Friday, January 29, 2010

When I started this new blog I though...

When I started this new blog I thought I'd be making frequent, but short posts, however that hasn't been the case. It seems I'm falling back into the trap of not following up on my blog. Hopefully I can use this snow day to get myself caught up.

Sherlock Holmes (11/01/10) (US) (Empire Theatres)
Had plans to go to the movies all weekend, but didn't get around to it so why not go to the movies on a Monday night? I was surprised by how many people seem to do this. There was a really decent crowd at the movies for the early show. There must've not been much on TV or maybe people just like a chance to get out and break the work week up.

Both Judd Law and Robert Downey Jr. gave solid performances. I'm not familiar at all with the original stories so I can't comment on how true the script was to the text, but I don't really care, I was thoroughly entertained, especially by Sherlock's kung fu!

Five Women Wearing the Same Dress by Alan Ball (12/01/10) (US) (Play)
In my constant quest to find plays with strong female characters, I came across this little gem by the writer who brought us American Beauty and Six Feet Under. I didn't expect to read a play I could actually do at a high school, but I got into it so easily that I had to finish. It's an ensemble piece that would be wonderful to do with five strong actors. Each character is a reluctant member of a bridal party. The action of the play takes place as the characters sneak away from the wedding reception. Throughout the eveing each character lets her guard down and reveals her true self to the audience. It's a nice slice of life character driven drama. There are laugh out loud moments contrasted with moments of sheer heartbreak. It would be an excellent night of theatre.


Various Ten Minute Plays by various authors (12/01/10 to 29/01/10)
I've given up on trying to find a full-length play to do with my students this semester, so I've decided to put on an evening of ten-minute plays instead. We did this last fall and it went over very well. It allows lots of students a chance to shine. So a colleague and I have been trekking through various anthologies and we've narrowed our choices down two twenty-two possibilities. We still need to whittle in down to about 12 scenes, but we're on the right track. A night of ten-minute plays can be a lot of fun, because you can see a variety of styles and genres all packed into on night out.

Saturday with the Symphony (16/01/10) (Celebration Centre ) (CAN)
I took part in music workshop put on by school district 2 and the New Brunswick Youth Orchestra. It brought together students from grades 4 to 12 to create a piece of reader's theatre that incorporated sounds effects and orchestration. It was pretty impressive to watch a 12 minute piece come together in only two hours. We also got to watch some the NBYO rehearse and it always blows my mind how professional the NBYO sounds. It is a talented ensemble made up of hard working musicians. If you ever get a chance to see them you should do it.

Mad Men: Season One, Disk Two (17/01/10) (AMC) (US) (DVD)
We picked up the second disk at Spin-it over the weekend and got even more drawn into the narrative. Just who is this Don Draper and what is he hiding? I look forward to watching more episodes.

Youth in Revolt (19/01/10) (US) (Empire Theatres)
Another week night trip to the movies, this time with my brother. The premise seemed interesting and I always enjoy Michael Cera so why not? It's been a long time since I've watched a teen movie in a theatre and I definitely felt old. But, there were some really funny moments and Cera flexed his acting chops a bit by playing a rebellious persona. An enjoyable movie.

The Mad Woman of Chaillot by Jean Giradoux (24/01/10) (Fr) (Hubcity Theatre)
It' a really captivating French play from the 1940s that deals with cooperate greed and the fight to protect authentic a neighbourhood from being exploitated by big business. The theme of the show really reflects our time and suggests that not a lot has changed in the past sixty years. It was a nice piece of community theatre with some strong performances from some talented actors. Nice Work.

The Sopranos: Season One (25/01/10) (HBO) (US) (DVD)
We decided if we were going to watch The Sopranos than we'd have to do it right. We went on eBay and bought the entire series. It arrived Friday and we started on episode 5 and by the end of the weekend we finished season one. Tony Soprano is one complex character, perhaps the most complex fictional character since that Danish Prince. I can't wait for season two!





