Ashlee Simpson has started rehearsals for her London stage stint as Roxie Hart in Chicago. Is this some kind of bad joke? 21 year old Ashlee Simpson is going to deliver the line "I'm older than I ever intended to be"? In a city where she has no fanbase? SERIOUSLY?
Tuesday, August 29, 2006
Saturday, August 26, 2006
Finished my third book of the longlist the other night. It only really counts as the first of the challenge given that I'd read the other two before the list was published. Anyway, it's a wonderfully written book in some respects but none of the characters came into focus properly. It was all about them, yet there didn't seem to be room for them to breathe. Weird. I cut it a lot of slack purely because St Aubyn does have a masterful way with words (describing someone who never stopped talking, for example, he notes that "words drained out of her like an unplugged bath"). That being said, I'd be shocked, shocked I tell you, if this made it to the shortlist. I have now started on the new Jon McGregor, So Many Ways To Begin. I'm very much not enjoying it and if it doesn't buck itself up during my 2 hour round trip train journey to London today, it's going to find itself kicked to the kerb.
Yes, off to London today. Going to see The Last Five Years at the Menier, the most gorgeous little black box theatre in South London. I'm very much looking forward to it. I'll write a proper blog about it when I get back, though I can't promise when. I am going from the train to the leaving party for all the seasonal hire staff in the call centre from work which is going on until about 3am. I am then working from tomorrow clean through to next Saturday without a day off. So I'm gon' be one busy and very tired homosexual. But there will be posts about the theatre, the disappointing sex I had earlier this week and, given that her lesbian wedding is now fairly imminent, my sister.
Monday, August 21, 2006
It's true. Those of you keeping up with current events will know I'm now stuck in the UK far longer than I ever wanted to be and I am very much strapped for cash. I have a mahoosive debt and I am hoping to scrimp and save enough to get said debt paid off before my US return next year. Which means a whole lot of doing nothing for me. Even cinema trips will become a luxury and unless I absolutely have to have to must see something, it can wait until it's on DVD. In order to make sure I always have something to watch though, I have also added to my rental list on the UK version of Netflix, all the tv shows I meant to watch but never did or started watching and never finished. I just got through watching Rome, which has provided me with my favorite line of tv dialogue EVER ("Father, that dwarf is asking for you"). Still on my list I have the first seasons of:
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Medium, Prison Break, Supernatural, Rescue Me, Alias, Arrested Development, Dead Like Me, Deadwood, Fat Actress, Huff, Monk, NYPD Blue, Roswell, The Shield, The Sopranos. Third Watchand The West Wing.
Should I love any of those shows like the child I will never have, of course I'll rent the additional seasons. I also have the final seasons of Angel because I missed half of it and Carnivale because I missed all of it, on the list. Should keep me going for a while, don't you think?
Sunday, August 20, 2006
Broadway sensation Wicked is coming to London. It begins previewing on September 7th and so the PR machine is starting to crank up. This Sunday's Times Culture section has a big feature about the show and its imminent London debut. It mentions how Idina Menzel is the only OBC holdover for London and then it details the rest of the key cast before featuring this quote:
"They've hired real actors this time" says Menzel approvingly.
Perhaps a teeny bit of context might have helped that comment NOT seem like a total diss to all the real actors who she worked with during her New York run.
Saturday, August 19, 2006
Which is probably how the pitch to New Line went for this hysterically improbable, ultimately joyous cinematic experience. Yes, Snakes On A Plane, the dumbest titled and most hyped film in some time has finally arrived. And it more than lives up to its expectations.
Now, there are movies which are so bad, they're good. I love those movies. My guilty pleasure list runs long but to give two of the best examples, I unashamedly own the DVDs of Deep Blue Sea and xXx. So, my anticipation for this movie wasn't exactly based on its artistic merit. I wanted paper thin characters, bad dialogue, some nudity, some action, and bucketloads of unpleasant death sequences. Check, check, check, check, check. Awesome. In the so-bad-they're-good genre, Snakes On A Plane is so fabulously silly it's downright fantastic. In other words, this is the Citizen Kane of guilty pleasures.
Casting wise, I only knew that Samuel L Jackson (who I hate) and that cute Aussie guy from that awful Wolf Creek were in it. So I got very over excited during the opening credits to find out it also had Julianna Margulies AND Bobby Cannavale in it. I have loved Julianna since she was Nurse Hathaway, so I initially found her straightened hair alarming. And as for Bobby Cannavale, well he could make me his bitch any day of the week and twice on Sunday. Anyway, I digress.
