Saturday, March 26, 2011

Guilty Pleasure: 'Pretty Little Liars' Spring Finale

'pretty little liars' had it's spring finale this week. this show has come a long way...meaning from very good to even better. the twists and turns don't stop. nor do the lies. the characters have developed nicely as four young actresses, two young actors and a few adults have grown into their roles. this show is like watching a juggler or a plate spinner and wondering when the balls will fall or the plates crash. but here they don't. they stay in mid air. we hold our breathes. the mystery of it all goes on. it returns in june. too too long.

the liars

ashley benson (hanna), lucy hale (aria), shay mitchell (emily) and troian bellisario (spencer)

these four actresses are given equal time on the show but spencer's (bellisario) character developement has been amazing. she has gone from the quiet brainy one to scene stealer. ms. bellisario is the one to watch.

spencer's relationship with town pariah toby (keegan allen) developed gradually and blossomed much to their surprise and ours. they work well off each other and appear meant to be. is spencer's faith in him justified? i hope so but a momentary glimpse of him in the crowd in the final seconds of the finale raises doubt. for spencer's sake i hope her faith in him is indeed justified. for dramatic purposes maybe not so. either way they need to keep them together on screen. their work together is so natural, so believable.


aria (lucy hale) and ezra (ian harding) were for me an abcfamily network surprise. teacher and student? must be a new kind of family watching this. definitely not for the palin's i think.

but finally they are no longer student and teacher. good. it was wearing a bit thin. they've uped it. his ex is back. menage anyone? spinning dishes you see.


ashley benson is terrific. the four friends are all vulnerable to the mysterious "a". but hannah is the most vulnerable period. it's her history. her relationship with caleb (tyler blackburn) seems so real. they have good chemistry. where that relationship is in the finale though is another of those rotating dishes.


emily (shay mitchell) is out and proud. her struggling with people around her trying to push her back in the closet is real. been there! the amazing thing though is the acceptance by her closest friends. high school somewhere has become an easier place for a gay teen. why is it only on tv. since this show is aimed for a younger crowd maybe they can learn from this. i can only hope. ms. mitchell goes through the ups and downs of 'gay youth' beautifully. i hope GLADD recognizes her portrayal when next they gather to award good and healthy gay portrayals on film and tv.

and then there is poor dead alison. portrayed well by sasha pieterse she is the mean girl anyone would want to see dead.but who is channeling her from the great beyond is another jugglers ball in the air.
(pictured here with ms. mitchell and ms. hale)

till next time

Friday, March 25, 2011

Musical Interlude

ms. stritch singing 'it's today' from 'mame'

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

R.I.P. Elizabeth Taylor

'Big Love': Farewell to the Hendricksons

the series finale was fulfilling. it ended somewhat as i expected. it went out not with a whimper but a bang. well two bangs actually. did patriarch bill hendrickson become the latter day jesus christ of latter day saints? well yes he actually did and not subtly. after 5 seasons the polygamist clan is gone. (i am amazed this series never won an emmy. or the audience it deserved.) this season made up for the rather disappointing fourth season in a big way. it was dark as the winter it was titled. the ending assured us that  the 'sister wives' and their clan would survive and thrive. it was always foremost about the wives and each in her own way will live as they hoped for within their hearts. i will miss this show. it was mostly intelligent (darn that 4th season), entertaining, generally well scripted and superbly acted. bill paxton, jeanne tripplehorn, gennifer goodwin and chloe sevigny shined. and it was nice that amanda seyfried 'guested' on the finale on the show that made her a star. this is a rarity in the biz seeing an actor go back to their 'roots' to pay homage and say 'thanks'.

series: B+
final season: A
series finale: A+

Monday, March 21, 2011

Sunday, March 20, 2011

'Les Miserables': The 25th Anniversary Concert Part 7

one of my favorite moments in 'les miz' occurs just before the battle at the barricade. the student rebels meet one last time and want one last time that they 'drink with me'

'bring him home' is not just another show stopper. alfie boe takes it and makes it his own.  at the very least he equals the original jean valjean, tony and olivier awards winner, colm wilkinson. i actually prefer mr. boe's interpretation. it's all a matter of opinion and taste.

