Monday, September 29, 2014

Music According to Benedict - Thom Yorke's Tomorrow's Modern Boxes

Longtime fans of Benedict Cumberbatch who've followed his musical tastes know of his appreciation for Radiohead and lead singer Thom Yorke. In the past, Cumberbatch has openly admitted Radiohead's significance to him - as if their music were the soundtrack to his life (never more so than "How To Disappear Completely" - the song he heard before and during his carjacking while filming BBC's "To The Ends of the Earth.")

Radiohead's first hit, "Creep" is the one most people can recognize, but it's not indicative of the band's sound or the albums released while under contract to EMI. While Benedict talks of an extraordinary life, it seems that if one listens to the artists he mentions during interviews and Q&A's, he is drawn to artists who see the extraordinary in the parts that comprise songs, whether it be the music, lyrics, instruments, orchestration - and, in the case of Radiohead and Thom Yorke, distribution. Just last year, the outspoken Yorke described Spotify as:

 “the last desperate fart of a dying corpse.” 

Picturesque, isn't it?

Before that, Thom didn't seem fond of CDs, either. In a 2009 interview with Believer, Yorke admitted: "...I always hated CDs. Me and Stanley [Donwood, Radiohead’s longtime album-art designer] always hated CDs. Just a f*cking nightmare," adding that he was happy to see that format disappear.

The message seems to be consistent, even with the press release for the new album:

It's an experiment to see if the mechanics of the system are something that the general public can get its head around ...
If it works well it could be an effective way of handing some control of internet commerce back to people who are creating the work.
Enabling those people who make either music, video or any other kind of digital content to sell it themselves.
Bypassing the self elected gate-keepers.

One might be able to get around gate-keepers, but that cannot be said of the critics. Reviews have been, well, mixed, at best, although there have been close to 500K downloads as of this writing. Zach Schonfeld of AV Club commented that the record illuminates "how Thom Yorke and longtime co-conspirator Nigel Godrich like to spend their free time," before they begin the newest band album, while Mark Beaumont of The Guardian observed that "much of Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes sounds distinctly unambitious" while admitting "it’s unfair to expect Yorke to dismantle and resolder the circuit boards of modern music every time he releases a record." (Mark's review is colorful and well worth the read, by the way. Check it out!)

NME's review, like others, acknowledged the daring that comes more with the distribution of the music than with the contents customers receive: "Not so long ago, musicians like Yorke strived to push the artistic envelope; now it seems the focus has shifted towards finding the most ethical and efficient way to mail it."

For me, the challenge is the delivery service Yorke chose, announcing it on Twitter on Sept. 26.

While elevating the BitTorrent Bundle brand and giving himself artistic freedom and control, what makes it better for the customer? Today's consumers are usually motivated by price AND convenience. The price? $6.00 USD, which is very reasonable IF you love the band and know you'll enjoy the record. However, in the age of iTunes and Amazon, where you can hear a song sample, or Spotify, Pandora and 8Tracks, where you can listen to music at no charge before you buy, it seems a safe bet for Yorke and Radiohead to choose alternative distribution AFTER they earned critical and commercial success with a 6-album deal with EMI that began in 1991. There is less risk and more control for them, but that can't be said for us, the buyer. Times and tastes change - and the music industry has, too. A typical Radiohead fan has likely been along for the ride from the beginning - and my guess is that they enjoy the convenience of digital downloads, streaming radio apps  - and the efficiency of iTunes (and they probably bought a few CDs, too.)

Perhaps this is the evolution of digital downloads, and fans will follow where Thom leads. To find out more, you can click on the Twitter link above or check out Radiohead's press release, which details BitTorrent Bundles method for selling Tomorrow's Modern Boxes - or check out the video and audio tracks for "A Brain in A Bottle" below:

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Benedict Cumberbatch and the Case of A Beastly Interview


Via HindustanTimes

I debated about writing since reading Benedict Cumberbatch's interview with entertainment editor Marlow Stern of the Daily Beast last week. What he said, what he meant, how the reporter's questions and opinion influenced the interview - and I hoped that Cumberbatch would say something - anything - in response to reader and fan reaction.

