Actor Kevin Spacey is heading back to the London stage to reprise a character he first portrayed over two decades ago in TV movie Darrow. The House of Cards star will play pioneering 19th century American lawyer Clarence Darrow in a one-man play at The Old Vic venue, marking his 10th anniversary as the theatre's artistic director.
Spacey also tackled the role of Darrow in a 2009 Old Vic revival of Inherit The Wind.
A statement issued by the actor reads: "I am thrilled to be returning to The Old Vic stage, for the first time performing in the round, such an exciting transformation of our Old Vic space for actors and audiences alike.
"As I celebrate ten years at the helm of this very special theatre it feels great to be returning to the character of Clarence Darrow, whom I played both onstage in Inherit the Wind and 22 years ago in the PBS film Darrow, directed by one of my House of Cards collaborators, John Coles."
Clarence Darrow, which will begin previews in late May (14), was announced as part of The Old Vic's summer/autumn (14) line-up, which also includes a production of Electra, based on the Greek tragedy by Sophocles and starring Kristin Scott Thomas, and a "visceral re-imagining" of Arthur Miller play The Crucible, directed by Yael Farber.
Spacey is set to step down as The Old Vic's artistic director next year (15).
Bear in mind that I'm not a music critic by any means, so this is simply my personal favorite selection of the albums that came out this year. There's such a wide amount of music out there that I could probably list 100 of them here - but I won't. Here are 10 of what I thought were the best electronic albums of 2013, in no particular order:
Boards of Canada - Tomorrow's Harvest
Ever since hearing "RoyGBiv" on an electronic music compilation album, I have been a big Boards of Canada fan. They had disappeared from view for a while, but surfaced again this past year with the sublime Tomorrow's Harvest. It's nothing truly groundbreaking, just really, really good music.
Maya Jane Coles - Comfort
I first heard Coles when she did a compilation for the DJ Kicks series of albums. When I saw that she had a debut album coming out this year, I had to get it and was not disappointed at all. From the slow rolling sound of the opening single to the many different types of songs throughout the album, I found it a disc that I could listen to in its entirety several times.
F*** Buttons - Slow Focus
I can't use any videos here since all of them have the actual, uncensored name of the band, but I highly suggest you search YouTube for "Slow Focus" and get an idea of what it's like. It's different from their previous album, with nary a song like "The Lisbon Maru." It's kind of jarring, unsettling but ultimately worth listening to multiple times.
Disclosure - Settle
It's hard to believe that the people behind this music can't legally drink in some countries. When I was their age, I was trying to get into as many parties as I could, not make really good tunes like this. Now college kids are going to parties and listening to music by their peers.
Bonobo - North Borders
Ever since I heard "Sugar Rhyme" on M is For Monkey, I've been a big fan. This album definitely doesn't disappoint. It's excellent music for doing things creatively, like writing or drawing. It's also one of those albums that's just meant to be listened to one after the other - there's not really a song to skip, which is rarer in this day and age where singles seem to rule the marketplace.
Toro Y Moi - Anything In Return
Yeah, I know. He looks like Donald Glover. He's able to set some really great beats here with some really interesting lyrics. Listen to the album. You'll be hooked in no time. It's quite the relaxing album.
Sally Shapiro - Somewhere Else
Sally Shapiro isn't just one person, it's actually a duo of her and John Agebjorn. They produce some really stirring music - the instrumental version of "If It Doesn't Rain" is truly beautiful. Someone described it as 'ear candy' and that seemed to be the perfect description for it. Listen to it and think of summer.
Lindsey Stirling - Lindsey Stirling
She was on America's Got Talent and got voted off. Boy, Piers Morgan, Sharon Osborne ("Your act couldn't fill a theater in Vegas") and Howie Mandel must be feeling a little silly now at how Stirling's career has blown up since her debut album came out. It's electronic beats with a violin. Trust me. It's awesome.
Holy Ghost! - Dynamics
I got hooked on their first album and this one didn't disappoint either. I had to be careful listening to it when doing work, because I had to stop every few seconds and start boogieing along with the beats. Yeah, it'll hook you that fast.
Pretty Lights - A Color Map of The Sun
Aside from having a really, really cool album title, Pretty Lights has put forth a masterpiece. It's actually all the work of one person, Derek Vincent Smith, which is pretty amazing for the levels of complexity, 'Yellow Bird' is also a great song besides the one I showed.
Washed Out - Parocosm
This is an album to listen to if you're in a really bad mood. It can't help but cheer you up. It's also one of those albums that demand a full listen. I didn't find myself impatiently switching out of any of the songs. Just a really, really good work.
