Saturday, December 31, 2011

top ten list for 2011


Okay, this list is my top ten list of movies from the past years... subject to debate and all that, but it's my top ten so fuck you. -=)

10: Green Lantern
Kind of sad... this movie could have been absolutely great, but some poor direction and a few too many directions kept it from really nailing the mark.

9: Sucker Punch
Loved this movie. Steampunk Nazi Zombies for the win! I also liked the story, even though alot of folks did not. Well, different strokes and all that.

8: Fright Night (remake)
I wasn't thrilled with this movie, but it was good and well done for the most part. A little too much CGI and an unlikeable main character, but everything else was top notch.

7: Thor
Fun movie, but a poor script didn't help it. Helmsworth is fantastic, though... and that's what we were looking for.

6: X-Men: First Class
Ehhh... great film, but I didn't like the rewrite on Havok. It's just me, though.

5: Pirates of the Carribean 4
Good stuff, not great.

4: Troll Hunter:
Fantastic film!

3: Captain America
So awesomesauce and pure geek-fu fun!

2 13 Assassins.
This is pure Miike, the man who brought us “Audition”, “Sukiyaki Western: Django” and “Ichi: The Killer”. The mans’ body of work includes family films, samurai epics, horror films, and on and on. Now we have the Samurai epic. FANTASTIC. Check it out!

1. Tucker and Dale vs. Evil:
I haven't laughed so hard at the movies in a long LONG time!

Avenue Q: review

The first time I heard songs from the soundtrack of "Avenue Q" was at the gaming table of the Bennett family. I immediately fell in love with so many of these great songs, and the Bennetts burned me a copy that I still listen to several years later. This was sometime around the year 2004 or 2005... so here we are in 2011 and I'm waking up one day after spending a fantastic evening watching the Paper Wing Theatre production of the show. I guess calling it "fantastic" is a bit of a spoiler for where this review is going to go, but I'm sure you'll get over it. So let's get into the nitty gritty...

The show actually started before the doors opened when the Bad Idea Bears (Erin Davison and Mark Weddle) came outside and greeted the audience waiting in line. The pair ran a couple of routines on audience members, making people feel like part of the show from the get go. Eager, excited, and enthusiastic, the Bad Idea Bears encouraged both the audience and the cast to drink, have fun, and to ignore the consequences. The people were laughing and the doors opened for a very eager audience. Shuffling to our seats, I thought we'd have some pretty good seats in the way back and be able to see the whole of the set. Flush with color, the stage was an amazing character in itself.

So the lights go down and actor Nicholas Kelly takes center stage as Princeton, our main protagonist through the show. A 23 year old college graduate looking for his purpose and a place to live. He finds that place to live on Avenue Q, a Sesame Street-like atmosphere of colorful characters that make up the rest of the cast. Nicholas' voice is amazing and consistent, picking up the majority of the songs throughout the show. He handled Princeton incredibly well and his own facial expressions drove the emotions and humor of the character.

"It Sucks to be Me" introduces the rest of the cast: Kate Monster (Jill Miller), two non-puppet characters Brian and Christmas Eve (Daniel Matthey, Amy Rose), Nicky (Jay DeVine with Penny Morgan)and his room mate Rod (Shane Dallmann), Trekkie Monster (Robert Feeney with Sonita Cardoza), with human superintendent Gary Coleman (an amazingly charismatic Lindi Lewis). The song also prepares the audience for the content of the show, including vulgarity and adult themes and caustic humor. The band hit a huge stride and propelled the music throughout the show, absolutely NAILING every track and backing up some great voices. With the house packed, director Koly McBride delivers another hit show to the Monterey Bay Area. Also appearing in various roles throughout the show are the Ensemble Cast featuring Cody Moore, Penny Morgan, Sonita Cardoza, Katy Wieser, Mark Weddle, Erin Davison, and Robert Feeney.

While Princeton may be the audience surrogate that introduces us to this world, Kate Monster is the absolute heart of the production. Jill Miller's voice, her body language, and the puppet itself are all in sync throughout the show and I'm blown away by the level of talent in this young woman. Whether it's watching her innocence shattered in "The Internet is For Porn" or watching her heart ripped out in "There's a Fine, Fine Line", she tends to reach out and snatch your attention. Her budding romance with Princeton provides an anchor to the shows several sub-plots, including the predatory advances from Lucy The Slut (Katie Wieser). The interaction between Kate and her boss, Mrs. T (Taylor Noel Young) sent a shooting pain through my eye because I laughed so hard.

Another sub-plot involves Rod coming to terms with some personal identity issues. As a Republican Investment Banker, actor Shane Dallmann is stiff and wrapped up tight with some slight shaking as he struggles with questions regarding Rods' sexuality. Partnered with Nicky, the pair share good chemistry as best friends living together for perhaps a little too long. Each one grates on the others nerves in typical "odd couple" fashion. Rod seeks help from therapist Christmas Eve and there are some hilarious moments between these two.

I attended the show with my wife and our friend, whose comments after the show were glowing. We all had a great night and were hugely entertained. My wife's favorite characters were Kate Monster and the Pink "Bad Idea Bear". Support the local arts and attend this fantastic show featuring all local performers. They work hard for your appreciation and make sure to bring a handful of change for the second act. Heck, bring a wad of cash and spend it on the cookies and coffee. My wife says the Chai was "To die for."