Archives for category: videos

The Greatest Showman is the best musical I’ve seen in a long time. Granted, I’m a bit late to be just discovering it, but the concept of better late than never certainly applies. The best thing about this movie is that I loved the story, and then the music wouldn’t let go to the point that I went straight to YouTube and watched videos of my favorite songs that also happened to be favorite moments. Fortunately, I recently got an unlimited data plan. Somehow, these songs work best when watching the actors’ performances while listening.

The one that lingered so intensely that it drove me to YouTube initially was Jenny Lind singing Never Enough. An incredibly beautiful song, it also tells a powerful story of momentary intimacy and the extended longing it can bring. Rebecca Ferguson’s performance was remarkable. I usually skim comments, because I pick up information that way. Of course, what’s read there may be true or not, but what I found out about Never Enough was fascinating. First, that she was lip synching. Astonishing. Such emotion and grace and intensity…impossible to fake, one would think. Ah ha! It turns out that the actual gorgeous voice belongs to Loren Allred. According to bits of information scattered throughout the comments, Rebecca Ferguson was filmed actually singing the song with a recording of Allred, then sound and visual were seamlessly merged to create such an unforgettable moment. Rebecca Ferguson’s talent and selfless dedication to her craft made what might seem impossible to a layman come vividly alive on that magical, and now more and more metaphorical, silver screen. I prefer a clip that was edited like a music video that tells the story behind the song. Oddly, someone commented on her neck looking scary as she sings. I hadn’t noticed, but then I couldn’t not notice it looking as if she was about to transform into an alien creature. Eventually, it just becomes part of the viewing experience and not so prominent. It even adds an extra bit of cool factor over time.

I do mean over time.

The word obsession comes into play when music hits me just right. I watched Never Enough videos enough for it to qualify as both ear worm and eye worm! And This Is Me, as well. Keala Settle was amazing as the Bearded Lady. She carried that role like a second skin and sang fearlessly, with great beauty. She evoked empathy, admiration, and acceptance, with an anthem for those who are different in the world. A march for the downtrodden, This Is Me was choreographed like an marvelous music video from decades past. When the ensemble of characters joins her as a perfectly synced dance crew, it’s Thriller meets Beauty and the Beast. I love the fierce, joyous nature of it, accompanied by the percussion of hands and feet. This song too tells its own story and won’t be dislodged from its place in the soundtrack’s glorious irresistibility.

It took me a while to remember the beautiful Rewrite the Stars, sung by Zendaya and Zac Efron. Another masterpiece; this one more subtle and understated, thoughtful and outright romantic. Once I tracked down the video, I was again captivated by both the song and performance. The way it blends not only the danger of the trapeze work but also the grace and elegance of the ropes makes it seem magical, though the magic is underlaid with a rich patina of dispair and tragedy. Beautiful performances, by more incredibly talented actors.

The Greatest Showman as a whole would have always interested me, with its bigger than life story based on real life, particularly in the historical period in which it happened. It was made more fascinating to me, however, by the fact that I had watched the PBS documentary Circus last year. I was enthralled by the great spectacle of P. T. Barnum’s Greatest Show on Earth, as well as awed by the myriad of tragedies and setbacks he endured. That he still succeeded as stunningly as he did seems almost miraculous. Multiple fires and mishaps destroyed his dream time after time, yet he always rebuilt, reimagined, and was reborn as a man who could entertain the world and scatter joy among even common folks wherever he traveled. When he lost his venue, the tents he used to replace it were mindbogglingly huge, seating tens of thousands of people desperate for the rare escape from mundane life. The logistics of the travel alone, when he took his massive show on the road, seemed impossible. P. T. Barnum apparently did not recognize the very idea of impossibility and the world at large was the better for it.

Never Enough:

This Is Me:

Rewrite the Stars:

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It had been a while since Cat Power released a new album. I’ve been a fan since way back to Myra Lee and Moonpix, so I was thrilled to find Wanderer among Amazon’s New Releases.

I’ve enjoyed the different styles she’s used over the years. There were aspects of the earliest that I loved, especially her lyrics, but the songs were pretty raw and a bit slow for my taste. Her later efforts were more polished and uptempo, and I liked them all.

