thehefner: (Venture Bros: Theatre People)
One of these days, I really need to work on a proper essay about Frank Oz's Little Shop of Horrors, to cover five topics in detail:

1.) Why it's one of the greatest movie musicals ever, even if the only time I ever hear it referenced in pop culture is via Family Guy (who've directly homaged it no less than three times)

2.) Why it's vastly superior to the stage versions, both the original and revival

3.) Why Menken and Ashman are perhaps the greatest musical writing duo of all time

4.) The brilliant Bill Murray scene, which adds absolutely nothing to the story

5.) Why it's a rare example of a studio audience being absolutely right in rejecting the dark original ending in favor of a re-shot happy one.

For now, I'll say this much. In the context of the original stage show, it fits to have the plant win. It's a Faustian bargain, and those never go well. But the film makes enough tweaks to the storyline, most notably with the brilliant new song "Mean Green Mother From Outer Space," that automatically make Seymour less of a weak-willed sucker who deserves his fate and more of an underdog who we WANT to win. Frankly, Rick Moranis and Ellen Greene put so much genuine emotion into "Suddenly Seymour" that I honestly can't imagine anyone really enjoying watching them lose and get eaten, as the original script warranted. But no matter how important and truthful it is to see people pay for the consequences of their actions, I find the original ending to LSOH too damn ugly, because Seymour and Audrey just didn't deserve their fates, especially since the film version pretty much absolved Seymour for Mr. Mushnik's death by outright making Mushnik an opportunistic, blackmailing thief. For those who haven't seen it, here's how the film originally ended, and it's the version preferred by Oz, Moranis, and pretty much everybody involved with the film:











It doesn't help that "Don't Feel the Plants" is the weakest song by far of all the songs included in the LSOH film. The film lost several songs from the original Off-Broadway version, and was better off for it. None of those songs were anything to write home about, and the same goes for "Don't Feed the Plants," which fails to convincingly sell the idea that the two characters whom you came to care about all died in the name of the film's overall message. It's a bad song and a bad ending that appeals only to critics who bend over backwards to betray character and emotion in the cold name of theme.
thehefner: (Applause)
I was already trying to come up with a list of the best musical numbers in non-musical movies before it occurred to me that someone may have already put together such a list. But after a quick Google search revealed samples from the likes of Premiere Magazine rather blah assortment* and this particularly smugly joyless counterpart, I knew it was high time to get the ball rolling myself. Especially as neither list included any of my candidates.



MAGNOLIA:





I actually saw this video before I saw the film itself. I avoided MAGNOLIA for fear that it would be a pretentious crapfest, and dear god, did I ever hate PTA's follow-up, PUNCH-DRUNK LOVE. Dear lord, did I hate that film. But my bottomless adoration for THERE WILL BE BLOOD--coupled by a tribute by Flight of the Chonchords--led me to watch the video on its own, without having seen the film. I'm not quite sure why I started to break down in tears by the end, but I knew I had to see the film.

I eventually did, and I still enjoy it it decidedly more than I think I should, but the key to the whole film is that song, a song which I probably wouldn't like if I just heard it on its own. But the synthesis of song and actors and direction just come together powerfully, which is why I'm amazed it isn't on either of the lists.



BODY DOUBLE (NSFW!!!):




That entrance? That's how I want to enter every room. Sometimes, I do it anyway, and play the music in my head. Then I get the weird looks. I don't care.

I seriously don't get the love for Brian De Palma (other than PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE), particularly when it comes to his 80's films of "hey, let's totally pay tribute to Hitchcock by lifting whole scenes/concepts of his and add tits!" But I will always love BODY DOUBLE for this one scene, which came out of fucking nowhere when I first saw it. Craig Wasson goes undercover as a porn star to meet up with an actress (Melanie Griffifth) who may or may not have information that'll help him solve a murder. You would have no way of knowing that watching this. I don't care. Let Frankie bid you willkommen.

Also, which famous voice actor utters the last line? Give you a hint: ANIMANIACS.



ROCKY IV:





As if Paulie Getting A Robot (and then marrying it, YOU CAN'T TELL ME THAT ISN'T WHAT HAPPENED) wasn't enough clue that ROCKY IV was a loooooooong way away from the humble blue collar roots of the original ROCKY, this scene happened. For me, this is a clear example of what makes the ROCKY saga brilliant, taken both as films and as meta.

It speaks to the over-the-top ridiculousness of everything Rocky himself has become (which is to say, he's fully entered Apollo's world where a man can enter the ring dressed as George Washington and no one bats an eye), while also being a grand glorious flag-waving spectacle of Reagan in the face of a humorless and somewhat befuddled Ivan Drago, who watches the whole thing with a mixture of "Not impressed," and "Seriously, what the hell are you people doing?"



When I saw the trailer for the Gerard Butler action film GAMER, there was a very brief shot of Michael C. Hall leading mind-controlled convicts in what seemed to be a dance number of evil. I prayed that this would be the case. While I still haven't--and likely will never--see GAMER, its existence has been validated by this scene, because yes, that's exactly what's happening here.



Watch Gamer (2009) - Dance Scene in Entertainment  |  View More Free Videos Online at Veoh.com


If the video doesn't work, by all means check out the video at the end of the AV Club's article, "GAMER: I WATCHED THIS ON PURPOSE."


Oh! And Henchgirl reminded me of one more. How could I have forgotten BLUE VELVET?





I love showing people BLUE VELVET. They start off hating the film as being hackneyed, corny, cheezy, and just plain boring as hell. Then Dennis Hopper shows up, and as Gene Siskel once put it, the audience realizes they're in over their head. But none of that prepares you for the WTF-ness of Dean Stockwell's character, and this legendary scene. Orbison's song has been forever ruined, but god damn, what a way to go.



