Michael Cavacini

An award-winning arts and culture blog.

Archive for the tag “HBO”

George Carlin – Fear of Germs

20121114-224514.jpgFive years ago, today, the smartest man I ever met died: George Carlin. No one has made me laugh harder or think more critically. He was a comedic genius and a modern-day philosopher that left an indelible mark on my life. I’ll always smile – and laugh – when I think of George.

The first comedy special of his I saw was You Are All Diseased. Below is a terrific clip from that show about society’s fear of germs. Enjoy!

Movie Review – Behind the Candelabra

Behind the Candelabra

Behind the Candelabra is the best film I’ve seen this year. Going into it I knew practically nothing about Liberace other than that he was a campy, closeted pianist from years gone by. The moment I saw one of my favorite actors – Scott Bakula – in the beginning of the movie, I knew I was in for something special. Behind the Candelabra is filled with shocking moments that I don’t want to spoil. But at its focal point is a love story between Liberace and Scott Thorson.

The music in the film was outstanding. While he may be remembered for his over-the-top outfits and larger-than-life personality, Liberace was a tremendous pianist. Michael Douglas, who should win an award for his role in this movie, did a fantastic job of portraying Liberace’s musicals talents and passion for the business. The songs that appear in the movie run the gamut, everything from “Begin the Beguine” to “The Impossible Dream.” It’s a musical feast for the ears.

Behind the Candelabra SoundtrackDouglas was also phenomenal when it came to conveying how insecure and self-centered Liberace was. Matt Damon, who played Liberace’s love interest, Scott Thorson, was equally compelling. His emotional – and physical – transformation from the start of the film to the end was both shocking and heartbreaking.

The stellar supporting cast included Rob Lowe as a frightening doctor, Dan Aykroyd as Liberace’s manager and an unidentifiable Debbie Reynolds as Liberace’s mother, Frances. The chemistry between all of these actors and actresses helped bring this fascinating story to life in a way that kept me glued to the screen the entire time.

Behind the Candelabra - Entertainment WeeklyVisually, Behind the Candelabra was a gorgeous movie. Steven Soderbergh’s skillful direction resulted in a film filled with vibrancy. Not only did it do a wonderful job of highlighting the different years of the story through visuals and music, but having the chance to see Liberace’s opulent lifestyle was breathtaking.

I can’t say enough good things about this movie. It opened my eyes to Liberace’s musical talent, as well as his infatuation with young men and himself. But despite all his flaws, I wound up caring about his fate at the end of the film. The most moving interaction involved Michael Douglas and Matt Damon in the final 15 minutes of movie; it was so good that I watched the scene a second time before finishing the film. And what made it so good was the fact that the feelings these two individuals had for each other was palpable. In a cinematic world filled with superficial dialogue and paper-thin characters, this was no small feat.

Behind the Candelabra was an excellent movie about an extremely talented man. I recommend you stop what you’re doing and watch this film right away; it’s a riveting tale that you won’t soon forget.

Below is the trailer for Behind the Candelabra and a look at how the film was made.

Movie Review – Phil Spector

Phil SpectorEarlier this year, HBO released an original film called Phil Spector about the legendary music mogul’s first trial for the alleged murder of Lana Clarkson. The movie focused on the relationship between Spector and his attorney at the time, Linda Kenney Baden. While Bette Midler was supposed to play the attorney, she couldn’t continue after three days of filming because she was ill. This role was assumed by Helen Mirren, who did a wonderful job. But Al Pacino as Phil Spector stole the show. His impassioned portrayal of this enigmatic virtuoso was spellbinding. Whenever he was on the screen, I was transfixed, especially when he delivered a stirring speech towards the end of the film. I highly recommend this movie; it’s an engrossing inside-look at the tumultuous world of a music icon that shouldn’t be missed.

Synopsis

Written and directed by David Mamet, Phil Spector is his exploration of the client-attorney relationship between legendary music producer Phil Spector (Al Pacino) and defense attorney Linda Kenney Baden (Helen Mirren), who represented Spector during his first trial for murder. Mamet serves as executive producer with Barry Levinson. The cast also includes Rebecca Pidgeon, Jeffrey Tambor and Chiwetel Ejiofor.

George Carlin – Soft Language

George Carlin - Soft LanguageAs a writer, I love words. But as George Carlin pointed out in the brilliant comedy segment below, our language has become softer over the years. Get your Friday off on the right foot with this hysterical piece of comedic gold. You’ll love it!

Trailer – Louis CK’s New HBO Special

Below is a very funny trailer promoting Louis CK’s new HBO comedy special in April, which was filmed during Louis CK’s current tour.

George Carlin – The Ten Commandments

George-Carlin-Complaints-and-GrievancesGeorge Carlin may be dead, but his timeless body of work lives on. Here’s one of my favorite bits:

George Carlin On Cats

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George Carlin’s third HBO special, Carlin at Carnegie, featured an excellent bit about cats. For anyone that’s interacted with these cute creatures on a regular basis, the following clip will make you nod in agreement as well as laugh out loud. Enjoy!

Lewis Black – Milk and Water

If you don’t know who Lewis Black is, you should. While Louis C.K. is extremely talented, for my money, Lewis Black is the best stand-up comedian since George Carlin. As a matter of fact, Carlin was also a big fan of Black’s material. Below is a great bit from Lewis Black’s HBO special Black on Broadway, where he discusses milk and water. Enjoy!

Why The Newsroom Is The Best Show On TV

If you haven’t seen The Newsroom on HBO, you’re missing out on what is arguably the best show on television. The acting, writing and character development are all superb. If the first four episodes are any indication of what’s to come, then I’d say the rest of the season should be fantastic.

Ever since I saw Jeff Daniels in the HBO film Cheaters, I knew he was a great dramatic actor. However, most people from my generation know him simply as Harry from Dumb and Dumber. Thankfully, his new role as a cable news anchor, Will McAvoy, provides him with ample opportunity to shine; and shine he does. Jeff Daniels ability to emote such a wide spectrum of characteristics with aplomb is astounding. I sincerely hope he’s nominated for an EMMY, and wins, because he deserves it.

Aside from the Jeff Daniels, the rest of the cast turns in excellent performances as well, especially Sam Waterston, Emily Mortimer and Alison Pill. Their top-notch acting, and Aaron Sorkin’s amazing writing, allows viewers to become emotionally invested in the characters.

The show has been renewed for a second season, and I can see why. Each episode is set against major news events from the past few years, while weaving in fascinating story arcs about interpersonal relationships between key characters. Furthermore, Sorkin’s face-paced, witty dialogue breathes life into every scene and keeps the audience glued to the screen in rapture.

But don’t take my word for it, check it out for yourself. For your viewing pleasure, below you’ll find the opening scene from the first episode of the season. Watch it and let me know what you think.

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