Dr. Blackwell's BLOG

Friday, July 19, 2019

First Theatrical Trailer for CATS Released

Filed under: Movie and Entertainment,Performing Arts — Dr. Christopher Blackwell @ 23:08

The first trailer for the film version of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s beloved classic musical CATS was released today from Universal Pictures. The star-studded movie, with the likes of Taylor Swift, Jennifer Hudson, Dame Judy Dench, Jason Derulo, Idris Elba, Sir Ian McKellan, James Corden, and Rebel Wilson among the cast, releases at the end of the year. Academy Award-wing director Tom Hooper (Les Miserables) helms the production, using a never-before used groundbreaking technology to simulate cat hair on the actors. Check out the trailer, below:

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Announcement: 2016 Annual Blackwell San Jose Oscars Party

Filed under: Movie and Entertainment — Dr. Christopher Blackwell @ 19:04


The 2016 Annual Blackwell San Jose Oscars Party is coming! Come join your closest friends for the BEST annual Oscars Party on the planet! Walk the red carpet and enjoy some amazing fresh food and drinks while we critique the best and worst dressed, watch our favorite performers, and see who takes home an Academy Award! Check your email or FaceBook Events Page for your official invite to the PARTY OF THE YEAR!!!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Lady GaGa Gives Ridiculously AMAZING Oscars Performance

Filed under: Movie and Entertainment — Dr. Christopher Blackwell @ 17:36


Lady GaGa brought the house down with her absolutely stunning tribute performance to Julie Andrews and The Sound of Music at the 2015 Annual Academy Awards on Sunday. GaGa worked with two-time Tony Award winner Stephen Oremus (of Broadway’s Book of Mormon, Kinky Boots, and Wicked) in preparing for the show. Below, take a look at her spectacular performance courtesy of the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences:

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Movie Review: Jersey Boys

Filed under: Film and Entertainment,Movie and Entertainment,Performing Arts — Dr. Christopher Blackwell @ 01:24


The film adaptation of the smash Broadway hit Jersey Boys, based on the rise of the 1950’s music group Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, was released on Friday.  Directed by Clint Eastwood, the film gets the opportunity to explore areas that get overlooked in its stage version; but it loses some of the emotional pull the stage show provides so amazingly well. When the film works, it works really well. The acting is superb. John Lloyd Young, who won the Tony Award for his origination of the role of Frankie Valli on Broadway, delivers a commanding performance and seems to have been born to play the iconic singer. Vincent Piazza, who most recently played the recurring role of Lucky Luciano on HBO’s hit series Boardwalk Empire, plays the sleazy money embezzler TonyDeVito, who although proves he is a back-stabbing friend of low morals, also plays the lovability of the character well when it’s called for. The other members of The Four Seasons, Nick Massi (Michael Lomenda) and Bob Gaudio (Erich Bergen) support their scenes well. The overall cast, punctuated by Christopher Walken as the group’s mafia-associated ally Gyp DeCarlo and Mike Doyle as their flamboyant and over-the-top producer Bob Crewe, is excellent. But for the wonderful performances the movie gives us, unfortunately, there are critical areas where the film falls short. One of my biggest complaints about the film is its cinematography. Simply put, it’s just not good. Eastwood should’ve paid a lot more attention to how some of the scenes were executed.

