Views on pop culture through my eyes

Posts tagged ‘nick jonas’

Winter Reviews 2017

So what have I been enjoying this past fall and winter as far as entertainment? Read on to read my latest reviews of DVDs, movies and CDs. AS always comments are kindly welcomed.

DVDs

Kylie Minogue “Kiss Me Once — Live from the Sse Hydro”
This concert movie was filmed on Kylie’s last tour in Scotland. It has all of the hits, plus the costume and set changes we have come to expect from her. Not to mention cute male dancers. Grade: A-

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
A smart and funny teen movie. An outcast forms a unique friendship with a girl dying from cancer. Earl is his best friend that he makes homemade movies with that spoof classic movies. It is very well written and acted. See it! Grade: A-

The Night Before
Seth Rogen stars along with Anthony Mackie and Joseph Gordon Levitt. Joseph is a widower who hangs out with his 2 buddies on the night before Christmas. They decide that it is going to be the last time. There are some chuckles along the way, but not as funny as you think it would be. Grade: C+

99 Homes
This was a very good movie. It’s about the housing crisis, and it’s effect on one young man and his boss. I preferred this movie over “The Big Short” which was good a bit overrated to me. Michael Shannon is a shrewd real estate man, and Andrew Garfield is the man who gets evicted by him. He ends up working for him, and seeing the other side of things. Grade: A-

Legend
Tom Hardy stars as twin gangsters, Ronald and Reginald Kray. One is straight and the other is gay. They terrorized London in the 1960s. Not as good as I had hoped it would be, but if you are a Tom Hardy fan, worth a look. Grade: B-

Concussion
Will Smith stars in the real life story of Dr. Bennet Omalu. He took on the NFL, after a series of players starting going crazy because of all the concussions they had suffered during their years in the game. Definitely a must see, even if you are not into sports. Grade: A-

Joy
Jennifer Lawrence shines in this story inspired by the inventor of the Miracle Mop. Robert De Niro and Bradley Cooper co-star. It shows all the hard work and determination it takes to start a business. Grade: B+

45 Years
This drama stars Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay as a couple on the verge of their 45th wedding anniversary celebration. The husband’s former lover’s body is found in the ice, frozen in an accident 50 years before. This is the event that sets the story in motion. Were they meant to be or did the husband really want to marry the girl that died? Good performances, but overall it was sort of dull. Grade: C+

Eye in the Sky
Helen Mirren heads the cast of this timely drama. She plays a military officer who is in charge of a mission to take out some bad guys in Africa. She is in contact with world leaders and military higher-ups in the British and American governments. The question is should they fire on a house, when there is a chance that the blast will kill a little girl who is near by? What loss of life is acceptable? Should the greater good be taken into account? There are no easy answers in the war on terror. Grade: B

Albums

Lady GaGa “Joanne” Lady GaGa returns with her 4th pop album. Lead single “Perfect Illusion” has failed to take off. It is definitely not the album I expected from her. Very uncommercial, and boring in parts. Mark Ronson produced most of it. The one stand out track for me is “Million Reasons” — a country tune if ever I heard one. Other tracks are sort of 70’s rock inspired. I still love her, but she should realize she is dance artist. Grade: C

Barry Gibb “In the Now” Only the 2nd solo album from the last living Bee Gee. Barry is in fine form, and it sounds like he had fun making this album. He had some help from his sons. I prefer this to recent albums from Lady GaGa and Birtney Spears. Grade: A-

Britney Spears “Glory” Britney is back with her 9th album, featuring lead single “Make Me…” (with G-Eazy). Some decent songs, but at 17 songs on the Deluxe Edition, it doesn’t keep my interest. Most of the songs are sort of mid-tempo dance pop. And not exactly top-notch song-writing either. I am missing the high-energy songs of “Circus” and “Femme Fatale.” Grade: C+

Nick Jonas “Last Year Was Complicated” Nick’s 2nd (or 3rd solo album if you count the one with the Administration) follows the same sort of white-boy pop-rock-soul of the last collection. Except this time he doesn’t have a runaway smash like “Jealous.” Overall, I think it is a better album. Includes the Top Twenty hit with Tove Lo — “Close.” Grade: B

Pentatonix “A Pentatonix Christmas” The a Capella group’s third Christmas album features more reworked classics as well as a couple of new tunes too. Manhattan Transfer is one of the guests. Grade: A-

Kenny Chesney “Cosmic Hallelujah” Kenny’s latest album includes the first 2 singles “Noise” as well as his duet with Pink “Setting the World on Fire.” His albums are always solid, and contain songs you will like after only one listen. Nothing ground breaking here for me, but still enjoyable. Grade: B+

