Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Pop Culture Bits and Pieces

A round-up of different blogs and online essays regarding "entertainment" that I've read over the past week.

A discussion on the sexiness of the latest Superman’s chest hair:

Favorite part? From writer Kyle Buchanan – “With that beard and that flannel and that Crossfit-jacked hairy chest, I expected Superman to eschew his usual secret identity at the Daily Planet and start a new life as Portland’s hottest artisanal-beer brewer.”  Hee hee hee

Oh, and BTdubs – don’t believe any negative reviews you read about Man of Steel. It was great! Very serious sure, but so well done. And it goes without saying – Henry Cavill is F*CKING HOT. Holy crap is he good looking in this movie!

Essay by NPR’s awesome Linda Holmes on the absence of women in films
I feel lucky to be rounding out my week by balancing the testosterone of "Man of Steel" with some estrogen from Frances, Ha.

And finally, a whole crapload of News about Musical Theater! -
NPH is bringing “Hedwig” to Broadway:
Everyone, including most importantly, creators John Cameron Mitchell and Stephen Trask, seems to be ecstatic about Neil Patrick Harris bringing the iconic role of Hedwig to Broadway finally in 2014.

I…I just…um…FOLKS, I don’t get it. I LOVE NPH! He’s basically perfect at everything but…HEDWIG? No. Obviously I’m keeping an open mind and I wish him and the rest of the cast all the best, but I just cannot see Harris doing Hedwig justice. No offense. Again, I flove him! Don’t tell NPH I said anything mean about him!

Soul Doctor continues its course for a summer Broadway opening:
Along with “Matilda”, “Soul Doctor” is something that intrigues me enough to want to buy a plane ticket to NYC in August. August! I must be crazy.
Frozen cast keeps getting better:
You guys? I haven’t been THIS excited about an animated movie in years. Why can’t this be a live action show on Broadway?

Holy crap! They’re actually trying to do an “Air Supply” musical you guys. Ugh, with Constantine.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

I Have A Dream...

NPR is doing a series commemerating the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech.
NPR's "Tell Me More" staff have asked readers/listeners to share their personal versions of the "dream" speech.

Here's mine -

I have a dream,

That when people meet me in person for the first time, after previously only hearing my voice, they won’t look so shocked that my skin color is so dark. And won’t immediately try to hide their shock by saying something ingenuous like “You’re older than I expected.” Really? That’s what's surprising to you? That I sound younger on the phone?

I have a dream,

That people will stop assuming that because of the color of my skin I have rhythm and can dance. While I am musical, and a very good singer, my sense of rhythm and movement is quite tragic.

I have a dream,

That when I speak fondly of my maternal grandfather, whose mother was a blue-eyed German immigrant who taught him all of the old German cooking secrets, and who inherited his height and stoicism from his Choctaw Indian father, people won't treat my memories like "stories"; fictional and fanciful tales that I've made up because there's no way in hell this dark-skinned woman before you could possibly have had a "white" grandfather who grew up next to an Amish farm in Pennsylvania. 
Or when I show people photos of my mother’s parents, grandparents, great aunts and uncles, and cousins, that for once I won’t see disbelief on these people’s faces or hear it in their voice as they say “THAT’S your great grandmother?”

I have a dream,

That even though I have learned to embrace an identity of a “black woman” because the color of my skin brands me so, I have not forgotten, nor do I deny the Native American, and European roots that represent actually the largest percentage of my DNA make-up.

I have a dream, a dream that I hope will come true in the future where the children I won’t have given birth to will know a world where a woman is just a woman. Or just an American. Or can be truly defined as what they are; someone like me – An African-American, Micosookee, Choctaw, Cherokee, German, Scottish hodgepodge.

Monday, June 10, 2013

SIFF 2013 - The Final Round Up

The 2013 Seattle International Film Festival finished up yesterday, June 9, 2013. I saw over 20 films which is my typical amount, but for some reason felt like more of an accomplishment this year than in the past. The theme for me this year was definitely "Documentaries". I saw eight in total and they were all amazing in their own unique ways.

As in years past, my picks for what was great at SIFF do not jibe with my fellow audience members. Did we see the same movies? That Nixon thing for best documentary? The hell? Totally don't get it.
Anyway, here are my reviews of the films I saw in the last week of the festival.

Alice Walker: Beauty in Truth -
Wow. Was there a lot I didn't know about one of my favorite authors. Walker's life has been fascinating. And who knew about her weird daughter totally cutting Walker out of her life recently. Bonus: Alice Walker was there and I got to shake her hand. I had this weird moment when she was holding my hand that my mother was watching; I started to tear up. I hope she didn't notice, or that if she did she just thought that I was some weird super fan and just dismissed me. I'd rather that than have to explain that Alice Walker was weirdly giving off "mom vibes" to me?

