Two pop culture addicts' snarky musings…

I know that in my columns I have talked about adaptations, reboots, re-imaginings and remakes in both television and cinema. And I’m pretty sure I’ve ranted on the subject of Hollywood’s obsession with giving a new face to an old piece of work once or twice. While most of the time the redo’s are okay (and sometimes really bad) every once in a while there are those that absolutely blow my mind with their ingenious and creativity. Such a gem I have found in SyFy‘s “Alice.”

This mini-series originally aired about three years ago, and like Tim Burton‘s “Alice in Wonderland,” isn’t so much a re-telling of the story as it is a continuation or a sequel and also takes elements from “Through the Looking Glass.” It follows Alice (who you aren’t quit sure if it is “the” Alice or not) a twenty-something who, thanks to the desertion of her father when she was 10, has a lot of issues. These issues come to light when her boyfriend Jack proposes to her under mysterious circumstances. When she kicks him out and then follows him to return the ring he left, she follows him straight into Wonderland, but a Wonderland that has changed from when the first Alice came over 150 years ago and not everything is as it seems.

 

Alice (Caterina Scorsone, left) and Hatter (Andrew Lee Potts) from SyFy's "Alice"

Nick Willing (who also breathed new and strange life into “The Wizard of Oz” for SyFy with “Tin Man”) brings us a Wonderland that is darker, more dangerous, more adult and ruled by the Red Queen (Kathy Bates) who has her Suits steal people from our world and bring them to the Hearts Casino where they, called Oysters in Wonderland, are drained of their emotions so the inhabitants of Wonderland can consume them. Bates plays the queen as only she can, with a careful balance of maliciousness and comedy. This isn’t Willing’s first time in Wonderland, he made the 1999 made-for-TV-movie “Alice in Wonderland” starring Robbie Coltrane, Whoopi Goldberg, Martin Short, Ben Kingsley, Christopher Lloyd, Gene Wilder and Tina Majorino. I remember watching the movie and being very confused and weirded out most of the time. I might go back and watch it again, just to compare it with Willing’s new adventure, but I have a feeling the SyFy one will win out.

To be honest, the first twenty minutes of the move made my head hurt, and it wasn’t until we met the Hatter (perfectly portrayed by “Primeval” star Andrew Lee Potts) and he explains to Alice (Caterina Scorsone) and the audience what is going on that I started to enjoy the show. What I like about Potts’ Hatter, along with his very sixties wardrobe, is that he isn’t actually mad at all. He’s a criminal who, until Alice comes along, played “both sides of the fence” to survive. His instant chemistry with ‘s Alice is electric and you enjoy every scene they have together.While the movie itself is one of the most original adaptations I have seen in a while, the DVD itself is lacking in all the extra goodies I tend to seek out first when purchasing a new movie. The only thing I found was an audio commentary with Willing and Scorsone, and while those are my favorite behind-the-scenes extras, it would have been nice to see some featurettes or documentaries, as the “Tin Man” DVD are chock full of them.

Even if you are sick of the “Alice” remakes, I highly suggest you take one more trip down the rabbit hole with this miniseries. You won’t be disappointed.

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It seems to me that anytime a new artist breaks onto the music scene, they’re usually followed by some hype that they’ve either changed the face of music or they’ve brought a fresh sound to an established genre. Sometimes the hype is backed up by talent, most of the time the artist becomes big because our society is programmed to make a superstar out of anyone. However, for the first time in a while, I think I’ve found a band that is truly revolutionary: Mumford & Sons.

Okay, well I didn’t exactly discover them and I actually first heard their music when I saw the video on -gasp- VH1. You know, the reality show channel that, like MTV, was once a channel devoted to all things music and is now devoted to all things ridiculous? Anyway, according to Wikipedia.org the fold rock band has been together since 2007, their debut album “Sigh No More” was released in the UK 2009 and in the United States in 2010 and are up for two Grammy awards; one for Best New Artist and the other for Best Rock song for their single “Little Lion Man,” so I’m not exactly the first person to ever have heard of them. But I do think more people could benefit from listening to said debut album.

While the English band is categorized as folk rock or indie folk, there’s just something otherworldly and timeless about their sound. It has a sense of history; of a time when music was a few instruments and voices, not auto-tuned vocals and heavy beats backing up nonsensical lyrics. It sounds like what music is, what it should be. I realize this makes me sound like a music snob, so I feel I should state that I love contemporary music as much as the next person (I’ve had Katy Perry’s “Firework” stuck in my head for about a month and have loved every single minute of it) but it’s refreshing to hear a band like Mumford & Sons and realize music can be simple without being dated. “Sigh No More” is contemporary while reminding us of the past and the modern audience should not turn away from it because of its folk label.