That hasn't happened, so here I am, writing - because the interview still bothers me.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Quote #6 - My Favorite Movie Hero (by Benedict Cumberbatch)

Courtesy AMPAS

In preparation for the 2013 Academy Awards telecast, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences ("a professional honorary organization dedicated to the advancement of the arts and sciences of motion pictures - Wikipedia) created a gallery of actors who would be presenting Oscars during the telecast. Benedict Cumberbatch would be paired with Jennifer Garner during the program, and, earlier that evening, showed his prowess at making the most of his time on-camera for fun by photobombing U2 on the red carpet.

Curiously enough, the whimsy and welling up we saw on display that night (witness his reaction during the acceptance speech of 12 Years A Slave co-star and Oscar winner Lupita Nyong'o as Best Supporting Actress), may be all some Americans know about him, until they looked at the Oscars' online gallery of photographs and quotes.

Benedict's quote offers insight into what moves and motivates the actor  - at least to my mind, because it connects his love of art, language, the human spirit - and performing. Given the characters he's chosen to play and the causes he chooses to promote, it seems no coincidence that his favorite hero in film - unlike, say, Kristen Bell's choice of Ace Ventura (for his care of animals) - was someone quite real, quite remarkable and quietly fighting to LIVE, despite circumstances beyond his control.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Robin Williams, Vincent van Gogh & A Spark of Madness by Benedict Cumberbatch

Courtesy BBC
"I put my heart and my soul into my work, and have lost my mind in the process."
- Vincent van Gogh

Self–Portrait with a Straw Hat 1887 - Metropolitan Museum of Art
 "If I succeed in putting some warmth and love into the work, then it will find friends." -Vincent van Gogh
Recent news reports of untimely celebrity deaths - in light of the suicide of Academy Award winning actor Robin Williams - have also brought Vincent Van Gogh to mind for some: the Picasso painting sent by Disney in an attempt to settle a dispute (in which Picasso painted himself as van Gogh) or, a similarity in personalities (a genius with a touch of madness who found life too difficult) Observations and opinions are flooding website and social media, as well as the sorrow felt by others whenever a brilliant mind, capable of creating vivid images and emotional connections through prose, personality or paint, is - however briefly - unable to cope with living and takes ultimate control by cutting their life short.

Mental health is far too complex an issue to be addressed in a blog such as this. If you or someone you care about has been diagnosed with depression or any condition that affects well-being, you know how complicated treatment is, how terrifying it is to be unable to control your thoughts and feelings, how others can misunderstand - and what is unhealthy for you to watch or read.

What we can do here is celebrate the legacy of beautiful minds in strong bodies who kept working, despite the challenges caused by emotional, psychological and/or mental distress. Robin Williams widow  released a statement regarding her husband: " he was brave as he struggled with his own battles of depression, anxiety as well as early stages of Parkinson's Disease, which he was not yet ready to share publicly. It is our hope in the wake of Robin’s tragic passing, that others will find the strength to seek the care and support they need to treat whatever battles they are facing so they may feel less afraid."

Sunday, August 3, 2014

"War Horse" - Finding the Words for World War I

Courtesy Dreamworks

“They fight a war and they don't know what for. Isn't that crazy? How can one man kill another and not really know the reason why he does it, except that the other man wears a different color uniform and speaks a different language?” 
― Michael Morpurgo, War Horse

The 100th anniversary of World War I will make news this week, primarily in Europe, as families recall their personal connection to the war, and journalists recount the war's impact on soldiers, families, and animals.

The loss of life - as well as a way of living - is cause for some to mourn, to honor and, even today, speak out against all that is lost, futile and senseless about going into battle.

The thing is - creative people who served and survived the Great War had been doing that for some time, from poets Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon to composers Maurice Ravel and Ralph Vaughan Williams, as well as authors J.R.R. Tolkien (The Hobbit) and C.S. Lewis (The Chronicles of Narnia)

Friday, July 25, 2014

Benedict Cumberbatch, Ed Sheeran - and Espresso Martinis

To celebrate the weekend, especially one that includes Peter Jackson AND Benedict Cumberbatch appearing at the 2014 San Diego Comic-Con, it seems appropriate to raise a glass to these fine folks - and the fact you made it through another week.

