Tuesday, June 9, 2015

SENSE8 Review

I'd seen the preview for Netflix's 12-part Sense8 and, intrigued, began watching it June 5, 2015, when all 12 episodes dropped at once.

Created and written by Andy Wachowski and Lana Wachowski (The Matrix franchise) and J. Michael Straczynski (Babylon 5), it stars Miguel Ángel Silvestre, Jamie Clayton, Aml Ameen, Doona Bae, Tuppence Middleton, Max Riemelt, Brian J. Smith and Tina Desai, as 8 people in different parts of the world whose lives are transformed when they begin to share their consciousness with one another.

Sense8 is a paranormal, erotic thriller. As noted by critics, the story begins slowly, mysteriously and isn't quick to reveal itself. But when the 12th episode ended, I was absolutely stunned. Sense8 has a huge cast spanning the globe. It is beautifully shot. It is the most glorious television show I've ever seen.

4 of the 8 people who together become "a cluster" are male, the other 4 female. They are straight, gay, transsexual and, maybe even, bisexual. The women are equally strong and important as the men. There are even wonderful shout-outs to Diana Prince and Nancy Drew. (One thrilling episode is titled "W.W.N. Double D?" or "What Would Nancy Drew Do?") The 8 main characters are connected on a profoundly emotional level–Imagine if you and someone else suddenly knew and felt everything the other had experienced and was experiencing during your entire lives. Yes, I mean everything.

A Nancy Drew moment occurs at Atlas Cafe, near where I work.

There are stereotypes–a Mexican film action hero living a soap-operatic double life; a righteous South Korean martial-arts champion; a world-class computer hacker living in San Francisco–but these stereotypes are adroitly upended, as the emotional lives of the characters are explored in rich detail to reveal each individual as wholly unique.

When the sinister consequences of the cluster become clear, it is also evident that each of the 8 is important for being uniquely themselves, for it is the strengths and knowledge each has accumulated over their individual life journey that now protect and enhance the lives of the others in the cluster.

I won't reveal plot points–It's a thriller, after all, so the action sequences are enthralling!–but I will note a moment that beautifully sums up Sense8: One of the 8 becomes lost in the annual, massive festival celebrating a god. A child takes their hand and says, "Come. This way. Come," leading the way through the jubilant crowd to a statue of the god. The child then shows the way inside and up into the statue's papier-mâché head so that the main character can peer through its eyeholes to see the revelry as the god's statue sees: unfolding forever is the interconnected, unstoppable, glorious magnificence of life.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Jean Cocteau at Wessel + O'Connor Fine Art from May 16 to July 26, 2015

As I note in this post on the blog, Jean Cocteau's La Belle et La Bete is my all-time favorite film. So, it must be no surprise I was thrilled to find out several drawings by Cocteau are on exhibit at Wessel + O'Connor Fine Art from May 16 to July 26, 2015.

Some are pornographic in nature.

All are exquisite.

"Untitled" pencil on vellum, ca.1950's

"Essais pour l'affiche du Festival de Musique de Menton, 1956"

"Je me souviens de l'avenir." Venise 1956
"Venise 1956 II"1956

Lithograph includes Portrait of Jean Cocteau by Picasso dated 1916

Monday, May 11, 2015

Fifth Harmony on the Cover of the Black Wolf Issue of 360 Magazine

Volume 21 of 360 Magazine is now available at Magzter and Blurb!

Known as the Black Wolf issue, it features Fifth Harmony, Cody Simpson, The Janoskians, Neena Patel Williams, Lus Sahagun's "Escombros," Jason Dussault, and much more.

Fifth Harmony is Camila Cabello, Lauren Jauregui, Dinah Jane Hansen, Normani Hamilton and Ally Brooke Hernandez.  Ally Brooke Hernandez discusses their hit debut album, Reflection, what it was like to meet First Lady Michelle Obama, the 5H girls' philanthropic work, life on tour, and what's next for the 5H girls.

Friday, April 17, 2015

"Just Breathe" by Pearl Jam at Live At Austin City Limits

Pearl Jam performs "Just Breathe," which is the second single from their album, Backspacer, live at Austin City Limits in 2009.

It's one of my favorite songs sung by Eddie Vedder.

"Just Breathe" is available on iTunes, Amazon, and in the Pearl Jam shop.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Steve Grand's debut album, ALL AMERICAN BOY

Independent artist and openly gay singer-songwriter Steve Grand released his debut album, All American Boy, on March 29, 2014.

The album topped out at No. 47 on the Billboard 200, No. 27 on Top Album Sales and No. 3 on Independent Albums. It continues to sell well.

The video to the single, "Time," was released to coincide with the album release.

When you jump to this post on the blog, you can read about his record-breaking Kickstarter campaign. And when you go here, you can see his self-funded music video, "All American Boy," which went viral.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Steve Aoki on the Cover of the African Golden Cat Issue of 360 Magazine

Volume 20 of 360 Magazine is now available at Magzter and Blurb!

Known as the African Golden Cat issue, it features Steve Aoki, Bruce Springsteen, Jane Weitzman, designs by Elizabeth, Danielle Taylor, LA Brownies, Miri Ben-Ari, Alex Garibyan, and much more.

Steve Aoki discusses how his life and career were greatly influenced by his being raised as an outsider in a non-Japanese community, the origins of Dim Mak Records, how his father's passing in 2008 affected him personally and creatively, his next album "Neon Future II," and what lies ahead for him in the coming decade.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

"Dusky Darling Love" by Bright Smoke

Singer and artist Bright Smoke released the music video for her song, "Dusky Darling Love."

