Monday, February 27, 2012

Gungor in Concert March 1



Michael and Lisa Gungor
CMS Productions and Christian Faith Center will present “Gungor” live in concert on March 15 at church’s Federal Way location at 7:30 p.m. The “Ghosts Upon the Earth Tour” will include special guests, “The Brilliance.” This is just one of at least 31 concerts held around the country.

Although difficult to describe, the Denver-based group has been recognized for excellence. “Gungor” has received three Grammy nominations including this year’s for Best Contemporary Christian Music Album. “Ghost Upon the Earth” is the band’s third major release that sounds like a mixture of folk, pop and alternative styles. The album’s focus is on life – the joys and heartbreaks, the fall of man and the gift of life, the good and the bad.

Gungor is led by Michael Gungor and his wife, Lisa who write most of the group’s music as well. Together, the pair believes that their fans are smart enough to appreciate the group’s mixture of metaphor and allegory in their music. According to Michael, nothing on their latest album, or the concert for that matter, is haphazard. Everything is very purposeful and full of meaning. “I feel like we’re a bit more comfortable with whom we are at this point, and it’s been nice that there seems to be this little niche that we’ve found where people are excited to explore these things with us,” he says on the band’s website. “Music doesn’t have to fit the mold to move people’s hearts, and at the end of the day, that’s really what we’re trying to do. We’re trying to make honest music that opens people’s hearts.”

General admission to the concert is $15. VIP tickets are available for $25 which includes a question and answer session with Michael Gungor one hour before the doors open. However, it will not be a “meet and greet” event. Tickets can be purchased online.

Christian Faith Center is located at 33645 20th Ave. S. in Federal Way, WA 98003. For more information, you can call the church at 253.943.2400 or visit their website.

Originally Posted on Examiner.com


‘The Artist’ and ‘Hugo’ win big at the Academy Awards


"The Artist" won 5 awards Sunday night.

Copryright: La Petite Reine


The 84th Academy Awards, presented on Sunday, February 26, 2012, was a mixed bag of treats and surprises. Billy Crystal hosted the award show for the 9th time, but his last time to host was back in 2004. After watching his introduction, pretty much made everyone wonder why it took so long for him to come back. Incidentally, the only person to host the Award more times was Bob Hope – which was 18 – so he has a lot more to do to catch up. Natalie Portman said just before the broadcast that she thought the award show was “in good hands” because Crystal is professional, funny and “not mean.”

In true Billy Crystal style, the program began with a montage of clips from the nominated movies with Crystal inserted in each of them and he sang a tribute to the nine Best Picture nominees.

The movie, “The Artist,” not only won the Best Picture Award, but also, Best Director (Michel Hazanavicius), Best Actor (Jean Dujardin), Best Costume Design, and Best Original Score. “The Artist” winning Best Picture is somewhat of a surprise due to the fact that it was filmed in black and white, is a silent film and foreign picture.

The other big winner of the night was “Hugo” winning five awards including Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, and Best Visual Effects. “Hugo” is Martin Scorsese’s first family film, and hopefully not last his last.

The rest of the awards winners were:
  • Best Actress – Meryl Streep for “The Iron Lady”
  • Best Supporting Actor – Christopher Plummer for “Beginners”
  • Best Supporting Actress – Octavia Spencer for “The Help”
  • Best Animated Feature – “Rango”
  • Best Foreign Film – “A Separation” (from Iran)
  • Best Original Screenplay – “Midnight Paris” (Woody Allen)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay – “The Descendants”
  • Best Original Song – “Man or Muppet” from “The Muppets”
  • Best Documentary – “Undefeated”
  • Best Documentary (Short) – “Saving Face”
  • Best Film Editing – “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”
  • Best Make Up – “The Iron Lady”
  • Best Short Film (Animated) – “The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore”
  • Best Short Film (Live Action) – “The Shore”

 Highlights from this year’s broadcast included a special performance from Cirque du Soleil. It was supposed to show the excitement of going to the movie theater for the first time. Whether it achieved that goal is debatable, but it was truly entertaining, if not short. The other highlight worth noting was a short film that showed footage from the “first” feedback session from “The Wizard of Oz.” This tongue-in-cheek production included Christopher Guest, Catherine O’Hara, Jennifer Coolidge, Fred Willard and others as audience members critiquing the classic film.


Originally posted on Examiner.com.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Free movie screening of ‘Apostle Peter and the Last Supper’


Copyright: Pure Flix Entertainment

In conjunction with the new DVD release of “Apostle Peter and the Last Supper,” Grace Hill Media and SPIRIT 105.3 FM is hosting a free screening of the film Monday, February 27 at the Edmonds Theater at 7:00 p.m. The screening is free, but tickets are required. You can acquire them by clicking here.