Earlier this summer, Ed Sheeran released his second album, Multiply, and mentioned to the press that Cumberbatch hoped to appear in the video, but that part of his management team decided it was a poor idea.

Ed Sheeran and Benedict Cumberbatch didn't necessarily work together for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, but it is a shared reason for them to celebrate.

We start with the more traditional Q&A, courtesy of TwoTubesTV, where we hear a glimpse into the songwriting process for Ed, and Benedict's tribute of sorts to his dad, actor Timothy Carlton, by playing "Smaugy."

Benedict Cumberbatch at Comic-Con: The Characterization of Smaug

During a Q &A with MTV's Josh Horowitz Thursday after the DreamWorks Animation panel for "Penguins of Madagascar" at the 2014 San Diego Comic-Con, Benedict Cumberbatch confirmed that he would be back in Hall H on Saturday for "The Hobbit: the Battle of the Five Armies" panel. Of course, attendees and Hobbit fans will be excited to see director Peter Jackson, who missed last year's event due to filming conflicts, along with cast members from the film trilogy - and the chance to get a sneak peek at the director's vision of the final chapters in the beloved book.

However, if Thursday's reaction in Hall H is any indication, the big draw, once again, may be Benedict Cumberbatch, who portrayed Smaug (which doesn't rhyme with 'smog') and the Necromancer.

During Thursday's panel, attendees were cautioned to avoid off-topic questions for Benedict, or, as Craig Ferguson warned, "Comic-Con will be cancelled."

That's unlikely to recur during "The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies" BUT,  those who were allowed to ask questions of the panelists on Thursday found themselves at a loss as to what to ask.

We're here to help. Think of this as your source material, with links to even MORE information - should you find yourself in a long line waiting to catch a glimpse of "he-who-shall-flirt-with-the media-about-future-projects."

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Music According to Benedict: "Tristan and Isolde: Prelude" by Wagner

"Tristan and Isolde with the Potion" J.W. Waterhouse

"Prelude to Tristan and Isolde" - Richard Wagner
"Yes,  it's widely acknowledged as one of the peaks of the operatic repertory, notable for Wagner's advanced use of chromaticism, tonality, orchestral colour and harmonic suspension... But it just makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. Reminds me of the best of Beethoven and Mozart and the best of what's to come in Strauss and Rachmaninoff. So, a milestone as well as a gut wrencher. The recording of this one that I'm currently wearing out is the BBC Orchestra's."
- Benedict Cumberbatch, Top Tunes, Two Paddocks 

There are so many types of music that we just "like" without much consideration. Your mind takes in a changing musical landscape - from your morning alarm with dance tracks, your commute playlist with indie hits, sounds of summer on weekends -  and maybe coffeehouse tunes in the evening before you go to bed. (Throw in a few guilty pleasure tracks that NO ONE is supposed to see in your smartphone - just because you need them.)

You know what you like.

All of those genres I listed are pretty easy go-to tracks, depending on where you are and what you're doing. Maybe you heard the music in Starbucks or you remember a concert from college. You find music that matches your mood and go with it. You change the station if it doesn't work.

Classical music? Opera? For most of us, it doesn't work quite that way. I think we have definite ideas about both:

  • It's elitist. 
  • It's expensive.
  • It's for the elderly.
  • It requires education before enjoyment. 

Sunday, July 13, 2014

REVIEW: "Wish I Was Here" - Small Moments on the Big Screen

Theatrical Release Poster

Wish I Was Here

Director: Zach Braff
Starring: Zach Braff, Kate Hudson, Mandy Patinkin, Josh Gad, Joey King, Ashley Greene, Donald Faison
Rating: R (language & brief nudity)
Opens: July 18

Distribution: Focus Features

Zach Braff wanted to tell a story - and he didn't want others to tell him how to tell it. Critical and commercial success as an actor, director, or screenwriter doesn't give a person much more control over outside forces.  If you're lucky, however, it does afford a bit more control over what YOU want to do - and you find people who want to help.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Music According to Benedict: "I Am The Resurrection" & "Fools Gold" by The Stone Roses

