Labyrinth Review; She literally crashed the party

Labyrinth picture image

Labyrinth

For today’s review I’m donning nostalgia goggles and wearing my I APPRECIATE THE MUPPETS ON A MUCH DEEPER LEVEL THAN YOU T-shirt because today we’re reviewing the 1986 Jim Henson movie, Labyrinth.

Labyrinth is a sort of companion piece to Jim Henson’s 1982 movie The Dark Crystal, Unlike The Dark Crystal, which is a dark serious fantasy movie with only puppets, Labyrinth is a light-hearted coming of age story with a few human characters. However, it does have its surreal moodiness that makes for a great children’s movie, then again that was the style of kids movie in the 80’s.

Sarah entering the Labyrinth jennifer connelly Labyrinth picture image

Sarah entering the Labyrinth

Labyrinth centers on fifteen-year old Sarah played Jennifer Connelly. Sarah frenquetly has to babysit her step or half baby brother, Toby. One night while babysitting Toby she asked the Goblin King from her favorite book, Labyrinth, to take Toby away. As it turns out the Golbin King, Jareth, played by David Bowie, takes Toby to his castle at the center of the Labyrinth beyond the Goblin city. Sarah begs him to giver her brother back and he gives her thirteen hours to solve the Labyrinth and reach the castle. The rest of the movie is Sarah meeting creatures and friends while Jareth tries to thwart her and falling in love with her all.

Jareth offering Sarah her dreams jennifer Connnlley David Bowie  Labyrinth picture image

Jareth offering Sarah her dreams

Labyrinth has an interesting kind of moral. It’s a coming of age story but the way it handled isn’t very common. Sarah is on the cusp of childhood and adulthood. She rather likes living in her fantasy world of toys, storybooks and costumes and doesn’t like the reasonability of taking care of her little brother. She does haven’t sort wants the freedom to do what she wants, like when she argues with her stepmother about how she doesn’t ask Sarah what her plans for her evenings. It sort of plays at being and adult but keeping a sense of childhood which is fitting for a Jim Henson movie.

Sarah in the Labyrinth Labyrinth picture image

Sarah in the Labyrinth

That being said Labyrinth doesn’t have a very strong story, it’s really just a girl in a strange place meeting strange creatures and characters. Is is because most of the movie was done from the artwork of Brian Froud. So it was a collaborative movie that was unified with a script. But I think it works here, I think going from point to point but having a larger goal in mind works for a story.

Sarah and Jareth dancing Jennifer Connelly David Bowie Labyrinth picture image

Sarah and Jareth dancing

Of course the premise structure that with movie has only really works because the technically and the character work well. Let’s start with the characters. Sarah has a lot of growth. She starts off bratty but grows and accepts her adult responsibilities and when she is offered her dreams she rejects them. Jareth is kind of like Sarah. Bowie talked about how he saw his character has taking the responsibility of being the Goblin King but hating the job. So he does his job of taking children and trying to scare the ones who would save them. Bowie brings a lot of complexity to character who might not have had any. The other characters like Hoggle, Ludo and Didymus are also great. Hoggle grows from being a coward and not very nice to be being brave and kind. Ludo is just kind despite being somewhat scary and Didymus is amusing.

Jareth singing Dance Magic David Bowie Labyrinth picture image

Jareth singing Dance Magic

As is standard with Henson movies the technicals are great and a lot of fun. The CG work looks very dated but it was 1986 so it’s forgivable. The costumes are also great. It rare that a movie gives the male villain more costumes than the lead female. The ball-gown she wears is wonderful, it’s like pure 80’s fantasy mixed with Art Nouveau. The whole of the ballroom scene is stunning.
The movie also has a great sound track that David Bowie provided. Who doesn’t love Dance Magic?

Sarah, Ludo, Didymus and Hoggle Labyrinth picture image

Sarah, Ludo, Didymus and Hoggle

However the movie does have some pacing issues. It drags in parts, like the battle has some fun parts BUT it goes on and on and on and then on some more. There also a part before she meets the Fire Gang that is a little dull, also the fire gang is a little bit of a what the fuck scene and in this movie that is saying a lot.

