“Backbeat” Review, Ahmason Theater, L.A., 1/24/13

ImageAlthough the play previewing at the Ahmanson Theater this week has its slow sections, and sometimes the Liverpool dialect is hard to understand, in the end it is all about the music. “Backbeat” thunders with live rollicking classics like “Twist and Shout,” “Love Me Do,” “Long Tall Sally,” “P.S. I Love You,” “Rock and Roll Music,” and “I Saw Her Standing There” played in classic early Beatles venues from seedy Hamburg clubs to the Cavern, where they were discovered by manager Brian Epstein.

The crowd last night stood on their feet for the last 15 minutes, dancing like teenagers (including one young woman who came on stage & managed to get a hug and kiss from “Paul”, as these outstanding actors/musicians recreated the exact historic moment the lads from Liverpool became “The Beatles.” Not an award-winning play (book is focused mainly on the relatively unknown relationship between fellow art students John Lennon & Stuart Sutcliffe (original bass player), but the live experience is priceless for any fan of Beatles music.

“Backbeat,” which came to L.A. direct from London’s West End, continues at the Ahmanson through March 1, 2013.

Hollywood 911 Holiday Call

Hello, 911? I want to report a crime – a break-in. My name? That’s rather personal. Oh, all right. Millard J. Fillmore. Yes, like the president. Apparently, mother screamed it out during natural childbirth. Christ Almighty was mentioned too, but she thought that was a little ostentatious. Address?  555 Sycamore Street. This is the Beverly Hills 911, isn’t it? Oh good. I don’t want a bunch of sweaty policemen from the valley showing up. Time? Good God, doesn’t anyone own a watch down there? Oh, time of the break-in. Well…I’m not really sure. I was sound asleep in my Calvin Klein pajamas, when I heard such a clatter, and faint animal smells coming from outside my upstairs bedroom window; perhaps the roof?  Why yes, they are green. Makes me feel festive this time of year. Thank you. You have a cute voice too. Am I alone? Why, did you want to come over for a glass of wine? Oh, is the burglar still in the house? I don’t know. I was afraid to look. Butch up! That’s not nice to say. Okay, I’m going, I’m going. Yes, it is a clear signal. It’s the new Samsung phone that you clap together with a friend to share embarrassing pictures from the 24 Hour Fitness steam room. Okay, I’m now on the balcony, overlooking the living room. OMG, he’s still here! Description? A large man, chunky, not tall. This guy needs to hit the gym. Dark red jumpsuit, straight out of the 70s, with matching black belt and boots to die for. He has a huge bag of loot. Must have already cleaned out the neighbor’s houses. Wait, he’s reaching into the bag, and pulling something out. I hope it’s not the macramé I gave the Bernstein’s last year. I hate re-gifting. No, it’s a small fruit tree and there’s a hefty sized bird in the branches. What the hell am I going to do with that? He’s going back into the bag again. Two more birds, doves, I think; three chickens wearing adorable Berets; and four more fowl, singing their brains out. I’m sensing a theme here. Ah, something I can use, five gold rings, although I am not Mormon. More birds. Six geese and seven swans. Guess what I’m serving to the Cohen’s on Saturday? No way! Now he’s pulling out people. What an active, eclectic crowd. There are milkmaids, lords a leaping, drummers drumming, dancing ladies, and guys with flutes. Must have escaped from a nearby renaissance fair. I hope he’s done. My living room is full and the poultry is crapping on my Persian rug. No, it doesn’t look like he’s stealing anything. Who? Santa Clause? You’re kidding. That’s why he kept going Ho, Ho, Ho. I mean I sleep around, but I don’t give it away. No, I understand why you won’t be sending anyone. Look, I’ve got to get down there and break out some music, food, and drink. Don’t want Santa to think I’m a bad host. Drop by after you get off work. I don’t think these folks are leaving anytime soon. Oh, sorry, I’m Jewish, but Merry Christmas to you too.tree

Day At The Hoopla; Night At The Oscars

artistI love the movies.

Have since I was a kid, and Kirk Douglas as Ulysses took me on a marvelous adventure through Greek mythology. The technology has greatly approved (no more Gumby claymation monsters), making the places and emotions where films take us even more amazing.

Yesterday, after months of campaigning in the newspapers and trade magazines, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences gave out their famous gold statues. It was a good TV show, dare I say entertaining. Billy Crystal was funny and a comfortable host. I loved his film and musical opening, “Say ‘I’m Batman.’ It’ll help.” Danny Elfman’s music. Cirque du Soleil soared above the audience. Acceptance speeches were short and emotional. Dresses were fancy and revealing. Angelina Jolie won the best leg pose award.

Now to the voting and results

As a SAG member, I am fortunate enough to get screener copies and actually got to see most of the nominated films, unlike most of America. In my opinion, Oscar voters don’t always get it right, and seem to be influenced by all the hoopla leading up to the event. Did you know that the average age of Oscar voters is 62 and 90% of them are white males? Their votes do not, I believe, represent the masses.

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For example, I’ll admit, when Meryl Streep said, “Oh no, why her?”  I had to agree. Not that she didn’t do a fantastic job as Margaret Thatcher. Meryl has a terrific ability to mimic a known person or create a character. But Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe was even better. And Viola Davis created a person so believable that your heart aches for her situation, and you can’t help but cheer when The Help is published and balance is restored at least a little.

As expected, the silent, B&W film, The Artist, got most of the “acting” awards, including best picture. Hugo gathered in the “technical” awards, winning for sound, art direction, visual effects, and cinematography. Midnight in Paris got best screenplay and deserved it. Best Woody Allen film in years. Christopher Plummer at 82 becomes the oldest actor ever to win an Oscar. He said he hoped he could keep working for at least another another ten years. Rango won for best animated feature, but does it count as animation when the process started out with real actors (Johnny Depp) in motion capture suits?

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Write your complaints in this space []…

Biggest problem I have with the Oscars is the Academy’s aversion to fame & money. Ironic isn’t it? An industry/business that tracks its success at the box office, apparently believes if a film is actually seen by millions of people and makes billions of dollars, it can not be artistically recognized. It’s a crime Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows 2 did not get a single award anywhere. War Horse got shut out. Ghost Protocol, Pirates: Stranger Tides, Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows, and Rise of the Planet of the Apes were ignored. There is a reason these films were so popular…they are good, and provide the entertainment that most of us go to movies to see.

One final admission…I didn’t like the real Margaret Thatcher either.