Media Update 6/18/15

Into the Woods (2014)

So I finally saw Into the Woods, the big budget Disney adaptation of a stage musical that’s been around for a dog’s age. I’ve always heard a lot about the musical from a lot of different friends and colleagues. When I was a theater major in college I heard a lot about it and more recently I befriended some people who are huge fans. I have never seen any stage version but I definitely want to see it now.

I was somewhat wary of seeing this movie because it was another musical headlined by Meryl Streep and I still have shell shock from her performance Mamma Mia. I was worried for nothing. The movie was actually really, really good. The characters are really interesting and actually fairly complex for fairytale characters. The music alone could earn it a spot in a redone Top 11 Musicals list (actually Agony alone could). The child actors they chose knocked it out of the park which is not common for child actors. There were also excellent performances from James Corden, Emily Blunt, Anna Kendrick, Chris Pine and (shocker) Meryl Streep.

Go out and snag a copy while I start looking for opportunities to see the stage version. I hear they changed a lot of stuff and I want to check it out.


Reality Television

I’ve been thinking lately about reality television programming. When it first emerged I was definitely on the front lines in the fight against it. There are a lot of shows that people love that I roll my eyes at and I will probably never respect. I am a diehard fan of fiction and reality television is often the enemy of the more creative people who create fiction. It elevates more or less talentless people to celbrity and generally wastes our time.

However, maybe I formed that opinion a little too hastily. There are exceptions to every rule and, while mileage may vary, I have come up with a list of reality shows that I like and hold above the others.


Kitchen Nightmares

Gordon Ramsay was introduced to the American public and almost immediately became a cartoon exaggeration. I think he cashed in on that in a lot of ways but it is still very clearly an exaggeration. The episodes I’ve seen of Kitchen Nightmares have actually featured a fairly earnest and low key Gordon Ramsay who dishes out thoughtful advice. He gets forceful when he feels he’s not getting through but otherwise seems like a nice guy. Also, one episode was filmed within walking distance of my apartment.


Heroes of Cosplay

I really like this show. I like cosplay as an artform and as an expression of fandom. It’s one of my favorite things about walking around a convention. There are a few insincere, unlikeable people on the show but part of that is probably in the editing. Through the show I did become a fan of Chloe Dykstra, Holly Conrad and Jessica Merizan who all seemed excited, creative and friendly. Besides those three, what sold me on the show was the fact that the main cast often didn’t win the real costume contests they entered in and we got to see a lot of awesome homemade costumes. So this one always seemed a little less rigged to me.


Guild Grumps

Alright, so this only had five one hour episodes but I enjoyed it immensely. It may have been a little too ambitious as it attempted to be a reality show while parodying reality shows. It also tried to showcase the pros and cons of the World of Warcraft and MMORPGs in general. It may have crashed and burned but it was entertaining while it failed. It may be a little more entertaining if you’re more familiar with the people involved but I thought it was interesting on its own. It also featured a last minute addition of Holly Conrad since she is married to show creator and host Ross O’Donovan.


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