Friday, June 29, 2007

Xanadu, the Movie

Sunday I am going to see Xanadu on Broadway. In preparation for this, last night, my Honey and I sat down to watch the movie. This movie was made in 1980 and starred Olivia Newton John and Gene Kelly. It definitely lived up to expectations as one of the worst movies ever made. However, the music is fantastic, many of the songs became hits for Olivia Newton John and ELO. The music is the reason we are going to see the show.

The story line sounds fine on paper. Olivia Newton John plays a muse who comes alive and convinces a young artist to help a retired musician realize his dream of opening a night club. The same muse appeared to this musician as a young man. So who is the muse really there for? The elder or the younger? Doesn't really matter, she helps them both.

Gene Kelly plays the older musician, and he looks great. In the theatre production his role will be played by Tony Roberts, another favorite of mine.

The sets, the costumes, the dance numbers are all ridiculous even for 1980. Even though I was a teenager when this movie was made, I identify more with the Glenn Miller style music, costumes and dancing as envisioned by Gene Kelly in the movie, than with the jarring 1980 rock, silly costumes, and unimpressive dancing envisioned by the young artist.

My Honey heard that some critics blame this movie for the decline of the movie musical. Wouldn't surprise me. Actually, I am more excited to see the show on Broadway, now that I have the music fresh in my head. I think the story is supposedly refreshed, and as a theatre production, Xanadu will outshine the movie.

I will let you know! Tune in next week!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

“There are little pockets of old time in London, where things and places are the same, like bubbles in amber,” she explained

“There’s a lot of time in London, and it has to go somewhere – it doesn’t get used up at once.”

from Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

I loved this book. I read it at the urging of Carl V. on his blog, Stainless Steel Droppings. He is a big fan of Neil Gaiman, and now I understand why. I figured we must have an overlap in taste, since I was a huge fan of Harrison’s Stainless Steel Rat books when I was a teen.

Neverwhere is the story of a young man living in London in modern times, who gets caught up in the mysterious world beneath London. He helps a young woman named Door, who has the magic ability to open portals (doors) where there are none. His act of kindness has unexpected ramifications. This story is very absorbing. It is a dark fantasy novel laced with subtle humor, with enough similarities to others in this genre to make it comfortable reading, but enough differences to make it interesting and new. I didn’t want it to end, and I wonder if there is a sequel?

The descriptions of the places and characters in London Below were great. The descriptions of the depraved acts of Mr. Croup and Mr. Vandemar were truly horrifying, and not for the squeamish. I would have liked to learn more about the character, Door, who is the impellent force behind the story. I thought there was a lot of unexplored potential (I am sure it was deliberate) with this character. Of course the fact that many people call me Door (nickname), and I the fact that I would love to have a magical power, may bias me towards this woman.

I had read one of Neil Gaiman’s books Anasai Boys, a couple of years ago. I liked that book, but for some reason it didn’t make me want to run out and read every book Gaiman ever wrote. Neverwhere struck a more of a chord with me, reminding me of the fun reading I did when I was a teen, and nothing would distract me from the story at hand. I will definitely be reading more Gaiman in the near future.

I took this book out of the library, but I will definitely be buying a couple of copies, one to keep, and one to send to my family to read. Thanks, Carl!