What do you guys think? What else belongs on this list? What are your favorite musical moments in non-musicals?




*Half of which I'd never willingly watch in the first place; I want (500) DAYS OF SUMMER's very concept to take corporeal form just so I could stab it)
thehefner: (Venture Bros: Theatre People)
Coming at this a week late, but whatever...

Everything about the much-publicized musical episode of BATMAN: THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD--starring Neil Patrick Harris!!!--should have resulted in an utterly delightful episode tailor-made for the showtune-loving-superhero-fan in me.

Henchgirl and I were giddy at the prospect, squealing with glee when Black Manta pirouetted in the first couple minutes. But then it was all downhill from there. The story, and everything involving Black Canary* was bad enough, but what really did it were the songs.Oh god, I hated the songs. Hated them. They were like every lame showtune that comes on the Broadway radio channel, the kind Henchgirl and I listen to for about a minute before going, "Wow, this sucks," and changing the station.

Then again, we have particular tastes when it comes to showtunes. Henchgirl summed up our dislike of the episode by saying, "Well, we live in a post-WICKED world." Which is to say, neither of us have actually seen WICKED, but every time we hear one of the songs on Broadway radio (and I make it a point to listen to them all the way through), we're just shocked by how much we hate them.

Blasphemy, I know. I tried to give it a shot, I really did! Henchgirl always wanted to change the station, but I said, "No, we need to listen to this all the way through to give it a fair shot!" And maybe, maybe it all works better in context, so perhaps I need to actually see WICKED on stage to judge it properly. Still, you should have seen my face as we listened to "For Good" and "Defying Gravity." I'm told that my contorted look of disgust was pretty epic. Henchgirl says, "It looked like you were melting. It was amazing."

So maybe TB&TB's musical episode was actually "good" in the sense that it successfully tapped into the kind of popular musical like your WICKEDs, your RENTs, your LES MISERABLES/MISS SAIGONs, and--of course--your Webbers (pretty much all Andrew Lloyd Webber, save for JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR). You know, the musicals I hate.

But me, I was hoping for a different kind of musical style to ape. I'm not asking for Kander & Ebb or Sondheim,** but good lord, with NPH in tow, I was at least hoping for a Bat-flavored DR. HORRIBLE. And this is ME talking! The Joss Anti-Fan! I disliked BUFFY, yet the BUFFY musical episode was enough to hook me into the series! Why couldn't we have that kind of quality for BATMAN, even if it's just the "kid-friendly" version?

Really, the only song that I found even decently enjoyable is this one. And even then, it's mainly for the cameos.





But hey, it could have been worse. At least it wasn't the aborted Tim Burton BATMAN musical by Jim Steinman. I don't know if even the delightfulness of NPH could have pulled off songs like this:



Not that I wouldn't pay good money to hear Mark Hamill try. For a minute.




*The prospect of a Black Canary voiced by Grey DeLisle--and looking like Veronica Lake drawn by Darwyn Cooke--should have been far, far more wonderful than what we actually got: a lame "I love Batman" motivation, a series of dry "Will he ever love me?"songs, and a fickle inexplicable turnaround to loving Ollie (like she should have done all along).

**I just showed Henchgirl SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE (after already showing her INTO THE WOODS and the Hearn/Lansbury SWEENEY TODD, which is the *only* SWEENEY TODD in our estimation) and spent 2/5ths of the film sobbing. God, it's getting worse. I just need to hear three specific notes to make me burst into tears.

I don't know what the hell it is about this damn musical that affects me so. Henchgirl says it's because it's about the struggle of being an artist. Makes sense, but I don't see why that should be any reason I ought to get misty every time I hear Bernadette Peters sing.
thehefner: (Venture Bros: Theatre People)
GREAT PERFORMANCES on PBS to air CHESS: IN CONCERT.

I made a series of undignified and entirely un-straight-manly series half-gasp half-squeals upon learning this news. After all these years, an actual stage recording of my favorite musical of all time. And what a cast, too! Josh Groban's got the voice, but I just wonder if he has the fire of Tommy Korberg?

My only disappointment is the lack of Raul Esparza* as the Arbiter, because holy heck, what I'd give to see a proper recording of this:



If I ever had the money and influence, my dream stage project would be to produce a redux of CHESS in the same way that Sam Mendes reworked the book of CABARET for his Alan Cumming version. Also, I would up the "80's-ness" of the show like whoa (just as I would with the second half of SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE).

CHESS IN CONCERT is apparently out on DVD as of today, but hell, I'm still tempted to see if it's airing here in Montreal and reworking my entire Fringe schedule around the show. It's that important.



*I still think about him in Sondheim's COMPANY. Man, that show *feel* like I should love it, but I'm just not yet old enough for the themes to matter to me at all. I feel absolutely zero resonance in those characters and their problems. Songs are good, though. I mean, it's frickin' Sondheim, of course they are.
thehefner: (Doc Ock)
New report on Julie Taymor and Bono's SPIDER-MAN musical, and fuck you New York Post, I'm still calling it a goddamn musical and you'll like it.

Never mind the news that Spidey has a new villain named "Swiss Miss." The real news is that the show will also feature Spidey clashing with the Green Goblin, Carnage, Electro, Rhino, Swarm and the Lizard. Okay, now while I am bummed we don't get Otto Octavius musical action (c'mon, you can SO see Taymor pulling off a stage version of Doc Ock!), the real news here is clearly the fact that Swarm is included. For those who don't know, this is Swarm:



Swarm is a Nazi. A Nazi made of bees.

And soon, he shall be a singing Nazi made out of bees.

