Tag Archives: entertainment

Schooled

kidnapped for christIf you subscribe to Showtime, I encourage you to watch the documentary Kidnapped for Christ, currently available OnDemand.

The film centers on a Christian boarding school in the Dominican Republic that advertised itself as a rehab center for troubled US teens.  The filmmaker, an evangelical school student, was allowed complete access to the teens there and, during production, uncovers disturbing information about the school’s “behavior modification program.” She also learns that some students had been kidnapped from their homes with their parents’ full knowledge and permission.

Her commitment to the project eventually morphs into a determination to help these abused teenagers — one in particular who wants to leave the school where he is essentially being held prisoner.

This story is heartbreaking and, I learned, just one case among thousands around the world.

It is a must-see.

 

Family business

The broadcast and online media outlets have all gone gooey-eyed over the way NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams announced his own daughter Allison’s casting in the plum role of Peter Pan in the network’s upcoming live action production –

No tears here.

I demand that the full investigative reporting resources at NBC News be hurled at this story, which reeks of nepotism, entitlement and…dare I say, piracy.

J.M. Barrie said it best:

“Dreams do come true, if only we wish hard enough. You can have anything in life if you your daddy will sacrifice everything else for it.”

Cold justice

I was lucky enough to catch Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind on HBO over dinner tonight.

eternal sunshine

Such a wonderfully inventive story, and perhaps Jim Carrey’s most powerful and controlled performance.

As I watched, I questioned yet again why he didn’t win an Oscar…or even get nominated.  So I used the Google machine to remind me — who did take the prize in 2005?

The Oscar nominees for Best Actor in a Leading Role were:

  • Don Cheadle in “Hotel Rwanda”
  • Johnny Depp in “Finding Neverland”
  • Leonardo DiCaprio in “The Aviator”
  • Clint Eastwood in “Million Dollar Baby”
  • Jamie Foxx in “Ray”

Foxx took home the prize; it was no shock.  His portrayal of the musical legend was spot-on. He sang and played the piano, too.  I wasn’t a fan of the film, but of him, yes.

I concede defeat.

But I would argue that Carrey’s performance deserves to be on that list as much if not more than Leo.  Or Johnny.  In fact, the list would be stronger for it.

Isn’t it funny how quickly you can become bitter about something that happened 10 years ago?

(Imagine how Jim must feel.)

Tokyo, Day 4: Asakusa, Shibuya, Rippongi

After eating a hearty Japanese breakfast of green salad, rice and hot tea, I took the subway to the Asakusa district, which is home to Tokyo’s oldest attraction, the Senso-ji temple.

2014-07-27 09.03.45(I picked a good day to brave the trains.  Foot traffic was fairly light, and I found the signage and announcements clear and easy to understand.

And yes, the Tokyo subway is clean and quiet, except for the occasional screaming baby.)

2014-07-27 09.46.18The temple entrance is guarded by the gods of wind and thunder at the Kaminarimon Gate.  They didn’t seem that ferocious to me, and quite open to a selfie or two.

Once inside the gate, there was shopping galore, and I had the opportunity to get my fortune  — after saying a prayer and paying a small stipend.  I ended up getting “the very best fortune.”

So that’s cool.

2014-07-27 10.01.13The main hall is a five-story pagoda.  There’s a incense cauldron in front; people were rubbing the incense on themselves for good luck or simply waving the smoke toward themselves.

I opted for the latter.

2014-07-27 10.52.43Across the river from the temple is the Asahi Beer Hall. It’s golden plume, which is supposed to be beer foam, is a Tokyo landmark (although the locals call it the ‘golden turd’). I love that.

I was excited to visit the Taiko Drum Museum, but it wasn’t at the map location, and business owners nearby hadn’t heard of it.

Seems like they would have heard a drum…nevermind.

2014-07-27 11.57.21I jumped back on the subway and took the Ginza Line to the Shibuya district.

Shibuya Crossing is as new as Asakusa is old.  There are video screens and noise and thousands of people seemingly moving at once, but the chaos has a kind of order to it.

And remember the good-looking guy I saw yesterday plastered on buildings?

He was at Shibuya, too.  Gotta figure out who he is.

 

 

2014-07-27 12.38.50Hachiko the dog was there, too — well, the statute that is.

His master died in 1925, but the dog continued to go to the station to meet him until his own death some ten years later.

