Thursday, March 12, 2009

I... Hate... Being... Sick...

Especially since I haven't had a cold this bad in, oh, maybe a year?

Apologies to S, whose follow-up questions about a medical career are being put on hold until another time when I can think more clearly. All these coughing fits are giving me migraine.

So I shall write about more frivolous subjects, if you don't mind. :)

American Idol 8

After a rather dull audition process, things really started to take off with the top 36 performances, as the list got whittled down at super speed, resulting in the current ( lucky? ) 13.

Managed to catch the latest episode before coming to work this evening, and my favourites for this round are: Adam Lambert, Danny Gokey and Alexis Grace.

While this week's theme -- Michael Jackson songs -- is a disastrous choice, it helped separate the stars from the wannabes, and Adam is by far the strongest contender at this stage of the competition. What I like about him is the fact that he doesn't really change his style ( something akin to Aerosmith's Steven Tyler with his high-octave range and pecking-chicken stance ) and remains the most consistent -- yet also manages to infuse originality -- no matter what he sings. He turned an MJ hit into a rock anthem tonight, wow!

As for Danny, I have a soft spot for him because of his sad personal history ( a young widower ), his religious background ( music director for his church ), and his irresistibly upbeat personality. Look past the loud glasses and he's actually a very nice-looking fellow with a million-dollar smile.

Alexis, on the other hand, is the only female contestant who doesn't annoy me at all, and impresses with her powerhouse vocals and sexy stage presence. She's one of the most striking girls I've ever seen on American Idol -- the last being Katharine McPhee, who reminds me of Catherine Zeta-Jones -- and really belted the hell out of Dirty Diana.

A small comment about Scott MacIntyre, the first visually impaired AI finalist -- while I applaud his courage and determination, I can't help feeling his spot could've been given to someone more deserving ( i.e. another terrific singer ). I mean, Scott is a GOOD singer, but he's definitely out of place among the Top 13, with a shaky voice that weakens in the higher registers. Doesn't Simon Cowell always hammer home the point that AI is, first and foremost, "a singing competition"? Good for you, Scott, for inspiring us with your story, but I don't think you're going to last very long on the show.

By the way, Jason Mraz's name came up! Randy Jackson compared Kris Allen to JM, and I couldn't help laughing because my mom and I responded with the same remark: No way!
JM's in a league of his own, and if AI tries having a "Jason Mraz songs" theme one of these days, no-one will survive.
But it was nice to hear him mentioned though. :)


Gone Baby Gone, a drama / thriller based on a Dennis Lehane novel, directed by Ben Affleck.

Had heard good things about the film, but wondered why it was grossly ignored at last year's Oscars.

Finally got to watch it on cable this afternoon, and really really love it. Not as superb as There Will Be Blood ( which I can't stop raving about ), but equally compelling for a completely different set of reasons.

Casey Affleck demonstrates leading man chops as the protagonist -- a baby-faced but tough private investigator searching for a missing 4-year-old girl in a ratty Boston neighbourhood. Brother Ben took a chance casting his younger sibling, and it proved to be an inspired choice. GBG is mostly a quiet little film, where the majority of conversations is conducted in hushed tones in little rooms or around little tables. Such settings can magnify characters ten-fold, and Ben Affleck's penchant for doing close-ups of Casey creates a huge in-your-face effect.

Surprisingly, the latter manages to deliver a restrained yet unforgettable performance as his character, Patrick, grapples with a negligent young mother, drug dealers, paedophiles and cops with questionable ethics.

The most powerful scene takes place in the final 15 minutes of the film, when Patrick makes possibly the most painful decision of his life, one which I'm certain many viewers will agree is also wrong.

It's one of those rare movies that linger in your mind long after the credits have stopped rolling. I honestly think this is one of the best films I've ever seen, and hope the Affleck brothers will collaborate again soon.

Interesting tidbit: Casey is married to Summer Phoenix, aka Joaquin's sister. Cool eh?


Has it already been a week since JM's show? Time really flies.

*cough* Hope I get well quickly -- I've got another 2 shows to attend later this month. Wouldn't want to get kicked out of the concert hall because of my itchy throat.

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