The proof of this band’s talent is clear from the very first track of their album and carries through until the very last. This isn’t one of those albums that you find a few songs you like, especially the singles, and then skip the rest. Every single lyric has a meaning and an emotion; every song has its own unique quality that makes it enjoyable. The main theme that runs through the album is that of love both lost and found, yet there isn’t a bitterness to the failed love songs or a naive happiness to the new love ones. They all have a reality to it, as though a group of friends just got together to sing about their heartaches.

This group isn’t for everyone, but I think that anyone who enjoys music and comes to this album with an open mind is going to find themselves pleasantly surprised.

More information on Mumford & Sons and their upcoming events can be found at their official website mumfordandsons.com

American Idol Judges 2011

So if you’re like me, you had this nagging dread in the pit of your stomach at the thought of Idol’s change of guard. After all, Ellen should have been a good idea, but in practice she was too…normal. After the crazy Paula provided for so longer, no one expected Ellen to take her job so seriously. Of course, she was delightful and funny, but also straightforward and honest. So what could J-lo and Steven Tyler have to fill that massive void left by Simon and Paula?

Apparently, we don’t actually need someone to fill the void because Mr. Tyler and Ms. Lopez have carved their own place well outside the shadow of Paula and Simon. Despite the parade of fawning young girls eager to profess their lifelong (all 16 years) love for J-Lo, it was Steven Tyler who stole the show. I don’t know what I expected, but the chill, charming intelligence that oozed from his overly large lovable lips was a pleasant surprise. Despite being a dirty old man and ogling all of the teenage jail bait that walked through the door to butcher Mariah Carey, his feedback struck a chord (pun intended) with all the hopefuls by way of  biting honesty without being cruel. Plus, he sings along with everything and it cracks me up hardcore.

I have to be honest and admit that I can kind of take or leave Jennifer Lopez. I LOVE Selena and I could watch An Unfinished Life everyday of my life, but she’s not the best singer or the most stellar actress…she’s just eh. I was the most worried about her in this dynamic, but my worry has been for naught. Dare I say she is adorable and friendly without being overly medicated and ditsy. She gets my stamp of approval.

My favorite thing about the new season of Idol? No bickering and no obnoxious excesses of attention whores vying for their five minutes. Sure, there are still a fair share of bad auditions, but the producers seem to have remembered that this is a VOCAL competition, not a circus. And maybe it’s because they haven’t spent a decade sitting next to each other, but the judges actually LIKE each other.

There’s my two cents…anybody else have any change they want to share?

First, I have to apologize for the lack of posts on here, I give the usual excuses of real life and holidays. Second, I apologize in advance for my lack of liveblogging abilities. I’m going to attempt to liveblog the Golden Globes while Mel handles the tweets but I think the last liveblogging I did was the Emmys, so we’ll see how this goes. Three minutes until the Globes start so wish me (and the nominees) luck and enjoy the show!

8:01 – I would really love to have an entertainment-industry event without the mention of Charlie Sheen. Apparently, so would the Golden Globe attendees. Ricky Gervais is falling flat. Ouch.

8:04 – Dear Ricky Gervais, if you see torches and pitchforks after the show, I’m pretty sure it was well-deserved. Also, run.

8:06 – I was not expecting Christian Bale to win, but that’s exciting. To quote Mel: “Holy hair!” I also wish I could understand a word of what he is saying. I think that epic mustache is getting in the way and alcohol might be involved.

8:09 – First award of the evening and we’re already sending them out with music and completely cutting sound. This is going to go well.

8:10 – Katey Sagal looks great and I know Mel is very excited for her win!

8:16 – I remember the Miss Golden Globes from an episode of “Criminal Minds“! She was amazing and she looks gorgeous. I am curious if all the sound-cutting is because of language or if they’re having sound problems. It doesn’t bode well for the rest of the evening.

8:22 – Somehow I missed that “Red” was nominated tonight. I’m sad I didn’t get to see it in theaters but it still looks awesome.

8:23 – Yay Chris Colfer! He looks so stunned and adorable. I predict crying in his acceptance speech. Aw, Lea Michele is crying for him! I love this cast.