The Stone Roses (courtesy

"I Am the Resurrection" and "Fools Gold" by the Stone Roses
"...they stand side by side on the album and are inseparably brilliant. I went to Manchester University partly on an insane surge of nostalgia from when I discovered these mischievous mancs and their Madchester ways! God bless the Happy Mondays and Joy Division and all the other Tony Wilson 'Factory' recorded bands." 
- Benedict Cumberbatch, Top Tunes - Two Paddocks

Friday, July 11, 2014

Music According to Benedict N° 7: "Superstition" by Stevie Wonder

"For all those whose weddings I have danced at and have yet to dance at! What a great groove from a master at the height of his powers. Thanks to Martin Freeman for properly introducing me to the full brilliance of [Stevie Wonder]. - Benedict Cumberbatch

Thanks to Martin Freeman, indeed - for this and many other things he's properly introduced to Benedict (adding a bit of polish to his red carpet style, perhaps?)

As gossip sites again circulate whispers of a girlfriend for our favorite actor (because what publication doesn't use his name to generate web hits?) and we enter wedding season, this song's lyrics seem possibly more suited for Halloween than a wedding reception, BUT who are we to argue? I've not attended a wedding with Mr. Cumberbatch, although I've a feeling fans think about him in formal wear  now and again. . .

. . .are you picturing Sherlock at John & Mary's wedding reception? Oh, alright then. Here you go:

Music According to Benedict Nº 5 – James Rhodes' "Clair de lune" by Claude Debussy

Do you really love music?

I mean, REALLY love music? I'm not asking you to tell me. It's not a formal inquiry - I promise. I'm asking you to be honest - with you. You have your ear candy music - the stuff that makes you sing or dance or remember a moment at a special place, or with a special someone. When you hear those first few notes of a song that takes you back - THAT'S the good stuff: the REALLY good stuff. It's the music you'll hum long after your hearing is gone. (Keep that in mind when Eminem or Justin Bieber land in your memory banks.)

Music According to Benedict Nº 4 - the Rolling Stones

A quick check of interviews with Benedict in which he's asked to "list favorites" almost always includes his admission that the list would change if he's asked again the next day - and that lists are, well, a bit challenging for him. In fact, in true Cumberbatch fashion, he admitted as much to the folks at Two Paddocks who asked for his Top 10 favorite songs.  Two Paddocks, by the way, is the vineyard in New Zealand co-founded by actor Sam Neill - not that it's unusual for actors to venture into the vineyard. We've learned through media coverage that Ben enjoys the fruit of the vine every now and again:

Here, at Ben Caring's birthday at Annabel's, London in Oct. 2012 (photo courtesy GQ Magazine UK)

Books for Prisoners - Obstacles & Options

During Oz Comic-Con in Adelaide, Australia, actor (and book aficionado) Benedict Cumberbatch was quoted as saying that “prisoners should be given books," encouraging the audience to "send books to prisoners.”


While Americans (like me) may have first thought their favourite TV detective was just being considerate of those serving time behind bars, and others believed it a call for compassion from an actor to his ever-increasing number of fans, news-savvy audience members (especially those in the UK) knew better. This wasn’t just an “Oh, isn’t he thoughtful!” moment, but a call to action - and criticism of a current situation. However, before you go through your bookshelves or do your spring cleaning and box up volumes to drop off at the nearest detention center, let me fill you in a bit so you can find the best way to follow Cumberbatch’s suggestion.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Preparing for Parade's End & New Beginnings at the Imperial War Museum

Courtesy: BBC

From Parade's End by Ford Madox Ford
"The war had made a man of him! It had coarsened him and hardened him. There was no other way to look at it. It had made him reach a point at which he would no longer stand unbearable things.”  
“In every man there are two minds that work side by side, the one checking the other; thus emotion stands against reason, intellect corrects passion and first impressions act a little, but very little, before quick reflection.” 

