Tag Archives: Les Miserables

And We’re Back

Hello, all. I’m back.

So. It’s been a little while since I’ve written here, huh. Last time I wrote was March 12… and my last “real” post was Feb. 10. Almost an entire year…

…so it’s probably safe to say the “a post a day” experiment kinda fell through.

Still. Not too shabby. I made it an entire year and nearly a half with at least one post per day… that’s a lot of writing. If I had kept it up last year, I would have had SO MANY VIEWS. Even with basically 11 months of no writing, I somehow managed 13,948 views last year. Compare that to the year before’s 15,185. It makes me feel almost popular. Or, well, makes me feel like the lyrics to “Beauty and the Beat” are popular. But enough of that.

2013 was an interesting year. I got my first ever lead role, the opportunity to play Coriolanus in a staged reading of Shakespeare’s “Coriolanus.” Less than a month later, I was cast in a TCF television pilot “Toss-Up,” again cast as the leading role. That opened up several other venues for me, such as a decently-sized part in a TCF short film produced by “Seinfeld” director Tom Cherones and a recurring role in the webseries “Alabama Ghostbusters.” Finally, in October, I was blessed/lucky/really really really super lucky enough to somehow manage to be cast as Jean Valjean in a local production of “Les Miserables,” my favorite musical and a dream role of mine for years.

I started out 2013 not talking to my best friend. Not because I was mad at her or something. No, rather because I’m the kind of person that can come to the conclusion (unfortunately often) that people are better off without me in their lives…  Around late February, I started dating a girl (my fourth girlfriend… possibly I only decided to date her beyond my attraction to her because I knew it would end when she went to grad school) that played my fiance in the TV pilot… and had we not dated, I wouldn’t have been asked to go to a wedding that my best friend was the maid-of-honor for, and I may still not be talking to her (as painful as that would be for me).

I haven’t managed to get “Camp Gethsemane” produced yet, sadly… I’m going to make a really big effort this year. It’s in the midst of yet another edit, a big edit that changes a few second act things and hopefully makes it all for the better… but a production would be amazing. I also haven’t managed to find a better job yet… though I did start hosting trivia at bars and restaurants around Tuscaloosa and Birmingham, and the extra income is pretty nice. Also, I seem to be decent at it. People like me well enough. (P.S. If you know any bars/restaurants that might like to host trivia, let me know!)

It’s been a year of changes, for sure. A year of opportunities… not my worst year… and hopefully, not my best to come, but a pretty decent one all-in-all.

Which brings me to 2014. The new year. And new years tend to bring new resolutions. Something that, usually, I duck out on because come on. Those are made with the intent of being broken, most of the time.

Still. I feel I should resolve a few things. So I’mma try.

First, I am going to lose weight. I wanted to for Les Mis, but Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas were right there and it is pretty much impossible to lose weight during those holidays. I plan to shed at LEAST 40 pounds and KEEP it off throughout the year. Maybe even work out and get some toning and muscle, not this semi-sentient fat I have at the moment.

Second, I’m going to get something I’ve written produced. Hopefully “Camp Gethsemane.” I will do it, damn it. I have screenplays and plays at the ready. Some need work, yes. But that can be done. I just want something to show for my work.

Third, I am going to write at least five more of the projects in my head. It’s a tall order. I may need help with some to keep me honest. I still have to edit and polish some of the things I’ve already written. But I also need to get new things done, too. I need to write, need to produce. I have two one-act mythology plays and two screenplays that need finishing. The fifth, I have many many ideas that could be the fifth… And the desire to write new things may help me finish my old things. If you’re a writer and want to help keep me honest, please let me know. No joke.

Fourth, I am resurrecting this blog. But it won’t be a once-a-day blog anymore. That just doesn’t seem feasible. With trivia taking up several of my nights, and all the acting I did last year, writing once per day became basically impossible. Les Mis is one reason “Camp Gethsemane” has been mid-edit since October. Still, I hope to write in this blog semi-regularly… and maybe add a new segment where I try new things in the kitchen, things I’ve never done before, like new techniques (like frying things) or foods (like fish). Which brings me to…

Fifth, I’m going to step out of my comfort zone. I’ve been getting there. Hosting trivia has REALLY helped me become a more social and sociable person. As has finally being on stage in a visible way. I’m going to audition for more things in town, of course… but beyond that, I want to just do things I don’t normally do. Talk to people more. Hang out with people more. Being a hermit really gets lonely, and I really hate the feeling sometimes. And maybe, just maybe, if I step out of my comfort zone, I can be more comfortable with who I am. It seems oxymoronic, but trust me. I’m not intensely comfortable even in my comfort zone.

All in all, I hope to move forward with life in 2014. Professionally, romantically, creatively… I need to stop being stagnant. I need to stop being jealous of other people’s romantic and professional successes and start making others jealous of mine. I’ll let you know how that goes as it moves along.

Oh, and expect more of my randomness on this blog, because there’s a lot I wanted to say last year that I never got to… If 2014 is as ridiculous as 2013 was, I’m sure I’ll have a bunch to gab on about.

It’s good to be back.

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Big Screen Ballyhoo – “Silver Linings Playbook”

I absolutely love stories about dysfunctional people. Honestly, they may be my favorite stories, be they in books or theatre or film.

“Silver Linings Playbook” is definitely one of those movies. Directed by David O. Russell, this movie is one of the Oscar darlings, with nominations for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Film Editing and each of the four acting Oscars, the first movie since 1981’s “Reds” to manage that feat.