Set in Rome A.D. 67, two jailers at the ancient Mamertine Prison take custody of a famous criminal. He is Simon Peter of Galilee – apostle, disciple and personal friend of Jesus, also called the Christ. Condemned to death, the elderly Peter recounts his life as a simple fisherman who became one of the boldest figures in all of Christianity. As Peter prepares to depart this earthly life, he will make an unforgettable impression on his jailers through the saving power of the Gospel.

The movie stars Robert Loggia, Bruce Marchiano, Ryan Alosio, Laurence Fuller and Leon Melas. It is rated G, though is recommended for those age 12 and up.

The Edmonds Theatre is located at 415 Main St., Edmonds, WA 98020. For more information call 425-672-9366.
(Originally posted on Examiner.com)

$10 to See 7 Bands March 3 in Seattle


MercyMe
The 2012 Rock and Worship Roadshow is making its way to Seattle March 3, 2012. It is the 4th annual tour and will no doubt be an incredible night of music and encouragement. The event will take place at the Key Arena at 6 p.m. (doors open at 4:30 p.m.) The evening includes music by:
Disciple
Hawk Nelson
Mercy Me, Tenth Avenue North, LeCrae, Hawk Nelson, Disciple, Sidewalk  Prophets, and The Rend Collective Experiement.

In addition to the music acts, a special message will be presented by Bart Millard of MercyMe. 
LeCrae

The tour is sponsored by Compassion International, Grand Canyon University, New Release Tuesday and Spirit 105.3 FM.
The Rend Collective Experiment

This special event is only $10 at the door and no tickets are required. It is general admission seating, so you are encouraged to arrive early.
Sidewalk Prophets

The Key Arena is located at 305 Harrison Street, Seattle, WA 98109.

Tenth Avenue North
For more information, go to Rock and Worship Roadshow website or SPIRIT 105.3 website.


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

5th Avenue’s 'Oklahoma!' causes a stir: Part 3


Seattle’s 5th Avenue Theatre’s first couple of months of 2012 has been pretty eventful and it all centers on their current production of “Oklahoma!” After the curtain goes down for the last time on March 4, a very similar yet different production will emerge when the curtains open yet again on March 16 and 17.

With a partnership with Seattle Youth Symphony Orchestra, the 5th Avenue Theatre will present the “Oklahoma! Project.” It’s the same musical, only performed by Washington State high school students. The music, the stage crew, the marketing team…every aspect of the production will be run by students. Through this project, a large group of students with various interests are learning how to work together with one common goal. The cast and crew were hand-picked by the Theatre and no student has to pay any fees to be a part of this experience. No word yet if this version will include an African American playing a disturbed farmhand like in the 5th’s bigger production.

Three performances of the “junior” production will be presented: 8:00 p.m. on March 16, and 2:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. on the 17th. This will be quite an experience for the crew and the audience alike. Tickets range from $19-$49.

The current version of “Oklahoma!” is currently running at until March 4. Performances times are varied, so be sure to check the theatre’s website for the schedule. Tickets start at $29. Originally posted on Examiner.com

Tickets for any of the performances and can be ordered online or by phone by calling (206) 625-1900. The theatre is located at 1308 5th Avenue in Seattle 98101.

5th Avenue’s “Oklahoma!” causes a stir: Part 2 Continue reading on Examiner.com 5th Avenue’s 'Oklahoma!' Causes a Stir: Part 2


Kyle Scatliffe plays Jud, the controversial character in "Oklahoma!"
Credits: 
Photo: Chris Bennion (5th Avenue Theatre)


