Monday, November 08, 2010

Desplat does Harry Potter

The Harry Potter film franchise, in my opinion, has died its slow death. I was so angry at the last film, I vowed to not see the next films in the theater. In fact, I may wait until the second part gets to DVD before even watching the first part. Along with its death came the murder of its soundtrack. Half-Blood Prince was simply so awful, no offense to Nicolas Hooper, I did not even buy it. That is saying a lot for a girl who buys soundtracks like they were cookies.

All of that being said, I decided to listen to Alexandre Desplat's tour and was proven once again that film music is my love. Desplat added wonder back into the score. He added deep, dark tones that brought forth emotion. The score is not riddled with themes but I feel a sense of hope again. Maybe the score can even convince me to actually go and see the movie.


I love when I find show gems. This one comes in the form of PBS Masterpiece Classic a part of the PBS Masterpiece series, aired three 90 minute episodes of this stellar series on Sundays and has it available for online viewing in its entirety. 
"Sherlock" is a modern retelling of Sherlock Holmes and his faithful sidekick John Watson. One would think that bringing Sherlock into modern day would kill the effect of Holmes, the genius investigator. After all, who needs Holmes when computers and CSI do all the work. But the series uses this to its advantage and the flash of technology we see in the show is so understated and brief that we are still enamored when Holmes does his thing. And boy, does he do his thing and do it well. Benedict Cumberbatch has charisma in spades and his Sherlock is fast, superior, and fun. The final episode of the three was a great study into his mind and emotions highlighting the amazing relationship of Sherlock and Watson, played by Martin Freeman. Simply put, the extraordinary duo completely make the show and I am reminded of the better years of the re-envisioning of "Doctor Who".

"Sherlock" is slated to air new episodes in the Fall of 2011 and it will be really hard to wait that long.

Sunday, September 12, 2010


Okay, there are a lot of shows which make me laugh out loud. But Pysch is, by far, the best. With its quick quips and pop culture references, the dialog never stops. The characters are quirky and the premise is just plan fun. The romance aspect is subtle and very satisfying. And the episodic nature means a contained hour of laughter and happy ending. Finally, the best part, the opening credits including its opening theme song is often changed to match the plot of the episode, including a bollywood version, a chinese version, an a capella version, and the list goes on. The fact that the creators deem these little details makes it all the more entertaining. Oh, and one other thing, there is at least one pineapple in each episode. Thanks to you can find all of these.

On a similar note, kudos to USA networks who use their quirky show characters for promotion in commercial crossovers. I never tire of the fun aspect of this.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

evolution of naruto and ichigo

I have had a chance to catch up on some good anime, Naruto: Shippuuden and Bleach thanks mostly in part to my long stay in Taiwan and crunchyroll. Anyway, both have come very far and though I know most have abandoned Bleach for its awful filler stories but the remerge with the original story has been fun in its usual drawn out, multi episode craziness. Both Ichigo and Naruto have gone through significant changes, tremendously increasing their strength and surviving the battles mostly unscathed, though Ichigo did die (again) at one point. But I still enjoy the characters, especially Naruto where I feel we have finally come to a denouement years in the making. Since I have caught up, I have also updated the Bleach title cards with a lovely slide show if you want to sit through all 277.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

chinese tones

I head to Taiwan in a few weeks. So I am self teaching myself a bit of Chinese. In this language, it is all about the tones, inflecting the voice to go up, down, or up and down. This is terribly difficult for me who puts a lot of natural inflection in my voice when speaking. It is a constant battle of repeating exactly what I heard and not raising my voice to indicate a question. Thank goodness no one is in the car listening to me.

2010 World Cup

Oh how I love soccer, the beautiful players playing the beautiful game. This year's cup has been a bit strange. England has drawn for both of its opening games. Spain lost its first game. Germany lost its second game. And the US actually has a chance of making it to the next round. Apparently the African teams want to show off their chests as all of them are wearing tight fitting shirts. ESPN just figured out that they should put the team colors on the ever present score bar. And finally, the universal sign for "that was a nice pass but I missed it" is a thumbs up. I look forward to second half of group stage.

driving to the end of Texas

After my mother pointed me toward a performance of The Secret Garden in Corpus Christi, TX I decided to drive down and quench my need to see it again. For those of you who do not know, Corpus Christi is on the southeastern coast of Texas, an inlet on the Corpus Christi Bay in from the Gulf of Mexico. I drove down IH-35 to IH-10 and finally to IH-37 (a highway on which I had never driven) all the way to exit number 1, seemingly the end of Texas. It was hot but I walked along the bay for a little while. The show was good for what it was able to do but there was no live orchestra so timing was an issue and the scene changes were choppy so they provided a lot of distraction. I always viewed them as happy narrators of the story but maybe I had forgotten how very creepy the ghosts of the story were. In the end, the show was not great but it did fill a gap and it was fun to drive to that part of Texas.

