Taken in Santa Barbara in January
Taken in Santa Barbara in January
The 87th Academy Awards were not exactly surprising. However, just because the ceremony was predictable does not mean everything awarded was justified. While agreeing with most of the categories, I took issue with several of them. Obviously, The Lego Movie was snubbed of a nomination for Best Animated Film, and an argument could have been made that it also deserved a Best Picture and Screenplay nomination.
With Birdman taking home the most awards, including Best Picture, many feel that Boyhood was snubbed, only winning Best Supporting Actress for Patricia Arquette. While I do not feel Boyhood is a particularly good film, its twelve-year production span should have gained the film a special achievement award.
All of the acting award recipients earned their awards, particularly Eddie Redmayne. Having only seen The Theory of Everything this past weekend, I think the way Redmayne portrayed the slow digression into comatose as a victim of ALS was astounding, as was Julianne Moore’s performance as an Alzheimer’s patient in Still Alice.
Most upsetting to me was the Visual Effects award. Won by Interstellar, I feel that this award belonged to Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. While Interstellar had great visuals, it was nothing we have not seen before. Apes was my favorite film of 2014, and I would have seen it nominated for Best Picture if it was up to me.
Yet, all in all, the ceremony was entertaining. Neil Patrick Harris did a much better job hosting than Ellen DeGeneres last year, who lost sight of focus too often. The Birdman-inspired segment where Harris walked through the halls of the Dolby Theater in his underwear was, quite frankly, hysterical. The opening song was also very well done and funny, with the help of Anna Kendrick and a surprise performance by Jack Black.Tweet
No matter how old we are, anyone born in the 1990s onwards has seen an episode of Spongebob Squarepants at some point in their life. Growing up a Nickelodeon kid, Spongebob was my favorite show. So naturally I was excited in 2004 when The SpongeBob Squarepants Movie came out. What that movie did right is that it raised the stakes from the TV series while still maintaining the spirit of the show. The Simpsons Movie also did this well.
Yet with regards to Spongebob, as the years went by I grew out of the show into more adult catered shows, like The Walking Dead and Breaking Bad. Yet over the summer, I saw a display for a new Spongebob movie at the theater. Skeptical by the CGI rendered characters versus the traditionally animated ones I grew up with, I had no plans of seeing it. Yet that was before I became a published movie critic, and since February is the dumping ground of movies with little else coming out, I figured why not take a trip to the theater to see how the show I loved as a child would fare on the big screen for a second time.
Based on the marketing, I assumed that most of the film would be the CGI characters for most of the time. Yet rather the traditionally animated characters are present for most of the film. For those not familiar with the property (but who isn’t?), the SpongeBob universe takes place in the underwater town of Bikini Bottom, where the sponge Spongebob works at the Krusty Krab, a fast food restaurant managed by Mr. Krabs. The signature menu item is the Krabby Patty, a beloved burger that Mr. Krab’s business rival Plankton is always trying to steal. So Sponge out of Water starts the formulaic plot of many episodes in that Plankton is trying to steal the secret recipe of the Krabby Patty.
In the middle of the heist, the secret recipe suddenly vanishes into thin air at no fault of Plankton. Without the recipe, Spongebob cannot make Krabby Patties, and the entire town goes into a Mad Max state of chaos and anarchy. So, Spongebob and Plankton team up to go on a time traveling adventure to find the recipe before it vanishes. In doing so, they manage to gain superpowers for all of the main characters as they take to the surface and fight a pirate who has gained a magical book through he can control the fate of Bikini Bottom.
If this sounds convoluted, it’s because it is. Sponge out of Water is a kid’s movie, and is subject to logical fallacies. Yet obvious logical fallacies is part of the charm of the show. While watching the movie, I was delighted to see the characters I grew up with on the big screen as I did eleven years ago. While the pacing at times was very slow, I still enjoyed most of this film as will most fans of the show. While far from a masterpiece, Sponge out of Water is self-aware enough to embrace in its silliness. I certainly would not spend the time to watch Sponge out of Water a second time, but it is worth a watch for fans of SpongeBob even if it is not the highest quality of cinema.Tweet
With the Oscars this past week, comes a lot of new movie news. The scandalous film, Fifty Shades of Grey, has been greenlit for two sequels, Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed, with the second installment to come in 2016.
Since the first film of the trilogy has already made over $400 million dollars, it’s no wonder why Universal Pictures is jumping on the franchise wagon with this property. It’s clear that sex sells.
The world of James Bond is also being graced with another installment. Spectre is set to come out Nov. 16, 2015. Starring Daniel Craig as 007, the first picture was released last week, showing James Bond atop a snowy mountain fighting Dave Bautista’s character, who is the main villain of the film.