Twenty Feet from Stardom -
One of the few documentaries that I saw that will definitely be getting a wide release distribution nationally. Meaning that most of y'all will be able to see it at some point this summer and you definitely should. Spanning the past 50 years, this doc profiles the oft-forgotten/ignored back-up singer, and how backing vocals became really important and sort of defined the sound of pop music in the 60s and 70s. You will feel in turns anger, sorrow, amusement, hope, despair, irony, and elation while watching the struggles and success of these, mostly female, singers.

The Otherside -
Another fantastic documentary; I really lucked out in that department this SIFF. This one focused on the emerging and flourishing Seattle hip-hop music scene. With the success of Macklemore and Ryan Lewis a new spotlight is being thrown on a thriving music culture that many of us have been tuned into for years. Macklemore wasn't at the packed, sold-out screening I attended but all of the guys from Blue Scholars, and Physics were, along with other local acts. I'm not going to lie, while I enjoyed the hell out of the film, most of the annoying Seattle 20-somethings that showed up for it were annoying as fuck. Most had clearly never been to a SIFF film before and didn't understand any of the rules about getting there early (it's not like a regular movie venue), standing in two separate lines (pass holders vs. ticket holders), having physical tickets vs Will Call, parking permits - ALL of these details were confusing, or ignored by these kids who were super obnoxious about everything. But even this couldn't ruin my enjoyment of the evening.

Far Out Isn't Far Enough: The Tomi Ungerer story -
Yet ANOTHER great documentary that I never would have got to see anywhere else but SIFF. Did you guys ever read, or have read to you the children's books "Moon Man", "Adelaide", "The Three Robbers", "Flat Stanley" or any of the Mellops books? Or have you recently read to your own children the award winning "Otto: The Autobiography of a Teddy Bear"? These were all written and more importantly illustrated by the crazy and brilliant Tomi Ungerer. At 83 years of age he's still vibrant, crazy, and a genius that I want to have coffee with, and take long walks along the green valleys of his West Cork property in Ireland. His life was crazy. Little did I know about all of the controversy that was stirred up in the early 70s from his work in erotica. I guess my parents were even bigger radicals than I thought by sharing his work with me. Heartbreaking to see Maurice Sendak last interviews in this film. He was one of Tomi's closest friends and considered him a mentor. A truly great biography of a genius.

Prince Avalanche -
Every year SIFF seems to offer up a dud of a film. That one movie in my mix that seems promising and then UTTERLY DISAPPOINTS. This year I made it into the final days of the festival before encountering my dud. And surprisingly it starred Paul Rudd!? Paul Rudd! A man that can do no wrong in my eyes. And to be honest, Rudd was the only decent-ish part of this movie. The plot is...um...yeah, I don't fucking know. Emile Hirsch was baffling as usual; I want to like this guy - I can see he has talent - and yet he always ends up bugging the crap out of me. But seriously Hirsch and Rudd weren't the problem. The convulted story, the pacing (dear God the pacing!), the direction, the ending? it was all such rubbish. I definitely expected better from director/writer David Gordon Green. Seriously, WTF?!

The Girl with Nine Wigs -
I loved loved loved this movie based on a memoir, about a young girl struggling with a rare form of lung cancer. The movie changed the location and nationality of the heroine to Germany (the real young lady was from Amsterdam) but kept the heart and emotional pull that only true events can give a story. It has a happy ending, but I cried anyway. Once again, because it's a festival we were privileged to have the star of the film Lisa Tomoschewsky and the real-life Sophie, author Sophie Van der stop in attendance for a Q&A. It's films like this that I wish everyone could see, yet I doubt will get distribution in the states.

Love Is In the Air -
Another breezy, romantic French comedy. Nothing more to say than that. Very enjoyable. Strange that I ended up seeing two movies during the festival that featured lead Nicolas Bedos; he's I guess supposed to be handsome? His mouth is too weird for me. Seriously, his mouth is HUGE.

Bitch Hug -
My final film of the festival was a touching and charming coming-of-age drama from Sweden about ambitious, recent high school grad Kristin who has dreams of leaving her small Swedish town behind and making it big in New York City as a writer. It was nice to end the festival on this high note.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

RIP - Beautiful Mermaid

Esther Williams passed away today at the age of 91. Her death marks another piece of my childhood drifting away into the beyond. My mom, and especially her mom my grandma Kay, LOVED Esther Williams movies. My grandmother Kay had met her sometime during the 50s at some event in Pittsburgh (she also met Jimmy Stewart at that same time). I think my grandma Kay admired Williams for being an athletic, tall, big-boned, lady with a gorgeous smile (just like her!) who capitalized on a talent that was pretty silly if you think about it, and made a whole career out of it.

All of the Esther Williams movies like "Neptune's Daughter" and "Dangerous When Wet" will forever remind me of summer days spent at my grandparent's house baking pies and cookies with my grandma, and singing songs in the living room.
I weep for those innocent times long gone.

BTdubs, have you ever seen a creepier photo than the one posted below? What. The. F*%k. is going on there?! MOVE OVER CLOWNS - I think I found my new nightmare object.