Thursday, 19 July 2007

Things of Beauty

The composer

I know times are bad but??

Leila K was discovered by the musical duo Rob'n'Raz when singing in a music contest. Together with Rob'n'Raz she had her first hit in 1989 with the song "Got To Get"
During the first years of her career she had many chart-topping hits and her music was played all over Europe. She broke up with Rob'n'Raz and went on her own to Ibiza, where she was treated like a superstar and managed to set up concerts on her own.
Her solo career started in 1991 with the single "Time" which she followed up with many other popular singles, such as her biggest hit "Open Sesame" and a cover version of Plastic Bertrand's "Ça plane pour moi". In 1993 she was the best selling female artist in Europe. Now I discover while browsing the net that Leila K is homeless!!!

I am stunned. I loved her music, and every time I hear those opening bars of ‘Got to Get’ I get all gooey. But according my sources the lady is homeless now.
Come back Leila!!

Here are my two favs

Open Sesame

Got to Get


Book news!

My word is movie news ever ever slow right now.
I decided I really need to catch up on my reading, so I decided to do the amazon thing and get some. I thought it would be best to go with “ Atonement ”, “ The Kite Runner ”, “ The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency ”, and “ City of Ember ” as these are all up and coming movie adaptations that I have mentioned on this hear blog.
Lets hope they are good reads. Let me know if you have read them and how good they are!

"The Hottest State" trailer

Nice to see Catalina back, in what I am sure will be a role that will get her critical praise. I certainly liked what I saw.

Wednesday, 18 July 2007

Mini Review – La Vie En Rose

I went into this not expecting very much after reading various reviews, so this will be short.
Marion Cotillard was fantastic. She really did do a fantastic job in mimicry.
Not only did she have to mimic Edith Piaf’s voice, walk, performance style, and look, she also had to do this during various stages in her life.
From about 18 till she died at the age of 48 (but looking like she was 80 due to liver cancer and a harsh lifestyle of booze and drugs) Cotillard manages to realistically portray the aging process, so much so that you look past the make up and wigs and are still wondering how they did it.
However this is another performance in a long line of them that bases itself on brilliant mimicry. I never understood anything more about Piaf other than she had a hard childhood, was a bit of a boozer, and loved to perform.
This is mainly the fault of the director Olivier Danhan, who spend the entire movie jumping around from her being a child to aged, to a teenager, to a young woman, and back and fourth. I gave up trying to make sense of it all and just waited for the songs.
What this style odes do it take away ALL of the drama and distract for the leads performance. Which is a pity.
Oscar wise Cotillard could well show up, if the American Academy actually care enough. C-

What was far more interesting was the trailer for ‘The Walker’ with Woody Harrelson, Lily Tomlin, Lauren Bacall and Kristen Scott Thomas. The strangest and most oddly compelling cast assembled that I can remember.
I wonder how it will work. Early reviews are rather stellar, esp for Harrelson.

Monday, 16 July 2007

Box - Love my box

So thinking more about the upcoming Madonna album, or ‘Phonics de la Madge’ as I like to think of it, I was thinking about the times when she has artistically pushed herself. Sure she can write a great hook and melody, but what about those times when she completely surprises you. Those times when experiments and it pays off.
This week my box will celebrate the best three (you have no idea how hard picking just three was)

1) Impressive Instant Madonna has always had her heart firmly planted in dance music, it is after all where she got her start, singing in the clubs in New York.
However this track off the ‘Music’ album sees Madonna fully embracing the underground dance floor sound and experimenting with it. A bass-heavy giant of a floor-filler with guttural synths, robotic voices and sexy cosmic whispers. This eye popping and hypnotic tune flies with its strikingly synthesized effects and driving grooves.
This would have made a perfect choice for release as a single however her record company refused thinking it was too unconventional to be a hit…..FOOLS!!!!
Confessions would have soared higher had it taken more of these chances.