Bautista, who is best known as Drax from last year’s Guardians of the Galaxy, will take a turn playing a villain.
From the world of video game movies, the upcoming film Assassin’s Creed has just gained momentum, as Marion Cotillard has been confirmed as joining the cast. Best known for playing Talia Al Ghul in The Dark Knight Rises, Cotillard was very recently nominated for the French film Two Days One Night. While she did not win on Sunday night, it is never a mistake for a film to add Academy recognized talent.
Also coming out soon is the fifth Pirates movie, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, to which Javier Bardem has just been added to the cast. Having won an Oscar for his terrifying performance in No Country for Old Men, hopefully this addition to the cast will turn around the critical reception of the franchise, though the franchise has grossed $3.7 billion dollars.
Finally, District 9 director Neill Blomkamp has been confirmed as the director for the upcoming Alien 5.
The Aliens franchise has spawned four films since 1979, in addition to two crossovers with the Predators franchise and a spinoff with Prometheus. This will be Blomkamp’s next project after Chappie, coming out next week on March 6th. Blomkamp has developed a gritty sci-fi style, which fits in perfectly with the Alien universe.
Concept art has been released with Sigourney Weaver inside of a xenomorph body, so Weaver will likely return, especially considering she has worked with Blomkamp in Chappie.
The big question is what this new project means for Prometheus, which is set to have sequels in the future directed by Alien director Ridley Scott. Only time will tell if the franchise will pursue Aliens or Prometheus as the focus of the overall story arc.Tweet
Daughter & Son Volume Two
Daughter & Son are a NYC-based duo consisting of Jody Shelton and Mighty Kate. The two began their careers in the music industry as solo artists, but have now formed an artistic connection that creates undeniably beautiful music with simplistic verses and hooks that deserve a repeat button of their own.
Back in 2008, these songwriting forces to be reckoned with were set up on a “musical blind date” by their managers. At this time, they possessed a collection of seven solo albums between the two of them, but it became evident that their musical capabilities as a whole were much stronger together than apart.
The arrival of their new EP, Daughter & Son Volume Two, brought joy to fans everywhere when it was released back in June of this year, followed by a beautiful video of their self-titled single, “Daughter & Son.”
Just like their music, this video exemplifies the gratification of brightening someone’s day. Following the story of the video’s protagonist, whose smile is rebuilt after the death of a loved one, based on the actions of strangers around her. The song is meaningful, with the strong chorus driving the emotion laced throughout the guitar-based melody.
In a feature constructed by the talented duo, Kate speaks about the transformation from a solo writing career to one with Shelton. She speaks about the newfound partnership in a freeing way, realizing just how nice it can be to have someone to bounce ideas off of, and rely on when the writer’s block becomes too hard to push through.
“Oh Lover” is one of the songs featured on the mini feature that documents the two and their musical process. This is one of my favorite songs written and performed by the duo, exemplifying their ability to sing the words most people search to say every day.
“Oh lover, you are my night sky, wrapped in a blanket of starlight. You gave me the strength to find my sight, so I’ll never be scared of the dark.”
This song is the unspoken letter that represents love in its purest form. There is no overly-romanticized verse leading to a bridge of unsolved heartache. This song is purely the raw feeling and emotion of love. The simplest of words that describe the most complex of feelings. And who doesn’t fall in love with the sound of two acoustic guitars playing in unison?
Together the two create beautiful harmonies intertwined with melancholy melodies resembling that of the Civil Wars. Backed by folk-like song structures, and realistic story-lines, their music cuts to the heart of a listener, peeling away any layers of fluff and revealing the heart of each track from the moment it starts.Tweet
As I sat at my television, hands covering my eyes, I have to admit I was terrified. When I heard that Lady Gaga was performing at all, I was generally concerned but to hear that she would be honoring a classic had me preparing for the worst.
I’m not saying that Lady Gaga is a terrible performer—quite the opposite—but you have to admit, some of her performances have been theatrical to the point of being frightening. From gaudy outfits to taboo backup dancers, Gaga has done it all and shocked the world every single time. To my surprise, she shocked the world again; not from her stage show but from her voice alone.
Honoring the upcoming fiftieth anniversary of the film (March 2, to be exact), Gaga performed a medley to The Sound of Music.
The iconic musical has seen itself transform from book to Broadway to silver screen and everything in between. Most recently, The Sound of Music was brought to television for a live performance in 2013 staring Carrie Underwood as Maria, starting a series of live Broadway broadcasts, like Peter Pan, and talks of future productions as well.
Songs in the medley included “The Hills are Alive,” “My Favorite Things,” “Edelweiss” and “Climb Ev’ry Mountain.”