One scene towards the middle of the film shows The Four Seasons riding in two sets of automobiles as they transverse the country on tour. The scenes are so obviously shot on a green screen, it is embarrassing. The music also has some problems. While most of the songs sound great, obvious lip-synching during live performances threatens the authenticity of the scenes. And while the struggle between Crewe, Gaudio, and Valli’s record label tyrant to buy into his different sounding single “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You” is effectively depicted, when the song is finally performed, Eastwood allows the brass section to completely overpower their recurring interlude, making the tune shrill. This is done to emphasize a point in the plot about Valli’s dream to have a horn line in one of his songs. But Eastwood allowed the song to be ruined in the process. The tragedy that occurs in Valli’s life, his failed marriage, and inability to secure intimacy with a partner is expanded upon in the movie nicely. But the ending of the movie, which actually appears to have been inspired by the post-curtain performance given by the cast of the stage show, comes off as ridiculous, silly, and completely inappropriate.  If this review is starting to sound like a roller coaster going up and down, that’s because the quality of the movie mimics that very motion. There are scenes in Jersey Boys that are unbelievably effective and moving. But unfortunately, those moments are not sustained throughout; and too many bad directing errors coupled with horrific cinematography dooms the film to the doldrums of mediocrity that recent Broadway musical-turned motion picture productions (eg. Les Miserables) have been able to avoid quite successfully. Jersey Boys, released by Warner Brothers Pictures, is rated R for explicit language throughout.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Sony Saves Best Amazing Spider-Man 2 Trailer for Last

Filed under: Movie and Entertainment — Dr. Christopher Blackwell @ 02:29

amazing spider-man-2 posterSony released the final full trailer for its upcoming sequel to The Amazing Spider-Man yesterday. The trailer is fantastic and highlights some truly dazzling special effects. If the trailer does it any justice, the movie promises to be spectacular. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 releases from Sony Pictures on May 2nd in standard format, Real 3-D, and large format IMAX 3-D.Check out the trailer below:

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Smash Officially Canceled

Filed under: Movie and Entertainment — Dr. Christopher Blackwell @ 00:25

smash sq

On May 10th, NBC announced to the cast and crew of the Broadway musical series SMASH that the show would be coming to and end this season. Despite the show being of incredible quality and a favorite among theater aficionados, the show failed to garner solid ratings after two seasons. The final episode that will air on May 26th will serve as the series finale. SMASH was produced by mega Hollywood shakers and movers, including Steven Spielberg. The first season, the show was under the writing of runner Teresa Rebeck, an established Broadway playwright. But when audiences couldn’t connect with some of the major characters, NBC brought in an all-new creative team for season 2 and brought in a star-filled guest cast, including Academy Award winner Jennifer Hudson and stage and screen star Jeremy Jordan. Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough to make SMASH popular. The show continued to hemorrhage viewers and was eventually moved to a dreary Saturday time slot, where it continued to struggle. SMASH stars Debra Messing, Jack Davenport, Katharine McPhee, Megan Hilty, Anjelica Huston, and Christian Borle and airs on NBC at 8:00pm on Saturdays. So long SMASH, you will be deeply missed.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Movie Review: Les Miserables

Filed under: Movie and Entertainment — Dr. Christopher Blackwell @ 02:26


When Les Miserables opened on Broadway close to 30 years ago, it was panned by many critics who called it “The Miserables” and labeled it a depressing musical that was sure to shutter within weeks. Yet despite these criticisms, the show went on to become one of the biggest hits of all-time and was nominated for an astonishing 12 Tony Awards, winning 8 of them, including the coveted Award for Best Musical. So it’s no exaggeration that the film version, which opened to a record $18.6 million on Christmas Day, has taken close to three decades to come to fruition. And this film version of the famed musical does not disappoint. Producer of the Broadway and West End (and tours and multiple revivals) staging Cameron Mackintosh followed the entire production closely; and his talented and skillful hand is evident throughout the film.

And director Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech) has also brought every detail of the musical to vibrant life. A few key elements of the story have shifted here and there and there have been some much appreciated details added to the historic context of the storyline. But when film adaptations like RENT and Rock of Ages failed in their attempts to augment their source material, Les Miz is unbelievably successful. Perhaps the biggest strength of the film is its cast. Hugh Jackman gives an absolutely flawless performance as Jean Valjean; and Anne Hathaway’s portrayal of Fantine is likely to win her the Academy Award, and deservedly so. Her singing is pitch perfect in just the right spots; and her intonation and timing is impeccable as she brings the plight of her character vividly to life. It is important to note that the actors all sang live during  filming. This is in stark contrast to the manner in which prior musicals have been filmed, with actors recording their roles in studio and then lip-synching during filming (note the 1996 film EVITA also featured some live singing; but only a few very small parts were orchestrated in this manner).

