Posted on January 24th, 2017 No comments
“La La Land”, Written and Directed by Damien Chazelle. Released Summer, 2016
It was announced today that “La La Land” has been nominated for an astounding 14 Oscar awards, including best directing, best picture and best original screenplay. Stars Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling both received best acting nominations. Oh, and don’t forget the seven Gold Globes the movie won.
If you haven’t seen it, you’re probably thinking, “So what’s all the fuss about?”
Answer: Beautiful cinematography, great story, fantastic acting and direction, incredible music; From the moody jazz clubs to the brightly-costumed dance numbers, everything about this movie screams the things we love. Fred and Ginger would have been right at home making this picture.
As my title says, this is a story set in modern-day LA, but is really a 1940s-1950s style musical, complete with traditional-sounding show tunes, dancing, and vintage décor. The music is incredible, featuring big band sounds, traditional jazz and modern influences blended together like a perfect musical cocktail.
Then there is the cinematography. Oh, how beautifully and carefully this atmospheric movie is filmed, each shot creating a specific mood while maintaining the vintage-esque feel throughout. Dreamy and cool, there’s a touch of magic…just as a 1940s musical should have. (For example, they say every jazz piece tells a story; in this movie, the jazz piano piece literally tells a story. Very cool.)
Beyond the music, the acting and the story are fantastic. Stone and Gosling effortlessly take characters who should be un-relatable to most people (an aspiring young actress and a bohemian jazz musician) and make them warm and inviting, even with their faults. The blossoming romance is real, corny, and magical all at the same time.
For people who dig vintage and mid-century fun, this a movie that is right up your alley.
The film has an overall Art Deco, Vintage & Mid-Century look and feel. Sets and locations are all about the past, including the Angels Flight Funicular Railway, The Colorado Street Bridge, and the very famous Griffith Observatory (the Planetarium in “Rebel Without A Cause”).
The tap dancing and jazz numbers (Gosling learned jazz piano for this role) take you back to the decades of the 1930s, ’40s and ’50s, perfectly choreographed and played for this vintage musical style. The music was scored for a 90-piece orchestra on the same stage as “Singin’ in the Rain”.
Gosling’s character, Sebastian, is a jazz transplant from the late 1950s, right down to his thin ties and choice of classic style cars (an early 1980s Rivera convertible at first, a 1980 Cadillac Eldorado convertible near the end). He is the symbol of tradition, of the past, to a fault – his career as a jazz musician is hampered by his unwillingness to change with the times. Once he begrudgingly evolves musically, opportunities begin to open for him.
Stone’s character, Mia, is a modern woman who seems at odds in the modern world (even though she doesn’t realize it). She has problems with modern electronics and doesn’t do well in scenes that involve her Prius. Yet she seems most at home in the vintage settings she discovers (the jazz clubs, period piece performances) and with the vintage-style man she keeps running into. It’s only when she embraces the past that she becomes successful.
Together, these marvelous characters both sing and dance though life in the style that made Fred and Ginger famous.
Personally, I think Fred and Ginger would love it.
And I think you will too.
-Tiki Chris reporting from the screening room at Tiki Lounge Talk
Posted on January 11th, 2017 No comments
RIP Buddy Greco, August 14, 1926 – January 10, 2017
The first time I ever heard Buddy Greco was on the radio. It was in the early 1980s, and I used to listen to a “nostalgia” station, WRDR, FM 105 out of Egg Harbor City in New Jersey. After the commercial break, his trademark intro to “The Lady Is A Tramp” swung out in glorious stereo, and I was hooked.
A few days later I heard what was to become my favorite Greco tune, “Around the World”.
Sinatra, Steve and Edie, Sammy Davis Jr, Martin, Prima…all pioneers of the swingin’ style that would eventually be associated with Vegas lounge & showroom acts. But Buddy Greco took it to the next level, and held it there just at the brink of being overdone. Whenever someone today spoofs or tosses fun at the lounge acts of mid-century Vegas, it’s not really Sinatra they’re imitating…it’s Greco, and they can’t come close to his stylistic perfection.
Even his ballads were well swung.