The movie starts with Pat Solitano (Bradley Cooper) being taken home from a mental health facility by his mother Dolores (Jacki Weaver). Pat’s immensely superstitious Philadelphia Eagles fan father, Patrizio (Robert DeNiro), is a bit worried about Pat being home from the facility, but tries to use Pat as a lucky charm to help the Eagles win and thus boost his income for his bookmaking, intended to support his eventual restaurant.

Pat’s return to the life at home is troubled at best. He has to go to court-mandated therapy with Dr. Patel (Anupam Kher), where we learn why he was in the hospital. Apparently, Pat nearly beat the man his wife Nikki (Brea Bee) was cheating on him with, and the song that was playing when he discovered them – his wedding song, Stevie Wonder’s “My Cherie Amour” – sets him off into hysterics when he hears it or imagines it playing.

Pat ends up going to dinner with old friends, and friends of his wife Nikki, Ronnie (John Oritz) and Veronica Maxwell (Julia Stiles). While there, he meets Veronica’s sister Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), a very recent widow who is just about as messed up as Pat is. She still acts as though she’s married to her dead husband, as Pat acts with Nikki, and has recently lost her job because she slept with several coworkers.

Pat, trying to reach out to Nikki and prove he’s a better man, agrees to help Tiffany with a dance competition in return for her slipping a letter to Nikki under the radar, in spite of the restraining order currently against him. While dancing together, with some choreographic assistance from Pat’s mental health facility friend Danny (Chris Tucker), they both work on their neuroses and friendship, growing as people and learning more about themselves.

Honestly, this may be my favorite Best Picture nominee, even moreso than “Les Miserables.” Like I said, I absolutely adore stories about broken people. Someone suggested that’s because I’m dark or something… but I like to think of it as the stories being more honest about people. The perfect people are always the ones we can’t actually connect with. Superman is easily one of my least favorite superheroes because he’s just too good. He’s got too much. In the same way, stories about “ordinary, normal people” turn out too often to be about people that have nothing wrong with them beyond being, say, lonely or in not the greatest job.

I’m not suggesting everyone’s secretly bipolar or depressed or any other medical malady. I am saying, though, that stories about broken people crawling back toward normalcy, trying to etch out a life despite their fractured psyches, are far more interesting and compelling for me. People that live lives that aren’t a perfect fit, that aren’t exactly comfortable, trying to figure out how to make it work… that’s what I enjoy, and that’s a large part of what “Silver Linings Playbook” is.

This is a fantastic movie, I think, and I’d put it in my top 5 of 2012 now. Granted, I’ve seen it in 2013… so maybe I’ll put it on a top movies of 2013 list at the end of the year. The acting, particularly from DeNiro, Cooper and Lawrence, is phenomenal. Cooper and DeNiro share some frightening and amazing moments, and Lawrence is certainly showing off her talents throughout the movie. It’s perfectly paced, amazingly acted and utilizes music and editing very well. The moment where Pat begins to have a breakdown searching for his wedding video is one of the more emotional and harrowing moments of the film, and fights with some of the best moments of the year.

Now that the movie is finally out in wide release, do yourself a favor and go see it. It’s so much more than a romantic comedy. It’s a story of people that anyone should be able to connect with.

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Big Screen Ballyhoo – Oscar Nomination Reactions

So, if you were perhaps unaware, the Oscar nominations for 2013 came out. And, as they do nearly every year, they’re causing just a bit of controversy.

This year, 53 films have been nominated (By my count. I could be wrong. Counted 54 the first time.). Still, even with 53 nominated movies, with several getting a huge handful of nominations (“Life of Pi” got 11, which ties it with the most nominations a movie has ever won.), there are people that feel there were snubs and missing nominations. And I’m a bit inclined to agree.

First off, for Best Picture. This has been a pretty good year for movies. There are only two movies I’ve seen this year that I didn’t like, and I’ve seen more movies this year than most. Even though I’ve only seen 13 Oscar nominated films this year, but I’ll get to that in a bit. The way the Best Picture category now works is that it allows for any number between five and 10 nominations. They changed it from five to 10 some years ago to widen the field and potentially make it more exciting for the viewers at home. Then they made it variable when they couldn’t produce 10 Best Picture material movies. This year, I really think there were 10 possibilities. Such as, while I haven’t yet seen it, “Moonrise Kingdom.” Or, out of what I have seen, “Skyfall” or “Cloud Atlas.” The last of which I will bring up again in a second.

Then you have Best Director. What the what happened here? The two most talked about sure-fire “will definitely be nominated” directors were Kathryn Bigelow for “Zero Dark Thirty” and Ben Affleck for “Argo.” Yet neither got a nomination. And neither did Tom Hooper for “Les Miserables.” Hooper and Bigelow’s absences mean the two defending champions, both having won the Oscar for Best Director (and Best Picture) for the last film they made, are out of the race. It also means that Bigelow’s movie “Zero Dark Thirty” is no longer the top contender for Best Picture, as the Academy rarely splits director and picture for the Oscars. And poor Affleck… at least his movie got nominated a few times, including for Best Picture. His last movie got ousted by a massive roster of good films. Still, I think he really deserved the Best Director nod. Yes, you can’t get all the Best Picture directors a nomination, but their absences were very shocking.

And now, to chat about “Cloud Atlas.” As you may recall, I enjoyed “Cloud Atlas” a decent bit. I even said it’s practically a shoe-in for the Oscars.

