Tagged: musical

NOT ENOUGH LOVECRAFT? GET IT WEEKLY!

FTHAGN!

 

Hosts Chad Fifer and Chris Lackey delve into the pre-human scrawling that make up the work of HP Lovecraft on the HP LOVECRAFT LITERARY PODCAST every week, discussing the stories as well as their author against a backdrop of talented readings and a sublime musical score. Even if you’ve read every story, collaboration and piece of correspondence, give the HPL Literary Podcast a listen…you might find yourself learning something new.

Sucker Punch

We have come to love Zack Snyder’s visual style, attention to detail, and ability to adapt comics to the silver screen. But, we don’t really have a sense of what he can do on his, without someone else’s work to rely on for inspiration. That is, until this March when he unveiled Sucker Punch, a personal project that had been gestating in his mind for years and he finally was given the opportunity to make it a reality.

Some reality. The mind-bending storyline is a visually and aural feast but is somewhat soulless and cold, not just from the over-reliance on CGI for background and texture but for the total lack of attention to characterization. Like the computer backgrounds, everything is on the surface, giving the cast little to work with, turning them into two-dimensional players on his digital chessboard. Most of that explains why the film fizzled both critically and commercially. In case you missed it, the movie is coming to DVD on Tuesday from Warner Home Video and packs a lot of meat into what feels like a snack.

The story, what there is of it, spotlights 20-year-old “Babydoll” (Emily Browning), confined to a mental institution in the 1960s by her abusive step-father (Gerard Plunkett). She’s locked away because she refused to submit to his unwanted sexual advances, although he claims she was responsible for the death of her younger sister. He exacts revenge by paying off the corrupt attendant Blue Jones (Oscar Isaac) to have her lobotomized, allowing him to solely inherit Babydoll’s inheritance.

The remainder of the film watches Babydoll plot an escape, while befriending fellow inmates — Amber (Jamie Chung), Blondie (Vanessa Hudgens), Rocket (Jena Malone), and Rocket’s older sister, Sweet Pea (Abbie Cornish) — who are being taught sexually provocative dances by the lead psychiatrist Dr. Gorski (Carla Gugino). Babydoll convinces them to help her plan their escape and she mesmerizes people with her own dances and each time she and the audience segue into an action-packed dream sequence. We never see Babydoll dance but there’s plenty of compelling visuals to occupy us while the girls steal the tools needed to enact the plan. Her dreams are directed by a Wise Man (Scott Glenn impersonating David Carradine). (more…)

ComicMix Six: Things That Must Happen Before I See ‘Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark’

This article may be apocryphal considering that the most expensive Broadway production is still in previews, and its start date has been held up by a litany of horrendous accidents, injuries, and plot elements that would make Scooby-Doo go “Aroo?”

As a die-hard comic book geek and as someone who loves a Costco-sized serving of schadenfreude, I have been following news about Julie Taymor’s musical fiasco, Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark. I’m sure I’m not the only one who upon reading report after report of injury or “WTF” reviews would come to the conclusion “How the HELL can this continue?

In the event that it does continue, here’s a list of things that must happen altogether for me to see Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark:

  1. Julie Taymor, Bono, & The Edge must issue a formal apology for the accidents, the ridiculous plot elements, uninspired songs, and a second act that makes about as much sense as Nick Nolte and Tom Waits on a bender.
  2. There must be a permanent restraining order forbidding Julie Taymor, Bono, and The Edge from ever working together again. The restraining order must further stipulate that Bono and The Edge must never work in musical theater.
  3. Get rid of the Greek Chorus of Geeks. It’s an interesting device, and a nod to fans, but it’s a bloated appendix: superfluous and in dire need of being excised immediately.
  4. Get rid of Arachne. It’s one of the first things to screw with comic book canon. Ms. Taymor may think it’s adding a new dimension to the story, but the inclusion of the Greek mythological figure is little more than an elaborate, long-winded non sequitur.
  5. Rewrite Uncle Ben’s death. In changing Ben Parker’s death, a huge part of Spider-Man’s impetus has been changed as well. Spider-Man is driven by guilt for not doing the right thing. In Julie Taymor’s version, the impetus is in less direct fashion that has no obvious bearing on Peter Parker and what he should have done. In ANY version of the established origin, Spider-Man is a better hero for having incorporated this guilt.
  6. Remove all the superfluous villains in the second act including Swiss Miss. The inclusion of so many villains lessens the importance of any one of these famous bad guys. Carnage, Electro, The Lizard, and Kraven are no minor figures to Spider-Man. Grouping them altogether makes it seem like Spider-Man is Moe against a group of Shemps. And how the hell do you have a character like Carnage without first explaining who Eddie Brock was? It’s almost like Julie Taymor never heard about one of the most fundamental rules of superhero movies: NEVER load up a project with a buttload of villains. Then again, maybe she thought she could pull it off.
Music You Should Be Listening To: Shael Riley & The Double Ice Backfire