8:31 – Apparently the president of the Hollywood Foreign Press doesn’t appreciate Ricky Gervais’ brand of humor.

8:33 – Kevin Bacon is going to be in the new X-Men movie? How did I miss that news?

8:34 – What I love about these awards shows is they give me new things to put on my Netflix. So far: “The Pillars of the Earth” and “Boardwalk Empire.” Congrats Steve Buscemi!

8:37 – Apparently my decision to put “Boardwalk Empire” on Netflix was a good one.

8:43 – I’m pretty sure I’m the only person on Facebook who actually hasn’t seen “The Social Network.” Poor Andrew Garfield. Inspiringly isn’t not an easy word to type or say. And according to spell check, isn’t actually a word at all.

8:43 – “Bound to You” is a gorgeous song. I really hope it wins, though it is up against Alan Menken. “You Haven’t Seen the Last of Me” is a pretty song too and Cher did an amazing job with it, so well done “Burlesque”!

Side note: I am really looking forward to “Harry’s Law.” I’m really sad it’s on at the same time as “Hawaii Five-0.”

8:55 – That haircut makes Justin Beiber look about nine…so, his actual age then.

8:57 – Though I did not see “Toy Story 3”, the first “Toy Story” will always be a part of my childhood.

9:01 – This is why Robert Downey Jr. is awesome.

9:02 – More important than Annette Bening winning, I actually picked a winner! This makes me very happy, even though I would have loved Emma Stone to win for “Easy A.” I’m not a fan of Emma’s blonde hair, though. I love that Annette is thanking actors as though they were actually the characters.

9:12 – Tilda Swinton, that is a very ill-advised ensemble. For some reason when I was predicting my winners, I chose Dennis Quaid over Al Pacino. That was clearly very stupid.

9:15 – I love how much Temple Grandin and Claire Danes love each other. It’s very sweet. I am also digging Claire’s dress, though it’s a bit bright.

9:23 – It’s a little random to have Zac Efron introduce “The Kids Are All Right.” I’m just saying.

9:26 – Aaron Sorkin wins for Best Screenplay for “The Social Network” and I am awaiting the Oscars so I can do better with my winning predictions. I kill with the costume and makeup categories.

9:30 – Jane Lynch wins for “Glee”! Kind of obvious, but well-deserved. Now we will again be subjected to Ed O’Neill’s complaints on how Sofia Vergara should have won.  Awesome.

9:36 – Ricky Gervais may be a crap host, but he speaks the truth. Sadly no one in America really pays attention to the foreign films.

9:41 – I wanted Laura Linney to win but I never expected she would!  That’s very exciting.

9:46 – Jane Fonda what are you wearing? And that was a very random clip to show for “Burlesque.”

9:49 – Jim Parsons looked like he was stuck in a corner somewhere, so I was pretty sure he was going to win.

9:51 – Melissa Leo wins for “The Fighter” and is adorable. Who wouldn’t freak out if they were kissed by Jeremy Irons?

10:00 – Oh Matt Damon, you’re so cute. I didn’t know he worked on a movie with Robert Di Nero, so I was confused as to why he was presenting it.

10:14 – We’re coming to the point where all the big awards are given out! It probably shouldn’t take another 45 minutes, but it will. And usually the Best Director (in this case, David Fincher for “The Social Network”) wins, said movie will also win. As I have yet to see this movie, I’m not sure how I feel about that.

10:18 – Yay “Glee”! Again, not unexpected but very well-deserved. This show has done more for society than I think even it realizes. I love that even the newer cast (Darren Criss, Max Adler, Dot Jones, etc) are there too.

10:25 – What does it say about Johnny Depp that he was up against himself and he still didn’t win?

10:32 – I find it interesting that we have seen very little of our host all evening. I think the bigwigs are not happy with him.

10:34 – From everything I’ve heard, Natalie Portman’s win is well-deserved. I love her so I’m very happy she won!

10:39 – I expected “The Kids Are All Right” to win.

10:46 – Sandra, I am so not a fan of that dress. Or your Cher hair. And surprisingly Colin Firth wins! I thought given all the wins with “Social Network” that Jesse Eisenberg was a shoe-in. But awards shows do love their period dramas.

10:54 – I love moments like this, the entire room giving Michale Douglas a standing ovation. It gives you the feeling that this is actually a community.

10:55- And the final winner of the night? “The Social Network.”