Why the hell didn't Taymor and Bono just look at each other mid-production and go, "Fuck it, scrap the whole thing and rewrite it all around Swarm, he's clearly the star here."

If they did that, and replaced Bono with Jim Steinman, we'd obviously have the greatest Broadway show ever. Sondheim's eyes would bleed from its awesomeness.

brain-dump

Dec. 10th, 2008 07:03 pm
thehefner: (Two-Face: Snarl)
It's official. Seattle gives me pinkeye. Or at least, something here at Edd's house does. Every time I've come to visit over the past year, bam! Pinkeye. What the hell.



Comics this week hurt my soul. Like, watch this: Marvel's DARK REIGN # 1? FINAL CRISIS # 5? Ow, my soul! See?

On the plus side, there's SECRET SIX # 4. Bane and Scandal are absolutely wonderful, and I will never stop loving Deadshot.

And then there's NIGHTWING. Sigh. Harvey's latest story was... predictably disappointing. If one can expect to be disappointed. Ultimately, it's just another "Two-Face is unrepentantly evil and not much more" depiction. Sigh again.

Back to the ol' Harvey Dent novel. I've been an editing machine lately, tightening up the story throughout. Once I get Bloo's notes in and incorporated, draft number six will be ready!

It's really good, you guys. It'll probably always be too long, but I'm super-pleased nonetheless.



To cheer myself up, courtesy of [livejournal.com profile] scarydavedc:

17 Fabulous Prequels To Broadway Musicals
by Lydon, Toon, Norman, & Rutledge


1. Kate, We Haven’t Been Introduced
2. Bar Mitzvah of La Mancha
3. Sand And Primer Your Wagon
4. A Chorus Dot
5. Fiddler Borrows A Ladder
6. Little Business Plan of Horrors
7. A Star's Mom Allows A Handsome Stranger To Buy Her A Drink
8. Indian Territory!
9. The Guy Who Is A Little Intense But Keeps To Himself And Isn’t Really Bothering Anyone Of The Opera
10. Annie There’s A Waiting Period
11. Kittens
12. Brand New Acquaintance Joey
13. Handshake Of The Spider Woman
14. Jesus Christ Waiter
15. Starlight Right-of-Way Allocation And Environmental Impact Study
16. Vocal Warm-ups On A Cloudy Day
17. West Side Backstory



Also, Edd just informed me that NPR just did a whole story on how Northern Virginia sucks total ass, with special emphasis on Tyson's Corner. He's now seriously considering writing in to Robert Siegel and thanking him profusely, as we both shouted, "FINALLY! THIS SHIT IS BEING GIVEN NATIONAL ATTENTION, AND WE'VE KNOWN ABOUT IT OUR WHOLE LIVES!"

NoVA peeps, I love y'all, but seriously.
thehefner: (Venture Bros: Theatre People)
I can honestly say that I think there's a little something for every single one of you on my f-list in this video:




Y'know, this reminds me, I wish I had John C. Reilly's career. Besides the monologues, I would love to be the guy whose career has him doing films with Scorsese, arthouse dramas, broad comedies*, musicals, Stanley Kowalski on Broadway, a TV show on Adult Swim, and even a couple tracks for an album of pirate songs.

I want his agent now, damn it. John C. Reilly has my dream career.



*Too many to count specifically, but I will say that WALK HARD: THE DEWEY COX STORY is a hilarious film that dearly needs to be discovered and embraced years later, like ZOOLANDER was.
thehefner: (Applause)
So. I haven't finished OZ yet. My rented disc 3 of Season 4 was defective, so I just got derailed entirely.

As such, I was not aware of this. This, which is now one of my favorite things ever )the top 100, anyway. One day, when I'm really looking to be distracted from writing, I'll probably compile a list).



I died when I saw that. Then I showed it to Mom, and then she died. Then we watched it again and we died all over again. It's the "Look it's tiiiiiime..." that does it. Good lord, that's magnificent. The Itchy and Scratchy of Oz get their own musical number.

Apparently the whole episode has numbers like this, which a quick search on YouTube confirmed. Father Makuda (B.D. Wong) doing Tori Amos' "Leather" and Sister Peter Marie (Rita Moreno) singing "Days Like These"? Methinks it's time to throw OZ back on the Netflix queue while I wait for LOST season 4 to hit DVD.

Now if only we can get a duet of "Puttin' on the Ritz" between Simon Adebisi and his magical little hat.

title or description

I can just see it now.

ADEBISI: If you're blue and you don't know
where to go to why don't you go
where fashion sits...

ADEBISI'S MAGICAL LITTLE HAT: ...

ADEBISI: *stabs you with a shiv*

Beat that, Taco.
thehefner: (Kids in the Hall: Simon Eats Soup!)
THE RETURN OF CAPTAIN INVINCIBLE is one of the weirdest goddamn films I have ever seen. And I've seen THE NINTH CONFIGURATION.



Several times throughout the viewing, I wondered if I'd fallen into a codeine-induced slumber. Only that could explain the bizarre mishmash of superhero parody, superhero satire, legitimate post-modern superhero movie, Australian (with bad American accents) comedy fantasy musical with corny jokes and cornier special effects.

And as I feared, the rest of the movie doesn't quite match up to the still-brilliant
"Name Your Poison" musical number where Christopher Lee tempts recovering alcoholic superhero Alan Arkin with booze. For the love of god, is there anything in that previous sentence that isn't break-breakingly awesome?

See, that's the thing: I can't quite tell how self-aware this film is, and that's part of the charm. Indeed, it's a bizarrely charming film for how it's clearly meant to be tongue in cheek, yet there are moments throughout where the tongue slips out and settles into a decidedly earnest palate (I'm like fucking Fred Astaire with my metaphors here!).