Music You Should Be Listening To: Shael Riley & The Double Ice Backfire

While we often have features here on what webcomics you should be reading, what movies you should be looking forward to, what DVDs you should buy…there hasn’t been much here in the way of audio enjoyment.  I am to change that with a feature I’m aptly titling “Music You Should Be Listening To”.

Now, what will differentiate this music from your typical Top 40 tunes is it’s content.  See, there’s a musical scene known as “nerdcore” where artists perform songs that contain subjects such as internet memes, comic books, video games and the like.  While much of nerdcore is hiphop, there are some artists that still fall under the heading, while not quite rapping about their likes.

One such artist is Shael Riley.  A chiptune artist, singer/songwriter & guitarist from New York who came onto the nerdcore scene with the group The Grammar Club, Shael stands apart with his unique vocal skills and excellent musicianship.  Chiptune, for those that are unaware, is music made using old NES or GameBoy systems…basically 8-bit video game music.  Adding to that sound are the solid, more typcial instrumentation from his backup band The Double Ice Backfire (so named for a move in the game Mortal Kombat).

Shael’s 2009 EP “Songs From The Pit” was an exceptional slice of relatable themes, enveloped in a shell of video game references and other “nerdy” charms and character.  While originally recieving a small release on cassette, Shael is enlisting the help of his fans to professionally master the recordings, as well as new tracks, via fan donations and contributions at his Kickstarter page.  Here, different dollar denominations grant listeners unqiue singles, bonus expanded versions of the album, producer credits and more.  He’s already reached his $3,750 goal for mixing and mastering of the album, and any additional funds now (up to $4.5K) will aid in the duplication and production of the album (including the awesome 3 disc version of the album housed in a Sega Saturn game case).

Shael’s music is unique and exceptional and deserves your time.  If you’re so inclinded, your donationas as well.  The link above leads to his page at thsixtyone.com where you can check out some of the tracks from the origial verse of “Songs from the Pit”.  There’s also this cover of Radiohead’s “Creep”, which he released as a thank you for reaching the $3,000 mark.  Obviously, furthur donations will yeild even more exceptional music.

Spider-Man movie and musical delayed

Spider-Man movie and musical delayed

It all started with One More Day, if you ask me.

The big Spider-Man event of 2007 was supposed to come out in August on a weekly schedule, but problems behind the scenes delayed the series so much that the final installment came out in the last week of the year. (And boyoboy, aren’t we glad Marvel waited to deliver us that story?)

Now it seems that every other Spider property is being delayed because of problems behind the scenes.

First, Alan Cumming mentioned on Saturday that the upcoming Broadway musical “Spider-Man, Turn Off the Dark
in which he is set to star as the Green Goblin, would be significantly
delayed and that producers had hit “an iceberg of
financial ruin” last year and couldn’t raise enough money
for the show, which is expected to cost upwards of $50 million. He said
the producers should have taken down posters in the theater district
that suggest the show is opening soon; the musical’s web site still says that previews start February 25 and that tickets are on sale.