And there you have it, the 2011 Golden Globes! It was an awkward night, to say the least, and I am looking forward to seeing what all the tabloids say about it tomorrow! So? What did you think?

First, I want to apologize for not being around here for the past month, I blame the holidays and my insane family. This does mean I have a few reviews for you to enjoy, however. I was going to post my Harry Potter review first, as I saw it the weekend it came out, but I am planning to see it again sometime this week and intend to edit it accordingly. So instead, my first review for you all shall be for “Burlesque.” I’ll be back later with one for “The Nativity Story,” just in time for Christmas!

Take two powerhouse superstars, add a “Twilight” vampire, spice it up with some racy dance moves and killer music and you have the recipe for an amazing musical experience, also known as “Burlesque.”

From the trailers the movie looked pretty simple, maybe even a little gimmicky. Cher and Christina Aguilera star in this story of a small-town girl Ali (Aguilera) who wants something more of her life and tries to find that in a hole-in-the-wall Burlesque club, run by Tess (Cher). The club is as diverse as the players inside it, including Tess’ right hand man, Sean (played to perfection by Stanley Tucci),  bartender/aspiring songwriter/Ally’s love interest Jack ( Cam Gigandet, “Twilight) and the club’s drunken diva, Nikki (played by Kristen Bell, a nice reprieve from her romantic comedies). There’s also the stunt casting of Julianne Hough as Georgia, a background dancer whose character didn’t really need to be developed, and was essentially just Hough being herself.

The club is in debt and in danger of being bought out by real estate mogul Marcus (also known as Cam’s rival for Ali’s affections, played by Eric Dane). Of course Ali and Tess, having formed a bond as all lead characters in movies like this do, come up with a solution in the eleventh hour. But what the movie lacks in plot depth, it makes up with in its characters.

 

Official poster for "Burlesque"

 

Never before had I felt that a movie could exist in our world with such conviction. These characters had real struggles and came up with real solutions. Sure, it’s all wrapped up with a pretty bow at the end, but it wouldn’t be a feel-good movie without it.  There’s just something about this movie that makes it different than all the other fluff pieces out there and I’m convinced its the characters and the sense of family the cast gave to them.

And while the big names are at the top billing, the number one star of this movie is the music. Cher knocks out her two solos as only Cher can, reminding us that while we may be skeptical of her career, she still has the talent that made her a pop icon.
I have been a fan of Aguleria since her “Genie in a Bottle” days, but even I was in awe of her voice when it came to the songs in this movie. More than once I had to stop myself from clapping out loud.

But perhaps my favorite music came from the recordings of the old Burlesque numbers. Now, I haven’t actually looked up whether or not these songs are actually from the old Burlesque days as the movie claims, but they certainly have the sound of them and it brought a sense of history to the club and the movie.

“Burlesque” may not be groundbreaking or a shoe-in for the Best Picture Oscar, but it has a heart in its characters and it has a voice its stars and it’s the perfect film to make you forget your troubles for two hours.

The Golden Globe nominations came out this morning. Did your favorites make the cut? Check out the link below for the full list.

Golden Globe Nominations

The list is pretty standard without a lot of surprise. I am glad that they recognized the genius behind The Big C and that Katy Sagel finally got nominated for her spectacular performance on Sons of Anarchy.

Thoughts? Predictions?

Lex Luthor (Smallville)

Image via Wikipedia

Let me preface this by saying I think Smallville is having their best season yet. The writing has been tight; the acting superb and the tension rolling toward the series finale palpable. Still, there is one very important (well, two if you count Chloe, but that’s another post…) Where’s Michael Rosenbaum?

Am I the only one who thinks their can be no real Superman without Lex Luthor? Either Michael Rosenbaum’s return is the best kept secret on television or they’re hoping that they can write themselves into a corner and then guilt him into coming back. I read an article not too long ago that said even Tom Welling has reached out to him and he isn’t budging on his stance not to come back.

I’ll admit that at first the Lex clones seemed a bit contrived, but the way Tess and Alexander have been written into this intricately woven storyline, it would be tragic for him not to come back. They’ve set him up so beautifully – would it really be so terrible for him to poke his beautiful bald head in and say “Guess who’s back, bitches?” What’s he doing now that he can’t muster an evil grin and a close shave?

What’s more, not only would it be a shame if he didn’t come back at all for any part of the finale, I don’t think I could forgive him if he doesn’t. Come on, Michael. Just a few minutes in the final? Pretty pretty please?

 

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