Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Bob Dylan at the Eccles Theater

I first saw Bob Dylan in concert many years ago at Deer Valley and I was really disappointed.  I literally couldn't recognize what song he was singing because he performed most of them with very different arrangements and different phrasing.  I suppose he has earned the right to do as he pleases but it is something you have to understand in order to enjoy his show.  When I found out that he was coming to SLC again, I decided that I could listen to "Mr. Tambourine Man" any time I wanted on my iPod and this concert would be an opportunity to see an unbelievably talented musician, a rock and roll icon really, jam with a group of equally talented musicians in a live show so I bought a ticket.  This time around the fact that nearly every song was virtually unrecognizable mattered not because it was Bob Dylan on the stage!   He can jam.  With a mane of unruly hair and a permanent scowl on his face, he spent as much time behind a baby grand piano as he did standing with a microphone in one rock-star pose after another.  He played for over two hours and his set featured an eclectic mixture of hits and covers of the old standards.  Of the former, my favorites were "Things Have Changed," which is how he opened the show, and "Blowin' in the Wind," which he played as part of the encore.  Of the latter, I particularly enjoyed "Melancholy Mood" and an incredibly atmospheric rendition of "Autumn Leaves" (which rivaled the version performed by Leslie Odom, Jr.).  Dylan performed with a five member band, each of whom played multiple instruments, and they sounded amazing.  He did not acknowledge the audience in any way but, again, it simply didn't matter because he is pretty much the coolest dude around.  If there is anyone cooler than Bob Dylan, I have yet to see him!  This same concert will be performed again at the Eccles Theater tonight (tickets may be purchased here) and I recommend it if you want to see an incredible live show.  Stay home and listen to your iPod if you want to hear the songs the way you remember them from your youth!

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Silver Screen Classics: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

The next film in the Silver Screen Classics series was Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.  My Mom and sister came along with me to this screening and we had so much fun!  I mean this film stars Paul Newman and Robert Redford so what more could you ask for on a Monday night?  They are both so handsome and charismatic and their chemistry is what makes this movie so great and so much fun to watch.  All of their banter had my Mom giggling through the whole thing!  The film follows the exploits of Butch Cassidy (Newman), the Sundance Kid (Redford), and the rest of the Hole in the Wall Gang as they rob a series of trains.  Cassidy and the Kid get separated from the rest of the gang and are pursued by a posse hired by the owner of the railroad.  They hide with the Kid's girlfriend Etta (Katharine Ross) and the three of them decide to run away to Bolivia where they rob a series of banks in some highly amusing scenes.  When a bounty is placed on their heads they attempt to go straight by guarding the payroll of a mine but eventually start robbing the mines.  They are finally captured in an epic shoot-out in a Bolivian town square.  Even though they are committing crimes throughout the whole movie, the characters are so endearing that you want them to succeed and you hope that they somehow make it out of that shoot-out alive.  In addition to the two lead actors, I really loved all of the Western scenery (it was filmed in Colorado, Utah, New Mexico and Mexico), especially the scenes shot in Zion National Park which is one of my favorite places on Earth.  After watching The Princess Bride it was fun to see another funny and charming movie written by William Goldman (he won an Oscar for this screenplay).  We had such a great time watching this classic film on the big screen and I recommend it highly.

Note:  Speaking of the Sundance Kid,  I was able to get a pass to the  2018 Sundance Film Festival yesterday.  It was quite the ordeal because the website crashed due to the overwhelming response.  My friend Marta and I surreptitiously tried to order passes during a meeting after school to no avail but we were both successful eventually!  I am so excited!

Monday, October 16, 2017

The Princess Bride

Thanks to the TCM Big Screen Classics series I got to see The Princess Bride, one of my all-time favorite movies, on the big screen again yesterday.  What a treat!  It is being screened in select theaters in conjunction with its 30th anniversary and I loved every minute of it!  I actually had to stop myself from quoting every single line out loud!  The Princess Bride is a spoof of traditional fairy-tales that is full of romance, revenge, and swashbuckling adventure.  Buttercup (Robin Wright) falls in love with a farm boy (Cary Elwes) who goes away to seek his fortune but is presumed dead when the Dread Pirate Roberts attacks his ship.  Buttercup, in despair, agrees to marry the nefarious Prince Humperdinck (Chris Sarandon).  Chaos ensues when Buttercup is kidnapped by Vezzini (Wallace Shawn), Fezzik (Andre the Giant), and Inigo Montoya (Mandy Patinkin), who turn out to be agents of Prince Humperdinck, as a way to start a war with neighboring Guilder.  I love Christopher Guest as the six-fingered man, Billy Crystal as Miracle Max, and Peter Cook as the Impressive Clergyman.  I have so many favorite quotes but here are a few: 

"Am I going mad or did the word think escape your lips?"
"Inconceivable!"  
"You keep using that word.  I do not think it means what you think it means."
"I'm not saying I'd like to build a summer home here but the trees are quite lovely."
"Hello my name is Inigo Montoya.  You killed my father.  Prepare to die!"
"Mawage. Mawage is what bwings us togeder today."