The pup was very popular; it was hard to get a shot.  I don’t know whose hand that is, but he is forever immortalized here on the Egg.

Lucky tourist.

After a stop back at the hotel for the standard wash, clothing change and nap — the heat really takes it out of you — I ended the day at the Roppingi Hills, a large shopping / arts / entertainment complex in the district where I am currently staying.

2014-07-27 16.38.09I visited the Mori Art Museum, an extraordinary contemporary art museum (with an even better store).

I’m told the  observatory has amazing city views, but it was closed because of the weather.  I found that odd…until it started storming.

It was slightly less sticky afterwards, so it was worth it.

I’m resting my feet and back until tomorrow.  Only one more morning of adventure and then the flight home to NYC!

 

Location, location

I’m watching Food Network Star right now, which has been in Las Vegas for the past couple of weeks.

But it certainly doesn’t look like Vegas.

food network star vegasEvery time Bobby, Alton or Giada — the show’s three hallowed hosts — stand before this season’s contestants to set up a challenge, it looks like they are shooting the episode in an empty room. Or vacant parking lot.

Food Network goes to such great lengths to clear out the ‘normal folk’ during production, Vegas looks nothing like the manic city I have experienced every time I’ve had the chance to visit.

Why go to the expense of using Vegas as your backdrop if you’re going to make it sterile and still?  You might as well fake the whole thing at the Food Network studios here in New York City.

The show’s producers must have heard me.  They just announced this week’s survivors are coming to Manhattan for the remainder of the season.

That will probably look like Cleveland.

 

 

That’s life

Richard Linklater’s film Boyhood has received enormous attention and near perfect reviews.

image

It should.

The fact that it was 12 years in the making is epic enough. That the same actors gathered together to recreate this family each year…so the passage of time Is made all the more authentic by every bad haircut, each pop culture reference.

But Boyhood’s true appeal lies in Linklater’s choice of subject matter: the simple, day-to-day ups and downs of a family doing their best to juggle school and jobs and divorce and remarriage and financial worries and love and loss.

Chances are, at certain points in this movie, you will recognize yourself or your family.

And it will make you smile.

Constructive criticism

Feedback — we have to give it and receive it, sometimes daily depending on our jobs.

That doesn’t make it any easier to hear.

Tim Minchin, the Olivier-award winning and Tony-nominated songwriter of Broadway’s Matilda, once received a very bad review that he couldn’t really shake off.  How did he deal with it?

He wrote a hilarious song about it.

I’ll have to try that sometime…

Note — Minchin is currently workshopping a new musical in London based on the movie Groundhog Day. Can’t wait to hear those lyrics!

Leftovers

I am fascinated by The Golf Channel’s coverage of The Open at Royal Liverpool.

open coverage golf channelSo far this week, they have broadcast seven hours of ‘live’ coverage each day — followed by a repeat of that same coverage in the evening hours — and the golf tournament hasn’t even started yet.

That’s three days, 14 hours per day, of nothing but press conferences, talking heads and video of a practice round or two.

But no golf.

When the tournament begins on Thursday — at 4am ET, mind you — ESPN has the honors of showing actual rounds of golf.

Sucks to be the baby of the (cable) family, am I right?

 

Here’s to Tony

Thanks to Time Warner Cable’s primetime OnDemand, I was able to watch the first episode of WeTV’s new drama The Divide before it’s premiere this Wednesday, July 16th.

the-divideI was initially drawn to the show because Tony Goldwyn, our beloved president on Scandal, is one of the executive producers and the director.  He has an impressive list of credits in the director role :  Scandal, Justified, Dexter, Private Practice, Grey’s Anatomy, and The L Word.  So I figured this new show was worth a look.

And I was right.

The story centers on a prisoner who has been on death row for almost 12 years for the murder of an entire family.  All appeals have failed, and he is scheduled to be executed in a matter of weeks when a member of the Innocence Initiative finds new evidence that may be enough for a new trial.

The cast is excellent, what I’ve seen of the writing is compelling, and Tony’s direction is top-notch.  I’ve already set my DVR to record the entire series.

Check it out!

 

Flip the switch

This clip from Late Show with David Letterman has been circling around the Interwebs today and made me laugh.

Of course it did.  It’s a classic Stupid Pet Trick.

Now…didn’t that do you some good?