Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Friday, October 2, 2009
9:02PM - Kinda liking the new theme song. And did they just list Lou Diamond Phillips as a guest star?
9:04PM - Note to self: never chuck things through or jump through a stargate. You never know who you might be conking on the head on the other side. Robert Carlyle's character seems far too satisfied and calm with this outcome (ie: them ending up on the ship Destiny).
9:05PM - Another note to self: never be the commanding military officer when coming through the gate. According to what just happened to the head military guy here and what happened to the guy in the same position during the Stargate: Atlantis premiere, it's a total red shirt position.
9:08PM - Yay! Richard Dean Anderson. As sarcastic as ever, I see.
9:10PM - *sniff* They're aboard the Hammond -- the ship they named in tribute to General George Hammond and the late Don S. Davis. And I'm not sure if it's funny they beamed up David Blue's character the same way they did Jeannie (McKay's sister) in SGA or if it's cliche.
9:12PM - Michael Shanks better not only be appearing in an orientation video in this ep!
9:20PM - Epileptic colonel perhaps? Have the feeling that he's not going to last long in these circumstances. Twenty minutes into the show and I'm not hooked yet . . .
9:24PM - E.T. not phoning home just this second . . . And Dr. Nicolas Rush is creeping me out. I'm trying to decide if I'm going to like having such a morally ambiguous character as the lead.
9:30PM - And now the senator is sick too? Is anyone on this ship not broken?
9:32PM - Rush is wearing a wedding ring. They wouldn't do the "scientist who lost his wife and has gone off the deep end trying to find an alt universe version/turn back time" storyline, would they?? Oh, please tell me they wouldn't.
9:35PM - Oh, they did. Weepy, desperate Rush with a picture of his wife. Immediately followed by the "accident" that propels them all through the stargate. Not crazy about this storyline. At all.
9:40PM - Love seeing Sam Carter commanding the Hammond. And so Ronald Greer's (Jamil Walker Smith) character sounds like he's the Tom Paris character on this ship. Yes, I'm busting out with a Star Trek: Voyager reference.
9:44PM - Okay, so I guess Rush isn't responsible for a bombardment from outer space.
9:46PM - Wow. That's a new Stargate record for killing off a head doctor.
9:53PM - Matthew Scott (first guy through the gate) has bigger cojones than just about anyone. Anyone who's been part of the stargate program knows that anything could be on the other side of that wormhole. On another note, what female military officer spends time doing up her hair in a fancy coif like Tamara Johansen? Wouldn't that be a great way to not get respect from all the guys?
9:56PM - So Rush gave intel to the enemy to get them to bombard Icarus base and force them to dial the ninth chevron. Peachy.
10:04PM - "Really? Do we really?" At least one guy on this ship has watched his Star Trek and his horror movies. Good on him for knowing better!
10:10PM - Okay, I know this is a motley crew assembled on this ship, but there seems to have been a heck of quick breakdown in the chain of command and in military discipline. This just isn't feeling like the Stargate I've watched and liked. Am trying to give it the benefit of the doubt still. Maybe I'm not picking up on enough details or getting engaged enough because I'm blogging while watching?
10:15PM - Mysterious Ancient crates that can be tapped for future storylines. Got it. Seeds so they can set up a hydroponics farming system to provide them with a sustainable food source (that I'm sure will also be tapped for future storylines).
10:17PM - Does anyone else feel like someone's going to whip out a lightsaber and start training when that kino flying camera starts floating around?
10:27PM - Now the show has started to get interesting. I think everyone yelling at each other and trying to establish their relative bad-ass-ness was turning me off. Now that they're working on the ship problems, I'm more intrigued.
10;39PM - Well, I guess we jus found out which character was committing suicide in the first episode. The producers had said that would be happening. I'd guessed it was the paralyzed colonel, with the senator as the second choice.
10:44PM - I still don't believe a word Rush says when he says he wasn't responsible for creating the situation that brought them to the ship. And I found it rather satisfying when Chloe was wailng on him in anger.
10:48PM - I'm liking this scene between Chloe Armstrong and Matthew Scott right now. I think they're the characters I'm connecting with the most so far. Anyone feel differently? Scott seems like a truly good guy doing the best he can in a mindboggling situation. And Chloe . . . it seems like she has a strength and intelligence that could make her an fascinating character to watch as she grows into her own.
10:55PM - Kinos = the SGU MALPs. Saw that one coming.
10:58PM - Hmmm . . . still not sure what I think of this series. I'm going to give it one more ep next week to see if it really hooks me in. Am definitely looking forward to next week's premiere of Sanctuary though!
