There have been so many of these live stream concerts nowadays I am honestly a little fatigued by them. But there are some I cannot resist, and Liz Callaway is one artist I will always see if I can, and it was so easy to tune in to The Seth Concert Series with her, with Seth Rudetsky on piano. As they pointed out, the difference with this is that she is singing live with Seth on piano, and as she admitted, she has not sung live since March, so of course she opens with he version of ‘As IF We Never Saud Goodbye,’ and indeed there is no one out there with a voice so clear and youthful than Callaway’s. It’s girlish but not immature, and it is inimitably made for show tunes. She sang showstopper after showstopper, with all of my favorites in there: ‘You There In The Back Row,’ ‘Since You Stayed Here,’ and ;The Story Goes On’ in there, just three of my absolute favorite songs of hers. I loved all the anecdotal side lights, including her stories while in the cast of ‘Merrily We Roll Along,’ and ‘Baby.’ More, more.
The neon lights of Broadway may be dimmed right now, show queens like me? We’re still here. I was waiting with anticipation for ‘A Sondheim 90th Birthday Celebration’ on Sunday night, and the tech problems that they were initially having just whet my appetite for it more – it was a shame that it was up against the LGBT fundraiser concert as I would like to have checked that out as well. I was watching it very briefly while waiting for this concert, but as soon as this worked out it skinks, I abandoned it. This was a truly emotional evening, and all in all, I don’t know if there was a performance I would have taken out. But first, let me start with the ones I connected with the most – Donna Murphy’s ‘Send In the Clowns’ took my breath away – she knew how to mine those lyrics without an ounce of overselling. And ‘Someone In a Tree’ is already hard to pull off on stage, and here with the four square Zoom blocks, I was surprised to see it done just as effectively. There’s a certain poignancy to Mandy Patinkin’s ‘Lesson no 8’ out in the fields, and Jake Gylenhaal and Annalyn Ashford’s ‘Move On’ wrecked me to copious tears. But that’s just the top. I know everyone and their mothers are creaming over the “Ladies Who Lunch” with Audra, Meryl and Christine (first names only, please) and of course I loved that too, and it was especially poignant to see Aaron Tveit do ‘Marry Me A Little’ knowing he had the COVID 19 virus. I asked myself – were there any performances that I thought were ‘weaker,’ and in this context, a weak one in this lineup would still be miles better than anything else, and I just had to say NPH’s smugness turns me off, putting his performance of ‘The Witches Rap’ there, and my irrational dislike of Randy Rainbow mars that performance for me as well. But all in all, I am in awe of this line up, of this celebration on these times.
Why is Justin Bieber doing a reality show? I just saw the first episode of his YouTube Originals series, and while it is only ten or so minutes, I kept asking myself why I was watching it. Yeah, I know he is coming out with a new album, so that is probably the reason why people are being subjected to this, but I still don’t see any other point. In the series, he talks about his struggles. The episode is titled ‘Leaving The Spotlight,’ and the poor kid talks about how he cannot handle his fame – although those sold out stadium concerts and millions of adoring fans are just getting to him. As much as I want to feel sorry for him, I know that he has enough money in the world to get all the proper help he needs, so honestly feel like it’s an imposition tot he public to unleash it on them (as if it’s their fault) I’m sorry, but I just cannot get on board with the ‘suffering’ he is enduring. If you want to see a documentary about suffering, I suggest you watch ‘For Sama.’
Well, I guess it is very nice to see that I still have a heart, and I am still a hopeful romantic.
I was watching ‘Hit,’ one of the two stories on Episode 2 of Love Daily, and I started crying. This is, of course, in the middle of a crowded Chinese restaurant in the middle of peak lunch crowd, It just got to me, seeing a young hockey player put his guard down and confess to a young woman (deaf, even) that he cares more about art than hockey. These super sensitive types just make my heart melt. I am loving this series, of course. It is nice to feel alive because of love, I still find.
You know I love me some love stories. I just discovered this series called ‘Love Daily,’ and well, I am in love with it. I found it on Hulu, and it’s a romantic anthology following twelve couples – all young – who fall in love. We follow them at different days of the year/ I really adore the first episode that I watched – they are short (each episode runs about ten minutes or so) and go straight to the point. It always amazes me how you can say so much in less than ten minutes.
The first episode on Hulu has two stories. The first one is titled ‘Overnight’ and is set in Los Angeles during the Olympics. A Russian gymnast goes to a convenient store to buy tampons and strikes up a conversation with the night clerk. It’s funny and by the end of the episode the gymnast is inviting the guy to her competition the next day. I especially loved the second story, about a guy who gets locked out of his dorm room by his roommate, and meets this girl at the common rooms, trying to get sleep. They bond (her roommate practice signing all night and she can’t concentrate) and by the end of the night they are spooning each other.
