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Musical March Madness: Day 2!

What a first day! We opened with what were supposed to be the most lopsided matchups, yet we had a number 1 seed fall AND what I can only describe as a dramatic come from behind victory!

http://betterbracketmaker.com/#!/412540ece8235

Les Miserables and Phantom did as everyone expected them to do, winning their respective match ups by absolutely dominating. Les Miserables showed why its the hottest ticket on Broadway right now, as it got 89% of the votes and wiped the floor with She Loves Me. Sorry, no Vanilla Ice Cream for you Tonight at Eight (badum pssssh).

Phantom took home a whopping 83% of the vote, as She Loves Me was lacking the musical numbers and star power to overcome a towering opponent in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s number 1 seed. If I Could Write a Book, it would include the fact that you’re going to have to try harder to take down 9,500 performances, Pal Joey.

Webber’s other classic, Cats, didn’t fare so well. Singing in the Rain used its unusually low seed to its advantage and took out the number 1 seed. This just goes to show you, no one reeeaaally likes Cats. Just kidding. Kind of. I think because of its fame as a film, Singing in the Rain wouldn’t be considered a 16 seed in most discussions, so 68% of the vote wasn’t really a surprise, and now all we’re left with is a vague Memory of Cats.

“God, I hope I get it,” was what Chorus Line was hoping, yet fell behind early to an eager Wizard of Oz. If it only had a brain, it might’ve held on longer, but Chorus Line sent it searching Somewhere Over the Rainbow, as it came storming back late and squeaked out a victory with 55% of the vote.

Take a look at the updated bracket above. Onto the next round! This round of voting features the #2 seeds facing off vs the #15 seeds.

**Voting is now closed. Click here to vote for the Day 3, 4 and 5 matchups*

Some interesting matchups and potential upsets here. Can Elle Woods snap her way past the ever formidable fosse ensemble? Will the Beast and Gaston finally settle their differences to fend off the Demon Barber of Fleet Street? Does Simba avenge the death of his father in Florence, Italy? And can Billy Crocker find one more disguise in order to overcome the powerful force of La Vie Boheme?

Oh god, those were bad. Let’s not do that ever again. Let the voting begin!

Musical March Madness!

Alright folks. Here it is. The ultimate march madness bracket.

As most of you are aware, the NCAA college basketball tournament spawns bracket makers from all across the continent, creating controversial picks and frustrating sports lovers for years. But what if we could make a bracket about something else? How about…musicals!? Yessssss.

That’s right. I’ve created the ultimate musicals bracket. Here’s how it works:

I’ve picked 64 of the most popular/successful musicals, and tried to find a way to rank them objectively, a la March Madness. I thought and thought, til my puzzler was sore, and I came up with the idea to rank them based on the length of their Broadway runs. Let’s just get to the bracket and round 1 of voting., and I’ll explain the ranking system after.

http://betterbracketmaker.com/#!/412540ece8235

There she is! Take a look for yourself and make a plan. And lets just start the voting now. I’ve shown the first 4 match ups, and then I’ll gauge interest from there, so that I don’t end up posting one question per day. Vote with whatever criteria you’d like! Share and tell your friends!

Your first 4 match ups arrrrrrrrre:

**Voting for Day 1 is closed! Head over to Day 2  to vote on the next round!**

I seeded/ranked the musicals based on the length of their original Broadway runs. If they didn’t have a Broadway run, I based it on their West End run. I used this site. The entire system is (unfortunately) not that linear though because, as you’ll notice, some of the musicals that became mostly famous because of their film version, did not have incredible Broadway success. Singing in the Rain, Wizard of Oz, Mary Poppins and Grease were all extremely popular as films, but their Broadway runs were not as successful, for example.

Also, two other musicals that stand out are Little Shop of Horrors, and The Book of Mormon. Little Shop had 2,209 performances, which would have made it 28th all time, just ahead of Jersey Boys. However, the whole run was Off-Broadway. I couldn’t think of a fair way to quantify that, so I simply chopped the number in two. 1,104 performances put it in the spot its in. The Book of Mormon is currently at approximately 1264 performances, and will continue to grow, and when its done, who knows where it will be on this list. For now though, it sits in the 9th spot in its category.

I also left some popular ones out. Sorry. Came down to 64. It’ll be fine.

To seed them, I made four columns and, reading left to right, continuously filled in spots. For example, the top 4 Broadway runs of all time are Phantom of the Opera (9,451), Cats (7,485), Les Miserables (6,680) and A Chorus Line (6,137). Those four became the number 1 seeds. The next four longest runs became the 2 seeds, and so on.

I’ll try and post a new one every day or two!

Any questions or comments, let me know below!