In an email to the webmistress of one of the actor's longtime fansites, Pileggi wrote: "As you’ll see in the attachment my sister has become ill and is financially in pretty dire straits. She refuses to accept money from me directly and I’m trying to figure out ways to help her. I will be at the fundraiser mentioned in the flyer and they will be raffling off some memorabilia that I am providing them. I’m also going to have my sister-in-law sell some of my more valuable “stuff” on eBay and give the proceeds to my sis."
(I know this is an unusual post to find on Pop Wenches, but I've lost two family members to cancer in the past 18 months and another family member is currently losing her battle against the same disease, so this hits close to home. I can also say from personal experience that Mitch Pileggi has always been very kind to and appreciative of his fans, which earns him an extra gold star in the karma department.)
Experiencing the show, though, you would never guess that this is someone most Americans have never heard of. This was a stadium-sized show packed into a theater-sized venue. I counted no less than 7 giant, brilliantly-lit screens, most of them moving on rails between songs. I won't spoil her grand entrance, but she was constantly surrounded by dancers in outlandish outfits, wearing riot gear masks or wings. Her own costumes seemed crazy elaborate, too. I was surprised to find via the production video diary that the costumer was still stitching them together the day before the show! I liked her unusual boots in the leather fetish segment of the show.
I'm actually only familiar with a few of her bigger hits. I must admit some of her songs sound like generic dance pop, but the best ones are great dance pop. The amazing Michel Gondry-directed video for "Come into My World" made me a fan, and "Can't Get You out of My Head" is quite self-descriptive, especially the mash-up with "Blue Monday". Perhaps my favorite performance of the night, though, was her latest rendition of her first hit single way back in 1987: a cover of "Loco-Motion". Rather than singing it in the original upbeat bubblegum pop tone, she chose a sexy, jazzy style that reminded me of "Minnie the Moocher".[bxA]
Gentle Readers, this is a good time for your Pop Lecher-at-Large to point out his other favorite moment of the evening: While the brass section played, Kylie said that their music made her "want to SHAKE!" And she proceeded to vibrate her booty. Yowza. (This, in turn, might be a good time to point out her Agent Provocateur commercial [possibly nsfw] from several years ago.) Kylie doesn't dance as much as other pop stars, but when she does move, she sure knows what she's doing!
And yet, these talents were perhaps fully appreciated by only a minority of the attendees. You see, some of the greatest applause came when the visuals featured men in Speedos taking a shower. This from an audience that was over 90% male.
It must be said that Kylie knows her audience! And she pandered to it in multiple ways: I really enjoyed how the background showed the Golden Gate Bridge during one of the more down-tempo segments.
Gotta love that gaudy fainting couch, too. (It tops the one in last week's "Mad Men"!) I wonder if the background will change for each stop in her tour?
This show certainly featured the most enthusiastic audience I've seen. The roar of the crowd deafened me each time Kylie appeared in a new outfit. The audience wasn't quite as dancy as I expected, but I wonder how much of that was due to the sound quality? The audio at the Fox thist time was better than it was during the Yeah Yeah Yeahs show, but it still could have used more dynamic range. Perhaps I was just standing too close to the stage?
Kylie ended her encore with an ebullient performance of "Love at First Sight". Perhaps some Americans will feel that way about her after this tour.
P.S.: And if you're not familiar with it, check out the "Come into My World" video, and be sure to watch at least till the 1'10" mark.
Thursday, October 1, 2009
The new installment in the Stargate franchise, Stargate Universe, premieres tomorrow on SyFy. We've written plenty about it here on Pop Wenches over the past year, but if you need a fun way to while away the ime between now and the premiere, enjoy some of the video clips we shot at the SGU panel at San Diego Comic-Con. Two clips below and plenty more over at the Pop Wenches You Tube channel: www.youtube.com/popwenches.
And for a little more fun as we head into Friday, here's a clip of the first four minutes of the SGU pilot ep:
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Eight separate drugs—cocaine, Levarmisole (used to cut cocaine), OxyContin, Hydrocodone or Vicodin, Xanax, Ativan, Klonopin and Benadryl—were listed in the toxicology report. The fatal drug cocktail led to DJ AM's death on August 28 when he was found in his New York City apartment.
Seriously people, stop effing around with drugs already. We've had more than enough celebrity proof that they will kill you eventually.
Monday, September 28, 2009
Back in March, NBC closed down the King St. off-ramp from Interstate 280 in San Francisco for several days to film the pilot for their new series "Trauma". They sent out a notice about the closure, promising "a fireball and billowing smoke" on one of the days, and many folks around the city found vantage points to watch the filming. The filming fell behind schedule, but we did eventually get to see the above fireball (and billowing smoke) a few hours later. Maybe LA folks are used to this sort of thing, but it was a pretty big deal 'round these parts! The show even became part of the never-ending bickering of San Francisco politics, with the Mayor supporting the show, and the Board of Supervisors canceling tax breaks that encouraged local filming.