'a heart full of love' reprise

epilogue: the death of jean valjean and finale

encore: four jean valjean's 'bring him home'
(including colm wilkinson the original jean valjean)

the grand encore with the original 1985 cast, including michael ball, frances ruffelle, colm wilkinson joining the current cast. talk of passing the torch...amazing.

over the past week i have given you a sample of this amazing 25th anniversary concert. it's now up to you to get your hands on the disc.

that's a wrap!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Sneak Peak

andrew garfield as spider man

Friday, March 18, 2011

'Les Miserables': The 25th Anniversary Concert Part 6

nick jonas works well as marius. there is and will continue to be comparisons to michael ball, the original marius, who was excellent. however, nick brings a new and more youthful marius to us. marius was a student and mr. jonas appears more the student than most of his predecessors. his 'empty chairs and empty tables' is a pleasure well sung and dramatically inspired.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

'Big Love', Chloe Sevigny and Lizzie Borden

'big love' ends sunday on hbo. except for last season it was a good show. this season was exceptional and made up for last year. in a good move hbo has picked up chloe sevigny's 'lizzie borden' as a two parter. chloe has always stood out on 'big love' but this year, especially last week, went to the darkest sides of her character nicki. i am going to miss this series but am grateful hbo gave it a chance.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

'Les Miserables': The 25th Anniversary Concert Part 5

there are magical moments in the theater. there is a hush in the audience as a performer goes for the gold. when i first saw les miz the moment was when frances ruffelle began singing 'on my own' the audience was silent as a stone. it seemed even breathing had stopped. the only sound was the amazing sounds coming from ms. ruffelle. a pause in the song carried the echo of her last note. then she quietly finished her piece and the next sound was deafening applause as the audience spontaneously rose to it's feet. these moments are few and far between but when they occur i am thrilled for the performer and that i am a musical theater nut. ms. ruffelle won the tony and olivier awards for her performance. deservedly so.

i wish i had been at this concert of the show. samantha barks delivers the same song with the same intensity and vocal adrenalin as ms. ruffelle. she seemingly seamlessly stopped the show. the magic is seen on the disc. the magic in the theater must have been enthralling. i am jealous i was not there.

ms. barks is a natural. she is a beauty with a voice. and damn what a voice. her emotional attachment to the character and the song is visible and so natural. ms. barks i bow to you and your talent.

samantha barks delivers

the following sequence, 'javert at the baricade', 'little people', 'the first attack', ends with the ms. barks and nick jonas duet 'a little fall of rain'. they both deliver without missing a beat. eponine's demise is so natural and so understated. brilliant!

(to be continued)

Monday, March 14, 2011

'Les Miserables': The 25th Anniversary Concert Part 4

the role of enjolras has always overshadowed that of marius when awards were handed out. ramin karimloo in this concert adaptation does not disappoint. he is quite a winner actually. as part of 'one day more' and 'red and black' he shines. but as always with this role it his 'do you hear the people sing' that he makes his everlasting mark in musical history. going out on a limb here i think he is the best enjolras i've ever seen or heard. trust me i've seen and heard many.

'one day more'

 'red and black' and 'do you hear the people sing'

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Song of the Day: 'Don't Give Up'

a musical moment with petula clark

'don't give up' the extended version 

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Remembering Gordon Macrae on His Birthday

i've never given gordon macrae his due. truth be told it was mr macrae  in both 'oklahoma' and 'carousel' that started me on my musical path. i honestly don't know much of his work other than these two films. i just never got into post 1950 musicals. i found them 'light'. it was curly and laurey williams, julie jordon and billy bigelow who introduced me to, at that time, the 'modern' musical or the 'book musical'. in so far as his costar in both these films, shirley jones, celebrates her birthday at the end of this month i'm splitting the treasure they gave us along with the team who changed the musical forever collaborators richard rodgers and oscar hammerstein.


