Sunday, January 27, 2013

M: Week 4 (Les Misérables)

For the past 4 weeks, I've had songs from Les Misérables steadily running through my head and nonstop been  humming them under my breath. From “One Day More” to “Can You Hear the People Sing” to “On My Own” to “Red and Black,” it's constant and surprisingly, welcome. (One work day I had Rihanna's “Shine Bright Like a Diamond” stuck in my head. Now that was extremely unwelcome.)

I have seen Les Misérables on Broadway twice, watched the 25th Anniversary Concert in London three times (even own it on Blu-ray), and watched the latest movie in the theaters. Now, I've been tasked by my dear friend Amy to read the book as well.

Haha, this is reminiscent of 2012 weekly updates...
Watching... Les Misérables.
Listening... Les Misérables.
Reading... Les Misérables.

Anyway, I was really happy with the latest addition to the Les Misérables package – the movie. For the most part, I agree with most of the world on the reviews for the performances: Russell Crowe was a weak casting choice for Javert; Anne Hathaway was amazing as Fantine; Eddie Redmayne made me like Marius more than I've ever liked him anywhere; Hugh Jackman gave a phenomenal performance, but I wished he had a stronger singing voice; other key roles – the Thernadiers, Eponine, Cosette, Enjolras, Gavroche, revolutionists – were well cast and the actors gave satisfying, if not great, performances. The movie told a much more complete story than what I got from the musical. It filled in some gaps I didn't even realize I was missing while watching the musical; it also made me realize how much of the story I either forgot or missed, even though I've listened to all those songs so many times.

Overall, I think that the movie is something I'd love to own one day, simply because it tells the Les Misérables story so well. While the Blu-ray of the 25th Anniversary concert is satisfying because the vocal performances are done to perfection, the movie is satisfying in rounding out the amazing story behind the musical. (Oh, one vocal plus for the movie vs. the musical: Marius. Eddie Redmayne > Nick Jonas. But I really do wish they had used a more operatic Javert for the movie, ie. Norm Lewis.)

The reason why I love Les Misérables so much is the musical and the songs. The music makes me envious of the genius of the composer, Claude-Michel Schönberg. I love how certain musical rifts/themes follow specific characters throughout the production, and in certain numbers they all come together (ie. “One Day More” bringing in “I Dreamed a Dream” and “Master of the House”). It's masterful, beautiful, and makes me want to write a musical, as silly as it may sound for me to say so.

In any case, next up is reading Les Misérables, the book. I've heard from Amy that the book is a) an easy read, and b) fills in the story even more. Amy also mentions that some changes made in the movie were more in line with the book than the musical. I have no ambition to try to read it in Victor Hugo's original French, but I will definitely continue reading it in English.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

J: Week 3 (Midseason first impressions)

In my week 1 post, I mentioned that I wanted to check out The Carrie Diaries and Deception and I actually got around to them, so here are my mini-reviews:

The Carrie Diaries - I watched all of Sex and the City (and the first movie) but I can't say that I ever had the burning question - what was Carrie Bradshaw like as a teenager? The show is based on a book by Candace Bushnell, who also wrote the book the original series was based on, so I'm not questioning the legitimacy of its origins, but I guess I'm not sure what the logic behind making the show at all is. Are they counting on fans of the original SATC to be interested in a high school show? I feel like that was the same sort of logic behind the new 90210. Then again, that's still on the air, so what do I know?

But anyway, even though this show is from the same people as Gossip Girl and part of it is set in New York City, it actually read a bit younger because it seems to be trying to be more of a family show. The main cast includes Carrie, her father, and her younger sister, Dorrit (Charles Dickens reference??) as they are learning to cope with the recent death of Carrie and Dorrit's mother. Carrie has a circle of friends including a quiet Asian girl called "The Mouse" (I feel like I should be slightly irritated by this stereotype but she's played by Knives Chau! From Scott Pilgrim! ) and a couple, Maggie, who's cheating on Walt, who's still in the closet. Then there's the love interest, Sebastian, and some annoying "popular" girls.

As with all pilots, the episode was mainly setup. I found myself liking most of the characters, but it didn't necessarily grab me as something being worth watching weekly.

