Michael Cavacini

An award-winning arts and culture blog.

Archive for the tag “entertainment”

Book Review: The Must List by Entertainment Weekly

9781618931566To celebrate the past 25 years of pop culture, Entertainment Weekly released a new book entitled The Must List. Is this compact hardback book worthy of sitting on your coffee table? Watch my video review to find out:

Book Review – WWE 50

50th Years Of WWEWWE 50 is a beautifully-bound hardback book that celebrates 50 years of the most iconic company in the history of sports entertainment. Below is my video review of WWE 50. The book comes out March 31 and you can buy it here.

 

Movie Review – California Solo

California_SoloWhen recently speaking with Michael Des Barres, he recommended that my girlfriend and I watch his latest movie, California Solo, so we did. The film, starring Robert Carlyle, premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival and went on to win several awards at other film festivals. After watching the movie, I’m not surprised it received such acclaim. It’s a terrific character study about an endearing former rock star I couldn’t help but feel for. Carlyle’s ability to convey MacAldonich’s internal and external struggles was mesmerizing. Even when he didn’t speak a word, his body language said everything. As expected, Des Barres’ role as the former manager of MacAldonich’s dissolved band was delightfully charming. And at one hour and 35 minutes, this movie doesn’t overstay its welcome. I highly recommend you check it out.

Synopsis

Lachlan MacAldonich is former Britpop rocker who has settled into a comfortably numb existence in farm country just outside Los Angeles. By day, he works on an organic farm and travels regularly to the city’s farmers’ markets to sell produce. By night, he retreats to his crummy apartment to record “Flame-Outs,” his podcast that recounts the tragic deaths of great musicians. The only spark in his humdrum existence is Beau, a lovely struggling actress and amateur chef who frequents the Silver Lake farmers’ market.

One night, Lachlan gets pulled over for a DUI, a charge that dredges up his past drug offense and threatens him with deportation. Lachlan’s only hope of staying in the U.S. is proving that his removal would cause “extreme hardship” to a U.S. citizen spouse or relative. Lachlan contacts his estranged ex-wife and daughter, raising past demons that he must finally confront.

California Solo is a human story about post-fame life and personal redemption.

When I Met Harlan Coben

Me & HarlanI recently met one of my favorite thriller writers for the second time: Harlan Coben. With more than 50 million books in print and his last five consecutive novels debuting at the top of The New York Times Bestseller list, Coben is one of the most successful and skillful authors. He rose to fame with Tell No One, which was turned into an award-winning foreign film, and Coben is also well known for his popular Myron Bolitar novels. If you enjoy thrillers or mysteries in any capacity, I urge you to pick up one of his books. They’re tremendous.

But back to the book signing. So there I was at Barnes & Noble with my girlfriend, eagerly awaiting the arrival of Harlan Coben. I was telling her about his sense of humor and how he doesn’t read from his books during these events. My goal was to make sure she understood this was not going to be a boring book signing. Having read three of his books prior to going, I had a feeling she would leave with a greater appreciation of the man and his work.

Book DisplayWhen Harlan was introduced, I cringed as the book seller butchered Myron Bolitar’s name calling the fictional character Byron Molitar. It’s a strange name, no doubt about it. But either she or the person who typed up the sheet she read off of mercilessly destroyed Myron’s name. Who’s to blame? The world may never know.

Upon his arrival, Coben was met with a wave of applause and he shared the good news that Hugh Jackman is set to appear in the film adaptation of his new novel Six Years. Considering the book just came out, I though it was a heck of an accomplishment. Coben went on to say, “Working with Hollywood is like being separated by a barbed-wire fence. I throw the books over and they throw the money over. Then we both run in opposite directions. Until I’m at the movie premiere, I won’t believe it’s real.”

Q&AOne of the most interesting pieces of information to come out of the evening was Coben’s criteria for what makes a good writer. “You need to have three things: inspiration, perspiration and desperation.” By this he meant, first and foremost a writer needs an idea to write about, following by a strong work ethic. Moreover, Coben feels that writers like himself are fearful of “having to work a real job” if their writing fails. This is where the desperation comes in. “I’m not fit to do anything other than write,” Coben said as fits of laughter echoed through the room.

I had the opportunity to ask Coben a question during the Q&A portion of the event, and he graciously answered. It was about his thoughts on audiobooks, and he went on to tell us about his experience narrating one of his own books. “The producer in the studio told me to slow down and that I didn’t understand the characters. I wrote the characters,” Coben said with a chuckle. He also spent a great deal of time with fans signing books, answering questions, listening to their stories and posing for photos. There’s a reason why I go see Harlan Coben when he’s nearby. Not only is he a great author, he’s a great person. Similar to Lisa Scottoline, he’s genuine. If Coben comes to your neck of the woods, make it a point to attend. You’ll enjoy yourself.