And it was shut out entirely.

No nominations for Make-Up, Costumes, Visual Effects… nothing. It’s freakin’ crazy, in my mind. It makes NO sense. First, why is it that Make-Up only gets three nominations when there are clearly other deserving films? Second, not a single nomination? “Flight” gets a nomination for Best Original Screenplay, despite being one of the WORST screenplays I’ve seen this year, yet “Cloud Atlas” doesn’t even get mentioned? It’s an absolute travesty in my mind. Just a shame.

Anyway, there are other people who have some other complaints about the Oscar nominations, if you’re curious. Me, I’m just going to buckle down and try to watch as many of these things as I can. Even if I exclude Documentaries, Short Films and Foreign Films (except for “Amour,” a Best Picture contender), I’ve got 17 movies left to watch by February. Better get cracking.

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Big Screen Ballyhoo – My Favorite Films Of 2012

Ha. I wrote Favorite Films of 2011. My bad. These are from 2012, I swear.

It’s the end of the year, and I think you know what that means. It’s the time of year where everyone and their mother starts compiling lists. Some lists are of course better than others… I think my list of lists last year proved that. This year, as I’ve actually been seeing a decent number of movies from this year (well into the double digits, which might actually be a first for me), I’ve decided to actually tell you what my favorite movies are.

Note: These are not my picks for Oscars or anything like that. The Oscars will ignore at least one movie on my list, likely more than that. My Oscar picks will be around the time the Oscar nominations come out because who the heck knows what those crazy people are actually going to nominate. If I can get 50% of the picks right, I’ll be doing fantastically.

Anyway, here’s my favorite movies of the year.

1) “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” – I adored this movie. I never read the book, but I can tell you that the movie was just fantastic. And, as the movie was both written and directed by the author of the book, Stephen Chbosky, the purity between book and movie was very likely maintained. Also, people that did read the book say it was. It has some fantastic acting, particularly from Logan Lerman and Ezra Miller (Emma Thompson has fantastic moments, too), and is delightfully quaint and surprisingly emotionally heavy-hitting. It may be the best coming-of-age film I’ve ever seen.

2) “The Avengers” – Holy crap, this was just a fun movie. I very nearly ended up watching it in theaters three times. Would have if it weren’t for an excessive nap. King of the nerds Joss Whedon directed this massively dangerous film, an attempt to balance Thor, Iron Man, Captain America, The Incredible Hulk, Black Widow, Hawkeye and S.H.I.E.L.D. in a cohesive action story, and he pulled it off fabulously. One of the most entertaining movies I’ve seen and perhaps my favorite superhero movie, with humor, action and heart combined in a fabulous combination. That’s how superhero movies should be made. I’m looking at you, Spider-Man franchise.

3) “Wreck-It Ralph” – I saw “Brave.” I liked “Brave.” It’s a good movie, and it’s almost certainly going to win the Oscar for Best Animated Film. Pixar has a habit of doing that. But, frankly, “Wreck-It Ralph” was beyond my favorite. As someone who enjoys video games, the premise and massive number of cameos/references from old video games was just beautiful. The nostalgia of the arcade was pitch perfect (I miss the mess out of those things). And the movie brought the emotions on way more strongly than I expected. I’m talking “Toy Story 3” levels, just about. Fantastic movie.

4) “Les Miserables” – I’ve been waiting for a film version of this musical forever. No joke. It’s my favorite musical of all time. And, while the movie isn’t perfect and misses some emotional moments many versions of the stage musical have, but it brings its own powerful emotions and beautiful picturesque scenes that would be unachievable on stage. It may have problems, but it’s ambitious and, I think, ultimately a major success. I find it hard to imagine a better version of the musical being put into film.

5) “Argo” – Ben Affleck is really coming into his own as a director, and becoming more comfortable as an actor, I think. A movie that deals with a far too neglected part of American history, this movie was one of the better thrillers I’ve seen in a while. Not only was it a great thriller, but it also had some surprisingly funny and well-crafted moments of lighthearted comedy, particularly when they’re trying to craft the phony film back in Hollywood. While I personally don’t think it will win, I wouldn’t mind “Argo” winning the Golden Globe, or maybe even the Oscar, for Best Picture. I may change my mind about that once I see “Zero Dark Thirty” and “Silver Linings Playbook,” but for now that’s what I think.

6) “Skyfall” – I’m really hoping that this movie gets more Oscar recognition than just a Best Original Song nomination. I never really watched many Bond movies in my life. Beyond “Skyfall,” I only ever saw “Die Another Day” all the way through. For some reason, my dad doesn’t own any of the old movies. So I may have missed some of the jokes and references in the newest Bond film, but I didn’t miss out on the action and humor. This was, in my opinion, the best crafted action film of the year after “The Avengers.” Beautiful use of colors and shadow throughout, great imagery, wonderful acting from Javier Bardem… I know others will rail against me for saying this, but I would much rather Sam Mendes and this film get Oscar recognition over “Django Unchained.” But that may just be me.

There were so many other good films this year, too. There were only five films that I saw this year that I didn’t like or thought were bad. That’s quite a bit less than half of the movies I saw, too, so I think this year is doing alright when it comes to movies.

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Sing, Sang, Sung – “Why, God, Why?” From “Miss Saigon”

I think as I continue to work out what my hopeful springtime recital/singing extravaganza is going to be, I’m going to start putting up the songs that are on the likely final list of what I’m going to sing. Also, as this song currently fits my mood, and the musical is written by the same people that wrote “Les Miserables,” I think it works out pretty well.

