Friday, December 12, 2014

What to Watch if You're Still Mourning the Loss of "Sex and the City"

Via Collider

If you're anything like me, you spent your early 20s trying to figure out if you were more of a Carrie or a Samantha. Or maybe even a Charlotte. Tragically, it turns out I'm a Miranda (sigh). Those four women taught me everything I know about life, like the universe may not always play fair, but at least its got a hell of a sense of humor. Or that soulmates only exist in the Hallmark aisle of Duane Reade Drugs. When HBO decided to cut ties with the series, thousands of Carrie-wannabes' hearts broke. Luckily, SJP's legacy lives on. 

Girls (HBO)
Wait...haven't we seen this before? Four women, living in New York City, skating through life one mistake at a time? Created by Lena Dunham, Girls is SATC for Millennials. Dunham herself stars as Hannah Horvath, an aspiring writer living on her parents' dime. There's also Marnie, an art gallery assistant, Jessa, and Shoshanna. The raw humor of their dynamic provides some big laughs throughout the first three seasons. A fourth season is set to air beginning January 11, 2015 on HBO. 

Broad City (Comedy Central) 
Okay, so these women are nothing like Carrie and co. They are, however, twentysomethings biding their time in NYC until real life catches up to them. When we first meet Ilana and Abbi, we have no way of knowing just how long they’ve been friends. But their dynamic is already so comfortable that they don’t feel the need to spend half the pilot telling us who these characters are. Plus, Broad City is a Web series-turned-cable-comedy so fans of Ilana and Abbi should already have an idea of what they're getting into. Based on their lives in New York, the show delves into the everyday indignities that make being a young, single, broke person in a big city a fascinating, hilarious — but generally humiliating — experience. Broad City was named one of The A.V. Club's Best TV shows of 2014.

The Carries Diaries (The CW) 
If you've ever wondered how Carrie Bradsahw came to be the woman she is, or how her love affair with Manhattan began, then you can rent The Carrie Diaries on DVD. The CW cancelled the prequel after two seasons, but that doesn't mean it wasn't good TV. High school Carrie was every bit as fabulous as grownup Carrie and watching her get to know Samantha Jones was every SATC fan's dream. It's just too bad we didn't get to see how she came to be friends with Miranda and Charlotte. You can, however, read about it here.  

Via Buzzfeed






Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Christmas classics on the big screen


It's the most wonderful time of the year, when Christmas classics are shown in movie theaters! And what's better than seeing a classic black and white Christmas movie on the big screen? When that movie screen is inside a historic theater such as the Catlow in Barrington, Tivoli in Downers Grove, or Music Box in Chicago, just to name a few. You can watch stars like Barbara Stanwyck, Jimmy Stewart, Donna Reed, Fred MacMurray, Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, and Rosemary Clooney, larger than life... I'm in!

Here is a list I compiled of upcoming movie screenings, for the most part at historic movie theaters, in the suburbs and Chicago. I will be attending the TCM double feature of A Christmas Carol and Christmas in Connecticut this weekend and also have tickets to the Annual Music Box Christmas Show. Do you have any plans to catch a Christmas movie in theaters this month?

● Various theaters, including Regal Crystal Lake Showplace Stadium 16 and Century 16 Deer Park

A Christmas Carol (1938) and Christmas in Connecticut (1945)
Sunday, December 7 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Presented by TCM, with an introduction by Ben Mankiewicz


Cinema 12 - 100 LW Besinger Drive, Carpentersville, IL  
 
Home Alone
Saturday, December 20 at 10 a.m- Free!
Pictures with Santa before the show

Catlow Theatre - 116 W. Main Street, Barrington, IL

It’s a Wonderful Life
Saturday, December 6 at 11 am

The Polar Express
Saturday, December 13 at 11 am

A Christmas Carol (1951)
Saturday, December 20 at 11 am

Tivoli Theatre - 5021 Highland Ave, Downers Grove, IL
Pre-show sing-a-long accompanied by Wurlitzer Theatre pipe organ

The Miracle of the Bells (1948)
Monday, December 8 at 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.

White Christmas (1954)
Wednesday, December 10 at 1:30 p.m., 4 p.m., 7 p.m., and 9:30 p.m.

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (1989)
Thursday, December 11 at 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m

It's a Wonderful Life - 2014 Christmas Benefit Show
Saturday, December 13 at 1:30 p.m.; Sunday, December 14 at 1:30 p.m.
Proceeds to Sharing Connection Furniture Bank

Music Box Theatre - 3733 N. Southport Ave, Chicago

A Night with Elf
Thursday, December 4 at 5:30 p.m. and 8 p.m.

