Friday, March 4, 2011

Me’shell Ndegeocello at Largo

So last night I went to see Me’shell Ndegeocello at Largo at The Coronet on La Cienega, and she was fantastic. 

Not only was she fantastic, but every member of the band – Keith on keys, Chris Bruce on no less than three guitars, the amazing vocalist (who is currently being produced by Bruce), and the crazy guy on drums were also absolutely incredible. The intimate stage was beautifully low key and from my (front-row!) seat, Me’shell could have been performing in my living room. Every pause, mistake and comment was filled with the cheers of the adoring crowd. The hour and a half set sped by, and was met with four minutes of applause for an encore, which was casually granted. The set included both old and new tracks, which is fairly unusual as she is known for being hesitant at playing her old stuff, but I couldn’t bare to see her without hearing ‘Who is He and What is He to You’. I was not disappointed.

Born in Berlin, Germany and raised in Washington, D.C, Ndegeocello is a multi-disciplinary artist, being renowned as a bassist as well as a singer-songwriter and rapper. The beginning of the neo-soul movement is often credited to Ndegeocello whose music incorporates, soul, funk, jazz, hip hop, R&B and reggae and has been nominated for no less than ten Grammy’s. Her music has received acclaim from all corners of the entertainment business, featuring in a number of motion pictures including Jerry Maguire, Talk to Her and Batman & Robin, appearing on the soundtracks of many other major artists (The Rolling Stones, Indigo Girls) as a bassist and vocalist and featuring as Starbucks iTunes pick of the week in 2010 with Tie One On’. She has released eight albums, the most recent being Devil’s Halo, in 2009.

I left Largo with my soul beautifully fed for a good long while. The chilled out vibe of the place, with the band coming out and drinking with their friends, fans and family and chatting away seems to me to break through all the socially constructed distances we so often put between ourselves and artists. The godlike status we hide them behind is surely not pleasant for us or them. They are still ordinary people. They are extraordinarily talented, yes, and many put their flow of creative prowess down to the influence or inspiration of a higher power. Yet as Erykah Badu puts it on her live album “No matter what anybody ever thinks, I still get cold when its cold, hungry when I’m hungry, miss my mamma when we’re away. I get tired, I’m a person.” Being an artist myself, one of my favorite parts of performing is that moment after a show. Standing by the doors exiting the dressing rooms and tasting the crowd out there, that moment tells me what kind of show I just did. Whether they liked it, hated it, were moved, were impassioned, then I go out to meet it, become a part of it. That’s the most humbling, constructive, satisfying moment for me. We realise that we would be nowhere without our audiences, just as these articles would be nothing without their readers, and we are all, as Ndegeocello finished her set with last night “Grateful.”

And I thought, ‘the pleasure really is all ours.’

Ama J. Budge
Special Correspondent  

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Brit in LA - or as Sting put it "I'm an alien, I'm a legal alien, I'm an Englishman in New York"

Now that all the craziness of Oscar week is over, I thought I’d give you a bit of background on me and my experiences of being a Brit in LA…culture shock?

Not so much on my end – don’t forget we exist with many representations of Americans through TV that is mainly set in California and seems to have some accuracies (within reason of course- don’t worry I don’t actually compare you all to 90210). However, much as I love him, Colin Firth does not represent the British populous, and Hugh Grant most certainly doesn’t. They are as much our fantasies as yours ladies…so if anything I think the culture shock is at our representation here. Many of my most beloved American friends still insist of doing a full English impression equipped with a terrible half cockney-half public school boy accent, frequently indented with words like ‘chap,’ ‘mate’ and inevitably ‘loo’. But hey – if I didn’t love Americans, I wouldn’t be here, so I can’t really complain.

Humour: OK, I’m not gonna lie…there’s a big difference. I won’t say that our humour is smarter/deeper or any of that nonsense as has been said (by Americans!) but it’s on a totally different level, we live for the irony, the puns, the cultural references, the dark humour, the evil chuckles, and I do miss them… Although it’s also a slightly welcome relief – Brits are cruel! I’m sure everyone has experience having what they considered a joke with an English person – I specify English here, because I think Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish are different, and the English person inevitably takes it too far and really offends you. Don’t take it personally, its how we establish a pecking order – how fast can you dole it out and how much can you take – you thought your high schools were brutal you have no idea how deep the English language can be knifed in…

I’ve been watching a new British/American television series called ‘Episodes’ with Tamsen Greg and Stephen Mangan two of my favourite British actors who had their big breaks together in the HILARIOUS comedy show Green Wing that sadly has so far only run two seasons. One was more than enough to establish a cult following and a whole range of practices and catchphrases, see clip below…

Mangan and Greg play Sean and Beverly - a married couple who have moved to LA to have their British TV series re-produced in Hollywood. The cast includes Matt LeBlanc, playing himself as an actor in the TV series who infuriates Beverly and befriends Sean until the very last few episodes when shocking events incur…

I highly recommend Showtimes new comedy for a good laugh, but perhaps especially if you are a Brit who has or is in the process of acclimatising to this new habitat, you are not alone, and there are still laughs to be had.

