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Entries in Anna Kendrick (27)

Monday
Dec292014

Reviewish: Into the Woods, Musical Numbers Ranked

This review originally appeared in Nathaniel's column at Towleroad

Once upon a time Stephen Sondheim wrote a musical classic Into the Woods. The first act brings together classic fairy tale characters into one comic misadventure and the second act debunks the “happily ever after” myth and transforms the whole play into a masterpiece about virtually all the Big Stuff: growing up, parenting, marriage, death, rebuilding after great loss.

Cinderella's family mocking our movie musical anxiety

When it comes to lines we can repurpose to talk about the prospects of a film version, Little Red said it best:

It made me feel excited. well, excited and scared.

Isn’t that how devotees of the movie musical feel each time a new one arrives? A bit of background to justify the high-anxiety. The live-action movie musical died alongside Bob Fosse's alter ego in All That Jazz (1979). The genre was six feet under for two full decades despite intermittent attempts at excavating its exquisite corpse (Annie, Little Shop of Horrors, Newsies). The Disney animation renaissance of the 1990s renewed interest and the genre was successfully reborn at the turn of the century by the one-two-three-four punch of Dancer in the Dark, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Moulin Rouge! and Chicago. That's a four consecutive high quality film run that this ancient-newborn genre has yet to match since. And why is that exactly? Some people blame the lack of strong directors who are skilled in the form, others the resistance to new blood (nearly all modern musicals are adaptations). Still more culprits are Hollywood’s frequent miscasting since musical skill is considered optional.

But The Witch (Meryl Streep) would like us to stop bitching and get on with this review...

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Dec252014

Interview: Anna Kendrick at the Palace and Summering in Ohio.

A holiday gift to you, an interview with the internet's collective girlfriend Anna Kendrick, our new Cinderella in Into the Woods which hits theaters today. Merry Christmas!

Kendrick lets me know right away that she isn't entirely comfortable with all the online fawning. When I compare her very modern kind of stardom to that of Benedict Cumberbatch she freezes "Oh god, don't say that!... It gives me anxiety. He probably can't leave his house!" Kendrick and I have both been herded into a chilly hotel suite after some scheduling confusion and me with my notes out for someone else entirely, someone far less Princess-like. It's a surprise switch but a welcome one, like expecting to remain in your pot scrubbing dress and suddenly you're at the ball in magic slippers. Excuse the analogy but I'm the one playing Cinderella this time since I've traded up. Kendrick wraps herself in the throw blanket on the couch and we immediately start taking musicals.  

Where else would we start? She's the unofficial face of the modern movie musical and the Film Experience has been waiting for someone to frame there.

NATHANIEL R: You’ve been musicals back to back to back. I imagine most managers would be like “don’t do that!” 

[more...]

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Dec162014

Kendrick Sings and Sings Some More

Manuel here to give you two new-ish videos with which to feast on if you’re famished for some Anna Kendrick. It’s probably unnecessary to remind you that Anna Kendrick has become the poster gal for movie musicals. In a stretch of 8 months she’ll have premiered The Last Five Years, Into the Woods and Pitch Perfect 2. We’ve already done a YES/NO/MAYBE SO for Into the Woods and for Pitch Perfect 2 and while I’d love to write one up for The Last Five Years, I’m afraid I’m too much of a YES to nitpick about this beautiful trailer. Plus, snap/blind judgements that come from trailers don’t work as well when the film’s already been seen and reviewed. Case in point: Nathaniel already reviewed it back at Toronto. back in Toronto.

Anna sings twice after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Nov222014

Tweets o' the Week

Clash of the twitter threads. I recently started muting words on twitter on subjects I just had no interest in hearing about anymore and in some cases never did despite the rest of the world's inexplicably insatiable interest (my timeline is blessedly "Kardashian" free - you should try it! I'm missing nothing) and I've been so much happier.

Twitter is still a colossal time sucker in some ways but it keeps the pop culture conversation lively and my favorite thing about it is hearing smart people say amusing things that I didn't think to say - that I felt but never put into words (like the first tweet below). Anyway, here are a dozen or so tweets that amused or edified. Just because it's fun to share them.