Sunday, January 10, 2010

Welcome to a Year of Culture.

This will be my attempt to record and briefly discuss the culture I consume over the next twelve months. I've kept track of books I've read over a year, but this will be my first attempt to track movies, television, plays, concerts and other live events.

Week One

Eating the Dinosaur by Chuck Klosterman (essays) (US) 1/1/10

An eclectic collection of essay dealing with topics ranging including Garth Brooks, ABBA, the unabomber, the NFL, Mad Men and time travel. An entertaining and thoughtful read.

Diner written and directed by Barry Levinson (DVD) (US) 1/1/10

An ensemble drama that follows a group of twenty-somethings as they come to terms with adulthood. I first watched this movie about ten years ago. I remember it being better. It's still a decent watch- maybe I'm just past the time in my life that I could really relate to it.

Hannah Takes the Stairs directed by Joel Swanberg (DVD) (US) 2/1/10

An independent flick I picked up this morning at Spin It Video. I was the first person to ever rent, and I hopefully will be the last. It's not worth the 85 minutes it takes to watch it.

Julie and Julia written and directed by Nora Ephron (DVD) (US) 2/1/10

I really enjoyed both narrative strands of this film. It's tough for a young actor like Amy Adams to carry her own story, while acting opposite Meryl Streep, but she does a credible job. It really made me hungry. I might pick up Julia Child's book and try a little French cooking of my own.

Vicious Circle performed by Dane Cook (PVR) (US) 5/1/10

I recorded this special that aired on the Comedy Network overnight. I've been meaning to watch a little more stand-up so I thought I'd give this special a try. Cook's over the top stage persona was too much for me to take for the two hour duration of this show. I didn't finish it. His observational humour didn't really work for. He seemed more intent on acting over-the top the performing well crafted jokes.

That Ain't Right performed by Bob Saget (PVR) (US) 5/1/10

After giving up on Dane Cook, I sat back and watched Danny Tanner's comedy stylings. I'd heard that his routine was vulgar and it certainly lived up to it's reputation. I have no problems whatsoever with humour that uses vulgarity and profanity, but I do expect there to be some humour. You can't just talk about sex with co-stars and swear to shock laughs out of people and call it comedy. However, that seems to be Bob Saget's approach to his work and he really made no bones about it, so whoe am I to judge? The audience seemed to like it, but it didn't work for me. There were a couple of jokes that made me chuckle, but not really enough to make it worth watching.

Corner Gas: Season Two created by Brent Butt (DVD) (Can) 7/1/10

I enjoyed the episodes of Corner Gas that caught from time to time while it was airing, but I never really committed to watching the show on a regular basis. This was odd, because I usually go out of my way to watch Canadian television, but since this show was so popular, I felt it didn't need my loyal viewing. However, over the Christmas Break I borrowed my father's Corner Gas DVD collection and have decided to watch the series. So far I've gotten through the first two seasons and I'm very impressed with the clever writing and the strong ensemble. I'm definitely looking forward to finishing the series.

Week Two

Mad Men: Season One (Disk One) (DVD) (US) 8/1/10

Who is this Don Draper? And how many packs of smokes do you think they go through while taping an episode? Those are my questions after watching the first three episodes of this critically acclaimed series. It's a slick looking series with interesting characters and I can't wait to watch more.

The Sopranos: Season One (Disk One) (DVD) US 10/1/10

It's hard to believe that I've never taken the time to watch what most people believe is the best TV series of all time. Amanda and I started it once before, but it was on the heels of finishing The Wire and we weren't ready to commit to another complex drama. But, we figured it was time to give this cultural touchstone another try. We re-watched the first four episodes and we're really drawn into Tony's world. So far it's a great mix of the excitement and intrigue of mob life, the human element of Tony and his family and Tony's vulnerability while talking with his therapist. It's no surprise that I'm hooked already.