Sunday, July 30, 2006

The not so amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat

This past Wednesday I went to see my friend Craig in the touring version of Joseph & The Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat. Anyone who needs the background on my friendship with Craig can find it here.

Let me start by saying the show itself is just horrible. I saw this in its original West End run, when it was big, expensive and fabulous. I also remember dialogue making for a coherent plot. The touring version is staggeringly, obviously cheap, all the dialogue has been removed and the songs stitched together into a lumpy, uneven and incoherent whole. The show is aimed squarely at 5 year olds and it even has a pantomime style sing along audience participation finale. Vile. I became convinced about half way through that the permagrinning female ensemble went home of a night and self harmed, the show really is that awful.

Luckily for Craig, he was fantastic. He has a gorgeous gorgeous voice and when he performed Close Every Door, every hair on my body stood up in a most spectacular set of goose pimples. Not least because the bad forced rhyming of "if my life were important, I/would ask "will I live or die?"" was one he decided to ignore and break the line at "important" instead. Much better. I realised as he was singing up a storm that this was only the second time in our friendship I had heard him sing. It won't be the last, as he is now off for a year on the international tour of Mamma Mia! as Sky. It's starting in the UK so depending on where I am at the time, I am hoping to see him in it before they head out to China.

On a baser level, I enjoyed the show because Craig's thighs, which I so readily once wanted to wear as earmuffs, were on display for pretty much half the show. He spends a while in a loin cloth so I got to ogle his chest and his thighs for like an hour. As he pointed out after the show, 10 months performing 10 shows a week dressed like that will make you go to the gym. Delicious. And of course, at one point during his meeting with the Pharoah, he is pushed to the ground and fell in such a way that I got to see right up his loin cloth. Sigh.

Contrary to how the previous paragraph makes it seem, I am over him and love him purely as a friend. Craig has a boyfriend who isn't me and who he loves very much and who, when he returns from a year of singing ABBA to bemused Asians, he will be moving in with. So even if I weren't over him, there would be no point in not being.

In other news, my iPod, an obselete 40Gb, died 3 months ago. I managed to damage the hard drive on it purely by pulling it out of the dock when it was refusing to connect to my iTunes. The other day I found a way to fix it myself though it's a patch job at best. However, to get it fixed properly by a professional will cost £155 and remove all my music. Factor in that the battery is on its last legs and the headphone socket is acting temperemental and I figured what the hell, and bought myself a brand new 60Gb video iPod. In black. Thanks to Senuti, I can retrieve all the music from my 40Gb and load it up to new one, so it all works out. Oh and I got it engraved too. The back will read "But I Always Liked A Good Storm". I really am a Tori Amos geek.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

So, I Loved Superman Returns

Hey, I figure if Limecrete can paraphrase my blog name, I can do the same to Michael Hartney's right?

It’s true, I loved it. I mean, I totally expected to because Bryan Singer is an absolute fricking genius (shut it, Mancuso). And he didn’t disappoint me here. I can however see why the negative word of mouth has sunk the film.

But first of all I need to mention my harebrained idea to travel up to London to see it in 3-D Imax on the hottest day a) of the year so far and b) quite possibly since records began. I mean, it’s HOT. And as I believe I mentioned before, the Brits don’t believe in air conditioning. My train from Brighton to London? Not air conditioned. The cinema though mercifully was air conditioned. My second faux pas was the timing. Last Wednesday was the last day of school in London and so my screening of Superman Returns was full, full I tell you, of a school outing end of term treat. Score. Luckily for me (and, of course, for them) they all shut the fuck up when the film starts and stay silent all the way through. Bless them.

3-D Imax really is the way to see a movie is all I can say. When I was booking my ticket, it would only offer me row J and I was all “I want to be nearer!” and then when I got there and sat down I was like “thank GOD I’m this far back!” as it was my first Imax experience ever, I had no idea just how H U G E the screen was going to be. And then the movie started and the sound was incredible. When the opening strains of that score started, every hair on my body stood up and tears welled up in my eyes. Yes it’s true. I’m a nerd. And I don’t care.

Now, the film itself. Why did people expect brainless stupid action and nothing else when it’s a Bryan Singer film? He has become known for taking the summer blockbuster and grafting gravitas on to the bombast. Superman Returns runs 154 minutes and only has 3 action sequences. That’s one every 50 minutes folks. If you want pointless brainless shoot em up nonsense, go see X3 or Transporter 2 or something. For me, I loved how Bryan Singer delivered a meticulously and lovingly crafted human drama. The conflict of Lois and Superman and Lois and Clark, the backbone of the previous movies after all, is front and centre. My heart broke a little when Lois dropped her purse and in going to help her pick it all up, Clark’s glasses fell off. When she handed them back to him and he struggled with putting them on and keeping up the charade or telling her everything was a masterful moment, gloriously understated. Those kind of moments are all over the movie and I say brava.

