Sunday, November 25, 2007

A musicians is an actor is a musician...

I read two very interesting articles today. The first was a discussion about actors who learn to play instruments when they play musical roles. It was interesting because all of the films mentioned where the actors learned to play the instruments turned out to be fantastic films.

On the other end, I also looked through a Rolling Stones slide show article of musicians who have been fantastic actors. Again, from all of the movies that I've seen, I definitely agree with this list. I wonder what the secret is here. They are all really talented and emotional, so maybe one bleeds into another. Who knows, but it was interesting just the same.

"The world today doesn't make sense, so why should I paint pictures that do? "
-Pablo Picasso

Saturday, November 24, 2007

"Without music life would be a mistake..."

I've wanted to see the August Rush for a while and finally saw it today. From the previews, I thought that I would enjoy it, but enjoy is an understatement. It was a fantastic, moving film. The story is somewhat predictable and some of the pieces of the plot may be a little far-fetched, but the story is well developed, interesting, and beautiful. I think that you can go in knowing that he will be reunited with his parents, but the joys that you get from following the journey, learning about the characters, and experiencing the music through the eyes and ears of August takes the movie above others. This film achieves what so many strive for and fail to do; it gives you a look into the story and lives of the characters, makes you care about them, and allows you to experience their lives.

The movie is perfectly cast and is extremely visually appealing. It felt like each character was in their place in a world that matched their story, which made the movie feel as seamless and flowing like August's music. I didn't want it to end because while it showed both the good and bad of society, the story was uplifting and made you see the benefits of holding on tightly to what you believe in.

I also appreciated that Terrence Howard was cast as a good guy. I like him, but he tends to always be put in these smart mouthed smug roles,. I also did not mind my Felicity flashbacks with Keri Russell and the two VERY attractive Irish men (ok, so one's officially Australian, but whatever!). I strongly suggest that anyone that likes emotional character and plot driven stories see this movie.

And now for my slightly related quote:

"If everyone demanded peace instead of another television set, then there'd be peace. "
- John Lennon

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Happy piano players work the circus...

My mind is cornucopia of random musings these days. Beautiful Girls is playing on Lifetime. I solely blame the movie for my never ending crush on Timothy Hutton. *sigh* He's so cute and brooding with his perfect hair and crack one liners. Actually, the whole cast was great. I love the movie because it represents a part of society that is real and reminds me of how I grew up. I love when movies don't have anything to do with the fake Hollywood lifestyles. The soundtrack to this movie is also amazing and is what got me listening to Chris Isaak. That sort of speaks for itself.

I've been watching lots of Halloween themed movies, and I'm working on coming up with my personalized list of the top 10 Halloween movies. There are too many good movies and limiting them to 10 is impossible. Any suggestions are welcomed, but I am avoiding gory slasher flicks because a a girl's gotta sleep.

On Friday, I saw The Nightmare Before Christmas 3D. I never had the opportunity to see it on the big screen. I'm a huge fan of the classics being rescreened. The 3D effects were interesting, but the best part was just being able to see it at the theater. Tim Burton is just such an inspiration. His work is personal and always has such a unique twist. His work always outdoes itself and brings to life a whole other world. I love that and always look forward to seeing his latest projects.

I pretty much try to stay in a constant state of confusion just
because of the expression it leaves on my face.” -Johnny Depp

Monday, October 15, 2007

Funny and then some...

This past weekend, I saw Sinbad. I bought the tickets because I grew up watching A Different World, but I went to the show not knowing what to expect. I think that, like most things in life, going into a situation with no expectations leaves you more open minded and ready to enjoy. The show was awesome and so funny.

Horace Sanders opened for Sinbad. This guy was absolutely hysterical and really knew how to play up to the crowd and get people's attention. His jokes were original and fresh, and he was just adorable on stage. I found it interesting because he got his start on Star Search, and I didn't even realize that the show is still on. Makes me curious to find out when it's on. You can watch some videos of his stand up on the website.

Sinbad was just beyond funny. You could tell that when he walked out on that stage, he was happy to be there and having such a good time. His jokes were honest, real, and hysterical. He did not come out on the stage with a list of old, overdone jokes, and he talked to the audience and played off of their liveliness. It felt like having an excellent conversation with one of the funniest people you've ever met. I give him a lot of credit because in a time when everything is so scripted and overproduced (think reality tv shows that are beyond scripted), it was nice to watch someone with talent go out on the stage, trust themselves, tell the truth, make people laugh, and just entertain.

It was a fantastic, full show and I highly recommend that if anyone gets the chance, they catch his act. It's been awhile since I've laughed so hard that I've lost my voice. It was a truly enjoyable night.
God is a comedian, playing to an audience too afraid to laugh.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Today's Fishy Scope

I don't check my horoscope on a daily basis, but I looked a few minutes ago and was pleased. Sometimes it's nice to look and have it be something relevant and positive. We all need a little hope for better things every now and then and I thought it was good advice for anyone.
You're into something good. Follow that trail. Wear down the opposition. Your work here alleviates suffering elsewhere. You have an effect.