Plot wise, who CARES? The film can't even be bothered to go into exactly how the titular snakes are smuggled on to the aforementioned plane, so I can't be fagged to tell you why they were put there. All you need to know is there's a lot of them. And they're pissed. And they escape. Mayhem ensues. A mayhem that is the most fun to watch, I can't even tell you. Characters you don't care about are offed in a variety of truly nasty ways (all variations on a theme for the most part, though the guy trampled to death via a stiletto heel to the ear was pretty unsavory). 90% of the characters they bothered to give paper thin characterisations too all make it to the end credits still breathing. The 10% that get culled, you pretty much want them to be eaten alive (except for the honeymooning couple, that was mean). So there you have it. If you want something deep and meaningful or you have an inability to suspend disbelief, then this is not for you. If however, like myself and Mr Mancuso you just love this kind of shit (and make no mistake, it's shit but it's GOOD shit), then get thee to the cinema. I might even go again.
Thursday, August 17, 2006
And here, track by track, is what PCB has to say about it all.
"Future Lovers/I Feel Love"
It starts theatrically and fabulously enough with the giant disco ball and what have you. The segue into I Feel Love is genius and flawlessly pulled off. But I'm not quite convinced by the equestrian choreography.
Wait, where did her dancers go? Oh there they are. Oh they're gone again. What's with the pop up boys? Weird.
"Like A Virgin"
Ah now this is more like it. A great new dancey arrangement and Madonna on an S & M merry-go-round. Fabulous. And seriously, I was on the edge of my seat thinking "why isn't she strapped on to that thing!?!?!"
Holy fuck her dancers are hot. And I'm even further on the edge of my seat with all the leaping around they're doing. Dayum.
"Live To Tell"
Prefaced by the one true misstep the night takes, this is.....interesting. The controversy she's caused with this staging is inescapable. Again, I love the new mix but I'm wondering why she chose to include such a slooooow ballad in a show where she want to make the world dance.
Understated and brilliant. Intricate, complicated to the point and simple all at the same time.
My god I love this song. Love it. Not keen on the caged Bedouin woman though.
Utterly phenomenal. The clumsy equestrian choreography is forgotten in favour of slick urban brilliance. And finally I can stop thinking "why does she only have 4 dancers?"
"Like It Or Not"
As soon as they appeared, they're gone again. Madonna takes to the catwalk and also manages to bring to mind Cabaret whilst reminding us of the finale from Blond Ambition
Scene change but I really like the remix. And that never happens.
"I Love New York"
I manage not to cry. The rock edge really works for the song too.
"Ray Of Light"
Another song that totally benefits from the hard rock makeover. And the dancers are fun in this one.
"Let It Will Be"
Truly astonishing. I miss the strings in this arrangement but I'm so in awe of the way she's throwing herself around that I don't really care.
"Substitute For Love"
First we all sing Happy Birthday and then Madonna makes a little thank you speech. This naturally stops the show in its tracks and then sitting on the stairs singing this song does nothing to kick start it. She sounds fine though (I'm under no illusions that she's being electronically helped however) and I'm transfixed by how huge the vein in her arm is.
"Paradise (Not For Me)"
Truly baffling inclusion, I have to say. Slow and dull.
Again, inspired genius. I can be quite reserved at concerts and I'm not usually one for arena sized gigs like this, but believe me when I tell you I got down with my bad self. Absolutely phenomenal.
"La Isla Bonita"
Another oldie that's been pleasingly overhauled with magnificent choreography. Fabulous.
"Erotica/You Thrill Me"
My God, if the whole show had been as strong as this section I would have probably expired with sheer joy by now. This is the first time since 1993 this song has seen the light of day and it's a bastardized but brilliant version.
And finally the backing singers are released from their podium which they've been stuck on for almost the whole show. When you consider how much Nikki and Donna had to do in Blond Ambition and The Girlie Show, it's surprising how little time they spend in the spotlight tonight. The hilarious Dancing Queen cape is fantastic.
So for the first time in a while, Madonna isn't closing with (or indeed, even performing) "Holiday". Instead it's "Hung Up" of which she can be justifiably proud. However I am a little disappointed that it's the exact same routine that's in the video and on the Grammys and at every pre-release concert she performed. As I've seen that many times and as the show started SO late, I leave a few minutes before the end to make the last train home.