Michael Bublé “Nobody But Me” Another consistent performer who is sticking with his formula: some original tunes, some jazz standards, and a few updates of old pop songs also. All of them have his trademark vocals on them. I like it, but am thinking he should try some different next time. Grade: B

“La La Land” Original Soundtrack  This soundtrack to the modern musical that is one of the top Oscar contenders is a fun souvenir for the movie. It is very jazz oriented, gets your toes tapping and you heart strings going too. If you loved the movie, you need to get this too. Grade: A-

“Moana” Original Soundtrack  This soundtrack to Disney’s latest animated hit, contains all the songs sung in the movie, as well as the orchestral compositions too. Plus bonus tracks also, like pop versions of the 2 main character’s theme songs. Grade: B

Eric Church “Mr. Misunderstood” I am late to the party with this guy. I would see him on country award shows and enjoy his performances. He comes across as a bit of a mix of rebel outlaw and everyday working man. Highlights include “Record Year” and “Kill a Word”. Grade: B

Rascal Flatts “The Greatest Gift of All” This is their first full-length Christmas album. They take the songs you know and perform them in new arrangements. I not so sure about the slow version of “Deck the Halls” though. I do like the a capella parts and it is good to hear the other guys’ voices than just the lead singer. Grade: B

Movies

The Girl on the Train
Emily Blunt stars as the title character. She thinks she sees a woman being murdered from her view on the train. Based on the international bestselling novel, this movie wants to be this year’s Gone Girl. So did she really see a murder, or did she do it herself because she was jealous of the woman? I liked it, but didn’t love it. A good lead performance, but not as shocking as it claimed to be. Grade: B-

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
From J.K. Rowling, this is another wizarding world that centers on magic zooligist Newt Scamander. He has a briefcase that contains magical creatures, that get loose in New York City. Eddie Redmayne stars as the main character. Very special effects heavy, I think it misses the heart of the Harry Potter movies. And I am a big fan of those movies and books. I don’t see how this is going to be a 5 movie series. Grade: C+

Moana
From the creators of Frozen and Zootopia, comes Disney’s latest animated movie: Moana. Moana is a Polynesian girl that must team with a demi-god (voiced by Dwight Johnson) to save her island. Great songs, comedy, action. I enjoyed it very much. Lin-Manual Miranda (Hamilton) had a hand in the song-writing. Grade: A

Moonlight
From director Barry Jenkins, comes the tale of Chiron, a black gay man who is growing up in Miami. The film is divided into 3 sections: childhood, teens and adulthood — with different actors taking on the same role as the movie unfolds. The first 2 sections of the movie were moving to me. It’s the third chapter I had a problem with. I wanted more for the character than what I saw on screen. So ultimately I was a bit disappointed. Good performances overall. Grade: B-

Manchester by the Sea
This drama from writer-director Kenneth Lonergan stars Casey Affleck as a working class guy who has to pick up the pieces once his brother dies suddenly. That includes making funeral arrangements and dealing with his teenage nephew (Lucas Hedges). His character must also face what went wrong with his own life and marriage. Already a major awards contender, it is a movie that shows the messy challenges in everyday life. Grade: A-

Arrival
Amy Adams plays the main character in this science-fiction drama. It concerns aliens coming to earth, and Amy is the lead person that is helping to communicate with the aliens. Jeremy Renner costars as a fellow scientist. There are parts of this movie I liked, but overall, it was just OK to me. More of a thinking sci-fi movie, than an action one. Grade: C+

Lion
One of the surprises in the awards season for me. This movie is sure to tug at your heartstrings. It concerns an Indian boy that gets lost on a train in India. He is not able to get back to his family. He is adopted by a family from Australia and moves there. As an adult, he takes up the task to find his family that he lost. You will be moved by this tale of family (both biological and adopted). Grade: A

A Monster Calls
This fantasy drama centers on a boy who has an active imagination. He imagines a great tree monster that is voiced by Liam Neeson. This monster is very tall, with arms and legs made of twisting branches. The boy is struggling at school with bullying as well as dealing with his Mom in the hospital, and his grandmother taking over raising him for the time being. The look of the movie is very cool, and has some great fantasy sequences. Grade: B+

That’s all for now. Please sound off in the comments. I would love to hear from you. Thanks for reading.

