The Hampton Roads Show

When the Game Stands Tall shares life lessons

August 26th, 2014 at 2:03 pm by under THRS Movie Reviews

CLICK HERE to watch the trailer for When the Game Stands Tall.

Football season is coming!  Full disclosure here – I am a huge football fan. I love the game and all the teamwork, hard hits, wins losses and growth that goes with it.  I love an underdog story and a dominant successful team story.  When the Game Stands Tall brings both of those together.

When the film starts the De La Salle high school football team is on an incredible record-shattering win streak – the most wins by any sports team ever of any kind.  Graduating seniors are riding the wave, college offers are coming in, and everybody is thrilled with the streak!

The head football coach is Bob Ladouceur (Jim Caviesel).  He preaches, he inspires, he teaches, and he does it all with his Assistant Coach Teddy (Michael Chicklis) by his side.  But when a health crisis sidelines the coach, he has to focus on his family (some great scenes with his wife — played by Laura Dern) and the team…  has to find it’s way again.  And so does the coach.

The movie is not about the streak it’s about what happens when the streak ends. The emotion, the humanity, the love of the game and what it teaches you… that’s what the movie is about. It is very heavy handed on the preaching and inspiring, to the point of sappy in a screenplay written by Neil Hayes.  I recognize the sappy, especially when the melodramatic score signals a sappy scene.

But! Being a fan of the game, I’m also a fan of football movies. This particular film is probably the best shot film in terms of actual football that I have seen. The hits are hard, the plays are real.  Kudos to the director Thomas Carter for bringing the realness of the game to the screen. The audience in my theater were cheering as if they were watching a real game… that’s how real it felt.

Be prepared -there are a lot of storylines flying around and a lot of locker room speeches.  Technically — in terms of good movie-making — it fails more than it succeeds, but in my book it’s still a winner.

THREE OUT OF FIVE COOKIES.

Rated PG for thematic material, a scene of violence, and brief smoking.


The Giver needs more

August 26th, 2014 at 12:34 pm by under THRS Movie Reviews

CLICK HERE to watch the trailer for THE GIVER.

The Giver is based on the 1993 young adult novel by Lois Lowery.  As it starts we see a world several generations removed from something called “the Ruin”.

It’s really an imagined Utopia that is void of color and emotion.  When the film gets underway we meet Jonas, Asher, and Fiona — the three best friends about to transition to “their purpose” or their job, something that is selected for them by the elders.

Jonas (Brenton Thwaites) is selected to be the keeper of all the memories — so that he may advise the elders.  In order to do this he must receive them from the giver (Jeff Bridges).  And that is something the Chief Elder (Meryl Streep) is very concerned about… When The Giver begins giving the memories, Jonas is amazed at the memories he receives and, at first, can’t get enough.

But when he stops taking his daily morning mood injections, he begins to realize the injections are keeping him from feeling, understanding and growing. So he stops the injections and encourages Fiona (Odeya Rush) to do the same.  When he finds out the life of his baby brother is threatened, Jonas knows it’s up to him to save the entire community.

In addition to the star power of Jeff Bridges and Meryl Streep, Katie Holmes plays Jonas’ mother and Alexander Skarsgard stars as his father.  And Taylor Swift plays The Giver’s daughter Rosemary. But with all of the star power running around, The Giver can’t seem to pull together an entertaining feature.  It talks more than it tells a story and never quite manages to grab us the way an audience should be grabbed.  The only actor worth his weight here is Bridges as the title character.  But even that was a bit too weighty and philisophical.  That’s right — I’m not even giving my darling Meryl a shout out here.  I was really left wondering why she was in this film.

Director Phillip Noyce relies too heavily on narration, and it’s not as necessary as you’d think.  With more meat it could have been longer, clocking in at just one hour, 40 minutes.  The Giver spends more time telling us the story than it does giving it to us.

THREE OUT OF FIVE COOKIES

Rated PG-13 for a mature thematic image and some sci-fi action/violence.

 

 


A Conversation with The Raskins

August 22nd, 2014 at 12:04 pm by under THRS Live Music

theraskinsIt’s not everyday you meet a band that truly understands the passion and work ethic it takes to make it in this crazy business.  It’s not everyday that you meet a band that has a true connection with their fans, that take the time to talk, hangout and listen to every single fan.  Today was a day that I met that band – The Raskins.

