Now with special sauce.

Monday, December 31, 2012

Yes I Hear the People Sing But What About the Rest of the Music?

 I know you need another "Les Miserables" movie review like you need another Facebook status mentioning someone's gym habits or other menial events but I am compelled to write this.  I am not going to summarize the plot of the movie like other reviews partially because you can google it and mostly because very few people are going to even read this.

  Here it is - down to brass tacks (whatever the hell that means).  I hesitate to review actual performances for a few reasons - the most important of which is that my problem with this film has nothing to do with the many performers who clearly had passion for the project and the desire and some of the talent to pull it off.  The least important being that it is obvious that the casting of this and every musical theatre film (and often Broadway productions) these days has about 1% to do with appropriateness of age/type or vocal ability and 110% with star names. I know the deal.  As a musical theatre lover I am giddy when they make a movie musical but not because I fool myself into thinking it will ever do the actual show full justice.  I expect to be less than thrilled.  But that does not mean I go to the theatre jaded and ready to despise it.  I am giddy they are making them since that means MANY more people may have the opportunity to fall in love with them like I did.  I was raised on movie musicals.  I don't even mean the original ones of Gene Kelly and Judy Garland.  I mean the ones like "Annie", "Oliver", & "Little Shop of Horrors", "West Side Story" and all of the Rodgers & Hammerstein too....but also some of the most terribly acted and just barely sung "A Chorus Line" and more doozies! "A Chorus Line" is like that phrase - "A face only a mother could love."  Only a girl who would eventually find her life's dream in those movies of one day performing on Broadway could love that film.  But they knew what was important.  The music.  When I watched "Les Miserables" last night I was appalled at how embarrassed this director was of the music --- the accompaniment was often barely audible and rarely matched what the performers were doing with their tempos in their lyrics.  Sometimes it was as if the actors themselves were embarrassed of their singing - not actually belting (as some here are able) or singing in a full legit sound (as a few here were able) as this music was meant to be sung for fear that audiences there for Wolverine and The Gladiator might not like it.  I do not blame the performers for this at all.  It is clear that someone's idea for this film was not to make it so musical-like which is especially off the mark with a show which is ENTIRELY MUSIC.  The entire heartbeat of the show was 100% missing.  The performers had passion individually but there was no glue holding them all together.  I am aware that director Tom Hooper attempted to utilize a wonderful idea for the filming of these songs - which is not normally used for movie musicals - and had live singing with the live accompaniment fed into their ears to allow for a more natural and real live performance feel.  I love this idea and am horribly disheartened at the end result.  I think this is the key to why this film is a flop.  The orchestrations do NOT match the live singing in tempo or in the physical volume of the audio tracks - ever.  I do not know if an orchestra was conducted to match the film and I can only imagine how difficult that process would have been.  All I know is that it was a necessary part of the process that seemed to have been rushed through.  Either that and/or those who then synced the vocals with the orchestrations in tempo and audio levels dropped all their balls.  As a result, the entire movie was a really slow and boring disgrace.  I couldn't even hear the singing at the very beginning and then I barely ever heard the accompaniment throughout.  If I knew nothing about this show the only thing I'd know when it ended was how happy I was.

  I'd rather not get to detailed about opinions of the cast though I did enjoy Samantha Barks' "Eponine" and yes, Anne Hathaway had some magical moments as a too young Fantine.  While well cast - Sasha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter appeared to have been inappropriately directed to be in a Tim Burton film rather than into the broad comedic relief of their actual characters in this show.  The awful muppet sounds of Russell Crow's singing are the LEAST of this film's worries.

  While I fully expected to be slightly disappointed with this film -- as I am about several movie musicals - the one thing I can always walk out saying is that I am just glad they are making them.  While I hope they continue making them - I hope no one ever makes the same mistakes they made in this one.  Go back to lip synching if you are too lazy to do the rest of the work.  And stop apologizing for the fact that it's a musical --- let it be one.  SCADS of people LOVE them - and more will begin to if you remember this.  

Sunday, June 3, 2012

I am a Shellac Addict and this is my story.