So it's a qualified success. There were many many many brilliant parts and only one misfire. A few draggy moments though and an overall failure to entirely cohere prevents this from being a truly great concert. Part of the problem could also be that Re-Invention was so fucking incredible that it set the bar impossibly high for her next live performance. I seriously doubt that this will be her last tour and I wouldn't be surprised to see her celebrating her half century with a new album and attempt at world domination. And I'll see it, of course.
Wednesday, August 16, 2006
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
So I decided that as my life has no direction and I have no money or social life to speak of right now, I needed something to stimulate and challenge me. But I couldn't think what. And then yesterday the Man Booker Prize longlist was published. Two years ago, I tried to plough through all 19 of the titles. I failed. While there were some amazing books in the mix (I'll Go To Bed At Noon, Cooking With Fernet Branca, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell and Cloud Atlas to name four and if you haven't read any of them, I strongly suggest you do), there were some unholy duds and after giving up on my third book in a row, I abandoned the idea. But having looked over the titles this year, they seem much more of an eclectic and interesting bunch, so I thought what the hell. Plus, I've already read two of them, so I have a head start.
Theft: A Love Story by Peter Carey
The Inheritance Of Loss by Kiran Desai
Gathering The Water by Robert Edric
Get A Life by Nadine Gordimer
The Secret River by Kate Grenville
Carry Me Down by M.J. Hyland
Kalooki Nights by Howard Jacobson
Seven Lies by James Lasdun
The Other Side Of The Bridge by Mary Lawson
So Many Ways To Begin by Jon McGregor
In The Country Of Men by Hisham Matar
Black Swan Green by David Mitchell
The Emperor's Children by Claire Messud
The Perfect Man by Naeem Murr
Be Near Me by Andrew O'Hagan
The Testament Of Gideon Mack by James Robertson
Mother's Milk by Edward St. Aubyn
The Ruby In Her Navel by Barry Unwsorth
The Night Watch by Sarah Waters
The two that are crossed out are the two that I have already read. The fact that I count them to be two of the best books I have read in the last 12 months gives me hope for the remaining 17.
Wednesday, August 09, 2006
Thursday, August 03, 2006
My new iPod is here! Praise be. I had to call Apple yesterday and put my parts on about it though. See, my housemate (the crippled lesbian, I’ve mentioned her, right?) was home all day on Tuesday recovering from a long weekend visiting her grandparents. And when I checked the order online yesterday it said this:
2nd August – recipient unavailable for delivery, please contact us to rearrange delivery time.
The carriers? UPS. So I called Apple and explained how clearly they hadn’t attempted to deliver it as somebody was home all day. The following conversation then took place:
Apple Lady: Well that’s very strange that it says they attempted delivery then. Me: Only it’s not. UPS are notorious for saying they tried but nobody was home. They didn’t try. I’m home right now. It’s a block of flats with an entry phone. They buzz the phone, I’ll let them in, simple pimple.
Apple Lady: I’ll call UPS and ask them to contact the driver and inform them of all that for you and call you back when I’ve spoken to them.
Ten minutes later, Apple Lady called back to say she’d spoken to UPS and it should be with me shortly. Half an hour later, UPS man knocked on my door (how he actually got IN to the block of flats is a mystery) with the iPod. I don’t often get on my huffy bike, but apparently I’m quite effective when I do. The new iPod is sleek and gorgeous and I love it. The sound quality is SO much better than my old one too. Now I just have to complete the oh so boring task of transferring the music from my old iPod back into iTunes and then on to the new iPod. Oh and also uploading the album art for them all too.
I went to see Fool For Love in London yesterday, starring Juliette Lewis who I do love. Firstly it’s a flimsy little nothing of a play, running a scant 70 minutes (it says 75 in the program, but it started at 8:05pm and they were done with the bows a fraction before 9:15pm). The execution of the play doesn’t work. And the production has been frantically overdirected, as if in a bid to try and prevent us from noticing. And sadly Ms Lewis is horribly exposed. Her dialogue scenes with Martin Henderson (so dreamy) didn’t really spark, it was obviously a performance, she was obviously acting, you know? All surface and nothing underneath. She did nail the occasional moment and line reading and her monologue at the end was joyous to watch. But she has this way of standing and walking that is like watching an 8 year old trying on her mother’s stilettos that works for the characters she plays but is also oddly distracting. All in all, we can file this one under “misfire”. Shame.
Posted by Popcultureboy at 8:06 AM