Friday, December 28, 2012

Movie Review: 'Zero Dark Thirty' Is Masterful, Best Film of 2012.

Navy Seals prepare to storm bin Laden's compound in 'Zero Dark Thirty.' Image courtesy of Jonathan Olley

I remember I was sitting in the library at school studying for my last finals before graduation when I heard the news. The librarian came over the loudspeaker and said Osama bin Laden was dead. I sat comfortably in my chair wishing for my Monday final to be canceled in lieu of the good news, but no. As fellow classmates were excited about the news I sat and pondered, "How? I didn't even know we were close to him."

Thanks to the Oscar-winning directing/writing duo of "The Hurt Locker", I, along with all of America, get to see what (allegedly) went down. 

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Movie Reviews: "This is 40" And "Cirque du Soleil" Interesting Holiday Fare

With family in toe, "This is 40" is not your typical holiday family film. Photo courtesy of Universal

This is 40

Judd Apatow's self-proclaimed 'sort of sequel' to "Knocked Up," "This is 40" is a mature and relate-able comedy. Studying the relationship of a 40-year-old couple (Leslie Mann and Paul Rudd), "This is 40" encompasses all of the harsh realities of being parents and lovers in this ever-changing world; sex, money, in-laws, teenagers, school parents, etc. Laugh out loud funny and endearing, this is a film a lot of couples can relate to during the holiday season. But in typical Apatow fashion, the film runs a little long.

Rating: B-

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Movie Review: 'Django' Chained to Excessive Violence, Lack of QT Style

Quentin Tarantino's "Django Unchained" is the bloody follow up to his critically and commercially acclaimed Nazi-hunting "Inglourious Basterds," and man, what a let down of a follow-up this film is.
With his past three, when you include 2007's "Death Proof," efforts inspired by earlier, low-budget films, "Django" shows that Tarantino is losing his flare for completely original content.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Movie Review: 'Les Misérables' Is A Landmark Musical, But...

Russell Crowe and Hugh Jackman face off as Javert and Valjean in "Les Misérables." Courtesy of Universal Pictures.

It's finally here. The inevitable stage-to-film adaptation of one of the most loved musicals of all time has come. The Tony Award-winning epic "Les Misérables" has made its way to the big screen, complete with an amazing cast, lush production values and, keeping true to its theater roots, live singing. The first musical to ever have live singing throughout, "Les Miz" will be remembered as a landmark musical that changed the way movie musicals are made.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Movie Review: 'Rust and Bone' is gripping, loving.

Mattais Schoenaerts and Marion Cotillard portray damaged lovers in 'Rust and Bone'

"Rust and Bone" is a love story that is wrapped in so much pain and anger that it's unnerving. This isn't an abusive relationship in a sense, but one where the two lovers are both physically rundown and tired. Not tired of each other, just tired.

Movie Review: 'Anna Karenina' an intersting book-to-film/stage adaptation

Image courtesy of Focus Features
Disclaimer: I've never read 'Anna Karenina,' seen a previous film adaptation or had previous knowledge about the story before seeing the film.

Tolstoy's "Anna Karenina" is known for being one of, if not the best, novels of all time. Its story of the titular socialite with Count Vronsky is known the world over, and has been adapted into as many films as Austen's "Pride & Prejudice." But never has a production been put together in the way Joe Wright has tackled the story.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Final Grammy Predictions 2013

Edited on Nov. 27
Edited on Dec. 3

This is going to be my final set of predictions before the nominations tomorrow night. I've also include generalized numbers on how many, and in which categories, some singers will get. Most of this is speculation, but I'm more than confident in most of my picks.

Anywho, look below to see how I think will be certain Grammy nominees on Dec. 5

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

An update look at potential Grammy nominees.

Now that the eligibility window has closed in the 2011-2012 Grammy year, let's preview some potential nominees in the music academy's top categories before they're revealed in December!

Last week I started off with some rough predictions based on album sales and critical acclaim (sometimes they mean Grammy, sometimes they don't). Since then, Mumford & Sons sophomore album opened up to over 600,000 sales and so-so reviews. No Doubt and Green Day's latest efforts sold well but weren't clamoring to be the critics best. Could this play a factor for Grammy nods?