Deception - I guess NBC is trying to get in on the success of Revenge and Scandal? The premise sounded somewhat interesting to me - cop returns to the privileged world she grew up in to investigate the murder of her former best friend. But I couldn't even get through the first episode...I felt like it was just trying too hard with the flashbacks and everyone's dark secrets and ulterior motives. Meh. Even Victor Garber couldn't save it for me.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

M: Week 2 (Why Golden Globes > Everything Else)

As I sit here watching the Golden Globes, I'm again reminded just how much I enjoy the Golden Globes. Back in the high school days, I was quite an award junkie and I bought into the whole “Golden Globes predicts Emmy and Oscar winners,” watching it simply as a prequel. Today, I think the Golden Globes is the only award show that I actually make an effort to watch every year, simply because it's the most entertaining and it best covers what I enjoy – TV *and* movies!

So here are some reasons why I think the Golden Globes > any other award show:
  • It doesn't live off of controversy (à la MTV awards shows), but doesn't take itself too seriously either.
  • It doesn't have 9-10 nominees for ONE category; I'm still really angry at the Oscars for changing the Best Picture nominees category. At least the Golden Globes split the categories.
  • TV *and* Movies! I watch and love both!
  • Because the Golden Globes separates Comedy/Musical from Drama in so many of the categories, you don't end up with only the typical award show-type of nominees. You get some movies/shows that are actually more mainstream.
  • No random musical numbers to fast forward through. (Okay, other people – my husband included – may like the musical numbers, but I can do without 'em.)
  • Specific to this year (and last) only, but... Tina Fey, Amy Poehler > James Franco, Anne Hathaway (sorry!)
Since I didn't post before the Golden Globes, what I loved about this year's show:
  • Tina Fey and Amy Poehler
  • Anne Hathaway winning for her AMAZING performance in Les Misérables
  • Kristin Wiig (who's name is pronounced way differently than I thought) and Will Ferrell on their rambling but amusing Best Female Supporting Actress Film nomination presentation.
  • Kristen Bell and her baby bump!
  • Jennifer Lawrence (or J-Law) thanking her brothers for being mean to her
  • Jennifer Garner finishing Ben Affleck's thank you speech for him. Adorable!! (He was talking so fast that I doubt the people he actually remembered to thank even heard what he said.)

Sunday, January 06, 2013

J: Week 1 (2013 Preview)

A few things I'm looking forward to in 2013:

Television - 
  1. Downton Abbey. Starts this week, yay! I'm semi-spoiled on what happens at the end of the season (I hate when casting decisions have to dictate story) but I'm excited anyway.
  2. Returning midseason shows: Community and Cougar Town.
  3. New midseason shows I have some interest in: The Carrie Diaries (CW), Cult (CW), Deception (NBC), Zero Hour (ABC), Top of the Lake (Sundance - I'm pretty sure I don't have this channel anymore so not sure how I'll check it out, but it's set and filmed in New Zealand!)
 Movies -
  1. The Great Gatsby. It's a little concerning that it was supposed to be released in time for this year's Oscar race but it's gotten pushed to next summer? Still looking forward to it nonetheless.
  2. Star Trek Into Darkness. I thought the first one was good though I wasn't like, obsessed with it. Trailer looks pretty darn great though.
  3. Ender's Game. I really really really hope it's good.

Friday, January 04, 2013

J: 2013 Resolutions

Um, so I was 0 for 3 on last year's resolutions. I think I'm going to ditch #2 (watch Breaking Bad - I still may, but not going to make it a resolution since I doubt I'll have the time to get through 5 seasons) but keep the other two. So here's an updated list. 
  1. Read Anna Karenina, Middlemarch, and Atlas Shrugged (repeated from 2012). I also just want to make more time to just sit down and read more in general. This year I've pecked away at books just pages at a time here and there which somehow isn't as satisfying.
  2. Finish watching Angel (repeated from 2012). I own all the DVDs, but even easier, it streams free with Amazon prime.
  3. I really liked Mira's TV resolution - watch only the essentials - so I'm going to copy it. I've always been kind of a "completist" who wants to watch all series from the beginning and stick with them but I've increasingly just found this to be a drag. If I don't want to watch something, I don't want to watch it. If I find myself wanting to catch up with it later on (like I did with Parenthood recently), I can. I shouldn't feel stressed out because I'm behind on a TV show!
  4. Ever since I cancelled Netflix, I've become even worse at watching old releases. I compiled a list of  movies I missed in 2011 (I did watch 6 of them), so I updated my post for 2012 with a similar list. I don't really have a plan for tackling this except just try harder?
  5. Figure out what to do about my music problem. I used to be so good at this - I'd listen to Internet radio at work and discover new music, download and put stuff I liked on my iPod, and listened to it in the car. Now I can't stream music at work anymore, my iPod broke, and I actually listen to the radio (and not even music, mostly NPR) in the car. I'm just not happy with this situation...