 

 

More after the jump including Viola Davis, Janis Joplin biopic, Matthias Schoenaerts, Selma, and the greatest title card of all time...

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Nov222014

Yes No Maybe So: Pitch Perfect 2

Margaret here...

Long have we waited. Our lands have been barren, our sleep fitful, our souls thirsting for what we have been promised. But hope may yet again have a life in our hearts, because the trailer for the Pitch Perfect sequel has been granted unto us. Aca-praise be.

Honestly, Pitch Perfect 2 is exactly the kind of movie where most of us know long before a trailer hits whether we're a yes or a no. (I'm a yes because when I saw the first one, it was at a three-dollar theater after a happy hour, and I was with resident TFE ray of sunshine Anne Marie. Five-star experience, would recommend.)

That said, the trailer calls irresistably for our scrutiny. Excited to join our acappella brethren and sistren for an evening of good/clean/goof fun featuring extensive cameos from the Top 40 of our recent past? Hop on board.

 

YES:
  • Who among ye can resist the bewitching call of pretty, pretty harmonies? Bless this team for hiring a group of actors who sound genuinely lovely when they sing.
  • Anna Kendrick is as good a leading lady for this mini-franchise as they could possibly have landed. She's such a star, and musical comedy sure is her sweet spot.
  • Lilly (Hana Mae Lee) licking Beca's nose! A+ character, will need much more of her in the sequel. She brought a welcome dose of genuine weirdness to the first movie and I hope this time around they let her comic chops roam free. 
  • So they cast David Cross as the gatekeeper/emcee of some kind of underground acapella speakeasy? Y'know, that.... sounds pretty right to me. 
  • There is a downright absurd suite of performance outfits we see on the teams, and I am all for it. Can't have show choir world championships without Scottish BDSM enthusiasts, a disco bowling league, prep-school altar boys, or Chili's hostesses. 
  • Ahhh ha ha ha the tagline for this is "The Pitch Is Back." I can't even be mad at that, that's High Cornball genius.
 

NO:
  • Pretty pretty harmonies notwithstanding, am I seriously hearing that damn Cups song right now. I'm pretty sure it only just left the Billboard charts/my brain after being beaten into us all for a solid two years and now it is coming back to taunt us all and when will it end, Anna Kendrick, when will it end?!?
  • This isn't a dialogue-heavy trailer but they still manage to squeeze in several jokes carbon-copied from the first movie. If they don't try to find new sources of humor, this is going to be one stale hour-and-a-half. 
  • Velour blazers on the boys' group are a big, loud no. Apologies, but if they're going to position that Skylar Whatsisface as a romantic lead there is going to need to be a strict moratorium on velour blazers. It is for the good of mankind that I speak.
  • Snooty European rivals have been done, and they have been done, and they have been done some more.
 

MAYBE SO:
  • This is Elizabeth Banks' directorial debut, which is a bit of a question mark. She produced the original and clearly gets what made it so beloved, plus her scenes playing commentator with John Michael Higgins are far and away the funniest parts of the first movie and of this trailer. Could mean good things.
  • Pillow fights, slow-motion group hugs, team mud-wrestling.. it looks like they plan to lean pretty hard into the rag-tag misfit sisterhood thing. Not inherently a bad thing but can often tip into triteness on the quick. 
  • For a minute there, Rebel Wilson was all over the place and totally happening. If she nails it here she might be able to kickstart that momentum again. I hope they give her more to do than recycle bits from the first movie..
  • Remember the career we all thought Hailee Steinfield was gonna have? Do you think that's still in the cards?

Suprise surprise, I'm still a yes. Who else is with me?
Thursday
Nov062014

Yes No Maybe So: Into the Woods

After a number of official still images, a lovely teaser, rumblings of behind-the-scenes drama, an extended featurette, a bunch of EW covers, and plenty of anticip... ation, the trailer for Rob Marshall's take on Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine's classic musical, Into the Woods is here! More so than the teaser, this trailer introduces us to the main conceit that brings all these characters together: the search for a way to have a curse reversed, something that can only be accomplished by, as the Witch tells us, going into the woods and getting,

One: the cow as white as milk,
Two: the cape as red as blood,
Three: the hair as yellow as corn,
Four: the slipper as pure as gold.

