June 26, 2010

Show Review: Criss Angel Believe

Location: The Luxor Hotel and Casino (Las Vegas, NV)

I first saw Criss Angel Believe last February when, during my first trip to Las Vegas, I was in need of a cheap show to see. The tickets were significantly lower than those for the other Cirque du Soleil shows, something I assumed was because of the poor reviews it had received. I had heard of these reviews only from the consistently unreliable Perez Hilton (love ya, Perez, but you're site has become increasingly inaccurate) so I took them with a grain of salt. I saw the show, relatively unaware of just who Criss Angel was (I just knew he was a magician), and I loved it. To this day, I still feel that it was a misunderstood masterpiece, a show that perfectly blended the magic of Angel with the artistry of Cirque du Soleil. Neither was dominant, a fact that bugged many critics, but both were very powerful and prominant. Filled with striking imagery and mind-freaking illusions, it was a beautifully haunting show that remained with me long after it ended. So, when I planned my second trip to Las Vegas just a year and a half later, I wanted to see it again, knowing that it had endured many changes since the last time I saw it. I never expected the new show I was going to see...for better or for worse.

June 25, 2010

Concert Review: Cher

Cher at the Colosseum

Location: The Colosseum at Caesar's Palace (Las Vegas, NV)

There is no one quite like Cher. Madonna...Britney...Gaga...Kylie...there will only ever be one Cher. She is a legend in every sense of the word and, when she takes the stage at the Colosseum at Caesar's Palace, the audience can't help but erupt into thunderous applause, especially since she descends onto the stage like a gold-crusted angel preparing to bless us with her flamboyant presence. Her show, a glamorous and extravagant showcase that is more of a "Cher tribute" than a full-blown Cher concert, is a delightful experience...the kind of experience one can only find in Las Vegas. It is ninety or so minutes of unabashed tackiness and bedazzled glitz...I mean that in the best way possible, of course. The Colosseum is really the perfect place for an entertainer like Cher. It is massive in size, but every seat, I imagine, is a good seat. Therefore, it can bring a large-scale spectacle to a huge number of people for a relatively reasonable price. For the record, I sat in the third row on the first mezzanine and still felt consumed by the sheer spectacle of the show. So, fear not, people who can't (or won't) shell out two-hundred bucks a ticket, you can still enjoy Cher in all of her glory with tickets starting at the still-expensive, but not totally unreasonable eighty-six dollars (not including those pesky fees that Ticketmaster enjoys so darn much).

June 18, 2010

Should Miley Be Tamed?

Miley Cyrus can't seem to keep her name out of the headlines nowadays, and although she vehemently claims that she ignores all of the negative press...everyone knows that she and her doubtlessly massive marketing team are enjoying every minute of it. Since her decidedly risque (but nonetheless great) video for her hit single, Can't Be Tamed, premiered to gasps from parental groups and thunderous applause from pop music junkies, Cyrus seems to have hit her post-Hannah Montana career stride. And, let's face it, until she starts shaving her head and beating up SUV's with umbrellas, nothing she does is going to hurt her. It's her lot in life as an aspiring pop icon. Pop princesses (like the queen of them all, Britney Spears) can do things that other celebrities can't...can go a little wild...can push the boundaries of social decency and, as long as they don't let their lifestyles affect their music, fans will still turn out. Look at them as old-fashioned rock stars...the more wild they get, the more their fans love them. Unfortunately for Miley, she is growing up and, thus, stepping out in the infamous shadow of Britney Spears' epic breakdown. We are still haunted by photos of a shaved Britney sitting on a curb, barefoot and sobbing...and who could forget the awful sight of Britney, grinning insanely, as she was strapped to a gurney and carried from her home under psychiatric hold?

June 17, 2010

It Doesn't Suck.


Directed By: David and Scott Hillenbrand
Starring: Oren Skoog, Jennifer Lyons, & Tony Denman

I think years of watching Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer spoof movies have forced me to set the bar really, really, really low for this genre. Because, here is Transylmania, a movie that has about one or two good jokes - really, only one or two jokes that work at all - and yet I actually, to my intense surprise, didn't hate it as much as I thought I would. In fact...and this is really hard for me to say...I actually kinda want to watch it again. I know, I know, I know, I gave it one and a half stars, and my biggest compliment is that "it doesn't suck," but, by golly, when compared to other recent movies of the same ilk, it practically looks like Citizen Kane. I'll tell you why I appreciated it. I liked the fact that it had the cajones to be a spoof movie that was unapologetically R-rated, that it didn't try to pretend to be kid-friendy to make money (and it didn't...make money, that is), and that it actually dares to at least try. Sure, most of the jokes fall flat, but there are actually real jokes here, and that is more than I can say about Date Movie, Epic Movie, Disaster Movie, Meet the Spartans, or whatever other movies by the Friedberg/Seltzer calamity I've endured for the past few years. So, yeah, Transylmania isn't good and I don't recommend that you spend your hard-earned money or precious time watching it...but that doesn't mean that, somewhere in the darkest recesses of my bad-movie-loving mind, I didn't somewhat like it.

Throw Away the Key.

Shutter Island

Directed By: Martin Scorsese
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo, & Ben Kingsley

Shutter Island is the kind of thriller I like. It has a story to tell, it has interesting characters that populate it, and it always knows something that we don't...even though it is basically screaming the truth from the very first frame. It begins with these ominous musical notes that are simultaneously booming and yet subtle, setting the stage for a very dark movie. Play the movie on mute and I suspect that much of its tension will be lost. We meet Teddy Daniels and Chuck Aule (Leonardo DiCaprio and Mark Ruffalo, respectively), two investigators who have been called to Ashecliffe, a mental hospital located on the decidedly dangerous-looking Shutter Island. Faintly reminiscent of Alcatraz (or, for the Harry Potter fans, Azkaban), it is the kind of place that looks like it could drive sane men crazy and crazy men...well, even crazier. Had Shutter Island been directed by a less capable director than Martin Scorsese (And, really, who isn't less capable than him?), I think Ashecliffe would have come off looking hokey...but Scorsese wisely commands the opening scenes, filling them with foreboding shots of the journey Teddy and Chuck make into Ashecliffe. It is as though we are being led inside...taken to the mysterious hospital...plunged into the nightmare.