When I was a young girl I became instantly obsessed with my nails.  It all began when Mrs. Dinapole, my kindergarten teacher would read us stories and I saw her pretty claws turning those pages.  I don't think I knew what any of the tales were about because all I could do was stare at those beautiful red talons tapping the pages and pointing at each corresponding colorful illustration.  I headed straight home to play teacher where I would place the pen caps from my markers on each of my fingers and open up a book to pretend to read to my imaginary students.  As soon as I was able I began purchasing every nail polish color that existed on this planet - and several that appeared to be from others.  My collection was legendary.  My nails were always painted.  Maintaining my nails was one of the most important things to me and I somehow had the time to devote to this.  I remember selecting which musical instrument I was to learn in 3rd grade.  Though I desperately wanted to play the violin - I chose the flute instead - so I wouldn't have to cut my nails to hold down the strings.  Of course when I got older and had more money to waste - I would keep myself in acrylic tips - even learning how to do them myself at home.  Eventually - poor college student life took over and that all fell by the wayside.  In my adult years - I have found it utterly impossible to have the patience to paint my nails on any sort of regular basis - knowing that they are going to chip within a day no matter what type of topcoat I use.  Even when I splurge for a mani/pedi - I am sad knowing in a few days the chipped paint will be catching on something and I will have to spend time to remove it from my fingernails because it looks ridiculous.  It was actually just a few short years ago that I allowed my mother to toss my gigantic tub of nail polishes I had collected throughout the years out - even though I knew most of them probably had gotten gross and unusable - they really represented quite a bit of my funds growing up!  You know my priorities changed when I started playing the guitar and am constantly chopping off my left hand (always longer/stronger) nails in order to be better able to play.  Well something has come along to change all that.  It's called Shellac.  Now I suppose this is a random blog post - since this isn't a beauty blog and especially since it has been a REALLY long time since I have posted one - but I've been dying to share my love of Shellac for a few months now.  So for those of you entirely uninterested in girly nail polishy things - you've probably gotten all you can get from this post.  For the rest of you beauty/makeup on...

  Just in case you haven't the foggiest notion what I am talking about: Shellac is a brand of gel nail polish which is activated by U.V. light (via special lamps for your hands) which cures the gel to a shiny and immovable manicure that lasts for at least 14 days.  Mine usually lasts close to 3 weeks!  The polish dries within a few minutes and you are out of the salon digging through your purse and picking your wedges with not one shred of fear about ruining your manicure.  The removal process is something you can do yourself if you need be.  All you need is to wrap or soak your nails in regular nail polish remover (with acetone) and once you've soaked long enough you can gently scrape it off with an orange wood stick.  This removal process doesn't really damage your nails but it definitely always takes a little longer than they advertise - whether I am in the salon or doing it myself.  Shellac does cost a wee bit more than your average NYC cheap-ass manicure - but the fact that I usually have mine for 3 weeks makes up for that.  I can usually find places that charge about $35 - $40 for a basic application.  It can cost more if you want special designs or a french manicure - as is usually the case.  Salons don't usually charge you anything to remove your last Shellac when you are paying for a new one.  The jury is still out on some of the naysayers who may warn that the time under the U.V.lights may be a danger to your skin.  As a fair-skinned and semi-freckled ghost - I tend to hide from the sun and do everything I can to steer clear of skin cancer.  So I am going to keep an eye on what people have to say about this - but as far as I can learn - this doesn't pose any more risk than driving a car without sunscreen or gloves on.
  So yes, I am literally addicted to it now.  The only problem I have with it is that they really don't have a large range of colors to select from.  They've got the generic reds/pinks/brownish colors covered - and some really neutral tans and whites - but only 3-5 or so "funky" colors.  I dig the funky.  When you are selecting something to look down and admire for 2-3 weeks though - you want to REALLY love it.  How many times can I get my nails painted the same 3-5 funky-ish colors??  Now there are several other gel manicure brands - O.P.I. makes one called Axxium which has tons more awesome colors to select from.  The only problem is that it doesn't last as long as Shellac - and requires a special solution in order to remove it - so you HAVE to have a salon do it.  Plus - they say it is harsher on your natural nails - and you don't want to ruin those just because you are obsessed with long-lasting polish.  So I am presently giving my nails a break from the Shellac - mainly because I am no longer inspired by any of their color options and I have to pay extra to have fun designs created with the boring color selection.  But now I've started trying to apply regular polish again - because I am addicted to seeing something lovely on my nails!  Suddenly I am 12 years old again - waiting for my nails to dry and looking for new colors to dump my money on.  Grrr...I wish they all existed on Shellac!

Here are some shots of my Shellac experiences:

Here was my latest - getting funky because they need more color selections! This was two different colors plus a glitter over everything to make it even more interesting.

I generally like to keep my nails shorter in case I feel like practicing my gee-tar. 

A little glitter over the gray - to make it more fun.

A little hot pink....

One of their few funky colors - purple!

A sexy hooker red...

3 weeks later - left hand FLAWLESS - minus the barely noticeable growth at the cuticle.