Other moments, admittedly, don’t work quite as well. The central baddie plot with Lex Luthor creating a new USA is fumbled and not, it must be said, overly interesting. Furthermore, everyone is loving Parker Posey but I thought she was woefully underused and reined in. She’s one of the most fearless comic actresses around, so I guess I just expected more. And I wasn’t overly pleased at how one moment Kryptonite makes Superman so weak that Lex and his goons kick the super crap out of him and then next minute he can heft a whole continent of it into orbit. However, his interminable fall back to earth had my heart rising ever higher into my throat as I was thinking “fly damnit, fly!” and when he hit the ground, I actually gasped.

All in all, this was a solid start to a new franchise. The box office hasn’t been SO awful that a sequel is out of the question (I mean, it’s no My Super Ex-Girlfriend now is it?) and I think that now Singer has found his feet, as long as he stays on board for the future films and the ridiculous negativity being aimed in his direction doesn’t see him walk away, I think that things can only get better.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Yo ho ho and a bottle of arse

So here is the story of my trip to see Dead Man's Chest. I mentioned earlier how it was a balls up from start to finish. And so it was. I hope you're sitting comfortably, because I'm about to begin.

Ok, so in the UK there's this thing called Orange Wednesdays. If your cell phone is on the Orange network, on a Wednesday you text them and they send you a text back that gets you two cinema tickets for the price of one. My housemate and I decided to go see Dead Man's Chest at the 3:30pm showing. We left the house at 2:40pm, I sent the text as we left. And the response never came. We got on the bus to the cinema. It's not air conditioned so it's about 120 degrees on the bus. And it's full of school children. Packed with them. They're so loud! It's like being trapped in a tumble drier with hyenas. The bus then hits every single red light between our flat and the centre of town. We get off and walk through the Lanes to cool off and escape the school children. We debate whether to get Banana Caramel Frappuccinos or ice cream at the cinema. We opt for ice cream. Should have known better.

We get to the cinema with what we thought was enough time to get the tickets and get ice cream. There is one person serving and a line right out the door. We finally make it into the cinema as the last trailer is finishing. One of my most favorite things about going to the cinema is watching the trailers. So now I'm pissed. The cinema is busy, there's a high percentage of irritating and loud people here. One girl, far too near to me for her own safety, is having an argument with her mother on her cell phone as her mother wants to pick her up before the film will finish. I fight the urge to lean over and say "I really think it's best if you just leave now". Having missed the trailers, there's then a 10 minute delay before the film starts for no apparent reason, other than to annoy me I think. It's during this 10 minutes when I notice that it's way too warm in the auditorium. Yup. I'm about to sit through a 150 minute movie in a non air conditioned movie theatre. Sweet mother of God.

So you can see how I wouldn't have been in the best frame of mind to be visually assaulted by the monstrosity that was Dead Man's Chest. Part of the problem is that I came very late to the Pirates Of The Caribbean table first time around. I had no overwhelming desire to see it, not being a fan of Keira Knightley or Orlando Bloom. But everyone I knew who saw it raved about how fabulous it was. So towards the end of its cinema run in 2003, I finally caved in and saw it. And, Johnny Depp aside, was bored out of my mind by it. So I don't really know why I bothered taking in the sequel. I knew I wouldn't enjoy it. But there's always a chance I might, ya know? Anyway, I never dreamed it would be quite as shockingly inept and deathly boring as it was.

It was as if they sat around after the first one took the world by storm and said "well now we have to make a sequel or two. What went right this time? it seems they liked that rum joke. And everyone's loving Johnny Depp's performance. And our special effects are killer" and that was as creative as they got. As someone who didn't find the rum joke funny first time around, I didn't need it repeated endlessly throughout the sequel. The special effects were amazing, yes, but I'd trade them in for some decent direction and a halfway coherent story. Instead they cobbled together some bollocks about Davy Jones and hoped for the best.

In addition to the main nonsensical and unclear plot about Davy Jones and the eponyomous chest, they foolishly try and fashion a love quadrangle (or pentangle, depending on what they were going for with Tom Hollander's brief appearance). Now, that would be fine if it were someone remotely attractive causing said quadrangle. However, having one man lusting after that scrawny bitch Keira Knightley is stretching it pretty far, that there could be three (or four) is plain insanity. Every time I looked at her I just thought "Jesus Christ, eat something! How are you holding a sword? Hell, how are you even standing up?" and apparently her calorie intake is linked to her acting ability because she has never been more wooden than she was here. Orlando Bloom just can't act, never has been able to. He has an air of 40's matinee idol about him but alas he's got all the talent of Keanu Reeves. The real surprise here is Depp, turning in an ugly and lazy performance, a smudged photocopy of his first crack at Jack.