Goblins Labyrinth picture image

Goblins

Despite Labyrinth having a very simple premise you could write a thesis on on the symbolism of this movie from a number of different disciplines. Was the whole real or did Sarah imagine it? Was the worm helpful or deceptive? And just the Ballroom scene in general, that is my favorite scene. The movie has so many layers and richness.

Also there is a comic book sequel series, Return to Labyrinth .

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Josh Groban’s cover of Le Temps Des Cathédrales

I’m late to the party on this one but I did listen to it when it was released, on my phone at an Anime Conventions I’m sure it was intended to be listen to in that manner. This post is off the cuff.

So first off this is a very lovely version. It is technically very well done. The orchestration and Groban’s voice is very pleasing. However Groban does not have the power and emotion of Bruno Pelletier or Matteo Setti of the Italian cast, I’m sure there are other great Gringoires I’m just lazy and I don’t feel like listening to the song over 20 times to list on in a tangent.

Also another personal issue I have and this could relate to the lack of power is that Groban seems disconnect to the lyrics. I’m sure he is know what he is singing but the language could just disconnect him a bit. Though I do recall him singing in other language and hearing more passion so maybe that wasn’t it.

It is a very pretty version and I like that people who may have not heard the song otherwise get a taste of the musical.

Pre- order Josh Groban’s Stages

Also Groban was in this movie which I love so despite my criticism I don’t care, anyone who was ever in one these movies is  beyond reproach, beyond it I say (not really.)

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Songs of Notre Dame de Paris Part 3

Doing four songs this week.

La Fête des fous (The Feast of Fools)

garou Bruno Pelletier Gringoire spotting Quasimodo during the Feast of Fools Notre Dame de Paris picture image

Gringoire spotting Quasimodo during the Feast of Fools

Much like Bohémienne, La Fête des fous is a fun uptempo number with a lot of dancing. It brings us to the start of the book so to speak.

Unlike the book Gringoire isn’t merely having his play ignored, he is running the show much like Clopin in the Disney version. This song also introduces us to Quasimodo, who make his first appearance on stage during this number. AT first he walks down, through the openings of the rock climbing wall of Notre Dame. To be honest it’s not that dramatic but then again there was no build up to Quasimodo so it’s not that bad. Also it might be different if you’re sitting in the audience and you see this shadowing figure vs having a fixed perceptive with edits. Though the flip side of that is you get to see Quasimodo’s expressions which are adorable.

I really do love the lighting, the dancing and Gringoire’s energy in this number however this song is not a favorite of mine. It’s really one note and even for this musical it’s SUPER receptive, take a drink every time they sing La Fête des fous and you will smashed in less than three minutes.

Request – Someone make a Notre Dame de Paris drinking, please drink responsibly

Le Pape des fous (The Pope of Fools)

Garou as Quasimodo Notre Dame de paris picture image

Quasimodo as the Pope of Fools

I mentioned last time about a top ten worst songs of Notre Dame de Paris list, well Le Pape des fous ranked in at number #10.

Why? There are a few reasons but number one, for an introduction song it’s a stall and it gets a very core aspect of Quasimodo’s character just wrong and for a show that is regarded as one of the most accurate to the book it’s just a big problem. That being Quasimodo express a desire for Esmeralda prior to her doing anything nice. Maybe I’m just a book purest but he is basing his affections of her looks but get mad at other for judging him on looks.

The one things I like is that Quasimodo gets a little mad and hoisting him into the air but it’s still a dull introductory song that got its character wrong. On the other hand, most people think this song shouldn’t have been on the worst list.

La Sorcière (The Sorceress)

 

Frollo, Quasimodo and Esmeralda La Sorcière Notre Dame de Paris picture image

Frollo plots to kidnap Esmeralda with Quasimodo’s help

Ah yeah this song, at one point I had that opening guitar rift as my ring tone. I also love Frollo’s point, classic him. Also spit sync, delightful.

