Saturday, January 24, 2015

I'm Going to See Bradley Cooper in The Elephant Man in London!

Bradley Cooper as The Elephant Man. 
In the nearly three years of writing for Theatre of Zen, I haven't written about my experience at a theatre production. Well the time has finally arrived and I'm excited to announce that in reference to my previous post about my London trip this spring, I am going to see Bradley Cooper in The Elephant Man! It was just announced officially yesterday (Friday, Jan. 24th) that Cooper's play will be in limited run in the West End starting in May through early August at the Theatre Royal Haymarket.

I visited the box office website last night and searched for tickets during the brief time I'll be in London (26 May - 30 May). As per seat availability at the right price and location, I was able to snatch up an orphan seat in the second row of the Stalls from the stage! Seats in the Stalls are £108 or £65, so I was very lucky to find the cheaper ticket so close to the stage. With the exchange rate, it's about $100 - a lot of money for a theater ticket, but this is a unique and rare opportunity to see an A-list three-time Oscar nominated actor. And to think, to my now embarrassment, I ridiculed his Oscar nomination back in 2012, for Silver Linings Playbook, as 'the pretty one from The Hangover movies'. But upon review of Bradley's IMDB page, you know he's not just a pretty face, he's a good actor, and after his stunning portrayal in the divisive film American Sniper, Mr. Cooper deserves some respect. And what's the highest praise a fan can do other than drop some nice coin to see him on stage in London.
Seat highlighted in green is mine for the May 28th evening performance
(stall section as of Jan 24th)
According to his IMDB, he has been mesmerized by the story of the real Elephant Man, John Merrick, since he saw the 1980 film starring John Hurt and Anthony Hopkins. So much so that for his Master's thesis (he's well educated too!), the Elephant Man play was his thesis project... and here he is playing John Merrick on Broadway and now the West End. Talk about having a life long passion for a project!

I'm so excited about seeing this play because I too am very familiar with the Merrick story and saw the movie when I was a kid. Meanwhile, Bradley's American Sniper is going into its second weekend and the film is expected to be number one again with earnings close to $60 million, pushing it well past $200 million. That's an amazing feat for an R-rated film released in January.

Bradley Cooper a Navy Seal sniper, Chris Kyle
If you haven't seen American Sniper yet, this weekend is a good time to go check out what everyone is talking about.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

My Quick Weekend in Toronto & American Sniper

The previous 5 weeks have been very stressful for me, so this past weekend in Toronto was exactly what the doctor ordered. My mood and attitude was uplifted and it gave me time away from the sources of stress so that I could re-calibrate and forge ahead with my life plans. The plunging Canadian dollar turned my $120US into $143CAN, a great sign for fun spending. To start off my trip, on Saturday afternoon, I got a Shellac pedicure at Pink Nails and Spa. I must do this more regularly! But I'm afraid that they set the bar so high, I may be displeased by going somewhere else. I did some shopping on Queen street by filling up with some Buddha's Blend tea from David's Tea, and I splurged on some bath products at a new natural wellness store, Saje (read my Yelp review). Later that evening I saw American Sniper (read below). On Sunday, I met with my TIFF/Awards Watch friend David A, and then I went to TIFF Bell Lightbox to check out the Stanley Kubrick exhibit and watch 2001 A Space Odyssey in 70mm. I ate really well... so well that two days later I'm still bloated. Here are some pictures -

American Sniper 8/10

I'm not going to review this film like how I usually review films. I'm very, very disturbed by the insane reaction towards this film from BOTH the Left and the Right. They should be ashamed of themselves, acting like imbeciles and playing the same old stale games to put down and antagonize those whose opinions about the film differs from theirs. So what Michael Moore and Seth Rogen don't like the film, there's no need to verbally abuse them and cyber bully them, and there's no need to use a broad brush on everyone who actually watched the film and enjoyed it. I liked the movie, period. I don't own a gun, don't want to own a gun, and I'm not a racist, pro-war, or pro-killing of human beings. I just felt that Clint Eastwood's film about a Navy Seal sniper who was particularly talented at killing people from over a mile away, to protect other Navy Seals from being attacked, was a damn entertaining movie. The film also focused on the effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder on these military personnel. Everyone reacts differently from PTSD; I even suffered from it post 9-11.