If you were asked, “What would be one of the most controversial stage productions to ever come to Seattle?” would Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Oklahoma!” even enter your head? This musical lost some of its squeaky-clean image recently with 5th Avenue Theatre’s latest production of the show.
For the most part, the musical plays out the prejudice attitudes that the early farmers had toward the cowboys and vice versa. But that isn’t what is upsetting theater-goers.
Traditionally, “Oklahoma!” features an all-white cast, but 5th Avenue chose to cast some black actors as well. So far, so good. However, the question everyone is asking is why they choose to make the disturbed farmhand, Jud, a black man. Nobody is questioning the acting ability of Kyle Scatliffe, who is playing Jud, but some are concerned that having him portray the villain is only reinforcing negative stereotypes about African American men. How could they not see that this would ruffle a few feathers?
Whether Armstrong was blind or not to this decision is debatable, but it has sparked the decision for the theatre to include panel discussions between the matinee and evening performances of the musical on February 25 at 5:00 p.m. and February 26 at 4:30 p.m. A special “town hall meeting “will be held as well on Monday, March 5 at 7:00 p.m. Each will feature the Spectrum Dance Theater Artistic Director and “Oklahoma!” Choreographer Donald Byrd and Armstrong himself. The discussions, part of the 5th Avenue’s “Show Talk,” is free and open to the public.“While we never intended to evoke such strong responses, I am in many ways heartened that this production has people talking about these important issues,” said The 5th Avenue Theatre’s Executive Producer and Artistic Director David Armstrong.  “The idea that musicals could, and should, tackle big themes and significant subjects largely began with ‘Oklahoma!’ and I am not unhappy to see that legacy continue.” He added, “We did believe that this casting would amplify the inherent drama in the story.”
I find it interesting that the announcement came just one week after the “Comedy as Commentary” panel discussion held at Taproot Theatre. There, Seattle Times Theatre Critic, Misha Berson commented that she didn’t believe that theatre can change people’s minds on a subject, but that they were usually “preaching to the choir.” Her comment didn’t refer to “Oklahoma!” buy to Taproot’s “Tartuffe,” but it is an interesting coincidence just the same.
“Oklahoma!” is currently running at the 5th Avenue Theatre until March 4. Performances times are varied, so be sure to check the theatre’s website for the schedule. Tickets start at $29 and can be ordered online or by phone by calling (206) 625-1900. The theatre is located at 1308 5th Avenue in Seattle 98101. Originally posted at Examiner.com

Monday, February 20, 2012

One of the Best Movies You Didn't See Last Year


Movie: The Mighty Macs
Starring: Carla Gugino, Marley Shelton, Ellen Burstyn and David Boreanaz
Director: Tim Chambers
Genre: Sports/Drama
Rating: G
DVD Release Date: February 21, 2012

Last fall, one little movie quietly made its way into and out of theatres in a blink of an eye. Very little fanfare was created for this little gem and it’s a shame, because it so deserves it.

Now on DVD, "The Mighty Macs" is the true story about young coach, Cathy Rush, and how she was able to bring the Immaculata College “Macs” to two national championships in women’s basketball in the early 70’s.

Sister Sunday (Marley Shelton) and Cathy (Carla Gugino)
watch the practice. (Quaker Media)
Cathy, (A blond Carla Gugino of “Spy Kids” and “Watchmen”) has an incredible passion to help the all-girl Catholic college have a winning basketball team. Her husband, Ed (David Boreanaz of FOX TV’s “Bones”), a coach himself, would like her to settle down and start a family with him. Mother St. John, (Ellen Burstyn) is responsible for hiring Cathy at a very low wage, no gym to practice in and hardly any funding. It is unclear if she wants Cathy to succeed or not, giving the story a bit of mystery. Cathy soon builds an unlikely group of misfits together as a team, trying out many unorthodox practice sessions along the way. Soon, she recruits the tired and lonely Sister Sunday (Marley Shelton) as assistant coach giving the team the boost it needs.

David Boreanaz of "Bones" plays
Cathy's Husband Ed. (Quarker Media)
The Mighty Macs has been described as a woman’s version of “Rudy” or “Hoosiers” because it is THAT good. As sport movies go, this one is, shall we say, less predictable than most? That might be because the story situation is so unusual or that 95% of the characters in the film are female. Whatever the case, this is a chick flick that guys can appreciate as well. It’s a story about belief, commitment, perseverance, sacrifice, friendship and leadership.

The movie captures the ‘70s without overdoing it. The characters are believable. And here’s a shocker – the movie is rated G, which means you can plop the entire family in front of it and not be embarrassed by any of it. The DVD comes with a special feature put together by ESPN. And incidentally, "The Mighty Macs" website has a free discussion guide to share with your family or friends.

While the film may not have made a ton in theaters during its release and could easily be forgotten, here’s a second chance to make this sleepy wonder a hit. 
Originally posted on Examiner.com.


Saturday, February 18, 2012

Cartoon Icon Bares All in New DVD Release


The cover of Daffy's new DVD
Credits: 
Warner Brothers Home Video



It’s been somewhat of a secret, but Warner Brothers latest release, “Journey 2: The Mysterious Island,” comes with an extra. Right after the coming attractions and just before the big film, audiences are being treated to an all new Daffy Duck cartoon in 3D. Besides being filmed in 3D, what makes this short so special is that it voiced by Mel Blanc. Blanc was the original voice master of many WB characters including Bugs, Tweety, Porky and Elmer. He passed away in 1989, but since that time, the studio discovered a recording Blanc had made for a children’s album back in the early 1950’s. Someone had the brilliant idea of using the audio from the album and creating a new cartoon, “Daffy’s Rhapsody.” It is reminiscent of the golden years of Looney Tunes cartoons.