Sunday, July 6, 2014

REVIEW: "Begin Again" - A Love Song Sent to Music

Courtesy: The Weinstein Company

Director : John Carney
Starring: Keira Knightley, Mark Ruffalo,  James Corden & Introducing Adam Levine

On the radio as I was driving home, the DJ (with typical fervor), did a quick recap of the top songs over the holiday weekend. The artists he named?

Charlie XCX, Iggy Azalea and Jason Derulo

If you don't know who they are - or you do, and are old enough to remember a time when music was less homogenized and (a bit) more honest, you'll want to see "Begin Again," starring Academy Award nominees Keira Knightley and Mark Ruffalo.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Music According to Benedict - "Can't Keep It Inside" - August: Osage County

Lee GrothOlson had a dream job.

Lee GrothOlson courtesy:


Who? Lee GrothOlson


How? Talent (and location - it's not just important in real estate, you know.)

Why? Benedict Cumberbatch NEEDED her.

See what I mean? DREAM JOB.

So, here's the wrinkle: It sounds like a dream job IF you're a fan of Sherlock (she was), but does the dream become reality when that job is to teach Benedict Cumberbatch (a music lover, but NOT a musician) how to play piano for a minor character (but a key role) in a star-studded film based on a Pulitzer Prize-winning play?

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Music According to Benedict: "Hyperballad" by Björk

I have to be honest with you.

When I first read Benedict's Top Tunes on Two Paddocks, I didn't notice anything particularly unusual - UNTIL he wrote about #8: "Hyperballad" by Björk.

Americans might remember her for her awards show fashion sense more than her singing:

Björk. (Click on her name to check out her whimsical website.)

I might have just scanned the paragraph Cumberbatch wrote about the song - and moved on, except his words gave me pause:

"But what about Mitchell, Joplin, Ella, Tina, Oh god I need another list. It's all very white and male....! Damn. Beautiful song, though. And a nod to a lot of dance music that hasn't made it to this top ten."

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Benedict Cumberbatch as Chris Barker - Hay Festival

Don't underestimate the power of your words to influence another, particularly someone you love.
Here are lovely lines from Benedict Cumberbatch's readings at the 2014 Hay Festival, as he read letters written by WWII soldier Chris Barker to his future wife, Bessie Moore (represented by Louise Brealey during the performances at Hay.)

Part I:
"I must be with you. I must warm you, surround you, love you and be kind to you."
"How good for us to see each other before I am completely bald!" 
Part II:

"I  hope that everything will work itself out without any unhappiness to anyone."

Part III:

"All I did was concentrate on trying to tell you I was all right." 

"I was always wondering about you - about us."

"Won't it be wonderful to be together - really together in the flesh. Not just to know that a letter is all we can send. I love you."

Music According to Benedict - "Sweet Thing" by Van Morrison

It's been awhile since we checked the vintage vault for songs favored by Benedict Cumberbatch, hasn't it? It's not completely our fault, you know. He's been a very busy man lately:

Friday, June 13, 2014

A Helping Hand in Hope: ALS/MND Association - Benedict Cumberbatch Birthday Fund

"It's a terrifying prospect to have a completely functioning mind inside a body that locks you in, that keeps you stationary." - Benedict Cumberbatch

In 2013,  Vertigo Films released Hawking: A Brief History of Mine,  an authorized documentary about Stephen Hawking, the famous English theoretical physicist and cosmologist. The film opened the doors into Stephen's private life, particularly as it pertained to his personal relationships - and living with a motor neuron disease diagnosis in 1963 that doctors said would end his life within 2 years. The film includes footage of Hawking at home, at work - and navigating his way in the world with humour - considered all the more remarkable given the limits motor neuron disease put on his body - and the pressure placed on his relationships.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Benedict Cumberbatch, the Love of Letters, & the Language of Love

"My senses have been thrilled and luxuriated in you."

That sentence is one of many I love in that letter, read at the 2014 Hay Festival. I believe a book of the correspondence between Chris & Bessie is planned to for publication to be released in time for Valentine's Day 2015. I do hope so.

