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Alice in Wonderland

 “You’re all late for tea!”

Fervent Cheer

I may be a week late but I finally decided to see “Alice in Wonderland.”  Being a fan of Johnny Depp and normally being all for the Johnny Depp/Tim Burton/Danny Elfman collaborations I wanted to see this movie but “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” actually disturbed me.  I thought visually it was stunning but the underlying emotionality of several of the scenes, the ones with Oompa Loompa songs in particular, made my cerebellum cry.  I remember sitting in the theater with my best friend hearing children all around us laughing hysterically and thinking to myself that I would never bring my kid to watch this now knowing what it was; but how could one know, no?

ANYWHO…  I had reserved myself to KNOWING “Alice” would be even more bizarre than “Charlie” in every way imaginable simply because it took place in an imaginary world, unlike “Charlie”.  I can honestly say that I was wrong.  Perhaps it was the partnering with Disney or a more severe editing eye on Burton’s part but it wasn’t bizarre.  I have not read the books or seen the original movie so I was not hoping it would be like anything I’d seen before.  It was not bizarre but was just macabre enough to be satisfying, an element that “Charlie” greatly needed.  While this movie had classic Burton visual elements that we’ve seen in “Charlie” and in the “Sweeney Todd” “By the Sea” number, what did puzzle me was that I felt there was a missing element; one that I am still searching for but I want to attribute to the screenplay. 

The film began with its rising action but once Alice, played with great character awareness by Mia Wasikowska, reached Wonderland, to me, it plateaued for a good 45 minutes, or until Alice reached the White Queen played by Anne Hathaway (in this, seemingly a mix of Snow White and Ariel with a schizophrenic edge).  Not that nothing of interest happens in those 45 minutes but the new elements were not introduced in a way that I found intriguing.  Many of these scenes, beginning with Alice’s shrink/growth scene seemed to have a Quentin Tarantino quality to them and last a few moments longer than they should have.  Fine for Pulp Fiction, not so much here. 

Depp’s Mad Hatter, an interesting coupling of Jack Sparrow British with fits of angry Scottish, is first seen at the famous Tea Party that has a bit more build-up than delivery and I found my focus to be more on the March Hare than the Hatter.  As we follow Tarrant Hightopp as the Hatter is named, we see more levels of his character.  Depp’s Hatter is indeed multi-layered, his persona changing with different emotions, the change being manifested in his eyes and skin, a great creative element.  Perhaps it was the ultra-visual makeup but Depp’s Hatter was not as mad as one might expect after his Willy Wonka, however it does not fail to deliver the performance the film required.  Perhaps less was indeed more in his portrayal for such a character could quite easily become a joke. 

The Red Queen, played with a child-like sense of “mine!” by Helena Bonham Carter, was an intriguing character within the larger character of her castle.  A castle which slightly resembled the Disney logo castle covered in heart shaped accents.  The details within the castle were all intriguing from the winged creatures carrying chandeliers to monkeys holding seat cushions.  Her henchmen, red mechanical playing cards with spears, were also a nice touch as was the Knave of Hearts, played effectively sinister by Crispin Glover

The Jabberwocky scene was also a bit of a disappointment.  I expected and wanted it to be larger in size and the battle that ensues I wanted more from, not just in length but in imagination as well.  Neither the Red nor White Queen fight in the battle, something I really wanted to see.  Another pleasing moment in this scene and throughout the film really was the airy appearance (apparition to borrow a Potter term) of Chessur, or the Cheshire Cat, played with a sleek seductive brilliance by Stephen Fry

Overall the film entertained in spurts but not completely from beginning to end.  Furthermore, Danny Elfman’s score wasn’t as “wild,” for lack of a better word, as some of his previous film scores.  And though I was beginning to feel his film scores tend to stay on one track, the lack of familiarity was something I missed.  Don’t fix what ain’t broke I suppose.  The opening title sequence did maintain that classic Burton/Elfman feel (a bit reminiscent of the Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban title sequence) but after that the score seemed a bit more mainstreamed than normal.  I would see this film again so I could better appreciate the smaller details that this film is chock full of, costumes and scenic design especially.  I would however preface suggestions to see it with a message not to expect the classic story.  I would also definitely buy the two-disc DVD to see what went into the creative design in pre and post-production because though I wanted more, I’m sure a lot of thought went into creating such a visual retelling of a classic story.