Fun fact, most of the songs on my list, I’ve never actually sung outside of my room. I think I recorded myself singing this one once. Maybe. It’s hard to remember. Even if I did record it, it was on an awful computer mic and only would’ve had accompaniment if I could find an instrumental version on YouTube.

Anyway… I think the lyrics speak for themselves, so no real need to explain it.

“Why, God, Why?” – “Miss Saigon”

Why does Saigon never sleep at night?
Why does this girl smell of orange trees?
How can I feel good when nothing’s right?
Why is she cool when there is no breeze?

Vietnam
You don’t give answers, do you friend?
Just questions that don’t ever end

Why God? Why today?
I’m all through here, on my way
There’s nothing left here that I’ll miss
Why send me now a night like this?

Who is the girl in this rusty bed?
Why am I back in a filthy room?
Why is her voice ringing in my head?
Why am I high on her cheap perfume?

Vietnam
Hey look I mean you no offense
But why does nothing here make sense?

Why God? Show your hand
Why can’t one guy understand?
I’ve been with girls who knew much more
I never felt confused before

Why me? What’s your plan?
I can’t help her, no one can
I liked my mem’ries as they were
But now I’ll leave rememb’ring her

When I went home before
No one talked of the war
What they knew from TV
Didn’t have a thing to do with me

I went back and re-upped
Sure Saigon is corrupt
It felt better to be
Here driving for the embassy

‘Cause here if you can pull a string
A guy like me lives like a king
Just as long as you don’t believe anything

Why God? Why this face?
Why such beauty in this place?
I liked my mem’ries as they were
But now I’ll leave rememb’ring her
Just her

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Big Screen Ballyhoo – “Les Miserables”

“Les Miserables” is one of history’s most popular musicals. Created by Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg in 1980, based off of Victor Hugo’s massive and insanely popular book of the same name, “Les Mis” is the longest running musical in London’s West End and the third longest running musical on Broadway, beaten only by “Cats” and “Phantom of the Opera.”

(Fun trivia: “Les Miserables” is also the source of the shortest recorded correspondence in history, too. When “Les Miserables” was published, Hugo was on vacation. Curious about the sales of the book on the first day, he sent his publisher a telegram – “?” His publisher telegraphed back – “!”)

The book has been written into a movie or TV mini-series eight times before, including the 1998 film starring Geoffrey Rush as Javert, Liam Neeson as Jean Valjean and Uma Thurman as Fantine… a movie that should have been really good but instead ended up being a pile of mess. However, this 2012 attempt is the first time anyone has ever attempted to bring the stage musical onto film, a massively daunting task.

And one that I think was quite successful, and perhaps one of the best attempts that could have ever been made.

“Les Miserables” is my favorite musical. Period. So, going into the movie, I was both excited and scared for what might happen. I prepared myself to possibly hate it and be super critical. And while director Tom Hooper (“The King’s Speech”) ended up making some choices I think were flawed, I ended up enjoying myself and being sucked into the musical as I am every time.

Now, fair warning: One big reason “Les Miserables” is so daunting a task to make a musical film out of is because it is THE musical. Every single word in the original production was written to a note. It is, by many definitions, an opera in that sense. It’s a two to three hour beast of constant singing. If you don’t enjoy musicals, you will almost definitely hate this movie. But if you like good singing, quality acting and a fabulous story, then step right up.

“Les Mis” follows the journey of a man, Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman), who has spent the last 19 years in chain gangs for stealing a loaf of bread for his sister and her child. After those 19 years, he is let out on parole… but no one wants to hire an ex-convict. He ends up attempting to steal the silver from a kind bishop. When he’s caught, the bishop lies and says Valjean’s story of being given the silver as a gift is true, then tells Valjean he must turn from his ways and use the silver to become a man of God. This prompts Valjean to tear up his parole papers and begin a life anew.

But his life anew has an old adversary to make things difficult. Javert (Russell Crowe), a policeman from Valjean’s time in prison, is constantly on the lookout for him. When circumstances cause Javert to be posted to the city where Valjean, masquerading as mayor and factory owner Monsieur Madeleine, Javert feels he recognizes Valjean, an impossibility because authorities have already caught him. Valjean finds himself in a moral quandary, fighting between letting an innocent man go to jail in his place or confessing his sins.

Meanwhile, a worker in his factory, Fantine (Anne Hathaway), has been fired by a cruel, horny foreman. Fantine, desperate to get the money needed to keep her daughter Cosette (Isabelle Allen) alive, ends up selling her hair, some of her teeth, and eventually her sex. She becomes very ill before Valjean finds her, learns of her plight and takes her to a hospital. When Valjean eventually decides to confess his true identity, he once again goes on the run, promising the dying Fantine to care for Cosette. Valjean buys her off of the sleazy, ridiculous innkeepers Madame and Monsieur Thenardier (Helena Bonham Carter and Sasha Baron Cohen) and they escape to make a new life.

That new life, many years later, bleeds into one of the many French Revolutions, this time instigated by several students led by Enjolras (Aaron Tevit). After an altercation in the streets which catches the attention of the student Marius (Eddie Redmayne), giving him a glimpse of the now grown Cosette (Amanda Seyfried), he becomes infatuated with her and asks his friend Eponine (Samantha Barks) to help him woo her.

