‘The Great Wall’ Find Out Why It Was Really Built

film_TGW_featureimage_desktop_1600x900_2.jpgAccording to writers, Carlo Bernard, Doug Miro, and Tony Gilroy the wall was built to keep out monsters; big, bad, souless monsters that resemble gigantic prehistoric reptiles, who swarm the wall every 60 years to kill and bring the dead bodies back to their Queen so she can eat. Apparently, her royal majesty  has a ravenous appetite.

When the film opens, we meet William (Matt Damon)  a  mercenary in China during the Song dynasty. He and his crew, consisting of twenty men, are searching for black powder to bring back to Europe and sell for major bucks.

Unfortunately, things aren’t going smoothly for the group. They are pursued by Khitan bandits, who wind up killing everyone except William, his sidekick, Tovar (Pedro Pascal) and two others.

The four men seek refuge in a nearby cave, but are soon attacked by an invisible monster. Even though they didn’t see it, they know it’s a monster because Tovar slashed off the creature’s arm and it definitely did not belong to a human.

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‘Lyrics From Lockdown’ A Multimedia Production About Living Life While Black

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‘Lyrics From Lockdown’ is a true story and Bryonn Bain lived it.

He was racially profiled and wrongfully incarcerated by the New York police when he was a Harvard Law student. Once released, Bain’s saga became a cover story for the Village Voice. He called it ‘Walking While Black‘ and it received the largest response in the history of the nation’s most widely read progressive newspaper.

Shortly after, Bain’s law school professor, Lani Guinier, suggested that he create a ‘hip hop opera’ based on his experience with the criminal justice system — and that’s exactly what he did.

Using poetry, comedy, dance, blues, spoken word, calypso, classical music, a live band, and striking visuals, Bryon and his director Gina Belafonte take us on a journey through the very flawed criminal justice system, giving us an extraordinary evening of theatre.

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Queer LA: Juno and Anne of the BAQAFN* visit So Cal

*Bay Area Queer Anti-Fascist Network

Photo by Judy Ornelas Sisneros. All rights reserved.

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Don Most Plucks Cupid’s Proverbial Bow as Audiences are Struck into Submission by said Archetypal Arrow via His New Romantic Album “Mostly Swinging”!

Photo Courtesy of BHBPR

Aaah Valentine’s Day: What better holiday to take us on a journey from loss and longing, to the promise of requited love, to smitten persuasion and romantic occasion on back again than the currently released album celebrating love in all its varying states and vicissitudes than Don Most’s latest musical venture: Mostly Swinging!

Featuring all manner of romantic intrigue and translucence, the album explores everything from soul mate serendipity, the lull between lovers, the brunt of breakups, to spatial bankruptcies in the form of distance between paramours. Yet you simultaneously cannot even be sad listening to some of the more heavy, if you will, love songs on this set: An instant mood booster in all its modern-day, astonishing, ol’ skool, glory!

Lover Come Back to Me is an ostensible break up song or at the very least “I’m missing you” melody, yet  the most buoyant and effervescent one I ever did behold.  (Love Stinks by J. Geils it is not and frankly those boys could have learned a thing or two from Mr. Most and his swinging ways!!!—Evoke some positivity man!!!)

Blue Skies smile down upon us quite decidedly as the brass soars higher than anyone could ever imagine in said song– superseeding even the birds! And frankly, how they make such a majestic sound up above and beyond any sort of atmospheric air pressure is beyond me!  Continue reading

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Mary Hart and Harry Friedman to Receive Lifetime Achievement Awards at 44th Annual Daytime Emmys!

Marty Hart; Photo Courtesy of BHBPR

Well it’s that time of year again—The rust-colored leaves are finally dropping off the Southern California trees in preparation to bloom straight into summer. The promised El Nino/La Nina is doing the exact opposite of what all its meteorological prognosticators proclaimed, and The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences is ignoring both phenomena in deference to something with which we can all identify: selecting and proclaiming this year’s lifetime achievement recipients for the 44th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards!  This year’s honorees:  None other than erstwhile Entertainment Tonight Host Mary Hart and Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune producer Harry Friedman.