Then Nikki Finke broke the story that Spider-Man 4 has been shelved and that director Sam Raimi and the entire cast are gone– apparently because Raimi felt he couldn’t make the Summer 2011 release date and keep the film’s creative integrity. Columbia Pictures and Marvel Studios announced that they are moving
forward with a film based on a script by James Vanderbilt “that focuses
on a teenager grappling with both contemporary human problems and
amazing super-human crises” for a Summer 2012 release date. Rumors and speculations abound that they’ll shoot the movie in 3D and even try to get James Cameron involved again.

I suspect we’re going to see more and more of these types of delays as the financial stakes get higher and higher and things appear more and more in the public eye.

(Artwork by Joey Mason.)

Review: ‘Logicomix’, the Sorrows of Young Bertie, and the Great Quest

Review: ‘Logicomix’, the Sorrows of Young Bertie, and the Great Quest

Logicomix: An Epic Search for Truth
by Apostolos Doxiadis and Christos Papadimitriou
Bloomsbury, September 2009, $22.95

Despite the modern framing at the end of this book arguing about whether or not this was a tragedy or a happy ending by bringing computers into the whole thing to support the side of happy, which puts a pimple onto something that is quite near-perfection otherwise, I will say that this is, in the imperfect vernacular, freakin’ awesome.

Being an Aristotelian and Thomist (Thomas Aquinas, 13th C.), mainly an Ethicist and Metaphysician, though I am acquainted with modern philosophies, they are not my favourite dance floor. I am neither adept at nor a fan of analytical philosophy – where they turn premises and sentences into symbols like mathematical equations. So I am absolutely gobsmacked that three Greek guys and one Italian-French chick got a hold of Bertrand Russell (19th-20th C. Logician, Mathematician), and not only made this titled noble Welshman from Cambridge comprehensible, but a sympathetic human character.

How did these wacky geniuses – Apostolos Doxiadis, Christos H. Papadimitriou, Alecos Papadatos, and Annie DiDonna – manage this great feat in all their fabulous geekitude? Very simply. They went straight to the heart of what makes Philosophy philosophical. It is the human quest. Every Philosopher is on it and always has been for nearly 3000 years.

Philosophers are, as a general lot, idealists. They are insane enough to dare to view the best and then to try to find a way to get there, through the Labyrinth, past the Minotaur, and give us mere mortals a map by which to follow along (maps being symbols of reality). The story is framed by our authors as they try to write this book and get it published and, just like their philosophical hero, they got turned down in their initial efforts, but persevered ‘til you have what is now before you.

The artwork is sweet, gentle, old-fashioned, nostalgic, very well-suited to this story starting in Victorian times and running through both World Wars, in Britain and across Germany, Austria, and Belgium. It’s approachable and easy on the eyes, but never talks down to the reader or the material – this is not Russell for Dummies. This is Russell for honest seekers who really want to understand him and his related colleagues but just aren’t wired for 360+ pages of symbols to indisputably prove that 1+1 = 2.

(more…)

Coraline… the Musical?

Coraline… the Musical?

Not content with having a Newbury Award, the the top-debuting, wide-release, stop-motion film in movie history, and throngs of adoring fans dressed in black, now Neil Gaiman is trying for a Obie Award.

Coraline the musical goes into previews on May 7 at the Lucille Lortel Theater, off-Broadway in Greenwich Village, where it will run through June 20. The book is by David Greenspan and music and lyrics by Stephin Merritt, and directed by Leigh Silverman.

Casting will be– unconventional, to say the least. 9-year-old Coraline will be played by 55-year-old actress Jayne Houdyshell, with the Other Mother played by David Greenspan. (Cross-dressing in Greenwich Village? That never happens…)

Sinbad Returns to the Screen

Sinbad Returns to the Screen

A new Sinbad movie is in development at Sony with Adam Shankman (Hairspray) set to direct, according to Variety.

Neal Moritz will produce the fantasy adventure telling of “Sinbad and his crew, who are marooned off the coast of China and embark on a quest to find the lamp of Aladdin.”