Gravity: the Good and the Bad

Gravity: the Good and the Bad

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I went into this movie with very high expectations. George Clooney and Sandra Bullock. Oscar buzz. Alfonso Cuarón up for best director. I’m a bit late on my review, but I’ve only just watched it, so too bad. My reactions:

*Spoiler alert – duh*

Good & Bad: I watched this from a plane on the way to Toronto. Cool being in the air watching. Also very scary…

Onto the movie…

Good: the visuals. The effects and CGI were incredible. Simple. Watched it on a 8″ airplane screen, but I imagine that IMAX would be something special.

Bad: Sandra Bullock breathes heavily for a lot of this movie. I’m scared my mom would walk in on me and think I was watching something else.

Good: George Clooney. Man, he’s good. It’s an amazing thing to be in control of everything around you under intense pressure. I’m talking as an actor, not the character. He’s the type of actor who makes an audience feel comfortable.

Bad: one astronaut had a hole in his face after the crash. That’s rarely good. Won’t post a picture. You’re welcome.

Good: with very little to work with in terms of extraneous setting or props, this movie does an amazing job of setting up a very specific and strong relationship between Dr Ryan Stone (Bullock) and Matt Kowalski (Clooney) in a very short amount of time.

Good: The length of the shots. I was about 8 minutes into the movie when I realized there hadn’t been a single cut. Turns out, the first shot lasts for 17 minutes. That’s insane. You can read more about this amazing shot, here.

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Good: In terms of acting, I loved the simplicity of George Clooney making the decision to die. You can just picture how easy it would be to go overboard with that moment. His approach was simple. The Lesson: don’t over think. Just say the words.

Bad: “It’s not rocket science.” They just had to say it.

(Update: Sandra Bullock is still breathing hard.)

Good: What was cool was trying to figure out how they filmed all of this. DID THEY REALLY GO INTO SPACE?! No, voices inside my head. They did not. What they did use, however, was groundbreaking. Underwater shots, puppeteers, a two-ton rig that almost killed Sandra Bullock, and CGI. Its all really fascinating stuff that I won’t go into great detail about right now. However, you can read about it here and here.

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Bad: Dr Stone is driving the ship, in space, all alone…and still managed to crash it.

Bad: “I hate space,” Dr Stone said, after debris crashed into her spaceship. MAAAYBE you shouldn’t have agreed to go into SPACE. I hate space, she says. Really.

Bad: George Clooney just appeared out of nowhere. The chances of this happening are literally 1 in a kajillion million zillion.

Good: George Clooney just appeared out of nowhere. We don’t have to listen to Sandra Bullock talk to herself anymore and break any more things.

Good: Typical relationship. Man: “I have a great idea that I haven’t thought through at all!” Woman: “You’re an idiot.”Image

Bad: Damnit! She hallucinated/saw him in her head! Must be on drugs. Maybe that’s why she’s breathing so hard. Still. Okay, I’m over it now.

Bad: I have a problem with the end of the movie. I get the whole ‘she’s finally on solid ground’ idea that they’re showing, and that’s fine. But now what? The radio is broken. Everything is broken. She stands up and walks down a beach by herself. Seems like this could be the middle of the movie. Is this how the Hobbit starts? Does NASA know where she is? Are they coming? Is George Clooney going to show up again? SO MANY QUESTIONS.

The Good
• Gravity is a very simple movie. The simplicity allows the audience to focus more on the specifics of the piece.

• The relationship between Clooney and Bullock is simple, yet powerful, strong and clear.

• The visuals are stunning. Amazing to think that we, as an audience, feel like we know what space looks and feels like, all because we watched a computerized version of it.

• George Clooney. His calm, yet intense presence captivated me. His choices were so strong. One of the actors that can make people want to act because he makes it look so easy. It’s almost detrimental to any actor trying to ‘make it,’ and here’s why: there are so many little things that he does subconsciously, or maybe more impressively, if he thinks about them, that make it seem effortless. When you watch him, you think, “Oh. I could do that.”

Then you try. And you realize how good he is.

• Sandra Bullock: It’s hard when my options are so black and white, but I suppose that’s the point of this blog. I put her under ‘good’ because, for 70% of the movie, she carried it by herself. From an acting standpoint, she was efficient and present, and she did a great job.

• The silence: the silence speaks volumes in this movie. The opening scene is almost too long, in that its uncomfortable. And that’s the point.

The Bad: 
• It’s strength is also it’s weakness; it is a very simple movie. A lot of things go wrong, and nothing really gets resolved. The story moves from one problem to another, without resolution, and ends with a completely new problem: how does/will she get home?

• A drawback of watching one person carry an entire movie for an hour is just that: we have to watch one person for an hour. As impressive and connected as Sandra Bullock was, it’s hard to place an entire movie on one person’s shoulders.

Overall: 8.5/10

Gravity is about the most terrifying thing imaginable: life in space, and further than that, being alone. That’s what its really about. Louis CK talks about how we deal with it in every day life. Entertaining and thought provoking, overall, it is a very good movie.

But if I was going to see this movie for the first time, I’d recommend watching in IMAX, not on a plane.