Hollywood star Russell Crowe led tributes to Australia’s “Queen of Rock” Chrissy Amphlett, who died in New York after a long battle with cancer. “Dear Chrissie, The last time I saw you was in the (Sydney) Botanic Gardens, loving life and reciting verse. That’s how I’ll remember you, your boy, R,” Crowe…
Archive for the ‘Rock Stars’ Category
Rolling Stones keep giving satisfaction, 50 years on (via AFP)
Most London shoppers rush by 165 Oxford Street without a second glance — but it was there 50 years ago that The Rolling Stones played their first gig and changed the landscape of pop music forever. Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Brian Jones played The Marquee Club on July 12, 1962 with three others…
Rock of Ages cannot capture the rage of the stage, but Cruise and the music save it.
When I was I teenager growing up on the north side of Chicago, I used to stand in the middle of my bedroom, with my huge headphones on and air guitar along with my first piece of vinyl Foreigner 4. I pretended I was a Rock God. You bet my too portly for spandex ass did! I would picture myself onstage next to Lou Gramm just jamming out and shouting Urgent! Urgent! Emergency!
Midwestern teens like me were the poster children for being dreamers in the Midwest. Frustrated creative types like me wished we were on the road, living the lyrics of the songs like Living on a Prayer and Don’t Stop Believin’ after our long shift of asking people if they would like fries with their McDLTs.
I first saw the stage version of the musical Rock of Ages at the Pantages in Hollywood two summers ago. Sure the plot was simplistic enough. Sexy and sultry Sherrie gets off the Greyhound from Tulsa, to find fame and fortune while walking the hopeless streets of Hollywood.
A seemingly kind streetwalker snatched her bag and a young Sunset Strip bar back Drew (then played by Constantine Margolis) came to her rescue. The second he took the stage with aspirations of becoming a rock star, that’s when my FM antennas went up. I was jettisoned back to my bedroom all over again, and got goose bumps remembering my own journey of dreams I made from Chicago to Hollyweird 12 years ago.
The musical had a live rock band onstage that gave it a very in your face feel. So I was very skeptical when the inevitable movie version was announced. I heard director Adam Shankman was doing this screen redux as well, and I had enjoyed his take on John Water’s Hairspray a few years back. But I was afraid the live concert feel would be lost on screen.
Shankman’s penchant for stunt casting didn’t help. I never liked seeing John Travolta in a fat suit in Hairspray; it always urked me. For Rock of Ages, I wasn’t buying that pretty boy Tom Cruise could pull off the pivotal role of Stacee Jaxx, the pock-marked, burnt out metal head that was too lost to find himself.
Well, it turns out Shankman has done a serviceable, but homogenized job with his screen version of Rock, The grittiness and profanity of the R rated stage version has been toned down drastically for PG 13 consumption. The raw dark sides of all of the characters have been given a sheen, so they never seem as if they are in peril. The cinematic versions of the characters are a bit too Shankman pretty.
Knockout Julianne Hough plays the screen version of Sherrie. Sure she can sure belt a tune but she barely looks like she has ever gotten a pimple, let alone could handle her rough and tumble job at the aptly titled Bourbon Room. And Diego Boneta as her onscreen love interest Drew is such a lanky pretty boy that it seems like a beer keg would crush him if he tried to lift it. The stage actors all had a snarl and bite that truly made you feel for them when they were rescued by the love only power ballad’s could express. They weren’t the chiseled specimens Shankman has envisioned.
Also gone are the scary undertones of the plot. The promiscuous sex and bacchanal excess is gone. The stage musical was a smashed Jack Daniels bottle tribute to the Sunset Strip. Whereas Shankman’s is more like the wine cooler Sherrie is drinking as she picnics with Drew, waiting to be wooed.
Thank goodness Shankman doesn’t tease when it comes to directing production numbers. The Strip’s sepia tones have been pumped up to Technicolor. He captures the vast scale of the stage in abundance. All of your favorite songs from the hair metal days by Poison, Foreigner, Journey and others are blasted full throttle. Hot male and female bodies fly around the screen with cleverly choreographed slick gusto. Actors that would seem like unlikely singers: Alec Baldwin and Russell Brand as the Bourbon Room’s owner and sidekick, Malin Ackerman as a spitfire Rolling Stone writer, Catherine Zeta Jones as a bitch on wheels politico trying to clean up the sin of the Strip, all give flawless performances.
Then there’s Tom Cruise. Yes, I hate to say it but he truly steals the show and Shankman’s stunt casting pays off in spades. His real life over the top persona fits right in with the scotch-fueled fallen rock god attitude of Stacee Jaxx. He goes right along with the lampoon of Axl Rose, embracing the ridiculousness of the excesses: the alleged Satan worship, the debauchery, the monkey named Hey Man. He is the real heart and soul of the film, making us actually hope he will be rescued from his den of inequity.
Rock of Ages is a crowd pleaser that is for sure. But part of me really wished Shankman would have kept the blemishes and tattoos of the stage version. Sure I sang along to all of the songs all the way up to Guns and Roses’ Paradise City over the closing credits. But I was only feeling nostalgia after the screen version; whereas I wasn’t feeling the personal connection I felt when I left the stage version.
I wanted to put the headphones on again and remember being a Juke Box Hero. Instead I only felt like I was watching a poseur cover band.
Keira Knightley engaged to Klaxons rocker (via AFP)
British actress Keira Knightley is to marry the singer with rock band the Klaxons, James Righton, the couple announced Friday. The 27-year-old “Pirates of the Caribbean” star has been dating Righton, who also plays keyboards in the band, since early last year. “I can confirm that Keira is engaged to…