Thursday, January 03, 2013

M: Concert Hopes for 2013

I'm not a major concertgoer, but I like to go to concerts when the right opportunities are present.  As much as possible, I strive to see artists that I like perform live at least once. Afterward I can determine whether the artist falls onto my a) must see every single time I can, b) not bad and worth seeing if they're touring with someone else I want to see, c) don't bother seeing them again, or d) stay away from any concert they are associated with list.

I think only one artist is on my A list -- Ingrid Michaelson.  But I think any a capella group I've ever liked would also fall onto that list as well.  Most groups are on B or C, depending on how much I like their subsequent albums.  On my D list -- well only Taking Back Sunday comes to mind.  I have a strong suspicion that Taylor Swift would also be on the list given that any live TV performance I've ever heard her sing on has been beyond disappointing.  However, given the fact that her concerts sell out everywhere in 5 minutes flat and in big venues and by repeat concertgoers, I am a teeeeny tiny bit curious.  Not enough to actually shell out the money and go, though.

In 2012, I picked up a whole slew of bands I like, most of them new bands. So I'm hoping to catch them in concert sometime soon... My fingers are crossed that I can make it to some of them in 2013!

Really want to see:
- The Lumineers: Performing in DC at DAR Constitution Hall on January 30 (tickets on sale tomorrow morning -- fingers crossed!) or England in late February (all sold out).
- Of Monsters and Men: They were here in November but I was traveling in South Korea. They are in England in late February or early March (all sold out). Or Paris in June. Or maybe I can catch them in their native Iceland one day. I do want to go to Iceland...
- Mumford & Sons: Saw them at Merriweather in Summer 2011.  Would like to see them again, but not enough to go to the Patriot Center on 13 or 14 February. Since they're an English band, perhaps I can catch them in the UK at some point...
- Imagine Dragons: Their February concert at the The Fillmore in Silver Spring is already sold out and prices are astronomically marked up on StubHub.  They are in England on 2 or 9 April, so... maybe?
- Pentatonix: At The Fillmore in Silver Spring on February 18. What I mentioned above about a capella groups on my A list? Yeah, they're included!  And we're going. :)

Less so: 
- Walk the Moon
- Grouplove

Note: I am not really traveling internationally to follow bands around.  My husband and I are planning to move to England sometime this Spring. 

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

M: 2013 Resolutions

Not that I am particularly good at following through on my resolutions, but at least achieving a small portion of some of the resolutions is better than nothing, right?

1. TV - Watch only the essentials.  I've already started doing that this past Fall, but I need to work on not watching shows because I've committed to watching them and instead watch shows because they're just that good.
2. Movies - I'm proud of what I achieved in 2012 and want to keep it up.  Aim to watch at least one new release movie per month.
3. Books - Read books worth blogging about. Then actually blog about them. Aim to blog about at least one book every quarter.
4. Music - Blog about live music. I do go to at least a handful of concerts a year, it's a shame I'm too lazy to blog about any of them.

Thursdays 2013: The Plan

We really want to keep this blog alive, even if it's only for ourselves (which it is) but we found that we were getting worse and worse (especially Mira) at keeping the weekly Thursday updates going in 2012.  Instead, we have decided that we will take turns with a blog post once a week this coming year, meaning we each post every other week, and we will be moving the Thursday posts to Sunday (easier to remember, hopefully)! We're going to keep the topics for this year's posts fairly open-ended and on occasion may put in requests to each other for upcoming posts.  Hopefully this will help us to continue to blog, because it's pretty amazing that we've kept this site going this long!!!  

Happy 2013 everyone! Got any New Year's resolutions?

M to J: What are you looking forward to in 2013?