Comprised of twin New York born and raised brothers, Logan and Roger Raskin were born in this business.  Their father, Tony Raskin, was a Broadway actor starring in feature roles in South Pacific, Oklahoma, and Damn Yankees just to name a few and their mother, Judy Lee Raskin, an accomplished jazz singer.  “Watching my dad perform and watching the audience react to him – that’s what grabbed me into the entertainment business” said Roger Raskin (guitar), who as a kid would sit at the high end of the piano playing while brother Logan (lead vocals) would sit at the low end playing.  “We didn’t have any TVs in the house but we didn’t need that, music filled the house.”  Influenced not just from their parents but also from the NYC rock scene with Blondie, The Ramones, and the New York Dolls, the brothers knew this is exactly what they wanted to do.  And they have certainly done it well.

This past May, The Raskins released their debut album and it’s good – really good (click here for my review) but it’s not just the music itself that makes it good, it’s the passion in it that you hear past the chords that really makes this record special.  “This records is ours, we recorded, we mixed it – it wasn’t easy but it’s our”.  Roger and Logan played all the instruments, recorded it themselves and mixed the record themselves – and that’s not an easy task to tackle.  “We wanted to do it our way”.  The record is raw and organic – no autotune, no funky modulating effects – just pure rock ‘n’ roll.  Plug and play.  They took what they did in the studio and applied it to their live show.

Backed by an incredible team of musicians (Johnny Martin – bass, Jet Lopez – guitar, Troy Patrick Farrell – drums), The Raskins are in the midst of touring the country opening up for Motley Crue’s Farewell tour.  They are gaining new fans by the thousands at every show they open and it’s not just from the live performance but the interaction and relationships they have with their fans.  After their set, they go out and meet everyone at their merch booth and spend the rest of the show signing autographs taking pictures and, more importantly, taking to them.  Roger: “We understand the importance the connection between the band and the audience is.”  Logan: “We answer every email, every tweet and fans know that they can reach us and that is what it is about.”

That really is what it is about – connecting with the fans.  The Raskins are truly great band and even better people.  They have a work ethic that’s like no other and they put 110% on that stage every night.  Do yourself a favor and see The Raskins perform as soon as possible and buy their record now.  They have a long and successful future ahead of them.

Follow The Raskins on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

Check out their exclusive acoustic performance of On The Radio and Reach:


The Music Of ECSC 2014

August 21st, 2014 at 8:38 am by under THRS Live Music

ecsc2014It’s one of my favorite events of the summer and it’s happening this weekend, the 52nd annual East Coast Surfing Championship.  Professional surfers from all over the world converge on the Oceanfront to take on our swells and their competitors but there’s a lot more than the great surfing at ECSC – there’s skating, BMX, a 5K (your truly will be running), flag football, volleyball, the famous Miss ECSC swimsuit pageant and, of course, the music.

This year’s lineup is one of the best ECSC has ever had, with a great mix of local and national artists including several Live Music Friday alums.  They will all be performing on a newly constructed massive beach stage on 4th Street.  The music kicks off tonight at 5:30p with the great Brian Grilli, who will be playing songs from his album ‘A Damn Good Day’ and Natalie Stovall and the Drive.  Below is the rest of the lineup for the weekend, so make sure you get out there and checkout all of the great acts – oh, did I mention that all of the concerts are FREE!

Thursday

Brian Grilli – 5:30-6:45p
Natalie Stovall and the Drive – 7:05-8:30p

Friday

Cheap Thrills – 4:30-5:40p
Karnivale – 6:00-7:05p
The Deloreans – 7:15-8:25p
Bria Kelly – 8:45-10:00p

Saturday

Freedom Hawk – 3:30-4:30p
Seth Stainback and Roosterfoot – 6:00p-7:00p
Jesse Chong Band – 7:20p-8:20p
Vans Presents: Plain White T’s – 8:45-10:00p

Sunday

Nature’s Child – 2:30-3:45p
MOcean – 5:20-6:30p
The Hawk – 6:50-8:30p

 

 


The 7:57 on 96X

July 31st, 2014 at 11:25 am by under THRS Live Music

It’s been a little over a year since The Local Music Show on 96X was cancelled.  That news stunned the local music community as it was their only outlet to get their music played on the airwaves.  Well, I have a bit of good news for you.  Starting Monday August 4, The 7:57 with Crizti Walsh will debut on 96X at, you guess it, 7:57pm and the best part is that the show will be on 5 days a week, Monday-Friday

So you’re asking, “How do I get my songs played?”.  Easy, just send your tracks to the757@96x.fm.  This is exciting news as our community is rich in original talent and all of it deserves to be played on the airwaves.