 

Advertisements

Concerts I am Looking Forward to in 2016

As the big music fan that I am, attending concerts is one of my favorite things in life. There is just something about being there in person that cannot be duplicated by watching a show on DVD or listening to it on CD/MP3. So what shows am I looking forward to in 2016? Read on:

Demi Lovato/Nick Jonas
The former “Camp Rock” co-stars are co-headlining the “Future Now” tour. Both were part of the Disney child-star machine that has produced Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears and Miley Cyrus. Demi is touring behind her most recent album “Confident” and Nick is stretching out on his first major tour without his brothers since he hit the big-time with “Jealous”. It should be a great show — I hope they do a few “Camp Rock” tunes too.

Rihanna
This one I have been patiently waiting for. Now it is finally happening. The “Anti” tour is her first since the joint tour with Eminem. It is named after the album of the same name that is still to be released, though we did get a few singles last year like “FourFiveSeconds” and “Bitch Better Have My Money.” One of the best female singers of the 2000’s in my opinion.

Adele
This will be one of the biggest tours of the year for sure. She is touring behind her latest blockbuster album “25”. You will get chills hearing her hit those high notes live on songs like “Hello” and “Rolling in the Deep.” Plus, she has a good sense of humor and is known to drop an F-bomb or 2 too.

Bryan Adams
Eighties Canadian rocker Bryan Adams brings his sing-along anthems to theaters this coming summer. He is touring behind his latest release “Get Up.”

Dixie Chicks
It’s been 10 years since they last toured. It is about time. Hopefully a new album will come out before the show. I saw them 2 times previously and they put on a great show — beautiful harmonies and fantastic songs. The tour is dubbed the “DCX Tour MMXVI” and includes a stop at the world-famous Hollywood Bowl.

Kenny Chesney/Miranda Lambert/Sam Hunt
This triple threat tour is going to be one of the hottest shows of the year hitting stadiums across the country. Dubbed the “Spread the Love” tour, it will also feature Old Dominion; as well as Little Big Town and Jake Owen subbing for Miranda and Sam on select shows. Still waiting for a Los Angeles show to be added.

Carrie Underwood
Former “American Idol” winner Carrie Underwood is heading out behind her recent “Storyteller” album. After seeing the Blown Away tour on DVD, I can definitely say she puts on a great show.

Justin Bieber
This guy has really impressed me this past year: with his music and his performances. He is definitely back and will be hitting the road in support of his chart-topping album “Purpose.” Hopefully he won’t be playing “Baby Baby Baby.” He’s moved on and is showing us the true star he is.

That’s all for my concert wish list for 2016. Which singers and bands are you looking forward to seeing live this year? I would love to hear from you.

KiltManinSoCal is a Los Angeles-based writer and designer. Be sure to check out the latest T-Shirts for sale here, including Marriage Equality and Real Men Wear Kilts lines. They make great gifts for friends, family and loved ones.

Boy Band Black Album

I can’t take credit for this idea, as I saw it on Entertainment Weekly’s website first. But I thought I would put my own take on it, since I have always loved boy bands. It was inspired by a bit in the movie “Boyhood” where Ethan Hawke’s character gives his onscreen son the Beatles “Black” album made up of the best of all their solo songs. So technically, EW was cheating with their list, because if we did it the same way as in the movie, it would only be songs from one particular band (NSync, Backstreet Boys, etc.). But what fun would there be with that? So here are my choices for my Boy Band Black Album:

  1. Brian Littrell — In Christ Alone. For his lone solo album, Brian decided to go in a Christian rock direction. He calls it “pop positive.” Nothing like a little love for Jesus.
  2. Nick Carter — Heart without a Home (I’ll Be Yours). For his first solo album, “Now or Never”, Nick went for a more pop-rock sound. He is still a lover at heart.
  3. JC Chasez — Something Special. It’s too bad JC’s career never took off. His first solo album was pretty good, if eclectic. This country pop number is one of my favorites from it.
  4. Nick Lachey — What’s Left of Me. I remember when Nick didn’t want to be seen as a hunk to sell records… that was for his first flop solo CD. This one came out after his breakup with Jessica Simpson. Who doesn’t love a wounded sexy man?
  1. Robbie Williams — Angels. He was a member of Take That, before he left for his own successful solo career. He never really took off in America like he has the rest of the world, and that’s too bad. This was one of his best.
  2. Joey McIntyre — All I Wanna Do. The young kid from New Kids on the Block, grew up nicely. I remember seeing him on his first solo tour, and the venue was half empty. Oh well! This is still a fun song.
  3. George Michael — I Want Your Sex. Yes, he was from a boy band — Wham! I even have their first album released in the US as Wham UK. Before all the headlines and craziness, this was one of his best.
  4. Nick Jonas — Who I Am. Recorded with his backing band, the Administration, Nick showed that he was fine without his brothers. Now he’s finally working on his 2nd solo project. I am looking forward to it.
  5. Jordan Knight — A Different Party. The 2nd NKOTB guy to make my list. His first solo album had him taking on a more R&B direction than his group. It works for me!
  6. Gary Barlow — Open Road. He was also in Take That. This is the title track from his first solo album.

