The only thing I ask is you send me a SASE because it is kind of difficult for me to go to the post office. 


Saturday, August 18, 2012

Whitney And Her Sisters (Film Review: Sparkle)

"Sparkle," the remake of the 1976 movie of the same title, will probably always be known as Whitney Houston's last screen performance. Technically, she only plays a great support to Jordin Sparks here, but she has such great screen presence that whenever she i on screen, the movie lights up. When she sings her one number, a bravura performance of the gospel classic "His Eye Is On The Sparrow," she commands such attention that you are instantly reminded of how big a loss her death is. She may not have been in the best voice of her career at that point, but she makes up by injecting unmistakable soul in her rendition. Jordin Sparks has a big number at the end of the movie, but for me, the movie stopped after Whitney's number. I never saw the 1976 original (though now I am most curious) but this version is just a straight-up melodrama cliche. It's a mixture of "Dreamgirls" and "A Star Is Born," though I do understand that the original movie predates the Broadway Dreamgirls. The screenplay is sometimes eyeroll-inducing so we are left to just appreciate it based on performances. The standout for me (besides Whitney) is Carmen Ejogo in the "Diana Ross" role, and she is wonderful: magnetic presence (you aren't able to take your eyes off her) and a brave performance that goes dark when it needs to be. You ask yourself why she isn't the title character of the movie. Jordin Sparks, in her first starring role, is just barely adequate. She doesn't really have the screen presence, and is most times boring. The way the role was written didn't help her at all, and she isn't skilled enough to make more with it. Her definitive final number, destined to be epic, was bland and generic. I forgot about the song two seconds after she finished. Everyone else just coasts by. Sparkle has some sparked performances from Houston and Ejogo, but it doesn't have enough sequins to shine bright.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Sgradevole (Book Review: Flirting In Italian, Lauren Henderson)

After finishing "Flirting In Italian" by Lauren Henderson, I got mad at myself. Why do I have to be so anal-retentive that I feel like I have to finish a book even though ti is so uninteresting and boring? But, I did. This has got to be one of the worst books I have ever read, and the premise came with such promise. A young lady from England goes to Italy for the summer, and... it could have gone everywhere that's beautiful. It starts as she sees a picture of a young woman in an old painting, and the woman looks like her. I mean, the possibilities were endless. But what do we get? A stupid mystery-ish with such a lame twist. There is some love story here, but the young man, Luca, is painted like an asshole that you never root for the relationship to go anywhere. Sigh, I really do not want to waste any more time writing about this book. On to the next. 


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Black Gallery (Television Review: Gallery Girls, Bravo)

Sometimes I like to inflict pain on myself. That could be the reason why I DVRd (I also can't believe I used DVR as a verb) the new Bravo show, "Galley Girls."  Maybe it's boredom, but then again I still have tons of stuff in my drive to watch so I am still at a loss why I started with this. This show is touted to be about the gallery crowd in New York City, and I thought it may be interesting, but based on the first episode, we didn't really get a glimpse of that world, but this really was more of a mean girls vs mean girls type of show, kind of like a modern day Jets vs Sharks, I guess. There are the rich girls, all despicable. Liz is rich, and she is unapologetic about it. Based on her father's connections, she works as an intern at Eli Klein Gallery, but when she gets there. she seems to not want to work, picking and choosing what she wants to do. Maggie used to intern there as well, but had to quit. Cut to the hipsters of the Lower East Side and Billyburg: Claudia and Chantal have started a new space: a combination art gallery/boutique called "End Of Century." They have a friend, Angela, who have doctors as parents, but she wants to model nude and flirt with an Australian photographer, and that seems to be the extent of the depth of her character. These are really young girls I would never want to spend any time with in real life, yet I still question why I have this morbid thought of watching their whole series. I am sick in the head.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Angel On My Shoulders Makes Me Happy (Scent Review: Thierry Mugler Angel)

I don't think any perfume lover would argue with me if I say that Thierry Mugler's Angel can now be considered a classic.  Created in 1992, it is still going strong, and is probably one of the biggest perfume success stories from the past two decades. But, it is also one of the most polarizing scents - this one, I assure you, is something you either love or hate. There's just no middle ground with it. I *LOVED* it - it was a powerhouse of a scent. At the time, it was, for me, revolutionary. It smelled like a big desert. I initially thought (mistakenly) that it was called Angel because it smelled like Angel Food Cake, but it was certainly much more than that. Angel cake is for a cake comparison, uch too subtle and plain. It's a "dump-all" cake. Look at the list of notes: 

melon, coconut, mandarin orange, cassia, jasmine, bergamot, cotton candy, honey, apricot, blackberry, plum, orchid, peach, jasmine, lily-of-the-valley, red berries,rose, tonka bean, amber and vanilla, patchouli, musk, vanilla, dark chocolate and caramel

Nauseous much? For some, that's exactly how they feel when they smell this. It's a powerhouse, so strong and lethal. It was gourmand before gourmand became in. I remember wearing plain Vanilla Oil (from The Body Shop) before I got into this. The patchouli base was so foreign for me at the time, and I loved teh combination of sweet dirt when it got mixed with the vanilla and chocolate.