It's an weirdly uneven film, and yet by the time we get to Richard O'Brien's theme for Captain Invincible, I found myself grinning from ear to ear, or at least as much as I could in my codeine stupor.

I need to own this film, but the Netflix DVD I got was only technically widescreen, in that it was obviously cropped from a standard format cut, thus making it not only but a portion of the film but also even grainier (my widescreen high-def screen doesn't help). Dare I take the risk and purchase the DVD 3-pack, which also includes the director's two other masterpieces, the Christopher Walken probe-fest COMMUNION and the surely-classic THE HOWLING III: THE MARSUPIALS? Even if it's cropped to shit, I don't suppose it's worth holding out hope for a remastered special edition DVD one of these days, right?

This film is one of those little tragedies: a perfect cult film sorely lacking a following. But at least it's one of Terry Pratchett's favorite films, so that's something, eh?

In the meantime, I at least have clips online such as this utterly smexy and badass (in its way) musical number, "Evil Mister Midnight," showcasing the delightful awesomeness of Alan Arkin in tights and Christopher Lee singing about EVIL while surrounded by sexy dancers surely fresh off the alternate-universe set of Bob Fosse's ROCKY HORROR SHOW. If you can't find something to like in that clip, then god help you.
thehefner: (Darkplace: One-Track Lover)
I...

... have just discovered one of the greatest things ever.

By which I mean, not greatest for everybody (although I'd hope everybody with a soul in their heart can appreciate such things), but I'm talking about something that just might beat GARTH MARENGHI'S DARKPLACE on levels of sheer "they must have found an alternate universe version of John Hefner, given him a camera, a budget, some cocaine, and a time machine, and set him loose" factor. Because only in my wildest dreams could I--and only I--have fashioned something like THE RETURN OF CAPTAIN INVINCIBLE.

Who has seen this movie? I haven't, but after seeing this, I know I must. Look, just... just watch this for yourself.

Alan Arkin as an alcoholic superhero. Christopher Lee as the supervillain. And music by Richard O'Brien.



I am in Heaven. I am one step closer to being ready to die.
thehefner: (Venture Bros: Theatre People)
Y'know, ten minutes in, I was already composing my LJ entry. I was already thinking of how I was gonna have to write in, "Oh fucking hell, all right, fine, you win, DR. HORRIBLE'S SING-ALONG BLOG is utterly delightful." Try as I might, I couldn't help be won over by virtually everything involving the title character and Captain Hammer. But not because of Joss being Joss, but rather... well, I'll get to that in a second.

But then, halfway though around part 2, I started realizing I wanted to bash in my own head/mind. And again, not because of Joss being Joss, and how his style generally makes me want to tear out my eyeballs and shove them in my ears... but because I realized that I hated Penny. I hated her acting, I hated her singing, I hated pretty much everything about her. I kept waiting for Joss to make her more interesting, to give us a character twist of some kind...

... shit, y'know what? Much as I hate the trademark Joss Whedon Spunky Female Characters, *that* would have been a vast improvement over what she was here: a typically boring and boringly typical ingenue.

Now, first of all, I think the ending is perfect.

But it could have been... perfecter.*

Really, after hearing how controversial the ending was (considering my how entire f-list has been consumed by Horrible-Mania befitting the show's mastermind, "perfect" was the immediate judgment that popped in my head. And yet, did anybody else really like Penny? If most others felt the way I did, then the ending kind of loses some of its emotional power.

I mean, really, as it is, that ending is kinda the most satisfying out there. I dunno, maybe if I did like her more, it would have been more distressing, and would have felt more like typical Whedonesque cruelty in storytelling. As it is, it's just tragic enough to feel slightly meaty but satisfying enough that I don't feel depressed.

But I dunno. Maybe it should have been more.

And ending which should be more powerful and tragic feels, honestly, like the best ending under the circumstances. And while I still love the ending, I can't shake the feeling like it could have been more. No, correction, the knowledge of how it should have been more.



That said, how many of you fans of DR. HORRIBLE don't watch THE VENTURE BROS? Because you need to. It's one of the very best shows on TV right now, I absolutely shit you not, and my dislike of Joss was overwhelmed by my love of VENTURE BROS and THE TICK (as well as musicals, but as musical numbers went, they were cute but little more).

I mean, really, I *know* VB is a cartoon, and I *know* it's not Joss, but it's brilliant and I would love to see the day when the latest VB episode gets talked and raved about as much as a delightful bit of entertaining fluff from the "Master." Especially with supervillain/henchman exchanges such as this:

MONARCH: I hated him so much, I just... I just wanted to kick his ass! I wanted to build a machine to kick his ass! I wanted to create an empire to house the machine to kick his ass!"

HENCHMAN NUMBER 24: Then by god... LET'S GO TAKE A DUMP IN HIS POOOOOOOL!!!

And on top of being hilarious, they're increasingly pulling off rich character depth and even poignancy on a regular basis. So, yeah... watch VENTURE BROS now.

I can probably guarantee that it's better than DOLLHOUSE will be.



*See, folks! I can talk in cutesy Whedonese as well! Aren't you amazed? WHY AREN'T YOU AWESOMED BY ME?!
thehefner: (Harrumph)
Blast. I was all psyched to go to New York just for the day, with the sole and express purpose of catching the final weekend of SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE at Studio 54, and what happened? Mom punked out on me.

We were gonna drive up, seeing as how I was having a great deal of difficulty getting bus tickets scheduled, and there's no way I'm up for doing that drive solo in my still-exhausted-from-travel condition. Now it turns out she spaced on the fact that she was gonna be out of town for the weekend, so nope, NYC ain't happening.