Sinbad is a legendary figure from Middle Eastern tales. His name is Persian while his tales were initially written in Arabic. The stories featuring the wanderer have been told, retold, and adapted for centuries. He was a sailor from Basrah and his exploits were drawn from true tales from sailors working the Asian and African trade routes plus more than a dash of epic journeys from other sources such as Homer’s The Odyssey.

Sinbad was immortalized as the 133rd tale in Sir Richard Burton’s translation of The Book of One Thousand and One Nights (Arabian Nights) which is the source most adaptations use. He has been used in popular movies, television series, cartoons and comic books throughout the 20th century, perhaps best know for the films made in the 19509s and 1960s by Ray Harryhausen.  He first appeared on film in a 1935 cartoon before The Fleischer Brothers produced their Popeye the Sailor Meets Sindbad the Sailor in 1936, with Sindbad resembling Bluto.

His last feature film was Sinbad: Legends of the Seven Seas in 2003. Since then, he has been seen in Bill Willingham’s Fables.

He is also set to direct Bob the Musical for Disney. The original project “centers on a mild-mannered man who suddenly hears the "inner song" of people’s hearts after being struck on the head.”

"Ever since Hairspray, I’ve been desperate to do another musical," Shankman told  Variety. "The idea of working with all original music is thrilling. With Bob the Musical, I’ll be working again with [Hairspray composer] Marc Shaiman. And Sinbad gives me the opportunity to really stretch my imagination as far as I can take it." 

‘The Flintstones’ goes from Bedrock to Broadway

‘The Flintstones’ goes from Bedrock to Broadway

Marco Pennette (Samantha Who?) is at work on the book for a stage musical based on Hanna-Barbera’s classic Flintstones. According to Variety, the musical has been conceived by Warner Bros. Theater Ventures.  Jeff Marx (Avenue Q) is writing the music and lyrics with Jake Anthony. Gary Griffin (The Color Purple) will direct with no casting as yet.

“Pennette’s script will rely on contemporary issues,” the trade says. “Wilma, for example, mulls leaving Fred because he still acts too much like a caveman and hasn’t adapted to more modern ways. Barney and Betty tackle fertility issues before deciding to adopt. Musical will also tackle global warming — but in this case, as The Flintstones takes place before the ice age, the characters will confront ‘global cooling’."

The Flintstones is not the first television series headed for Broadway. We recently reported about The Addams Family coming next year. And then there’s Julie Taymor’s Spider-Man which continues to develop.

Pannette has also teamed with Brad Meltzer, with whom he worked on the WB’s charming Jack and Bobby, and Steve Cohen to create sThe Romeos, a series not dissimilar to the film That Thing You Do, tracing the careers of a 1960s rock quartet that suddenly hits it big. Marx will pen original songs for the proposed network series.

The trade says the show is set in Ypsilanti, Mich., in 1965, as the “four 22-year-olds at the heart of the show first pick up their instruments. Drama will be told from the modern day, looking back at the band members before they became famous. The plotline will be advanced via documentary-style interviews with characters looking back on the band’s early days.”
 

Comic Books You Can Hear

Comic Books You Can Hear

You make no excuses that you’re a superhero fan. You buy your weekly stack of comics. You watch the blockbuster movies. You tune in to the TV shows. How can you possibly cram more superhero adventure in your life? Audiobooks. You can listen to comics while commuting, driving, or walking. (We’re not going to list exercising. We’re talking about fanboys here, after all.)

I just happened on GraphicAudio.net and figured it was worth mentioning here, as the company offers DC Comics based audio adventures and the tagline “A movie in your mind.” The recordings feature full cast, special effects, and musical score. They’re available as an audio CD, an MP3 CD, or as a digital download. They even adapt massive events like 52 and Infinite Crisis.

There are currently seven recordings available:

  • 52: Part 1
  • 52: Part 2
  • Batman: The Stone King
  • Infinite Crisis: Part 1
  • Infinite Crisis: Part 2
  • JLA: Exterminators
  • Superman: The Never Ending Battle

While I lightly mocked fans who buy these, I have to confess, I own the BBC audio adaptations of Batman: Knightfall and The Death and Life of Superman. And I loved them. Anyone know how to convert cassettes into MP3s?