The 7:57 – Your Daily Dose Of Local starting Monday, August 4 at 7:57PM on 96.1 FM or 96.5 FM

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The Last Bison – VA

July 31st, 2014 at 11:11 am by under THRS Live Music

newlastbisonMark September 30, 2014 down on your calendar with two simple letters: “VA”.  That date is the day The Last Bison releases their much-anticipated follow-up to their epic Inheritance.  The new album is titled VA as in Virginia.  Recorded over the span of a few weeks, the band decided to approach a more independent-style of recording much like they did with their first release, Quill.  The self-produced recordings were captured in their make shift recording studio called The Wigwam.  11 tunes will comprise VA and they will support it by hitting the road in the fall for a 15 city venture.  Dates are below and a majority of them are on-sale now, just check with the venues.  I will be hitting a few of the dates to see how the rest of country embraces are hometown band, so stayed tuned to this spot for that.

The Last Bison Fall Tour 2014

Sept. 26      Richmond, VA          The Camel
Sept. 30      Pittsburgh, PA         Hard Rock Cafe
Oct. 01        Bloomington, IN     The Bishop
Oct. 02        Chicago, IL                Schubas
Oct. 03        Minneapolis, MN    7th Street Entry
Oct. 04        Rock Island, IL        Rozz Tox
Oct. 16        New York, NY           Mercury Lounge
Oct. 17        Fairfield, CT               Stage One
Oct. 18        Philadelphia, PA      World Cafe
Oct. 22        Durham, NC              Motorco
Oct. 23        Atlanta, GA               Vinyl
Oct. 24        Athens, GA                New Earth
Oct. 25        Charlotte, NC           Visulite Theater
Nov. 6          Vienna, VA               Jammin’ Java
Nov. 7         Charlottesville        The Southern


The LMF Album Review: The Raskins

July 29th, 2014 at 11:46 am by under THRS Live Music

microphoneIt’s not everyday that you pop in a new CD (or hit play on your iPod) and are immediately hooked on this music your ears have never heard before.  Usually you groove into the first run through and then rinse and repeat a few times before you really love it – That is not the case with The Raskins.  The first moments I heard the guitar on the opening track, We Had It All, I was hooked – immediately hooked.  NY born and raised twin brothers, Roger and Logan Raskin have crafted a gem of a record.  An adult orientated rock album that you just don’t hear anymore.

In this day in age of $.99 singles, there really isn’t a priority from a lot of bands to make a complete record.  For the most part, you get a bunch of songs thrown together that just make an album – not a complete album – just an album.  The songs on this self-titled record blend really well together and never missing a beat from one power driven guitar riff to another.

A great mix of pure rock tunes like We Had It All and Save Me Now to the pop rock sound of On The Radio to the deep punch of Lost In The Dark – every one of the 13 songs on the record tell a different story but blend extremely well together to make this a complete record.  This is a record that every needs in their life.

You will be able to see The Raskins perform these great songs live on August 20 at Farm Bureau Live in Virginia Beach as they open up for Motley Crue’s Final Tour.  I will also interview the guys earlier in the day and give you a behind the scenes look at their set.  You can pick up this CD at the show or download it on iTunes and other digital outlets.

The Raskins *****

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Not loving Lucy

July 28th, 2014 at 5:32 pm by under THRS Movie Reviews

LUCY is an action-thriller of monumental proportions.  In fact the themes explored in the movie are so big — too big — it’s hard to wrap your mind around.
It starts by questioning what we — humanity that is — have accomplished since life began.  The questioning comes as voice over from Lucy, while visually we see another Lucy — Australopithecus in her natural habitat…. and then the advancement of time to busy cityscapes.  Wow.  I think to myself — we’ve accomplished a lot.  Apparently not Lucy doesn’t think so.

Scarlett Johansson is Lucy — an American woman in Taipei, apparently as a student (at one point she says she has exams tomorrow).  Her new boyfriend wants her to help him out by delivering a case to a “Mr. Jang” in a hotel.  Of course she refuses.  He forces her to do it, and soon everything goes bad, and Lucy is taken away by thugs to meet with the said Mr. Jang.
After beatings and killings and washing of hands in the middle of the hotel room, Lucy becomes a drug mule — she’s knocked out and has a bag of a very new, very powerful drug surgically inserted into her stomach.  She has to carry this where they want her to or else.
Bad things happen; the bag begins to leak inside her body and her brain is accessing more and more of her cerebral space allowing her to do some pretty amazing things.  She can read entire volumes in seconds; she can control technology, people, her hair color and so much more.
With Mr Jang’s gang hot on her heels — Lucy recruits a policeman in Paris (Amr Waked) to help her get to an American professor there (Morgan Freeman).  I’m still not sure entirely why.

