Thursday, September 30, 2010

WILDE SEX IN THE UPPER CLASS



It goes without saying that sometimes America can be pretty dumb. I mean, how else do you account for the success of shows like Two and a Half Men, or the existence of Sarah Palin? Sometimes the numbers just don't add up. Another prime example? The fact that 2009's Dorian Gray was denied a US theatrical release, and dumped to DVD and Blu-ray.

Granted, the name 'Oscar Wilde' has yet to become a staple at multiplexes. But in this instance, stateside audiences really missed out on what I imagine would have been a thoroughly engaging movie-going experience. It's true that Ben Barnes - the actor who portrays the titular character - is overwhelmingly beautiful. Clothed, unclothed...it doesn't much matter. But it's not just good casting visually. There's something incredibly persuasive to his performance as Dorian Gray, and it's almost...hypnotic.



Director Oliver Parker's interpretation of Wilde's classic novel "The Picture of Dorian Gray" is dark to its core, and in my opinion this is precisely why the film succeeds. If by chance you're not a homosexual or familiar with Oscar Wilde's work, I'll let Netflix summarize for you:

"When London artist Basil Hallward paints a portrait of the young and beautiful Dorian Gray, the subject is so taken with his own image that he declares he'd do anything to keep his looks - even if it means selling his soul. The plot thickens when his wish is granted, but even the painting can't mask the true nature of Dorian's inner beauty."

At many turns disturbing and wicked, we see the corruption of Dorian by Lord Henry (Colin Firth, with distracting facial hair...but you get used to it) into a world of excess and decadence. Booze, drugs, hookers, orgies - everything's on the table. And when Dorian realizes the painting "absorbs" his sins, there's nothing he won't do. It's an exquisite look into a basic question of humanity: What would you do if you knew there were no consequences? Dorian's answer is rather simple - anything and everyone.


And yes, I do mean everyone. While in the source material gayness was more of an implication, here Dorian makes no qualms about quenching his sexual thirst with men as well as women. Not to mention playing some Cruel Intentions-esque sex games with a mother and daughter that would make even Sarah Michelle Gellar a little uncomfortable. He may be out of control, but who cares? He. Looks. PERFECT.

As you'd expect, redemption isn't so simple. Dorian has to dig through a lot of dirty deeds to find his humanity, and love does not come easily to those who have basically screwed/screwed over everyone he knows. But did I still want him to succeed? Of course I did. So even more praise to Ben Barnes for that accomplishment, as well.



When I found myself still thinking about this movie the next day, I realized just how much I enjoyed it. It's an incredibly well-shot, well-acted adaptation of Oscar Wilde's work, and it definitely managed to creep me out a few times as well. While it's a shame that most Americans were never given the option to see it on the big screen, it's good to know that we have services like Netflix. Add it to your queue, and see for yourself that Dorian Gray is a distinguished, erotic horror show. Highly recommended!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

KEEP MOVING FORWARD



He created one of my favorite albums of last year, and now Logan Lynn is back with an impressive follow-up to 2009's From Pillar To Post (you can check out my review of that album here).

With I Killed Tomorrow Yesterday, Lynn has charted a new course. You can recognize where he's been - his own brand of electro pop has been given a decidedly 80s synth boost - but as for his destination? It remains unclear. With this release, Logan Lynn announced that he would be taking an indefinite break from the music industry. His label contract completed and IKTY released independently, the result is more of a potential farewell album than a follow-up...but let's keep our fingers crossed that there's more to come from this singer-songwriter.

The tracks on his recent offering display a deeper emotional weight, and give a sense of everything that's come before. Heartbreaking and empowering, the end product is an impressive combination of pain and pleasure - something I would liken to smashing atoms together. In short: It's not easy.



The standout track for me was definitely "Quickly As We Pass". The beat complements excellent lyrics, and reminds me of some of my favorite Dance/Cry/Smile songs (a genre I've completely made up, but think about it). "We feel lucky when we wake up / Clothed in our right minds / And nothing else."

The album is now available on iTunes, with all proceeds benefiting charity. It's definitely worth your time, readers. But before we say goodbye, I have to share Lynn's video for "The Last High", which is a cover of a Dandy Warhols song. Dare I say I prefer his version to the original? I dare anything!



While I hope this isn't the last we've heard from Logan Lynn, I can't begrudge anyone for wanting to take a break from such an emotional endeavor like creating music. At the very least, the world has some great albums to look (listen?) back on. Thanks for that, Mr. Lynn.

Monday, September 20, 2010

MIX-N-MASH MONDAYS: 09.20.10



I'm back from an amazing weekend away, and I'd like to share a remix that I hope will carry over some happiness into the week for y'all. Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros are a kooky bunch of folksy/poppy weirdos - and I mean that as a supreme compliment. Their album "Up From Below" has been in regular rotation on my iPod lately.

Check out this RAC remix of their track called "Home". It's a beautiful song to begin with, that is simply enhanced with a little bit o' beat. Brought to you free of charge by the fine peeps at RCRD LBL:


Home (RAC Remix)
Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros
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Here's to the start of a great week, with some great music. Happy Monday, everyone!