So tonight the pilot featuring the aforementioned fireball finally aired. And I think all that hoopla might be moot, because I don't really see this show lasting very long. For all the explosions, the show feels a bit lifeless. Most of the episode circles around a couple of incidents where paramedics swarm to the scene and try to save people. It seems like they're going for a realism vibe, but neither the dialogue nor the actions feel realistic. They try to save people, but they make it all perfunctory. You don't know who any of these victims are, so you don't really care. I guess it's supposed to about the paramedics doing their jobs? So okay, let's say the character development is the focus. But the show doesn't quite deliver there, either.[bxA]
Cliff Curtis plays "Rabbit", a brash, cowboy type who's always breaking the rules. I really like Curtis, but here he's given no subtlely. He's entirely over-the-top, and every scene he's in immediately takes you out of any suspension of disbelief you may have attained. He's a cartoon.
Meanwhile, Anastasia Griffith plays the female lead, "Nancy". She's a paramedic, and she breaks down and cries as she tries to help a victim. I have no idea why. She has an enigmatic relationship with Rabbit. Okay. I guess maybe there's supposed some depth to her, but we're given so few clues that we just don't care.
The most interesting character thread is Derek Luke's "Cameron". He hits on an accident victim, and when he reveals the reason for it, it actually seems kind of interesting. But the show gives him very little time to develop it, and it violates the "show, don't tell" principle. Still, his character has the most promise, and I'm actually curious where they take him.
Well, for all my ragging, this is just a pilot, and maybe this show will be better when they can properly focus on the characters, and they no longer feel the need (or have the budget) to have stuff blow up every five minutes. I still have faith in Cliff Curtis, despite his overly broad start!
As for the fireball? That's disappointing, too. They show it mostly in the background as characters run away in the foreground. They might as well have filmed it on a lot. Where are the wide, establishing overhead shots that give us a clear sense of the scale of the fireball?
I leave you with a link to a flickr group pool for The Filming of NBC's Trauma. Us Bay Area folks get pretty excited when Hollywood drops by for a visit!
Friday, September 25, 2009
9:01PM - Topher just called (former) Agent Ballard "frenemy." LOL!
9:03PM - Alexis Denisof's name just popped up in the credits. So glad to see him on TV again! Especially opposite Eliza Dushku.
9:05PM - They did not just make a Jonas Brothers joke. Oh my. And Amy Acker is deliciously twisted so far.
9:13PM - Grrrreat. Rich dude's crazy wedding fantasy. And wedding night fantasy. Hope he doesn't have a thing for crossbows and hunting like one of last year's Dollhouse clients did.
9:15PM - So it's a job within a job for Echo, eh? She's an undercover FBI agent playing her new groom for a fool because he's an arms dealer. And Ballard's the client?!! Did he not quit the FBI?
9:16PM - I guess arms dealing means this guy packs weapons a lot worse than a bow and arrow. Potentially big ouch!
9:21PM - Well, that implied kiss just made all sorts of fanboys in the Whedonverse happy.
9:23PM - Weiiiiird hearing former "Watcher Wesley" speaking with a flat Yankee accent instead of a British accent. And how does the Dollhouse keep sucking in these good guys like Langton and Ballard?
9:28PM - Jamie Barber is looking awfully good in that button down shirt. Wouldn't have minded a multi-episode arc for him. And either Eliza is wearing really high heels, or Jamie Barber is kinda short . . .
9:32PM - This glimpse into Topher's psyche is exactly the kind of development this show needed to hook audiences in. And more kudos to Amy Acker for her acting in this ep. Wonderful depth and emotion.
9:37PM - The "you're human" and the "Roomba" quip make me wonder if wemight be seeing some robotics later this season? Just a possibility.
9:42PM - Eek. Bad time for a glitch. Bad, bad time for a glitch. I'm liking the new energy in this premiere. The tension has been ratcheted up a few notches. The stakes feel higher (if I may continue with the chain of cliches).
9:47PM - "Special Agent in Charge of Bugger All." Sounds like a job title far too many people have at their respective companies.
9:49PM - Looking forward to the moment when . . . oh, there it goes. The moment when Echo recalls one of her kung-fu fightin' imprints.
9;51PM - Considering the nature of so many of the jobs that they send the Actives on, Echo's not going to be of much use to the Dollhouse if pain makes her glitch.
9:59PM - The biggest problem that I'm spotting with the premiere is that right now I'm more curious about what's going on with the characters of Whiskey and Topher than I am about Echo and Paul Ballard.
