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REVIEW: The Last Song April 29, 2010

Posted by Patrick in Cinematics.
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Miley Cyrus and Liam Hemsworth in "The Last Song"

Love her or hate her, Miley Cyrus looks like she’s here to stay. The teen star who shot to fame in her role as Hannah Montana has finally escaped from the bindings of her blonde alter ego by headlining this ‘serious’ attempt as an actress.

The Last Song is a film that doesn’t ask too much from the viewer. Considering the fact that it’s been conceived in the head of romance novelist Nicholas Sparks, there are certain expectations here. Two people from different ‘sides of the tracks’ will meet, probably one summer, fall in love, hit a few speed bumps along the way, and of course someone will have kicked the bucket by the time the credits roll.

This is fine by me. I accept the Nicholas Sparks tried and tested formula and even enjoy it a little bit sometimes. This could either be a reflection on my own pathetic love life, or perhaps I just enjoy seeing people fall in love and have terrible things happen to them.

Miley Cyrus and Liam Hemsworth in "The Last Song"The real question being posed by every critic, and indeed viewer, is whether Miley Cyrus can cut the mustard as a quote/unquote ‘serious’ actress. I’m inclined not to go too hard on the girl. Firstly, as I’ve said countless times, I like the girl. Secondly, she’s not actually too bad in Hannah Montana. Of course, the programme is a frothy teenage sitcom, but Miley has achieved fame all over the world not for her amazing acting chops, but for her likeability.

In The Last Song, there’s no question that she has some serious potential. Perhaps it’s not pure acting, and there really is a moping teen inside Miley just dying to get out, but she takes anything thrown at her in the film and plays it to the best of her ability. For her role as child prodigy Ronnie, Miley even learned classical piano. Although I was at times a bit dubious as to whether it was her hands that were actually playing the notes, if it was her, then she gets my praise.

Initially, there’s not much to like about her character Ronnie. She traipses into the island town of Tybee, Savannah, where she has been condemned to live with her father for the summer, wearing some ridiculous semi-emo gittup and giant black boots on a beach full of beautiful blondes and ripped hunks. From the moment Miley steps on the screen, it’s as if we’re being told THIS IS NOT HANNAH MONTANA. She’s edgy now, don’tcha know.

After a predictable run-in with her love-to-be, Will, played by her real life boyfriend Liam Hemsworth, the two fall in love, bonding over…turtle eggs. What could have been a ridiculous plot device (and it is, as Nicholas Sparks unashamedly admits, a plot device) actually becomes something semi-believable and will leave a few tears in the eyes of many.

Miley Cyrus and Greg Kinnear in "The Last Song"As the two fall in love, it becomes clear that all is not well with Ronnie’s father, played by the amiable and funny Greg Kinnear, and things start to get complicated. Unlike the other big Sparks adaptation of the year, Dear John, things actually build to a nice  conclusion that packs an emotional, if somewhat predictable punch.

Any guy who is dragged along with a girlfriend to see this is not going to have many positive things to say about it, but it’s undeniably an agreeable film. You’ll smile when the sea turtle eggs hatch, you’ll laugh at the antics of Ronnie’s father and brother, and you may even shed a tear towards the end.

If you hate yourself for it, that’s your problem, not Miley’s.

iDreamed a Dream March 4, 2010

Posted by Patrick in Televisual, Webshite.
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For anyone not content with watching television on television, Hulu have launched their first exclusively-online series. The series, If I Can Dream, follows 5 people trying to break into the entertainment industry, and basically we get to watch them do it.

From this description, the series doesn’t sound too ground-breaking or even majorly interesting. The first episode of series introduces us to the five wannabes – Kara, Justin, Ben, Amanda and Giglianne. Kara, Ben and Amanda are aspiring actors, while Justin aims to be a musician and Giglianne a model. They’re all going to live together in a house in the Hollywood Hills in the hope of achieving some form of success.

As well as a weekly 25 minute programme broadcast exclusively on Hulu (notably it’s the first thing I’ve ever been able to watch on Hulu, with the rest of its content blocked for viewing in Ireland), you can watch the contestants live on IfICanDream.com. Predictably, this isn’t actually very interesting, like Big Brother Live only with even less engaging people involved. On the plus side, the production values are well up to broadcast television standard, and some form of television broadcast is expected at a future date.

The Justin of the show is none other than Miley Cyrus’s ex-boyfriend, a fact which is largely ignored bar one brief “I want to be known for my music and not because of Miley”.