Now, along comes Wanderer. This new album carries reminders of Myra Lee and Moonpix, but is more accessible. It is a beautiful combination of polished melodies and lyrics, even as it echoes Cat Powers’ earlier work. My favorite track is Robbin Hood. For me, it carries the best of all of her music.

Cat Power Performing Robbin Hood

​Not letting critics put me off a movie was a good thing when I watched Passengers. I really loved it, except for the early part staying too long on just one character. Apparently a lot of people complained about that, so it’s not just me.  Otherwise, it’s one of my favorite movies I’ve seen this year. It’s sweet and romantic, yet still actiony that’s at times terrifying, all the sf colonization stuff is so, so cool, the ship is so awesome that I want to travel on it, and the ethical question at the movie’s center is fascinating. Chris Pratt is moving as Jim, especially while agonizing over whether to remain alone, then still wrestling with a combination of guilt and pure joy for much of the movie. Jennifer Lawrence displays a gamut of emotions, as Aurora endures different but equally brutal decisions. Michael Sheen’s robotic bartender adds enjoyable comic relief, with an accompanying touch of pathos. Lawrence Fishburn? What more need I say? He’s Lawrence Fishburn! As the movie unspooled, it reminded me of the final Futurama finale, which is a real compliment from me. Cautiously watching Passengers turned out to be an unexpected delight…the kind I can only wish happened more often.

Passengers Official Trailer

My Moto Z Play takes decent video, so I’ve been experimenting. Honestly, though, I got a Nikon Long Zoom late last year that’s even better and I don’t remember which one I took this with. I got out of my car last spring and noticed the soothing ripples water dripping off the edge of the roof was making in a puddle. The dripping sound, the birds singing, along with the green grass and little wildflower made it a charming micro scene. Fortunately, this particular nine seconds didn’t manage to capture a dog’s frantic and intrusive barking. I’m working on holding the camera perfectly steady, but I think this is a pretty good job for a newbie. 

What an amazing thing to stumble across in the middle of the night. I found it on Twitter, so why am I surprised? This video of blooming flowers set to music is breathtaking. An artistic flower lover’s dream, it perfectly displays the intricate, delicate beauty we sometimes take for granted. We are moved from unfolding flowers to the New York City skyline to the stars. A spellbinding treat for often jaded minds….and hearts…and, yes, even souls.

http://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/spring-timelapse-flowers-blooming?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=atlas-page

​Aimee Mann is one of my all time favorite singer songwriters. According to my taste and experience, she’s never done any bad music. I didn’t discover her until her solo career, but enjoy her ‘Til Tuesday days too. The combination of her voice, lyrics, and melodies has run through my mind like a stream moving as fast as she can produce albums. 

Some music inspires my fiction way more than the rest. Aimee Mann’s has been known to help me generate plot almost faster than I can keep up with it. Some of the best scenes I’ve ever written are connected to her work on the Magnolia Soundtrack and most of all, Bachelor No. 2, or the Last Remains of the Dodo. The latter is my favorite of her albums, and Mental Illness reminds me of it quite a bit. Drenched in strings that are the perfect companions to guitar and piano, Mental Illness is lavishly melodic. She also displays her wonderful ability with often subtle vocal acrobatics. 

Mental Illness strikes me as Dodo’s charming older sister. Containing several waltzes and her usual complex lyrics, this album is amazing and quickly became the kind of thing I have to keep listening to at odd moments. Especially when the unusual, catchy, and beautiful Goose Snow Cone pops into my head. I looked up what it’s about. Turns out Goose is a cat she knows, who also stars in the sweet video. This one is going to keep me listening, as I wait for whatever comes next from Aimee Mann.

This gorgeous video is titled Memories of Paintings. It was created by Thomas Blanchard. I have to say after watching it that he is a very talented and visionary artist. Perhaps unique. I don’t know, because I’ve never seen anything like it before and have no idea how unusual it may be. What I do know is that it is the most innovative, beautiful, and graceful use of paint imaginable. The swoop and swirl, blending, remixing, and changing of colors all set to lovely music make up a visual experience I know I won’t be satisfied to see just once. Amazing art.

http://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/watch-and-be-hypnotized-by-the-flow-of-moving-paint