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.