Let’s be real, at the very least you have heard of Hamilton – the biggest Broadway sensation maybe of all time. Even if you don’t care about musicals or theatre or even music, at the very least you have one friend who is kind of obsessed with the show. If you are one of my friends (and you probably are if you’re reading this), then I am that person in your life. When I first found out about the show – about the life of founding father Alexander Hamilton, performed by actors of color and told almost entirely through rap – I just couldn’t wait to see it. I was a huge fan of creator Lin-Manuel Miranda’s previous show, In the Heights, but it took several years for me to get out to see that one. With that in mind, I realized I may never see Hamilton in its best iteration, so I decided instead to devour the soundtrack in its entirety, over and over again. I started listening to the cast recording near the end of October, and still listen to it on a weekly basis four months later, usually while running. The recording is an astounding accomplishment by Miranda, the rest of the cast, and the production team. It’s the kind of show full of interesting roles that I would love to play, but will rightly never have the chance to perform – they aren’t for me. But then I found myself confronted with an opportunity to do just that, in a Hollywood-set sing-along.
Kanye West is one of the most interesting people to watch in our current era. In many ways he’s an artist that could only exist in the Internet age, his popularity existing as an extension of his persona. That’s not to say his music isn’t great. It is. But its value has given us a greater gift, which is the presentation of his interior humanity in an exterior form. Sometimes we see this in verbal/visual outbursts but more often it manifests in a shorter, more digestible form. Regardless of the medium these tantrums are always public – that’s just one of the reasons why we love him. He gives so much of himself, even when he really shouldn’t. Like sometimes he should really just stop.
Wow. As I write this we are mere hours away from the end of an old year and the beginning of a new one. As we age, our subjective experience of time feels faster, relative to the total amount of time that we have consciously witnessed. Despite this, I have found a way to make time slow down, though I don’t necessarily recommend my method.
Ahh, Christmas Eve. While all of the gentiles sip their eggnog and wait for Santa Claus to shimmy down their chimney, the Jewish people have a different tradition. We call tonight “Nittel Nacht,” though most people have probably never heard of such a thing (in all honesty, I just learned about it myself). In the Middle Ages, when times weren’t so good for our people (the more things change…), many towns and provinces forbade Jews from appearing in public on Christmas Eve. Good thing too, as the alternative could lead to violence against the “Christ-killers.” Thus the day became a sort of holiday-of-necessity for the chosen people. The Rabbis declared studying Torah and having sex illegal on that day, but encouraged secular reading and game-playing instead. We are lucky to live in an age where widespread persecution of Jews is no longer so popular, but it would be a shame to forget the weight that such a day used to carry.
It’s time again for another Doug Benson Movie Interruption at Cinefamily in Los Angeles. For those who are unfamiliar, movie interruptions consist of Benson, a standup comedian/podcast kingpin, and his funny friends making jokes over a movie MST3K-style. Usually Doug chooses recent blockbusters (such as Thor: The Dark World) or recent critical failures (such as Maleficent), but lately he has been tackling movies with a better reputation, hence tonight’s interrupting of the Shane Black-written, Renny Harlin-directed 90’s artifact The Long Kiss Goodnight.
With the end of December (and the year) approaching, we come upon another of Jason Reitman’s Live Reads, hosted by Film Independent at LACMA. Only this time, the Live Read was not at LACMA; for December, Jason, Elvis Mitchell and the whole team moved to The Theatre at Ace Hotel, formerly known as the United Artists Theatre. Such an expanded venue could only be necessary for one film: The Empire Strikes Back.
Christmas is approaching. I wish I could say it has been hovering just since Thanksgiving, but it has really been creeping up since Halloween. The actual holiday is still two weeks away, but if you look around you might be forgiven for thinking otherwise. There may not be snow on the ground in this part of the world, but there is snow in the hearts of a lot of excited people. And that unmitigated (and unwarranted?) joy can be frustrating to some.