My personal goal for about a year now has been to watch all the Harry Potter movies. I had resisted for a while and since I missed the first couple in the theater, I felt like I could never catch up in time. But when the Half-Blood Prince got delayed, I figured I finally had a chance to watch the first 5 so I could see the sixth one in the theater. Of course, the months went by and all of a sudden it was July and I only had a couple of weeks to watch them all -- still, I knew I could do it. I was not sure if I was going to become obsessed with the movies like everyone else had, but I figured I would at least enjoy them. I did probably have time to read all the books as well, but I have been reading about 5 books the last couple of months all at the same time, so I didn't think I could both read the books and see the movies. I also thought I might enjoy the movies more without reading the books. It has been very rare to actually end up liking a movie version of one of my favorite books. I get really attached to the characters in the book and how I feel they should be portrayed. And turning a long book into a 2 hour movie is always hard. You always have to cut stuff out, it is just impossible not to. So I ended up having the benefit of going into the films not really knowing much about them or having any interest in how the books or characters were portrayed. I knew Harry Potter was some sort of magical British wizard that went to some boarding school type school for young wizards. Other than that I really didn't know what to expect. I sort of have a weird dislike for British children in movies, and I wasn't really excited to see them flying around with capes and wands, which is part of the reason I had stayed away from the series...But I couldn't resist any longer. It was too big a piece of pop culture for me to miss out on.
So I finally sat down and watched all 5 movies in about 7 days and ended the run by seeing the sixth movie in the theater last week. I watched them with a big fan of the books and the movies and I tried to find out what happened in the movies before it actually happened but he wouldn't tell me and left me in suspense. It was nice to have someone there to fill in the blanks when I tried to figure out what had just happened after the movies ended. The last couple of movies were my favorites. I like when they started to get darker and I loved the introduction of Helena Bonham Carter's character, Bellatrix. Almost every British actor seems to pop up in one of the movies, and there are a lot of my favorites. I love Gary Oldman, who plays Sirius Black, and Emma Thompson, who plays Sybil Trelawney. Miranda Richardson is also brilliant as always, as Rita Skeeter. And of course, Maggie Smith is perfect as Minerva McGonagall. The best thing about these movies is really the cast. It really is a perfect cast in all the movies. Two of my favorites of the younger cast are Evanna Lynch, who plays Luna Lovegood, and Shirley Henderson, who plays Moaning Myrtle. I wouldn't say that I am now an obsessive Harry Potter fan, but I am for sure a fan. The movies are really fun for people of all ages. I wouldn't mind going back and reading all the books at some point. I have heard they are really fun to read. Maybe my goal can be to read all the books before the last 2 movies come out in 2010 and 2011. I think I can find the time.
My other current obsession has been Grace Jones. I have been obsessed with her most of my life. How can you not be? But as I was getting ready for her show, which was last night, I had been thinking about her more and more. I talked about the album on my blog when it first came out back in Novemeber of last year. You can read my review of it here and even buy the album from the link. I figured the album would be out domestically by now, but it's not! It really is so good that I can't recommend it enough. It should be out domestically at some point before the end of the year. Grace did make a comment about it at the show. She said something like "I know the album is hard to find out here, but you are finding it and it will be out domestically soon." At least there is some sort of plan. Grace Jones has not played a show out here in probably close to 20 years. I am not sure when she toured out here last exactly, but I know for sure that I have never had a chance to see her. I knew that this would be a once in a lifetime opportunity and I knew that I had to go. The Hollywood Bowl is one of my favorite places to see a show, so it was the perfect place for Grace. The Greek would have been even better, just because it is smaller and more intimate, but Grace Jones is just too big for the Greek. So, the show was last night! They unfortunately had 3 performers, so I knew Grace would not be able to do the long set that her fans needed and deserved due the early curfew. She played a little under an hour and 1/2. The show was near perfect but it could have been a bit longer. It was everything that I hoped it would be. It is hard to describe if you were not there, but as one super fan in front of me yelled out, "She is killing it." She is still as brilliant and relevant as ever and literally had the crowd in awe of her brilliance the whole show.
I think everyone in the audience had their own idea of how the show would open. I imagined her flying down to the stage or appearing from below the stage in a ball of fire. I just knew it would somehow be different and amazing. She performed the entire first song beneath some sort of sheet, which made us all crazy with anticipation about what she was going to be wearing...assuming she was actually under there. I thought for a second that somebody else was under there and she still might somehow descend from the sky. But she came out from beneath the sheet for the second song and the crowd went nuts and clapped for what seemed like 5 minutes. She looked fantastic, wearing an outfit that really only she could get away with. She had about 5 costumes changes throughout the show, each more amazing than the last. My favorite part of the night was probably the in between song conversations she had with us in the audience. She never stopped entertaining, even when she was changing her outfits. She sometimes even went backstage to change before the song was even over. But she kept singing and then continued to tell us stories or tell jokes in the way that is uniquely Grace Jones. I loved every minute of it. She as a lot of songs to choose from. I really wanted to hear "Pull Up To the Bumper," and lucky for me, this was her last song. It was a beautiful night and the Bowl was a fantastic place to see her. I can't really imagine the show being much better. She could have easily used back up dancers on stage with her, but then again, she really didn't need them. All we needed was Grace Jones being Grace Jones. The back up singers and band were actually all placed below and behind the stage. You could still see them but the focus of the show was obviously her. I just hope she comes back to Los Angeles at some point. We could all use some more Grace Jones in our life. She is playing one more show out in New York in a couple of days. I checked this morning and there were still tickets left! The show is on Thursday, 7/30, at Hammerstein Ballroom. I highly suggest you go if you have the chance. I know this show will remain one of my favorites of all time. It was that good and that memorable. My obsession and love for Grace Jones is now even stronger. I hope we hear from her soon or that she pops up in some TV special or another movie. Maybe they will put her in the next Harry Potter Movie! She would be a fantastic villain!
Here is her amazing but too short set list for the Hollywood Bowl show...
1. This Is Life
2. Williams Blood
3. My Jamaican Guy
4. La Vie En Rose
5. Love is the Drug
6. Corporate Cannibal
7. Devil in My Life
8. Demolition Man
11. Pull Up to the Bumper
also out 7/14...
The State: The Complete Series on DVD!!!
Horehound by Dead Weather
Lemons by Ty Segall
And the Ever Expanding Universe by Most Serene Republic
also out 7/21...
Blue Roses by Blue Roses
Totems Flare by Clark
I'm Going Away by The Fiery Furnaces
Riceboy Sleeps Tonight by Jonsi & Alex
Josephine by Magnolia Electric Co.
Gorgeous Johnny by Sykgreen Leopards