So while I do like La Sorcière it’s a silly little bridge song meant to move the plot forward. It also gives us some insight into Frollo and Quasimodo’s relationship which flows into the song.

L’Enfant trouvé (The Orphan)

Frollo and Quasimodo L’Enfant trouvé  Notre Dame de Paris picture image

Quasimodo swearing devotion to Frollo

The reason why we have four songs this week instead the three* is because La Sorcière and L’Enfant trouvé flow into some much that it’s like they are one song. THough there is a melody and subject shift that it is clear but the way the transition is done in La Sorcière it mean they are companion songs.

Anyway L’Enfant trouvé goes deeper into the Frollo and Quasimodo. It’s the same as it in the book really. However Quasimodo adds that he doesn’t know Frollo’s heart. It’s really great how Frollo is like cold and emotionless as Quasimodo bares his devotion out to him. Gotta love Quasimodo emotions in this song. Is it the best song in the show, nope but it‘s okay.

(Four songs might be a norm, damn bridge songs)

Get the whole GLORIOUS ALBUM HERE

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Man Who Laughs; Let’s be Real

So let’s be really real for a minute. I think It’s pretty damn apparent that I am not digging The Man Who Laughs but it more could be that blogging about X many chapters per week isn’t REALLY working with this book so much as it’s slow paced. Also I have just been getting my ass-kicked in my day-to- day life with personal stuff and other stuff, so reading this book isn’t really high on my list of how I want to use my time and while I don’t get a ton of comments  mostly, I do just get the feeling that no one REALLY cares about these posts.

More or less the reason why I do a few chapters at a time is that I’m a notoriously slow reader so it just made sense to do that way and it gives me content for a few months and content is what blogs need to live. But it’s a double edge sword, it’s giving me content but if it’s boring people then it’s no good to any of us.

I’m just really disappointed because I have wanted to read this book for awhile and I thought it was a good idea but ultimately it’s not working and I’m not really enjoying the book, I sort of enjoyed blogging about the lack of interesting plot but at 37% a little more than four things should have happen and this English Court stuff is dull.

So here are some questions, I’m I wrong and are this post working and enjoyable? Or Should I just read the book and do one post on that and watch the movies/mini-series like I intended? For the record, I have a bad track record of not finishing things so I do want to finish what I have started.

Are the Man who Laugh Post working?

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And then after that, two options, Read The Phantom of the Opera, which I have read before and is more enjoyable and it connects to Hunchback or take a break from books post for awhile and blog about a certain TV show that deals with fairy tales (you can guess it). Or something else, make a suggestion but please be serious about it, I’m not really in the mood for silliness.

After the Man who Laughs posts

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Let me know what you think!

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Cinderella 1997 Review – On the Power of Fantasy, Genetics, And Whitney Houston

1997 Cinderella picture image

1997 Cinderella

When the 1997 version of Cinderella came out, it was like the shit at my school, granted I hated that school and pretty much everyone who went there with every single fiber of my being but I recalled liking it this big Budget Disney made for TV movie that was also a remake, geeze long sentence. This version is originally by Rogers and Hammerstein and was made for television as a star vehicle for Julie Andrews back in 1957 which was a live television special. It was also remade again in 1965 staring Lesley-Ann Warren.

This version was produced by the Late and Great Whitney Houston. Originally she was going to play Cinderella but deemed herself to old for the role and gave the role to Brandy. Brandy then insisted that Houston play the Fairy Godmother.

