God Bless Jason Aldean

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“Victoria & Abdul” – A Royal Friendship Swept Under the (Persian) Carpet

It is difficult to express how much this movie exceeded my expectations.  Of course from the previews and the photo ads I knew it was going to be a historical tale of two friends, maybe even two lovers.  I was expecting the royal charm that it did, in fact deliver, but I had no idea that it would be so funny.  “Victoria & Abdul,” a Focus Features film, is as much a charmingly fun movie as it is a bit of a heart-wrenching one.

Historically, and to her subjects, Queen Victoria has been made out to be somewhat of a callous, uncaring ruler, but in “Victoria & Abdul,” we see her in a totally different light.  No better actress could have been chosen to play the Queen than, Dame Judi Dench.  To say she is stupendous in this role would be an understatement. Danny Cohen, the cinematographer, should be commended for the beautiful scenery which at times, especially during the harbor scenes, felt as if postcards were coming to life.

Ali Fazal plays Abdul Karim, who was sent from India in 1887 to present Queen Victoria with a special coin called a Mohur, which was minted in honor of her “Golden Jubilee” (a celebration commemorating her 50th anniversary as Queen.) He’s given specific instructions not to make eye contact with her, as is the rule for all non-royals. Somehow, he manages to catch her eye, she finds this amusing and their friendship ensues. Queen Victoria is so intrigued and becomes so obsessed with Abdul that the royal household thinks she’s lost her mind. Director, Stephen Frears, uses the artistry of close-ups to give the audience and intimate view of the Queen’s feelings and true personality.  I personally thought the movie portrayed Queen Victoria as someone who, despite her position of power, was also humble and tolerant of racial differences way ahead of her time.

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Abdul teaches Queen Victoria how to write in Arabic

Queen Victoria was the Empress of India, but had never been there because her court feared she would be assasinated.  When Abdul comes to the palace, she is fascinated by his knowledge of history, culture, language, and the Muslim religion and she wants to learn about all of it. She quickly promotes him from servant to teacher; she even gives him his own servant.  To the disappointment of her son, future King Edward VII (“Bertie,”) played by Eddie Izzard, who is a dead ringer for the real the Edward VII, the Queen continually uses her power to bestow royal titles upon Abdul, sometimes even referring to him as “son.”  

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Actual photo of Queen Victoria working with Abdul ready to assist. 

When the Queen passed away and Edward VII became King, he did everything in his power to sweep Victoria and Abdul’s relationship “under the rug,” but nearly 100 years later, a journalist named Shrabani Basu discovered the story and wrote the book on which the movie is based.  I think you’ll find “Victoria & Abdul” amusing and a “feel good” movie to watch with the family.  Note, it’s rated PG-13.

Are you planning to see it? Check back and let me know what you think by posting your comments. – BMT

 

Lorna Shore and Bodysnatcher: The Beg for Death Tour

I’m so sorry this review is so late, but here it is! I shot Lorna Shore and Bodysnatcher for the first time on June 2nd (a long time ago, I know, your favorite photographer has been dealing with a lot of personal stuff lately so I’ve been super slow on this). I will be the first to tell you that my first time will NOT be my last time seeing either of these bands live.

I arrived late to the show, so I was unable to see the first few acts, but I’m positive they were great because when I arrived, the whole crowd was buzzing and the energy in the air was amazing. That being said, Bodysnatcher took the stage and the amazing energy from before was brought to a whole new level of craziness. To be honest, I had never listened to their music before, so I went into the show not knowing what to expect. What I got did not disappoint Their breakdowns were, as I affectionately say, “sick,” and the level of talent and instrument mastery put forth by the whole band was nothing short of impressive, especially considering they were performing in the small room at Alamo City Music Hall.