It’s a thick, very busy story with many characters and many inter-crossing desires from each. A musical that could easily have lost track of these people, “Les Miserables” pulls off the difficult job of making each player memorable. The film achieves this both through the music and through some rather excellent camera work and direction, as well as some fantastic acting.

Hooper seems to have revisited the original novel quite heavily when crafting this film, focusing less on the grand, operatic style of the musical and digging deep into the characters and emotions that they carry with them. Filming the movie with live singing, allowing for more raw emotions to be tapped than a lip-synched recording would, helped Hooper to create an intimacy with the characters that can sometimes be lost when watching the musical in a seat far away from the stage.

Is the movie perfect? Definitely not. Seyfried’s constant vibrato was a bit annoying (though not nearly as noticeable/irksome as I was afraid it might be) and Crowe could have, perhaps, been a stronger singer. There were changes made to lines in the music, choices made in what songs and parts of songs were cut, that I found odd, and choices that I felt lost some of the intimacy that could have been had. My biggest disappointment was that Grantaire (George Blagden), easily my favorite supporting character, saw his solo cut from “Drink With Me,” losing some of his character growth… but Hooper did make several choices I would never have considered, choices that would never have been seen on stage, choices that brought powerful emotion to the screen.

“Les Mis” purists might not like it. People that dislike musicals will almost certainly dislike it. But this is the type of interpretation, creating both a feel of the epic vastness of the story and its setting and the intimacy and empathy it should create, that I feel Peter Jackson’s first “Hobbit” movie should have had. Despite having massive source material, the movie never feels like it’s dragging on or has too much. Really, I wanted more. The acting was amazing and the singing was excellent, though admittedly better from some than others. This film will almost definitely win at least one Oscar (Hathaway for Best Supporting Actress). And it well deserves it.

The movie brings a realism and raw emotion, as well as a vast beauty and intense imagery, to a story that could have easily become too bogged down or too much like a filming of the stage version.

If you enjoy musicals at all, I think you should definitely give this film a chance. There’s a possibility that you will feel its flaws are simply too numerous to overcome, but I think this has some of the best performances and movie moments of the year, and that’s worth it all by itself.

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Sing, Sang, Sung – “On The Willows” From “Godspell”

Every once in a while, I’ll find a song I’ve heard a billion times over already and gain a new adoration for the song. And then proceed to listen to it a billion times over again. It’s gotten especially bad with my attempts to cull a musical list for any potential recital I’ll perform next semester. Every time I think I’ve successfully made the list shorter, I hear a song I adore and it gets longer again. Hell, the new “Les Miserables” movie has added a new song for Jean Valjean, “Suddenly,” and I’m suddenly finding myself wanting to throw that on the “maybe I could do that one” pile.

This time, thanks in no small part to the wonderful, fantastic production of “Godspell” by Theatre Tuscaloosa, I find myself listening to the song “On the Willows.” As I would like to have at least considered a few more duets, particularly with women, than my original set list contained, this one decided to pop onto my list. Which is very nearly back to 20 songs or so. Thank goodness I have a friend willing to tell me what not to sing.

Anyway… It’s a beautiful song. I’m annoyed that I haven’t already sung it a bunch of times.

“On the Willows” – “Godspell”

On the willows, there
We hung up our lives
For our captors there
Required
Of us songs
And our tormentors mirth

On the willows, there
We hung up our lives
For our captors there
Required
Of us songs
And our tormentor’s mirth

Saying
Sing us one
Of the songs of Zion
Sing us one
Of the songs of Zion

But how can we sing?
Sing the Lord’s songs?
In a foreign land?

On the willows, there
We hung up our lives…

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Sing, Sang, Sung – “Man Up” From “The Book Of Mormon”

Okay. So, I’m actually hoping to go on a bit of a movie binge this weekend. Not only are there several movies out now that I want to see (“Looper,” “Argo,” “The Perks of Being a Wallflower”), but I want a break. Work plus editing this script (I’m about halfway done. As in, I’ve almost finished the first half of the script. The second half needs to be almost totally rewritten due to a character being eliminated. Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuun.) plus life in general… they get exhausting. And it’ll be the last break I can get for a while. I had an audition today for a TV Pilot, I have an audition next Tuesday for “Godspell” and SETC screening auditions are next Saturday. Then, on Sunday and Monday the 28 and 29, I’m stage managing and acting in a ghost story community theatre creation one-night-only show. It’ll be the third “original work written by the community” type show I’ve acted in, the fourth I’ve worked on, and the second one-night-only version. It should be fun.

But, basically, all that boils down to me being quite busy. And work’s going to be even busier. People are moving around, getting different job titles, and I’m getting more responsibility foisted on me… Fun times. I still need to listen to several audiobooks to review them.

So, ultimately, I wanted to see those three movies this weekend. One a day, matinee each day. Unfortunately, my audition took longer than expected today (plus I got myself turned around on the road), so I got to the theater too late for any of those movies. I ended up watching “Seven Psychopaths” instead.

When my brain is less mush, I’ll try to write about it.

But because my brain is mush, I’m posting the THIRD “Book of Mormon” song I’ve posted on this blog… It’s getting ridiculous now, isn’t it? But I really want to perform this song and “You and Me (But Mostly Me)” for a Guerrilla or something. I also totally still want to do a cabaret, but I feel like that ship is sailing away.

Anyway. “Man Up.” It’s a funny song. Nice little end of the first act thing, everyone coming in with their own themes, singing simultaneously… I enjoy those types of songs. Like “One Day More” from “Les Miserables.” Oh, and by the by, I will be seeing “Les Miserables” in theaters before “Django Unchained.” Sue me.