Movie Review: Identity

IdentitySeveral years ago I saw the 2003 psychological thriller Identity, and this past weekend I watched it again. Having not seen it for a few years, I completely forgot the film’s twists, which made for an enjoyable viewing experience.

On its face, the film appeared to be a predictable thriller. But as I peeled back its layers, a well-constructed plot, inspired by the Agatha Christie novel, And Then There Were None, presented itself.

The film’s director, James Mangold, best known for Girl, Interrupted and Walk The Line, did an excellent job. Identity moved at a nice clip, had a dark mood and interesting flashback transitions.

While all of the actors turned in solid performances, Ray Liotta stole the show, quickly followed by the always consistent John Cusack. Amanda Peet also did a fine job of injecting her enigmatic character with humor and sarcasm.

If you’re a fan of mysteries and thrillers, Identity is worth your time. It’s an enjoyable film that will keep your interest from start to finish.

Michael Des Barres: Rock N’ Roll Santa

Michael Des Barres, the raspy rocker known for the amazing Carnaby Street, just released a fun, infectious Christmas song: “Rock N’ Roll Santa.” Unlike the countless covers of traditional Christmas songs that will, no doubt, put you to sleep, this is an original tune about Santa losing weight. Yes, you read that right; Santa’s sporting a svelte figure in this song. If you’re looking for a short, sweet, catchy rock song to kick off the holiday season, I suggest you check out “Rock N’ Roll Santa.” And since this is the season of giving, a portion of the proceeds from this song go to support Little Kids Rock, a wonderful foundation dedicated to restoring and revitalizing music education programs in U.S. public schools.

If you’re not sold on downloading the song, check it out for yourself below.

Movie Review: Signs

In 2002, M. Night Shyamalan released one of my all-time favorite films: Signs. While the premise – aliens invading Earth and using crop circles for navigation purposes – sounds uninspired, at the heart of the film you’ll find a story about a man questioning his faith. It dealt with love, loss, family, and resolution, and it did so beautifully. The entire cast did a fantastic job, but Mel Gibson stole the show; his ability to convey emotion without uttering a word is marvelous. The script was suspenseful and well written, and the score, composed by James Newton Howard, was breathtaking.

What are your thoughts on Signs? Did you love it, hate it or feel indifferent about it? Feel free to share your opinion in the comments section.

Below you’ll find my favorite scene from the film as well as the official trailer.

Video Review: Amazon Kindle Fire HD

I’ve had the Kindle Fire HD for a little over a week, so I thought I’d create a video review – my first ever – so you can learn more about this device and its capabilities. Below, you’ll also find a video further explaining “Whispersync for Voice,” a new feature I love. Enjoy!

007: James Bond Turns 50

The name’s Bond, James Bond, and he turns 50 this year with the release of Skyfall in U.S. theaters on November 9. Daniel Craig, the sixth man to play James Bond, will reprise the role for what’s sure to be another edge-of-your-seat action film. To celebrate five decades of Bond, this fall will see the release of the entire film franchise on Blu-ray as well as the new video game 007 Legends. Furthermore, you can smell like Bond with the recently released fragrance James Bond 007, and starting September 28, Christie’s is having an online auction featuring Bond memorabilia.

The eternal debate among fans of the films is who was the best Bond? Many argue Sean Connery, but my favorites – because picking one is too hard – include Roger Moore, Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig. Who’s your favorite Bond? Vote in the poll below and make your voice heard.

Below is an excellent, fan-made video compiling 50 of the greatest moments from the franchise. It’s a treat to watch, so enjoy.

I was glad to hear that Daniel Craig signed on to be Bond for at least two more films. Below is the trailer for the upcoming film, Skyfall.

Hal David: Grammy-Winning Lyricist Dies At 91

I woke up this morning and read that Hal David died from complications related to a stroke. Working with Burt Bacharach, he wrote innumerable songs for a variety of recording artists, but their most memorable material was sung by the incomparable Dionne Warwick. Bacharach, David and Warwick defined the 1960s with hits such as “I Say A Little Pray,” “Don’t Make Me Over” and “Walk On By.”

To celebrate 50 years in show business, Dionne Warwick’s upcoming album, Now, produced by Phil Ramone, will feature four new songs written by Hal David and Burt Bacharach. While I look forward to hearing the rest of the album, these four songs will serve as a reminder of the magic these three musical giants created when working together.

Below is a 14-minute medley by Dionne Warwick, in 2000, during a tribute to Burt Bacharach and Hal David, as well as a lesser-known, but beautiful Bacharach-David song, “Sunny Weather Lover.” Enjoy!

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