These are nice wholesome love stories with a very attractive young cast – what’s not to love…daily?
Going through Amazon shows, I caught sight of ‘Conversations in LA’ because it was recommended to me. And I saw that each episode was only roughly nineteen minutes so I said sure. The pilot, ‘El Sol’ sets up the whole series – a pair of strangers in the Metro station (which in itself is not very LA) meet, and by the end of the night they are kissing and he has cut her hair. It looks promising, and is sexy and a little off-beat for what one normally expects for a show set in Los Angeles. I’ll bite.
Narratives dealing with grief is a tricky thing, because all of us grieve differently. Sometimes grief hits us at the most surprising times, a lot of times we are grieving and we don’t even realize that we are. ‘Sorry For Your Loss’ captures big parts of grief, and it does so sensitively, and with truth and honesty. I started watching the pilot with half a heart, but by the end of its twenty nine minute running time, I found I gained a bleeding one. In the center of the show is Leigh (played by Elizabeth Olsen) who plays a grieving young widow whose husband has just passed away. She hasn’t been back in their apartment in months, preferring to be with her sister (Kelly Marie Tran who is recovering addict, and her mother (Janet McTeer !) who owns the fitness tudio where they are all working.
There are a lot of layers to the piece. We don’t really know what caused her husband’s death, and there are hints that he may have kept a lot of secrets from her, and this just adds to the texture of the story line. Olsen is fantastic, and we totally get the messiness of what she is going through – the deep sadness, the confusion, the longing, the surrealness of material things remaining the same as its owners are gone. Believe you me, I have been there. There are times that grief still envelopes me, there are times that I still look for new purpose after grief has taken over. I know and have felt these emotions that the characters here are experiencing – and the writing rings so true. And this makes this show so compelling – and important – for me.
I read YA novels because I love its purity, and also it’s hopefulness. When we are young, we still do not have the cynicism and jadedness we have as adults, and I like that even for 120 minutes, I could get lost in that world, with that feeling. Obviously, I know what real life is now, where I value pizza more than love. So of course, I loved Susan Johnson’s ‘To All the Boys I Loved Before,’ a movie based on a YA novel I loved reading years ago. I even remember the gimmicky premise – Lara Jean (Lana Condor) writes letters to boys she has feelings for, sort of like journal entries. She then hides them with obviously no intentions of sending them. But mysteriously, they get out, and well, there you go. Lara Jean then goes to a ‘fake dating’ scenario with Peter (Noah Centineo, a breakout star here) in order for him to get an ex jealous, and for her to gloss over her crush for her sister’s ex. Then we all know where this goes – they slowly fall for each other.
The great thing about the film is it just plugs these tropes perfectly, and because of the charming cast – Condor and Centineo are great together – you not only go along, you even root for both to fall faster. This film reminds me of the John Hughes teen flicks of my youth (wisely referenced here) and since Gen Y kids deserve the same kinds of stories. An added bonus – great to see an Asian lead (this film is dropping the same week as ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ even) though perhaps it is slightly jarring to see John Corbett as her dad. This is cute and romantic, and I can[t wait to see it again. Thanks, Netflix.
I have just watched every episode of the second season of Indoor Boys, and it’s just so freaking good. I swear, I get more enjoyment out of a nine minute episode of this than a full season of something else. And Alex Wyse and Wesley Taylor are both so good that I sometimes cannot separate their characters to how they would be in real life. Well, I don’t really know them, but I hear Nate and Luke’s tone on their social media postings. And that’s really just my problem.
The second season brings them back to New York. Nate (Wyse) visits his family here, and of course he has to see Luke (Taylor) and of course, there’s all the suppressed emotions there. This show is great at showing how blurred lines can get in friendships, especially if there is some kind of attraction there. But, Luke is and always will be a player, and I cannot help but feel bad for Nate. Even if they get together, I can almost tell that Nate’s heart will be broken. And besides, why would he subject himself to going there, when he has Aaron ready and waiting for him, in love with him. Things come to a head at the end of the season, and we get to some kind of conclusion – or do we? All I know is that I am enthralled by this series, and excited for it to come back.
Look, I really thought I was going to relate to ‘West 40s,’ a new web series abotu gay life in your 40s while living in Hells Kitchen in New York City. But I was just…annoyed. These guys are just trying way too hard…to be campy, to be relevant, to be sexy. They look and sadly, feel like caricatures of real people and for the life of me, I don’t know how anyone can stomach watching them. I braved the whole first episode and found that I could and should have used my time more wisely. The show feels like a bad midlife crisis.