Tuesday, December 27, 2005

He IS waspish!

DT's Doctor is a bit of a badass, isn't he?! Fantastic.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Top 100 Family Films

1. ET: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
2. Shrek (2001)
3. Mary Poppins (1964)
4. Pirates of the Caribbean (2003)
5. Toy Story (1995)
6. The Lion King (1994)
7. Back to the Future (1985)
8. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971)
9. Star Wars (1977)
10. The Wizard of Oz (1939)

Let's go in Miss World order...

The Wizard of Oz is scandalously low at 10. Everything about this movie is perfect - from Somewhere Over The Rainbow to day-glo sets to Judy Garland to flying monkeys. And it contains one of the most magical moments in film history - when Dorothy opens the door, and steps from black and white into technicolour Oz. Just brilliant.

Star Wars - what's left to be said, really? Harrison Ford puts in the performance of his career, an entire mythology is created so thoroughly that it is absorbed into real life, R2-D2 and C3P0 are a couple of the best side-kicks ever... You just can't tire of Star Wars.

Willy Wonka has always completely passed me by... the songs are cool, and the whistful portrayal of Willy Wonka is interesting, but I've never seen anything special in this film.

It's absolutely brilliant to see Back to The Future at number 7 - higher than I thought it would be, but still not as high as it should have been. BTTF is witty, clever, a great adventure, and has one of the best musical sequences in any movie ever.

The Lion King. Ok, I'm a huge Disney fan - I know I shouldn't be, but I am - and in my considered opinion The Lion King is, *whisper it*, not that great. It's good, don't get me wrong; the moment Simba realises his father is dead is heart breaking, and Timone and Pumba are great, but apart from that I can take it or leave it. Give me Beauty and The Beast, Alice in Wonderland, Aladdin, Mulan or The Little Mermaid any day. (The last two in this list have some of *the* best Disney songs ever, by the way).

Toy Story jostles with Wizard of Oz for my number one - it boasts a brilliant Tom Hanks performance for goodness sake! Give the director an Oscar for that alone. There's no need to wax lyrical about Toy Story, everyone knows it's a masterpiece, but at the heart of it there's this friendship which makes it so special. It was robbed.

Pirates of the Carribean at four? How utterly bizarre, and probably not deserved. I may just be annoyed that so many people who used to not like Johnny Depp because they thought he was weird, suddenly do due to this film... I'm not over that yet. Still, it's great fun.

Mary Poppins, on the other hand, thoroughly deserves its place in the top three: true to the book? Probably not. Still practically perfect in every way? Yes indeedy.

And so to number 2. Now, I have nothing against Shrek. In fact I would say it's a good, if not very good film. It's very clever and funny and cynical and all that. I get it. But is it better than Toy Story? Of course it isn't! It's got a big gaping hole where it's heart should be, for one, and don't get me started on Mike Myers' voal performance - it's weak and totally awkward. As for Eddie Murhphy's Donkey, it's a hundred times better than Myers' performance but a hundred times *worse* than his voicing of Mushu in Mulan when he was playing virtually the same character! Weird. Number two? I'd barely push it into the top twenty.

And it's ET at number 1. I wish I had more to say about this, but the fact is, I've never sat through it properly becasue every time I catch part of it I get bored. And that says it all really.

Google and AOL - an unholy alliance?

I can't pretend to know a whole lot about this, but we all like to think Google's the un-evil company it strives to be, don't we? I mean, you've gotta give credit for the striving at the very least? Last week, I saw a human rights activist's eyes light up as I told him my email address ("Man, I want a Gmail account!") So, while the phrase 'special relationship' to describe the new Google-AOL alliance is a little disconcerting, I'll just plug my ears and pretend it was done solely to keep Microsoft out.


Tim Berners-Lee gets blogging...

...right here. It's surprising and warming to know that the father of the internet also uses *....* to add stress to a word!

I get the feeling I'll be spending a lot of time here...

The Word Is Not Enough. It came to my attention as Marie agonised over whether's DT ability to name every Doctor Who episode in order makes him more or less attractive...

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

More Ben Folds discussion...

Deano has readily taken up the 'Ben's an odd one' debate over at Meditations on the Abyss, particularly responding to the point that Ben's gigging crowd remains stuck at 22...