Annual Music Box Christmas Show - White Christmas and It’s a Wonderful Life
Friday, December 12 - Thursday, December 25

Alternative Christmas Double Feature - Home Alone and Die Hard
Wednesday, December 17

Patio Theatre - 6008 W. Irving Park Rd, Chicago

Christmas Cartoons
Saturday, December 13 at 2 p.m. - free!
Showing Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, Santa Claus is Coming to Town, and The Little Drummer Boy

It's a Wonderful Life
Sunday, December 21 at 2 p.m. - free!
Plus, take pictures with Santa before the show.

Glen Art Theatre - 540 Crescent Blvd #1, Glen Ellyn, IL

Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Saturday, December 6 at 10:30 am - free!

The Polar Express
Saturday, December 13 at 10:30 am - free!

The Muppet Christmas Carol
Saturday, December 20 at 10:30 am - free!

Woodstock Theatre - 209 Main Street, Woodstock, IL 60098

Arthur Christmas
Saturday, December 13 at 10 a.m.
pictures with Santa

Ogden 6 Theatre - 1227 East Ogden Ave, Naperville

Miracle on 34th Street (1947)
Saturday, December 6 at 10 a.m. - free!

Check out additional holiday film showings at other theaters at the  Classic Cinemas website.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Country Albums You Can't Miss

 You may not have guessed it from my first post, but I'm a whiskey drinkin', cowboy chasin', hell of a time (that's a Brooks & Dunn reference...I'm not actually that clever). Some of my favorite albums of all time include George Strait's Easy Come, Easy Go and Garth Brooks' Ropin the Wind. While a lot of people tend to believe that country music is only for the beer-drinking or the brokenhearted-mostly true- it's also for the hopeless romantics and the old souls like myself. So, without further ado, here are some country albums you may have missed, coming from a self-proclaimed expert in the genre. 


Brandy Clark: 12 Stories
Released in 2013, Brandy's album is the quintessential country album. A huge relief for true country fans: Brandy's writing tackles topics like drug abuse, murder, and adultery. Most of the songs on this album have just been waiting to be recorded while Brandy has been busy writing chart toppers for superstars like Miranda Lambert, The Band Perry, and Keith Urban. Whether you're a fan of contemporary country or a Dolly Parton diehard, 12 Stories is worth checking out. Stand-out tracks: Get High, Hold My Hand, Pray to Jesus


Eric Church: The Outsiders

On his fourth studio album, North Carolina singer-songwriter Eric Church made a record that's weirder, louder and even more badass than any before. Church is a crafty, ambitious songwriter with a sensitive, rueful side. With The Outsiders, Church splits the difference between contemporary country's biggest trends: new-school storytelling (Kacey Musgraves, Ashley Monroe ) and check-cashing bro-country (Florida Georgia Line, Luke Bryan). And why not? His success raises the bar of possibility in an overcautious industry. Stand-out tracks: Like a Wrecking Ball, That's Damn Rock & Roll, The Joint


Ashley Monroe: Like a Rose

Monroe is classic, Tennessee country. I first discovered her when the Pistol Annies released their debut album in 2011. She can only be described as "sassy" or "spunky" or with some other coded feminine adjectives. Her second solo album Like a Rose brings out the singer's true colors. Similar to Clark in that her writing doesn't shy away from darker themes, the lyrics are as close as you can get to poetry in country music. Stand-out tracks: Used, Monroe Suede, You Ain't Dolly (And You Ain't Porter)



Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Neil Young - Storytone

Being a die hard Neil Young fan, I'll admit that when I heard he was releasing an album with a full orchestra, I thought I'd probably give it a single listen and never play it again. Let it be known that my least favorite Neil Young song, "There's a World", completely ruined his most famous album for me, to be sure. It sits right there at track 7 of 10 chalk full of flutes and bells, destroying the folky-flow of the rest of the album. I can honestly say I have never listened to that song all the way through on purpose.

That aside, it's not surprising that Neil would come out with an orchestral album. He's long been known for creating albums that send record labels into all out frenzies (see Trans and Everybody's Rockin'). He has, after all, promised to compose a full length orchestral piece since the release of Harvest in 1972. Really, it seems the older he gets, the less he cares about what his fans think. There is something to be said for that, however.

Some of his most recent albums have been troubling at first listen but over time, I've concluded that many of them are actually some of his finest. Take A Letter Home as an example, the album that was recorded directly to vinyl using a 1947 Voice-o-Graph vinyl recording booth. It wasn't until I actually listened to the vinyl itself that I got the true feeling embedded in it. Whoa.

In any case, I can't say that I like Storytone quite yet. Orchestras aren't really my thing. What saves this album, however, is that he did release a deluxe edition that includes solo versions of all 10 tracks. He even plays the ukulele on one of them.

