Julie Taymor’s experimental film adaptation of Shakespeare’s The Tempest was quite unfortunate and problematic. Helen Mirren as the female Prospera (not the male Prospero, as in the original play) was brilliant but too underused. The comic bits, which could have been well-performed, basically ruined the film. But “Prospera’s Coda”, a song that immediately followed the film, was most touching, dark, and brooding. Shakespeare wrote the lyrics, and Beth Gibbons of Portishead fame took over on vocals. Beth Gibbons did an excellent job at illustrating loss, despair, and, finally, retirement, via her singing.
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Chris Tarry is internationally recognized for his bass playing and composing, but as his new release, Rest of the Story, proves, he’s an author, too. Tarry has been publishing fiction in Canadian and American literary journals. His smartly titled new CD for Nineteen-Eight Records is a piece of hybrid art that includes 100 pages of his writing. Described on the website as a product “that speaks to a time when album design still mattered”, Rest of the Story is an exercise in the art of the CD from one of jazz’s top band leaders.
Joss Whedon once claimed that he and his friends loved shows like Dawson’s Creek and Party of Five but that they really didn’t have enough rocket launchers or people kicking each other in the face – something that explains a lot of the unique pleasure of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Fans of Whedon’s style of action-heavy teen angst might also want to take a chance on the upcoming Aussie action spectacular, Tomorrow, When the War Began.
Based upon the book of the same name by John Marsden, a popular novel for teens and common set text in Australian schools, the film is the first of a planned trilogy of Australian-made action blockbusters. Already out in the Antipodes, it’s been garnering praise from fans of the novel and a generally positive critical reception, but in the UK we’ll have to wait until April 8th for our fix of meaningful teen bonding and hardcore ass-kicking.
Beyond the punk hype, the seminal Please Kill Me and other distinctly unique published works. Beyond the erudite caricature and inside track on the New York City underbelly, Legs McNeil is a friend.
Today is Legs MeNeil’s… well, it doesn’t really matter how old Legs is, because he’s perpetually however you want to think of him. In his character makeup is still the teenage hoodlum who co-founded Punk; the inquisitive rapscallion who turned a love of true crime and titillation into The Other Hollywood, an exploration of the two. He’s an historian, an elder statesman, a chain-smoking television celebrity and an absolute fucking riot. Today is Legs McNeil’s birthday, and if you’ve ever spent even one minute of your life flipping through one of his book at random and marveling at what you’ve found, you’ll raise a glass of whatever your particular fancy is and send him your kindest, filthiest regards. And go pick up a copy of Please Kill Me, and maybe a t-shirt or something from his website, www.pleasekillme.com. You’ll feel much cooler if you do.
Usually, Kuala Lumpur is predictably sweltering and humid with the occasional rainstorm to break the monotony. Over Christmas and New Year, however, we had grey skies, rain, and a strange new chill in the air brought on by a slight dip in temperatures. It seemed only prudent to hunker down to some hard work and the ‘80s-era TV adaptations of Dorothy L. Sayers’ mystery novels available on YouTube. Particularly, Gaudy Night, which I enjoyed in book-form and also in its visual adaptation. Edward Petherbridge hits all the right notes as the impossibly fair-haired and monocled Lord Peter Wimsey, prone to yes, whimsy and English excess, and capable of being endearing, compelling, and annoying all at once. Harriet Walters also plays Harriet Vane just as I imagined Harriet Vane to be: intelligent, also mildly annoying, and seething with an undercurrent of anger and proper English passion.
The cloistered all-female colleges of Oxford provide opportunities for plenty of scholarly women to wax lyrical over Socrates, morality, and human nature. There are stereotypical assumptions on female intelligence and sexuality, as well as the unpleasant whiff of distinct class snobbery – the latter being a common trait in Sayers’ novels and British mysteries of the particular era. However, the performances of the actors manage to inject nuance into what is “just” a mystery story (albeit a very compelling one). Furthermore, in the midst of 21st century bad weather and general disenchantment with the new year, the utterly inexplicable and anachronistic yet very apt romance between Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane allow our jaded but still quietly-romantic hearts to keep on beating in hope for our real-life infatuations.