Will the Baker and his Wife (the lowly, unfairy-tale couple at the heart of the show) be able to break the curse and survive the treacherous woods? If you've seen the show, you know "happily ever after" only takes you to the end of Act 1. But enough exposition, here's Manuel playing YES NO MAYBE SO, trying to keep our excitement for this Disney property in order.

YES

- Meryl Streep.
- Meryl Streep. Singing. Sondheim. Need we say more?
- Meryl Streep looking amazing..
- (I can’t help it, she’s front and center in the marketing material. They know what they’re selling and what we’ll be buying; I appreciate the pandering, embrace it, even!)
- Can we talk about how lush and gorgeous Sondheim’s score sounds?
- “I was raised to be charming, not sincere.” Chris Pine, delivering the line of his life.
- “Oh dear, how uneasy I feel.” Runner-up for best line reading in the trailer; Lila Crawford nails the droll delivery (both wistful and jaded) required for this piece to work.
- There's music! Finally a musical billing itself as a musical and not playing the bait-and-switch game (remember Sweeney Todd?)
- Colleen Atwood and Dion Beebe are definitely bringing the pretty (in another version of this post I would merely put up hundres of screengrabs: That popping red cape! Those thorny branches! That golden Cinderella dress! Those amazing step-sister outfits/hairstyles! The Witch’s makeover look! Kendrick on the steps of the castle! Wet princes running our way!)


- I actually love the ethereally earthy (can I trademark that?) look of the piece, at once grounded in the grime and mud of the woods while also using metallics to connote the necessary element of fantasy that pervades this world.
- I love so many of these ladies (Kendrick! Baranski! Ullman! Blunt!), but then we probably all said the same about Marshall’s last musical. Indeed, I’m crazy about the entire cast except for...

 

NO

- ...Johnny Depp. Obviously the biggest deterrent (and that costume isn’t helping matters, is it?) The Red/Wolf scene is going to be particularly hard to pull off; has it been defanged by Disney execs and/or by Depp’s cartooney take on the Big Bad Wolf?
- The CGI-ness of it all gives me pause; might it overwhelm the material?
- I can’t decide if “Be careful what you wish for” is barely serviceable or merely uninspired.
- I promise I'm trying to find other things to notch as NOs, but I'm afraid I'm besotted by this trailer.

 

MAYBE SO

- Whither be our Billy Magnussen? (get out of the way, bushes!) I know he can’t get any type of billing, but there’s not enough of that big hunk of man in this trailer. #Agony
- I’m curious and hesitant about Blunt; this is a tricky part (one which fellow Streep co-star Amy Adams had trouble with a couple of years ago in Shakespeare in the Park)
- Am I the only one noticing that Meryl may not be the best at lip-syncing?
- That giant is… giving me Bryan Singer's Jack the Vampire Giant Slayer vibes.
- It’s still unclear how the numbers will be staged (thankfully away from Marshall’s tried and true stage-as-fantasy conceit) and whether Marshall & co. have managed to ‘open up’ the musical without sacrificing the dramatic beats that make Sondheim and Lapine’s piece work so well on stage. We get a glimpse of Meryl’s number but I’m more curious to see that first ensemble piece play out; the proximity of all these characters is what makes those group numbers sing; can it be replicated on screen?

Ed. Note: Watch it below (and thanks to Anonny for reminding me that in my stupor I'd forgotten to include the trailer itself!)

Unsurprisingly, I’m a "YES! I wish I could have this film in front of me now!" (Though maybe I should be careful what I wish for?) I love the material and this trailer shows there’s potential for greatness. Am I blinded by my love for Streep? By my obsession with Sondheim? By the pretty pretty pictures? Chime in! Calling all the Sondheim purists, the Marshall skeptics and the “I’m over Meryl”s, bring me down from my Into the Woods-induced high! Point me to things that should temper my giddy excitement!