For those who saw the new cartoon and are pining for more, you’ll be happy to know that Warner Video has recently released, “The Essential Daffy Duck.” The collection features 21 cartoons about Daffy starting from his very first starring role in 1937 in “Porky’s Duck Hunt” (When the cartoon world was in black and white) to his more recent role as Duck Dodgers. By watching each cartoon, you get a glimpse on how much he has changed over the years. In Daffy’s early days, he was just plain crazy crying “woo-hoo” while jumping and down every which way. His eyes didn’t even line up straight. As the years went on, he became less crazy but more cranky.

Daffy continued to be in cartoons on a regular basis and some say he had his “peak” between 1953-1964. However, the duck suffered setbacks between 1965-1968 when the studio began to outsource their cartoon shorts to another studio that had cheaper production values. His last cartoon, “See Ya Later Gladiator” is often cited as the worst cartoon made by Warner Brothers.

In the 1970’s and 1980’s, Daffy, like many of his onscreen friends, went through some awkward years. The studio created new television specials with new animation spliced between clips of classic and more superior animation with less than stellar results.

To celebrate Daffy’s 50th birthday in 1987, Daffy made a return to the big screen once again with a new short called, “The Duxorcist.” It had the same look and feel of the classic cartoons, but still came across as a weak substitute for the “real thing.”

Fortunately, the studio went back to the drawing board once again in 2003 to create a new cartoon series based on two of Daffy’s more popular cartoons. The end result was the weekly Duck Dodgers cartoon series which featured the wisecracking duck, Porky Pig and Marvin the Martian and managed to create a fresh new cartoon with the sensibilities from the classics that the show was based.

 “The Essential Daffy Duck” is a great way to introduce your children to some of the best cartoons ever made. It is rated G, but the box actually comes with a warning stating that the collection “is intended for the adult collector and may not be suitable for children.” This is mostly due to some of the politically incorrect humor used in some of the earliest cartoons. In addition to the shorts, the two disc set comes with a few special features including two disappointing TV specials from the 70’s or 80’s and a new “documentary” called “Daffy Duck: Ridicule is the Burden of Genius.” It is part historical fact and part fiction about Daffy’s “career” over the years. As a huge animation fan, this was the biggest disappointment for me. I was expecting a real documentary with interviews with animators and historians, but instead, it isn’t much more than a bunch of animated clips over the years.

“The Essential Daffy Duck” isn’t as great as I had hoped it would be; it still features some of the best animated work from Tex Avery, Robert Clampett and Chuck Jones.
Originally posted on Examiner.com

          

Friday, February 17, 2012

5th Avenue's "Okalahoma!" Causes a Stir - Part 1


Laurey (Alexandra Zorn) and Curly (Eric Ankrim)
in Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Oklahoma!
at The 5th Avenue Theatre. 
Photo: Chris Bennion

Who knew that a musical that is almost 70 years old could cause such a stir in 2012? The 5th Avenue Theatre in Seattle apparently had a hunch with its new version of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Oklahoma!” With this latest production, the 5th has made many headlines and not all of them positive.

First, the theatre opened its doors to the public for a free community day. Then they announced that they would be presenting two versions of the musical – the standard and “Oklahoma Project” featuring Washington state high school students. And most recently, the production has ruffled some feathers in regards to the portrayal of race. This review is the first of a three part series about this infamous production.

Originally planned for last summer, “Oklahoma!” was pushed out to make room for “Aladdin” last July. For many, the wait was well worth it. “Oklahoma!” was Rodgers and Hammerstein’s first attempt at a musical production and many critics feel that this was some of their best work.

The 5th Avenue pulls out all of the stops with this show by joining forces with the Spectrum Dance Theatre of Seattle. Mixing a modern dance company with such a traditional musical was a big risk and for the most part it works (more on that later).

For those unfamiliar with the musical, it’s a tale of two love stories. The first story is about Laurey (Alexandra Zorn) who lives with her Aunt Eller (Anne Allgood) on a farm. She is in love with Curly (Eric Ankrim) and he with her. However, the two can’t seem to admit their love to each other. Meanwhile, Jud, the  farm hand (Kyle Scatliffe) has his eyes set on Laurey as well.