Thursday, September 24, 2009
9:04PM - Argh. After seeing this clip, I'm dying to know if the patient who just died on the table is George . . . or if George is actually still out in the world but about to die off-camera in some other way. How much of a kick in the gut would it be (for the audience and the characters) to think George had died, then think he was okay, then find out they'd lost him anyway?
9:11PM - Loved that moment of quiet comfort between Owen and Cristina in the chaos and pain. Also love the callback to the theme of "my person" in this new context between Arizona and the mom and the mom referring to her son (calling back a "my person" thing between Cristina and Meredith in an earlier season).
9:14PM - MITCH PILEGGI! In a suit! In the hallway with Patrick Dempsey! TOO MUCH HOTNESS FOR ONE TELEVISION SCREEN TO TAKE. Sorry. I just shouted, didn't I?
9:19PM - "George would give everything."
9:20PM - I know this is a universal given, but I love Miranda Bailey. If I ever have to be hospitalized, she's the only one from Seattle Grace that I want to have as my doctor. And on another note, I'm so happy they finally let Mer and Der grow up last year. That Mer will say to Derek that she just needs him to be there for her right now and not talk instead of flouncing off in a huff, getting drunk and sleeping with a random guy from the bar across the street.
9:24PM - "I bought you some time, but you need to plan." In all my shouty-ness, I forgot that Mitch Pileggi was at Seattle Grace for a reason.
9:30PM - Oh, Cristina. Repress and deny doesn't work for long. Especially when you've just lost your fellow member of the Dead Dad's Club. Although I can see why she'd be tempted with Kevin McKidd around.
9:32PM - Good job by the director of photography and the cameraman for shooting around Ellen Pompeo and Chryler Leigh's pregnancies without making it ridiculously obvious that that's what they're doing. RIP George O'Malley. *sigh*
9:46PM - This show does grief like no other show does grief. Between people's reactions to George's death and Denny Duquette's death and Ellis Grey's death, they've delved into just about every emotional reaction you can go through and put it right there on the screen to see. It hurts to see Bailey's fire gone and that dead look in her eyes (no pun intended).
9:49PM - Wow. I hope Arizona didn't need her head . . . seeing as the Chief just handed it to her.
9:54PM - Did Derek just unceremoniously kick the newlywed cancer patient out of the house and into his trailer? I would so have problems with that.
9:55PM - Oh no. This scene is not going to end well for Owen, is it? George's mother is going to kill him.
9:56PM - I thought George's mother was going to realize that Owen gave George the idea to join the army and was going to lose it on him. The accident survivor brings up another thought-provoking question that's so often debated though -- can medicine go far? At what point does the quality of life drop so low that it's more of a curse to keep a person alive than it is to let them go? Talk about a weighty issue.
10:04PM - *sniff* Don't want Callie to go to Mercy West. Am coveting that black dress she's wearing though. Holy cow. Did anyone else just have a heart attack when they saw that car coming at the Chief's car? No one else is allowed to die in this ep, dangit!
10:10PM - Oh, the irony of the Chief having to go to Mercy West after his accident.
10:13PM - Cristina is so the last person to try to work through PTSD issues with Owen. Hmmm . . . this season is going to be interesting if we're going to get much more of a peek at what goes on at Seattle Grace's rival, Mercy West.
10:20PM - Pop Wench Joia and I used to joke that, on Star Trek: Voyager, you could tell the state of the ship by the state of Capt. Janeway's hair. If the 'do was dishevelled, then the ship was damaged and in trouble. Bailey serves as the same kind of barometer for Seattle Grace. If Bailey isn't happy or at least okay, then the hospital is in trouble and someone needs to figure out what the problem is!
10:22PM - It's fun seeing McDreamy and McSteamy bantering like the old friends they are, but I just can't quite seem to buy that they'd be able to go back to being best friends after Mark slept with Addison. Friends, eventually, but best friends? I don't know . . . trust is kinda important.
10:31PM - Hello McSteamy in the shower!
10:34PM - "Girls talk. You might want to consider that the next time you criticize my Post It." Burn Karev! And go be nice to Izzie already. You knew she and George had a connection before you married her.
10:41PM - And that little speech, folks, is why he's McDreamy.
10:44PM - I wonder how Katherine Heigl felt giving this speech about George being gone when she is such good friends with T.R. Knight. I always like Izzie a little bit better when the edge from her (literal) trailer park upbringing comes out like it did just now when she was confronting the woman George saved.
10:50PM - Kevin McKidd just gets better and better on this show. Owen's not always my favorite character, but McKidd makes him so multidimensional and dark and good-hearted that you can't help but root for him.
10:52PM - Loving the voiceovers from each of the characters as the show draws to a close. Love getting the little peeks into each of their heads and where they all are now. And I'm glad that someone (Derek, in this case) saw that Bailey needed someone and listened to her. Just listened to her.
