I love "Mary Poppins."
Later this year, we're going to be tackling the film as part of Film Nerd 2.0, and I look forward to sharing it with the kids for the first time. When they're a little older, I'll introduce them to the books by P.L. Travers, which I think are wonderful in their own right, although very different.
Presumably at some point after that, I'll share the film "Saving Mr. Banks" with them and we can talk about the way the two Mary Poppins that they'll know, from the films and the books, are very different characters in important ways, and how it's a case of Hollywood making the film they wanted to make, despite the author's wishes. I would not want the P.L Travers approved "Mary Poppins" if it meant I couldn't also have the Julie Andrews version.
I say that as someone who was raised with that film as part of their vocabulary, though, and I would imagine I might have felt different if I was the author. The film "Saving Mr. Banks" is set to tell the story of how Walt Disney personally spent 14 years trying to get Travers to give him the rights so he could make the film, and according to Variety, both Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson are onboard as Disney and Travers.
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I love "Mary Poppins."
Critics have been falling all over themselves to praise Alabama Shakes for the past several months: Paste named the act its best new band of 2011, they were a must-see show at SXSW, and already have a big U.K. following.
Before the inevitable backlash begins, we suggest you grab a copy of “Boys & Girls,” the quartet’s debut album out today, April 10 (it follows last fall's 4-song EP) and find out what all the fuss is about.
The album’s rush of music —11 songs delivered in around 38 minutes —swirls around lead singer Brittany Howard’s bluesy, nuanced vocals. When she sings “Bless my heart/bless my soul/didn’t think I’d make it to 22 years old,” in opening track “Hold On,” instead of sounding pretentious and overly precious, she sounds like an old soul for whom a real world 22 is her weary heart’s equivalent of 92. On “You Ain’t Alone” she conjures up Otis Redding’s ghost in a shivering, memorable performance.
Howard is the primary reason tastemakers have fallen all over themselves to praise this group from Athens, Ala. (as opposed to that other southern musical hotbed of yore, Athens, Ga.), but not the only one: the band’s appeal is that Alabama Shakes are so clearly the antidote to what is dominating pop music these days. There are no plastic princesses in pink or blue hair here (though The Shakes’ music is so friendly, they’d probably be welcome to grab a tambourine and join in). Plus, “B&G’s” rootsy naturalism sounds as if it were created in a vacuum, not only without any concessions to current radio trends, but without even any knowledge of them.
Instead, ghosts of the aforementioned Redding, Solomon Burke, Janis Joplin and even Amy Winehouse haunt their music and Howard’s vocal style. Just listen to the soulful “I Found You” or, more significantly, “Rise To the Sun” and try not to imagine Winehouse singing the organ-drenched tunes.
Without sounding deliberately retro or from a specific era, Alabama Shakes’ big drums, echo-y guitars and striking keyboards recalls a time when pre-recorded loops were nonexistent and when synthesizers weren’t many producers’ instrument of choice.
In that way, Alabama Shakes—which also includes guitarist Heath Fogg, bassist Zac Cockrell and drummer Steve Johnson— are more akin to Jack White and the White Stripes than any other current outfit (in fact, White released a live 7” from the band on his Third Man Records). They share his same often ramshackle, often shambolic sound that sounds unschooled, but then closer listens reveal that it is deliberate in its primitiveness. In fact, the music grows more precise as the record rolls on, as keys, drums and guitars all slyly start to move in the same direction instead of seemingly battling each other as they do on some of the early tracks. Listen to the spooky, delicate “Goin’ To The Party” and how the guitar and drum dance around each other.
While it’s clear the best way to see Alabama Shakes is live—they will be opening for Jack White in May—”Boys & Girls” is a very fair representation of what to expect. Alabama Shakes’ music may be too looselimbed and raw for folks who like their music with a little more spit and polish, but fans of acts like Jack White and the Black Keys will eat this stuff up with a spoon.
Earlier this year we reported on the Eastman Kodak company’s plans to have its name removed from the theater at the Hollywood & Highland complex where the Academy Awards have been held since 2002 as a part of their filing for federal bankruptcy.