So here’s the song.

“Man Up” – “The Book of Mormon”

ELDER CUNNINGHAM:
What did Jesus do,
When they sentenced him to die?
Did he try to run away?
Did he just break down and cry?

No, Jesus dug down deep,
Knowing what he had to do-
When faced with his own death,
Jesus knew that he had to…

Man up.
He had to man up.
So he crawled up on that cross,
And he stuck it out.
And he manned up.
Christ, he manned up.
And taught us all what real manning
Up is about!

And now it’s up to me
And it’s time to man up!
Jesus had his time to,
Now it’s mine to man up!

I’m taking the reins,
I’m crossing the bear!
Just like Jesus,
I’m growing a pair!
I’ve gotta stand up,
Can’t just clam up,
It’s time to man up!

‘Cause there’s a time in your life
When you know you’ve got to
Man up.
Don’t let it pass you by,
There’s just one time to
Man up.

Watch me man up like
Nobody else!
I’m gonna man up all
Over myself!
I’ve got to get ready,
It’s time to,
Time to…!

What did Jesus do
When they put nails in his hands?
Did he scream like a girl?
Or did he take it like a man?
When someone had to die
To save us from our sins,
Jesus said “I’ll do it!”
And he took it on the chin!

He manned up!
He manned up,
He took a bullet for me and you,
That’s man up.
Real man up.
And now it’s my time to…
Do it too!

Time to be a hero
And slay the monster!
Time to battle darkness,
You’re not my father!
I’m gonna time to, just watch me go!
Time to stand up and steal the show!
Time to!  Mine to!
Time to!  Time to!
Time to!

NABULUNGI:
Sal Tlay Ka Siti,
A place of hope and joy…

ELDER CUNNINGHAM:
Man up!

NABULUNGI:
And if we want to go there,
We just have to follow that white boy!

ELDER CUNNINGHAM:
Time to!

ELDER PRICE:
Heavenly father,
Why do you let bad things happen?

UGANDANS:
Sal Tlay Ka Siti…

NABULUNGI:
Did you get my text?

ELDER PRICE:
More to the point,
Why do you let bad things happen to me?

UGANDANS:
Sal Tlay Ka Siti!
We got your text!

ELDER PRICE:
I’m sure you don’t think I’m a flake…

ELDER CUNNINGHAM:
Man up!

ELDER PRICE:
Because you clearly made a mistake!

ELDERS:
Turn it off!

ELDER PRICE:
I’m going where you need me most…
Orlando!

ELDERS:
Orlando!

UGANDANS:
We will listen to the fat white guy!

ELDER CUNNINGHAM:
My time to, time to,
Now it’s my time to,
Time to!

UGANDANS:
But Hasa Diga Eebowai!

ELDER CUNNINGHAM:
No time to, not time to,
No, now it’s time to time to!

UGANDANS:
Huuh!

ELDER CUNNINGHAM:
I’m in the lead for the
Very first time!

UGANDGANS:
Time to!

ELDER PRICE:
I’m going where the
Sun always shines!

UGANDANS:
Shines to!

ELDER CUNNINGHAM:
I’ve got to stand up,
Get my flippin’ can up,
It’s time to,
Time to…
Man up!

[Simultaneously]

NABULUNGI:
Sal Tlay Ka Siti!
Sal Tlay Ka Siti!
Sal Tlay Ka Siti!
Sal Tlay Ka Siti!

UGANDANS:
Hay ya ya!
Hay ya ya!

ELDER PRICE:
Orlando!
Orlando!
I’m coming
Orlando!

ELDERS:
Turn it off!

ELDER CUNNINGHAM:
It’s time to-

GOTSWANA:
I have maggots in my scrotum!

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Big Screen Ballyhoo – My Most Anticipated Films

Alright. In another kind of weak post, as I’m feeling a bit week (I may have to visit a doctor tomorrow after all), I want to talk about movies that are coming out this year. Some of you may be aware that we’re on the cusp of “good movie season,” or the time when a massive glut of films contending for Oscars pop up. They like to put Oscar movies toward the end of the year so they don’t get outshone by other films or just plain forgotten.

And there’s quite a few.

So here are MY picks, categorized by my excitement for them, with the trailers linked with the title of the film.

Movies that I ABSOLUTELY WILL SEE in theaters, I don’t care who I have to punch and shove out of the way.

Okay, more accurate would have been to say “movie,” because there’s only one in this category.

“Les Miserables” is a novel by Frenchman Victor Hugo. It’s a rather meaty piece of work, detailing love and revolution, but more often focusing on one man, Jean Valjean, as he escapes from prison and attempts to live out his life, all while Inspector Javert hunts him down through the years. The novel has seen at least two film adaptations, one starring Liam Neeson, Uma Thurman and Geoffrey Rush. And it was rubbish. But I never managed to get through the novel. I was introduced to the story via the smash musical, one of the most popular musicals of all time (and I think the longest running one worldwide, though I’m unsure). And, for the first time ever, the musical is being brought to the big screen. Directed by Tom Hooper, Academy Award-winning director of Best Picture-winning “The King’s Speech,” the movie stars Broadway veteran Hugh Jackman as Valjean. Also in the film are Russel Crowe (Javert), Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried, Helena Bonham Carter, Sacha Baron Cohen, and some stage talent like Samantha Barks. And the singing is being filmed live, as opposed to pre-recorded and lip synched.