10:57PM - I seem to vaguely remember hearing a spoiler about the hospital merger but evidently I wasn't paying much attention to it because I totally forgot that until the Chief said the words. It'll be very interesting to see where Derek's character goes this year, especially since he'll probably have to carry more of the storyline due to Ellen Pompeo's maternity leave (congrats to her and her husband on the birth of their baby girl, by the way) and Katherine Heigl's five-week-leave from from filming.
So Pop Wenches readers, what did you think of the Grey's Anatomy season premiere?
8:48PM - V promo! I still remember being totally creeped out by a very famous scene in the original V television mini-series. *shudder* Not crazy about Morena Bacarin with short hair. She's a gorgeous woman, but much more so with long hair (see her as Adria in the last two seasons of SG1).
8:50PM - Etta James' "At Last" for Mark and Olivia's wedding song? Either it's bad music or predictable music for weddings? Oh, Olivia! This would have been an excellent time to lie, lie, LIE about your flash forward! She just confirmed (of course) Mark's worst nightmare. Again, the question of self-fulfilling prophecies raises it's ugly head.
8:53PM - Well hello Jack Davenport! You look much better here than you did in the last Pirates of the Caribbean movie. And why do you get to keep your British accent when none of your fellow FlashForward cast members do?
8:54PM - Okay, I'm getting creepy, not-a-normal-kid vibes from Mark and Olivia's daughter. Anyone else feel the same way?
8:56PM - Seeing the one person who didn't pass out gave me the creeps too. Why isn't he(?) freaking out that everyone around him has passed out for 2:17 seconds? I'd be running around doing Freaked Out Jazz Hands!
8:59PM - Dominic Monaghan! Dominic Monaghan in a suit looking quite good. Knew he was joining the show thanks to spoilers and his TCA appearance, of course, but still can't wait to see him. I'll be tuning in to FlashForward again next week -- will you?
Friday, September 18, 2009
- ABC has posted some wicked video clips online in anticipation of the series premiere of FlashForward and the season premiere of Grey's Anatomy on September 24.
Check out the 18 minute clip from FlashForward, which boasts an impressive cast including Joseph Fiennes, John Cho, Dominic Monaghan, Sonya Walger and Jack Davenport.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Travers was 72-years-old.
Peter, Paul and Mary were an award-winning trio. The group received five Grammy Awards for recordings of "Leavin' on a Jet Plane," "Puff (The Magic Dragon)" and "Blowin' in the Wind." The group broke up in 1971, and Travers eventually went on to release five solo albums. The group did go on to hold several reunions.
Travers is survived by her husband and daughters. [NY Times, Associated Press via Yahoo! News]
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
One of the opening bands was The New York Dolls. Let's just say that I arrived at the venue a full hour before The Killers took the stage but heard nothing that made me want to take my seat and watch the NY Dolls.
Moving on to the fun part of the evening, The Killers promptly took the stage at 9:30PM and opened strong with "Human." Frontman Brandon Flowers missed a couple of notes during this first song, but after that he was in full voice for the rest of the night as the band dived into "Spaceman," "For Reasons Unknown," "Bones" and (one of my personal favorites) "Joy Ride."
The audience was on its feet from the moment band walked onto the stage and The Killers didn't disappoint. The stage design and lighting weren't garish, but the palm trees, giant flower arrangement in an giant vase and neon lights—right down to the lit-up "K" in the middle of the stage—definitely reflected the band's Las Vegas roots.
Flowers, of course, is well known for his flamboyant costumes and stage presence. Evidently blazers with feathered shoulders are the statement this year since he wore variations on this look at both Coachella and Saturday's show.
With his outsized, theatrical voice and stage presence, Flowers is the consumate frontman, but thankfully he doesn't cross the line and make concerts feel like a solo performance with a backing band. And for a band that has raised some eyebrows with Kayne West-like declarations of rock greatness, The Killers performed several songs that acknowledged their forebears. Covers included Joy Divison's "Shadowplay" (from The Killer's Sawdust album) and The Animals' "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood," a clip of which you can watch here:
They also performed a couple of verses from Elvis' "Can't Help Falling in Love" on the heels of a rousing performance of "A Dustland Fairytale."
The propulsive tempo of the show barreled to a climax with a trio of fan favorites—"Read My Mind," "Mr. Brightside," and the always incredible "All These Things That I Have Done." There's nothing quite like hearing thousands of people singing/chanting, "I've got soul, but I'm not a soldier" over and over again during this song.
The two song encore started off with the deceptively cheerful-sounding "Jenny Was a Friend of Mine" and closed out with a song Flowers promised he and the band would perform "as hard as they could"—"When You Were Young." Judging from the volume of the crowd singing with Flowers and the racous cheers that followed the band off-stage, The Killers 1 hour and 45 minute set did not disappoint.