Friedman will be honored at this year’s 44th Annual Daytime Creative Awards ceremony on Friday night April 28th followed by Ms. Hart at the 44th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards on Sunday April 30th!

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Stars Come Out At Night For “Winners” At Morrison Hotel Gallery at Sunset Marquis

Julian Lennon and Timothy White

Last night a few hundred guests and your’s truly were in attendance at my favorite Rock and Roll watering hole, the Morrison Hotel Gallery at Sunset Marquis in West Hollywood. The occasion? “Winners”, a celebration of the rich history of the Oscars and Grammys, and the people who have been nominated and won, either or both of these awards. Last night was the invite-only kick off for the event.

The evening was co-hosted by Julian Lennon and gallery co-owner, photographer and the hotel’s cultural curator Timothy White. “Winners” is being sponsored by Morrison Hotel Gallery, the Sunset Marquis Hotel, John Varvatos and Allaire Collection Tequila, Vodka and Rum, and will be running for the entire month of February.

In the gallery, the exhibition features images of Grammy winners like Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Joni Mitchell and Van Halen, and past Academy Award winners Marlon Brando, Audrey Hepburn, Jamie Foxx, Woody Allen and Heath Ledger taken by such legendary photographers as Herman Leonard, Henry Diltz, Barry Feinstein, Milton Greene, Danny Clinch and Timothy White among others represented by the gallery.

I’ve been in attendance at a bunch of these events and last night’s was by far the most packed I’ve ever witnessed. People in this town do take their award shows seriously. In attendance were the aforementioned Julian Lennon and Timothy White, along with Arsenio Hall, Cuba Gooding Jr., Judd Nelson, Jeff Goldblum, Bai Ling, Downtown Julie Brown. DeObia Oparei (Game of Thrones, Santa Clarita), Andy Rourke from The Smiths, Joey Santiago from The Pixies and Grammy winning composer and recording artist Omar Akram.

Only an event like this at The Sunset Marquis, an “outdoor” venue (and I call it a venue because it’s got so many rock stars) could generate so much heat, both figuratively and literally, and in the middle of a cool February night. It was wall-to-wall people inside the gallery and around the pool, where Vintage Trouble played their guitar-powered rhythm & blues while guests watched a video compilation of performances, appearances, speeches and some rare footage of moments from the Grammys and Oscars, that played on a 30-foot screen. It got so hot, I had to take off my jacket and grab a lounge chair poolside. I’m sure it wasn’t the Vodka…

I did manage to squeeze off a shot of Lennon with Timothy White in spite of the former asking that no pictures be taken. No, I did not paparazzi him, he was cool and posed for me. It’s always a wonderful experience at Morrison Hotel Gallery for me. If you didn’t get your invite to the Oscars or Grammys this year, here’s the next (actually first) best thing!

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‘John Wick: Chapter 2’ The Boogeyman Is Back And He’s Taking No Prisoners

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Poor John Wick (Keanu Reeves) All he wants to do is lead a quiet life and play with his dog. Unfortunately, his associates have other plans for him.

‘John Wick: Chapter 2’ brilliantly directed by Chad Stahelski (‘John Wick’) and written by Derek Kolstad (‘John Wick’, ‘The Following’) opens with John retrieving his beloved 1969 Mustang from the Russian mobsters who stole it.  Of course this doesn’t come easy. After slaying what seems like every Russian bad guy on planet earth, John is pursued by the remaining ones in a spectacular high speed car chase through crowded New York streets.

Of course John comes out the winner and heads back home. But before he can put his feet up and relax, he gets a visit from Italian gangster, Santino D’Antonio (Riccardo Scamarcio) who brings with him a gold ‘marker’ which John gave to him in order to take early retirement.