 I wore Angel early this morning before going to work, and here I am, at nine p.m. on a hot summer day, and it's still there. I smell my arm and the chocolate/patchouli base is still pungent. I wore this spontaneously this morning, as I have not thought about it for a while, and I still love it. There was a time in the 90s when this was my "signature' scent - I wore it everywhere. They were my salad days, I was going out a lot, I was falling in love a lot, I was young, carefree. I guess I will always associate this scent with that time of my life, and even now as I write about it I find myself smiling. So Angel is a scent that makes me happy, it takes me to a time in my life when I was happy. There was a stretch of time when I stopped wearing it - I think I got tired of it and I started doing the niche stuff - but perhaps two or three years ago, I got a big bottle. Though I don't wear it as often as I wish (I find it gets lost in my scent shuffle)  I now feel a certain craving for it.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Far From The Best (Book Review: The Next Best Thing, Jennifer Weiner)

I wanted to love"The Next Best Thing," by Jennifer Weiner, but I didn't. I didn't dislike it, and it kept me occupied for a day, but it honestly wasn't a memorable read. I thought it was an uneven read. It was part memoir-like, about a writer's experience of having her show greenlit, and what happens when the networks get involved with the original vision. The other part is the relationship between a woman and her grandmother after her parents die from a car accident (and physically scarring the woman) I thought the former was a little more realized than the latter, but still not enough. And the love angle(s) just weren't interesting enough. I also found some inconsistencies with the details, which made me think this was lazy writing. I have not read all of Ms. Weiner's novels, but I do remember reading "In Her Shoes" back in the day and remember loving it. This one, I barely liked. 


Saturday, August 11, 2012

When You're Old And In Love (Film Review: Hope Springs)

Imagine this: a rom-com for the 60s set, not the decade but the age. That's what exactly "Hope Springs" tries hard to be, and he mostly succeeds. It's a crowd pleaser, and the audience in my afternoon matinee was lapping up the film. I bet most of the people who went to see it saw it because of Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones, and they star performances that carry the movie from the first frame. Streep is her usual reliable self, but for me, some of her tics and mannerisms seem more mannered than usual. But don't get me wrong: it is still an intuitive and honest master class performance. Jones has the more showy, nuanced, and ultimately better performance here: it is wonderful to see this normally badass actor be vulnerable: he is clumsy, charming, brave, an actor will full commitment to the character. (Steve Carrell plays the couple therapist so straightforward that I keep waiting for him to break loose at the end) I sometimes wish the languid pacing was a bit quicker, it seems at odds with the overall tone of the movie. And I think Frankel doesn't trust the nuanced, subtle performances of his actors: he scores the movie with a blatant musical soundtrack that's loud and penetrating it practically commands you how to feel, as if the audience isn't smart or intuitive enough. All in all, though, the movie is more a plus than a minus: a late summer treat for adults in need of a real relationship movie. It made me tear up in the end, as it made me wistful of something I probably will never have: a 31 year relationship.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Love, Liza (Music Review: Liza Minnelli Live At The Winter Garden)

There's no better Liza than live Liza, I always say.  I have seen Liza a couple of times and there is no one better - she has that "star quality" that people talk about. It's indescribable, really, she just has that "it." When she is on stage, she is magnetic, and even in a small stage you will follow her. Lately, her voice hasn't been what it used to be (whose has, anyway) but despite that, she still commands the stage like no other. But...thank God for recordings. "Liza Minnelli Live At The Winter Garden" finds her in her vocal peak. The year was 1974, and she had just won the Oscar for "Cabaret," and the Emmy for "Liza With A Z."  She is back on Broadway, on a sold-out run at The Winter Garden. However, shortly after this LP was released, it had to be pulled off the shelves because of contractual differences from the "Cabaret" songs. It has not seen the light of day since a remastered Disc was put out last year, and rejoice rejoice, this recording is a keeper. Hear her open her act with the (then popular) "If You Could Read My Mind," mixed in with "Come Back To Me." Then she segues to a slowed down "Shine On Silver Moon." We experience what a great singing actress she is with "And I In My Chair," a story song about love lost. And no one else can sing "A Quiet Thing" like she does, having introduced the song on Broadway. A friend of mine once told me that the only version of "More Than You Know" he can listen to is Liza's version from this set, and I do agree with him that this is a special rendition. There's really no throwaway song in here for me. I always like to listen to this record from beginning to end, as it gives you a sense of "being there," and as a live recording, you know it is a successful one if that experience can be captured. I have one complain with this reissue, though: I wish they had used the old album cover, for it was beautiful and dramatic. 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Summertime Sadness (Book Review: Jenny Han's Summer Trilogy)