Former Pop Idol judge Nicki Chapman even pops up for a bit, coordinating the contestants’ publicity trip around the world.

The first episode is only semi-interesting, with contestants that have less personality than you could possibly fathom. They’re all way too friendly to each other in the beginning, so hopefully things will heat up a bit in future instalments. Even worse, we can’t vote out the ones we hate. The producers claim, however, that if a contestant achieves significant success, they may leave the show and be replaced.

Watch the full first episode below, if only to see what web TV is really like.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Will Sparks Fly? February 23, 2010

Posted by Patrick in Cinematics, Lit.
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Curiously, in the next few months there are not one but two Nicholas Sparks book adaptations on the way and inevitably, everyone’s going to be debating which was better.

The first, Dear John, stars Amanda Seyfried and Channing Tatum as a war-torn couple, separated by his decision to go fight for his country. Throughout his time abroad as a soldier, they exchange letters, which keep him going through his “increasingly dangerous missions” and blah blah blah while she sits at home and waits for him to return.

The other film is Sparks’ Miley Cyrus vehicle The Last Song. This film has a more chequered past, originally scheduled for release in January, but subsequently postponed until March 31st (at least in the US). The storyline even seems a bit less stimulating – Cyrus plays a mopey teen who goes to live with her dad for the summer, and falls in love with a guy on the beach.

Although Miley’s name attached to anything would normally seem like a safe bet, the film seems a to be skewing a little older than her usual demographic. The problem is, however, the type of people who loved The Notebook are likely to be put off by the presence of Miley Cyrus in the film. It doesn’t help either that Liam Hemsworth is a complete unknown, famous only for his real life attachment to the Hannah Montana star.

Although I’m never one to completely write Miley off, I’m going to wager that Dear John will fare much better at the box office (judging by its ticket sales to date, The Last Song has a lot to live up to), given that it panders almost shamelessly to The Notebook fans.

And if they had come out the same weekend, Amanda Seyfried and Channing Tatum of course would have had some sort of sabotage mission planned.

“If The Last Song was coming out the same weekend as Dear John, we’d have to collaborate on some sort of sabotage mission,” Seyfried told MTV.

“I’d burn it,” Tatum added. “I’d sabotage it somehow.”

Once they’re better than the god-awful Nights in Rodanthe, I’ll be happy.

Check out the trailers below and let the battle commence.

Dear John (out 16th April in Ireland)

The Last Song (out 30th April in Ireland)

We like contradiction, anything that contradicts December 30, 2009

Posted by Patrick in Muzak.
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Did you know that Miley Cyrus has a sibling who also makes music? No, not her over-tattooed brother with a weirdly long face, but her sister, Brandi Cyrus? No? Didn’t think so.

Brandi is part of all-female band Frank and Derol, which also includes Megan Park (star of the ABC Family show The Secret Life of the American Teenager. I’ve never watched this so I can’t really say how good or bad it may be) on synth, tambourine and backing vocals, and Codi Caraco, another musician who plays piano and does lead vocals. The band originally didn’t even include Cyrus, but obviously her guitar playing skillz and backing vocals were needed in the mix.

She’s not, I was surprised to learn, a stranger to the music world, as she played guitar in her sister’s TV show Hannah Montana as well as on one of Miley’s tours. How impressive.

The first song the group wrote together was a Twilight-inspired track called Lights Out, with the hopes of getting it on to the New Moon soundtrack. But, as well know, that didn’t exactly pan out.

Wondering what exactly the name Frank and Derol means, I stumbled upon an interview with the band on Acid City. Lead singer Codi’s answer didn’t exactly shed any light on this:

“we like contradiction, anything that contradicts. and that name does. derol is also my dads name.”

Ah right. It’s a contradiction. Because everybody knows that the name Frank contradicts the name Derol.

They haven’t actually released anything and are still pursuing a record deal, but have toured with Brandi’s dad Billy Ray Cyrus. So, only having access to what’s up on their MySpace page (two and a half songs), I’ve picked out their track Back and Forth. Surprisingly, it’s actually quite good (and a million miles away from any of Miley’s stuff), with a sound that my friend Anna describes as “ethereal”. Judge for yourself below.

Frank and Derol – Back and Forth (download)

[Image: GaryLivingston.com]

Oh, she’s just being Miley December 19, 2009

Posted by Patrick in Muzak.
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When we’re not attempting to appear somewhat ‘hip’ here at Make and Deux, we occasionally do something tragically un-hip. And last Wednesday night, that thing was going to see Miley Cyrus play at The O2 in Dublin.