If a person responds warmly to your words, it is (in part) because a love of language is also the language of love. For some, they show - and recognize -  love by doing nice things, or buying gifts - or being demonstrative with their affection. For others (like the letter read by Benedict Cumberbatch as British soldier Chris Barker), a person who is able to express their feelings fully - good or bad, serious or sarcastic, in good humor or in grief - and share those thoughts powerfully and intimately? Heaven.

Pay attention to what warms your heart and luxuriates your senses. Notice what makes others "come alive" when you spend time with them. I think it can only benefit you both.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

A Skin Too Few - The Days of Nick Drake

I remain convinced there's a play, a story to be told, about Nick Drake. His troubles were not unique, but his talents were. Sad moments can disturb the delicate balance of one's life, and some of us are far too fragile. What can we do? Tell their stories. Strengthen the memory, so they live on.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Music According to Benedict: Nick Drake Full Discography 1969-1972

Perfect for a quiet, introspective mood - with or without added substances. ;)

I don't know that Benedict Cumberbatch is of an age to portray Nick Drake now, but, once upon a time, he hoped to take on the role.

Q: What roles would you most like to play still? 

A: "A young Nick Drake (the folk musician) – on film or telly. Play-wise, Oswald from Ghosts, Hamlet obviously. And why not Constantine (from The Seagull) as well."  -  20 Questions with Benedict Cumberbatch - "What's On Stage" (April 25, 2005)

It should console him a bit that he'll portray Hamlet - at the Barbican in Autumn 2015, but it would be nice to see a play or small performance piece about Nick in a theater that suits the mood and music.

Dear John

May 30, 2014

Dear John,

I've been thinking about you today, trying to remember how long it's been since I first saw you. How many years ago was it? 10? No. Longer than that. It's hard to believe how much has changed since then, at least for me. For you? I'm not sure.

I hate that you and I didn't have time to talk or to try to make sense of anything, really. It's so unfair. You mattered to so many people, not just me.  You are precious to me, even now.  I thought I'd try to make up for our loss a little. I hope you don't mind.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Benedict Cumberbatch & The Adventure of the Winner's Circle

For the second time in the 2014 Formula One racing season, Benedict Cumberbatch conducted the post-race podium interviews with the Top 3 finishers, this time at the the conclusion of the Monaco Grand Prix. Tension between the top 2, Mercedes drivers Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton, had been discussed by those in the media over the weekend, which means, of course, that F1 fans were well aware of it. So, if it's your job to interview these drivers moments after a controversial race, how do you prepare? What do you ask?

If you're Cumberbatch, you do this:

Approachable, non-combative, unassuming - and certainly aware of the adrenaline rush each driver was experiencing (for differing reasons).

There's a transcript of the interview here, which also includes questions asked during the press conference held later. Those inquiries dug a little bit deeper into the working relationship between Rosberg and Hamilton:

Q: (Paolo Ianieri - La Gazzetta dello sport) A question for Nico and Lewis. We have seen that there is a pretty tense situation between the two of you and we also heard comments from Lauda saying you did not want to talk and apologise. Are you going to have a pizza together, a dinner, to sort the problems, talk about it and try to get the situation back to normal?
Q: (Ian Parkes - Press Association) Lewis, it seems pretty clear to us that you feel aggrieved with the events that occurred yesterday in qualifying. Is this it now for you? Is it gloves off in your battle with Nico? And secondly, do you feel that you are getting full and fair support from the team?

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Benedict Cumberbatch conducts Top 3 interviews: 2014 Monaco Grand Prix

Not a lot of camera time for Benedict Cumberbatch here as he interviews Nico Rosberg, Lewis Hamilton and Daniel Ricciardo, but the CumberCollective likes to know what their favorite actor does, and it makes screencaps and edits possible, as well as general admiration of  the view and voice. (You know you do.)

Methinks there must be a reason the president and CEO of Formula One Management and Formula One Administration, Bernie Ecclestone, has called upon Benedict to repeat the duties he performed at the Malaysia Grand Prix earlier this year, conducting post-race interviews with the Top 3 drivers. I'm just speculating, but if a successful (sometimes controversial) British business magnate takes a professional interest in an actor (which is he not known to do in the past that I've found so far),  I think it would be more than just general admiration. Perhaps it involves  Sunny March Ltd., since producer Adam Ackland accompanied Benedict, but who knows? We'll just have to wait and see - and enjoy the benefits of this friendship between Bernie and Ben.