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Movies Till Dawn: ’50s Violence

Bad Day at Black Rock” (1955, Warner Film Archives) One-armed vet Spencer Tracy’s search for a Japanese-American farmer takes him to the titular California desert town, where de facto town boss Robert Ryan and his goons (Ernest Borgnine and Lee Marvin) do their worst to thwart him. This Western-tinged suspense thriller boasts more than its share of laudatory elements, from John (“The Magnificent Seven”) Sturges’ Oscar-nominated direction, as spare and tough as the Lone Pine locations, to Millard Kaufman’s flinty, Oscar-nominated script, delivered with skill by a solid cast led by Tracy (who earned his fifth and final Oscar nod here_ and Ryan, who are well abetted by a supporting cast that, in addition to Borgnine and Marvin, includes Walter Brennan (feisty town doctor), Dean Jagger (cowed, alcoholic sheriff) and John Ericson and Anne Francis as guilt-ridden siblings. But what may linger most for viewers is the simple, unapologetic way in which the film calls out the patriotic fervor that sent thousands of people like the missing Komoko to internment camps during World War II for what it is – racially motivated fear and hatred, plain and simple. As such, its arrival on Blu-ray from the Warner Film Archive Collection couldn’t be more timely. The disc includes scholarly commentary by historian Dana Polan (ported over from the 2005 DVD release) and the original theatrical trailer.

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Live Review – Ace Frehley, Enuff Z’Nuff at Saban Theater

Photo by Bob Lee for the LA Beat.

It’s now been over twenty years since Kiss put their makeup back on and gave us that reunion tour of the original band that we wanted so badly. Boy, following a 17 year absence, we DID want it, too. The good old days of 1996- suddenly I feel nostalgic for nostalgia! It really was a good show, too. Then after a few years it all went to hell and half the band quit again, in roughly the same order they did the first time. Now we get to miss them, again.

But it’s hard to miss Kiss when they won’t go away. The Gene and Paul franchise have delivered a similar show on an annual basis ever since, with ringers in the spaceman and kitty cat positions. Can you blame them? Would anyone buy tickets to a show featuring Crazy Nights in its entirety? This is their legacy, and their life, like it or not. They can start Vegas Motown Soul bands for kicks, but let’s be clear, the raison d’etre of their first division project is always going to involve the fragile dynamics that exist between the four talismans: bat-lizard, spaceman, starchild and kitty cat.

You know who it IS possible to miss, though? The one and only spaceman himself, Mr. Ace Frehley. Ace didn’t write that much in Kiss, but almost all of his songs were highlights of the albums they appeared on. He’s a unique lead guitarist, not the most technically gifted but certainly distinctive. And he doesn’t come around very often, so the LA division of the Kiss Army was there in force to see him at the Saban Theater last Friday. Continue reading

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Valentine’s Day Psychedelic Love In to celebrate Signs of Life Exhibit

Arts Brookfield, who brought those giant inflatable bunnies to DTLA (here), now bring  a new art installation, Signs of Life, featuring pop art imagery from seminal SoCal artist John Van Hamersveld.

Known for his legendary posters for the surf movie “Endless Summer” and Jimi Hendrix at the Shrine, and the 1984 Olympic mural at the LA Coliseum, Van Hamersveld’s new large-scale art installation will be free and open to the public from February 10 through March 31.  Like the bunnies, it will span across two of Brookfield’s DTLA properties, shopping center FIGat7th and Bank of America Plaza at 3rd and Hope (where the LA Chamber Orchestra will play music by the composers Van Hamersveld depicts in the exhibit, every Friday during the run of the show, next to the Friday Farmer’s Market).

The exhibit will kick off this Friday, February 10 at FIGat7th with a Psychedelic Valentine’s Day Love-In & Happy Hour. Enjoy themed drinks and happy hour specials beginning at 5 p.m. in the FIGat7th Courtyard, followed by a silent disco from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Quietly dance the night away amidst the psychedelic graphics of Signs of Life artwork.

 

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