Yes. I know. I left off a certain album by a group that rhymes with Raft Dunk. It's not that I didn't like the album, but given how it had been marketed as being a game changer when it came to music, I found myself unimpressed. It didn't last in long rotation on my iPod. It almost seemed humdrum after all the buildup. SoLet me also leave you with one of my favorite tracks from this past year - Royksopp's "Daddy's Groove", a song that I found myself wishing to be about 5 minutes longer:
Lions Gate via Everett Collection
When we last left our heroes, they had conquered all opponents in the 74th Annual Hunger Games, returned home to their newly refurbished living quarters in District 12, and fallen haplessly to the cannibalism of PTSD. And now we're back! Hitching our wagons once again to laconic Katniss Everdeen and her sweet-natured, just-for-the-camera boyfriend Peeta Mellark as they gear up for a second go at the Capitol's killing fields.
But hold your horses — there's a good hour and a half before we step back into the arena. However, the time spent with Katniss and Peeta before the announcement that they'll be competing again for the ceremonial Quarter Quell does not drag. In fact, it's got some of the film franchise's most interesting commentary about celebrity, reality television, and the media so far, well outweighing the merit of The Hunger Games' satire on the subject matter by having Katniss struggle with her responsibilities as Panem's idol. Does she abide by the command of status quo, delighting in the public's applause for her and keeping them complacently saturated with her smiles and curtsies? Or does Katniss hold three fingers high in opposition to the machine into which she has been thrown? It's a quarrel that the real Jennifer Lawrence would handle with a castigation of the media and a joke about sandwiches, or something... but her stakes are, admittedly, much lower. Harvey Weinstein isn't threatening to kill her secret boyfriend.
Through this chapter, Katniss also grapples with a more personal warfare: her devotion to Gale (despite her inability to commit to the idea of love) and her family, her complicated, moralistic affection for Peeta, her remorse over losing Rue, and her agonizing desire to flee the eye of the public and the Capitol. Oftentimes, Katniss' depression and guilty conscience transcends the bounds of sappy. Her soap opera scenes with a soot-covered Gale really push the limits, saved if only by the undeniable grace and charisma of star Lawrence at every step along the way of this film. So it's sappy, but never too sappy.
In fact, Catching Fire is a masterpiece of pushing limits as far as they'll extend before the point of diminishing returns. Director Francis Lawrence maintains an ambiance that lends to emotional investment but never imposes too much realism as to drip into territories of grit. All of Catching Fire lives in a dreamlike state, a stark contrast to Hunger Games' guttural, grimacing quality that robbed it of the life force Suzanne Collins pumped into her first novel.
Once we get to the thunderdome, our engines are effectively revved for the "fun part." Katniss, Peeta, and their array of allies and enemies traverse a nightmare course that seems perfectly suited for a videogame spin-off. At this point, we've spent just enough time with the secondary characters to grow a bit fond of them — deliberately obnoxious Finnick, jarringly provocative Johanna, offbeat geeks Beedee and Wiress — but not quite enough to dissolve the mystery surrounding any of them or their true intentions (which become more and more enigmatic as the film progresses). We only need adhere to Katniss and Peeta once tossed in the pit of doom that is the 75th Hunger Games arena, but finding real characters in the other tributes makes for a far more fun round of extreme manhunt.
But Catching Fire doesn't vie for anything particularly grand. It entertains and engages, having fun with and anchoring weight to its characters and circumstances, but stays within the expected confines of what a Hunger Games movie can be. It's a good one, but without shooting for succinctly interesting or surprising work with Katniss and her relationships or taking a stab at anything but the obvious in terms of sending up the militant tyrannical autocracy, it never even closes in on the possibility of being a great one.
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When will people learn you can’t take a model, a designer and a prize package and replicate the magic of Project Runway? Many have tried and few have succeed. The new series Styled to Rock, produced by Rihanna, gives the show a punky makeover. Project Runway: All Stars has some major upgrades from last season. But is there room for more than one Project Runway?
Styled to Rock is the umpteenth attempt at using the same format of Runway. Rather than focusing on the design, this series focuses on styling and costuming for musicians. Unfortunately, supermodel host Erin Wasson has the charm of a frozen waffle.
People take for granted that Heidi Klum was an actress and a television host before she produced Project Runway. Tim Gunn has become a celebrity due to his loving nature, distinct voice and stellar vocabulary. Their Emmy is proof that they are a major part of the show’s success. You can't just pull people off the shelf and expect the same magic to happen.