Fan Vid Fun: Sherlock/Moriarty - Boring!

This fan video is anything but boring. It makes me smile - because the chemistry between Andrew Scott & Benedict Cumberbatch works so well - and Scott made the character of Moriarty fascinating and fun, as well as FUBAR. :)

Friday, May 23, 2014

Music According to Benedict - "Skeleton Boy" by Friendly Fires

Nancy Carroll & Benedict Cumberbatch  Credit:Geraint Lewis

Before Benedict gave us a bit of "legal dancing" whilst talking with a convention audience, his love of music had already been shared with interviewers - and taken to heart and head by his fans. It may have not been a Top Tunes list, but music is acknowledged to be one of Benedict's many passions, and his appreciation for Friendly Fires, the English indie band from St. Alban's, is longstanding.

In a profile of the actor entitled, "The Fabulous Baker Street Boy" (because who doesn't love a Sherlock Holmes tie-in?), reporter Lesley White wrote:
"After the show (Terence Rattigan's "After the Dance") the actor had showered, danced around to "Skeleton Boy" by Friendly Fires to “shake off” the interwar years, and dived into the National’s Green Room to have a drink with his friends, but then escaped to the fresh air of a balcony, alone. “I just felt, ‘This is too much.’ I was hot. So I walked away from everyone.” -  The Sunday Times - Aug. 12, 2010)

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Benedict Cumberbatch Coming to "Black Mass"

In what seems a repeat of a work ethic that brought him worldwide attention, commercial success and critical acclaim, Benedict Cumberbatch's name was added to another movie project scheduled for 2015 release, hot on the heels of the "The Yellow Birds" cast announcement.


The Boston Globe reports today that Benedict Cumberbatch is set to replace English-born Australian actor Guy Pearce in the Whitey Bulger biopic from Warner Brothers Pictures', "Black Mass."  The article states that Pearce was "believed to be playing the mob boss’s law-abiding brother, Billy" while Johnny Depp has the lead role as Boston mobster-turned-FBI-informant James "Whitey" Bulger, who would later be one of the FBI's Ten Most Wanted for over a decade.

The film is currently shooting in the Boston area with media reports detailing celebrity sightings of Depp and his fiancée, Amber Heard, as well as observations on the transformation of 50-year-old Depp's appearance

Johnny Depp (L) Whitey Bulger (R)

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Music According to Benedict - The Maccabees "Grew Up At Midnight"

Recent media coverage could make one wonder if Benedict Cumberbatch embarked on a goodwill tour as an ambassador for British fashion, British independent cinema - and British charitable works.  Luckily for fans, these events have resulted a virtual avalanche of articles, images, videos and eyewitness recaps to make every morning on Tumblr and Twitter feel like Christmas:

Via Nicole Gaudier

While Benedict continues to weave (and occasionally waffle) his way through a steady stream of interviews, charity dinners and Q&A sessions, we're going to re-visit the Top Tunes list he gave to Two Paddocks in 2012 (back in the days before bodyguards, bespoke suits and bemusing attempts to regain privacy by portraying Mr. Napkin Head).

Sunday, May 11, 2014

A "legal bit of dancing" with Daft Punk

What do you think is the TOP result if you Google "Benedict Cumberbatch dancing"?

Would it be a mash-up of clips featuring Benedict and Tom Hiddleston?

Perhaps it's behind-the-scenes footage of Benedict as Khan on the set of Star Trek Into Darkness?
Maybe. . .just maybe, it's the clip from Sherlock Series 3, Episode 2 ("The Sign of Three"), where Benedict pirouettes rather elegantly (which you can see here on an earlier blog post).



During Oz Comic-Con earlier in April, attendees reported that Benedict came out prior to a session with the audience when he heard their reaction to the video presentation. What had caused such a commotion?
Party moments at a private celebration, which were shared personally within Benedict's circle of friends, then hacked - and posted publicly.