2) Till Death Do Us Part This is the fourth track on ‘Like a Prayer’ and the one that never fails to surprise me. With this album she took an artisitic departure and began to look inwards.
What gets me most about this track how Madonna neatly glides along the windy, complex music arrangements to deliver an emotionally raw vocal performance against the light and frothy melody, which runs and skips along totally in contrast to the confessional and disturbing lyrics about her abusive relationship with Sean Penn.
Sure there are a lot of experimenting going on in this album, but to me this is the most risky and mature.

3) Mer Girl She left the most experimental and original track for the end of her mesmerizing ‘Ray of Light’ album. This is probably the best Madonna song you have never heard. It begins with a simple, plodding, funeral march of a chord as she begins to sing “I ran from my house/That cannot contain me.” Lyrically this is Madonna at her most honest, introspective and moving. She famously sung this song out in one take in the studio, and you get goose bumps from the emotional quivers in her breath.

Madonna's taking chances

I know that a lot of people out there feel that Justin Timberlake is the second coming in terms of the pop music world, and I can appreciate that the man is talented, but I am not convinced.
The same can be said for Timberland. I love his work with Missy Elliot, but I feel that he kind of ruined Nelly Furtado for me. His work with Bjork was a little bit of a let down as well, but that is not saying that the man has talent, because he obviously does.

Because of my doubts with these two, I am SLIGHTLY concerned with the new Madonna album. “Confessions of a Dance Floor” was a throw back to yesteryear as well as a look forward to the future of pop music. And although it was a great success as an album, only “Hung Up”, the first single made the top 40 (number seven) in the Billboard hot 100 charts (meaning mainly radio airplay and NOT sales…look here to see the breakdown).
One a side note, it is very strange that ‘Hung up’, ‘Sorry’ and ‘Jump’ were number 1 singles on the sales chart in the US, and ‘Get Together’ was number 2 yet not on airplay. If people are buying the song, isn’t that a better indication of it’s popularity then what radio stations are paid to play and make popular?

Anyway, back to this new album. Is she deciding to work with these two in order to gain back some of the radio dominance she experienced at the beginning of the decade, and lost due to her views on the war? Is Madonna selling out, or worse yet, is she trying too hard to be hip?

This is something I am a little worried about, this, and the R-n-B feel the album is apparently leaning to. “Bedtime Stories” was her first foray into the R-n-B genre, and I found it to be a very weak album, with only a few strong singles.
I probably should not fret, this is Madonna we are talking about, and she has been releasing her strongest work in recent years, but there is room for pause. Maybe it is me just disappointed that she is not going to stick to dance music and do her take on the new rave cyber punk scene that is bubbling in the underground, threatening to flood over. Maybe that is exactly what she is doing. What is funny is on his last album cover, Justin is smashing a disco ball, something that symbolized the whole of Madonna’s last.

I hope so as I am personally sick of listening to all of this faux pop/hip hop that is coming out and being released by the likes of the Nelly Furtado’s, Beyonce’s, Fergie’s, Justin’s and Rihanna’s of the pop world. KISS FM in the UK loves this type of music, and I am forced to listen to it seven hours a week, Monday to Friday at work. All of Beyonce’s and Justin’s songs bleed into one, Nelly Furtado’s already sound boring, and Fergie’s make me want to rip my ears off. At least Rihanna’s past few singles all sound different.
This is a fate I do not want to come to Madonna. I am already bored with ‘Sorry’ and ‘Jump’ (too much disco, but at least the remixes are fierce!).
I would hate to be pressing forward on tracks on my CD player/iPod soon after buying the album.
I guess I am wondering where her music can go from here, it is all sounding the same these days. No wonder we all praise people like Amy Winehouse as though she is the second coming, she isn't, she is just a unique sound on the popular airwaves.

I need something to get excited about.
I need the boundaries to be pushed again like they were when Timberland, Missy and even Dark Child were creating their darker sound full of industrial beats and techno bleeps, now it seems stagnant. I mean wasn’t the “American Life” single a combination of this sound with acoustic guitar?

I can see this new album being one of two things.
The first is a retread of everything we have heard before, but with great hooks and stonking beats that excite us at first, but begin to grate after a few listens.
The second, and I am hoping the more likely, is that Madonna is really going to push these two into creating something that pushes the envelope. something that makes people sit up and take notice.
A sound that not only solidifies Madonna as a great musician, but also pushes the boundaries between musical genre’s.
At least we have Stuart Price over-seeing the whole production. Phew!