The Killers setlist:
"For Reasons Unknown"
"Change Your Mind"
"Bling (Confession of a King)"
"Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood"
"Somebody Told Me"
"Smile Like You Mean It"
"Believe Me Natalie"
"A Dustland Fairytale"/"Can't Help Falling in Love"
"Read My Mind"
"All These Things I've Done"
"Jenny Was A Friend Of Mine"
"When You Were Young"
Monday, September 14, 2009
- X-Men Origins: Wolverine (Hugh Jackman, Liev Schreiber, Ryan Reynolds)
- X-Men Origins: Wolverine (Two-Disc Special Edition + Digital Copy) (Hugh Jackman, Liev Schreiber, Ryan Reynolds)
- The Big Bang Theory: The Complete Second Season (Johnny Galecki, Kaley Cuoco, et al.)
- CSI Miami: The Complete Seventh Season (David Caruso, Adam Rodriguez, et al.)
- Doctor Who: The Next Doctor (2008 Christmas Special) (David Tennant, David Morrissey, et al.)
- Grey's Anatomy: The Complete Fifth Season (Ellen Pompeo, Patrick Dempsey, Sandra Oh, et al.)
- Its Always Sunny In Philadelphia: Season 4 (Danny DeVito, Charlie day, Glenn Howerton, et al.)
- My Name Is Earl: Season Four (Jason lee, Jaime Pressly, et al.)
- Private Practice: The Complete Second Season (Kate Walsh, Tim Daly, et al.)
- Primeval, Vol. 2 (Series 3) (Douglas Henshall, Jason Flemyng, et al.)
- Sanctuary: The Complete First Season (Amanda Tapping, Robin Dunne, Christopher Heyerdahl, et al.)
- Deep Impact [Blu-ray] (Morgan Freeman, Tea Leoni, Elijah Wood, et al.)
- The Hannibal Lecter Anthology [Blu-ray] (William Petersen, Brian Cox, Anthony Hopkins, Jodie Foster, et al.)
- Hero [Blu-ray] (Jet Li, Maggie Cheung, et al.)
- Van Helsing [Blu-ray] (Hugh Jackman, Kate Beckinsale, David Wenham, et al.)
- X-Men Origins: Wolverine (Two-Disc Edition + Digital Copy) [Blu-ray] (Hugh Jackman, Liev Schreiber, Ryan Reynolds)
- Wrong Turn [Blu-ray] (Eliza Dushku, Jeremy Sisto)
Swayze became a big screen heartthrob in the late '80s with his role as sexy dancer and dance instructor Johnny Castle in Dirty Dancing. He followed up that success with an iconic role in Ghost, in which he costarred with Demi Moore and Whoopi Goldberg. Most recently, Swazye starred in the critically acclaimed A&E cable series The Beast. [Associated Press via Yahoo! News]
Saturday, September 12, 2009
Karen O made her grand entrance wearing a spirally single-ram-horn hat (not seen here) that looked straight out of a movie like the Cell or something, and she soon began to drink water and spit it all over the place, as is her wont. Sadly, the acoustics were not the best. The music felt too loud, and the vocals were a bit drowned out, which I think hurt my enjoyment of the show. Her slow songs actually sounded better.
It was neat how the eyeball rolled, and the projected light turned it into what looks like Mars. I also really liked her quasi-wardrobe changes, where she would put on a shawl or a jacket for different songs, to go with the songs. Quite clever! It helped you to get in the right mindset for a song without too much trouble. And to further get people excited, there was a lot of random confetti explosions!
Oops. This has become more of a set design review than a music review. :P I did enjoy the music despite the sound issues, though I was pretty exhausted from work and probably didn't get into it as much as I could have. The rest of the crowd was crazy for her, often applauding so continuously and loudly that she'd have to wait for them to calm down before starting the next song! My favorite tune was probably Phenomena, though of course the audience went the wildest when she finally played Maps during the encore.
Karen O definitely embodies the energy and attitude of a true "rock star". I kinda had mixed feelings about this show, but none of the negatives were the fault of the band. I look forward to seeing them again some time. I'll be back at the Fox in three weeks to see Kylie. Hopefully the sound will be better then!
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
With a vast number of instantly recognizable pieces of music at his fingertips, the composer could easily coast along and lead the LA Phil through the same "greatest hits" performance of his work every year. The delight—and potential frustration—of his Hollywood Bowl concerts is that Williams never opts for this easy route. Audience members know they'll get to enjoy some of these "greatest hits" and that at least one of them will be a selection from Star Wars. They also know that part of the evening will be a salute to at least one other notable movie composer. Other than that, what they'll hear that night is up for grabs until they arrive at the venue and receive the concert program.