-Jason

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Song Obsessions: Bob Dylan Edition


Though they certainly aren't mutually exclusive, of the big name folk singer-songwriters from the 60s, I tend to be more of a Paul Simon girl than a Dylanite.  I listened to Dylan in college, but not obsessively (minus Blonde on Blonde); and while I really enjoyed some of his lyrics, his music didn't emotionally resonate with me in the same way some of Simon's songs did (blasphemy, I know!).  Lately, however, I have been listening to a ton of Dylan.  I'm not sure what spurred this development. Perhaps, I just listened to Sounds of Silence one too many times and decided I needed something darker and more ironic (sorry Paul!).  Anyway, below are five Dylan tracks I can't get enough of currently:

1).  "Like a Rolling Stone" from Highway 61 Revisited.  I kept this album in my car stereo an embarrassingly long time just because I could not turn off this track once it had started.  This is pretty obvious Dylan, but I really like him at his meanest.  Dylan is great at crafting insults.  Here, he is able to be both ruthless to the song's subject while being occasional empathetic, especially at the end: "When you got nothing, you've got nothing to lose/ You're invisible now, you've got no secrets to conceal."

2).  "You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go" from Blood on the Tracks. There are a lot of great tracks off this album, but I adore the pessimism of this love song.  The song perfectly captures the early glow of a new relationship, "Flowers on the hillside, bloomin' crazy/ Crickets talkin' back and forth in rhyme/ Blue river runnin' slow and lazy/ I could stay with you forever and never realize the time."  However, the narrator has been down this particular road a few to many times to expect a happy ending, "Situations have ended sad/ Relationships have all been bad/ Mine've been like Verlaine's and Rimbaud's."  So, the most romantic thing he can muster up to say to his lady love is that she'll make him lonesome when she leaves. 

3).  "4th Time Around" from Blonde on Blonde.  I've been listening to this album on-and-off since college and I just recently learned it's a parody of the Beatles' "Norwegian Wood."  John Lennon's lyrics sounded a little too Dylanesque for Dylan, so he decided to show him how it was done. Now, when I listen to the song, I can definitely hear the similarity.  But really I like it because Dylan portrays himself as hilariously jerky in these lyrics.  It's one of two songs on the album that make me laugh out ("Leopard Skin Pill Box Hat" being the other).  I love what a little punk Bob Dylan was on this album.

4).  "Mr. Tambourine Man" from Bringing It All Back Home.  This is one of the few Dylan songs I actually listened to growing up.  My father did not become a big Dylan fan until later in life; so while I was growing up he pretty much only listened to the "Greatest Hits."  Since my dad loved this song, I didn't allow myself to like it until recently (Dads are so uncool).  However, I really admire the complexity of the rhymes with in this song.  The lyrics are little more poetic, and less flippant than my favorite Dylan.  However, the guy was like 23 when he wrote, so I'll give him a pass.  It's much less literary mag than the stuff Paul Simon wrote at that age.

5). "Idiot Wind" from Blood on the Tracks.  This is a Bob Dylan put down song of the finest caliber.  The lyrics have the bitterness and biting of his earlier angry songs like "Positively 4th Street" and "Like a Rolling Stone," but their is less self-righteous coldness and more emotional pain in "Idiot Wind."  Dylan sings the song so passionately, that at times he sounds vaguely like a pirate.  One of my favorite line sequences in the song nicely sums up the hurt accompanying the end of a long relationship, "I can't feel you anymore/ I can't even touch the books you've read/ Every time I crawl past your door/ I've been wishin' I was someone else instead."  By the end of the song, Dylan even includes himself as equally culpable, "We're idiots, babe/ It's a wonder we can even feed ourselves."  Awesome song, awesome album, check out both!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Happy 89th birthday, Angela Lansbury!

Film, television, and theater star Angela Lansbury turns 89 today. In a career that has spanned 70 years, Lansbury has seemingly done it all. Let's take a look at a small slice of her work:

Broadway

Mame (1966)
Won the Tony award for Best Actress in a Musical for her performance in the title role. Lansbury is one of the women interviewed by author Eddie Shapiro in the book Nothing Like a Dame: Conversations with the Great Women of Musical Theater (2014). She talks about her roles on Broadway, including what was so great about Mame: "You have to understand that up until that point I had had a career that was technically interesting and diverse and full of acting opportunities but I never had a chance to touch a universal audience, really. Men, women, children, dogs, cats, the whole shebang."
Listen to the original cast recording: Mame Soundtrack  

Sweeney Todd (1979)

Won the Tony award for Best Actress in a Musical as Mrs. Lovett.
Listen to the original cast recording: Sweeney Todd Soundtrack 

Television
Murder, She Wrote (1984-1996)
Nominated for Lead Actress in a Drama Emmy as mystery novelist Jessica Fletcher for each of the show's twelve seasons.
Find it in the catalog!