The second story is about Ado Annie (Kirsten deLohr Helland), the girl who “can’t say no.” She is in love with two men – Will Parker (Matt Owen) who is desperately in love with her and Ali Hakim (Daniel C. Levine) a traveling salesman who really has no interest in Annie except for maybe a little kissin’ on the side.

“Oklahoma!” features a very likeable cast. The main leads, especially Zorn, Ankrim and Allgood, play off each very well. Their verbal sparring matches are fun to watch. Traditionally, the musical features an all-white cast. In this production, some of the characters are black. The most controversial choice was having the character Jud, a disturbed farmhand, be played by a black actor. Jud is the only African American principal character in the story and he is basically the “bad guy.”

Compared to Rodgers and Hammerstein’s other productions, the music and story of “Oklahoma!” seem uneven. For the most part, it is a very light comical story that suddenly takes a serious turn and then returns back to the happy tone. Most of the songs are quite engaging like “I Can’t Say No,” “All er Nuthin” and the musical’s namesake song. Other songs like, “Poor Jud is Daid” don’t fare as well.

Just before the act II, there is a dream sequence where the Spectrum Dance Theatre strut their stuff. There is no denying that this dance troupe is talented, but the tone, costumes and bawdy dance moves didn’t fit with the show at all. The modern dance moves were a sharp contrast to the traditional cowboy dancing earlier in the show. When Act II begins, the musical goes back to its traditional feel.

“Oklahoma!” is currently running at the 5th Avenue Theatre until March 4. Performances times are varied, so be sure to check the theatre’s website for the schedule. Tickets start at $29 and can be ordered online or by phone by calling (206) 625-1900. The theatre is located at 1308 5th Avenue in Seattle 98101. Originally posted on Examiner.com

Monday, February 13, 2012

54th Grammy Award Show was Inspiring


Adele won big at the 2012 Grammys
With the passing of a mega music star and Grammy-winning artist just one day before this year’s awards were to be given out, there was no way the 54th Grammy Award presentation could ignore Whitney Houston’s death. L.L. Cool J, the show’s host, said it best, “There is no way around this. We’ve had a death in our family, and so at least for me, the only thing that feels right is to begin with a prayer for a woman we love, for our fallen sister, Whitney Houston.” The cameras panned the audience during the unscripted prayer and it was interesting to see who would agree in prayer and those who would not. Still, the scene was inspiring. Who would think that you would hear a prayer on the Grammy’s? The night proved to be full of other inspiring images as well.

One was the tribute to the Beach Boys. Although played down during the broadcast, this was a reunion of all the “boys.” The band has played on through the years, but former leader, Brian Wilson, hadn’t played with the group for over 20 years. There has been much bitterness between band members in the past, but it appears to be behind them now as they start their 50th anniversary reunion tour to 50 locations. They shared the stage with Maroon 5 and Foster the People playing “Good Vibrations.”

Fellow Christian and Country artist, Glen Campbell, was honored with a lifetime achievement award. He performed with The Band Perry and Blake Shelton. Campbell himself sang Rhinestone Cowboy for what may be the last time ever as he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease last year. You would never know it by watching him though. He was full of energy and received a standing ovation from the crowd, except for two obnoxious women who were busy texting on their phones and have received much publicity for their error in judgment.

Later, Christian artists Joy Williams and John Paul White, who make up band, The Civil Wars did a short opening act, (with many wishing for more) for Country sweetheart Taylor Swift’s performance of “Mean.” Probably the biggest highlight of the night was the much anticipated performance of Adele singing “Rolling in the Deep,” her first performance since undergoing vocal cord surgery last year. Adele is truly a class act. She doesn’t rely on any crazy hijinks to get attention. She’s beautiful, but she does have a skinny sexy body to flaunt, she doesn’t dance and doesn’t wear outrageous outfits, unlike the later performance of blue-haired Katy Perry. Not only was Adele’s performance flawless, she walked away with six Grammys and tied with Beyonce for winning the most Grammys in one night!