I have been meaning to read Jenny Han's Summer Trilogy for a while now, and since it's Summertime, and temperatures have been sky-high this year, I figured why not now? I have just finished all of them, and I must say that I was taken by the books and the characters. It was one of those instances when I just couldn't wait to finish the book to find out what would happen to them. No wonder these books were huge YA bestsellers.

"The Summer I Turned Pretty," is the first book, and sets up the whole trilogy. and is set in the time frame of one summer. Belly, (from Isabella) is the narrator, and she speaks with an honest young voice, and is never inauthentic. Sure, sometimes the narrative can be a bit annoying, but love her or hate her, she always sounds true. She paints a picture of a summer when she realizes that she is no longer a child, and starts develop feelings for a boy she summers with. At first, I was a bit concerned because the whole familiar relationships sound very close, and the attractions seem weird, but I can suspend disbelief for a good love story. But she, of course, falls for the dark, brooding boy, and you just say to yourself, "This won't end well." There's a darker storyline in the background, but the story never really goes there. But there is a sense of foreboding at the end of the book, though the overall tone is hopeful. I do feel that this book is the weakest of the three. 

"It's Not Summer Without You" is my favorite. Han focuses more on the love story (ies) on this one. Belly has initially ended up with Conrad, but it is a fragile relationship. He breaks up with her after he takes her to prom, and it is devastating scene. I found myself empathizing with Belly, even though, personally I do not really approve of Conrad. Again, her we are with the brooding bit - he pushes her away over and over, and Jeremiah, the nice brother is there to catch her. Why wouldn't and shouldn't she fall in love with her. Conrad's mother has passed and perhaps he is just confused and is grieving, but in my opinion that is no excuse for the way he treats her. Again Han's writing is perfect, and I love it when the scenes get confrontational. We even get a glimpse of what Jeremy is thinking because some characters are told from his point of view. 

"We'll Always Have Summer" rounds up the series. (for now?) Belly and Jeremy are together and happy, in the beginning. But of course, not for long. She finds out he has cheated on her once, and they both get devastated. So what do they do they deal with that? they decide to get engaged and marry. Of course, they are still essentially teenagers, so everyone is against the idea (including me) Things come to a hedge a day before the wedding, and...well, you can kind of guess who she chooses between the dark brooding mysterious brother versus the nice dependable (boring) one. I have been around the block so many times that I know who she *should* choose. But then there are the hopeless romantic in us, too. I do find that I am now too old to be hopeless. I can still be romantic, but not helpless anymore. One thing that struck me was that Belly remained a virgin. It just seems to unbelievable, as we have gotten to know her as very sensitive, and free-minded. If for anything, that is one more reason that she should not get married. You have to know what you want before you want it. 

All in all, I love the series, and I have become attached to the characters. I also think there's still a lot in their stories that could be told. If Belly did stay with Conrad, I jut have one word for her: You in danger, girl!

BC - 63/64/65


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Unexceptionally (Scent Review: Exceptional...Because You Are)

Look, I am not beneath wearing a "cheap" perfume. As a matter of fact, I sometimes discover great scents at cheap prices (the Les Senteures Gourmandes line, for example) and I would be the first one to scream about it. I confess to liking a lot of the scents offered at Bath & Body Works and Body Shop. But sometimes, you get perfumes who pretend to be something they're not, and they even have the arrogance to price themselves mid-line. Such is the case in "Exceptional...because you are." First of all, what a cheap name for a perfume. It's condescending, and the packaging is reminiscent of the Philosophy line. I wouldn't have minded if the scent had some kind of character, but it is so generic and mediocre that I kind of resent it taking time in my wrist. It opens with a generic synthetic floral bouquet, there are some lilies and sweet pea there somewhere, but they just sell like faceless chemicals. It then becomes pretty linear, and develops to a generic powdery finish. You know it's there, but you wish it had developed into something. I swear, a B & B Works scent has more complexity. And they have the gall to price this at 54.95 MSRP. Believe you me, you can scout the internet for thousands of other scents cheaper, and with more personality than this. I seriously cannot find a reason for this perfume existing.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Young Love, Sweet Love (Book Review: How They Met, And Other Stories, David Levithan)