You mightn’t think that’s too bad, ya know, a bit of craic and all that, but the tickets in fact cost us €92.50 each. Yes, they were ridiculously overpriced and I can’t believe we even considered buying them, but we did, and we went along, AND WE HAD FUN.

We were both actually dreading the gig, considering that it would be full of children under the age of ten and the parents that they had bullied into buying the expensive tickets, but moreso because our seats were separate. Since we had booked them online on our own cards, we’d ended up miraculously in the same row but forty seats apart. However, by luck, there was a free seat beside me so Paula dashed over, thankfully evading The O2 security staff.

The whole thing was a very slick production, with every detail planned to within an inch of its life. During one song, she fell into a pit on the stage and then appeared on screen submerged in water, as if that was what she’d fallen into, when really she was just legging it backstage for a costume change.

The highlight had to be during Fly on the Wall, where she entered on some sort of tractor/cart with her dancers in tow. Ad, towards the end of the song, when she was lifted off stage by wires and suspended above the audience, flying around like a literal fly.

The setlist was a carbon copy of her previous gigs on the Wonder World tour, with all the expected hits like 7 Things, Party in the USA and See You Again included.

There were some odd touches to the show – most notably when Hoedown Throwdown segued into the Black Eyed Peas’ Boom Boom Pow for a dancer solo. A video message from will.i.am appeared on the main screen, Miley shouted “Hey everybody give it up for will.i.am from the Black Eyed Peas!” or something to that extent, and once again ran off into the ether. She also forgot the lyrics to Party in the USA at one point, stumbling at the “And the Britney song was on” line.

She doesn’t sound as good live as she does on her albums, but she certainly belts the tunes out and although it got a bit shouty at points, she hit all the right notes for the most part.

The encore consisted of two songs – a huge change in comparison to The Swell Season concert we attended the night before, which had about fifteen – See You Again and The Climb. It was, as encores have now become, completely staged, as if the teenybopper wails of “MILEY! MILEY! MILEY!” (which did drag on for what had to be close to five minutes) had anything to do with her return to the stage.

She had a bit of banter with the crowd, but it was all very predictable stuff like, “You’re the loudest crowd we’ve had all tour!” or “I’m loving Ireland so much, you guys are great!” and such. But that’s to be expected.

All in all, it was the most fun I’ve had in a while. It has to be said, Miley Cyrus puts on a good show, even if it is the product of a marketing machine gone mad.

Sadly, we don’t have any snaps of ourselves with Miley during her shopping spree on Grafton Street, due to us both being in work or elsewhere, but I did get a great picture of Paula with Miley’s mother, Leticia “Tish” Cyrus, on Grafton Street the next day. It did take us a good ten minutes of following her around the street to pluck up the courage to say something to her (Paula: “ARE YOU TISH??”), but she was lovely and is probably the closest we should ever be allowed get to the woman herself.

Super Extra Miley Factor December 4, 2009

Posted by Paula in Muzak, Televisual.
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Simon Cowell has chosen the Miley Cyrus hit The Climb as this year’s X Factor winner’s song. Certainly a change in tempo from last year’s song, Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah. Journey’s Don’t Stop Believing was reportedly also a contender, but I doubt anyone could beat the Glee cover of that song (or the original, I guess).

The Climb, which featured in the Hannah Montana movie earler this year, certainly fulfills all the criteria for an X Factor winner’s hit: poignant lyrics about making it/finding happiness/falling in love/defying the odds, a build up to a big final chorus, and a nice catchy melody. All Cowell needs to add is a key change, and it’ll be musical gold.

It’s an odd choice for a winner’s song, considering there’s only one female performer left in the competition. Apparently Olly and Danyl have been struggling with it in this week’s rehearsals. They’re too macho, perhaps?

Task for this week: Learn The Climb‘s lyrics by heart in time for Saturday night’s X Factor. Add key change if you wish.

The Climb – Miley Cyrus (download)

And Disney just didn’t listen. March 31, 2009

Posted by Paula in Cinematics.
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Oh Miley. If Disney hadn’t given your new Hannah Montana feature film different Irish and US release dates, it would be coming out here on the 10th April. Same date as the Irish release of your pal Zac Efron’s new movie, 17 Again.

I could have made a day of it. 10th April. A double bill of cheese. One with folk-dance routines and a cameo from Tyra Banks, the other with a newly-smouldering Zac Efron.




Double sigh.