Category Archives: Video

Adam Rippon + Joni Mitchell + Ben Platt = Serene Beauty in an Ugly Time

Olympian  Adam Rippon turned 30 on Monday, and flipped the usual tradition on its head by giving a present to everyone else. You don’t get to be “America’s Sweetheart”, as he once described himself, without occasionally doing something really wonderful.

“Today is my 30th birthday. I couldn’t be more grateful for everything and everyone in my life. Thank you for always sending love and positive energy my way. I hope I’m always able to do the same for you.”

He skated to a cover version of “River”, by Joni Mitchell, one of the indisputably greatest singer-songwriters of the 20th century.  The song’s lyrics made it a perfect choice.

This version of “River” was sung by Ben Platt, Evan Hansen himself, who won the Tony and pretty much every other Best Actor in a Musical award, for his 2017 performance in Dear Evan Hansen.


So there it is. No theatrics, no dazzle, just a simple little performance bringing together the works of three masters of their arts to create something beautiful.

Washington Is Losing a Panda — The Last of Bei Bei


The Giant Pandas at the National Zoo, like all the other pandas at zoos in the United States, don’t belong to the Zoo itself. They’re effectively rented from the People’s Republic of China on a 10-year lease, for about a million dollars a year, each.

If a panda cub is born in the US, the Zoo is charged a $400,000 baby tax, and the cub must be shipped to China when it turns four years old.


Bei Bei Celebrates His Fourth Birthday

Bei Bei, the Zoo’s youngest panda, was born on 22 August 2015, so it’s time to say goodbye. Next Tuesday, 19 November 2019, he’ll leave for China.

So much for birthright citizenship.


The National Zoo has scheduled a week of special events leading up to Bei Bei’s departure, including Q&A sessions with panda keepers and panda feeding times with special treats. Airbnb is providing free hot chocolate to Zoo visitors on Saturday morning. Here’s a full listing of what’s planned. As always, admission to the Zoo is free.

If you’re not in the area, or just want to avoid DC’s November weather, you can watch the action on the Zoo’s Giant Panda Cam. Camera One will be focused exclusively on Bei Bei for the full week. (Note: Pandas sleep a lot. The cameras operate 24/7, but your best chance for seeing live panda action is at feeding times and around midday, East Coast time.)


The National Zoo has posted videos of some of Bei Bei’s most memorable moments  Here are two of them:

Bei Bei’s First Steps

Playing in the Snow

From BBC Earth — A Glorious Seven Worlds, One Planet

For the past few weeks, a brilliant new nature series called Seven Worlds, One Planet, has been playing on BBC One. Each of the seven episodes focuses on a different continent; segments of the show were filmed in 41 different countries.

The narrator is naturalist Sir David Attenborough, as if it could be anyone else.

Here’s a sample, in which a Giant Leopard Seal pursues a Tiny Penguin:

Warning. The photography in the show is stunning, but Nature is not always pretty. Some viewers in the UK have responded to parts of the series with tears or nausea.

US viewers will be able to judge for themselves when Seven WorldsOne Planet premieres on Saturday, 18 January 2020, on BBC America, AMC, IFC,  and SundanceTV.


Survivor: Galápagos

From Planet Earth II — View in Full Screen

Remember the famous “Iguana vs Snakes” sequence from the BBC series, Planet Earth II?  When that little iguana made a run for safety as the rocks around it erupted with dozens of hungry snakes, we witnessed the most exciting chase scene in any movie or TV show released in 2016. I’ve reposted it at the bottom of this item. Three years later, it’s as breathtaking as ever.

New, Improved Version of Titanic

And it didn’t cost nearly as much as the original!

This is from Studio 188. From the I’ve found on the Net, I think they’re Russian, but beyond that I can’t find much information. They’re supported, in part, by Patreon contributions.

I’ll be posting more of their very clever “Low Cost Videos” soon.

Gwendoline Christie in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Live from London

Gwendoline Christie as Titiana in A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Gwendoline Christie as Titiana in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”

National Theatre Live, which brings the best of British theatre to movie screens around the world, will broadcast a live performance of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream to cinemas on Thursday, 17 October 2019. The Bridge Theatre’s immersive, gender-bending staging of the play has won near-universal raves.

Playing Titiana is Brienne of Tarth herself, Gwendoline Christie.

Check here to see if this production is playing near you, and to buy tickets. The live version is one night only, but many sites are offering encore screenings.


Bonus

As she tends to do, Christie absolutely rocks a red carpet appearance.

Knives Out — First Trailers

I think I must share a common sensibility with Rian Johnson, the writer/director of the upcoming movie Knives Out, because the film so perfectly matches my idea of what a purely entertaining movie should be. It’s a murder mystery set in a posh but isolated location, peopled by diverse and glamourous characters who are all hiding secrets.

The plot to my dream movie should be reminiscent of an M. C. Escher print. One big switch isn’t enough—there should be switches-on-switches.  And switches-on-switches-on-switches.

And the location matters. A snowbound English country house is an ideal setting, but a snowbound train works as well. Even a luxurious boat will do if it’s in a suitably exotic part of the world, just as long as there’s a room large enough to assemble all the suspects and expose the killer(s) in the closing moments of the film.

Let’s think. Who’s famous for that sort of thing? (Hint: Her initials are “A. C.”, and she’s not Al Capone.)

Knives Out has Agatha Christie’s bloody fingerprints are all over it, and Rian Johnson happily acknowledges his debt to the best-selling fiction writer of all time, with the possible exceptions of Shakespeare and the authors of the New Testament. Johnson has improved on his inspiration by adding a dash of wit to the mix; Christie’s works are conspicuously devoid of humour.

He’s also assembled the kind of All-Star cast that brings in an audience for those remakes of Murder on the Orient Express and Death on the Nile that earn nice profits every decade or so, even though everyone in that audience found out whodunit years ago.

And what a cast it is! The film has Chris Evans,  Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon, Don Johnson, Toni Collette(!), Lakeith Stanfield, and Christopher Plummer. Best of all, there’s James Bond himself, Daniel Craig, playing a detective with the intriguing surname of “Blanc”.  I can only hope he introduces himself as “Blanc. Benoit Blanc.” For reasons yet to be explained, Craig plays the part with a Southern accent.

Here’s the latest trailer for Knives Out:

And here’s the original one:


http://www.mynewplaidpants.com/2019/09/so-sharp-these-knives.html

Knives Out opens on 27 November 2019, the night before (US) Thanksgiving Day. Can’t wait for this one.


Professor Plum, in the Library, with the Candlestick

Toni Collette

Toni Collette

Michael Shannon and Chris Evans

Michael Shannon and Chris Evans

Daniel Craig and LaKeith Stanfield

Daniel Craig and LaKeith Stanfield

Jamie Lee Curtis

Jamie Lee Curtis