Ben's writing has really matured [...] there's a lot more serious emotional stuff on Songs for Silverman than anything before.
But the fanbase, the fanbase hasn't. A friend pointed out to me the average age of the people at the Birmingham gig – studenty types. If they'd been fans from the start they'd have been singing Underground when they were ten!

It's a strange fact that the fans that turn out to see Ben are always these 20-somethings. This means that he *must* be picking up new, young fans all the time and this really is a hugely rare achievement. And he doesn't 'revinvent' himself, either - the usual reason giving for keeping a young fanbase. So how *does* he do it. That one I'm not really anywhere near answering, other than the hope that it's proof that talent will out.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Ben Folds - a hero to literally... dozens

A week ago, at this very moment, I was very excited, and I was stood in Brixton Academy waiting for Ben Folds to walk onto the stage. These things were not unrelated. And, amazingly, I was not alone - in fact, within a hundred metre radius I'd say I was in a majority. Unfortunately, a large group of people being excited about, or even, let's face it, aware of Ben Folds is not a very regular occurrence.

And why is this? I don't expect Folds to be filling Wembley, nor would I (or very probably he) want him to, but he has somehow failed to reach a level of recognition, let's say, that his peers - Rufus Wainwright, Antony, Sufjan Stevens - have managed. This has puzzled me for some time, but I think I'm getting my head round it. First and foremost, Ben is not a darling of the critics. Songs for Silverman got 3 out of 5 in pretty much every review I read - "this is Ben Folds' mature album; good songs but nothing special." Even if Ben had been born in Chichester, he wouldn't have won this year's Mercury Prize because, ulitmately, critics don't really care about him. To be fair, it felt like Ben was on the verge of breaking that all-important Radio 2 audience this year with the release of Landed - the video was on TMF of all channels. But it didn't feel right somehow... the fact is, while Landed fit in on Radio 2, Ben is not a Radio 2 kinda guy. He swears like a trooper and comes from North Carolina for goodness sake. And that's what I realised looking round me as I stood waiting for a bespectacled man in his late thirties to bash a perfectly good piano into smithereens. These were not the same people who I'd watched Rufus Wainwright with a week before. These people were English students, not middle-aged doctors and lawyers. And you know why? Cos Ben's a rock star. You wouldn't know it from his outer appearance (Jonathan Ross' description of him as a supply teacher is the best yet) but that's his whole ethos. At how many 'singer-songwriter gigs' would you get a 2000-strong crowd turning the air blue as they sing along with a Dr Dre song turned into a beautiful piano ballad?

In the end, Ben just just can't be placed on the musical map. Anywhere. He's too much of a geek for rock, too rocky for Radio 2 - but if you get it, you get it.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Not long now...

The Doctor's Jedi-tendancies will come out in The Christmas Invasion, it seems...

Oh, and you can get tickets for David's (and his dad's!) appearance on Ready Steady Cook if you're at all interested... ;)

Thanks for both of these, of course go to the most commited and comprehensive fansite on the net - www.david-tennant.com!

Oh, and I also stumbled across the Tennant!Love LiveJournal community (while searching for blogs about Promises, Promises, funnily enough - it's great how these things find you, isn't it?!) which helpfully warns - "Be prepared for unexpected bouts of Tennant!Sex discussion!" Don't say no-one told you...

Promises, Promises - Sheffield Crucible

Last Friday I managed to drag myself back to the Crucible (it's a chore, you realise) to see the only musical Burt Bacharach was ever involved in - Promises, Promises. The papers have been uniformly positive over this, with the Guardian, Metro and Daily Mail all giving it a hearty 4/5, though Alfred Hickling (Guardian) certainly tempers his praise.

To be honest, I'm quite surprised with all these 4 star reviews when the response to Much Ado About Nothing was muted at best. To my mind, Much Ado was by far the superior production, but that's not to say I didn't enjoy Promises, Promises.

The script, by Neil Simon, was certainly the best aspect; witty and playful with incredibly clever word-play throughout. Many of the best lines were throwaways, however, which were over before the audience had time to work them out and show their appreciation (myself included!), which unfortunately made for a rather subdued evening (save a few drunken women behind us who would have found the empty stage funny...!).

Richard Frame played the lead - Chuck, who loans his appartment to his bosses for out-of-office-hours activity in order to climb the professional ladder - and had most of the production on his shoulders. Luckily, he was perfectly cast and very funny.

