Monday, July 30, 2007

Officially the worst stunt casting ever

It was announced today that Kelly Osbourne would take on the role of Mama Morton in the West End run of Chicago. Leaving aside the fact that she's whiny and annoying, ungrateful and stupid, she's also devoid of any acting talent and she can't really sing. But let's look at some previous Mama's here:

Marcia Lewis: Born 1938
Roz Ryan: Born 1951
Angie Stone: Born 1961
Jennifer Holliday: Born 1960
Debra Monk: Born 1949
Diane Langton: Born 1947
Lynda Carter: Born 1951
Alison Moyet: Born 1961

While I don't have the exact dates they performed in the revival, it would have been in the last decade. So the youngest any of them could have been at the time they took on the role is 36. Do we agree with that? Yes?

Then can you tell me why Kelly FUCKING Osbourne, who turns 23 on the LAST day of her 10 week run as Mama Morton, has been given the role? Someone? Anyone? Please just close this fucking show already. What was once one of the most starkly brilliant revivals is now in desperate need of being put out of its misery.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

PCB's Television Round Up, Part 5

It's been a while since the last round-up, so there's a few shows to be going on with here. I really do watch far too much television.


It fought it out tooth and nail with Ugly Betty but ultimately this is the second best new show on television. I absolutely loved it from minute one and as the season progressed, it became quite clear that the writers had thought about every little nuance and detail (unlike the patchwork Lost). The arc of characters like Peter Petrelli and Mr Bennett proved that. Watching Peter go from floppy haired touchy feely girly boy to the coolest person on the planet was thrilling.

They also had the ultimate villain in Sylar. Zachary Quinto did a bang up job of the role too, completely nailing the "aw shucks, who me?" persona as well as the "I am supreme evil and will EAT YOUR BRAIN" persona. Of course, the break out star has been Masi Oka for his glorious Hiro. He's everybody's favourite character and he's totally adorable. All in all, this was a hugely ambitious show with a huge cast of characters and it aimed to weave a dense, rich and intricate tapestry with them. And it succeeded. I can't wait for the DVD.


I am as surprised as anyone that this show was a hit, enough of a hit to make it to four seasons. It sounds, on the surface at least, both hokey and tired. A variation on a well worn theme. But somehow the show is really involving and gripping.

A lot of that can be attributed to the performances of Patricia Arquette and Jake Weber. Individually, they're both great (Arquette has deservedly won awards for the role) but together they have some of the best chemistry I have ever ever seen. They're a joy to watch and the show manages to strike the right balance between their home life and Alison's work.

This most recent season, the show's third, was by far its strongest. It didn't start out that way, with the opening double episode being a bit fumbled. But it varied things up (Alison didn't always just dream stuff), it ramped up the dramatic factor (the episode "Joe Day Afternoon" was seriously edge of the seat stuff and it pulled no punches either) and it managed to pull off a very ambitious four part (FOUR PART!) season finale. Neve Campbell's guest appearance was not as annoying as I thought it would be and in fact her final scene with Jason Priestley, where it slowly dawns on her how out of her depth she is, was brilliantly played. All in all, this season saw an already good show start to be great. Bring on season four.

Kyle XY

I realise that I couldn't be further outside the show's demographic but I still watched this show and I really enjoyed it.

You could argue that it's cutesy, it's cloying, it's as subtle as a sledgehammer and tiresomely moral and wholesome. You'd probably be right. But the show has a jewel in its crown in the shape of Matt Dallas. His performance in the title role is just pitch perfect and he makes even the most clumsy of episodes watchable. And no, bitches, it's not because he's pretty. Well, not entirely.

Monday, July 23, 2007

A Hallowed Ending

My copy of Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows arrived at 7am on Saturday morning. Rather than go back to sleep, I started reading it. My word, JK Rowling certainly saved the best for last. There are 37 chapters in the book and of those, only 4 can really be counted as NOT being edge of your seat intense stuff.