Brandy as Cinderella and Whitney Houston as The Fairy Godmother 1997 Cinderella picture image

Brandy as Cinderella and Whitney Houston as The Fairy Godmother

So how does this version differ from every other version of Cinderella? Well Cinderella and the Prince, in disguise, meet and form an attraction prior to the ball. The Prince also has a name; Christopher Rupert Windermere Vladimir Carl Alexander Francois Reginald Lancelot Herman Gregory James, to be exact, geeze long name. Cinderella tells him that she would rather be treated with respect than being treated like a princess. They also bond over feeling trapped in their lives. It’s both refreshing and expected that they would bond over something like that. Let’s see what else? The stepmother isn’t a fan of love or dwelling in the past. Also they don’t seem so bad off. Cinderella also gives a decent reason for why she stays as she promised her father that the family would stay together. What else? The Godmother talks to Cinderella more, mainly about dreaming and impossibility and both encourages it and discourage it too, it’s a catchy song. Other than it’s pretty by the book version of Cinderella, though I do think this version of the Prince with his “impressive arrays of first names” (comment if you know that movie quote, you get two points), wouldn’t have just gone with the slipper fitting as evidence.

Brandy as Cinderella, Paolo Montalban as Prince Christopher, Whoopi Goldberg as Queen Constantina and Victor Garber as King Maximillian 1997 Cinderella picture image

Brandy as Cinderella, Paolo Montalban as Prince Christopher, Whoopi Goldberg as Queen Constantina and Victor Garber as King Maximillian

On the whole this version is okay, it’s not amazing but it not like bad. The cast can all sing well but then again there is the cast. This version has an odd distinction of having some interesting casting for instants a white king (Victor Garber) and a black queen (Whoopi Goldberg) have an Filipino son (Paolo Montalban) and you know that is great, why the fuck not? Most casting sucks anyway, I mean Megan Fox as April O’Neil, though I did see that movie recently, really she was just playing Megan Fox and that movie was just all kinds of dumb, but I digress .

Now people try to rational this casting because people are weird. Here are some of the reasons I have found online those I’m sure there are more,

#1, Adoption, that is the easy one
#2, Genetics, which is a weird one
#3, Fantasy world, which is a cop-out

Frankly, it’s hard area to wrap your head around. Ideally it should be the right person for the role. But naturally sometimes looks and families have to enter the equation for role though sadly sometimes that get tossed aside for many reasons and sometimes roles that should go to minorities (Looking at you Last Airbender as one of many, many movies ) don’t cast the right person for the role. Personally I respect this version for its casting and the cast did a good job with their roles.

Brandy as Cinderella with Veanne Cox and Natalie Desselle Reid as Stepsisters Calliope and Minerva 1997 Cinderella picture image

Brandy as Cinderella with Veanne Cox and Natalie Desselle Reid as Stepsisters Calliope and Minerva

However, I do think Brandy was a little weak. She was fine on the singing end of things but her speaking parts where a little lackluster but it wasn’t like that bad. I get the feeling she was trying to be nice, maybe she didn’t have much the work with? Everyone else is fine, Bernadette Peters, Whoopi Goldberg, and Jason Alexander are also a delight.

Bernadette Peters as the Stepmother with Veanne Cox and Natalie Desselle Reid as Stepsisters Calliope and Minerva 1997 Cinderella picture image

Bernadette Peters as the Stepmother with Natalie Desselle Reid and  Veanne Cox  as Stepsisters Minerva and Calliope

 

The technical are fine too. They costumes and sets are imaginative to say the least. It like the took the style of the early 90s and tried to make it Art Nouveau. The walls of Cinderella’s house and the castle the this odd geometric pattern that have this golden tone to them that reminds me of Klimt’s the Kiss. I kind of both like it and feel like it’s cheesy. The costumes fit this style, with lots of gold element in them with interesting shapes. Though I will point out the color of the ball is purple and blue tones which makes some lovely shots.

Brandy as Cinderella and Paolo Montalban as Prince Christopher 1997 Cinderella picture image

Brandy as Cinderella and Paolo Montalban as Prince Christopher

I’m not sure if I should mention the songs. There were some add in but they are nice songs and they were sung well, then Whitney Houston and Bernadette Peters in the same musical, yay.

Bernadette Peters as the Stepmother with Veanne Cox and Natalie Desselle Reid as Stepsisters Calliope and Minerva 1997 Cinderella picture image

Bernadette Peters as the Stepmother with Veanne Cox and Natalie Desselle Reid as Stepsisters Calliope and Minerva

Is 1997 version of Cinderella the best Cinderella version? That is a matter of preference, if it your favorite, good for you. I thought it was okay at best but it didn’t make me want to tear my eyes out or lobotomized myself and that is good enough for me.