Film noir
Gaslight (1944)
Nominated for the Best Supporting Actress Academy Award in 1945
Find it in the catalog!

Drama

The Picture of Dorian Gray (1945)
Nominated for the Best Supporting Actress Academy Award in 1946
Find it in the catalog!
The Manchurian Candidate (1962)
Nominated for the Best Supporting Actress Academy Award in 1963
Find it in the catalog!

Family films
National Velvet (1944)
Find it in the catalog!

Bedknobs and Broomsticks (1971)
Find it in the catalog!
Nanny McPhee (2005)
Find it in the catalog!

Voiceover work

Beauty and the Beast (1991)
Find it in the catalog!
Do you have a favorite role of Angela Lansbury's? One of my favorite childhood movies was Bedknobs and Broomsticks. Compiling this list has compelled me to seek out her earlier work; I am just amazed to see the scope Angela Lansbury's enduring career!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Best of the 2014 MTV Video Music Awards

Ahh, the VMAs-- our yearly reminder that pop culture has taken a drastic turn towards sheer ridiculousness. In 1995, Courtney Love crashed Madonna's on-screen interview. In 2009, the ever so self-centered Kanye West interrupted Taylor Swift's acceptance speech for Best Female Video to proclaim that Beyoncé had the best music video of all time (duh). In 2013, Miley Cyrus made history by 'twerking' all over Robin Thicke, forever scarring thousands of viewers. And in 2014, the ladies rose above their male counterparts. 

This year, Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj opened the show with a performance that had Grande emerge from a spaceship for her electro-stomper “Break Free,” Minaj dancing in a jungle for “Anaconda” and then the pair united with Jessie J for ladies anthem “Bang Bang.” It was the sort of over-the-top fun that award shows are made for – even if Minaj teetered on the edge of showing all her glory with a wardrobe malfunction. Find Ariana's new album, "My Everything", in the catalog!




Although Ariana and Nicki killed it (if you will), Beyoncé's closing performance was by far the highlight of the night. Using her blockbuster, self-titled visual album – which she dropped without warning late last year – as the source material, she moved through an ambitious medley that pulled from the entire project. Beyoncé reigns supreme. Enough said. You can pick up a copy of her self-titled album at the Dundee Library by clicking here.


 You can also check-out music by other performers like Taylor Swift, Miley Cyrus, and Usher.




Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Recommended Watch: Locke

Locke, starring Tom Hardy, is not blockbuster material. Hardy is the sole actor on screen the entire movie as we ride along his drive from work to London, not home to where he would normally be headed. I won't reveal the exact reason he's not going home, but he makes a life altering decision and now must deal with the fallout. He has a series of phone calls to make and receive as the drive unfolds. We hear his boss, co-worker, wife, boys, and the instigator to is decision. (Love Ruth Wilson, who plays his wife to perfection.)

Given the fact that Locke was filmed in several single takes, Hardy's performance is even more impressive. After a summer of big movies based on previously published materials, it was refreshing to see something original and human. It is small in place and time, but not impact.

Find it in the catalog!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

It's Batman Day!

July 23 is Batman Day! To celebrate the 75th anniversary of Batman, special events are being held at book stores and comic book stores around the world.

Comic book stores are giving away free copies of Detective Comics #27 Special Edition. Modern Age Comics in Algonquin (2210 East Algonquin Rd) is a local comic book store participating in the Batman Day giveaway.

Additionally, tonight a Batman Day Trivia Contest will be held at 7 p.m. in the Barnes and Noble cafe in Spring Hill Mall.

Another way to celebrate is by watching your favorite Batman movie/s. As a kid I loved watching syndicated episodes of the 1960s Batman television series and the 1966 movie starring Adam West. Today the films in Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy, starring Christian Bale, rank among my all-time favorites.

Adam West as Batman:
Batman: The Movie (1966)
Batman (TV series-1966-1968)
The New Adventures of Batman (Animated TV series-1977)

Michael Keaton as Batman:
Batman (1989)
Batman Returns (1992)

Val Kilmer as Batman:
Batman Forever (1995)

George Clooney as Batman:
Batman & Robin (1997)

Christian Bale as Batman:
Batman Begins (2005)
The Dark Knight (2008)
The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

In 2016 audiences will see how Ben Affleck fits into the role in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. I grew up on DC Comics characters, so I am definitely excited to see the film. The only thing that would be better would to have a movie focused on Batman's sidekick, Robin (preferably played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt... Dark Knight Rises, why'd you tease us?).

Which actor do you prefer as Batman? Are you looking forward to Batman and Superman sharing the screen in Batman v Superman?