Met Gala Attendees Meet their Match & Miss the Memo

This year's Costume Institute Gala, known to you and me informally as the Met Ball - or Met Gala, was the highlight of what had to be an incredible day for Vogue editor-in-chief, Anna Wintour. Having chaired the gala since 1995, Wintour could be forgiven if she was on "auto-pilot" for the annual fundraiser (which last year raised over $9 million dollars for the Costume Institute, with a ticket price of $15,000 per person.)

However, she was definitely NOT calling this one in. This year held the promise of something different, something exclusive. . .something special. An honour was to be bestowed upon the fashion maven this year: the opening of the $40 million Anna Wintour Costume Center (the new name for the Costume Institute). First Lady Michelle Obama spoke at the ribbon cutting ceremony held earlier on the day of the ball.

For 2014, a theme was chosen (Charles James: Beyond Fashion), a guest list was prepared, and ticket prices were set- at $25,000

There was speculation as to why Wintour increased the ticket price by $10,000 per ticket. Was it because Gwyneth Paltrow complained about crowds and heat at the 2013 event? Was Wintour tired of the attitude today's celebrities have about exclusive events - having once banned Kim Kardashian from the gala? Was the Vogue editor's generation gap showing?

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Books for Prison Inmates: Obstacles & Options

Over the weekend at Oz Comic-Con in Adelaide, Australia, actor (and book aficionado) Benedict Cumberbatch was quoted as saying that “prisoners should be given books," encouraging the audience to "send books to prisoners.” 

While Americans (like me) may have first thought their favourite TV detective was just being considerate of those serving time behind bars, and others believed it a call for compassion from an actor to his ever-increasing number of fans, news-savvy audience members (especially those in the UK) knew better. This wasn’t just an “Oh, isn’t he thoughtful!” moment, but a call to action and criticism of a current situation

However, before you go through your bookshelves or do your spring cleaning and box up volumes to drop off at the nearest detention center, let me fill you in a bit so you can find the best way to follow Cumberbatch’s advice. 

In the world of British politics, Chris Grayling is a particularly newsworthy man of the moment, the “British Conservative Party politician who has been the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice since 2012” (Wikipedia) UK readers likely already know about Grayling – and how much, er, attention he’s gained from authors recently, including an open letter published in the Daily Telegraph on March 25.

Grayling is the face of the so-called “book ban” in prisons in England and Wales, (introduced in November 2013) which forbids prisoners receiving parcels from family or friends (which includes books). He's defended the move, stating that prison libraries are available, and books can be ordered if necessary. Opponents of the ban believe books are NOT a luxury item, the logistics of transporting prisoners regularly to the on-site library are challenging at best – and that the current process of screening parcels received at a prison finds any contraband material that might be concealed. In short, critics from all corners want the ban lifted. Only time and talk will tell.

In the meantime, what can you do to support literacy and a love of reading to those who are incarcerated? Aside from signing a petition on to request a review/amendment to the current ban, you can do more. 

In the UK, one option for book lovers to get reading material into the hands of prisoners is Haven Distribution, located in London A press release on their site states (in part): 

“Haven has been sending books to prisoners since 1996 and despite Chris Grayling's recent restriction on sending free books to prisoners, as a charity set up for this purpose we shall remain committed to do so.”

From Haven’s website, you can donate funds via cheque, money order or PayPal, as well as use their link to shop on Amazon, where they receive 5% in referral fees from every purchase:  
In the US, rules and regulations vary by state. A national directory (last updated 9/2013) is available here:, but those with books to donate should contact the program closest to them via phone or e-mail first.  

Founded in the early 1970s, Books to Prisoners (a volunteer program based in Seattle, WA), is another option, offering people the chance to volunteer, donate funds - or books. Similar to Haven in the UK, using their link to shop on the US Amazon site, the non-profit earns a 5% referral fee. They receive over 1,000 requests each month from prisoners asking for dictionaries, thesauruses and history books, as well as popular fiction and non-fiction. 

So, there you have it: The issue at hand, why Benedict brought the issue to fans’ attention - and what you can do to help. We aren’t condoning any actions taken by the inmates. We are encouraging them to be more, believing in the power of the written word to transform and transport any reader willing to turn the page.