Ama J. Budge
Special Correspondent 

Oscar Winners

Actor in a Leading Role

  • Javier Bardem in “Biutiful”
  • Jeff Bridges in “True Grit”
  • Jesse Eisenberg in “The Social Network”
  • Colin Firth in “The King's Speech”
  • James Franco in “127 Hours”

Actor in a Supporting Role

  • Christian Bale in “The Fighter”
  • John Hawkes in “Winter's Bone”
  • Jeremy Renner in “The Town”
  • Mark Ruffalo in “The Kids Are All Right”
  • Geoffrey Rush in “The King's Speech”

Actress in a Leading Role

  • Annette Bening in “The Kids Are All Right”
  • Nicole Kidman in “Rabbit Hole”
  • Jennifer Lawrence in “Winter's Bone”
  • Natalie Portman in “Black Swan”
  • Michelle Williams in “Blue Valentine”

Actress in a Supporting Role

  • Amy Adams in “The Fighter”
  • Helena Bonham Carter in “The King's Speech”
  • Melissa Leo in “The Fighter”
  • Hailee Steinfeld in “True Grit”
  • Jacki Weaver in “Animal Kingdom”

Animated Feature Film

  • “How to Train Your Dragon” Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois
  • “The Illusionist” Sylvain Chomet
  • “Toy Story 3” Lee Unkrich

Art Direction

  • “Alice in Wonderland”
    Production Design: Robert Stromberg; Set Decoration: Karen O'Hara
  • “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1”
    Production Design: Stuart Craig; Set Decoration: Stephenie McMillan
  • “Inception” 
    Production Design: Guy Hendrix Dyas; Set Decoration: Larry Dias and Doug Mowat
  • “The King's Speech” 
    Production Design: Eve Stewart; Set Decoration: Judy Farr
  • “True Grit” 
    Production Design: Jess Gonchor; Set Decoration: Nancy Haigh


  • “Black Swan” Matthew Libatique
  • “Inception” Wally Pfister
  • “The King's Speech” Danny Cohen
  • “The Social Network” Jeff Cronenweth
  • “True Grit” Roger Deakins

Costume Design

  • “Alice in Wonderland” Colleen Atwood
  • “I Am Love” Antonella Cannarozzi
  • “The King's Speech” Jenny Beavan
  • “The Tempest” Sandy Powell
  • “True Grit” Mary Zophres


  • “Black Swan” Darren Aronofsky
  • “The Fighter” David O. Russell
  • “The King's Speech” Tom Hooper
  • “The Social Network” David Fincher
  • “True Grit” Joel Coen and Ethan Coen

Documentary (Feature)

  • “Exit through the Gift Shop” Banksy and Jaimie D'Cruz
  • “Gasland” Josh Fox and Trish Adlesic
  • “Inside Job” Charles Ferguson and Audrey Marrs
  • “Restrepo” Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger
  • “Waste Land” Lucy Walker and Angus Aynsley

Documentary (Short Subject)

  • “Killing in the Name” Jed Rothstein
  • “Poster Girl” Sara Nesson and Mitchell W. Block
  • “Strangers No More” Karen Goodman and Kirk Simon
  • “Sun Come Up” Jennifer Redfearn and Tim Metzger
  • “The Warriors of Qiugang” Ruby Yang and Thomas Lennon

Film Editing

  • “Black Swan” Andrew Weisblum
  • “The Fighter” Pamela Martin
  • “The King's Speech” Tariq Anwar
  • “127 Hours” Jon Harris
  • “The Social Network” Angus Wall and Kirk Baxter

Foreign Language Film

  • “Biutiful” Mexico
  • “Dogtooth” Greece
  • “In a Better World” Denmark
  • “Incendies” Canada
  • “Outside the Law (Hors-la-loi)” Algeria


  • “Barney's Version” Adrien Morot
  • “The Way Back” Edouard F. Henriques, Gregory Funk and Yolanda Toussieng
  • “The Wolfman” Rick Baker and Dave Elsey

