Archive for the 'Entertainment' category

Rent: Filmed Live on Broadway [Blu-ray]Sunday and Monday night we watched RENT: Filmed Live on Broadway Blu-Ray DVD.  I love RENT.  You can watch an excerpt of this DVD here.

I still remember watching RENT at the Shubert Theater in Boston.  I found the experience moving and spiritual.  Some people would ask how can a musical about Bohemians be spiritual.  My answer is that the theme of this musical is love and you can’t get more spiritual than that.

Watching the DVD was so fun for numerous reasons.

  1. Rent (1996 Original Broadway Cast)I felt like I understood the plot better.  Though we have the CD and have heard it many times it’s still not the same as watching the musical.
  2. It was great to see the close-ups and understand better what was being communicated in the expressions of the actors.
  3. Subtitles really help to understand what is being sung during those pieces when more than one person is singing.
  4. I felt this cast was actually better than the original cast.  This is not surprising considering everyone on Broadway wants to be cast in RENT.  When it was first cast they had a hard time finding anyone because it was off Broadway and written by someone no one heard of.

A few things surprised me when watching this production.

  1. The set changed from what I saw in Boston.  It seemed smaller though I expected it would be bigger.
  2. Mark and Roger’s voices were a little smoother.  I thought they originally intended it to be rougher since this is supposed to be a “rock opera.”
  3. Mimi was not portrayed as sweetly.  In retrospect this makes more sense since Mimi is a drug addict stripper.
  4. RENT is more sexual than I remembered and the close ups really emphasize that.  It takes away from some of the enjoyment of the musical, especially the middle one-third of it.
  5. During the end of the musical when they sang my favorite song “No Day But Today” Mark projected his film, which consists of footage of his friends, all around the top of the walls of the stage for an incredible effect.  But in this version of the musical he just played on a small section of the wall.

Here is a YouTube video of “No Day But Today” from the RENT movie which I have not seen but I expect won’t be as enjoyable as this DVD.  In fact watching this YouTube video already disappoints because the song does not seem as vibrant and they show Mark’s film without showing the stage so it loses its effect.

And here is a YouTube video of “No Day But Today” performed in Korea. Interestingly enough it’s all sung in Korean until the end when they sing the chorus “No Day But Today” in English. Based on that you know this was not performed in North Korea.

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Pinocchio and Child Slavery

 | July 3, 2009 9:00 AM

Pinocchio (Two-Disc 70th Anniversary Platinum Edition + Standard DVD+ BD Live) [Blu-ray]On Wednesday I borrowed from the library the Blu-ray DVD Pinocchio. I don’t remember the movie since I only saw it once and that was thirty years ago and I was hoping the children would enjoy it.

It turned out that was a big mistake.  The movie is much darker than I expected, both visually and content wise.  None of the children were enjoying it.  Dylan, though he is the oldest, actually became the most frightened, I think because he understood the best.

As many of you might know, I have been studying and reading about modern slavery and was struck by how much of this animated film is about slavery!

First Pinocchio is duped by Honest John into joining a circus and becomes a slave of Stromboli.  Pinocchio escapes with the help of the Blue Fairy.

Pinocchio-stromboli

Then a few hours later he is duped again by Honest John.  He and many other little boys are led to Pleasure Island where they are transformed into donkeys.  The whole scene reminded me of young boys being sold into sexual slavery, transformed into prostitutes.

To view the images of Pinocchio's so-called ˜best friend" Lampwick turning into a donkey and the other boys screaming for their mothers is like something out of Dante's Inferno.

I honestly cannot recommend this movie for any young children, it’s not fun, it’s dark, and it’s scary.  But if you want some good imagery for modern slavery, this movie is great.

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A Better TV Guide

 | August 7, 2008 5:26 PM

If you have Comcast then Comcast’s TV planner site is pretty useful.  I don’t often check TV listings but I wanted to know when the Olympics start.

By the way, isn’t it silly that the Olympics opening ceremonies starts at 7 PM regardless of what time zone you are in?  It’s already tape delayed enough, do you have to tape delay it another three hours?  I really would have liked to have started watching it with the kids at 4 PM, especially since it’s 270 minutes long.

I really miss CBC, they have the best Olympic coverage with lots of live events showing.  NBC’s, in my opinion, is subpar with all of its tape delays and overabundance of melodramatic stories.