I had listened to Lorna Shore in the past, but was never really a huge fan of theirs… this is no longer an issue. Their live performance was absolutely phenomenal and 10/10 would go to another one of their shows. They engaged with their fans wonderfully and had the whole crowd moving during their whole set. They played a fairly long set including new songs off their 2017 album “Flesh Coffin” and others such as their popular single “The Absolution of Hatred.” I was hooked after the first note, to be honest, and the whole crowd seemed to be as well.

As I said before, this was my first time seeing both bands live, but it will not be my last. If you haven’t seen either Lorna Shore or Bodysnatcher live or you have and want to see them again, keep up with both bands on their Facebook pages:

https://www.facebook.com/LornaShore/

https://www.facebook.com/bodysnatcherfl/

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-RCT

For more photos, please check out my Facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.1481173121925855.1073741843.1145605195482651&type=1&l=975bcc50c2

 

The Robot With Human Hair VS CHONzilla Tour

Dance Gavin Dance is a name I’ve heard since I first began listening to post-hardcore music about seven years ago.

I listened to them a number of times, but never really got into them. Upon the release of their “Mothership” album, I decided to give them one more chance, and, man, was I glad I did. After getting into this album I naturally wanted to see them live, and I was privileged enough to shoot them on their “The Robot With Human Hair vs. Chonzilla” tour with one of my favorite bands, Chon.

When I arrived at Alamo City Music Hall, about 45 minutes before doors were scheduled to open, I was amazed at the line built up for entry into the show. There were people as far as the eye could see, all donned in shirts bearing the names of either Dance Gavin Dance or Chon (there was also a small amount of Circa Survive shirts, but they were minimal in comparison to the sea of DGD and Chon). There were mothers and their children, from ages three to thirteen, groups of twenty-something year olds prepared to get down, teenagers clad in crazy lipstick, and even people over forty. This was a tour that broke age barriers in the music scene. DGD has impacted everyone who has listened to them, whether six or thirty-six, and it certainly showed in the crowd.

The show opened with performances by Vasudeva, an instrumental band influenced by Chon, and Eidola, a band much like Dance Gavin dance. I really enjoyed their sets and the energy they brought into the venue. I could tell the crowd was pumped for what was to come.

Immediately after Eidola cleared the stage, chants for Chon rang out from the crowd. The hype for their set was extremely high, and they did not disappoint in the slightest.

After they completed their final song, the excitement and tension in the room could have been cut with a knife. Everyone in the crowd was preparing themselves for the most anticipated set of the night– Dance Gavin Dance. After coming out in complete darkness, DGD played a short, but heartfelt set, ending about 20 minutes before their scheduled off time (probably much to the venue’s delight) and including new favorites, such as “Betrayed by the Game” and “Frozen One” off their new album, and older classics such as “Death of a Strawberry” and “Me and Zoloft Get Along Just Fine.” They closed out the show with another one of their new songs, “Inspire the Liars,” that happens to be my favorite, so I was one happy photographer!

All in all, this show was a night to remember, and I highly suggest heading out to see both Chon and Dance Gavin Dance on their next tours!

-RCT

To keep up with the bands, just go to the links below:

Dance Gavin Dance: https://www.facebook.com/DanceGavinDance/

CHON: https://www.facebook.com/musicofchon/

Eidola: https://www.facebook.com/eidolaUT/

Vasudeva: https://www.facebook.com/VasudevaMusic/?hc_ref=SEARCH

For more photos of the show, please visit my Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.1373525929357242.1073741842.1145605195482651&type=1&l=0de4e74db3

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Happy New Year 2017

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As we say goodbye to 2016, we’d like to wIsh everyone a very blessed and happy 2017. Thank you for your follows, likes, comments, and support  – Beth

TBT – Movie Review – “Bad Moms” – Now on DVD

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You may have missed it on the big screen, or know someone that did.  “Bad Moms” is now on DVD and a perfect gift for anyone who needs a good laugh; and who doesn’t?   Here’s my previously posted review.