In my opinion, this movie is practically perfect and I highly recommend that you see it on the big screen (go here for tickets).

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Professor Marston and the Wonder Women

Last night I saw Professor Marston and the Wonder Woman and I thought it was fabulous!  It tells the fascinating true story of how the Wonder Woman comic strip came into existence.  William Moulton Marston (Luke Evans) is a Harvard professor of psychology whose area of expertise is dominance and submission in human relationships.  His wife Elizabeth (Rebecca Hall) has also earned a PhD in psychology, although Harvard won't grant her the degree because she is a woman, and she works closely with her husband testing his theories.  Olive Byrne (Bella Heathcote) is a student who signs up to participate in their experiments and falls in love with both of the Marstons.  They begin a relationship and the two very different women inspire William to create the character of Wonder Woman.  What I loved most about this film is the clever way that every part of Wonder Woman's iconography comes into being.  Watching the film becomes a little bit like a scavenger hunt looking for clues, some of which are fairly obvious, such as the Marstons' creation of the lie detector test as the inspiration for the lasso of truth, but others are more subtle and are satisfying to notice (the timing of this film is particularly good coming so close after the release of the blockbuster Wonder Woman).  While the film does focus of the creation of the iconic character, to me it is more about the relationship between these three people and I think director Angela Robinson does a beautiful job in developing it tastefully and intelligently.  Yes, there are some really steamy scenes involving S&M role playing between the three characters but it is absolutely clear that they are all consenting adults and that they all love each other deeply.  All three of the lead actors give amazing and highly nuanced performances but I was especially impressed with Hall who is brilliant in this role.  It is a beautiful film on the screen with lovely cinematography, costumes, and production design.  This story is interesting but it is also very timely in its message about the right to love who you love.  I highly recommend it!

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Imagine Dragons at Usana

Last night I had the opportunity to see Imagine Dragons perform at the Usana Amphitheatre and it was absolutely amazing, definitely a night I won't forget for some time.  I love Imagine Dragons (their album Night Visions is rare in that I can listen to it on repeat for hours without skipping any songs) and they always put on a spectacular show.  Last night was no exception!  They began with a song from their latest release, Evolve, called "I Don't Know Why" and continued with almost every song from this album throughout the night, including "Whatever It Takes," "I'll Make It Up to You," "Mouth of the River," a rousing rendition of "Yesterday," "Start Over," and "Rise Up."  I was really happy that they played "Gold," one of my favorite songs from Smoke + Mirrors but I have to admit that I especially enjoyed "This Is It," "On Top of the World," and an incredibly powerful version of "Demons."  Dan Reynolds was effusive in his love for Utah and the impact that the state had on their development as a band.  He dedicated "This Is It" to the crowd!  He also gave a heartfelt speech about depression before performing "Demons" and the audience held up their phones to light up the amphitheatre.  It was amazing!  After their main set, the band walked to a small stage in the middle of the crowd and performed an acoustic version of Tom Petty's "I Won't Back Down" which they dedicated to him.  This was another high point of the concert for me.  Then they performed acoustic versions of "Bleeding Out" and "Dream."  I especially loved the cello on both of those songs.  Once they returned to the main stage, they finished their set with "Thunder," "I Bet My Life," and "Radioactive" complete with smoke and lasers.  It was thrilling to stand in a crowd with everyone singing every word to "Radioactive," the song that made me a fan of the band!  For the encore (which was really not an encore because they decided that it was too cold to make the crowd wait for them to return to the stage) they performed "Walking the Wire" and "Believer."  I can't describe how much I loved this show!  Dan Reynolds is such an enthusiastic performer and he seems so genuine in his interactions with the crowd!  At one point he mentioned that the rest of the tour would all be downhill from this point on because he loved the Utah crowd so much (sorry Denver!).  I will always try to see this band whenever they come through SLC!

Note:  It was really cold!  Last year I seem to remember making a vow that I would never see another outdoor show this time of year ever again...
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