Not that I'm surprised, mind you. She has a history of doing this, which is why I held off on actually buying the tickets. Still, shit.

Greyhound schedules aren't showing up for me online, and the train is a hundred bucks each way. Even still, going through all that just to see the show alone... man, I'm just hoping it's getting filmed for GREAT PERFORMANCES or something. Sigh.



Hell with this. If I'm gonna be grounded in DC for the weekend, I'm gonna finally get some goddamned sleep. And then, I'll spend tomorrow rehearsing hardcore, then reward myself with a Perfect Heftini (truly, a cocktail I can call my own!) and then see WALL*E, which I understand is a masterpiece.

I skipped RATATOUILLE in theaters, half because I thought, "Well, it's so obviously great that I don't even need to see it!" which makes no sense, and also because I was still disillusioned with Pixar for making CARS (which I haven't seen, can you blame me?), and I deeply regret that foolish decision. RATATOUILLE is neck and neck with FINDING NEMO as my favorite Pixar film, with INCREDIBLES floating up there as well, and was one of the top ten best films of the year. I won't make the mistake of missing out on a Pixar film in theaters again.



On the plus side, seeing Dethklok in concert last night was totally awesome. Even if it meant being in a packed house with metal fans and metal fan wannabes; a group that largely includes people who have no business going shirtless and girls who are walking Venus Heffie Traps. You know the kind I mean.
thehefner: (Harvey Dent: I Believe In Harvey)
Bloo had finished editing the Harvey Dent novel (it's really going to need a title one of these days), and now I can finally say the first draft is truly finished.

Aside from the fact that my abuse of italics rose above wallop-worthy levels straight into "I am going to THROTTLE you if you italicize one more word...!" proportions, her response was mightily positive. She'll be sending her edits to me soon, a manuscript soaked in the ink of a dozen red pens, and I feel bloody great.

Once I incorporate her edits, I'll leave the manuscript be for awhile. At least until we see THE DARK KNIGHT, after which we will probably find fodder for further revisions. I'll keep coming back to it every few months for the next year or two, until I finally think it's ready.

(Hm, I wonder if I can get it in perfect shape by the time the third Batman movie comes out, where Two-Face will be the main villain? If ever I had a shot for getting DC to publish the thing...)

In any case, I'm damn proud of this book. I've put a hell of a lot of time, energy, and myself into this novel, took a number of risks, and by and large, I think it either worked out or can work eventually. Hopefully with time and editing, I'll finally have a real complete book I can call my own... even if none of the characters are mine.



And now, without further comment, I am just going to copy-paste Max Burbank's i-mockery blog entry here, for your enjoyment:

Gentle reader, last night I told me eldest daughter it was my plan to divorce her mother and gay marry Zac Efron. I advised her to get used to the idea that Zacky was going to be her new dad as quickly as possible. I did this because A.) I am the best Dad ever, and B.) Zac Efron is the most dreamiest dreamboat crown prince of unintentional comedy that ever was.

My daughters are twelve and seven, so I’ve seen “High School Musical” (or at least been in the room when it’s on) several times now. Zac’s big show stoppin’ song and dance tirade ‘Bet On It’ is so howlingly hilarious I was quite literally reduced to tears the first time I saw it. Check it out!




I’ve memorized large bits of the choreography and will sometimes burst into song and sometimes spring from my chair during breakfast. At work I lope maniacally past my co-workers cubicles, shaking invisible dice and advising them to “Bet on it, bet on it, bet on it, bet on me!” There’s something undeniably appealing about taking Zac’s boyish, cluelessly over the top intensity and forcibly translating it through my quivering, spastic middle-aged body. I won’t lie; the ‘ladies’ love it.

I want you to consider the many, many moments in your own life that would be best responded to with an homage to Mr. Efron’s “Bet On It”. Ideally I’d like to inspire thousands of people to adopt performances of “Bet On It” in its entirety as a response to tense situations. Imagine how scared your boss would be to tell you there are no raises this year if there was a fifty percent chance you’d soon be prancing around him shrieking about listening to your own heart talking and counting on yourself? How could any girl turn you down if in doing so she ran the risk of being exposed to a hip-wiggling, homoerotic, Zactastic performance of “Bet On It”? I honestly don’t think there’s any situation that wouldn’t benefit from a profoundly felt tribute to Zac’s artistry.

C’mon, sing it with me you splendid bastards! “Bet on it, Bet on it, BET ON IT, BET… ON… ME!!!!
thehefner: (OMG SCREAM)
You may be asking yourself, "Say, , who wins at life and everything?"

The answer, my friends, is [livejournal.com profile] angrylemur:



If you don't get it, read my previous post and click on the various links.

And there you go, [livejournal.com profile] nymphgalatea and [livejournal.com profile] zhinxy. See you there for opening night in 2012. Now if you'll excuse me, I must go serve a dark and a hungry god. He craves Trader Joe's Oreos.
thehefner: (Batman: I Am The Night)
So it seems Batman's eternal foe Ra's al Ghul* has a brand-new look. Coming back from the dead will do that to a 500-year-old eco-terrorist.

It's a little controversial, particularly the new Wolverine!Muttonchops instead of his trademark snazzy facial hair, and his new pale look (from putting your brain in the body of your albino son, like you do). One commenter suggested that even villains feel the need to try new things, to which another remarked: "And being pasty and white is in this year. Look at Sweeney Todd."

... And all I could respond with was:

Attend the tale of Ra's al Ghuuuul! His skin was pale and his eye was cruuuuel!

He sees humanity as a blight, he challenges men to shirtless fights...

It's over Earth that he shall rule... shall Ra's al Ghul...

The Demon's Head of Arabia.