Movie Review – “Bad Moms,” So Good, It’s BAD!

https://wordpress.com/post/reviewsoftheartssa.wordpress.com/1823

 

If you want to buy it, right now Target has it for $16.99. You can also find it at Redbox and on Netflix.  A great movie to watch no matter what medium you choose. – BMT

The Unbreakable Tour: A Night That Will Never Be Forgotten

When the Unbreakable Tour was announced, I jumped on the opportunity to see Parkway Drive. Though I have a long history of shows behind me, I had not once had the pleasure and absolute honor to see them live. That being said, I had high hopes going into this show on October 16th. And, allow me to begin by saying the performances put on by Parkway Drive, We Came as Romans, Counterparts, and San Antonio’s own Covina exceeded my expectations.

Counterparts, coined the “really nice Canadians” by the drunk guy screaming behind me the majority of the time they played, blew me away. I had heard a few of their songs, but had never really gotten “into” them, but after this show, I went home and Googled them immediately. These guys know how to put on an amazing show, even in a short amount of time. When vocalist, Brendan “B” Murphy, guitarists, Adrian Lee and Blake Hardman, and bassist, Brian Kaczmarczyk walked offstage, I was left upset and wished they’d come on for one or two more songs when they completed their set.

However, my sadness didn’t last too long because after their set came the only band on the tour I had seen before: We Came as Romans. Now, if you haven’t seen WCAR perform, I pity you because these guys are nonstop energy and entertainment. There was not a second of their set in which they weren’t moving, jumping, or hyping up the crowd in some way. They played so many of the songs that I know and love, including “To Plant a Seed” and “Hope,” and I did not stop singing along until the lights went out and they walked offstage. Guitarist Joshua Moore, bassist Andy Glass, drummer Eric Choi, guitarist Lou Cotton, and vocalists David Stephens and Kyle Pavone know how to put on one hell of a show.

Now, the main event is what truly took my breath away. Parkway Drive, a metalcore band hailing from Australia, has a fan base like no other. The moment We Came as Romans’ gear was cleared off the stage, the whole room erupted in cheers and chants for the hallowed “PARKWAY DRIVE, PARKWAY DRIVE, PARKWAY DRIVE.” The band did not take long to satiate these cries, as they came out about twenty minutes later playing “Crushed,” and hyping the crowd up even more. As a fan of the band, it was hard for me to take photos and not sing along, and in the end, I was left screaming with the crowd as I shot my final pictures.   Vocalist, Winston McCall, guitarists, Jeff Ling and Luke Kilpatrick, bassist, Jia O’Connor, and drummer, Ben Gordon know how to put on a show nobody will ever forget. Much to the fans’ delight, “especially the dudes in the pit,” as McCall put it, PWD played “Boneyards” and got the whole room shaking. I know for a fact my heart was pounding the whole time I watched the band perform. With their smoke cannons and intricate lighting, Parkway Drive owned the stage and owned the minds and hearts of everyone in the GA crowd, from the people in the pit to the mothers and their daughters, to your little, pig-tailed photographer shooting photos near the stage and in the balcony.

This was truly an unforgettable show for me.

-Rini Christina

For more photos, please visit: https://www.facebook.com/rinicphotography/ 

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Movie Review – “Kevin Hart: What Now” #HittingTheatersThisFriday

Kevin Hart, Ride Along Red Carpet Premiere, Sydney Australia

Image from wikimedia.org

I laughed so hard, I thought I was going to have a stroke!  True story – “Kevin Hart: What Now” is hilarious.  I really did feel as if I was going to bust blood vessels from laughing!

I purposely left a set in between me and the first group of people in my row (I would have given the seat up if someone needed it, but it never came to that) because I was worried that the people sitting next to me were going to get mad at me. “Reason why is” I can’t watch Kevin Hart and not crack-up and when I crack-up, it’s LOUD! However, there were two seats on the other side of me.  Two nice young women asked if they were open, so of course I said, “yes.” I struck up a conversation with them about how much I loved Kevin Hart.  Luckily, one of them (the one sitting closest to me) saw him live and was a big fan.  As soon as the movie began, I was so happy she sat next to me because Kevin did what he does best – – make us laugh!