Star Wars in Concert

I know it does not say much to be a Star Wars fan these days but I am one. I used to watch the movies over and over again on a worn out copy video taped from television. I know the characters, have read books in the extended universe and have played the video games. I would say I am an above average fan.

That being said, I am a geek for the music. I own the Original Soundtrack Anthology and can sing almost every note by heart from both the original and prequel films. I count them as one of my top five favorite soundtracks, probably top three. So I was lucky to have been paying attention when I saw that the touring Star Wars in Concert was coming to Austin and on my birthday. I bought myself a floor seat and had little expectations give it was in a basketball arena.
Boy was I surprised. First, there was an entire exhibit in the halls prior to the concert itself complete with costumes and props from the movies, picture taking opportunities with a live stormtrooper and R2D2, and the highlight, a copy of the original hand written score. I bought myself an R2D2 tote bag and went to sit and listen to the warm up.
While waiting, there were intermittent sound effects being played over the speakers: Darth Vader's breathing, Chewbacca's growl, a tie fighter fly by. And this was my first hint that the sound was going to be amazing. The orchestra complete with full choir were on a riser and the size was enormous since there are a large number of unique instruments needed for some of those eccentric sounds of Star Wars. Surrounding the orchestra were, what I imagine, speakers on stands but they had bright circular lights which we learned later could change color and added an impressive effect to the show. The high definition LED screen was centered above the orchestra in such a way that there was no bad seat. I have since read it is the size of an IMAX screen and built especially for the touring concert.

The opening was perfect starting with the "20th Century Fox" theme and the "Main Titles" as every Star Wars film does. We are introduced to Anthony Daniels, who played C3PO and was the narrator of the even. He was perfect, expressing the exact dramatic tone and joking about the intelligence of Threepio and his impact on the saga. The first half contained the main themes and also music from the prequels and though the prequel films are less stellar than the original films, the music is definitely a strong rival. While the music plays, images and sometimes full scenes from the movies are played on the screen, sometimes with dialog but most of the time without. I have to say, I am a sucker for the slow motion image combined with the sweeping orchestral score. Needless to say, this concert made my heart swell. The second half contained mostly the original film music and added a laser show. The lights, the film images on the huge screen, and above all, the sound. For an arena that was not built for sound, I felt like I was in a theater with THX. I could hear all the instruments perfectly and there was no distortion or high timbre echo. It was without a doubt, amazing and completely made my birthday.

end of an era

Two incredible tv series came to an end this past May. Two tv series which changed the face of television. Both had novel storytelling, astronomical production values, and memorable characters. Both captured the audience for multiple seasons and created ample fodder for the water cooler. Both have been at the top of my favorites list since they began.

No one character has held my attention for so long as Jack Bauer. Sutherland's portrayal of the John Wayne of terrorism kept me involved in every "24" season. When he was on the screen I screamed yippee ki yay and when he was not, I cringed. The plots were typically unbelievable and I honestly lost track of them not because of their complication but because I did not care. The show's signature premise of events happening in real time became second hand at the end and someone, somewhere must have a list of the number of times Jack was shot, stabbed, tortured, or killed. But his heart was true, his patriotism unbending, and his strength beyond words. It was fitting that he wavered at the end and that Chloe was his anchor back to the Jack we know and love. There were other characters through the years for which I also had some love namely Chloe, Tony, Aaron Pierce but I will miss Jack above all. Goodbye.

The phenomenon of "Lost" was great to say the least. The intertwining of flashbacks, flash forwards, and flash sideways to life on the island was clever and entertaining. That and the characters were either love-able or hate-able. I enjoyed the ending episodes though I cried when Jin and Sun died. The end was satisfying, answering most of the questions with fantastical yet believable elements and closing the circle with the return of most of the main characters. That was my favorite part even above the heaven and redemption portions. I will miss the characters and beauty of the show. Goodbye.

The one thing I will miss most of all is the beautiful, thematic music of Sean Callery's "24" and Michael Giacchino's "Lost". Not many shows get full season soundtracks but both of these have had multiple soundtracks released and I proudly count them in my collection and frequently heard. With these I can relive the shows forever.

that crazy gemini thing

No posts since April. That is so not good for me. I use this blog as a way of getting those nagging thoughts out of my head. Being a gemini, thoughts flitter and fling often enough and about several different topics. As such, I am going to have several posts in a row to try and calm that crazy gemini thing of mine.