So it has indeed been a while since my last posting…  Why?  Because last semester was the semester literally from hell.  9 days after the spring ’09 semester and my DreamWorks Theatricals internship ended, I started interning with the Nederlander Organization.  I was there from May-December working two full days a week and two half days.  I had my Disney job as well and from November-January I also worked merch for White Christmas.  3 jobs + full-time student = pneumonia and the flu… twice.  I was taking awful classes and spent more time commuting between campuses then I spent actually in class.  I needed to find a way to destress myself soooo I remembered back to the 3rd grade when we made candles for some service and began making candles for fun.  Then people started offering to pay me to make them candles and that is when Wic’ed Candles was born.

Now between my really good classes and just one job and no internship, I can relax and make candles at my leisure (or when people order them) and sing and dance and act and write without worrying about where I have to be and where.  From every negative experience comes a positive one I say and since last semester was so bad, it makes sense that this semester would be good.

Ahem… Anywho!  I’m excited to get back to blogging/tweeting/new media’ing as much as I can.  Writing reviews for shows and movies that I see as I can as well as keeping this blog up to date.  Others can do it, why can’t I, right?  Also, now that I have the time I’m trying to get back to performing and training so that come May when school is finally over, I can jump right into getting myself out there.  I’m excited for what this year may/can/will bring to my life.  It may be February but it’s never too late to start bettering yourself and reaching for your goals.  The sky is the limit!  No, the moon is the limit!  Anything can happen if you let it… (teehee)…  It’s time for a new year, a new me, a new time.  (insert Ragtime joke here).  Curtain up!

Watchmen Movie Signature Smiley

Watchmen Movie Signature Smiley

“The world will look up and shout ‘save us’ and I’ll whisper ‘no'”

Enthusiastic Applause/Fervent Cheer

Ahh Watchmen…  Yes it is only March but out of every film to be slated for release between January and May, I was looking forward most to this film.  I am very excited about the Wolverine movie and VERY psyched about Transformers 2 but to be completely honest since 2003 there has not really been a year chock full of exciting action flicks, maybe with the exception of 2007 which had Spiderman 3 (booo), Pirates 3 (liked, but could have been better), and one or two others.

ANYWHOOOO!!  One thing you must know about me is that I love film and LOVE seeing movies opening day.  The feeling of being in a sold-out theater for a movie I’ve been waiting eagerly to see is GREAT!!!  Watchmen, however, has taught me to be more thorough in deciding which theater to go to.  I work in Times Square and liked the AMC 25 until last Friday when I discovered that this theater is often frequented by a less than desirable crowd.  Enough said… ON TO THE SHOW!!!

I am not familiar with the graphic novel which is the source material for the movie Watchmen.  I’m sure a lot of people like me who went to the movie did so because the trailer featured some pretty awesome visual effects.  I also am very particular about the music used in a film’s promotional material as well as in the film itself and the music in the Watchmen trailer was very intriguing to me.  Now, the first ten to fifteen minutes of the movie I thought were awesome.  Pretty flawless, especially the brutal opening murder scene scene.  Very Zack Snyder in terms of direction – reminiscent of 300.  The opening scene (a fight between a then unknown attacker and the coarse gruff washed up vigilante hero “The Comedian”) was amazingly choreographed and though intense, was topped by Nat King Cole’s “Unforgettable” which was pure perfection.  This scene transitioned into the multi-purpose five-minute opening credit scene which provides the viewer with very necessary information.  First scene + opening credits = best I’ve seen in years, if not ever.

After the first fifteen minutes however the story seemed to branch out in way too many different directions.  In Sin City there were several different story lines that intersected in the end but were each told as one clearly defined chapter, per se.  In Watchmen, each story was told in a somewhat confusing overlapping manner.  The love triangle between Night Owl II, Silk Spectre II and Dr. Manhattan started off as a strong story line but soon began to fizzle with the introduction of the other story lines.  I wanted to know more about the histories of both Dr. Manhattan and Rorschach (the fedora wearing baddie with the ink-blot gauze over his face) but what information they provided was somewhat lost among everything else going on, and there was a lot!  By the nearing of the film’s end I (and many others it seemed) found myself not really caring who wound up with who and just wanted the credits to come.  2 hours and 43 minutes of any film of this nature is a bit too long, especially at 1AM.

I didn’t dislike this movie though.  I may have been confused through large portions of it and was continuously reminding myself to suspend disbelief, the visuals were truly stunning.  Though I expected a bit more action the magnificently crafted and directed action and fight sequences that were present were great.  Finally, a movie with fight scenes that are not edited within an inch of their lives.  You could see the technique that oozed from each action scene due simply to the fact that they were comprised of longer shots (both camera angle and time wise) instead of closer quick cuts.  The opening Comedian fight and Rorschach’s arrest scenes stand out in my mind as being particularly memorable.