I do not know why I do not read more short story collections, since I love short stories. There's something intimate in them, and they almost always make you think. I have this vision in my mind that I can write short stories, though I have never tried. I loved "How They Met, and other stories," a collection by David Levithan, who is known for his YA novels. These are mostly stories of young people falling in love, realizing they are in or out of love, and waking up to heartbreak. Most of them are first loves, or on and around that time in their lives.  They are  also mostly gay, though there are some straight ones thrown in. Some of my favorite ones: "Princes," about a young ballet dancer who falls in love with another ballet dancer, and his story is interwoven as his younger brother prepares for his bar mitzvah. There's "Romantic Inclination," wherein a girl realizes the one she is pining for is gay. I kind of liked "Breaking And Entering," about a young man who refuses to let go of his love. These stories reminded me of young love, when we were foolish to believe idealized notions of love. They were wistful, innocent, and sweet reminders of the way we were. 


Saturday, August 4, 2012

Roma Amorre (Film Review: To Rome With Love)

In 2009 and 2010, I did back to back trips to Rome. It's not the city with the most finesse, and the summer heat there can be unbarably humid, but the city has so much rich history and beauty, not to mention it holds a couple of Europe's Greatest Hits that you cannot help but love it. Woody Allen continues his Europe Travelogue series (after London and Paris) with "To Rome With Love," and after a couple of false starts, I finally saw the film tonight. For a Woody Allen film, this is a hot mess. He weaves four stories, not related to each other, and he has hits and misses with them. Not one really stands out in quality, but I kind of liked the one-joke one wherein an opera singer is discovered by a just-retired music executive (played by Allen) but the catch is: he only sings well in the shower, so he stages concerts and operas while bathing on stage. There's a farcical piece wherein an office clerk (played by Roberto Benigni) suddenly becomes famous for no reason, but Benigni's slapstick schtick grew tiresome quickly. Plus, the story had no backbone, and was confusing. Alec Baldwin plays a ghost/conscience in a storyline where a young man (Jesse Eisenberg) falls for his girlfriend's best friend. Though Eisenberg plays the same dweeby character in all his movies, I thought he was fine here, and really reminded me of a younger Woody. My main problem with that story? The casting of Ellen Page as the desired best friend when I thought her character pinged as a lesbian. There's a fourth storyline wherein a married couple (Allesandro Tiberian and a stunning Alessandra Mastronard) gets into Rome and gets caught in a mistaken identity plot with a prostitute, played by Penelope Cruz. Sure there are swiss-cheese sized holes in the plots, but they move teh film along seamlessly anyway that you can;t really be too bothered about it. Plus, Allen knows how to write great jokes that I was laughing more often than not. So a hot mess Woody Allen, for me, is more entertaining than a lot of other films playing in Multiplexes nowadays so I will still take it. Plus, the city is shot so beautifully, and I liked kind of knowing the spots. In the end, this was still amorre for me.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

An Argentina Eva (Album Review: Evita 2012 Cast Recording)

I did like the current production of EVITA playing at The Marquis so I was looking forward to the New Cast Recoding released a month or so ago. I loved the Orchestrations, and thought it sounded alive. There's a lot more tango in the music here, and it gives the music (my favorite Andrew Lloyd Weber score, for what it's worth) a more authentic flavour. But first, let's get to the business of Eva. While I had second thoughts about her on stage (she ultimately won me over) in this recording, she got me from the start. Yes, this is not the Lupone Eva, it's not the Paige Eva, it's not even the Madonna Eva. Roger gives the role a whole emotional level that touches you like no other Eva. It may be more screechy, but she more than makes up for it in how she sings the songs, how she phrases. This is acting by way of singing - much more expressive, much more layered. I dare say her "Don't Cry For Me Argentina" brought tears, and that is normally a song I do not have much patience for. I bet if this recording was released before the production started, people would appreciate her more seeing her after hearing her. I love accented singing, and this is probably the most Argentine Eva I have ever heard, and that is a wonderful thing. And while Ricky Martin has magnetic stage presence, without his shaking bon bons, his singing here is a bit colorless, and a lot of people have commented about his vowels when he is singing. He enunciates a little too much. I suspect he went to a bit of singing lessons for this role, and it kind of shows. It's more technique than feelings, sadly. Michael Cerveris sings a most soulful Juan, and Max Von Essen is just perfection as Magaldi. (I can't help but playing "On This Night Of A Thousand Stars" over and over) As an aural experience, this satisfies.