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Vanessa Hudgens for Quasimodo

Oh Wait, it’s already happen!

 

Go to 2:20 for the picture proof.

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Songs of Notre Dame de Paris Part 2

Bohémienne

Esmeralda Helene Segara Bohemienne Notre Dame de Paris picture image

Esmeralda

Bohémienne is one of the few upbeat songs in Notre Dame de Paris. Pending on the cast you’re watching the number can be more upbeat, as most Esmeraldas do have dance choreography. The trouble with some Esmeraldas, is that even though they are dancing, the choreography can look REALLY mechanical. Some Esmeraldas can pull it all like Lola Ponce of the original Italian cast and Baba of the Korean version but most Esmeraldas it like arms up, run back. arms up again and now twirl. Helene Segara at least looks natural in her movements regardless whether not she is dancing, she isn’t but there are a few little steps in there.

Bohémienne tells us a little bit of Esmeralda’s origins and out look on life. She’s a wander and enjoys the unknown. She is also a dreamer and really dreams of going to Spain. Despite the upbeat nature of the number there is this hint of bittersweetness. The combination of tones gives this songs a nice complexity and interest.

It’s a really great introduction for Esmeralda and fun number.

Esmeralda Tu Sais, (Esmeralda, You Know,)

tu sais Esmeralda and Clopin Helene Segara Luc Mervil Notre Dame de Paris picture image

Esmeralda and Clopin

I once made a Top Ten Worst Songs of Notre Dame de Paris list and this song was there, at number three no less. This songs works to tells us more on Esmeralda’s backstory with regards to Clopin. Basically he raised her when she mother died. In the song he warns her about guys and his own rising interest in her.

Here the thing about Esmeralda tu sais and why it made my list, it’s REALLY boring. The melody, orchestration, tone are like valium. It doesn’t highlight the singer it anyway and makes Clopin sound like he is droning. In other cast versions, they tried to fix the song by making it a duet with Clopin and Esmeralda which is nice and Clopin gets more angry about the world but it didn’t really help anything, it’s still dull a rusty nail.

The ONLY thing I can give the song is showcasing Clopin’s gentler side but I mean they could have written a better melody, it’s just one of the weaker songs in the show.

Ces diamants-là (These Diamonds)

Julie Zenatti as Fleur-de-Lys with Patrick Fiori as Phoebus, Notre Dame de Paris picture image

Julie Zenatti as Fleur-de-Lys with Patrick Fiori as Phoebus, Notre Dame de Paris

Ces diamants-là is Fleur-de-Lys introduction song. Just so we’re all clear, Fleur-de-Lys is Phoebus’ Fiancee. Isn’t it great that Notre Dame de Paris introduces Fleur-de-Lys before Quasimodo? I think it is!

Ces diamants-là tells us about Fleur-de-Lys and Phoebus’ relationship. Fleur-de-Lys who is young in this version but is wise to Phoebus’ playboy ways in that she says even if his romantic lines are lies she doesn’t care. She is smitten with him and Phoebus whether or not is he is lying or sincere does seem to be interested in marring her.

The song is sweet but there is more at play. They way they circle around each other and pull way speaks to a power dynamic and really way they do it speaks to Fleur-de-Lys having more control than Phoebus. This could be because Phoebus is a slut who can’t help himself or that it’s Fleur-de-Lys who has the monetary upper-hand like she does in the book. The melody while it’s quite pretty seems a little off, like almost a little diabolical, like a little foreboding with those drums. In that sense it’s the perfect depiction of Phoebus and Fleur-de-Lys‘ characters in the musical.

Get the whole GLORIOUS ALBUM HERE

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The Man who Laughs; An Interlude

Taking a break from the Book posts for this week. I had considered on taking the whole week off from posting and I still may but I haven’t totally decided, may just reschedule a few instead, making it simpler on myself.