Sunday, 15 July 2007

And When Did You Last See Your Father?

Does skype count?
Seriously though, this film looks like it could upset the Best Actor category, and perhaps land a few surprise supporting performances. I for one would love to see Jim Broadbent back in the year end roster, and for a first time the ever reliable Juliet Stevenson could be a contender in the long suffering wife role. Lets hope it is good as there is nothing better that a category shake up.

Come out, come out, wherever you are!

I was watching Perez Hilton defend himself on The View, and it lead to a bit o a heated debate between me and the bf.
BF is under the impression that gays in Hollywood should not be outed. I believe that gays in Hollywood who deny their sexuality should be outed, especially when such denials border on homophobia.

In the U.S. gay rights suck! Luckily for me they do not here in the currently wet U.K. All of the gay celebrities who come out go on to have a very lucrative careers. Will Young was the first Pop Idol winner, and came out immediately after he won, and went out to be very (and still is) successful.

It is easier over here I guess, although it is funny how the Brits are still considered to be stuffy and sexually repressed by Americans (have you seen our television, read our magazines??) when we are so much more liberal when it comes to equality.

However, you get the gay stories that last YEARS about celebrities which are always denied by themselves or worse yet, publicists. What is the worst that will happen should they come out? They may not get work, but they will raise the issue of gay rights into the papers.
Neil Patrick Harris did just that, and everyone thinks the better of him for it. His career to date has not suffered at all, he just beat the rumor mills to the punch.
Well done.
Best way to deal with it I say.
Ellen DeGeneres has had a career resurgence since her coming out. “Finding Nemo” then her own show, crowned off with a very successful gig hosting the Oscars. Must have felt good having an openly gay host in a room full of closet cases.

Tom Cruise has denied these rumors for ages, going as far as suing magazines who print he is a big ole poof, for slander.
Nice Tom. Great way to make all the young gay boys and girls who are struggling with their sexuality feel REALLY great about themselves is to label them as something slanderous.
What a big ole closted, self hating c*nt.
Harsh I know, but I really cannot stand the man and his religion.
Apparently you cannot enter the religion of Scientology if you are gay. REALLY!! It seems as though your two biggest supporters are just that. Tom Cruise has spent his entire career suing men who say they have slept together. Perhaps if you had called afterwards Tom, they wouldn’t feel hurt enough to go to the papers.
I mean to quote the lovely Rose McGowan in “Scream”, “You can only hear that Richard Gere gerbil story so many times before you believe it is true”.
Well Tom, the amount of different stories that pop up about you and your activities do not leave a lot of room for doubt. Sue me.

And then we have Mr. Travolta.
Is it ok to dress up in a fat suit to play a female character that has been famously played by not one, but two famous gay men in your religion?
We all know L. Ron Hubbard (the scientologists God) was a homophobe and a bit of a racist, what would he think of you kissing your supposed lover (pictured) and running about on screen in drag? I am sure at the very least you would be in for a spanking…maybe from Tom himself. At least John, you do not run around waving a big ole 'I'm not Gay!' flag like Tom does. I will give you that.

All this celebrity bashing/outing is fun I guess, but it is sad that even though I am out and happy and content, we live in a world where many people feel they cannot be.
Elton John, Ian McKellen, Melissa Etheridge, Rupert Everett, Graham Norton, Ellen Degeneres, Neil Patrick Harris, Tracey Chapman, Allan Cumming, Chad Allen, Sandra Bernhard, Stephen Fry, Cherry Jones, Nathan Lane, Little Richard, Johnny Mathis, Rosie O’Donnell, Michael Stipe, Lily Tomlin, Gus Van Sant, Gore Vidal, Rufus Wainwright, and John Waters has all come out and survived and become icons to the rest of us. For them I am thankful and hold the utmost respect. For those who are gay, and publicly denounce it, thanks for furthering hatred and fear you bunch of assholes.