The decision not to set this book in Hogwarts always meant that all bets are off. I never expected the book to be so relentless in its action filled narrative though. Unlike the previous two books, there is precious little meandering in the opening section, it hits the ground running with death and severe injury by the start of chapter 3 to let the reader know that this time she means business.

It was very clever of Rowling to "confirm" the deaths of two characters in the final installment. Multiply by that by 25 and you're somewhere in the ballpark. In the final act of the book when the action is back at Hogwarts, several of the deaths made me pause and say "wow JK, you cold bitch".

The final chapter of the book is, according to a documentary I watched when I was first getting into the books, the first thing she wrote for the series, to prove to herself she could do it. Having tied up all the narrative strands from the series in the chapter prior to the end, it was a fitting and actually very moving end to the book. I may have even cried.

I'm sure I'll have more to say about this book in the coming days and weeks but for now, that's all.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Countdown to The Deathly Hallows

With the final Harry Potter book mere hours away (some people already of course have their copies due to "oversights" by online retailers), the internet is in a frenzy of speculation as to what it will contain. You can find them here, here, here, and here. Also there are predictions here, here, here, here, here,and here.

Judging by the titles of these blog entries linked above, the focus is on who will die, who is good and who is not and the purpose of the horcruxes. I say judging by the title because I am not reading any further than that on any of them. My book had better arrive from Amazon tomorrow morning (especially as they charged me for it LAST Saturday and it's been 'ready to dispatch' ever since) and once I have finished the book, then I will go back and read what everyone was thinking.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Harry Potter and the Um of the What?

I went to see the new Harry Potter movie last night. I'm seeing it again on August 4th at the IMAX and believe me when I tell you that I enjoyed it a lot and will have no problems sitting through it a second time.

However, this was never going to be an easy adaptation. The book is ridiculously overlong and overextended. Boiling it down to two hours twenty minutes makes for some serious editing but it's been edited so much that it makes no concession for anyone unfamiliar with the source material. And while there's an argument that you shouldn't really be starting out with the fifth movie, a scooch more information here and there wouldn't have gone amiss. Two new characters are so diminished in the adaptation they should really have been written out altogether (Tonks and Luna). For the most part though, I had very little issue with the cuts and rewrites, but some of the edits will make adapting book 6 a little tricky.

Which affirms a belief I've been harbouring for a little while that the big screen is not the best medium for the novels. They should have waited until the final novel was published (five days to go!) and then the BBC, for example, should have adapted each book as a five part mini series. The later novels would have had the room to breathe that they really require instead of multiple plot strands and characters fighting for space. Also, starting the films before all the novels are published is a little tricky. How can they be sure that elements left out of the forth and fifth films aren't going to be important points in the final installment? Maybe in the due course of time, the mini series will become a reality, who knows? At least the acting in the fifth film was a massive improvement on the earlier films and the main offender for atrocious acting (Tom Felton's horrible HORRIBLE Draco Malfoy) had barely three minutes of screen time.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Hot Guy Monday: Chris Meloni

I recently re-discovered Oz as I finally got the fifth season on DVD. It reaffirmed my adoration of Chris Meloni. He's not someone you look at and say "wow, you should so be a model" but anyone who has seen him as Chris Keller would surely agree that he is the very definition of hot. In Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, his character and performance are the polar opposite of Keller, yet there's still something about him in that show that makes me go a little weak in the knees. So sit back and appreciate yourselves some Meloni. Be careful scrolling down to the last pic though. It's on here because you gotta love a man who is constantly getting naked for the camera, but it might not be something your boss should catch you looking at.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Ticket trauma

I blame the internet. It's been so long since I booked tickets over the phone that I had forgotten just how frustrating it can be.

A little backstory. I love PJ Harvey. I have since Rid Of Me was released and have been an ardent fan ever since. I have seen her live on several occasions, starting with the tour to promote To Bring You My Love. She has gotten better and better and the pre-release gigs for Uh Huh Her were truly phenomenal. I've been on her mailing list for ages and on Wednesday morning last week I checked my old email account to find out that a solo gig at the Royal Festival Hall has been scheduled for 29th September and tickets are on sale at 9am. You can book on the phone with the venue or with their website.