The set up was simple and elegant, with fog and trees creating a mysterious atmosphere. Gaga then appeared out of the fog in an elegant white dress that was absolutely breathtaking, much more appealing than the stiff glittered frock she wore down the red carpet. Her voice was pure and theatrical in all the right ways, like she was born to perform on the Great White Way. It was so refreshing to see her showcase just her voice. The whole performance was muted, but in the best way. I felt like I could close my eyes and see the movie playing out in front of me.
As much as I’ve loved the crazy, over-the-top Gaga for the past couple of years, seeing her perform like this and with Tony Bennett, just seeing her calm down, has made me appreciate her even more.
I really hope that this is a direction that she’s planning on following for a while. It would be nice to see her settle down and show the world that she’s more than just the crazy act she puts on. She’s an amazing singer and truly a brilliant artist.Tweet
Feb. 26: Bright Night 14: Electro Glow Party
Feb. 27: Partynextdoor
Feb. 28: The Dodos with Springtime Carnivore
Feb. 25: California X with Ovlov and Dead Pines
Cafe Nine (21+)
Feb. 25: Kings and Queens of East Rock
Feb. 26: And the Kids with The Sun Parade and Rudeyna
Feb. 27: Victor Roland
Feb. 28: Natalie Tuttle with Rusty Things, and Peter J Brail
Feb. 28: Jazz Jam Session: George Baker Band
Feb. 28: MV & EE with Spectre Folk, The Mountain Movers and Rivener
March 1: Americana Songwriter CircleTweet
This year celebrated the 57annual Grammy Awards on CBS. Otherwise known as “Music’s Biggest Night,” this event has shown recognition for excellence in all areas of the music performance industry, as well as showcasing such excellence at the ceremony. This year the Grammy’s were held at the Staples Center in Los Angeles and gave out 83 awards from Album of the Year to Song of the Year to Best Classical Arrangement. The show also featured 23 different performances of 26 different songs. So in case you didn’t see the show, only saw a bit or want to relive the experiences, here’s my recap of what you need to know about this year’s award show.
Back with the Old and In With the New: The Grammy’s this year allowed its viewers to enjoy performances from a myriad of generations and styles. We saw appearances from legendary artists like Tony Bennett, Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, Tom Jones, Madonna, ELO, Annie Lennox, Herbie Hancock, Mary J. Blige, Paul McCartney, and of course the incredible performance by AC/DC to start the show.
Kanye: We all remember the infamous event at the 2008 VMA’s where Kanye stole the stage from Taylor Swift to profess his disappointment that Beyoncé didn’t win Video of the Year. Well believe it or not, he did it again. Almost. This year Album of the Year went to rock artist Beck, and Kanye wasn’t too happy. He began to go on stage, much to the crowd’s awe, and right before grabbing the mic, went back to his seat. After giving everyone a scare and a laugh, Kanye made some extreme comments that sent the Internet into a frenzy. Saying how Beck didn’t respect artistry and how the Grammy’s want real musicians to keep coming every year, Kanye believes they will have to give the awards to people who truly deserve them. I’m not going to give you my opinion on Kanye’s remarks, but it was definitely a spectacle to remember.
Domestic Violence: During the show, there was a special presentation by President Obama encouraging people to join the #ItsOnUs campaign in support to crack down on domestic violence. Immediately following, a survivor of domestic violence, Brooke Axell, made her plea and told her story about what its like to be in that situation. Katy Perry followed that with a moving performance of a song to further support the campaign.
Collaborations: The Grammy stage has never been scarce of collaborative performances, which certainly continued to this year. Some notable performances included Ed Sheeran singing “Thinking Out Loud” with John Mayer, Herbie Hancock and Questlove (the Roots). Hozier was accompanied by Annie Lennox to sing his hit “Take Me to Church.” Tom Jones and Jessie J came together to sing “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling” by the Righteous Brothers. Stevie Wonder joined Usher on harmonica to perform his song “If it’s Magic.” Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga sang a song off of their collaborative album called “Cheek to Cheek.” Rihanna, Paul McCartney and Kanye West performed their song “FourFiveSeconds.” Mary J. Blige joined Sam Smith to sing his hit “Stay With Me.” These are only a few of the great collaborations that happened last Sunday.
Sam Smith: The night’s big winner. Smith went home with four Grammy’s including Song and Record of the Year, Best New Artist and Best Vocal Album. It was a big night for him, saying a special thanks in his speech to “the man I fell in love with last year. Thank you for breaking my heart because you won me four Grammy’s.” Sam also performed his hit song “Stay With Me” with R&B legend Mary J. Blige.
As you can see, there were few dull moments at this year’s Grammy Awards. You can find the full list of winners as well as videos of the performances on www.grammy.com.Tweet