Ooo…the infamous Sideshow performance at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade that still haunts Alice Ripley because the wind was strong enough to push her and Emily Skinner apart. Cute, but not cute enough.
Let me start off by saying I like how the music industry is letting artists release singles titled things you can’t say on the radio. Sometimes, these explicit titles disguise the better songs off an album and shouldn’t just be ignored because of objectionable language.
For a good while, the only way for Pink to get a hit single was to put out a party anthem. Her first album was a strong R&B effort with memorable melodies and solid vocals. However, her breakout hit was “Get This Party Started,” which was accepted as a sincere party song when Pink’s intentions are never that straight forward. She camped it up in the video and got a lot of money for a piece of ear candy.
It took another seven years for Pink to get her first solo number one single*, “So What.” “So What,” a personal empowerment anthem, really marked the first time that Pink combined her flair for memorable pop melodies and slick production with her more personal approach to life. “Raise Your Glass,” her only other number one single, took a similar approach.
This week’s episode was the hair battle. Call it a cop out, but there is too much going on to go into a highly detailed picture recap. 15 different hair looks walked the runway, each requiring a different angle and size to properly document here. I don’t want to push back the recap a week because of the detail, so all I can say is this is a wonderful episode worth watching from start to finish.
Raja won the first challenge of creating a wig out of beach party gear. Technically, she made a fascinator (think hat, but really avant garde and for special events only) out of crustaceans.
For Top Chef fans, the name Marcel Vigneron creates a mixed reaction. He is the upstart molecular gastronomer from Season 2 who didn’t get along with his fellow contestants, produced foam in every meal, and was assaulted by fellow castmates who thought it would be funny to shave off his hair against his will. He’s a polarizing character who produces good food with unusual techniques and no shortage of confidence.
After a forgettable run on Top Chef All Stars, Marcel is back with a new reality TV show on SyFy: Marcel’s Quantum Kitchen. It follows his attempts to launch a catering company in Los Angeles. Naturally, everything is molecular gastronomy.
Aside from pretending to demystify some of the techniques of his trade, Marcel’s Quantum Kitchen offers nothing new to the reality TV genre. The general premise of launching a business has been done better many times before (such as one of my favorites, The Janice Dickinson Modeling Agency, and the first of its kind, The Restaurant). So has catering (Private Chefs of Beverly Hills), egomaniacs helming a business (Flipping Out), and colorful ensemble casts of employees set up just for the sake of a TV show (The Rachel Zoe Project), among others.
Imagine your most confusing dream. You think you’re awake but you can never be sure of what you’re seeing because it’s just slightly off from what you’d expect. By the time you realize the truth of your situation, your dream has transformed into a horrific nightmare.
Director Cary Fukunaga’s version of Charlotte Bronte’s classic Gothic novel Jane Eyre is best described as dream-like. A gray haze hangs over even the brightest scenes, casting poor Jane’s world in a constant state of gloom. If the haze disappears, something even worse is coming around the corner. The visual choice is perfect to set the tone of unease and distrust that permeates Bronte’s work.
Screenwriter Moira Buffini tackles the weighty tome with style and grace. The difficulty in adapting Jane Eyre is the sheer size and scope of the novel. Characters with one line in the beginning of the novel wind up being the key to a subplot that wraps up two hundred pages later. Buffini’s strategy of setting the majority of the film as a flashback at St. John River’s estate after Jane flees Rochester’s mansion is perfect. This lets the story be told in an unobtrusive way. It doesn’t matter that large sections of the novel are cut out for the film because the film sells itself as Jane’s memory of what happened while she worked for Rochester.
I’m a fan of “putting on a show” musicals. Sure, the early ones are riddled with cliches and deus ex machina abounds, but they’re charming. The production numbers are beautifully choreographed with talented performers and the songs are catchy.
Jerome Kern feels like an odd fit for this style to me. His music is difficult to sing and closer to operetta in style than his contemporary Tin Pan Alley composers. Even in a work as influential to the form as Show Boat, Kern’s compositions are complex and (at least in early recordings and films) sung with a light operatic quality.
One of Kern’s works has eluded me for years. I’ve had the sheet music for The Cat and the Fiddle for fifteen years now but only just saw the film adaptation this weekend. There’s a big difference between guessing at the style of music with a barebones sheet music compendium and hearing and seeing an actual production of the work. I could tell there was something special about the music, but the matter of context and specific nuances of style were beyond what was printed on the page.
Sucker Punch is not a great film. It’s not even a really good film. Zack Snyder’s latest directorial effort is a visually intriguing presentation of a lackluster story saved by excellent editing and use of music.
The opening scenes, taking place over the span of one somber song, are the most effective, beautiful, and heart-wrenching scenes in the film. In them, Baby Doll and her younger sister find out their Mother has died and their Stepfather is their new caretaker. The Stepfather, enraged that his former wife would leave everything she owned to her two children, decides to eliminate the girls. He locks Baby Doll in her room and goes after the younger sister. Baby Doll escapes down a rain gutter in the rain, picks up her Stepfather’s gun, and shoots at him, only to discover her sister was already murdered. Covered in blood, Baby Doll runs to her mother’s grave that is still covered in the fresh floral displays from the funeral. The police apprehend her and, with her Stepfather’s permission, bring her to an insane asylum for evaluation. Here she discovers that her Stepfather is paying extra money to have her lobotomized in five days so she can never testify against him in court.