Tuesday, September 30, 2014

still watching the voice ...

... Or, I should say, more accurately, once again tuning in. I got really bored over the past few runs. The Blake/Adam bro-love was piling on bit thick. The only thing that made me want to check it out again was the presence of wunderkind Pharrell, and some curiosity about how Gwen Stefani might stack up as a coach.

It's only a few episodes in, but it is clear that both new coaches are more than just a needed breath of fresh air. Both musician's more down-to-earth attitudes are having an effect on the contestants and the Blake & Adam show. It is fun to see Blake and Adam watch aspiring singer after aspiring singer responding so positively to the newcomers. The good ol' boys are going to have to ramp up their routines, or maybe, get re-invested in the show.

Gwen Stefani and Pharrell Williams

In the meantime, it's just fun to watch the positivity shooting back and forth between former (and current) collaborators Pharrell and Gwen, and their refreshing honesty. Gwen said on camera that if the show had been around when she was starting out she never would have been selected, and Pharrell agreed with her. They both seem to be taking their potential star-making roles very seriously, and are even sharing advice and encouragement with contestants they don't select or who don't choose them. Viewers the season may find themselves as invested in the two coaches as they are all the aspiring hopefuls.

Monday, September 29, 2014

palmcon: small, but fun for comic and sic-fi fans

Comics and sci-fi are not just for kids anymore. They haven't been for a long time. Everyone has heard about ComicCon, which is such a big deal every year on the west coast. But comic book enthusiasts don't have to wait a year or travel  far from home these days. there are smaller conventions popping up all over. South Florida is home to many conventions and one of the newest, PalmCon, held its second annual convention in the Palm Beach area last weekend.

It may have been a small-scale event, but the crowds were enthusiastic, and there were plenty of fun collectibles, a cosplay costume contest,  and special guests in attendance. Also on hand were replicas of the Tardis from Doctor Who, complete with some cast signatures, and the Batmobile. All in all a fun day. We'll definitely be back next year.

Checking out the Tardis

Signatures inside the Tardis

The Batmobile

Impressive Hulk cosplay

Our haul was pretty impressive, too.

Friday, September 26, 2014

favorite song friday: jessie j's bang bang

Pop music production has become so systematic. Jessie J, who appeared during awards season on a Fashion Police show with Joan Rivers told the group how her song, "Bang Bang," was created. She wrote it and recorded it, and then the producer brought in Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj to add their parts. Jessie J never even met the other two ladies until the video shoot. And the trio performed the song live for the first time at the recent MTV Video Music Awards. That's how the music biz works these days. While it may not make for a true collaboration, the end result is still a fun song.

British singer and songwriter Jessie J on the set of the "Bang Bang" video

Singer/songwriter Jessie J has written songs for Chris Brown ("I Need This"), Miley Cyrus ("Party in the U.S.A."), Britney Spears ("Hold It Against Me"). She can also do a mean cover of other stars' megabits. Here she does a wonderful rendition of Rihanna's "We Found Love."

Thursday, September 25, 2014

inspector manara: fun and sexy detecting, italian-style

MHz has released another international series on DVD, Inspector Manara (Il Comisario Manara). Part police procedural, part romantic comedy, it is a very engaging show with likable characters that American audiences should take to immediately.

Set in a small Tuscan town by the seaside, Inspector Manara features Guido Caprino as Luca Manara, who has been transferred from his beloved and fast-paced Milan to be the new police commissioner of what he thinks is a tiny, boring, crime-free town. He will soon learn that murder is as frequent an occurrence here as in some other mythical television hamlets like Cabot Cove and Midsomer. Luca has no intentions of staying, and doest hesitate to declare so at every opportunity, but his transfer was a disciplinary measure - the result of his getting too cozy with his former superior's wife. His current boss, Casadio (Luis Molteni), has no intention of granting his transfer request until he can prove himself. Casadio also isn't too pleased that his own wife (and just about every lady in the vicinity) are immediately charmed by the handsome Inspector. Come bello.

Luca (Guido Caprino) and Lara (Roberta Giarrusso) on a case

There are many charms to Inspector Manara besides its main character's sexy '70's vibe. Crimes of passion are certainly more common in this particular burg than premeditated murder. Italophiles will be interested in the series' beautiful locations, which were filmed near the small village of Trevignano Romano, which is not too far outside of Rome. After watching a few episodes, viewers will not only get pulled in by the recurring cast of characters, but the rhythms of life in their small and picturesque town. Everyone actually seems to go home at the end of the day (who's minding the police station?) to try and spend family time and eat some fabulous homemade food. This idyllic pace is of course a recurring joke on poor Manara, who yearns for some activity, some nightlife.

You can read my entire review on Cinema Sentries