This year's "Music of the Movies" concerts were unique in that the entire first hour was devoted to Williams' music from a single franchise—Harry Potter. Since I was attending with a group of family and friends (a situation akin to herding lots and lots and lots of cats), we arrived just in time to catch the last two pieces, "The Chamber of Secrets" and one of my favorite Williams' compositions "Harry's Wondrous World." As a Potter fan, I wasn't happy to have missed so much of the performance, but what I did get to hear was excellent and well-paired with the movie clips they show on the large screens for the audience. An additional treat came in the form of special guest Vanessa Redgrave, who served as the narrator between clips, tying the different Potter compositions togeher.
After intermission came a tribute to Williams' fellow film composers through an arrangement of well-known movie themes. While I've usually seen Williams' educate the audience on a single composer during his Bowl concerts (his tribute to Alfred Hitchcock composer Bernard Herrmann a couple of years ago was especially memorable), this year's approach made evident the power music has to evoke memories and emotions. The orchestra played only 10 to 15 seconds of the well-known theme songs to films like The Magnificent Seven, Gone with the Wind, Cinema Paradiso and Titanic, but even those short snippets of music would evoke audible reactions from the audience.
Instead of delving into some of his well-known music, Williams then talked for a bit about his 36-year working relationship with Steven Spielberg and the music he did for an atypical Spielberg film, Catch Me If You Can. The jazz stylings from the film score featured the vibraphone, sax and upright bass and were very enjoyable, but you could also feel that the audience was getting restless.
Personally, I couldn't complain about the next selection, an orchestral version of "As Time Goes By" from Casablanca featuring the LA Phil's lead violinist and concert mistress. It was another tasteful nod to the composers who came before Williams and simply a treat to hear this lovely piece of music performed live.
The evening's official program finished strong with pieces from The Witches of Eastwick, the original Dracula and the main theme to the original Christopher Reeve Superman movies. The Superman theme is always uplifting, but this year the Superman movie clips were mixed with Batman movie snippets as part of a superheroes tribute, which considerably weakened the visual component. The feel of both the older Batman movies and the Christian Bale reboot films is so different from the optimistic, inspiring Superman music that the mixed clips were a distraction from the excellent music.
As is often the case, many of the biggest crowd-pleasing pieces were saved for the two encores. One of my favorite and fantastically geeky parts of these annual concerts is the fan reaction as soon as a Star Wars theme starts to play. As soon as Williams announced the start of "Yoda's Theme," Warsies in the audience whipped out hundreds of lightsabers of every color, waving them enthusiastically. The start of the unmistakable main theme from Star Wars only made them happier, although the fans were more subdued this year. Usually, some fans leap up and have lightsaber duels up and down the aisles but I didn't see any of that happen this time around.
The second encore started with the theme to E.T., which was a nice flashback to some of Williams' earlier work. Williams and the orchestra played right into the fans' hands, closing out the night with nothing less than the "Imperial March" from Star Wars. While some audience members were heard to voice their disappointment that nothing from Indiana Jones, Jurassic Park or Schindler's List had been played, not knowing what favorites you'll hear or not hear is actually part of the draw of these concerts. It's also a testament to the skill and immense talent of John Williams that he has created such a successful body of work that he can pick and chose which of his famous pieces he wants to share each year.
"John Williams and the Music of the Movies" 2009 setlist:
Harry Potter—"Hedwig's Theme," "Aunt Marge's Waltz," "Diagon Alley and The Gringotts Vault," "The Knight Bus," "The Quidditch Match," "Fawkes The Phoenix," "A Window to the Past," "The Chamber of Secrets" and "Harry's Wondrous World"
A Tribute to Film Composers (including music from The Bridge on the River Kwai, Patton, The Godfather, Cinema Paradiso, The Magnificent Seven, Titanic, Gone with the Wind, E..T.: The Extra-Terrestrial and Star Wars)
Suite from Catch Me If You Can
"As Time Goes By" from Casablanca
"Devil's Dance" from The Witches of Eastwick
"End Titles" from Dracula
"Superman - Main Theme" from Superman
Star Wars—"Yoda's Theme" and "Star Wars - Main Titles"
Suite from E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial
"Imperial March" from Star Wars
Don't forget to visit our Pop Wenches YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/popwenches to see additional clips from this concert!
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Albums, Singles, EPs:
Box Sets, Reissues:
Enjoy the clips and don't forget to visit our Pop Wenches YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/popwenches for all of our latest videos!