CIM group (the company that owns the Hollywood & Highland mall where the theater is located) has been seeking a new sponsor for the theater while simultaneously renegotiating their deal with the AMPAS. The Academy, meanwhile, has indicated that it may move the Oscarcast to another location once its lease is up in 2013. The Nokia Theater LA LIVE in downtown Los Angeles (a venue which would provide double the capacity of the current theater) had indicated plans to bid for the show, but most have assumed the Academy wasn't likely to pick up stakes.
HBO has had a pretty consistent pattern, especially with its dramas, of renewing shows the Tuesday after their premieres. So once we knew last week that "Game of Thrones" had returned to a series-high 3.9 million viewers (6.3 million if you count people who watched repeats later in the evening), every TV reporter in the country began waiting for the renewal press release to come in.
A review of last night's "How I Met Your Mother" coming up just as soon as we share a cab to our separate decoupage classes...
After last week's round of competent but unremarkable performances on the first live show it's time to see what Team Adam (Tony Lucca!) and Team Cee-Lo (Jamar Rogers!) have in store for us.
Turns out there's a lot to cover, so let's get right to it...
Adele, Bon Iver, Kelly Clarkson and several “American Idol” contestants have all shown their love for Bonnie Raitt by covering songs the singer/guitarist made famous lately. But no one has expressed his or her devotion quite as ardently as The Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl.
At the MusiCares charity dinner this February, the rocker bolted from an interview on the red carpet to introduce himself to Raitt, who was on his “bucket list.”
“I think he was surprised to hear I liked him as I was surprised to hear [he] liked me,” Raitt says with a laugh. “I was just very pleasantly surprised” to hear he was a fan. Currently, the pair have no plans to work together, but Raitt adds, “I’ll have to put that in my hat of things to go down the line because I was thrilled” Grohl approached her.
[More after the jump...]
Shane Black begins shooting on "Iron Man 3" next month.
Really, that's the thing that excites me most. I am such a fan of "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" that even if you told me Shane Black and Robert Downey Jr. were collaborating on a film called "Drew McWeeny Is A Big Fat Jerk," I'd still be excited.
Since the film is in the final stages of prep, it makes sense that we're going to start hearing casting decisions in the weeks ahead, and today's news, via Variety, is that Ben Kingsley is in final talks now to play a villain in the film.
No word on if this is "the" villain in the film, but I would imagine Kingsley isn't going to sign on to stand around in the background. Latino Review broke the story in March, and since then, I've heard the same rumors that other people are reporting about this film loosely building off of the Extremis storyline that ran in the comics, but if this is "adapted" the way the other Marvel movies have been, you'll recognize elements but in a radically refigured way.
Feist tapped into the photographic work of Argentinian artist Irina Werning for an effective music video for "Bittersweet Melodies."
Old photos of the solo subjects are placed side-by-side with new photos, with the same poses, clothes and setting. And of course there's a dog. Of course. It's entertaining, then funny, then pensive as the viewer him/herself begins to muse what their own photo would look like. Bittersweet.
So the main message I get from Disney's announcement today about the March 14, 2014 release date of "Maleficent" is that they really, really, really, really want this to be as big as "Alice In Wonderland."
After all, they mention the film no less than three times in one paragraph, and that's because many of the key creative people on this film were involved with that film. I'm sure Disney would love for this to earn them another billion dollars, like "Alice" did, and claiming a release date this far out seems to be a clear indicator that they expect this one to be a monster.
There's a big difference between Angelina Jolie working with a first-time director making the jump from production design and Tim Burton collaborating with Johnny Depp, though, and I'm still not sold on the idea that the general public is rabid about getting tons of new fairy tale movies. "Mirror Mirror" hardly set the world on fire, and two years is a long time to expect a trend like this to sustain heat.
And as always, feel free to e-mail us questions for the podcast.
After a few weeks with mega-jumbo Firewall & Iceberg Podcast installments, this week's is a trifle shorter, owing in part to fewer new shows debuting and in part on Dan's desire to please his dad (a podcast listener without ample free time) while staying with him this week for Passover. Still, we had time to offer unleavened opinions on "Don't Trust the B---- in Apt. 23," "NYC 22," the terrific "Girls" and last night's "Mad Men," in addition to asking a few pieces of your mail.