This is my favorite musical of all time. I’ve got a couple of worries (Seyfried’s voice sounds a bit too vibrato-y to me in the extended look trailer and I have to wonder what they’ll cut from the 2.5 to 3 hour monster), but you BET I’ll be there. The film comes out Dec. 25. Christmas Day present. I might even abandon my family to watch this.

Movies that I am really quite excited about seeing.

First, this one came out yesterday. “Trouble with the Curve” marks Clint Eastwood’s return to acting. The movie’s about an old baseball scout (Eastwood) losing his eyesight and trying to reconnect with his daughter (Amy Adams), as well as the old butting heads with the new. The movie also stars John Goodman (he’s getting a lot of work lately, and I love it) and Justin Timberlake (who earned my respect as an actor with “The Social Network”). Baseball’s not my favorite sport, but it’s Eastwood in his element, reminiscent of his work on “Million Dollar Baby.” If I’m not completely dead, I’m going to try to see it tomorrow.

Second, Ben Affleck has jumped back into the director/actor’s chair after the critically acclaimed film “The Town.” Affleck’s new movie, “Argo,” is based on the weirdly true story of a CIA extraction unit attempting to rescue six American refugees/people hiding from Tehran, Iran in the middle of the violent Iranian revolution in 1979. Their plan? Send in a Canadian film crew to film a sci-fi movie called “Argo.” Get them out that way. The movie stars Affleck, as well as John Goodman (I really like this guy!), Bryan Cranston and Alan Arkin. Affleck’s been doing well as an actor, taking on more serious roles and stories, and I like how he’s dressed down for this movie. I really want to watch it. The film comes out on Oct. 12.

Another I would really like to see is “Wreck-It Ralph.” It’s a Disney computer animated film about an 8-bit arcade character who’s tired of being the bad guy in his video game. So he leaves to find another video game to be part of. Featuring the vocal talents of John C. Reilly as Ralph, Jack McBrayer as his nemesis Fix-It Felix, Sarah Silverman, Jane Lynch, Alan Tudyk and others, the film also features many recognizable video game characters, such as Bowzer, M. Bison, Zangief, Dr. Robotnik and Pac-Man ghost Clyde. It looks like it’ll be a cute, original film about one of the things I enjoy: Video games. And it starts in an arcade. I miss those. The film comes out on Nov. 2.

Finally in this category is “Looper.” A sci-fi film by writer-director Rian Johnson of “Brick,” the movie focuses of Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s character, a man whose job it is to kill people forcibly sent back in time, specifically for assassinations. And it’s all going alright. Until he, played by Bruce Willis, is the one he has to kill. Willis escapes, Gordon-Levitt hunts for him and the people in charge hunt for both. It looks like an intriguing plot and treatment of time/space, what with the way some objects are acting in the trailer. I think I’d rather enjoy it. The movie comes out on Sept. 28.

Movies that I think I would enjoy seeing, but don’t yearn to see.

First on this list is one that sort of exists in between this category and the previous. It looks fascinating and has a great cast, but it also looks like it could be tedious and too drawn out or forced. That movie is “Cloud Atlas,” a film by the Wachowskis (“The Matrix”) and Tom Tykwer (“Run Lola Run”). Based on a novel by David Mitchell, the movie tells six stories across many, many years. The trailer seems to suggest that it’s about two people being reborn throughout history and finding one another, but I can’t be sure having never read the source material. However, the film stars Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, Hugo Weaving, Susan Sarandon and Hugh Grant, all solid actors. It looks like an interesting premise, to say the least. The movie comes out on Oct. 26.

I suppose this film kind of exists between like “Cloud Atlas” did. And I’d be murdered if I didn’t mention it now. “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,” which has released a new trailer just recently, worries me a bit. Director Peter Jackson has turned the J.R.R. Tolkien story into a three film monster, like “Lord of the Rings.” It makes me wonder what he’s adding in. And the trailer seems to show a few things added in. I, for one, don’t recall there being any giant rock creatures throwing giant rocks at Thorin Oakenshield and company. Still, I enjoy the story, and it does look pretty, so I’ll probably go watch it. The movie comes out on Dec. 14.

In the not in between lies “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” based on the young adult novel of the same name from the late 1990s. Starring Logan Lerman as a high school freshman feeling like a bit of an outcast without friends, as well as Emma Watson as a friendly senior in her first starring role in the post-“Harry Potter” era, Paul Rudd as a friendly English teacher and Ezra Miller as Thompson’s friendly gay step brother (there are a few friendly people), the movie is coming-of-age to a T, but it looks like it will be a nice spin on things. The film is already out, actually, just not in Tuscaloosa. I’ve been told it may have a wide release on Oct. 5.

“Silver Linings Playbook” stars Bradley Cooper as a man struggling with his bipolar disorder and Jennifer Lawrence as a woman who also has some sort of problems she needs therapy and drugs for. It will be nice to see Lawrence in an adult role (she may have some already, but none I’ve seen). Romance blossoms between the two as they work through their problems together and join some dance competition… thing, I’m not sure. The movie also stars Robert DeNiro and Chris Rock, and comes out on Nov. 21.

“Rise of the Guardians” is Dreamwork’s competition for Disney’s “Wreck-It Ralph” this year. Featuring the vocal talents of Chris Pine, Alec Baldwin, Hugh Jackman, Isla Fisher and Jude Law, the film is about mythical characters that protect children coming under attack. Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, Jack Frost, the Tooth Fairy and the Sandman all have to work together to fight off the incursion of the Boogeyman as he begins to strike fear into the hearts and dreams of children. It looks adorable and potentially quite good. This movie also comes out on Nov. 21.