Friday, April 16, 2010


"I watch a lot of tv." It seems I use that sentence a lot and lately watching it has become just that, a chore. For a show to be of interest to me it has to have two things, good characters or a good premise. Shows with both of them are not to be missed. I think the best example is the upcoming premiere of "Doctor Who" where the main character is just too fun and the extended plot is never dull. For me, a similar story could be said of many of the scifi shows that I watch but also shows like "Mentalist" or the reasonably unknown winter run of "Human Target". When a show starts out with good characters but then draws on and on, I lose all interest and patience. Added to this is the fact that when I DVR, I have to watch it so it is cleared from the list. (that whole checking off the list thing). So I have dropped several popular shows because I just can not stand the characters or stories anymore and this has made my DVR attention span very happy. Goodbye "Desperate Housewives", "Brothers & Sisters", "Parenthood", "Grey's Anatomy", and "V". "Flash Forward" is definitely on my short list too.

On a similar note, "Ugly Betty" ran its series finale on Wednesday. I came to enjoy this show even when the story lagged because of Marc and Amanda who never ceased to make me laugh. The ending was fitting and touching. I enjoyed its four years and do not regret sticking with it.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Mimacs à tire-larigot

Non stop shenanigans, that is basically the title and it was a lot of fun. A new level compared with Amélie, Jeunet takes an orphan, mixes him with a circus of quirky people, and comes out with a colorful piece of cinematography with Dany Boone leading the charge. I must say SXSW was lucky to have Jeunet but I was even more lucky to be able to get in and see the film in the beautiful Paramount Theatre in downtown Austin. I am now eagerly awaiting the DVD so I can watch it again and catch all the information and fun antics placed on the screen. If you see it showing near you, go see it. You will not be disappointed.

on repeat: Green Bird and ELM

I have some obscure soundtracks. The official Lucas Arts soundtrack to the game Grim Fandango comes to mind. Typically these soundtracks tend to be my favorites. With a little bit of my bonus I went ahead and purchased all the soundtracks to the anime "Cowboy Bebop", exporting them from Japan so I know they would not be bootlegs. On the second soundtrack are two of my very favorite tracks of all time. It is the part in the anime, some of the best anime can deliver, where Spike is falling out of the church window and remembering his past life in episode 5, The Ballad of the Fallen Angels. The breaking glass, the falling rose petals, the sepia tones and the song Green Bird has no equal. Solely voice and piano, this haunting melody fits the perfect scene with perfect music. The language is kind of made up or from an interview with Kanno Yoko, a mixture of English and Latin. The actual lyrics can not be found. After that track, and I am not sure why but the pairing is delicious, is a funny song call ELM. It does not bring the vivid images of the anime but I love the simple and fun La La La. They are on repeat so I can enjoy over and over both the song and the memory of my first time with this anime.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

requiescat in pace

The subject of this post has roots in too much Assassin's Creed 2. But the sentiment is still there. I am by no means a J. D. Salinger fan but I remember reading Catcher in the Rye in high school. More than that, I remember enjoying it and that is something to be said for a girl into math and science and one who dreaded English classes. When I heard that he had died, I dug out a piece of paper I had hidden in one of my prized possessions, an small Italian missalette which I think was owned by either my grandfather or grandmother. Tucked away in this small treasured book was a folded piece of loose leaf ruled paper dated 28 May 1992 on which are quotes, complete with page numbers, that I enjoyed from Catcher in the Rye and that I had rewritten several times in order to make my lousy handwriting legible. I list them here as tribute to someone who gave me some joy in boring literature classes. Thanks.
  1. You can't stop a teacher when they went to do something. They just do it. p.11
  2. You take a very handsome guy, or a guy that thinks he's a real hot-shot and they're always asking you to do them a big favour. p. 27
  3. You take a really smart girl, and half the time she is trying to lead you around the dance floor. p. 70
  4. You don't always have to get too sexy to know a girl. p. 76
  5. ... but he looked like the kind of guy that wouldn't talk to you much unless he wanted something off you. p. 78
  6. They [fish] get frozen right in one position for the whole winter. p. 82
  7. Do you happen to know where they [ducks] go in the winter time? p. 82
  8. People are always ruing things for you. p. 87
  9. I said I knew He picked them [Disciples] but that he picked them at random. p. 99
  10. Catholics are always trying to find out if you're Catholic. p. 112
  11. Every time you mention some guy that's strictly a bastard - very mean or very conceited and all - she'll tell you he has an inferiority complex. p. 135
  12. You take adults, they look lousy when they're asleep and they have their mouths way open, but kids don't. Kids look all right. p. 159
  13. What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff... I'd just be the catcher in the rye. p. 179
  14. Don't ever tell anybody anything. If you do, you start missing everybody. p. 214
  15. I have a kid sister that's only in the goddam fourth grade. You're about as good as she is and she can dance better than anybody living or dead.