Monday, September 3, 2012

An early look at potential Grammy nominees

With only one month left in the 2011-2012 Grammy eligibility window, let's preview some potential nominees in the music academy's top categories before they're revealed in December!

Album of the Year
Babel, Mumford & Sons
Ceremonials, Florence + The Machine
Channel Orange, Frank Ocean
Mylo Xyloto, Coldplay
Wrecking Ball, Bruce Springsteen

Honestly, it's a pretty wide open field so far. With Adele's album of the year winner 21 as the best selling album again this year, there aren't a lot of runaway bestsellers to consider. With four of last year's nominees being pop albums, there seems to be very little to consider this year. Of the pop fare you could consider Gotye's Making Mirrors (if it's not already considered an alternative album), One Direction's Up All Night, and maybe Justin Bieber's Believe. Could any of these be nominated here? Maybe Gotye.

Screw it, let's throw 21 back into the race because it's already outsold the next best selling album of this year three times over.

This year could be packed with alternative picks, including Florence + The Machine, Coldplay, and Mumford & Sons highly anticipated sophomore album Babel. Like most years, there is usually a rap/hip-hop/r&b album nominated, so why not the breakout rap star Frank Ocean? Bruce Springsteen could steal the fifth slot with his rock entry, Wrecking Ball.

Best New Artist
Frank Ocean
Emile Sandé

Considering fun. and Gotye had breakout hit singles one right after another this year, why wouldn't they be nominated? Fun. is the alternative/rock group that is interesting, and Gotye is his own genre of pop/alternative. With the way out of left field inclusion of Skrillex in this race last year, the academy has opened the doors for more electronic/dance artists like Sia. Garnering loads of success this year on Flo Rida's Wild Ones and David Guetta's Titanium, Sia has proven her worth. But watch out, Calvin Harris' chart-topping success with Rihanna late last year could help fill that slot. Scottish songbird Emile Sandé could be riding on the coattails of former winner, and newfound Grammy darling, Adele with a possible nod. Frank Ocean will fill the last slot.

Record of the Year
Maroon 5 f/ Wiz Khalifa
Somebody That I Used Know, Gotye f/ Kimbra
Spectrum (Say My Name), Florence + The Machine
We Are Young, fun. f/ Janelle Monae
We Found Love, Rihanna f/ Calvin Harris

I think this is a pretty diverse selection, with some pretty obvious choices. The one thing that amazes me is the number of songs that could be nominated that all have featured artists. Maybe it was just a killer year for collaborations. I'm throwing F+TM in here as the 'wtf?' choice which is common sometimes. BUT, could the Grammys still want to shower Adele with love and nominate Set Fire to the Rain or Rumour Has It? Also, my blood boils at the thought of Call Me Maybe possibly getting nominated.

Song of the Year
Somebody That I Used Know,
Songwriter: Gotye
We Are Young, Songwriters: fun. and Jeff Bhasker

There's usually a strong overlap between record and song of the year, but I'm not sure how many of the record contenders have award-winning lyrics (which this category recognizes). For now, I'm just leaving these two.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Music Monday- U.D. musician prepares for tour in the Midwest.

  Upper Darby musician Eric Carbonara
Upper Darby musician Eric Carbonara is perparing to tour the Midwest with a world re-known classical Indian artist this fall.

Carbonara will be touring with Debashish Bhattacharya, a Grammy-nominated musician known for his traditional Indian music and use of lap slide guitars. Bhattacharya is a 2009 Grammy nominee for best traditional world music album for Calcutta Chronicles.

This is Carbonara’s second tour this year, following a caravan of dates throughout Europe in the spring.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Nicki Minaj's new video, and MTV VMA nominations

Sorry everyone. Music Monday is delayed by a day.

Nicki Minaj's new video for Pound The Alarm came out today. With a carnival theme taking place in her homeland of Trinidad, Minaj flaunts around as a "busty peacock." (according to my friend) Check it out.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Music Monday: Looking back at Amy Winehouse/Back To Black

It’s been a year since Amy Winehouse left the world so suddenly. While she appeared to get her life back together, she succumbed to old demons and passed at the age of 27 (joining the infamous celebrity ‘27 club’).
            Winehouse left the world with a soulful, heartfelt repertoire that paved the way for fellow British acts to international stardom, including Duffy, Leona Lewis, and the biggest British act of this generation, Adele.  
            The short time Winehouse spent in the music industry is remarkable, considering she only released two albums, but contributed with so many other notable acts (including Tony Bennett, winning a posthumous Grammy this year for her duet with him).