Where's my crown? King Dork deserves only the finest.

Meanwhile, it's only due to my inability to properly replicate this image as a shirtless Ra's weilding a scimitar that I haven't drawn up the poster for the new smash-hit musical, RA'S AL GHUL: THE DEMON'S HEAD OF ARABIA. I've tried, and I give up.

Ah well, have a Bat Macro (a LolBat, if you will) )

Oh yes, mark my words, one say you shall see the premiere of RA'S AL GHUL: THE DEMON'S HEAD OF ARABIA. Starring me in the title role, with [livejournal.com profile] spacechild as Ubu as Mrs. Lovett.

"They alllllllll deserve to DIE! Tell you WHY, good Detective, tell you WHYYYY!"


*Does anyone speak Arabic? Is it pronounced "Ray-sh" or "Rahz"? Settle this once and for all!
thehefner: (Applause)
My Christmas was spent mostly watching movies, with a bit of reading in between to keep my brain alive. Actually, I was less watching/reading for the fun of it, but rather, more to right some grievious errors in my never having seen/read these things in the first place.



FIRST BLOOD, by David Morrell: My introduction to Rambo. The movie from Netflix should be waiting for me tonight. I'm guessing the Sheriff isn't the good guy in this one?



THE KING AND I: ... Gay for musicals as I am, I'm starting to seriously wonder if I draw the line at Rogers and Hammerstein. I mean, I adore Yul and his shiny head, but... man. Aside from the hot-as-hell dancing lesson, yipes, was this dry. I dunno, between this, SOUTH PACIFIC, and OKLAHOMA, R&H just aren't doing it for me. Maybe they need to be seen live, or I'm just being a plebeian again.



Akira Kurosawa's IKIRU (TO LIVE): I think [livejournal.com profile] ciretose lent to this me a year ago, and I only yesterday finally checked it out, as there was nothing else on TV. Yes, I am ashamed to admit that I only watched this out of desperation and boredom. Deeply ashamed. Because this proved not only to be my second favorite Kurosawa movie, but perhaps--with time and reflection--could well become one of my very favorite films of all time.



I mean, just seeing IKIRU alone was a treat, but the wonderful essay from the Criterion Collection really pushed the point home. IKIRU is as powerful in its purity, compassion, and touching humanity as RAN was in its brutally harrowing epic nature. Both are about old men realizing that they've misspent their lives, and with numbered days, struggle desperately to make things right. Unlike RAN's King Lear, Takashi Shimura (absolutely unrecognizable as the lead samurai from SEVEN SAMURAI; the Yul Brenner role, natch) might just succeed, even if he's the only one who knows it.

A masterpiece.



Now, masterpiece that IKIRU is, it's not exactly in the public consciousness as a film that everybody has seen and generally adores, the kind of film where anyone who hasn't seen it is an absolute weirdo and freak. And as the years go by, it gets harder and harder to finally watch such a film for the first time when expectations have been raised so high. Films so loved like that, they're often dated and adored by the people who saw them when they first came out, and don't hold up to newbies (I have no idea if I'd like STAR WARS if I saw it today for the first time).

That said, holy sweet merciful god did I ever bloody adore A CHRISTMAS STORY.

That's right, I'd never seen A CHRISTMAS STORY until yesterday, and with IKIRU, it was a double-whammy of shame. As far as Hefnerian movies go, this is right up there with ANNIE HALL (also playing on TV last night; it still rings painfully true each time). As I'm already late to this party, I have nothing else to add, other than to say that I think I need to track down the further work of Jean Shepherd.

Now I just need to finally see IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE. Maybe next year.



Finally, I've been reading the old POPEYE comics by E.C. Sagar. Now, like most people, I kinda hate Popeye. That's because, like most people, I only know Popeye from the cartoons. And like most people... it turned out, I didn't know jack.



This is the comic strip equivalent of W.C. Fields and the Marx Brothers, and I say that with absolutely no bullshit. Everything here is above and beyond the quality of most comic strips from that or any era, and it's all set against the backdrop of a deeply cruel, amoral world (reflecting Depression-era America). This Popeye doesn't need no fucking spinach; this Popeye is the Wolverine of his day. In his first story, the guy gets shot sixteen times and still beats the crap out of the villain before collapsing.

Just like Rambo, Popeye has become a pop icon, but for reasons that are either totally wrong or just forgotten. It's amazing to finally see them in their true forms, even if most others won't. I'm totally buying the rest in the series.



Oh, I almost forgot the movie with which I ended my Christmas...

JOYEUX NOEL, about the WWI Christmas Truce between the Scottish, French, and German soldiers.



God, it's heartrending, but in a good way. Overly sentimental, perhaps, but the fact that this happened, and a couple times again after the original Truce (much to the disdain of the higher-ups) is just... it reaffirms faith in humanity, even in one of the lowest points in human history.



And now, Christmas is over, and I have a life again. Dang it. Back to work.
thehefner: (Doc Ock)
As a long-time BABYLON 5 fan, I was excited to finally, finally, check out the brand-new B5 direct-to-DVD movie THE LOST TALES.

...

I wish I could get my martinis to be that dry.

Sigh. I mean, lord knows J. Michael Straczynski has his hits and misses, and B5 was certainly indicative of that. Although after HEROES, I don't know if I could possibly defend B5's acting and writing often times were I to revisit the series today. Nonetheless, it earned a close place in my heart, especially when Sci-Fi was showing it back to back with FARSCAPE, which is still one of my favoritest favorite TV shows ever that I wish more people watched.

But man oh man, space opera on a low budget... geez. I feel like I just dragged my face on the ground for the past hour and a half.