I love her voice and songs so much.

When you jump to this post on the blog, you can read my interview with Bright Smoke.

Friday, February 13, 2015

The Age of Adaline

Anyone who knows me knows well my obsession with female leads, thrillers and supernatural thrillers.

The film The Age of Adaline is a heady mix of all three of these. It stars Blake Lively as Adaline Bowman, a woman who becomes ageless after an accident near the middle of the last century.

Harrison Ford plays her friend, William Jones, who reconnects with Adaline decades after they first meet–and when she should have aged decades, too.

Michiel Huisman plays Ellis Jones, who might lead Adaline toward a better understanding of herself.

The stellar cast includes Ellen Burstyn and my Twitter pal, Anthony Ingruber, who is astonishing as Harrison Ford's character's younger self.

The Age of Adaline opens in theaters on April 24, 2015. Yes, I'll be there opening day.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

"Will This Give Me Cancer or Not" by Attic Abasement

Thanks to starting each week morning off by listening to UC Berkeley's KALX, I'm pleased to announce my new obsession is Attic Abasement's "Will This Give Me Cancer or Not."

The song is from a split album between the band and Nod, another band from Rochester, New York.

Attic Abasement is Mike Rheinheimer (guitars, singing), J. Repp (guitars), Keith Parkins (bass), and Darren DeWispelaere (drums).

They are currently playing shows, writing songs, and making records around Rochester, New York.

The split album with Nod came out on Carbon Records on April 19, 2014.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Second Season World Premiere of LOOKING

The world premiere of the second season of HBO's gay dramedy series, Looking, took place January 6, 2015 at the Castro Theatre in San Francisco, California.

Looking is set in San Francisco, where it was also filmed. The series centers around three gay friends: Paddy (Jonathan Groff), a twenty-something video-game programmer looking for love; Agustín (Frankie J. Alvarez), a former artist now adrift; and Dom (Murray Bartlett), a long-time waiter hoping to open his own restaurant.

The second season picks up a few months after the first season left off. Happily, HBO bumped up the length of this season for a total of ten episodes.

Raúl Castillo, Murray Bartlett, Frankie J. Alvarez, Lauren Weedman,
Jonathan Groff, Daniel Franzese (Photo: Drew Altizer Photography)
Before the first two episodes of the second season were screened at the Castro Theatre, the cast met with the press and posed for photographs on the red carpet.

It was great to see Raúl Castillo returning as Richie, a barber who dated Paddy in the first season.

Lauren Weedman again plays Doris, the wise-cracking, no-nonsense ex-girlfriend of Dom's.

Daniel Franzese comes on board this season as Eddie, the first gay character on the show to self-identify as a bear and to be HIV positive.

Frankie J. Alvarez, Jonathan Groff, Raúl Castillo,  Murray Bartlett 
Fans of the first season of Looking know the three best friends seem to have difficulties creating healthy, emotionally intimate relationships with the men they are dating.

Creator/Co-Executive Producer Michael Lannan says Looking is about "looking for authentic ways of being in the world." During the Q&A session after the screening, he said it was no coincidence Paddy and the others find themselves at the beginning of each season outdoors and away from the noise of their city lives.

Daniel Franzese

Director/Co-Executive Producer Andrew Haigh again skips the cliched, soaring shots of San Francisco's landmarks and tourist traps. Instead, he brings the camera down to street level, where the characters actually live in The City.

The intimacy Haigh thus creates is arresting, especially during the nude scenes: you are there with the characters and feel their emotional need to connect as their bodies connect and separate. (Yes, there is full-frontal male nudity this season.)

On the red carpet, I spoke briefly to the actors. Daniel Franzese was as affable as his character Eddie.
Lauren Weedman

I enjoyed speaking with Lauren Weedman. She kept firing zingers one after another.

Frankie J. Alvarez

Frankie J. Alvarez had a sweet, intelligent focus not yet seen in his character, Agustin.

Frankie said not to give up on Agustín, be sure to keep watching the second season.

Raúl Castillo

I haven't yet seen all ten episodes of the second season, but suspect Raúl Castillo's Richie will continue to be the emotionally centered man Paddy is seeking.

Murray Bartlett

My camera battery died a moment before Murray Bartlett stepped over to me. I was happy he stopped to say hello.

Cast on stage after screening first 2 episodes of
LOOKING's second season (Photo: Drew Altizer Photography)

The cast and executive producers came on stage for a Q&A session with the audience. Here, Lauren Weedman admits she often goes off script and ad libs her lines.

LOOKING's after party at Terra Gallery in SOMA

The after party celebrating the premiere was at Terra Gallery.

Michael Denison, Murray Bartlett and his friend

When I walked up to Murray Bartlett, he said, "Nice to see you again," and posed for this photograph.

Michael Denison and Jonathan Groff

Jonathan Groff was surrounded by fans and press. I was very pleased he took a moment to pose with me.

Christopher Turner, Michael Denison and Armistead Maupin

If you're a fan of this blog, you know I recently interviewed Emmy and Peabody award-winning TV writer, director, producer Richard Kramer.

Richard worked with Armistead Maupin on the mini-series adaption of the first installment of Armistead's acclaimed book series, Tales of the City, about people living in San Francisco.

I am a huge fan of Tales, so I was thrilled to meet Armistead and his husband, Christopher Turner.

Like Tales, Looking draws you into a circle of friends you soon find yourself rooting for, as they live and love in San Francisco.

The second season of Looking premieres January 11, 2015 on HBO.