Katy Perry Sugared Me Sweet

Although my Top 40 radio days are long gone, I must admit I find Pop Princess Katy Perry‘s music ~ and persona ~ infectiously irresistible.  So during a recent trip home to visit family, my 10-year-old niece had little problem twisting my arm to take her to see Part Of Me, which documents Perry’s latest world tour, her struggle and subsequent rise to stardom, and elements of her personal life.And I’ve gotta say, I enjoyed every minute of it.  I laughed, I cried, I was moved, I was even inspired.  Perry has traversed quite a path from gospel/Christian singer (she was raised in a strict Pentecostal household by a preacher father and his wife) to the fearlessly daring pop force she is today.  After all, her first hit single was “I Kissed A Girl” (and she liked it).

Perry is the real deal.  She writes her own songs, (which she seems to churn out with remarkable consistency and speed), 13 of which have become hit singles, five off of one record alone (Teenage Dream), tying her with Michael Jackson and becoming the only female in history to do so.  She has a remarkably powerful and beautiful clear voice to boot.  Perry demonstrates a sincere interest in and devotion to her fans (at times forcing herself to personally greet fans backstage in spite of utter exhaustion), and she in turn (deservedly) has masses of devoted fans, as evidenced by the sold-out shows and the adoring comments of the many interviewed throughout the doc.  She is unfailingly loyal, surrounding herself with and employing many of her friends and family from early on in her career to now.  Perry was by no means an overnight success, which makes it all the more gratifying to see her reach the enormous success she has today, particularly in light of her true talent, hard work, drive and never-give-up attitude, not to mention because she appears to be a genuinely good person. Continue reading

Comic-Con Ep. IV: A Fan’s Hope…and a Newbie’s Introduction

Whether you know ~ or care ~ anything about Comic-Con, the annual comic-book and Sci-Fi convention in San Diego, California that draws over a hundred thousand fans each year, this is a thoroughly enjoyable documentary film.  Despite my proximity to San Diego, I have never been to Comic-Con, nor have I ever had any burning desire to attend; however, I’ve always been curious about this much-talked-about yearly convergence of self-proclaimed “geeks” ~ and this was just the ticket into that wonderfully weird and wacky world. Continue reading

Project Nim (2011)

Documentary by James Marsh

I’d wanted to see this documentary for quite some time, so was excited to finally sit down and watch it last night with a friend.  Sadly, it was a bit of a disappointment, I think in large part due to my dislike of the filmmaker’s documentary style.  James Marsh also made the critically popular documentary Man On Wire (chronicling tightrope walker Philippe Petit) about which I felt the same (more on this in a bit).  Project Nim documents the story of a chimpanzee named Nim Chimpsky who became the subject of a scientific experiment spearheaded by a Columbia University professor in the 1970’s.

What I expected to be a moving, emotionally engaging, intelligent account of our closest primate relative being raised among humans as opposed to its like species turned out to be a veritable freak show!  The majority of the “players” in the experiment came across as delusional oddballs who seemed more like they belonged on the Jerry Springer Show than at a higher education institution conducting experiments with an innocent primate in the name of science.  Continue reading

Pina ~ Poetry in Motion

Director: Wim Wenders

I made a special trip to a theater nowhere near my neighborhood (and in L.A., that really means something!) in order to see this documentary in 3D.  I’m glad I saw it, but my feelings about it shifted throughout the film…  

…the phrases that played (danced?) across my mind as I watched the film were…bizarrely brilliant, weirdly wonderful, and mystifyingly mesmerizing.  Just when I would begin to think that I wasn’t “getting it” or that it was just too avante garde for me, it would draw me back in and take my breath away.

Pina is a Wim Wenders film dedicated to the late, great dancer/choreographer Pina Bausch, who passed away in 2009 (though we’re never told at what age or how ~ it’s only alluded to that she went suddenly or, as some of her dancers put it, “too fast”).  It is Bausch’s work that is featured primarily throughout the film, interspersed with snippets of “interviews” with her international band of dancers, which really only give us their experiences of her.  We never get any sort of biographical information about Bausch, of which I’d have liked more.  The interviews (and I use that term loosely), are unique in that they, in many instances, use few words, instead using close-ups of facial expressions (in fact, in a few cases, no words are spoken ~ all feelings regarding Bausch and each dancer’s experience with her are communicated solely through the faces of the dancers being interviewed).  It’s actually quite remarkable ~ and is perhaps perfectly fitting given the art form being celebrated: dance/movement in place of words to convey emotion ~ pain, love, longing, loneliness, loss, joy, laughter, even aging…

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