I have hope that the next B5 movie (c'mon, Garibaldi and Mollari!) will be a marked improvement, but for a first effort... yipes. I've seen video game cutscenes with more life.



And to make matters worse, SWEENEY TODD is not doing well at the box office. Sure, I have my problems with the movie, and it's hardly matching my frustration of GRINDHOUSE's bombing. But I'm disappointed nonetheless.

Seriously, I don't get why some people hate musicals. Just blanket-hate all musicals, no matter the type (because all musicals are the same, clearly). I had hoped to maybe get some insight into this mindset by reading the reviews at fandango.com, but that was a little like repeatedly punching myself in the balls.

And I quote: "I love Johnny Depp and Tim Burton movies 1st of all. Great Cinematography, I like the story concept, but its a FREAKING MUSICAL! I mean literally there is about 5 minutes of TOTAL regular dialogue. Im sorry Im not into that Gone With The Wind sing-a-long hokey pokey. Singing is started for the moment the movie is started till the end....LITERALLY!"

Ugh. Message boards are vile hives of scum and villainy. You'd think I'd learn.

I just wanted a bit more appreciation for the form, and for Sondheim in particular. But it seems between the music and the gore (and oh, wow, is there ever gore, more than I was expecting) word of mouth is going to very much work against this film, in some respects.

Again, I have my problems with the film. But come on, that more people are flocking to NATIONAL TREASURE 2 and ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS... you feel my pain on that count at least, right?



Ah well, at least SPIDER-MAN 2 is on TV. As long as I can muscle my way through the Kirsten Dunst scenes, I'll be golden.

After all, at times like this, you gotta do as Johnny Go says, and "Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive."
thehefner: (Bill the Butcher: They Tuk Er Jerbs!)
So we're winding down to the end of the number "My Friends" and I'm starting to shift anxiously in my seat. Mom is eyeing me suspiciously as I tell myself, "don't do it, don't do it, don't do it," and the music swells. It's rising, higher, more triumphant, and I'm squirming even more, barely able to contain it bubbling up inside me. "Don't do it, don't do it, don't--!" And Johnny Depp rises like a reborn fiery angel of vengeance, proclaiming just as the music hits...: "At last... my arm is complete again!"

Me (swinging my arms in my theater seat, singing full blast): LIFT YOUR RAZOR HIIIIIGH, SWEE-NEY, HERE IT SINGING YESSSSS! SINK IT IN THE ROSY SKIN OF RIGHTEOUSNESSSSSS!!!!!!

... Erm... I was lucky the movie theatre's sound was blasted up high, or I might have been really embarassed.

Sorry, I just... well I missed the chorus, damn it! Seriously, between that and none of the patrons of Mrs. Lovett's pie shop singing "God that's good!" during the song "God that's good!", it's like Burton and company were like, "One person singing = good, two people singing = tolerable, more than that is FORBIDDEN!"

Other than that, I kinda fucking loved SWEENEY TODD.

And it's tricky, because you have to understand, I was a seriously recent and hardcore convert to the Angela Lansbury/George Hearn version (there entirety of which you can watch HERE), and wasn't sure if the movie would be able to live up to it, what with a cast of actors who--it seemed--couldn't really sing.

Well, can they? The answer is yes... in the context of the film.

With the exception of Toby, the singing alone is not all that great. Only the Hot Topic generation totally unfamiliar with the original show will likely snap up the soundtrack and lovingly listen to it on its own, not realizing that--relatively speaking--it's not that strong.

But when you combine the acting behind those vocal performances... and you combine Tim Burton's sumptuous visuals... and you throw in the extra sounds you wouldn't get in a stage version, the metal ring of blades, the scrape of silver against soft wet flesh... taken as a whole, it about evenly matches the seductive and awesome power of a great stage SWEENEY TODD.

While being two very different beasts. Apples and oranges, really.

And that's exactly how this should be viewed. Sondheim was right, it's not the stage version, but it's every bit as deserving of the title of SWEENEY TODD.

Burton hasn't made it his own, mind you. Perhaps if he'd has a bit more fun in some places (why so dour all the time, folks?!) it might well have been, but no, Angela Lansbury's legacy is well intact, thank you very much. It's not going to be the definitive version of SWEENEY TODD anymore than BEOWULF earlier this year will be the definitive version of that story either.

But let's talk actual Sweeneys. After watching the George Hearn version, listening to the original Len Cariou production, and seeing Johnny Depp, I'm going to have to say that Hearn is my favorite. It's hard to compare Cariou on voice alone, so I'm willing to grant that on stage he had a lot more going on, but Hearn had far more passion and anguish.

That's the thing that bugged me about Depp's performance. Look, he was excellent, he was intense, he was powerful... but look back at Hearn's performance. What struck me most about Hearn was that this was a man who was constantly and forever hurting, whereas Depp's Sweeney seems to have lost his humanity long ago. He spends the entire film glowering, rarely showing any of that humanity, and even at the end, when he should be feeling utter anguish... he almost just seems to deadpannedly accept it all and inevitable.

Depp is all burning revenge without the pain that spurred it forth, and while it's mostly exciting to watch (and it worked beautifully in the "By the Sea" number), it's not exactly sympathetic. Sure, you could have a Sweeney who's lost his humanity, but would you really want to if given the choice?

Also, Timothy Spall, known to many here as "Peter Pettigrew" (the things I do to try to connect with my audience, oy), who played Beadle Bamford. The man is a grotesque work of art. Seriously, was anybody else, like, totally transfixed every second he was on screen? That limp hair, that toothy evil grin, the complete and utter absence of a neck, that sliding cane, that entire awesome outfit... and every move he made, it was like he was dancing. His arms were always free, his knees always bent to the side like an elegant and well-fed spider, or perhaps a tick. His very presence was just dazzling in a sleazy gross vile sort of way.