The script has precisely two lines that might raise a laugh. However, both of those are in the trailer and therefore they aren't funny in the movie because you've heard them before like 800 times. The rest is trying far far too hard and goes for icky ICKY slapstick to raise a laugh rather than sharp one liners. A film that could have been shorn of several supporting players and at LEAST 45 minutes, it's so in love with itself and thinks it's so much fun, but that sense of fun never reaches the audience and in the end this bloated monstrosity just sits there like an unflushable turd.

I'm off now to a press screening of the Almodovar movie, Volver. I'll write about that, the rest of my week, London and Superman Returns later on.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

I have a Confession.....

I caved in on Tuesday. I was looking at Ticketmaster's website and they still had some tickets at top price for Madonna's performance at Wembley on August 16th. So I bought myself one. See, one of the good things about working at American Express is they give any employee a credit card. So I applied for a RED card so I can buy things I can't afford and feel good about myself while I'm doing it. And I just couldn't let this tour pass me by. Not after Re-Invention blew my mind a couple of years ago.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Time flies.....

Even when you're not having fun, apparently. Today marks one year since I hopped on a plane to New York to begin my three month life changing job search. Ok so far it hasn't really managed to change it for the better, but I'm working on it. I have had loads of trouble sleeping this past week and been inexplicably down in the dumps. Now I know why. One whole year.

Anyway, still to be blogged about this week is my epic hellish journey to see Dead Man's Shit. It's quite a tale, from door to door the whole event was one big pile of suck. I don't have time to do it justice right now, but expect a fuller entry about it soon.

Tomorrow I am heading up to London as my ex-boss at the theatre who was a diamond with writing references and working his contacts during and after my job hunt Stateside is leaving and moving back to Scotland. So we're going to have a goodbye lunch. Before I see him, I am going to see Superman Returns in 3-D Imax. I WILL believe a man can fly. The rapidly diminishing US box office is proof positive that there's no accounting for taste and is making me sad, but I cannot wait for the movie.

Friday, July 14, 2006

I LOVE What I'm Wearing

Some people who read my blog might be aware that I have a deep seated love for those fabulous bitches on Go Fug Yourself. So much so that I bought myself a "I HATE What You're Wearing" T-shirt from them and I wear it a lot. I was wearing it today and strolling home through Brighton when I was stopped by a photographer who is doing an exhibition of people wearing unusual t-shirts. So I am going to be exhibited. Fancy.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Random shit

I haven't blogged that much lately, I guess I haven't had a huge amount to say. I also don't really have the energy to write a coherent entry that's actually, you know, ABOUT something.

I am steadily losing weight. I have dropped 14lbs so far, weigh day is tomorrow but I haven't been overly strict this week so I don't expect to have lost much, if any. But I am still pleased that the weight is coming off, slowly but surely.

Superman Returns got the best reviews of the summer flicks so far (it's tracking 72 on metacritic) yet its box office has not lived up to expectations. Which makes me sad, especially as the negative buzz regarding Bryan Singer making the movie "too gay" was put forward as a possible reason. It's expected to sink in the face of Dead Man's Chest tomorrow too, but I'm hoping it doesn't. I feel I may hope in vain. It's annoying because I hate I hate I hate Curse Of The Black Pearl. Sigh.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

I love Grey's Anatomy

But am I the only person who thinks it should be renamed The Miranda Bailey Show?

Not only do I love her character but Chandra Wilson's fierce performance far outshines Ellen Pompeo's. Meredith Grey is not a particularly interesting character and she comes across as whiny and vapid thanks to Pompeo's lack of skill. Were it not for the stellar supporting cast surrounding her, I would have stopped watching a while ago.

But now I have no choice but to stop watching. See, here in the UK where I am still stuck against my will, the show is on Channel 5 and they have decided to stop showing it 5 episodes into season 2. I emailed them to find out why they had done this and the response was this:

"We are not ceasing to transmit this programme 5 episodes into Series 2. In actual fact, we are currently transmitting episodes from Series 1 and the final episode from this series has been scheduled for broadcast at 22:00 on 6th July.

Series 1 of Grey’s Anatomy contains 14 episodes. The confusion may have arisen as the US broadcaster chose to end Series 1 after Episode 9 and continue with the remaining 5 episodes at a later date. We chose not to do this and will be transmitting all 14 episodes without a break.

We do have the rights to Series 2 which contains a total of 22 episodes; however, our rights commence in March 2007 and we will only be able to transmit this series after this date."

So obviously I had to respond to that with the following:

"Well the DVD box set for Season 1 of Grey's Anatomy in
both the US and the UK only contain 9 episodes. The
listings on imdb and on the official website for
Grey's Anatomy list Season 1 as being 9 episodes and
season 2 being 27 episodes, with the episode scheduled
to air on Channel 5 on 6th July as the fifth episode
of the season. There is evidently some confusion here,
but I don't think it is mine. "

I don't expect a response to that one, oddly enough. My housemate and I are now downloading the remaining episodes from Season 2.