The wonderful, brilliant, fantastic, Adam Cooper (us dancers are all fans; it's obilgatory) choreographed, and it was obvious that the dancing had been in the hands of someone who really knew what he was doing. Despite the involvement of Bacharach and David this need not be a 60s period piece, and, thankfully, Cooper hinted at classic 60s moves without resorting to parody.

The problems? They're harder to quantify, which seems a bit of a cop-out, I know. The songs themselves, bizarrely, were probably the weakest aspect - perhaps it would have worked better as a play. The plot was also pretty thin and predictable, and lacked the little sparkle and magic you want from a large-cast Christmas musical. Overall - an enjoyable and accomplished production of a very average musical.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

"Many hits?"

I'd just like to thank everyone who reads my blog, so that I could honestly answer "It's growing..." to this question in a recent interview to help with press and publicity for Stagecoach Youth Theatre York's production of His Dark Materials. :D

It's going to be a great thing to be involved in, to stop being flippant for a moment. SYTY have been granted permission to stage the full 2-part National Theatre production of His Dark Materials - with children playing the children. It's a huge project, and they want national media attention. Well they've come to the right place... *gulp*

What taste!

Maurinsky over at Laughing Wild has come to my attention via Lisa, via Shakespeare's Sister: a Ben Folds and Rufus Wanwirght fan who blogs about the wonderful Nellie McKay? How could I not give her a mention?

Monday, December 05, 2005

He's not the Gay Messiah, he's a very naughty boy*

Hey hey.
Due to illness, this isn't going to be as long as my two previous reviews of our very own Gay Messiah in concert, but I'll try to give of a flavour of the gig at Sheffield City Hall on Saturday.

To say he was great is unnecessary, of course, and the band are still wonderful. The wall of sound they create really is something special. Rufus was in a jolly mood, as per usual, and happy to acknowledge those in the front row who'd dressed up in sparkly outfits - he even got the piano moved so they could see him better!

Erm what else. (This is a wonderful blog ain't it?!) Ah yes, The Art Teacher: this time performed with full band. I thought it was going to kill it, but it was fantastic. You simply can't destroy a truly great song, and the Art Teacher is virtually perfect.

And the encore. (*SPOILERS* You really wanna keep this a surprise if you're going to see him on this tour) Last time, we were treated to fairy wings, sparklers and stillettos. How would he top that? Well with a literal visual representation of Gay Messiah of course!! During Old Whore's Diet, the band all went off stage (with, magically, the music still going on...) and came back on in white robes, shuffling into a v formation. Yes, that's right folks, there was a choreographed (and I use the word loosely!) dance sequence. An obviously rubbish but utterly wonderful dance sequence. (Which can and should be downloaded here, from the Amsterdam gig - huge, huge thanks to Blair). Then came the campest crucifixion ever to be represented. Really, what more do you want?!

Massive apologies for the awfulness of this blog :)

*Shamelessly stolen from Mojo

Head in hands moment

Votes so far for Whatsonstage.com Awards.

Best Actor (in a Play)
Brian Dennehy - Death of a Salesman at the Lyric 19.13%
Con O'Neill - Telstar at the New Ambassadors 6.15%
Derek Jacobi - Don Carlos at the Gielgud 22.08%
Kevin Spacey - Richard II at the Old Vic 26.06%
Rob Lowe - A Few Good Men at the Theatre Royal Haymarket 17.23%
Simon Russell Beale - The Philanthropist at the Donmar Warehouse 9.35%

This deserves a 'NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!'

Friday, December 02, 2005

That nasty NME again

Sorry for being a few days late, and even more for bringing up this most hated of magazines again, but I just had to comment on the fact that they've voted Bloc Party's Silent Alarm album of the year.

HA! Bloc Party's Silent Alarm??!! Now I'm not going to say whether it deserves that title on musical merit or not, I haven't heard it all (though I find the singles incredibly hard to listen to so I don't really have any desire to). No, the point I'm making is that putting Silent Alarm at number one may just have something to do with the fact that NME backed Bloc Party at the beginning of the year as 'this year's Franz Ferdinand'. By February it was obvious they'd backed the wrong horse - if anyone should have that label (and who'd want it after the woeful singles that have come out off You Could Have It So Much Better...?) it should be Kaiser Chiefs for becoming the cross-over success. But NME are always right, aren't they? And now in years ahead, they can say that they tipped Bloc Party and sure enough they came out with the best album of the year. Whatever.

BBC Drama Awards

As Lisa says, go and do your duty! *CoughCasanovaCough*