I purposely left off Justin Timberlake. He has shown he is a true superstar, but I am disappointed that he doesn’t give NSync more love. He wouldn’t be where he is today without that group. The least he can do is do a medley of NSync songs in his show like Beyonce does for Destiny’s Child. Which reminds me, maybe I can do a Girl Group Black Album next. Any suggestions? I would love to hear from you.

KiltManinSoCal is a Los Angeles-based writer and designer. Be sure to check out the latest T-Shirts for sale here, including Marriage Equality and Real Men Wear Kilts lines. They make great gifts for friends, family and loved ones.

Hollywood Bowl 2011: Hairspray

Hairspray
Saturday, August 6, 2011
Hollywood Bowl

Creative Forces:
Jerry Mitchell, director/choreographer
Lon Hoyt, musical director

Cast:
Harvey Fierstein (Edna Turnblad)
Marissa Jaret Winokur (Tracy Turnblad)
Susan Anton (Velma Von Tussle)
Corbin Bleu (Seaweed J. Stubbs)
Drew Carey (Wilbur Turnblad)
Diana DeGarmo (Penny Pingleton)
Mo Gaffney (Prudy Pingleton / Gym Teacher / Matron)
Nick Jonas (Link Larkin)
Darlene Love (Motormouth Maybelle)
Tara Macri (Amber Von Tussle)
Michael McDonald (Harriman F. Spritzer / Principal / Mr. Pinky / Guard)
John Stamos (Corny Collins)

Comments: Hairspray took over the Bowl last weekend for 3 shows. This is one show that has plenty of life left in it. It won 8 Tony’s including best musical back in 2003. The musical was based on John Waters’ non-musical version from 1988. And who can forget the big-screen version of the musical featuring John Travolta and Zac Efron in 2007. This was my second time seeing the Bowl’s big staged musical after seeing “Rent” last year. I have to say this one came off better that that did (even though I enjoyed that show too). Great cast, terrific staging and those catchy songs. Not to mention that it ends on a high note with “You Can’t Stop the Beat.”

The story is basically the same in all it’s incarnations: Tracy Turnblad, an overweight teenager from Baltimore, becomes a sensation when she begins dancing on a TV dance show. She falls for the resident hunk and helps to integrate the show (blacks and whites dancing together). So some pretty heavy topics: weight issues, low self esteem, not fitting in, racism and sexism. Yet this is one of the happiest musicals you will ever see. Everyone can identify with being an outcast and not fitting in. We’ve all been there! We can relate to not being one of the popular kids, but wanting to be. And when Tracy becomes popular we get to share in her joy, as she raises up those around her, her mother, her friends and the community too.Nick Jonas

This was my first time seeing the stage version, and there were a few differences. No “Ladies Choice” (From Link) and no “Miss Baltimore Crabs” (From Velma). There was a song that I was not familiar at all with called “The Big Dollhouse” when Tracy and the gang end up in jail. No reprise of “Big, Blonde & Beautiful” by the Velma character, but there was a reprise of “Good Morning Baltimore.” Plus I got to see/hear “Mama, I’m a Big Girl Now” which was on the 2007 soundtrack, but not in the movie.

The show started when some of the actors came out and sang the National Anthem in character. Harvey Fierstein and Marissa Jaret Winokur reprised their award-winning roles from Broadway (as Edna and Tracy Turnblad) along with an all-star cast from stage, screen and the pop charts. Yeah, Marissa is a bit old for Tracy considering she is 38, but she is so good at the part, you can get past it. Harvey was good also. I preferred John Travolta’s vocals, but it was still a fun performance.

It seemed like there were a few more topical jokes than I remember from the movies. Nick Jonas was one the stand-outs for me in the show. He is still a teen idol himself at the ripe old age of 19. He had the moves, the voice and the look of someone who can make the girls (and gay guys) melt. I have been telling people for years how talented those brothers are. He will probably be getting more offers for Broadway after this show.

(more…)

Tag Cloud

%d bloggers like this: