Cult indie rockers Sleater-Kinney reunited onstage in Portland, Oregon on Saturday night (30Nov13) when the trio hit the stage with R.E.M. star Peter Buck at a Pearl Jam gig. The quartet joined Eddie Vedder and the headliners for a finale of Neil Young's Rockin' In The Free World at the Moda Center. It marked the first time Carrie Brownstein, Corin Tucker and Janet Weiss had hit a stage together since they split in 2006.
Set in a whimsical version of the untamed West Range zeroes in on a quaint dairy farm called Patch of Heaven run by the kindly Pearl (voiced by Carole Cook). Life on the prairie farm is near perfect for its resident dairy cows--including the organized leader Mrs. Calloway (voiced by Judi Dench) the touchy-feely Grace (voiced by Jennifer Tilly) and the newcomer sassy show cow Maggie (voiced by Roseanne Barr)--as well as for the rest of Patch of Heaven's colorful denizens. Their idyllic existence is threatened when the farm is unexpectedly put up for auction to pay back taxes so the determined cows scheme to nab notorious castle rustler Alameda Slim (voiced by Randy Quaid) and turn him in for reward money which will pay off the taxes and save the farm. They set out on a high-spirited adventure across the rugged western landscape to catch Slim in the act. At the same time they also have to try to outsmart a hero-worshipping stallion named Buck (voiced by Cuba Gooding Jr.) who wants to catch Slim himself to get all the glory. Can Maggie Grace and Mrs. Calloway hogtie the dastardly villain hand him over to the authorities and collect the reward money in time to save their precious Patch of Heaven? Of course they can dagnabbit--they're cows aren't they?
However mundane Home on the Range is at least Disney has great casting sense. The three lead actresses seem to truly enjoy finding the bovine within. Roseanne who's been out of the spotlight for a while delivers Maggie's zingers with zest (referring to her udders Maggie quips "Yeah they're real. Quit staring") and as Maggie's cohort Tilly's naturally high squeaky voice lends credibility to Grace's new age-isms and non-confrontational ways. The real surprise comes from the Oscar-winning Dench who gives Mrs. Calloway that certain highbrow British sensibility while also allowing her to butt heads with Maggie every once in awhile. (One wonders though how a British cow made it to the Wild West?) In supporting roles Gooding hams it up as Buck a horse trying to prove he is a true hero with rather skewed methods while Quaid bullies torments and yes even yodels as Alameda Slim--yodeling being the bad guy's technique for hypnotizing and luring the cattle into his evil clutches. Standout vocal cameo goes to Steve Buscemi as a cold-hearted fast-talking city slicker (the bug-eyed character even looks a little like him).
Under Will Finn and John Sanford's direction Home on the Range has a heartening message of hearth and home decent performances and nothing blatantly wrong with the story structure which hits the right marks despite being a tad too cutesy. Then why is the film so lackluster? Maybe because just like last year's Brother Bear Range seems factory-made. The animation is certainly sub-par with flat colors and 2-D rudimentary drawings more suitable for a Disney theme-park ride. Last year's Teacher's Pet as well as most Japanime these days proves hand-drawn animation can--and better--go out on a limb if its to compete with the marvels of CGI but Disney seems stuck in a rut (and splitting with Pixar won't help matters). Luckily some catchy Western tunes help Range git along composed by Oscar winner Alan Menken who makes his first triumphant return to Disney since his '90s heyday that included composing music for The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast. It also doesn't hurt that six original songs are performed by country greats including k.d. lang Bonnie Raitt and Tim McGraw.
Rolling Stone's frontman Mick Jagger is set to release "God Gave Me Everything," a song he co-wrote and produced with funky rocker Lenny Kravitz. The song is the first single from Jagger's fourth solo album Goddess in the Doorway, scheduled for a Nov. 20 release. Jagger is currently filming the video for the single with director Mark Romanek, who's worked with the likes of Madonna and Michael Jackson).
"These are all very personal songs...true to my original vision," Jagger told Sonicnet.com. "This is an intimate collection of songs that I could sing to you across the kitchen table." Jagger's new album will also feature appearances by Bono, Wyclef Jean, Matchbox Twenty's Rob Thomas, The Who's Pete Townshend and Aerosmith's Joe Perry.
Bob Dylan writes autobiography
Storyteller extraordinaire Bob Dylan is writing his own story these days. Chronicles, a multi-volume autobiography, will be printed by Simon & Schuster next year. The singer has previously released a book of lyrics as well as Tarantula, a collection of poems he wrote while touring in the '60s. Although it is not known how many volumes Chronicles will ultimately consist of, Adam Rothberg, a spokesperson for the publishing company, said that it would cover Dylan's life and career. "You'll have to read the rest of it to find out," he said.
Robbie Williams moons Singapore
British pop star Robbie Williams told 17,000 fans in Bankok on Wednesday that he was fined $5,700 for flashing the audience during his concert last weekend. But Singapore police told Reuters they have no record that it ever happened. In his new book Someday Someday, Williams talks about his self-destructive battle with sex, drugs and his struggle with fame.
Bon Jovi, Carey make "McBeal" appearance
Singer and part-time actor Bon Jovi has postponed his scheduled guest appearance on Ally McBeal to play some benefit shows to raise money for the Sept. 11 attacks on America. According to a statement by FOX, he will begin shooting nine episodes of the series in November, which should air January 2002. Although not much has been revealed about his role, some insiders are speculating that his character may be a possible love interest for the nettlesome secretary Elaine Vassal, played by Jane Krakowski.
Mariah Carey has also booked a guest appearance on the show, where she will play a key figure in a lawsuit brought by Jami Gertz's character Kimmy Bishop after she is deemed unmatchable by a matchmaking service and given a refund. Carey also will sing "Lead the Way" from her new album, Glitter.
Timberlake not promoting novel
Justin Timberlake published his first novel, Inside Drive: A Novel of Basketball, Life and Love this fall, but the 'N Sync heartthrob has reportedly canceled the promotional tour because he was too busy with 'N Sync projects. "He had too much going on to be able to give it the kind of time that he wanted to," his publicist Lisa Kasteler told AP on Thursday.
Britney invades your living room
The boys who lose their breath every time Britney Spears shows her midriff will be able to watch her whenever they please when Britney: The Videos is released on DVD and VHS on Nov. 20. The home video will include entire videography, behind-the-scenes footage and her latest performance at this year's MTV Video Music Awards. A Jive Records spokesperson has confirmed with Sonicnet.com that the video will include her Pepsi commercials as well as a sneak peek at her upcoming motion picture debut, Crossroads, scheduled to hit theatres on Feb.15.
R.E.M. makes surprise show
R.E.M. played a surprise show on Oct. 23 at Seattle's Crocodile Cafe, which guitarist Peter Buck co-owns with his wife Stephanie Dorgan, Billboard.com reported. Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder joined in for several songs during the show, which benefited the Washington Wilderness Coalition.
On her 40th birthday Madam Wu (Luo Yan) the head of one of the largest households in town announces she has acquired a second wife for her husband. Get this: Madame Wu feels that she is too old and Lord Wu (Shek Sau) deserves a wife more capable of satisfying his physical needs. Chiuming (Yi Ding) a young peasant girl is quickly married to the lord freeing Madame Wu from the wifely duties of her loveless marriage. She turns her attention to Andre (Willem Dafoe) her son's tutor and an American priest and doctor who runs the local orphanage. Of course Andre's overwhelming benevolence enamors Madame Wu and Western ideals and their friendship quickly escalate to a forbidden love affair. The lovers are tragically torn apart by the invasion of Japanese troops and Andre is forced to make the ultimate sacrifice to save the helpless community.
Although Pavilion is touted as a period Chinese film the actors speak colloquial English and it is hard to dismiss the stilted dialogue that sounds like it has been dubbed from a bad kung-fu movie. This aside leads Luo Yan and Willem Dafoe give solid performances and but cannot salvage the banality of the script. Yan an accomplished actress who also co-wrote and produced the film graces the screen with the sincerity of a woman who has quietly endured pain her whole life and has finally been freed. Dafoe tackles the role of the Great White Hope like a true professional but at times it looks as if he's wondering what the heck he's gotten himself into as in scene after scene he plays with dirty-faced orphans with a goofy grin on his face. The cast is rounded out by a host of one-dimensional characters like Lord Wu the fellatio-starved stereotypical patriarch; Chiuming the reluctant concubine and Fengmo (John Cho) the rebellious son who falls in love with Chiuming and runs off to join the Communist Army. Comic relief is attempted by Amy Hill and Koh Chieng Mun.
Based on a 1946 Pearl Buck novel Pavilion lacks the sophistication of Chinese films like Farewell My Concubine or Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. Hong Kong director Yim Ho handles the clichéd script with little subtlety and punctuates emotional high points of the story with an over-the-top ear-splitting musical score. At one point Andre even pulls out his Puccini record and hits us over the head pointing out the tragedy of similar star-crossed lovers in the opera Madama Butterfly. We've all seen this before and Pavilion falls short by not bringing anything new to the table.