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Hurricane NeddyWhy don’t I believe in insurance? Because of Ned Flanders.

Maude: Neddy doesn’t believe in insurance. He considers it a form of gambling.

“Hurricane Neddy” episode

Seriously I do kind of agree with Ned Flanders. Insurance is a gamble and most of the time the house, in this case the insurance companies, win. I think the only time insurance is worth it is if not having it would affect your lifestyle. For example if I didn’t have medical insurance I may not seek medical treatment as often as I should. I think if I did not have auto insurance I may choose to drive less. However I don’t think having or not having house or life insurance would affect my lifestyle. Unfortunately in some states it’s law to have these kinds of insurance.

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Water

 | May 5, 2008 9:09 AM

water

I read about this Indian movie, Water, on my friend/pastor’s church website, a blog WELL done.

The movie is about the life of an Indian girl who becomes a widow at the age of eight years old but she does not know she is even married.  Conservative Hindus were furious about this movie.  I am looking forward to seeing it. 🙂


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The Devil Wears Prada

 | May 1, 2008 9:38 AM

The Devil Wears PradaLast night the wife and I saw The Devil Wears Prada. I was expecting something more of a silly comedy with the boss being a caricature. But instead I was pleasantly surprised that the boss, played by the amazing Meryl Streep, was actually a bit more complex and interesting. I also enjoyed Anne Hathaway’s character though I felt some of her “sexy” scenes were unnecessary. Stanley Tucci was great as Nigel, very funny and likable.

In the end the story was not so much about the evil boss but rather the innocent college graduate who slowly loses her soul as she becomes part of the fashion corporation. It reminds me a bit of my story consulting for a top fashion brand in Manhattan and reporting directly to the president.

The wife and I enjoyed the movie and would recommend it.

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Musa

 | April 9, 2008 9:34 AM

MusaLast night I finished watched the Korean warrior film called Musa. It’s about a group of Korean warriors that try to rescue a Chinese princess from her Mongol captors.

I enjoyed this film thoroughly. I found it a little hard to follow the plot, maybe because I don’t understand Korean and had to read subtitles. Also it was a bit too violent for my taste (think Braveheart). But there were several things I liked about it.

First I had never seen a Korean martial art hero like the one featured in this movie, typically they are Chinese. That is probably because I have not seen many Korean movies but it was enjoyable nevertheless.

Second this movie was done with a Chinese production house that did movies like Crouching TIger Hidden Dragon and not surprisingly the cinematography and fight choreography was fantastic.

Third Ziyi Zhang was in it and she’s really cool.

Fourth it was really interesting seeing the interactions between the Chinese and Korean cultures.

Fifth was the display of courage and seeing love transcend culture. A beautiful scene was when a Korean soldier was struck down while defending an elderly Chinese woman. She was holding him while he was dying and saying “My son” and the Korean warrior smiled before he died.

Sixth the movie did not glorify war. I am wondering if in general Korean movies don’t glorify war because war was typically horribly damaging to Korea.

Finally the Korean archer was really cool.

Overall I would recommend this movie though I am not sure that some of the things that struck me about this movie will be interesting to others.

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San Jose Mercury News

 | February 26, 2008 7:59 PM

San Jose Mercury NewsMy mom loves getting the daily newspaper so whenever she stays with us I get a subscription. It’s been nice getting the San Jose Mercury New and learning more about the local news.

I got a 50% off the regular rate of $4 per week from DiscountedNewspaper.com for 10 weeks which works out to $20 (sometimes I see flyers for $1 per week but I didn’t have one at the time). And today I signed up for Easy Pay using the offer code “EP 567” so that I can get a $15 Safeway Gift Card. So in the end I paid $5 for 10 weeks which is not bad. Holman, the customer service representative, said that I would continue to be billed after the initial 10 weeks at the $2 per week rate but I kind of don’t believe him.

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Fresh

 | February 20, 2008 9:51 PM

FreshLast night I watched Fresh on BET and found it pretty captivating. Still I found the whole film a little unbelievable. But many users on IMDB were saying it deserved an Oscar for best movie.

(Spoiler warning) It was hard for me to believe that a 12 year old boy could outsmart two street hardened local drug dealers. The movie had your typical violence that one expects in an inner city drug crime movie. But what was shocking to me was the scene where the boy hung and killed his dog, not because I like dogs more than people, just because I’ve never seen anything like it.

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