Other winners worth noting include:
  • Foo Fighters: Winning five awards including Best Rock Performance and Rock Song
  • The Civil Wars: Winning for Country Duo/Group Performance and Folk Album
  • Taylor Swift: Country Solo Performance and Country Song
  • Skrillex: Dance Recording and Dance/Electronica Album
  • Tony Bennett: Pop Duo/Group Performance (with Amy Winehouse) and Traditional Pop Vocal Album
  • Cee Lo Green and Melanie Fiona: Traditional R&B Performance and R&B Song
  • Kanye West: Rap Song, Rap Song Collaboration (with Rihanna, Kid Cudi & Fergie) and Rap Album
  • Le’Andria Johnson: Gospel/Contemporary Christian Music Performance
  • Kirk Franklin: Gospel Song and Gospel Album
  • Laura Story: Contemporary Christian Music Song
  • Chris Tomlin: Contemporary Christian Music Album
  • Betty White: Spoken Word Album 
Originally posted on Examiner.com

Friday, February 10, 2012

Journey 2: Not Worth the Trip


Movie: Journey 2: The Mysterious Island
Cast: Josh Hutcherson, Dwayne Johnson and Michael Caine
Genre: Adventure
Rating: PG

“Journey 2: The Mysterious Island” is a sequel of sorts from the 2008 movie, “Journey to the Center of the Earth,” but only two things link the two together. One, they are both loosely based of Jules Verne novels and Josh Hutcherson. In the first movie, Hutcherson plays Sean, who goes on an exciting adventure with his uncle played by Brendan Fraser. They go to the “center of the earth” to find his missing father. In this movie, Sean is looking for his lost grandfather. (Doesn’t anyone in this family leave notes?)

Sean is convinced that his grandfather, Alexander (Michael Caine), who has been missing for two years, have found the “Mysterious Island” of the Jules Verne novel. He wants to go there alone (with what funds?) but his step dad, Hank (Dwayne Johnson), won’t hear of it. However, Hank does think that traveling to a mythical island to find or rescue a relative that you’ve never met is a good excuse for some family bonding. The pair meet up with a pilot (Luis Guzman) and his strong-willed daughter (Vanessa Hudgens) and convinces him to take them to the island. Long story short, the plane crashes on the island where small animals are huge and huge animals and tiny. In no time at all, they find grandpa but have to get off the island immediately as it is about ready to sink in the ocean.

As a dad, I see this as a pretty good family movie. It’s clean, well-paced and has a good cast. As an adult, I see that they could have done better. While the actors are good, the lines aren’t and the story is convoluted with plot holes as big as the giant bumblebees. Sean and Hank don’t get along. Hank and grandpa have just met but they don’t get alone either. Sean develops a crush on the girl, but she doesn’t like Sean. None of these scenarios are explained. It’s as if the writers like the characters to throw barbs at each other but forgot to give them a reason why.

The special effects are fairly good, but sometimes the CGI takes over the view. The best thing that can be said of this picture is that it was shot in 3D, so some of the gimmicks really stand out. I guess you can say that the film has a nice message about the importance of family and why it is good to communicate with each other.

What I liked best about this picture was the short film that came before it, “Daffy’s Rhapsody.” This 3D cartoon features Daffy Duck and Elmer Fudd in a music hall. Daffy is putting on a show, but Elmer was to shoot him down. Despite that the characters are in 3D form, the cartoon feels very much likes the earlier greats of Warner Bros. Part of this is due to the fact that it voiced by legendary Mel Blanc. Blanc died a while ago, but the animation department came across a children’s album that Blanc recorded many years ago and decided to use that as the soundtrack. (Originally posted on Examiner.com)

     

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Taproot’s Tartuffe is Spot On


Frank Lawler and Jesse Notehelfer in Tartuffe.
Photo by Matthew Lawrence.

Taproot Theatre Company in Seattle has kicked off their 2012 season with an old play. A really old play. Say mid 1600’s old. “Tartuffe,” (pronounced “Tar-toof”), a satire written by Moliere, was quite controversial at the time. The play scandalized many of Moliere’s contemporaries and was banned in 1666, but not for what you might think.

Tartuffe is a con man posing as a “man of God who has somehow managed his way into the home of Orgon and his family. Orgon believes that having a “holy man” in his house will help make his family more holy as well. This was apparently a fairly common occurrence during the time and Moliere was essentially making fun of anyone who would allow themselves to be fooled by someone of false piety.

Charissa Adams and 
Charity Parenzini
Taproot’s version of “Tartuffe” was translated from French into English verse by Richard Wilbur. The end result is sort of like reading a Dr. Seuss book for adults. Though every line is written in rhyme, there are not all necessarily spoken as such. Still, if you’re not a fan of reading greeting cards, this play may not be for you.

Taproot’s play centers on Orgon and his family. Everyone in the family seems to know that Tartuffe is a Charlatan, except for Orgon (Brilliantly played by Don Brady) and his mother, Madame Pernelle (Ruth McRee). They scold the others for not listening to the wisdom of Tartuffe (Frank Lawler). But instead of teaching the family how to be holy, Tartuffe spends a little too much time with Orgon’s wife, Elmire (Jesse Notehelfer).