There are car chases; there are explosions; there are fights that are useless, because as Lucy accesses more and more of her “cerebral capacity” she’s unstoppable.  That gives away the end of the movie… kind of?  NO! not unless you were expecting worm holes, meteor showers, and melting humans becoming computers???  What?
Writer/director Luc Besson (La Femme Nikita and The Professional to The Fifth Element) has launched some pretty bad movies into theaters — this is one weird movie.  Odd nature scenes intercut at random times.  The plot is weak; the characters are weaker.
Scarlett Johansson does an adequate job trying to hold together the character that doesn’t seem to really come together as a character.  And sadly — this is not Morgan Freeman’s best work… largely because of the weak professor character.
When it was over I felt like I’d been in the theater for two hours, and when I checked the clock… It had been just 89 minutes!
If you watch the trailers — it looks like we are in for an amazing action flick with a dominant female hero.  What we get seems more like a Indy-wannabe film made by a dude that loves to create special effects and not characters to drive the film.

TWO OUT OF FIVE COOKIES.  The two are for the special effects… I am a story person — and this story gets ZERO cookies from me.

Rated R for strong violence, disturbing images, and sexuality.


Virginia Home Grown Roots Series

July 28th, 2014 at 11:11 am by under THRS Live Music

microphoneThe sounds of the islands will be coming to the Oceanfront this Friday at the Jewish Mother.  What will soon become a regular series, The Virginia Home Grown Roots Series will feature the best reggae and rhythm artists in the 757 as well as a handful of national and world artists.

Friday will feature the St. Croix sounds of Ras Attitude as well as Jah T with the Session Rockers and Live Music Friday alum, Greg Gutty.  More artists are being added to the lineup daily, so click this link to keep up-to-date with the ever-growing lineup.

Tickets are going fast, so get yours here.  Doors open at 8p with the performances starting at 9p sharp.  In case you missed it, check out Greg Gutty’s performance from The Hampton Roads Show from January 31:

 


Planes: Fire & Rescue has rough landing

July 25th, 2014 at 3:49 pm by under THRS Movie Reviews

   Planes: Fire & Rescue is the sequel to last year’s Planes which wasn’t quite up to par. But Dusty Crophopper has new challenges to face and just how will he fare in his new gig?  That is the question.
Dusty (voiced again by Dane Cook) is back at his home airstrip after his racing champion ways of the last movie… only to discover that his aging mechanics aren’t as reliable as he’d like (welcome to your forties).  He refuses to accept his diagnosis and when he pushes things too far, a bad landing ends up shutting down the airstrip.
Before long he has to face facts: his racing days may be over.  Which leads him to travel far away for training in his new job as a fire and rescue plane.  The world of fire and rescue is dangerous and exciting, and Dusty has of course taken his he can do everything attitude with him.

Soon faced with a very dangerous fire at the park… the team has to really come together to save lives, save property and save themselves.
And there’s also a bit of love in the air… on of the fire planes is Dipper (voiced by Modern Family‘s Julie Bowen).  Dipper is very taken with her DUST MUFFIN. She has some fun lines sprinkled about.
And Planes: Fire & Rescue is chock full of celebrity voices… here’s a taste… Ed Harris, Curtis Armstrong, Hal Holbrook, Teri Hatcher, Regina King, Cedric the Entertainer, Fred WIllard, Anne Meara, Jerry Stiller, Erik Estrada, Brent Musberger amd of course as all disney animations must…. John Ratzenberger.
After saving the day and learning some lessons, Dusty is soon headed for home and helping to transform the airstrip.

The film is full of the standard puns we’ve seen before in Planes and it’s predecessors in the CARS series.  Even though some lines got a chuckle out of the grown ups, they are really beginning to get tiring.
The story is a bit fresher than last year’s Planes, it’s still not classic material… and it’s presented in 3D.  And for my money — 3D is a useless purchase.  Very few moments even warrant the glasses and certainly no need for the extra layer.
Planes: Fire & Rescue got a thumbs from most of the under-10 set of audience members — my son included.  But for me — while it was mildly entertaining — and I only thought about my to-do list twice — this sequel hit me much like Dusty’s problem in the film — Pushing for success so much that the engine can’t take it — Disney needs to consider falling back or risk stalling at the box office.

THREE OUT OF FIVE COOKIES

Rated PG for action and some peril.