Buddy was also and accomplished jazz/lounge pianist, who would have been as at home in smokey bar as a concert hall. Here’s Misty:
And though his music spanned 80 years and several genres including county and pop, what I think we’ll miss most about my fellow Philadelphian is his vibrant, energetic, original swinging vocals and on-stage attitude that makes him, in my book, the all time King of Lounge.
Later, Buddy. Catch you on the flip side.
Tiki Chris, reporting from the Hi Fi Lounge at Tiki Lounge Talk
Posted on January 3rd, 2017 No comments
Happy Tiki New Year!
Hope you have lots of fun stuff planned for 2017. Here’s a look back to New Year’s from 1957-58 with Guy Lombardo!
Posted on July 25th, 2016 No comments
It’s not often you come across a huge discount for some place as great as the Mai Kai Polynesian Restaurant and Tiki Lovers’ Dream. Right now, they are offering a LivingSocial deal: $25 gets you $50 towards dinner. Since most of their dinners are in the $25 range, it’s like getting a buy-one-get-0ne-free entree!
No doubt they are offering this because summer is the “slow season” here in sunny South Florida. Which means you’ll probably be able to enjoy your dinner in quiet semi-privacy in one of the themed dining rooms (the offer isn’t available with the show).
If you haven’t been there before, for under $20 I would suggest the beef or chicken teriyaki, the lobster bisque, the Hawaiian rice (ask them to add some pineapple to it), or any of the meats prepared in the Chinese ovens (the steaks are very pricey, but worth the unique taste). Actually we’ve eaten there dozens of times and have never had a bad meal, so anything on the menu is sure to wow. Note that everything except the prix fix menu is ala carte, so plan your bucks accordingly (I’m not sure the offer is available with the fixed-price menu). Also note that they change and update their menu often!
Of course drinks are not included in the offer, and you’re going to want drinks. There are always half price drink specials. Tiki cocktails start in the $10 range and average around $13-15 for a strong drink (like a Mai Tai or Jet Pilot). Considering you’re getting the absolute best cocktails made from the original 50+ year old recipes, that ain’t bad, kids.
The Mai Kai has loosened their attire requirements over the years. When we first went in 2001, they wouldn’t even let you in if you had on shorts and a T-shirt. You couldn’t wear a hat, even in the lounge. Men were expected to wear a jacket.
The last time we were there, there were people in the lounge wearing the same thing you’d wear to go to McDonald’s. It’s a crying shame that people don’t appreciate the special-ness of getting dressed up to go to a fancy joint like the Mai Kai, but that’s our society today. However, if you’re hep to dressing to the nines, you won’t look out of place there. A common theme of course is to wear Hawaiian shirts; some of us old time hipsters swing an Aloha shirt with white linen pants and a casual sport coat like they did in the 1940s and ’50s. I’ve seen the ladies wear anything from Hawaiian print dresses to evening wear, and of course vintage outfits. It all goes, and it all goes great!
The Mai Kai offer is good for 120 days after purchase, and has some fine print…the basics are the usual stuff:
• Limit 5 per customer, additional as gifts
• Limit 1 per table per visit
• Reservations required and subject to availability
• Valid only in non-show dining rooms
• Valid only for dine-in
• Not valid on Saturdays
• Excludes happy hour, early bird menu, BOGO, and in combination with any other discounts or promotions
To get the offer go to LivingSocial here. Remember, these offers only run for a limited time, so you’ll want to buy yours quickly…I’m posting this on Monday, July 25th, 2016, so if you’re a time traveler reading this in the future, you’ll know when to set your machine to.
Cheers, and see you at the Mai Kai, kids!
-Tiki Chris, reporting from the lanai at Tiki Lounge Talk
Posted on February 9th, 2016 No comments
75 years ago, John Huston unleashed onto an unsuspecting public a film that would become one of, if not the most iconic gumshoe detective mystery movies of all time, The Maltese Falcon.
You can’t utter the words “Film Noir” without The Maltese Falcon coming to mind. From Bogart’s portrayal of Dashiell Hammett’s Sam Spade, to the multiple twists and turns, to the bitter ending, this slice of the dark side of peoples’ lives has become the standard by which all other films of its kind are measured.
And now it’s back on the Silver Screen, in glorious black and white, for its 75th anniversary. Now that’s the stuff that dreams are made of.
Tiki Chris, reporting from the screening room at Tiki Lounge Talk