Monday, September 7, 2009
Now that the US is eight months into a Democratic administration helmed by the country's first African-American president, do the Jesus of Suburbia, St. Jimmy, Whatsername and The Extraordinary Girl still resonate as powerfully as they did in the midst of the Bush administration? On a less esoteric note, do Green Day's songs still pack the same punch without Billie Joe Armstrong's distinctive voice and Mike Dirnt and Tré Cool's driving bass and drums?
At last night's preview night performance of American Idiot, both of these questions were answered with a resounding, fist-pumping "YES!"
In the space of that one song, any doubts about the quality of the production and the power of the songs are put to rest. The leads never make the mistake of trying to imitate Armstrong, instead letting their powerful voices send the songs rocking through the theater while advancing the storyline.
The songs of the American Idiot stage production center on the tracks from the original album plus "two B sides from the European release and four from the new album [21st Century Breakdown]," including "Know Your Enemy" and a moving performance of "21 Guns." Idiot director and Tony Award-winner Michael Mayer (Spring Awakening) has skillfully woven togther the songs to create a coherent storyline that is more complete than the one present in Green Day's album. He also wisely pulls bits and pieces from songs and inserts them as refrains or asides where appropriate instead of slavishly trying to force lyrics and whole songs where they don't fit.
The stories of three friends from Jingletown—Johnny (John Gallagher Jr.), Tunny (Matt Caplan) and Will (Michael Esper)—are told with a minimum of dialogue as these angry young men struggle to find meaning and intellectual outlets in a world that demands cookie-cutter conformity and obedience. It could be easy to dismiss the main characters as stereotypical "slacker losers," but showrunners Armstrong and Mayer don't make things that simple. The entire production and particularly the lead actors intentionally bristle with an energy that is the antithesis of a "slacker loser" mentality.
That sense of unchanneled energy and frustration fuels the entire production. The intensity and emotion that the music requires means that no one will ever be able to phone in their performance; American Idiot demands that both the leads and the ensemble players leave everything they have on the stage.
The performers' efforts are repaid by the positive audience response. While there were a large number of younger audience members, at least half of the preview performance audience on Sunday night was made up of traditional-age theatergoers and arts patrons. I wasn't sure how older audience members would react to a punk rock opera that includes a sex scene, drug use, drug paraphernalia and quite a few curse words, but the volume of the applause and the cheers after key songs and during the curtain call made it clear that the production's message had hit home. The standing ovation for the cast must have been rewarding for Armstrong, who had ducked into his audience seat, disguised in a dark hoodie, just before the house lights went down.
American Idiot is in previews from now through September 13. The production's regular run at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre lasts through October 11. Ticket prices range from $25 to $78. http://berkeleyrep.org/
All images © Berkeley Repertory Theatre. All rights reserved.
Friday, September 4, 2009
- Nine Inch Nails have rescheduled some canceled Los Angeles tour dates. [Pitchfork]
- Michael Jackson was finally buried last night. The King of Pop was entombed in a mausoleum at Glendale, California's Forest Lawn Cemetery. Celebrities in attendance included Macaulay Culkin, Lisa Marie Presley, Elizabeth Taylor, Berry Gordy, and Quincy Jones. [Rolling Stone]
- Here's SPIN's take on Jay-Z's Blueprint 3. The leaked album will officially get released next Friday. [SPIN]
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
I arrived just in time to catch the last of Raphael Saadiq's set, which ended with a joyous round of gospel music that made me wish I'd seen the full performance.
I must confess that I've never been a Jason Mraz fan. I don't mind his music, but his radio singles have always been such light, fluffy lyrical confections that I've never felt the need to delve deeper. Seeing him in concert didn't change my mind.
There's no doubt that Mraz is fun during live performances. He's also put together a band of skilled musicians and made a point of putting original twists on his most familiar hits so fans got to enjoy a unique listening experience. Despite this, there just isn't enough substance in his music for me to connect with it emotionally and nor is there enough of a driving beat for me to connect with it on a visceral level.
While Mraz' set was pleasant, I had no regrets about ducking out halfway through and heading to one of the side stages to check out Bat for Lashes. My only previous exposure to Bat for Lashes was watching a couple of her music videos online a few months ago. Since I'd liked what I heard, Outside Lands seemed like an excellent opportunity to find out if I liked enough of her music to shell out for her albums.
Did I like Bath for Lashes' music enough to shell out for her albums? Absolutely. I had to leave halfway through her set, and if it had been for anyone less than the Black Eyed Peas, I probably couldn't have torn myself away. Considering the way the audience grew exponentially from the time her set started until the time I left, it's safe to say that Bat for Lashes won herself quite a few new fans at Outside Lands.
Head over to our Pop Wenches You Tube channel at www.youtube.com/popwenches to check out 3 more Jason Mraz clips and 2 additional Bat for Lashes clips, all in high-def!