I ensured I was at my desk at five minutes to nine, logged in, website up and ready to go. At 9am, I refresh the screen, the gig isn't there. I continue to refresh until ten past nine when it's still not there I admit defeat and start calling. Of course, the phone lines are completely jammed and it takes me over half an hour to speak to someone. The entire time I am on hold, a helpful voice informs me every 15 seconds that my call is still in a queue and very important to them, however I might like to book online at their website. Every time they say this I refresh my screen and the gig is still not listed. After doing this multiple times, my temper begins to fray and I start talking to the automated message, saying things like "I can't", "well how can I if the gig I want isn't on the website?" and "for sobbing out loud would you JUST PUT ME THROUGH TO SOMEONE?" By the time I do actually get put through, the whole office is looking at me like I have gone insane. It's possible that I might have.

Luckily, the lady I was connected with was so very nice and helpful, and there were still tickets left, though not that many. So I got two tickets and all is right with the world. All the times I've seen her live, I've never seen her solo. I CANNNOT WAIT!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Sex And The City headed for the big screen

That begs one very simple question: Why? Why is a show that was so of its time being given the big screen upgrade four years after its final season?

I was not a fan of the show. I tried on more than one occasion to watch it and after about ten minutes I wanted to poke my eyes out with a sharp stick and, figuring that a bit drastic, switched off the TV instead. Maybe my dislike stems from the fact this show has the entire world labouring under the impression that Sarah Jessica Parker is beautiful. Maybe I didn't watch any episodes that dealt with serious stuff in a heartfelt way, but lucked out with female ejaculation and funny tasting cum. The fact remains, I could not deal with watching this show.

There are some half hour comedies that I did love watching though. I don't want to see a big screen version of those either. Can you imagine a 90 minute movie of Will & Grace? Or Friends? It's a horrible idea, right? The thought of a flimsy little show writ large and stretched to almost four times its natural length made you feel a bit queasy didn't it? So WHAT THE HELL ARE HBO THINKING? Is it not enough that they randomly and indiscriminately cancel their best shows before their time, but they foist a show I am glad to finally see the back of on to the big screen for one last death gasp? Sigh.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Hot Guy Monday: Matt Dallas

I know that I shouldn't even know who Matt Dallas is. His breakthrough show, Kyle XY, is very much not aimed at my demographic. And yet I watched the show (I'm sure it will feature in a TV round up at some point). What's more I liked the show and there's no denying that Matt Dallas is a hottie.

Delicious, no?

Friday, July 06, 2007

Do not see this movie

Words have been failing me since last week when I saw this execrable excuse for a film, but as it has now chosen a US opening date of next Friday, the 13th, I feel I need to say something about it. It’s a benchmark for how low the genre has sunk and I sincerely hope that this plus the failure of Hostel II signals an end to torture porn.

My first problem with Captivity is the offending ad campaign pictured here. The issue I have isn’t with the images (remove the descriptive text and they lose a massive amount of impact anyway) but with the hysterically disingenuous response from Lions Gate when the hooha that the billboards created led to their removal. Are we really honestly supposed to believe that Lions Gate had no knowledge of the posters, hadn’t approved them as final or sanctioned their placement on Hollywood Boulevard? Because I don’t. There is no such thing as bad publicity and this got a lot of people talking. And then May 18th came and went and the film never materialised.

And this leads me to my second problem with Captivity. The reason for the delay in its release. After opening in Spain and Russia in March to hateful hateful reviews and audience derision, a third of the film was reshot. Why was it reshot? To add gore. Yes, that’s right, apparently the film wasn’t bloody enough. The original idea for the film was to be more psychological in its application of terror. All those elements have now been removed and in their place are some deeply unpleasant sequences full of blood and body parts.

I have no problem with gore, per se. My problem with torture porn comes from the films being deemed scary or even terrifying by people. No. There is a gigantic difference between gore and terror. Films like Cabin Fever and Hostel being deemed truly frightening is frankly laughable. There is nothing frightening about seeing someone eaten from the inside by some flesh eating virus. Unpleasant? Yes. Gruesome? Yes. Frightening. Nope.