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Philly mob story gets fictionalized for 'Blood Betrayal'

Award-winning filmmaker Rob Child ventures into another medium with his first work of literary fiction, Blood Betrayal. Based on the memoirs of retired FBI Special Agent Charles "Bud" Warner, Blood Betrayal takes place in the heat of the Philadelphia Mob crisis in the mid-'80s, with a a case that earned Warner national acclaim. This might be a fictionalized account of Warner's story, but some quick research will show who the characters are really based on.

Following the release of crime boss Nick Scarponi, Special Agent Frank Murray (based on Warner) is prepared to tackle the crime boss once again. Eventually, Scarponi keeps finding ways to bring attention to himself; two of his goons attack Frank's police friend Center City Charlie and then he puts out a hit on someone trying to take over the family business.

Menawhile, Frank gets close to capturing con man Nick "The Crow" Consiglioni who's trying to extort money from a waterfront development pie through the lead development firm. Congilioni slips through Frank's fingers and flees the country with the money. This is the final straw for Frank as his life begins to spiral out of control. Will he ever get the chance to take the mob down?

Monday, July 16, 2012

Music Monday: No Doubt wants us to "Settle Down" with their new single

It's been nine years since their last single was released, but now No Doubt is ready to pick up where they left off with their latest single, "Settle Down."

The first cut from their sixth studio album Push and Shove (due out in September), "Settle Down" is the band's first studio collaboration work since their last album was released in 2001. Taking the Sade route, the long absence —due in part to singer Gwen Stefani's solo career from 2004 to 2008 — probably won't affect die-hard No Doubt fans, who will welcome this track.

What starts out as a tour through Middle Eastern landscapes, the band jumps right back into their rockin' ways. Gwen's vocals still sound sharp and are instantaneously recognizable in standard No Doubt fashion. Even 10 years later, it's still easy to distinguish Stefani's vocals between her pop-infused solo work from her staple No Doubt sound.

Anywho, "Settle Down" is a safe, but good note for No Doubt to return with. Fusing their 90's funk sound from "Just A Girl," with their early '00s work on "Underneath It All," this is a sure fire head start back into the mainstream.

This is also one of the band's longest tracks ever. Just barely 6:00 in length, the track doesn't overstay its welcome or feel drawn out, but is a celebration for what fans have been missing for over 10 years.

Can't wait to hear what else they have in store!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Exclusive: Director Ben DeJesus on "John Leguizamo's Tales From a Ghetto Klown."

John Leguizamo prepares for his show Tales From a Ghetto Klown.
Photo courtesy of Ben DeJesus

           “It was one of the most rewarding experience of my life,” said Ben DeJesus on working with John Leguizamo on the documentary, “John Leguizamo’s Tales From a Ghetto Klown,” which chronicles the actor’s return to Broadway with his one-man show.
            Premiering in March 2011, Tales From a Ghetto Klown marked Leguizamo’s first show on Broadway since 2002. The documentary shows the rehearsal and preparation for Leguizamo’s show, from Broadway to Colombia.
            A fan of Leguizamo’s since a student at Rutgers University, DeJesus’ opportunity to work with him was a bit of a chance encounter.
            “David Chipel brought me in to do viral videos and that’s when I met John. We hit it off right away. A few months later, John began writing and rehearsing his show.
“I would come in and bring my camera and start shooting to get some B-roll. Then I asked, ‘Hey, can I come back tomorrow?’ and then the next day, ‘Can I come back tomorrow?’” Eventually, it turned into a full-blown project.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Music Monday: P!nk roars back with new single, album news.

It's been two years since P!nk has put out any new material when she released "F***** Perfect" and "Raise Your Glass" as singles from her greatest hits album. But now she's back with a single from her latest album due out in September.

"Blow Me (One Last Kiss)," from her upcoming sixth studio album The Truth About Love, is a typical P!nk track, complete with roaring vocals and vengeful lyrics about moving on from your significant other. Can't say it's good or bad, it's just P!nk.