"Thoughts meander like a restless wind inside a letter box..."

I saw the movie Across the Universe this weekend. While I enjoyed watching it, I'm torn between liking it and thinking it was just a poor attempt at capitalizing on the sentimentality surrounding the Beatles, the 60's, hippies, and the Vietnam War.

I loved the use of the Beatles' music. All of the characters were created from people in the songs. It was also very beautiful and interesting to watch. Jim Sturgess, who played Jude, and Joe Anderson, who played Max, absolutely made the movie for me. They had the best screen presence, and because their characters were taken from such a traditional viewpoint, they really grounded the whole movie for me. I would have loved if the movie would have been centered more on their friendship. It would have been an interesting play on the Lennon-McCarthy partnership that was so uniquely balanced on their differences. I also liked that the inclusion of Bono, Joe Cocker, and Salma Hayek was so played down, yet striking in the movie. Very nice touch.

I actually loved all of the characters except for Lucy. She was such a follower, and I never got that she had a strong sense of self or purpose. Usually the main character goes through some sort of an epiphany or growth of character, but it ended just as it started in her waiting around for the guy to come find her. Maybe part of it was that I just didn't feel like Evan Rachel Wood had a very inspiring screen presence; I found her whinny and boring. Maybe if she had more to lose, I would have felt like there was a chance she would lose, her story line would have had a stronger impact. Because she didn't, Jude stole the whole movie.

Sadly, with all of its potential, this movie had the most poorly developed plot that I have seen in a really long time. I spent far too much time trying to figure out what was going on and how all of the different story lines were going to fit together. It never converged into a good theme. Ending with the whole group singing All You Need Is Love is just too cheap and easy.

About 20 minutes of the movie went into their drug experiences. The scenes were interesting and beautiful to watch, but they hit a point of getting too bizarre and let it drag on too long. Again, it got to a place where you thought there was going to be character development, but you ended up just watching for camera tricks and good music.

The most interesting part of the story was the social commentary on the war and its effects on the characters. This was sadly glazed over and quickly joked away at the end.

I know that I'll want to watch this movie again when it comes out on DVD, but this time I won't be looking for a great story. I'll watch just to enjoy the music and the cinematography.

As a side note, I bought the soundtrack, and while a lot of the songs were cut, it's fun to listen to. I would love a second CD with some of the songs that were cut. Was anyone else wondering when they were going to add Maxwell's Silver Hammer?

Sunday, September 30, 2007

On writing and not writing...

I'm one of those people who deals with their issues through their writing. Most of the time, I don't try to cover up that fact because writing is cathartic and gives me a safe reasoning space. I also think it works well as a healthy reminder of life's lessons.

The last few years of my life, I have been through so many periods of change. I feel like I'm the same person, but then I know that things have changed me. The most difficult part of all of this is that I haven't felt like writing. It’s been good because it forced me to deal with everything head on, but it is also sad because I didn't take the opportunity to expand my writing and realize what all of these things have meant to me and who I am.

I've gotten the writing bug back and I've been reading all of these fantastic books (Their Eyes Were Watching God has completely spun me around). My mind is so creatively charged. Organizing all these creative bursts feels like teaspooning a tidal wave into buckets, but I'm still figuring it all out. As crazy as it sounds, I'm enjoying it. I am happy to have the drive and interest again., For me to be a happy person, I have to create things.

Writing is both mask and unveiling.
E.B. White

A synonym is a word you use when you can't spell the other one.
- Baltasar Gracián

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Ty made me think...

Apparently, I must have needed a good cry because I watched Extreme Home Makeover tonight. It was the season finale from last year, and they were helping a family where two of the children had HIV. I was absolutely astonished hearing the story of these kids and how cruel and ignorant people in their community were to them.

On the show, they helped a charity that allows children with HIV or who have been affected by HIV go to camp. The camp was fantastic and did really wonderful things for the kids. Check out their website: Camp Heartland.

Also, I learned a lot from the following:

It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope.”
- Robert Kennedy

Well, there's a feeling in the air...

I love fall and all of the things that come with it: Halloween, Thanksgiving, theater season, colder weather, fall fashion, boots, bonfires, hayrides, big comfy sweaters, apple cider, anything with cinnamon, and everything pumpkin.

I am such a traditional Midwesterner, so sometimes (all the time, this time of the year), it is very difficult living in Florida. Not only do we miss out on a lot of those things that I love, but it is hurricane season here and about a million degrees.

One of the things that I still get is theater season. This past weekend, I bought my tickets for the next six months and am so excited about the shows that I'm going to see: Sinbad, a Mexican folk ballet, Gypsy, Puccini's Madama Butterfly, The Producers, Movin' Out, and Spamalot. I always try to select a variety of show types and pick some type that I've never been to before.