Kevin was firing off one funny “true story” after another; each one funnier than the last and the two of us were screaming with laughter from the very first joke!  It was as if she was my “sista from another mista” because she laughed just as loud as I did, she held her stomach and moaned from the laughter pains, just like me!  She even sat up trying to get air, just like me!  The movie was so funny that so many times I laughed so hard that no sound came out, because I was losing oxygen (she did the same thing!) We weren’t just laughing, we were losing our minds and it was the best feeling ever!!  I can truthfully say, I never laughed so hard and so much at a movie, in my life and having a “laughing partner” felt so liberating!  Of course, the rest of the theater was laughing too, so there was no way they could get mad at me.  Honestly, you’d have to have been in a coma not to laugh.

“What Now” is somewhat of a documentary movie.  It is Kevin’s stand-up comedy routine, which he performed in front of a record-breaking, sold-out crowd of 50,000 at the Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on August 30, 2015. It was the first time in history that a comedian sold out a football stadium.  Kevin wants to make history again by breaking box-office records for this opening weekend by showing the film around the world.  If you follow @kevinhart4real, he’s asking everyone to help him make history this weekend. He’s using the hash tag – #ComedicRockStarShit for all posts related to “What Now.”

The movie can also fit into the action, drama, and comedy, movie genres.  It opens with a James Bond-like title sequence.  At first, you will think it’s an action comedy.  For the first ten minutes or so, it’s a comedic parody of a Bond movie, featuring Halle Berry as herself but as Kevin’s “Bond-girl.”  Kevin is agent 0054! This movie within the movie satirizes all of the cliché things that happen in spy movies.  For example, there’s a room labeled, something like “convenient changing room with clothes that fit Kevin Hart!”  There is even a bloody shootout scene, which is rather gross and actually made me and my “sista” cover our eyes.  Therefore, besides for the language, the bloody scene also makes this an adult only movie.

When the “mission” is accomplished, Halle and Kevin make it to the venue, where Kevin shoots up an elevator shaft onto the stage, and the concert begins.  It was so awesome  to see the aerial shots of the sold-out stadium!  Kevin teared-up when he took his final bows.  You can tell how grateful he is to have been able to go back to his hometown and sell out the stadium. It was as if that moment was when he realized he made it as a star!  It’s inspiring to see someone who has worked hard, realize his dream.  I also have a lot of respect for big stars who are not afraid to be humble.  My favorite part, which made me love Kevin even more, was just before he left the stage and thanked the crowd.  He told the audience to “look around,”  he said, “I see every race, ethnicity, and nationality possible.  I see some of everybody. We all came under the same roof and we laughed tonight.  If you can laugh together, you can live together; if you can live together, you can love together.  I live by those rules and I’ll be damned if I didn’t see that s**t here tonight. . . in my city I made history. . .and this has been the best night of my f**’n life. ..” You can actually find video of this moment posted by a fan on YouTube.  I didn’t post the link here because I try to keep my content PG-13.

When the Universal Pictures studio representative asked what I thought of the movie, I told him that I thought I was going to have a stroke and that I was so lucky the girl next to me laughed as loud as I did.  He replied, “everyone was laughing.”  They were; the room was roaring with laughter for the entire run of the film!  The stand-up routine is full of so many funny and animated stories about Kevin’s kids, his “lady,” his dad, and his friends, all prefaced with “true story.”  Kevin says he doesn’t lie, “unless the truth is not believable!” I don’t want to give away and jokes or punch lines, you have to see this movie for yourself.  Please remember it’s rated –R; it’s not for kids and if you get offended by foul language, then it’s not for you.  If you are a Kevin Hart fan, the answer to the question, “What Now?” is go buy your tickets!  “Kevin Hart: What Now” opens Friday! Don’t miss it! – BMT

P.S.  Don’t get up when the credits start rolling, there’s more movie! As always, please let me know what you think. – Beth

“The Girl on the Train” – Movie Review

the_girl_on_the_train_logoIntense! There is really no other word to perfectly describe “The Girl on the Train!” Walking out of the theater I heard a few other comments, such as, “you women are crazy” and “that was crazy,” but my immediate reaction when the studio representative asked, “what did you think?” was – “intense.”

