Sunday, February 27, 2011

I'm Counting On You, Anne!!

Well, the Academy Awards telecast is going to be starting in just a little while. Frankly, I'm just watching it as I have the last few years, out of habit more than genuine interest. It wasn't always this way. I used to look forward with excitement to the presentation of the Oscars each year, when I actually used to really love the movies. That's going back to when I started watching the annual telecast back in the 70's and continuing through the 80's. But in the last couple decades my interest has been steadily waning, as with each passing year Hollywood convinces me that they aren't really interested in making the kind of movies that I find genuinely entertaining.

I think the last Academy Awards show that I actually enjoyed was the year that the musical, Chicago swept many of the major awards. I was hoping that last year director Rob Marshall would have a similar success with his film, Nine, as it was my favourite movie by far released in 2009. Alas, neither audiences nor film critics shared my enthusiasm, and Nine was pretty much shut out even at the nomination stage. Instead, last year was a battle between the technological marvel, Avatar, and the gritty war pic, The Hurt Locker, neither of which I much cared for. Actually, I didn't even get around to seeing Avatar until its later reissue, and The Hurt Locker (which won) I'd rented just the day before the awards and really hated it!

Yeah, I know I'm completely out of step with contemporary moviegoing tastes, believe me I'm painfully aware of that. As such, I really haven't had a horse in the race for many years now and I don't even enjoy many of the films getting nominated in the major categories. I've seen several of the Best Picture nominees this year, including True Grit, Toy Story 3, Black Swan, The King's Speech, and (as of yesterday) The Social Network. They're all good films, but quite honestly, none of them can hold a candle to the type of Oscar winning films that came out of Hollywood in its glory years in terms of outright entertainment. Films like My Fair Lady, Lawrence of Arabia, and The Godfather, as diverse as they are, remain for me completely memorable and entertaining in their respective ways. In contrast, none of the films nominated this year I would make a point of watching again. Sadly, it's been like that for me for many years now.

I guess if there's a single reason I'm interested in tonight's Academy Awards, it's because of the choice of Anne Hathaway as one of the two co-hosts. She's not only beautiful but has great charisma to boot. I love watching her on screen and in interviews, as she just sparkles with personality. I thought she was terrific when host Hugh Jackman carried her up on stage from the audience to join him in his song tribute at the beginning of the telecast a couple years back. I'm hoping she'll sing and dance for us tonight too! As for the awards themselves....meh.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Introducing Kyla Musselman!

Back in 1959 Once Upon A Mattress debuted on the Broadway stage. This musical comedy was a retelling of the fairy tale, The Princess and the Pea, and was the show that launched the career of Carol Burnett who starred in the lead role of Princess Winnifred. Though I'd been aware of the show's history, I had never actually seen it performed until last night when I saw a production of it at Theatre Sheridan.

While the play itself is, admittedly, a fairly lightweight piece of fluff, it does boast some really fun musical numbers. And although I didn't think it was as strong a show choice as Sheridan's offering back in December, The Drowsy Chaperone, it did feature exuberant performances from the entire youthful cast. The Drowsy Chaperone was probably the finest show I've seen performed yet at Sheridan over several years of attending their productions, so it would have been asking too much for lightning to strike twice in a row. Whereas that show seems to lend itself more to an ensemble cast with many plum roles to go around, Once Upon a Mattress strikes me as more of a star vehicle for the leading lady playing Princess Winnifred.

But what a performance we got from the young lady playing Winnifred in this production! Her name is Kyla Musselman, and I predict she'll go on to great things onstage once she graduates at the end of this college year. Kyla is a little ball of fire with an impossibly cute face, a huge smile and sparkling brown eyes. She seems to have boundless energy that she puts into her singing and dancing, while also possessing a flawless sense of comic timing. There's one song number that requires her to dash back and forth across the stage, alternately picking up a barbell then taking great gulps from a chalice of ale, among several other stunts, expertly hitting her marks without fail all while the rest of the cast is singing this fast paced song. There's also a dance number that progressively picks up pace that the whole cast starts out performing, only to drop out one by one until just Princess Winnifred finishes it up to its breakneck finale. This role demands a multi-talented performer and clearly young Kyla is up to the challenge.

Kyla Musselman also had a supporting role in the aforementioned The Drowsy Chaperone as Kitty, the ditzy chorine in love with theatrical producer, Feldzeig. Although in that show everybody got to shine, Kyla was still a standout with great stage presence and magnetism. Sheridan's music theatre program is highly respected here in Canada, having graduated many fine performers including Sarah Cornell, Michael Therriault, and Janna Polzin, all of whom I have written about before. I believe that Kyla Musselman will also be a name to watch for on the marquee, as she truly possesses star quality. I'm happy to see that I'm not the only one who thinks so, as I found this review of Once Upon a Mattress that would seem to agree that Kyla is one to watch for.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Amateur Hour

I saw this on Cartoon Brew and I still can't get over how generally positive the reviews are from the majority of commenters. Only a handful seem to be able to see that this animated ad for the Disney Cruise Line is pretty mediocre. Goofy is poorly drawn and rather clumsily animated, and it's obviously utilizing some software like Flash for some cheap "cutout" style movement, even though a fair amount has been traditionally animated and imported. It's likely Flash being used, as that would also explain the sterile, "metallic" looking colour, lacking the warmth of real paint (or even better computer programs for that matter). Just look at how badly Goofy is drawn as he's typing his vacation reservations: the oversize muzzle, the suspended ear, the flat shirt sleeves, etc. I suspect this ad may have been farmed out to an outside studio, but regardless, Disney should put the time and money into doing it properly, preferably keeping it in-house. As it is, it's just rank amateurism.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Divine B.B.

Here is my new rendition of Brigitte Bardot as my entry for this week's Caricaturama Showdown. I'd caricatured her once before several years ago, but I think I like this new version better than the first one. I sketched this Brigitte while watching her in the 1962 French film, Love on a Pillow.

I like Bardot the film star, but I like her even better as one of the icons of early 1960's French pop music. I've got several of her CD song compilations from that era and there's such a fun, cute sound to her songs. Here's a performance of Invitango from a TV special she did in 1963:

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Emily Blunt

This week's Caricaturama Showdown challenge was provided by last week's winner, Paul Moyse, who selected his fellow Brit, actress Emily Blunt. She's definitely a star on the rise, having played Queen Victoria in The Young Victoria, and costarring in such diverse fare as The Wolfman and Sunshine Cleaners. (I also recall she was singer, Michael Bublé's main squeeze for a while!) Alas, I have only seen her in one film, alongside Anne Hathaway and Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada, but it was a standout performance. Here then is my interpretation of her character, appropriately named Emily, the snarkily nasty assistant to Meryl Streep's dictatorial fashion magazine editor, Miranda Priestly.

Addendum: My entry actually won this week's round, so that gives me bragging rights and getting to choose the next subject for the Caricaturama Showdown challenge......Brigitte Bardot!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Tommy Lee Jones

Yep, ol' Tommy Lee Jones is the subject this week on Caricaturama Showdown 3000. I quite like this guy, despite the fact that he has a reputation for being a miserable bastard who makes life tough for anyone trying to interview him. He's got a face and persona just made for caricature, though. Oddly, both he and the last subject, James Cromwell, I mostly sketched from watching the same film, Space Cowboys. Although I found I needed to see more of him to get the likeness to my satisfaction, so here is the video clip that I found online that seemed to help me out.