American Sniper appeals to a wide demographic of people, not just a certain type that detractors of the film want to view all supporters as. For a film to earn nearly $108 million in just 4 days and garnered 6 Oscar nominations, it is clear to me that this Oscar season, people who have a vested interest in it (financially, and emotionally) have a lot at stake due to the success of this film and they want to do all that they can to tear down this film. I believe Bradley Cooper did such a fine job that he should win the Oscar, and the film may win in at least the Sound category. I think it is too divisive for AMPAS to give it Best Picture, but that would be fun to see instead of the little seen, kinda dull but sweet Boyhood.

Go see what all the hype is. Don't let ignorant comments from anonymous lowlifes distract you from seeing a good film. Make up your own mind to see this, don't allow other people with warped agendas and anti-social attitudes turn you off from American Sniper. Because if you do, you're being just as immature and reactionary as they are.

ETA: A twitter friend posted the link to an excellent article that analyzes the controversy surrounding American Sniper. I read it and I hope you take a moment to read it too.

The Film Grapevine: Making Sense of the Controversy Surrounding Clint Eastwood's 'American Sniper'

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Travel Plans 2015

In my last post from a couple weeks ago, I announced my sudden inspiration to visit Toronto. I'm so excited to go there this weekend, especially since I have Monday the 19th off as a paid holiday for MLK Jr. day. I'll be staying at the new Holiday Inn Hotel with a special King bed suite deal, and I'll get a fancy pedicure at Pinky Nails & Spa at 544 Yonge Street. I was scanning Groupon Toronto for some good deals, but the really great deals were far away in the outer parts of Toronto. I wound up selecting Pinky Nails because of the great Yelp reviews. There are hundreds of salons for me to go get a pedicure, but I'm very particular about where I want to go. Not every place has Shellac Pedicure - this is what I want. The pedicure last like 6 weeks! And I prefer the individual chair pedicure set up instead of bench style where you won't have much privacy. I'll be eating well, have a drink or two, I'll do a little shopping, and of course, I'll go to the Kubrick exhibit and watch '2001: A Space Odyssey' on the big screen in 70mm. This is going to be a great short trip!

Meanwhile, I have just finished up the final details of my trip itinerary for my Ireland and England trip this May! I have been thinking about this trip for two years. A month ago, the trip was in turmoil due to some horrendous price gouging by Delta with their non-stop service from Detroit to London Heathrow. What has been a reliable and affordable non-stop flight since 1994, has now become cost prohibitive. Back in the day, when British Airways and Northwest was at DTW,  prices were always under $1000 for round trip, posh door-to-door service from Detroit to the almighty London. Today, with Delta being the only airliner at DTW that has service to London, these bitches have decided to increase the price, and decrease service! I'm sorry, but I'm no fool. Sure, if I can afford to visit London as regularly as I do, I'm not a poor person, but at the present, nor am I a millionaire, therefore, I refuse to be used by Delta this way and pay MORE for less service. So instead, I'm going to deal with a short layover in Philly via US Airways to fly to Shannon, where I will spend 4 days in Killarney, and then book flights on Aer Lingus to fly to London for 4 days. Then I'll fly back to Shannon, stay there overnight, and fly home the next morning. All of this flying will still save me a precious $1100. Can you believe that? These savings will PAY for my Killarney and London hotels! I was trying to include a couple days in Dublin, but the train and bus to get up there just took too much time. I'll visit Dublin next time when I can stay longer in Ireland.

The planning of these trips have lifted my somber mood as of late and I'm just grateful that I'm able to travel like I can. It's a great way to enhance your life and get away from the daily routine of life which can cause so much stress. Life is short so why not have fun and travel the world?