Interestingly, two horror films from the recent past are often accused of being filled with gore when they’re nothing of the sort. Saw is unfairly maligned, particularly when seen in the shadow of the two (soon to be, God help us all, three) inferior sequels. However the first Saw movie is not really that bloody and it has some sequences that are really edge of the seat stuff. The sequence where Leigh Whannell’s character is kidnapped and he is running round his apartment searching for the intruder using his camera flash for example. And the last few minutes packed quite a punch and having nothing but Whannell’s desperate screams play over the end credits ensured that I for one left the theatre somewhat traumatised.

The remake of Texas Chainsaw Massacre is also beaten with the gore stick on occasion. I had a lengthy disagreement with a friend of mine over the gore content of this movie, I claiming it was not really that bloody, he claiming it was a blood soaked atrocity. Eventually he watched it again and had to concede that I was right. It’s bloodier than the original that’s for sure, but in terms of blood spillage on the screen, it’s no Kill Bill. The original Halloween was often criticised for its level of bloody gore when it has hardly any. It was shot so suggestively and so brilliantly, people THOUGHT they’d seen something far gorier than they had. I shudder to think how horrendous Rob Zombie’s remake is going to be.

When will the new breed of so called horror film makers wake up and realise their films are not frightening? When will they realise that what you DON’T see is far far more terrifying than what you do? What is being passed off as horror right now is coming ever more uncomfortably close to exploitation as a bunch of pretty people of questionable talent spend the better part of 90 minutes in various states of undress being subjected to difficult to watch torture sequences.

In the case of Captivity, these extend to acid showers and being force fed entrail smoothies. It’s ironic that after the studio ordered more explicit material, the MPAA then asked for over 30 cuts to be made. This is the same version submitted for release in the UK. The cuts have made the film incoherent as whole sequences have no grounding and when you factor in the re-shoots and re-edits, the whole film is very patchwork and when it’s not making you want to throw up it’s because you’re too confused by the herky jerky plotting to care what the hell is going on.

In addition to this, it doesn’t have an original bone in its body. The plot twist can be seen coming from about three seconds in and is revealed in the exact same way as the exact same twist is revealed in My Little Eye (I mean for heavens sake, if you’re going to steal, at least steal from something GOOD). The overall set up owes far too much to Saw. However, that film had the courage of its convictions and offed the two protagonists (offscreen too, so it was left to the viewer to work out how). I’m sure I’m spoiling nothing when I say that some of the reshoots have rendered the final panel of the original ad campaign redundant. Shame.

So please. Don’t see the movie. It’s a worthless piece of crap. And I say that as someone who loves horror movies, studied horror movies for a year in college and wrote a five thousand word essay on the social relevance of the slasher movie. Anyone who doesn’t think the slasher movie HAS any social importance should listen to Sean S. Cunningham’s commentary track on the DVD of the first Friday The 13th movie. These movies said something, they just said it with scares and with blood. The current crop of sadistic rubbish pretending to be movies are empty vessels. The writers and directors seem to think it’s sufficient entertainment as long as there’s enough blood and guts to satiate the audience’s appetite. It’s not, and it shows a marked disregard for the intellect of your audience. Not everyone is as dumb as Eli Roth and his friends seems to think we are.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

I guess Isaiah Washington doesn't read my blog...

Grouchbutt and Limecrete have both got their wish. Stupid Dumb-Face Washington just will not shut up. In addition to the "I was fired because I'm black, and it was all TR Knight's fault anyway" nonsense he's been spouting, he's now started saying that he tried to resign in the wake of Faggotgate but Shonda Rimes wouldn't let him. Yes, mean old Shonda refused to let him resign JUST SO SHE COULD FIRE HIM.