Project Runway: All Stars may have the exact same premise as the original but at least it innovates. It gives designers we have come to love a chance at redemption. Judges Isaac Mizrahi and Georgina Chapman also speak more authoritatively and diplomatically about fashion. Casting has improved this season with charmless model Angela Lindvall and severe mentor Joanna Coles replaced by opinionated Alyssa Milano and effervescent Zanna Roberts Rossi.
These are not the only attempts to clone Runway. Here are some others:
The Fashion Show
When Bravo lost Runway to Lifetime they tried to keep viewers with The Fashion Show. Mizrahi served as designer judge and Kelly Rowland served as host. The show received a slight upgrade in season two when supermodel Iman took over as host.
Launch My Line
Bravo tried again with this series. Dean and Dan Caten, of DSquared, hosted this series that featured “professionals” paired with designers. Seemingly random people in fields ranging from event planning to architecture had to create their own fashion line.
Not to be outdone by the shamelessness of Bravo, Lifetime tried to create a spin-off of Runway hosted by Molly Sims. Designer Kenneth Cole served as judge in this inversion of Runway. Designers create accessories ranging from jewelry to headpieces and style them with provided clothing.
This show tried to bring Runway to network television. Jessica Simpson, Nicole Ritchie and designer John Varvatos judged designers and offered them a chance to sell their line at Express and H&M. The show had too much product placement and was a little late to the game in Runway rehashing.
NBC's Fashion Star reality competition hit the glitzy TV runway on March 13, but is the series going to be hot for Spring?
When Project Runway lost its familiar faces and replaced them with the fully capable, yet unexciting crew - judges Isaac Mizrahi and Georgina Chapman, mentor and Marie Claire editor Joanna Coles and host and model Angela Lindvall - many viewers realized the dream was over. The series still packs some of its initial punch, but it's lost its bravado and its heart all at once. That void leaves room for some other lucky, fashion forward show to take its place. Unfortunately for NBC's latest hat in the reality competition ring, that void is still wide open. Fashion Star is flashy and exciting, but its cheap approach and surplus of moving parts keep it from making the cut.
That realization is not to say that the idea of Fashion Star wasn't worth exploring. Runway spends a great deal of time talking about "wearability" of new designs, yet recent episodes find contestants whipping up costumes for Nicki Minaj and the Broadway equivalent of a Cruella DeVil-Regina George hybrid.
Fashion Star takes the wearability concept to heart, making it the focus and driving factor of the show. Designers preview their fashions on the runway while Top 40 music bumps under the plexi-glass floor. Once mentors Jessica Simpson, Nicole Richie and John Varvatos give the newbies their two cents, the designs go to the highest bidder. Buyers from H&M, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Macy's sit in their throne-like sky boxes and throw numbers at the designs they like - those without offers face elimination.
This process, while intriguing in its offer to take the lid off of the ever-booming fashion industry, serves to cheapen and degrade the art as a whole. Instead of contestants aiming to wow the judges and mentors with their creativity, they're trying to find something that will fit comfortably on the shelves of some of the most ubiquitous clothing store chains out there.
Fashion Star loses the personal element of the designs on Project Runway and then takes it a step further: all the winning designs are made available in mass quantities at the stores whose buyers won the bidding process. This seems to be working out for Saks Fifth Avenue and H&M, whose websites have already sold of their chosen designs - even one mini-skirt that's retailing for a whopping $350. The retail element is an interesting one, but the effect is that the designs are boiled down to mass-appeal simplicity and frankly, it's just not a joy to watch.
But we're not alone. Fashion experts took to Twitter to express their disappointment, too. Marie Claire site director Abby Gardner called the show "a HOT mess" and Us Weekly's executive editor, Lara Cohen replied, "i would say that fashion star is the forever 21 version of project runway, but that's not fair to f21."
But it wasn't just the run of the mill "fashions" that were under attack. The format of the show itself was on trial. Host Elle MacPherson took to the stage in the first few minutes with models clad in her line of intimate apparel and Phantom of The Opera masks, practically screaming "Hey, TV viewers, this is sexy, so please don't turn it off! (Also, please go buy Elle's underwear.)" The stage looked like was pulled from a Bratz Doll commercial, but considering the unimaginative and shiny elements of many of the designs, it's fairly fitting. Still, Vulture's The Fug Girls weren't going to let that go. They tweeted during the show, "#FashionStar clearly spent more on music & Nicole Richie's headbands than it did on anything else. -H" Yes, NBC. They're calling your new baby "cheap."
With all the grievances against the new reality competition, it's a wonder folks like Simpson, Richie and especially Varvatos would throw their lot in with it. But if the already hopping design sales are any indication, America clearly knows something we don't.