Frank Lawler and
Jesse Notehelfer 
Orgon is so enchanted with Tartuffe; he plans to give the hand of his young daughter, Mariane (Charissa Adams) in marriage against her wishes. She’s a typical teenager who is overly dramatic. Her boyfriend, Valere, (Nathan Jeffrey), must have been the GQ man of his time wants to act tough but clearly isn’t. Her brother, Damis (Solomon Davis), makes up for his short stature by his reliance of his sword.

The only smart one of the bunch is the lowly maid, Dorine (Charity Parenzini) who is bound and determined to be heard even if it costs her job.

Charissa Adams,  Charity Parenzini,
Nathan Jeffrey, Don Brady,
Frank Lawler, and Josh Smyth
 
Due to language and the speed at which the lines are recited, “Tartuffe” is a little hard to follow at times, but stick with it. The funniest scene is when Orgon’s wife convinces him to hide while she pretends to seduce Tartuffe and Orgon takes forever to respond! The costumes, designed by Sarah Burch Gordon, are wonderful. The entire play is sunny and bright that you can’t help but have fun and hopefully learn that piousness is not next to godliness.

Don Brady and Charissa Adams 
“Tartuffe” is playing at the Taproot Theatre Company now until March 3. Performances are held Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Saturday matinees are held at 2 p.m. Ticket range from $15 (Ages 25 and under) to $37. They can be ordered online or by calling the box office at 206.781.9708. The theatre is located at 204 North 85th Street in Seattle 98103.  (Originally posted on Examiner.com)

Monday, February 6, 2012

45 Horses, 38 Artists, 1 Fantastic Show


Due to the continued strong demand after the sale of some 55,000    tickets for Cavalia: A Magical Encounter Between Human and Horse,  Cavalia has once again announced an additional week of                  performances. Cavalia, playing since January 20 under the White Big Top at Marymoor Park, will now extend its run to February 26.


The big tents have risen up at Marymoor Park in Redmond, WA once again. The site is eye-catching, but it what’s happening inside that is the real event.
Cavalia: A Magical Encounter Between Human and Horse is created by Normand Latourelle, a co-founder of the famed Cirque du Soleil. It’s a circus presentation focusing half on horse acts and half with acrobats – but at the same time. Accompanied by beautiful music, the result is an inspiring, elegant affair. It’s not a cheap event for the family, but if you’re related to some horse lovers, it just might be worth the expense.

Cavalia starts out fairly quietly and slowly. But soon, each act builds on the previous one creating a better and better performance. Performing now until February 19, Cavalia hasn’t been in the Pacific Northwest since 2004. The show features 38 artists including riders, aerialists, acrobats, dancers and musicians. The program is co-starring 45 horses from all over the world performing on a 160-foot-wide stage – large enough to allow the horses to run at a full gallop. It is quite a sight to see.
The first half of Sunday Night’s show flew by in what seemed like minutes but in reality was a full hour. Expecting more of the same, my expectations were exceeded during the second half. At one moment you’re looking at aerialist flying in the sky and the next you’re watching horses flashing across the stage area.
Tickets for Cavalia generally range from $17.50 to $89.50 depending on the ticket holder’s age and where you want to see. Although it is a family show, little ones may find it hard to sit through it all. For those who want to create an extra special event, special VIP packages can be purchased that include a “Horse Lovers Package” where you can tour the Cavalia stables after the show the VIP Rendezvous Package that includes the stable tour and a cocktail/dinner reception.
Performances for Cavalia will be held at multiple times on January 24-29, January 31, February 1-5, 8-12, and 14-19 2012 at Marymoor Park which is located at 6046 W. Lake Sammamish Parkway N.E. in Redmond. For more information, visit the Cavalia website or call 866-999-8111.
Originally posted on Examiner.com

Friday, February 3, 2012

Chronicle: A good example of the destruction of bitterness

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--> 2012 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation.
Movie: Chronicle
Cast: Dane DeHaan,  Alex Russell, Michael B. Jordan, Michael Kelly, Ashley Hinshaw
Director: Josh Trank
Genre: Sci-fi/Thriller
Rating: PG-13

What would you do if you could do anything? This is the question “Chronicle,” the new movie with the unfortunate name asks its’ audience. This new sci-fi thriller explores this notion through the lives of three teenagers and is “chronicled” through one’s video camera. Though, not a true “found footage” film, “Chronicle” is similar enough to wonder how much better this movie could have been without this gimmick.

