Yesterday was Elvis Presley’s 75th birthday. It’s a matter of agreement that most of his films weren’t very good on the whole, largely due to Col. Tom Parker’s insistence on sticking to tame vehicles that wouldn’t risk offending fans. Still, not all the films are bad and many have fine moments.
“King Creole” and “Jailhouse Rock” have their devotees, but my favorite is “Viva Las Vegas.” Directed by the somewhat underrated George Sidney (“Bye Bye Birdie,” “Scaramouche“), it has a great deal of style and some decent humor on its side. More important, it’s got Ann Margaret, a performer who was every bit Elvis’s match and then some in every department except singing, though she wasn’t bad there either. Guys don’t usually squeal when they see a sexy female performer, but if they were ever going to do that, it would have been for Ms. Margaret in the early-to-mid sixites. (“Mad Men” viewers will know about this.)
Moreover, Elvis and Ann Margaret had real screen chemistry together and, in a probably not unrelated fact, had a real life romance that prompted rumors of marriage. Here, they exchange pleasantries around the pool of what I’m guessing is either the Flamingo or the Tropicana.
A very busy day and technical problems conspired to keep me from posting last night, so I’m back with what I hope will be the Reader’s Digest condensed version of one of my more typical Friday news dumps…okay, maybe not so much.
* Taylor Lautner, who is apparently playing second fiddle these days to his own abdominal muscles, is nevertheless being thought of as the next big action star and he’ll start out in a video-game adaptation. I’m so excited, my mind is already wandering.
* The popular comic heavy-metal documentary, “Anvil!,” has picked up an award.
* Believe it or not, I once tried to write a screenplay set in Las Vegas using Dante’s Divine Comedy. Now, a film with a cast of outstanding indie stalwarts led by Steve Buscemi and Sarah Silverman, is just taking Dante’s Inferno (the first third of the long work) to Vegas. Better to keep things simple, though I’m totally up-in-the-air about what I think of JoBlo’s trailer.
* I’m not a particular fan of Roger Friedman‘s reporting, and I think it’s a bit less than intelligent to try to make a scandal of a “Precious” being left out of the National Board of Review’s top 10 without some kind of actual evidence or even an indication. As our own Jason Zingale shows, not everyone loves or even likes the movie. Mileage will always vary. On the other hand, any look into the somewhat shadowy organization’s membership is always of interest. The only member I ever met or even heard about before recently, was this man.
Last night’s “Top Chef: Las Vegas” on Bravo featured the remaining seven chefs facing more and more pressure. Some would respond while others would start to wilt, and we’re almost to final four territory (just where has this season gone??).
We began with a quick fire challenge as host Padma Lakshmi introduced Italian chef Paul Bartolotta, who has an Italian restaurant in Las Vegas and is known as one of the best in the cuisine. But oddly, their quick fire was not Italian-oriented. Instead, they each had to create a “TV dinner” style dish based on a popular show, drawing knives to determine who would be representing which show.
I confess I’ve only been watching Bravo’s “Top Chef” for one-plus seasons now, but I’ve become hooked in a hurry. So this was just my second time experiencing “restaurant wars,” when they break up the final eight contestants into two teams and have them run an actual restaurant for the night.
But first, the episode began with a Quick Fire challenge, and the guest judge this week was Rick Moonen, who owns a sustainable seafood restaurant in Vegas. They would have a tag team cookoff, in which each chef had 10 minutes out of 40 to complete a dish, but while one chef was working the others were blindfolded. Man, that looked HARD. They drew knives and Jennifer and Michael V. had to choose teams…Jen chose Kris Kringle (Kevin), Mike Isabella and Laurine, deciding to let the brothers be on the same team and duke it out, literally. So Michael had Brian, Eli and Robin.
Last night’s “Top Chef Las Vegas” on Bravo returned after a two-week absence, and admittedly I needed those “previously on…” highlights to catch up myself. Oh yeah, Ron was sent home last time….thankfully, because I couldn’t understand much of what that guy was saying.
Anyway, this episode began with The Food Network’s Tyler Florence as a guest judge, but I don’t think they mentioned Food Network by name. A bit petty, no? Or maybe a legality. Anyway, the quick fire challenge was in the vein of cookstr.com, where each contestant had to use three background descriptions to create a meal in 30 minutes. They used a slot machine to choose mood, flavor profile and type of cuisine–for example, romantic/salty/Asian. Florence would be the judge of each dish. Note: one of the flavor profiles was umami, a newer description to the palate world that I don’t fully comprehend, but it’s definitely a buzzword in the cooking industry–I think it means like tangy or something.