I want their coats. All of their coats. Hats, too. Cravats, while you're at it. I want. Now. Give me dem.

No, you know what I want? Between this and GANGS OF NEW YORK, I want my entire world to be designed by Dante Ferretti. Make this happen. Doom commands it.

Oh, and one more note about the actual singing abilities of the cast: they were good, in the context of the film. On stage, they'd be totally "meh," by and large, but their acting absolutely made up for it. Take the young actor who played Toby, on the other hand: he had an EXCELLENT and powerful singing voice, one that threatened to drown out Carter's weak little thing during "Not While I'm Around," and yet he couldn't act worth shit. So there you go. I still prefer Neil Patrick Harris. But I did like what they did with Toby at the end.

So in summation, I know some people are like, "ew, another dark Tim Burton movie where Johnny Depp is gaunt and weird and Helena Bonham Carter uses up precious oxygen, wah wah wah," yes, those people are out there. But seriously, flaws aside (and mainly, those are just criticisms from a lover of the stage version--one might read as "the REAL version" if you so desired--this truly is the most sumptuous film Burton's made since SLEEPY HOLLOW, and his best since ED WOOD.



Once again, if you wanna see the celebrating classic Lansbury/Hearn version it's all up here for free. Just, y'know, you'd like to see a version with people who can actually really sing.
thehefner: (Fountain: Ascending)
1.) I really, really, really, really should have known better than to read the message board responses to an interview with Christopher Hitchens in the A.V. Club. That might well be the single most masochistic thing I've ever done without actually dating someone. (Not what you think; or if you know me, it's exactly what you think.)

2.) QUOTE OF THE DAY: [livejournal.com profile] theblackotter described this moment at a gay bar: Also they played "Enter Sandman". Watching gay men react to Metallica is like watching cockroaches react to a kitchen light. It's AWESOME.

3.) Image Comics has a contest to create a superheroine. It's a really tempting prospect, if only as a creative challenge. To create a compelling, fleshed-out well-rounded female superhero, just personally speaking, would really push me to write in decidedly different areas, especially with the incentive of getting paid and published if it wins. This bears consideration.

4.) JUSTICE LEAGUE: THE NEW FRONTIER trailer is posted, which I'm not directly posting here, because the trailer looks like ass. Who the hell put that shit together? There's more text and narration than actual footage, nor any voice work! Nonetheless, NEW FRONTIER is exactly the JUSTICE LEAGUE movie that they should be making, and one of my most anticipated films of next years.

5.) If you don't hear from me ever again, it's likely because I will be been walloped into oblivion by [livejournal.com profile] bloo_mountain for my rampant abuse of italics in my Harvey Dent novel. Just putting that out there.

6.) For loathers of musicals* (and why do some people blanket-hate all musicals? Never understood that) or the unfamilar who are intrigued by SWEENEY TODD, please check out the A.V. Club's Primer to Stephen Sondheim. Neato list, and it even gives me some direction.

(SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE is "intermediate"? I suppose it is; maybe I should ease people into it before subjecting them to "The Test." It's kind of a rite of passage to be a close friend of John Hefner, I'm starting to realize.)



*I originally wrote "musical haters," but then realized that could be construed differently. But really, if more bitter assholic misanthropes sang their sneers and danced their intolerance with awesome choreography, the world would be a better place. "Yeah, Christopher Hitchens is often a contrarian asshole**, but damn if he's not a dazzling tap-dancer!"

**Who, to be fair, makes some good points. But let's not go into all that here, shall we? (See how I tied it all back to topic # 1 there?)
thehefner: (Bub and Johnny Go)
Seems Don Rickles is performing in Atlantic City this January.

I think that seeing him before he dies is a moral imperative. For Johnny Go, you understand.



So further SWEENEY TODD thoughts...

First, here's a review of Tim Burton's SWEENEY TODD, reviewed by a Sondheim-fan theatre geek. Sounds about what I was hoping to expect. Basically, we just need to appreciate it not just for what it is, but as a different beast entirely. I look forward to it more than ever.

(don't read the comments afterward, though: your brain will melt from the loudmouthed asshattery of internet message boards)

I just watched 2001's SWEENEY TODD IN CONCERT, which is my second exposure to the show. I think I generally still prefer the 1982 version (the entirety of both of which are on YouTube), but the 2001 version was superior, in some respects. It definitely had the better Joanna, IMO, but the Perelli was lacking, clearly a singer more than an actor. The 2001 also had a postmodern snarky quality that was very fun, as opposed to the very earnest 1982 version. Also, Neil Patrick Harris.

George Hearn was still great in 2001, and it's always fascinating hearing how male singing voices can mature and develop, but I think I prefer the raw passion of the 1982 younger Hearn. That's gonna be the hardest thing about the adjustment to Johnny Depp: moving away from operatic fire and into sullen brooding.

Angela Lansbury and Patti LuPone... well, comparing the two is just apples and oranges. Very different takes on the characters, both of them excellent. Lansbury seemed more innocent, in her twisted way, more like a little girl, while LuPone struck me as more seen-it-all, down-to-earth, cynical, sensible, and mature, with a heart of gold... of sorts. I've known some Rudes like her.

Oh, and Judge Turpin 2001 really, really, really, really, really looked like Vigo the Carpathian from GHOSTBUSTERS II. Just sayin'.

So yeah, very much looking forward to the film now, and trying to keep an open mind. In the meantime, I must continue to suppress the urge to run up to customers in the comic store and belt "THEY ALLLLLLLLL DESERVE TO DIE! TELL YA WHY, MRS. LOVETT, TELL YA WHY!"

September 2012

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