Last year, I saw my first opera (La bohème), Chicago, and George Carlin, but my absolute favorite was seeing Molly Ringwald in Sweet Charity. They were all fantastic, but that last one is probably due in part to the fact that I grew up watching Pretty In Pink, The Breakfast Club, and Sixteen Candles.

The other good thing about this time of year is that I get the urge to bake again. By request, I made oatmeal raisin cookies today, but in the upcoming weeks, I'm hoping to try some new recipes. Cooking Light always has the best recipes this time of the year.

"Bittersweet October. The mellow, messy, leaf-kicking, perfect pause between the opposing miseries of summer and winter."
- Carol Bishop Hipps

Sunday, September 16, 2007

In between the stars we all find ourselves...

The title is taken from the Julius Airwave song Fur. I'm not entirely sure that I quoted it as it was meant to be read (heard, whatever), but isn't most music up to the listener's interpretation? Anyway, I happened across their album The City the Forest a couple of months ago, and I've listened to it at least once a week ever since. They're difficult to describe because I feel like their music can’t be pinpointed into a single category. It can cover a range of moods and emotions and sound and feel different on different days. The upbeat "Broken Bells" and "Appley" were what initially got me hooked, but lately I've been leaning more towards "Fur" and "Nannerl." Don't get me wrong, I love the whole album and am starting to get into their first album Dragon Are The New Pink.

A few weeks ago I was watching an episode of American Dreams and Ashley Williams performed "(There's) Always Something There to Remind Me" as Sandie Shaw. I have to be honest that I know little to nothing on both Williams and Shaw, but I was so confused to hear that song because I thought it was a Naked Eyes original. Usually when a song is that popular, you hear a lot about how it's a cover. What was even more interesting is that the song was written by Burt Bacharach - that guy is a song writing genius. When I started reviewing his bio on Wikipedia, I was astounded to see the following: "As of 2006, Bacharach had written a total of 70 Top 40 hits in the U.S., and 52 Top 40 hits in the UK." You can even check out Burt's Blog. Talk about a guy staying super cool.

I have been in the weirdest music listening mood lately. Today has consisted of listening to Morrissey, the Felicity soundtrack, Simon and Garfunkel, and Depeche Mode. All true loves in terms of music.

It's been a good day. It has been one of those perfect, quiet, and lazy Sundays. I woke up late, watched tv, cooked for the week, did laundry, and generally enjoyed the day. It may be dorky, but I love days like this filled with quiet moments and being able moving at a slow, calm pace. I guess this is exactly what I need to deal with tomorrow being Monday and everything.

"Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life."
- Berthold Auerbach

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

A Rumination on Dawson's Creek

I am a true Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Felicity fan, but this week I have been filling out my need for reminiscent teenage melodrama with a Dawson’s Creek marathon. Thank goodness for Netflix!

Watching this shows reminds me a lot about being younger. I would never say that adolescence was easy (middle school was beyond a total nightmare), but it seems that when I was younger, it was completely acceptable to be emotional and even a little dramatic. No matter the extent of the drama, there was always an understanding, maybe even an epiphany, at the end of day (show) that helped me to grow and be a better person.

When did all of that change?  Is there a specific time in life – graduation, college, during the first job – that you begin to realize or are taught that a little drama, even when it leads to personal growth and enrichment, is a severe character flaw.

I am not supporting a complete juvenile regression, but it seems like we're a little too difficult on ourselves. My life has gotten more difficult and complex as I've gotten older, so maybe it wouldn't hurt to give myself a little more forgiveness. With more rules, more debt, and a 9-to-5 schedule, it feels like it should be understood and acceptable if I need to be a little more dramatic from time to time. But then again, maybe I have watched too much Dawson's Creek.

"There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered."
- Nelson Mandela

Sunday, September 9, 2007

To Begin...

I find beginnings to be awkward and uncomfortable. They are full of frozen moments where you don’t know the right words or how you should act. You wonder how you will be judged or if anyone will even listen.

In starting this blog, I am taken back to my first attempts at short story writing. I realize that I still haven’t gotten over my aversion to beginnings. I was always better to just jump in, start writing, and then once I had the ending figured out, the beginning would become so beautifully apparent.

I’m doing this (starting a blog) because it combined my two favorite things in the world – writing and all things cultural (movies, books, music, and art). Knowing me, I’ll veer off on more tangents than imaginable, but then again, isn’t that the point. Maybe one of these days I’ll even figure out the perfect beginning.

Speaking of beautiful beginnings:

Ships at a distance have every man's wish on board. For some they come in with the tide. For others they sail forever on the horizon, never out of sight, never landing until the Watcher turns his eyes away in resignation, his dreams mocked to death by Time. That is the life of men. Now, women forget all those things they don't want to remember, and remember everything they don't want to forget. The dream is the truth. Then they act and do things accordingly.
- from Their Eyes Were Watching GodZora Neale Hurston