'soliloguy' from 'carousel'

Friday, March 11, 2011

'Les Miserables': The 25th Anniversary Concert Part 3

i have always loved the combination duet and triplets ''in my life' and 'a heart full of love'. with memories of judy kuhn and michael ball forever playing in my head i was nonetheless blown away by this concert version. nick jonas, katie hall and samantha barks are so well cast. amazing. brilliant. and so much more. mr. jonas, formerly of the jonas brothers, of whom i know nothing, has a brand new career as a musical star. katie hall lucked out here. the actress who was to play cosette in this concert fell ill and ms. hall was pulled from the touring company to fill in. she stepped up to the plate and knocked it out of the park. a star was born. actually ms. hall and mr. jonas bring a more youthful 'look' and feel to the roles which although i never missed in the past makes this production that much fresher.

  and then there is ms. barks as eponine. what can i say? well those two words amazing and brilliant fit along with every other superlative in every dictionary ever compiled. this is but a taste of the triumphant samantha banks. part 5 of this entry will show her true vocal power, beauty and star quality. 
three amazing talents with 'in my life' and 'a heart full of love'. i am blown away.

(to be continued sunday)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

'Les Miserables': The 25th Anniversary Concert Part 2

les solonga plays fantine. i have to admit she fared better giving voice to eponine in the 10th anniversary concert. but i quibble. she is fine as fantine but just not as good as the rest of a truly amazing and mostly unknown cast. and who the hell can follow patti lupone and ruthie henshall anyway? audra mcdonald that's who! however, ms. solonga does fare much better in act 2 (finale) to be fair.

in order to be fair to ms. solonga i am posting her eponine from the 10th anniversary dream cast concert singing 'on my own'

(to be continued)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

'Les Miserables': The 25th Anniversary Concert

it's time for you to buy a blu ray. the 25th anniversary concert of 'les miserables' is your excuse as if you needed one. if you love or even just like les miz you owe it to yourself to see it on blu ray. it is truly an amazing video. the cast, the staging, the cinematography,the orchestrations and the lighting are amazing. i love this musical. i loved it in 1985 and i continue to love it with each new version recorded and filmed. this version even surpasses the wonderful 10th anniversary (the dream cast) dvd with it's scope and breath. over the next few days i will share 'highlights' from the concert here. they are good but in no way compare to the sight and sound of the blu ray. i am sure the dvd version is wonderful also but i have not seen it. don't think i will owning the blu ray disc.

the opening

(please note the subtitles are not on the disc unless you wish them to be)

the remarkable alfie boe as jean valjean delivers, really delivers, 'bring him home'

(to be continued)

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Hail the King

one last time i salute the most worthy colin firth on his oscar for best actor of 2010. so deserved.

and at last i was able to find the full best actor category awarded by the best actress of 2010 and one of filmdoms most delightful and sincere actresses the lovely and charming sandra bullock.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Happy Birthdat Rachel

rachel won the oscar for the 2005 film 'the constant gardener' in the supporting category. it was one of those misplaced nominations. she deserved to be in the best actress category but studio manipulations placed the nom in supporting. they figured she had a better chance to win there. she won there. perhaps they were correct. 

rachel's 2010 release 'agora' did not get much theatrical play. i recommended it before and recommend it still. it's intelligent. it's about history repeating itself. it's relevance is this: the crazy right wing christians today are repeating the same things today as the original jesus cults did in ancient times. try's important.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

'The Adjustment Bureau' : Opening Friday

for me this is the first major release of 2011. the continuously growing talents of matt damon and emily blunt star in this thriller. the trailer is inviting and a must see for me. i'll let you know.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Remembering Jennifer on Her Birthdate

 'portrait of jenny' remains my favorite jennifer jones film

 jennifer won her best actress oscar for 'the song of bernadette'