Movies I wouldn’t mind seeing. They’re probably really good.

No real summaries for these… Just the name and the release date. I suggest watching the trailers if you want to know more.

“Anna Karenina,” limited release on Nov. 16. Stars Kiera Knightley, Jude Law.

“Django Unchained,” released on Dec. 25. Stars Jamie Foxx, Samuel L. Jackson, Leonardo DiCaprio, Christoph Waltz.

“This Is 40,” released on Dec. 21. Stars Paul Rudd, Leslie Mann, Jason Segel.

“The Master,” already released. Stars Philip Seymour Hoffman, Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams.

“Lincoln,” released on Nov. 16. Stars Daniel Day-Lewis, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Tommy Lee Jones, David Strathairn, Sally Field, Bruce McGill, James Spader, Jackie Earle Haley.

A LOT of good movies coming out. Definitely give some of them a look. Now, I’m going to bed. I’ve written far too much for a “filler” post.

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Sing, Sang, Sung – “Safe & Sound” By Taylor Swift Ft. The Civil Wars

Today is one of those days where I don’t really have much to talk about, and yet have a bunch of stuff to do. …sort of. Tonight, starting at 7:30, I’m going to see Improbable Fictions perform Aristophanes’ “Lysistrata” at Kentuck in Northport. For those unaware of the story of “Lysistrata,” it’s a play about women going on a sex strike in order to force their husbands, soldiers in wartime, to negotiate a peace. Which, of course, leads to some very raunchy comic romping. It’s not going to be a show for little kids, for sure, but it should be a good time.

I’m also going to be seeing “The Hunger Games,” the new movie based off of a Young Adult sensation. My hope is that it is better than Harry Potter, meaning implicitly better than Twilight. …I hate that entire phenomenon.

For those unaware of “The Hunger Games,” I’m not going to spoil it for you here. No, that’s for my post-movie-watching review tomorrow. I’ll talk about the basic premise of the plot of the movie/book(s) it was based on. Let’s just say that I loved it, and I’m usually picky about my literature. I may have a lower standard than some, but I definitely have a standard. And being that this book wasn’t sci-fi/fantasy (I suppose you could call it maybe dystopian sci-fi of a sort, but I don’t think of it as such) or a mystery novel, I’m actually surprised at myself for reading it.

Anyway, the books are really good. And I am super psyched about the movie, too. One of the things that has me psyched is the soundtrack. The Hunger Games Facebook group had this song up a while back, and it got me even more excited for the film.

There’s a lot of excitement going on, here. I haven’t anticipated a movie this much since “The Muppets.” And regulars of my blog will remember exactly how antsy I got about that.

The soundtrack for the movie actually seems to have a lot of talent I’ve heard/heard of, like Taylor Swift, The Decemberists, Maroon 5, Arcade Fire and Miranda Lambert. It also has a lot of (I assume) talent I haven’t heard/heard of, like Jaymee Dee, Birdy, Punch Brothers, The Secret Sisters and Neko Case. But this song was the first for the movie I heard.

Disclaimer: I’ve never actually heard a Taylor Swift song. I of course know who she is, largely thanks to Kanye West being an arrogant tool. Pretty much everyone on the internet knows who she is because of that. But the closest I’ve ever come to listening to her sing, as far as I remember, is planning to watch the new “Les Miserables” movie when she was strongly being considered for the part of Eponine. Musical theatre people jumped all over that with a bunch of hate. My opinion was pretty much, “I have no idea if she’d be good because I’ve never heard her.”

Nor have I heard The Civil Wars, featured in this song. Also, apparently the people that wrote the song? Definitely contribute some vocals to it.

This song is, frankly, awesome. And it makes me want to actually check out more of both Swift and The Civil Wars. It has a great, soothing melody, hinting of an almost country/Southern sound with the twang and sorrow hidden inside the instrumentation. The combination of the vocals from Swift and The Civil Wars member Joy Williams (the other member being John Paul White) creates this comforting, almost nostalgic beauty. In the more urgent, swelling parts of the music, the staccato rhythm of the guitar and drums give this strange feeling of marching forward, despite all odds.

Am I a music critic? No. Am I probably wrong about half the things I’ve just said? Maybe. It’s hard for me to say what beauty is, what great music is. I know it when I hear it. Breaking it apart into parts can be a struggle. But there is a lot to like about this song. And all those parts combine to create what will be an amazing addition to what will hopefully be an even more amazing film. Check out the books, listen to this song, and tomorrow I’ll let you know if you should watch the movie.

“Safe & Sound” by Taylor Swift featuring The Civil Wars (“The Hunger Games” soundtrack)

I remember tears streaming down your face
When I said, “I’ll never let you go”
When all those shadows almost killed your light
I remember you said, “Don’t leave me here alone”
But all that’s dead and gone and passed tonight

Just close your eyes
The sun is going down
You’ll be alright
No one can hurt you now
Come morning light
You and I’ll be safe and sound

Don’t you dare look out your window darling
Everything’s on fire
The war outside our door keeps raging on
Hold onto this lullaby
Even when the music’s gone

Just close your eyes
The sun is going down
You’ll be alright
No one can hurt you now
Come morning light
You and I’ll be safe and sound

Just close your eyes
You’ll be alright
Come morning light,
You and I’ll be safe and sound…

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