Many movies start off with the premise of “what if” and go on from there. It is up to the screenwriter(s) to make the “what if” narrative feel new and alive instead of boring and predictable.
In the new film,Yesterday, Jack (Himesh Patel) is a singer-songwriter who just can’t get a break. One of his only fans is his long time bestie and manager Ellie (Lily James). Though he yearns to be a professional musician, he earns his bread by working at a local big box store. Then there is blackout all over the world and Jack is hit by a bus.
When he wakes up, he discovers that The Beatles have been erased from music history. Taking advantage of his knowledge, Jack starts to see his music career become a reality. But at what cost to his conscious and his relationship with Ellie?
Yesterday is charming, engaging and insightful. The music is obviously catchy. Jack’s arc over the course of the film is both cinematic and down to earth. I also appreciated the color blind casting of Patel in the lead role. As both actor and singer, Patel brings a level of reality to this performance in this otherwise out there world that his character inhabits.
We all have dreams. But often times, dreams clash with the real world, especially when our responsibilities come knocking.
In the new movie,Wild Rose, Rose-Lynn (Jessie Buckley) has just been released from prison. Her dream is to become a country music star. But the bubble of the dream is quickly burst. Her mother, Marion (Julie Walters) has been taking care of her grandchildren during her daughter’s incarceration and insists that Rose-Lynn be the parent her kids need her to be.
To bring in income, Rose-Lynn is hired by Susannah (Sophie Okonedo) as a cleaning lady. Susannah discover’s Rose-Lynn’s talent and encourages her to go for the dream. But while Rose-Lynn is chasing her dream, she must also take care of her kids.
Can she do both or must her dream be sacrificed for her children?
This movie is brilliant. The narrative speaks to all us who have dreams, but must also face the reality of our responsibilities. As the title character, Buckley is flawed, human, but also very real. As her mother, Walters just wants what is best for her daughter and grandchildren, even if that means putting aside the dream for reality. As Susannah, Okonedo is the character who encourages Rose-Lynn to go for it. If only those of us with dreams had someone like that in our corner.
In addition to acting, Buckley is doing her own singing, adding another level of reality to her performance. I knew her from her previous roles as a good actress, but it was her singing that blew me away.
I’ve often spoken about the Columbine shooting and the unnecessary loss of young life twenty years ago. Back then, it was front page news for weeks on end.
These days, mass shootings in the United States are just another blip on list of daily news headlines. The headline may last a week at best on the front page before it slowly fades from the nation’s consciousness.
Earlier this week, Madonna released her new music video. Entitled God Control, the video tells the story of a fictional shooting in an New York City nightclub similar to the massacre at the nightclub in Orlando three years ago.
I will warn you that the video does contain graphic imagery.
There is enormous power in celebrity. In using her voice and her music, Madonna speaks of the heartache and grief that gun violence creates. We need sensible gun control laws. There has to be a way to respect the 2nd Amendment and responsible gun owners while protecting innocent people.
My hope (though it often springs eternal) is that one of these days, sensible gun laws will be the law of the land. Until then, we will continue to grieve for those who are killed simply because they are in the wrong place at the wrong time.
On June 25th, 2009, Michael Jackson departed this earth. Known as the “King of Pop”, Jackson was and still is one of the most influential musicians of the past fifty years. He is one of the few artists whose music transcends genres and breaks barriers. One would have to have lived under a rock to not know about Jackson and his music.
His music and his image as a performer is burned into our cultural memory. We have danced to his music, sung karaoke (some of us better than others) and dressed up as Jackson for Halloween.
While Jackson is revered for his art, his moral failings are another story. Accusations of sexual abusing minors and pedophilia followed him for years, even after his passing. Earlier this year, the HBO documentary Leaving Neverlandblew the door wide open about the allegations that up to that point, had not been clearly confirmed or denied.
Is there an easy answer to this question? I wish that there was. No one is perfect, we all make mistakes and have faults. However, there is a difference between having faults and molesting young children. One is natural, the other is just plain illegal.
Readers, what do you think? Can we still appreciate Jackson’s music while condemning his moral failings?
Born Reggie Dwight in 1947, his early years were not exactly sunshine and roses. His parents, Sheila (Bryce Dallas Howard) and Stanley (Steven Mackintosh) don’t have an easy relationship. The ruptures in their marriage extend to the relationship with their son. Stanley is cold and demanding. Sheila is slightly more maternal, but I wouldn’t describe her as the ideal mother. The only person who genuinely loves and supports the future rock star is his grandmother Ivy (Gemma Jones).