Music (Original Score)

  • “How to Train Your Dragon” John Powell
  • “Inception” Hans Zimmer
  • “The King's Speech” Alexandre Desplat
  • “127 Hours” A.R. Rahman
  • “The Social Network” Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross

Music (Original Song)

  • “Coming Home” from “Country Strong” Music and Lyric by Tom Douglas, Troy Verges and Hillary Lindsey
  • “I See the Light” from “Tangled” Music by Alan Menken Lyric by Glenn Slater
  • “If I Rise” from “127 Hours” Music by A.R. Rahman Lyric by Dido and Rollo Armstrong
  • “We Belong Together” from “Toy Story 3" Music and Lyric by Randy Newman

Best Picture

  • “Black Swan” Mike Medavoy, Brian Oliver and Scott Franklin, Producers
  • “The Fighter” David Hoberman, Todd Lieberman and Mark Wahlberg, Producers
  • “Inception” Emma Thomas and Christopher Nolan, Producers
  • “The Kids Are All Right” Gary Gilbert, Jeffrey Levy-Hinte and Celine Rattray, Producers
  • “The King's Speech” Iain Canning, Emile Sherman and Gareth Unwin, Producers
  • “127 Hours” Christian Colson, Danny Boyle and John Smithson, Producers
  • “The Social Network” Scott Rudin, Dana Brunetti, Michael De Luca and Ce├ín Chaffin, Producers
  • “Toy Story 3” Darla K. Anderson, Producer
  • “True Grit” Scott Rudin, Ethan Coen and Joel Coen, Producers
  • “Winter's Bone" Anne Rosellini and Alix Madigan-Yorkin, Producers

Short Film (Animated)

  • “Day & Night” Teddy Newton
  • “The Gruffalo” Jakob Schuh and Max Lang
  • “Let's Pollute” Geefwee Boedoe
  • “The Lost Thing” Shaun Tan and Andrew Ruhemann
  • “Madagascar, carnet de voyage (Madagascar, a Journey Diary)” Bastien Dubois

Short Film (Live Action)

  • “The Confession” Tanel Toom
  • “The Crush” Michael Creagh
  • “God of Love” Luke Matheny
  • “Na Wewe” Ivan Goldschmidt
  • “Wish 143” Ian Barnes and Samantha Waite

Sound Editing

  • “Inception” Richard King
  • “Toy Story 3” Tom Myers and Michael Silvers
  • “Tron: Legacy” Gwendolyn Yates Whittle and Addison Teague
  • “True Grit” Skip Lievsay and Craig Berkey
  • “Unstoppable” Mark P. Stoeckinger

Sound Mixing

  • “Inception” Lora Hirschberg, Gary A. Rizzo and Ed Novick
  • “The King's Speech” Paul Hamblin, Martin Jensen and John Midgley
  • “Salt” Jeffrey J. Haboush, Greg P. Russell, Scott Millan and William Sarokin
  • “The Social Network” Ren Klyce, David Parker, Michael Semanick and Mark Weingarten
  • “True Grit” Skip Lievsay, Craig Berkey, Greg Orloff and Peter F. Kurland

Visual Effects

  • “Alice in Wonderland” Ken Ralston, David Schaub, Carey Villegas and Sean Phillips
  • “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1” Tim Burke, John Richardson, Christian Manz and Nicolas Aithadi
  • “Hereafter” Michael Owens, Bryan Grill, Stephan Trojansky and Joe Farrell
  • “Inception” Paul Franklin, Chris Corbould, Andrew Lockley and Peter Bebb
  • “Iron Man 2” Janek Sirrs, Ben Snow, Ged Wright and Daniel Sudick

Writing (Adapted Screenplay)

  • “127 Hours” Screenplay by Danny Boyle & Simon Beaufoy
  • “The Social Network” Screenplay by Aaron Sorkin
  • “Toy Story 3” Screenplay by Michael Arndt; Story by John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton and Lee Unkrich
  • “True Grit” Written for the screen by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen
  • “Winter's Bone” Adapted for the screen by Debra Granik & Anne Rosellini

Writing (Original Screenplay)

  • “Another Year” Written by Mike Leigh
  • “The Fighter” Screenplay by Scott Silver and Paul Tamasy & Eric Johnson;
    Story by Keith Dorrington & Paul Tamasy & Eric Johnson
  • “Inception” Written by Christopher Nolan
  • “The Kids Are All Right” Written by Lisa Cholodenko & Stuart Blumberg
  • “The King's Speech” Screenplay by David Seidler