“The Girl on the Train,” directed by Tate Taylor is the theatrical adaptation of the book by the same name written by Paula Hawkins. It is a psychological thriller with a lot of twists and turns. I’m not big on “thriller” movies but I am always intrigued by psychological thrillers that have a good story line. This is one of those movies that captivates you from the first scene.

Someone said the movie was a “train wreck” and it was the worst movie they’d seen in a long time. I disagree; although I do like the use of the expression “train wreck” because in my opinion, the movie is about relationship train wrecks. The movie focuses on one main character Rachel Watson, who is the center of this relationship “Ven diagram.” As expected, Emily Blunt’s performance as Rachel is superb. As the story unfolds you see that every character is related by “six degrees of separation” to Rachel.  I recently read a review and the author said that it was difficult to follow along. I wouldn’t say it was difficult; you just have to pay attention. Isn’t that why we go to movies? – to engross ourselves into the story-line?  I thought the suspenseful plot twists made the movie interesting.

It is difficult to review movies without spoiling it for future viewers, and I can’t stand reviews that actually tell the entire story. So, I won’t do that to you.  I’ll just touch on what you already may have gleaned from the trailer. Rachel is an artist with a vivid imagination, which is fueled by alcohol. She rides the train into the city every day and fantasizes about Megan and Scott Hipwell, a couple that lives in a house she passes daily.  Luke Evans, plays Scott; he’s ruggedly sexy (on and off-screen).  We feel sorry for him and fear him at the same time. Luke was on Harry Connick, Jr.’s talk show – #Harry – this week. I didn’t know that he is also a singer! I mean he’s already a hot actor, but once you hear him sing, you’ll be, as Harry put it, “smitten.” Watch the clip here:

Haley Bennett plays Scott’s wife, Megan, another complex character. Edgar Ramirez, plays her psychiatrist, Dr. Kamal Abdic. Rebecca Ferguson is Anna, Rachel’s ex-husband, Tom’s (Justin Theroux) new wife. Rachel’s daily train ride represents her inability to move forward; she sits rear-facing – looking back. Rachel appears to be a typical “crazy-ex” who is fixated on the past and stalks her ex-husband.

Laura Prepon of “That 70s Show” fame, plays Rachel’s friend, Cathy, who took Rachel in when she had nowhere else to go. Allison Janney is the detective investigating the murder case. She is perfectly cast as she seems to always play the role of an arrogant woman of power, who always gets to the bottom of things and doesn’t care who she takes down in the process. Lisa Kudrow plays Martha, Scott’s ex-boss’s wife.  Though she is not a main character, her role in the movie is crucial to the plot line. Rachel runs into her on the train and suddenly learns unnerving information about her ex-husband.

It is all seems so far-fetched, yet, so real due to the awesome cinematography by Charlotte Bruss Christensen and the artistry of director, Tate Taylor. The story is basically told through the use of flashbacks. We feel Rachel’s confusion and fragile mental state through her eyes and the reflections in the train windows. In one scene her reflection is superimposed with the reflections of the trees as the train passes them. You feel the speed of the train and Rachel’s internal conflict. As in Alfred Hitchock’s classic movie, “Strangers on a Train,” the train ride is used as a means to create suspense and the place where the main character impulsively makes her next move.  Though “Strangers on a Train” is about a criss-cross murder plot; “The Girl on the Train” involves an unplanned murder alliance. That’s all I’m going to say.

I highly recommend you see this movie. Did you see it this weekend?  What did you think?  I’d like to know, so please post your comments below. – BMT