Other key performers, including Samantha Barks (Eponine), Amanda Seyfried (Cosette), and Eddie Redmayne (Marius) are spot-on perfect while the Thenardiers (Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter) provide comical relief adequately. Unfortunately, Russel Crowe ultimately falls flat as Inspector Javert. Like Pierce Brosnon’s performance in Mamma Mia!, Crowe’s singing ability is questionable; and while his acting is superb, in a movie musical, the vocals are essential. With an ensemble of veteran stage actors and other highly talented musical theater actors, Crowe sometimes feels out of place and is definitely outmatched by his costars. And the live recording of the actors, while innovative and certainly appropriate, sometimes drowns out the beautifully lush and full sound of the accompanying orchestra. But even with these minor drawbacks, Les Miserables soars! It is by far the most outstanding film of 2012 and should (hopefully) sweep the awards. Rightly so, the movie is nominated for the Golden Globe for Best Picture; and Anne Hathaway (Supporting Actress) and Hugh Jackman (Actor) have received nominations for their performances as well. “Suddenly” the one new song written specifically for the film (which I wasn’t overly impressed with) is also nominated for Best Song. Let’s hope it wins all four of its nominated categories.

Les Miserables is now playing nationwide from Universal Pictures and is rated PG-13.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

MEMPHIS to be Made into Feature Film

Filed under: Movie and Entertainment — Dr. Christopher Blackwell @ 01:48


The Broadway musical MEMPHIS is being made into a major motion picture. Alcorn Entertainment’s Mark Golden and Ally Smith will produce the film version of the Tony-Award winning Best Musical while Joe DiPietro will adapt his book into the screenplay for the film. MEMPHIS is a truly phenomenal show that follows the true story of a white radio DJ who fell in love with a Black singer in the late 1940’s while rocketing her into super stardom and making Black music and rock ‘n roll mainstream. It should translate quite well on to the silver screen. Below, take a look at the trailer for the filmed version of the stage production that was beamed live into movie theaters across the United States back in 2011. This filmed version is also available in Blu-Ray and DVD from Shout! Factory Productions.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Behind the Scenes Look: Les Miserables

Filed under: Movie and Entertainment,Performing Arts — Dr. Christopher Blackwell @ 20:22


Les Miserables, one of the biggest Broadway success of all-time, is being made into a giant (and what promises to be phenomenal) motion picture that will release at Christmas. Led by an all-star cast that will actually sing live during filming, this stage-to-screen story has a TON of promise. Hugh Jackman (Valjean), Russel Crowe (Inspector Javert), and Anne Hathaway (Fontine) are the main leads of the movie. Take a look below at a behind-the scenes video of the production. Les Miserables releases on Christmas Day from Universal Pictures.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Glee Returns for 3rd Season!

Filed under: Movie and Entertainment,Performing Arts — Dr. Christopher Blackwell @ 18:39

Playbill.com is reporting that the hit television musical series “Glee,” starring Broadway stage actors Matthew Morrison, Lea Michele and Jenna Ushkowitz, will harmonize for a third season, FOX has announced.The first season finale of “Glee” will air June 8 at 9 PM ET. The second season will return Tuesdays this fall in the 8-9 PM ET time slot. Morrison (South Pacific, The Light in the Piazza) stars as Spanish teacher Will Schuester with Spring Awakening‘s Michele as glee club Broadway baby Rachel Berry with fellow glee club members Jenna Ushkowitz as Tina, Chris Colfer as Kurt, Kevin McHale as Artie, Cory Monteith as Finn Hudson and Amber Riley as Mercedes Jones. The ensemble cast also includes Jane Lynch as cheerleading coach Sue Sylvester, Jessalyn Gilsig as Terri Schuester, Jayma Mays as teacher Emma Pillsbury, Dianna Agron as cheerleader Quinn and Mark Salling as football player Puck.

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