The movie begins in the home of Andrew who is having a hard with life. He is poor, his mother is dying, his father is an out-of-work alcoholic and he is picked on at school. He announces to his dad that he would start to film everything in his life “from now on.” This makes no sense and Andrew is constantly telling others on the other end of the lens that he’s filming. Since Andrew can’t be in every scene, the writers created a female character that is also video enthusiast, to cover the parts of the story that Andrew isn’t in. So much work goes into making the scenes look natural that they end up feeling forced. Fortunately, the story is better than the execution.

When he isn’t home taking care of his mother, Andrew is hanging out with his cousin Matt (Alex Russell) and new friend Steve (Michael B. Jordan). One night, the three discover a cave which for some reason gives them powerful telekinetic abilities. They don’t think too much of it as first, but soon, they become stronger and learn how to how move things with their minds. They start using these skills to pull off pranks and Andrew starts to show off some of his skills to become popular around the school campus. The three even learn how to fly. But life isn’t completely better for Andrew. His mother is still sick, his father is still abusive and he has few real friends. Sometimes he lets his anger get the best of him and he takes things out on others. Andrew is no longer a “safe person.” Noticing this, Matt and Steve try to lay down some ground rules for using their powers. Andrew more or less agrees with them until he gets ticked off.

Set in Seattle, “Chronicle” isn’t a perfect movie, but it is good story telling. It’s part “Hancock” and part Stephen King’s “Carrie.” Clocking in at less than 90 minutes, its pace is swift and engaging. Still, the story is too silly to take it seriously. The “teen” stars are really in their twenties, there are some “why would anyone be filming that?” scenarios, some clunky dialogue and unintentional humor. It might even make you re-think about dining on top of the Space Needle ever again.

“Chronicle” is a morality tale and a great example of what unresolved bitterness and anger can do to a person. What could have been seen as a gift to do good for others is soon seen as a way to control people. As Andrew loses his temper more and more, he also cares less and less for others. Bad things can happen to good people, but it’s what we do in these situations that makes us who we are. We may face similar circumstances by no fault of our own. But if we let anger and resentment fester inside of us without allowing something (or someone) greater than ourselves to help us, we will ultimately destroy ourselves.

Though “Chronicle” does have some light moments, it’s pretty much a downer. It’s rated PG-13 but take care before you bring your kid to this movie. It features some language, scenes of drinking and violence. However, it might up the doors open for a great discussion on the way home.

Originally posted on Examiner.com


Harry Potter is All Grown Up in The Woman In Black

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Movie: The Woman in Black

Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Jenet McTeer and Ciaran Hinds

Director: James Watkins

Genre: Mystery/Horror

Rating: PG-13

“During afternoon tea, there’s a shift in the air.A bone-trembling chill that tells you she’s there.There are those who believe the whole town is cursed.But the house in the marsh is by far the worst.What she wants is unknown, but she always comes back.The specter of darkness, the Woman in Black.”

The above poem is spoken in the movie’s trailer, but not in the movie, “The Woman in Black” itself. It pretty much sums up this creepy, but well-made movie. It’s a horror film without any gore. There is little if any harsh language and definitely no sex. Bloodthirsty audiences, who have grown accustomed to slasher fare, will no doubt be disappointed.

“The Woman in Black” is an old fashioned ghost story. Much like one would tell around a campfire. The 95-minute movie is pretty much a puzzle to figure out for the first two thirds of the movie. There is very little special effects or music. Many scenes are incredibly quiet where all you can hear is the wooden floor creaking under the protagonist’s feet.

For those wondering if Daniel Radcliffe is successfully able to shed his Harry Potter persona and play an adult – in deed he does. He plays Arthur Kipps, a widowed lawyer, still grieving for this wife that died during childbirth four years earlier, who travels to a remote village to finish up the affairs of deceased elderly woman. The woman lived in an enormous house that can only be accessed during the day as the tide covers the roadway during the night. The house holds a secret and the townspeople aren’t talking except for a friendly gentleman named Daily (Ciaran Hinds) who doesn’t believe in superstitions. However, during his visits to the house, Arthur begins to see and hear strange things and becomes convinced that the house is haunted.

As a Christian, I can see nothing redeeming in this movie except for art itself. The acting, sound quality and story is top notch. The photography is beautiful and creepy at the same time. But by the time the movie ends with its unsatisfying ending, one is left feeling empty inside. At least with a good vs evil storyline, you can rejoice when the good wins. In this case, neither side seems to win. Still, it is a good story and if you can see it for just that, you will enjoy this flick. If you faint at the sound of sudden noises or are prone to nightmares, this isn’t for you.

Originally posted on Examiner.com


     

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