Everyone, by now, is familiar with the Pixar name and the high quality animated movies that studio produces, from the original Toy Story to Wall-E. Pixar has become known for the length of time they take to develop a story or nurture a script before even rendering a single pixel of information. They do have the occasional stumble (Cars 2), and are facing some backlash after announcing a fourth Toy Story movie, but for the most part they put out the best of the best in CG animated films.
Disney’s CG animation arm has not been as successful, at least as far as critics are concerned. Most of their animated films are geared more towards the younger crowd… who will want all of the merchandise that goes along with the movie… and scripts usually are too juvenile for adults to bear. But, since Disney has folded Pixar into the company (complete with Pixar’s John Lasseter heading up the animation unit), their CG films have grown up. Their Secret of the Wings was a pretty solid effort considering it was a direct-to-video film with limited theatrical release, and that also seemed to be a test run for the studios best (and most popular) CG animated film yet, Frozen. And now Disney has released a new CG animated film with the curious title of Big Hero 6.
Step back in time to 1950-something, to the beginning of the Golden Age of Television, step into the theater which is now a TV studio, specifically Desilu Studios and enjoy the “filming” of two episodes of the classic TV comedy I Love Lucy.
If you’re a fan of Lucy, Ricky, Fred, and Ethel, then you’ll want to make sure to snap up some tickets to the hit touring production I Love Lucy Live On Stage, now in its “second season.” This production is currently at Baltimore’s Hippodrome Theatre through October 26. What can audiences expect from something that’s probably so familiar to so many? A really fun evening!
Here’s an idea that probably looked good on paper. Have Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul, tackle some songs that were hits for other modern music royalty on Sings The Great Diva Classics (RCA). Sounds good, right? Oh, but the execution! It’s enough to make the Queen of Hearts declare, “Off with her head!” Things go south, right from the start with Aretha proving she’s no Etta James (or Cyndi Lauper, for that matter) with her reading of “At Last.” “The Aretha Version” of Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep,” which interweaves “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” fares somewhat better, although Aretha’s approach eschews enunciation for vocal gymnastics. Franklin sounds like she’s trying to joust with Gladys Knight on “Midnight Train to Georgia” and the combination of Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” and Destiny’s Child’s “Survivor” is another case of a concept losing something in the translation. The luckiest people in the world are those who don’t listen to Aretha wend her way through “People” and nothing will ever compare to the butchery of “Nothing Compares 2 U,” performed in a finger-snapping jazzy rendition. Please don’t let the Snickers commercial that Franklin did in 2010 be the best of her 21st century work.
Easily the most talked about new series of the fall 2014 season, Transparent (available through Amazon Prime) is, in a word, triumphant. Series creator Jill Soloway (Afternoon Delight, Six Feet Under, and The United States of Tara) has created a show that transcends labels, effortlessly blurring the lines between comedy and drama. The story of Mort (Jeffrey Tambor), a divorced father of three who is in the process of transitioning from male to female, from Mort to Maura, Transparent stars one of the most inspired and brilliant ensemble casts in recent memory, including Amy Landecker, Jay Duplass and Gaby Hoffman, as Maura’s adult children.
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