 

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Musical Petition

Ciara Renee and Micheal Arden in the Jolla Production of The Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Ciara Renee and Micheal Arden in the Jolla Production of The Hunchback of Notre Dame

I thought the point of the musical performance at La Jolla and Papermill was a Broadway preview there is a petition for a Broadway version.

Sign the Petition Here , I did.

EDIT – Ok, I found the reason for the petition.  According to an article on Playbill that cited Patrick Page a.k.a Frollo, the show was NOT going to be transferred to Broadway hence the petition. Read article here.

Also I just watched a video of  Someday, got say I wish they had kept the song going up till Esmeralda goes to the pyre, it was just so powerful in Glockner but maybe they didn’t want to wait the epic music.

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Stardust Review; Where Shinies Save the Day

 

Stardust picture image

Stardust

Stardust is a big-budget movie based on a book by Neil Gaiman from 2007. This is one is special. I say that because this one of the very and I do mean very rare cases where I read the book before I saw the movie, however I don’t remember the book, I remember it was good though but we’re here to talk about the movie and it’s alright.

Claire Danes as Yvaine, Stardust picture image

Claire Danes as Yvaine

The movie is set in the Victorian period in England. Young Tristan lives in a village near a wall that beyond has whole another world of fantasy things. In this fantasy world, there is the kingdom of Stormhold, where the king is dying. And much like the highlander there can be only one heir, so the seven princes have kill each other but they also have to find some gemstone and return it’s color to it or something. The king sends it so high that it knocks a star out of the sky and to earth. Tristan sees it and decides to the he will get the star and bring it back to a girl he likes. Then it a race to get the star as witches are after her too for immortality and there are also sky pirates. Hooray! Oh and Tristan is really the son of the princess of Stromhold which mean he is crown king and he marries Yvaine a.k.a the star.

Charlie Cox as Tristan and Claire Danes as Yvaine Stardust picture image

Charlie Cox as Tristan and Claire Danes as Yvaine

I left a TON out because it would have taken FOREVER. The plot is interesting but it is overly complex for what is supposed to be a fun fantasy adventure with fairy tale elements. I don’t mind complexity but there are a lot if thing working against this movie that makes the plot just go on and on. Though it all does come together nicely though that is the book’s work and not really the movie.

Michelle Pfeiffer as Lamia and Claire Danes as Yvaine stardust picture image

Michelle Pfeiffer as Lamia and Claire Danes as Yvaine

My main issue with this movie it the pacing. Some parts are like super rushed and some part drag on and on. Like that final fight, some parts were cool but it went on too long. Like why did Lamia (main witch villain lady) do a fake out? What was the point? I just found myself bored.

Charlie Cox as Tristan, Claire Danes as Yvaine, and Robert De Niro as Captain Shakespeare stardust picture image

Charlie Cox as Tristan, Claire Danes as Yvaine, and Robert De Niro as Captain Shakespeare

The timing and pacing problems might have been okay to deal with if the characters were better. Tristan is just kind of boring. Yvaine is just sort of mean and not very charming. Lamia and the Sky pirate captain, Shakespeare are sort of enjoyable but you can tell the actors are hamming-it-the-fuck-up. I did like the dead prince ghost party. But the the bad princes who kills all his brother save for like one, Septimus, looked and acted like Richard Armitage from the BBC version of Robin Hood. It was really uncanny.

Michelle Pfeiffer as Lamia stardust picture image

Michelle Pfeiffer as Lamia

So we’re left is an overly complex plot that is fairly enjoyable and the technicals. The technical are okay at best. The sets, costumes and camera work are all good, not amazing but solid but the CG work is hokey. Like really cheesy. I was not a fan and it’s a fantasy movie that was operating that it had impressive special effects.

Charlie Cox as Tristan and Mark Strong as Septimus Stardust picture image

Charlie Cox as Tristan and Mark Strong as Septimus

Despite its flaws, Stardust is okay. I just wish the main characters were more charming or not so over acted but the overacting helped with the fun quota so I guess it’s forgivable.

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