Monday, September 13, 2010

MIX-N-MASH MONDAYS: 09.13.10



Sad but true: Sometimes Mondays are just kind of fucking terrible. You can have had a great Sunday (which I did) and go into work feeling like a million bucks (which I also did...sorta), but now and then the Monday Gods become angry and vengeful. Without my iPod Charmaine I don't know what would have happened.

Since music kept me free from a breakdown on this particular Monday, I wanted to pay it forward. This week's track is a remix of an artist named Jack Peñate. This mix is perfect for this time of year - you can still hear Summer in there, but the bittersweetness of Autumn is starting to take over.


Pull My Heart Away (From The Beach Remix)
Jack Peñate
Download Now

It's a pretty epic remix for a day epically in need of one. Hat tip to Hubble for turning me on to this one...SHOULDER. Here's to the week getting a hell of a lot better!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

SWEET LOUKOUMADES HANGOVER



Last night I went to the LA Greek Fest, for the first time ever since living her in CA. And honestly...what took me so damn long?

I used to go to the Greek Festivals on an annual basis when I lived in MA, and always had such a great time. Of course, I was much younger and still subscribed to the teachings of my Greek Orthodox upbringing. When I jumped ship (jumped church?), I pretty much just opted not to attend anymore.



That being said, the Greek festivals of my youth certainly weren't hosted by Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson. And they were there last night, along with Nia "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" Vardalos, overseeing the festivities. During a routine search for Retsina (Greek wine) I even overheard them speaking on the PA system. That's a pretty big get for the Greeks!



The festival took place at/around St. Sophia Cathedral, which is by far one of the most beautiful churches I have ever seen. Greek Orthodox churches are known for being pretty opulent, and this was no exception. I'm still not sure that it beats St. Constantine & Helen in Cambridge, MA (where I went as a child)...but it was still breathtaking. I lit a candle, for old time's sake.


Interestingly enough, the LA Greek Fest takes place in the Byzantine-Latino Quarter of Los Angeles. Go figure.

The food was of course beyond belief, and brought back so many wonderful childhood memories. I had dolmades (stuffed grape leaves), and the taste brought me back immediately to when my grandmother used to make them from scratch. Picking the grape leaves from the tree outside her home and everything!



And as a final sweet treat, I totally gorged myself on loukoumades, which are delicious balls of dough fried and soaked in honey. They were always the highlight of the festivals in my youth, and remained so last night as an adult. Overall it was amazing to be there with "my people" and return to celebrating a major part of my heritage. I'll be back next year, for sure!

Monday, September 6, 2010

LOVE, LABOR & LOST



Happy Labor Day, everyone! It's hard to believe (and a little sad) that Summer's already over, but luckily I've got some fantastic memories to keep me warm on those cold(ish) Winter nights. For example? I worked EE's booth at the ABC/Disney Official LOST Auction a few weeks ago!



The show took place at Barker Hangar in Santa Monica on August 21 & 22, and Entertainment Earth was asked to exhibit as one of only 3 total vendors. So we packed up our bobble heads and action figures, and set up shop in one of the most impressive events I've had the pleasure of working. Huge set pieces. Photo opportunities. Costume displays. And - of course - every prop they basically ever used on the show in its six seasons.



Naturally some of these items were sold for truly alarming/disturbing prices, but I was happy just to be able to be a part of history, as it were. Please to enjoy a photo sampling of some of my highlights from the show. Click to make 'em bigger!


Jughead (the bomb) from the end of season 5.


Locke's game, Jacob/MIB's game, knives and DHARMA Whisky.


I don't remember ever seeing these onscreen, but here are some DHARMA cleaning supplies.
Inset: DHARMA BEER!



The photo of Desmond and Penny, which I tear up just looking at. Blah blah Nadia stuff blah blah.
Inset: Penny's letter to Desmond. Heartbreaking/heartwarming all at once.



The DHARMA computer from "The Hatch"! I was allowed to sit next to it, but not touch it.
Inset: The sign from the door of brainwashing headquarters, Room 23. Sorry, Karl.



The chicken costume from Mr. Cluck's Chicken Shack (owned by Hurley).
Inset: Some of Charlie's precious heroin Virgin Mary statues!



Sigh. My beloved Nikki & Paulo...aka the most hated characters of the series. They were awful, and I grinned like a fool whenever they were on screen. Some props from Nikki's show Exposé and the nesting dolls with the diamonds that would be their undoing.


I also got to meet a couple of cast members from the show...obviously it wasn't Nestor Carbonell or Henry Ian Cusick, because I'm still here typing this and not in prison for attempted kidnapping. But check it out - Young Ben Linus (Sterling Beaumon) and Dr. Arzt (Daniel Roebuck)!


The Grilled Cheese Truck (Mmmmmmm) was also in attendance, with their special "Namaste Melt" made especially for the event.


And Lake Street Creamery for dessert! Their ice cream special was a flavor called "Dharma Bum".


Me and The Hatch! I'm looking for Desmond, obvi.

It was incredibly difficult to pick favorites from the 100+ photos I took while there, but I consider these to be my own personal 'best of the best'. As a huge fan of the series, it was a bittersweet event...but I felt privileged to be involved and say goodbye to LOST after six seasons.

And yes, I loved the finale. Deal with it.