As a young man, Reggie starts to build a career as a musician. That career becomes a reality when he meets Bernie Taupin (Jamie Bell). But as often happens, success gets to Elton’s head. While his career thrives, so does his relationship with John Reid (Richard Madden). Adding to all of this is his growing addiction to alcohol and drugs.
This movie is interesting, especially in the sub-genre of music biopics. The narrative can be described as musical-like, with the songs driving the narrative. Instead of lip syncing to pre-recorded songs sung by the real life Elton John, Egerton does his own singing and is surprisingly good.
What strikes me is that the narrative underneath the music is the story of a man who is fighting lifelong demons of mental health and self esteem. His story, regardless of one’s sexuality, is a reminder that one can overcome one’s demons and live a full life.
Getting your big break in the entertainment industry requires luck, hard work and being in the right place at the right time. Or, perhaps auditioning on television for millions of viewers.
Last night, Songland premiered on NBC. The premise of the show is as follows: four unknown songwriters audition with their songs in front of three respected producers/songwriters and one guest musician or band who will record the winning song. Ryan Tedder, Ester Dean and Shane McAnally are the producers/songwriters who provide guidance to the hopefuls. The guest musician last night was John Legend.
After three of the four songs are chosen, the producers will work on the song with the song writers. After the song has been refined, the song writers will then perform the updated song. One song and one songwriter is chosen as the winner.
I really like this show. Unlike other competition reality show where the focus is getting into the entertainment industry, Songland feels authentic. As a viewer I was genuinely rooting for the contestants and on the edge of my seat for the entire episode.
Impeaching a President or any politician is serious business. It requires unassailable proof that the accused has committed a crime. The problem in the US these days is that the answer to the question of if we should impeach you know who depends on who asks the question.
This morning, Randy Rainbow released his new video, “JUST IMPEACH HIM – Randy Rainbow Song Parody“.
I have to admit that I cannot identify the original song or the artist. That being said, this is the first Randy Rainbow song that I do not unilaterally agree with. Though I laughed (as I do with his previous songs), I have to admit that this song made me think.
While I agree that the actions of you know who are morally and politically questionable, impeachment should only occur when the evidence cannot be questioned or denied. The problem from my perspective is that this evidence either does not exist or is only known to certain people who are keeping it from the voting public.
Either way, until this evidence is made public, I cannot and will stand behind impeaching you know who.
Towards the end of the episode, Sandler paid tribute to his late friend and colleague, Chris Farley.
The song was as beautiful and sentimental as it was heart-wrenching.
Farley was more than a comedic genius and the comedy heir to the late John Belushi. He had a heart of gold and a honest desire to make people laugh. There was a joy to his performances that radiated from the stage to the audience.
My favorite Chris Farley sketch is Matt Foley: Van Down By The River.
RIP Chris, thanks for the laugh and thank you Adam for the memories.
Politics has a way of dividing us. Music and humor has a way or bringing us together.
Just a few hours ago, Randy Rainbow released his latest video, entitled “BARR! – Randy Rainbow Song Parody“.
Based on the opening song from Beauty and the Beast, “Belle“, the video highlights that the current Attorney General, William Barr, is not doing his job. His job is to serve and protect the American people, not serve and protect the President. Like many of those in the administration, Mr. Barr’s priorities are completely lopsided. They have forgotten who hired and who continues to pay them.
If I have to be honest, I’ve been a bit depressed due to my current job situation. This video made me laugh and if only for a few minutes, put a smile on my face.
Mental health disorders have a way of isolating those who suffer. Logically, they know that they have a solid support system of family, friends and partners/spouses. But mental illness and depression specifically says otherwise. It makes that person feel alone, that everyone around them is lying. The only thing that is honest is their depression.
Recently, the rock band Disturbed released their latest song and accompanying video, “A Time To Fight“.
The thing that strikes me about this song and the video is that it negates the idea that those who suffer from depression and other mental illnesses suffer are alone. There are millions of us who wake up everyday with this weight on our emotional shoulders.
Knowing that we are not alone, that there are many out there who suffer from this disease is important not just for those who live with mental illness, but for those who love them. That knowledge, from my perspective, is the most important aspect of not just treatment, but living a full life.
Historical and Literary Fiction / Essays / Poetry / Reviews /Book Cover and Interior Illustrations / Pet Portraits and Other Commissioned Artwork ... "Life can't ever really defeat a writer who is in love with writing, for life itself is a writer's lover until death - fascinating, cruel, lavish, warm, cold, treacherous, constant." ~ Edna Ferber, 1885-1968, American novelist, short story writer and playwright