And now, having blamed TR Knight, he's decided to also blame Patrick Dempsey. Apparently Mr Dempsey's constant on set tardiness pissed off Stupid Dumb-Face so much he just had to say something. And Patrick got really angry about it, causing Stupid Dumb-Face to get all up in his business and use many expletives and insults, including faggot, which wasn't meant as a gay slur, but to refer to someone who is weak. Oh well that's alright then.

Firstly, Dumb-Face, are you ten? It wasn't me it was him, he started it. Dear God. Second of all, who the fuck cares if people are late to set? It's not YOUR job to make sure everyone is punctual, is it? Rather than deciding to be all noble and take up the Tardy Cause yourself, you could have had a word with people higher up, who in turn could have spoken with Patrick about his shoddy timekeeping. I'm just saying. Seriously, drop the whole "I was trying to do a good thing and it went bad so everyone else is at fault except me" bullshit and shut the fuck up.

Piano Fatigue

Tonight is the second of Tori Amos's two London shows on the American Doll Posse tour. I did not go to either of them. I haven't blogged about the new album either, mainly because I didn't want to have to admit that I don't really like it.

There is some great stuff on there but there's TOO much on there. It's as long as her previous two albums but they were very easy on the ear. American Doll Posse is decidedly difficult listening and by the halfway mark I am really flagging. Trimmed by twenty or thirty minutes, it would have been amazing. But as is, it's just too much.

I have been following the set lists of the tour too and I haven't been exactly overjoyed with what I was seeing. Three songs ("Precious Things", "The Waitress" and "Cruel") have all reverted to their extended and overblown 1998 live versions with the band. "Heart Of Gold", the unlistenable cover version from 2001's otherwise fantastic Strange Little Girls is inexplicably now sometimes being performed. It's a shame that after really hitting her stride playing with a band on the 2003 Scarlet's Walk tour and doing such great things on 2005's solo Beekeeper tour that she should suddenly feel the need to step back almost an entire decade.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

I'm in the front row, the front row

Yes I know it's an Alanis Morrisette song and so applying it to a Suzanne Vega concert may seem silly, BUT I was in the front row for Suzanne Vega's Brighton concert last night. She was glorious, as always. The set list was:

Tom's Diner (original version)
Ludlow Street
New York Is A Woman
Frank & Ava

Small Blue Thing
Left Of Centre
Blood Makes Noise

Angel's Doorway
Zephyr & I
Pornographer's Dream
In Liverpool
Tom's Diner (DNA remix version)

Queen & The Soldier
Marlene On The Wall

So the focus was on the new album, of course, which given that it's not out for a couple of weeks yet meant that the crowd were mainly politely appreciative of those songs. I was very happy that my second favourite from the album got an early airing ("Ludlow Street") though was a bit gutted that my favourite ("Bound") did not. On the whole though, she steered away from the more recent personal material she's written, which is fair enough. In between songs, she was as warm, personable and funny as she has always been. The only misstep, in my opinion, was choosing to close the main set with the hateful dance remix of "Tom's Diner". I have never ever ever liked that song and there's something ill fitting about someone as graceful and folky as Ms Vega trying to get down with her bad self. And it seemed to go on forever, so I was wryly amused when she returned for the encore and said "I bet you never want to hear that song again" before mockingly singing the "da da da duh, da da da duh" refrain one last time.

The highlight of the night for me though was after "Anniversary" the band left the stage and she performed a beautiful rendition of "Gypsy". Then Mike Visceglia returned to play bass for "Small Blue Thing" to accompany her acoustic guitar. But then "Left Of Centre" and "Blood Makes Noise" had been reworked so they were performed with ONLY the bass guitar as accompaniment. They both sounded fantastic in this stripped down format and were the real stand outs for me. I can't wait to see her again.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Hot Guy Monday: Jared Leto

Is there anyone who watched My So-Called Life and didn't join in with Angela Chase in her swooning over Jordan Catalano? Is there anyone who didn't say a silent prayer of thanks when he bared all in Last Of The High Kings? Now while he may have gone entirely off the rails of late, Jared Leto's early career will always ensure he has a place in this gay's heart.

And when he used to be as hot as this into the bargain, then it's really no surprise, is it?