Similar to previous songs in mood and composition, "Blow Me" is almost like the prequel to her other hit "U + Ur Hand," where both are about leaving without regret and a guy being stuck on his own. Tired of fighting? Call it off, P!nk style.

It's a good track to sing along with, but that one part in the chorus sounds like the old cassette tapes that whirred loudly when you sped rewound it while it was playing. Or like when the tape would spit out all over the cartridge when it malfunctioned. Oh, memories of the '90s.

Anyway, it's good to see P!nk back doing what she does best, kicking ass and not caring! The Truth About Love will be released September 18.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Music Monday- LMFAO party rocks at Wells Fargo

            Confetti flying everywhere, glow sticks ablaze and champagne being sprayed all over the place. Sounds like a New Year’s Eve celebration, no? It was actually the hip-hop/electronic duo LMFAO’s concert at the Wells Fargo Center on June 30.
            One of the last stops on their Sorry for Party Rocking Tour, LMFAO members Redfoo and SkyBlu played to a crowded arena of party rockers of all ages. Rockers who littered the floor and seats with animal print pants and mock afros, Redfoo’s signature look.
            After a barrage of opening acts, LMFAO took the stage headstrong with performances of “Rock the Beat II” and “Sorry For Party Rocking,” the leading tracks from their second album, Sorry For Party Rocking. What followed was an awesome display of top-notch entertainment that belongs in its own field.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Maroon 5's latest is definitely 'Overexposed'

            Following their barely successful third album, Hands All Over, Maroon 5 has returned with Overexposed, an album that is overexposed with too much generic pop sounds and nothing solely original.
            The band’s release of the number one hit "Moves Like Jagger” was their last album’s most successful single, but it came at the expense of it being a re-issue. With an infectious whistle and a fun beat, “Moves” probably sucked a lot of originality and star power from this once wildly original band.
            Overexposed starts off with a forgetful, reggae-scented track called “One More Night,” and serves as the second single on the album. The second track, and first single, “Payphone,” featuring rapper Wiz Khalifa, is one of the better tracks on the album, but still tends to get annoying after a while.
I think it’s because singer Adam Levine has a high voice and some of the notes he hits are just too extravagant for my liking. It’s definitely not a bad song, but with radio overkill for the past two months, it’s just a bit much.
After “Payphone,” the album plays around with a different medley of sounds and genres without a clear focus on what this band is trying to do. It’s been 10 years since their debut album, Songs About Jane, came out, and the band has definitely lost their rocker edge since then.
Take the track “Lucky Strike.” It’s a pretty good track with a nice tempo, but it sounds so boy band-ish to me. The “oh oh oh’s” of the chorus sounds like the constant chanting of any song by the British group The Wanted, but teeters on the verge of the Nickelodeon stupidity of Big Time Rush.
The band also recycles some disco and pop moods on the tracks “Tickets,” “Doin’ Dirt,” and “Lady Killer,” all of which are pretty forgetful. “Tickets” even sounded like a rejected ABBA track from way back when.
Alas, there were some highlights on the album like the soothing “Daylight.” A track about not wanting to leave your loved one when morning comes around, it stood out strongly from everything else on the album. Levine’s vocals are more restrained and tolerable than a few other songs on here, and the lyrics are beautiful.
“And when the daylight comes I'll have to go, but tonight I'm gonna hold you so close. Cause in the daylight we'll be on our own, but tonight I need to hold you so close,” Levine sings passionately.
Where all the other songs felt almost endless, this is the one I wish were longer.
“Sad,” evokes an almost hokey Billy Joel vibe, with its strong lyrics and sole piano accompaniment.  I think this is the strongest track for Levine’s vocals, which showcases his lower register while balancing with his usual high notes.
I got a sense of Adele’s album 21 on this track. With heartbreaking lyrics about regret over losing a loved one, it sounds like the cousin track to her hit “Someone Like You.” It’s definitely another highlight of the album.
While the album’s opening was forgetful, it’s bookend, “Beautiful Goodbye,” was just that, beautiful. “Beautiful” sounds like something you would listen to on a Caribbean island, with some nice rhythms and a vintage record sound underlying the background. It also reminded me of Bruno Mars’ song “The Lazy Song.”
While definitely not the worst album of the year, it might be one of the worst for Maroon 5. Overexposed is an album where the intrigue of it was propelled by “Payphone,” but won’t prosper beyond that.