Sunday, August 28, 2011

John Williams at the Hollywood Bowl!

Wow, went to the Bowl last night to see John Williams conduct the LA Phil in a concert of various movie music. The concert was sold out! The attendance sign said 16,792 people were there last night!!! It was packed to the gills, and it was AMAZING. Hundreds of people had brought lightsabers. Williams opened the concert with a medley of famous movie themes (accompanied by clips from the movies played on a giant screen), and when Star Wars came on, those lightsabers all came on and the theater glowed around us, as everyone cheered. And that was for just a very short clip of the music. It was just a taste of what was to come. We knew when the full theme would be played later that night, the Bowl would go bonkers mad.

Sure enough, at the end of the second half of the concert, Williams started with "The Asteroid Field," from Empire, and a few lightsabers clicked on. Then Princess Leia's theme. More lightsabers. And then... the main Star Wars theme accompanied by film clips... and the place went MAD in the best possible way. All those lightsabers went on. Everyone was laughing and cheering and if you could have bottled the love and enthusiasm in that audience, you could have made a fortune. It was amazing. I've been to a lot of John Williams concerts, but holy smoke, I've never quite seen anything like this.

That was technically the end of the concert, but the deafening round of applause brought Williams back out, who launched the orchestra immediately into the Imperial March. You thought the audience went mad for just the Star Wars theme? This was even bigger! And all those lightsabers? Started keeping the beat. Sheer. Awesomeness. Hundreds of lightsabers stroking the downbeat. Wow. Just wow.

After that cue, John Williams was peering out in the audience, and he realized the whole place was glowing with waving lightsabers, and he pointed, and his mouth dropped open in surprise and awe at the tribute.

We got two more encores, ET and Indiana Jones, and then, even though the audience had not quieted in the slightest, and was still clapping madly, alas, the lights came up and that was that. What a fabulous evening. Here we are thirty-four years after Star Wars came out, and John Williams and his music are still moving people that much.

And then nearly 17,000 people headed for the exits en masse...

One of the other highlights for me was when they played the How the West Was Won theme and showed clips from all kinds of Westerns. Loved loved loved that. Lots of other good stuff, more medleys, a suite from The Reivers, Harry Potter, etc. They showed the opening from Last Crusade without music, and then with music, and that was pretty cool.

I'm embarrassed to say I had no real idea who James Taylor was, but for those who do -- he was a guest narrator during The Reivers suite, and he also brought his guitar and played a piece. At the very end of the concert, John Williams brought him back on stage to show him the audience with all their waving lightsabers, and they were both boggling.

Coincidentally, Dear Old Hollywood has a great post on the Hollywood Bowl and it's history today too. Check it out!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Where has the time gone?

Ahhhhh, summer, it's slipping away fast. Kids are back in school, the nights are cooling and the sunlight is starting to slant that golden shadowed way it only does in autumn. Fall is my favorite season, so no complaints, but everything seems to be moving so fast!

I have not watched much of anything in the last month. Oddly, only a few newer movies. Not sure how that happened!

The quick summary:

1. Cowboys & Aliens (2011) -- which I had to go see in the theater because I love Daniel Craig. It was okay. Entertaining but ultimately forgettable. And some plot points the previews and the movie's first twenty minutes led me to anticipate didn't happen (namely, some sort of conflict between Harrison Ford's character and Daniel Craig's). But noooooooo, the aliens arrived and any pretense at actual story went right out the window. ("Is this a stand-up fight or a bug hunt? ... It's a bug hunt.") I intensely disliked the female lead. She did not seem to fit in this movie at all and it jarred every time she was on screen. But I did looooooove Clancy Brown's brief time on screen. Would have loved more of him. And Daniel Craig is always a good thing.

2. Ironclad (2011) -- I liked this one quite a bit, mostly because the actors were first rate and the dialogue well-done, but it suffered from eye-rolling character cliches that quite annoyed me. It also suffered from really really REALLY over-the-top gore that had even me looking away, and the shaky-camera syndrome that ruined all the battle scenes and sword fights. Will someone ever get it in their heads to stop this?? I want to actually see those sword fights, not catch brief glimpses of metal here and there. But I'm a sucker for the Alamo and anything resembling a one-sided fatal stand, so this movie pushed the right buttons to keep me interested. And Brian Cox was amazingly awesome as always (I really would watch him in anything), James Purefoy was perfect and brooding and handsome, Vladmir Kulich was cool and had a much bigger role than I thought he would.

3. Chain Reaction (1996) -- One I really only watched to hear the Jerry Goldsmith score and see Brian Cox. It was entertaining enough, a bit predictable. One of those where you don't want to think too closely about it, just enjoy the action and conspiracies.

4. RED (2010) -- okay, now this one, I really loved. Bruce Willis, John Malkovich, Helen Mirren, Morgan Freeman, Mary Louise Parker, Karl Urban, and Brian Cox (again). Thoroughly entertaining. No shaking camera, either, despite all the action! Humor is dark, but made me laugh. The actors mesh well and more than deliver. My favorite character was Brian Cox's Ivan, naturally. He was classy and funny and awesome all at once. Love! It's one you don't want to think too closely about; however, because it doesn't take itself seriously, I have less problem with plot holes than I would otherwise. It's all for fun. This one, I immediately ran out and ordered the DVD.