The CGI of Dr. Manhattan never got old and while I must admit, seeing him fully nude in all but three or four of his scenes was a bit distracting, Billy Crudup’s portrayal of the jolly, erm, blue giant, though monotone, was still personable and filled with emotion.  I also really liked the effect of Rorshach’s “face” of the continuously movie ink-blot but I would have liked to have been told how it occured in the universe of the film and why it was to begin with.  C’est la vie.  Jackie Earle Haley played the hell out of Rorschach and was the highlight character wise for me.  Having seen him in the intense but great Little Children seeing him in this was a very pleasant surprise and very different for him, to me.  Jeffrey Dean Morgan as The Comedian I thougth was great.  You despised his character for most of the film and then felt sorry for him by the end.  I truly felt for him and while I wasn’t meant to condone his early behaviors by ANY means, his expressed remorse was touching and asked for forgiveness, which I was willing to give.

I thought Patrick Wilson as Night Owl II was great alongside Malin Åkerman as Silk Spectre II whom I did not like.  I didn’t recognize her as the wicked crazy wife of Ben Stiller in The Hearbreak Kid, which is the point, but her performance wasn’t memorable and bit too comic-bookey for me.  She was great and committed to the action sequences but seemed not to fully understand the character nor the world in which the character existed.  As the only female lead I was a little disappointed though she did play off Patrick Wilson pretty well.  The character of Ozymandias, played by Matthew Goode, was initially interesting but became more of a caricature as the film progressed.

Speaking of the two of them, there was an obligatory Zack Snyder stylized sex scene.  In 300 it was a bit awkward but worked.  Here it seemed to be filmed specifically for comic relief.  It was EXTREMELY long and verged on porn.  The audience burst into laughter because not only were both characters fully nude, they were shown climaxing while Leonard Cohen’s cover of “Halleluah” played in the background.  AWKWARD!!!!!

All in all I wanted to LOVE this movie but in the end only really liked it.  The audience was very vocal (which I HATE) about their distaste and confusion with the film and yes I was confused throughout several parts of the film but the visual aspects of the film coupled with it’s great soundtrack and very fitting score by Tyler Bates were enough to make me happy.  If you’re not familiar with the source material you will probably find the intersection of stories hard to follow and by the end will probably be somewhat excited to see the credits roll.  With the exception of the final “twist” the film follows the graphic novel pretty closely, a fact which fans will GREATLY appreciate.  The music (both the score and soundtrack) were great and like I mentioned before the visuals were astounding.

I would see this film again with a different audience so I could focus more on the story and understand better what was happening.  This definitely is a film I’d buy on DVD because the bonus disk would be worth it alone.  Some people have no desire to see the film but for those that have even an inkling, I say go see it because it is entertaining, but go in with an open mind thinking that anything is possible in the universe of the film.  Zack Snyder delivered another visually stunning film that is worthy of your $12.50 and three hours of your time.

Gypsy reference notwithstanding, Curtain Up on my first blog.

The name:  L. Brandon Gloster.  The game… Um, a lot.  I have a wide variety of interests and I like teaching myself how to do new things all the time.  Brevity is not my strongest suit so I will try to make this as short as possible.

First and foremost, I am a performer; actor, singer, dancer.  Stage and film is my life and is what I will be doing with my life, no questions asked.  I love the feeling of being on a stage and doing something that makes someone else smile.  Film, wise, I just love acting.  I only buy 2-disc editions of DVDs because I love watching the pre and post-production processes of putting together a film, especially the editing and scoring processes.

Education wise, however, I am studying marketing and advertising because I enjoy knowing what goes into marketing anything; a new musical, a tv show, or even a person.  I also like graphic design and writing screenplays and musicals.  These are a few of my favorite things…

My main focus right now, regarding my career, is getting out of my own way.  I have a headshot and a résumé but my nerves sometimes tend to get the better of me.  It’s just a matter of time before I can confidently kick down that door called “me.”
I suppose I have a lot of opinions, some of which I enjoy sharing openly.  That, coupled with my growing desire to get myself out there on the web, is what birthed this blog.  Oh, I should mention, Brandon is my name but many do call me Brando…

So, curtain up on the world of Broadway and Hollywood through the experience, research and ultimately the eyes of me.

Consider this my overture.  Welcome to Act I.