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Entries in Gene Kelly (11)

Monday
Oct272014

Stage Door: A Hellavu "On the Town" Revival

New York, New York, a helluva town.
The Bronx is up, but the Battery's down.
The people ride in a hole in the groun'.
New York, New York, it's a helluva town! ♪ ♫

On the Town, the 1944 stage musical by Betty Comden & Adolph Green, most famous in its 1949 big screen incarnation with Gene Kelly & Frank Sinatra, is back on the boards. (Just in time for Green's centennial this December. What a songwriting pair those two were.)

I always thought the '49 film was somewhat forgotten, at least in comparison to Anchors Aweigh (1945) the first Kelly/Sinatra sailors musical but maybe that's because I'm an Oscar freak and the first pairing was a much bigger Oscar deal in its day with 5 nominations and a win. So I was surprised some years ago that On the Town made the AFI's 25 greatest musicals list at #19 . I always thought of it as very stage bound so I shouldn't have been surprised that it's so utterly delightful on the stage. [more]

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Dec172013

Interview: Greta Gerwig on "Frances Ha" and Movie Musicals

Greta at the "Her" premiere in LA last weekTrue stars are always spectacularly themselves onscreen, even when acing the particulars of a new character. And make no mistake, Frances Ha's Greta Gerwig is a star, despite her deceptively modest indie trappings. Even the Hollywood Foreign Press Assocation, notoriously reluctant to honor non-household names, could see it. They nominated her last week for a Golden Globe alongside little unknowns like "Meryl Streep" and "Amy Adams" for Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical last week. In its own peculiar way Frances Ha is the film that most belongs in that category, being both musically inclined (Greta's Frances is a struggling modern dancer) and very very funny. The actress dances through Frances Ha, which she also co-wrote, with such endearing inimitable style that she's finally ascended, becoming the "GRETA GERWIG!" she was always going to become. 

I talked to this gifted actress recently about the somewhat arbitrary nature of movie awardage but we quickly moved on to two topics far closer to her heart: creative collaboration and movie musicals. When it came to the latter, her voice lifted with as much energy as her titular character exhibited in those spirited spinning runs down Manhattan streets in Frances Ha.

Nathaniel R: Everyone movie fan I've ever talked to about you remembers vividly the first time they saw you in something. I think this is a huge compliment to you.

GRETA GERWIG: That's really nice.  

What do you attribute that to?

I don't know. I think it's sort of "Who let her in the building?" I think it has that effect on people. [Laughter] But I'm glad I'm memorable!

[Three actors Greta loves and movie musicals after the jump...]

Click to read more ...

Monday
Nov052012

My Fair Linky

The Poison Pen on the shifting gaze of cinema, objectifying men and, specifically, Gene Kelly's ass
Stale Popcorn Nicole Kidman goes totally 'My Fair Lady' for the races in Australia
The Advocate another gay role for Benedict Cumberbatch. He'll play the "fifth Beatle"  Brian Epstein in a new biopic
Movie City News David Poland talks to Sally Field for Lincoln 

Vulture considers the Looper effect. New time travel films are coming, one from Leonardo DiCaprio's company
Movie|Line talks to the LEOgend. She's in everything lately including Flight
/Film Paul Thomas Anderson screens 20 extra minutes of The Master, to be included on the DVD release 
Guardian Skyfall is breaking records well before its US box office debut 
Empire a look at Ben Kingsley as The Mandarin in Iron Man 3 
Cinema Blend Maggie Smith's recent health scare was, very thankfully, much exaggerated by rumors. But there's still no word on whether she'll return to Downton Abbey for a fourth season.

Finally, have you seen Elizabeth Olsen on the set of Oldboy? She's giving you Maggie Gyllenhaal realness.

Right? I also love that she's standing by a Catering and Extras sign. As if.

Thursday
Aug232012

Gene Kelly (& My 50 Favorite Actors)

Happy Centennial to Gene Kelly (and all film fans who love him)!

100 years ago on this very day Eugene Curran Kelly was born in Pittsburgh. His mom pushed him into dance class but he didn't commit to becoming a dancer until the age of 15. At 29 fame hit with Broadway's "Pal Joey." Almost immediately thereafter he accidentally (or at least halfheartedly since he intended to return to stage) lept from the stage to the screen and stayed, starting with a co-starring role in For Me and My Gal (1942, previously covered -- he credits Judy Garland with teaching him how to act for cameras). Kelly remains the best silver screen song & dance man of all time (sorry Astaire!) and since musicals are the perfect genre, making full use of every tool available to filmmakers aurally and visually, he also happens to be one of my ten favorite movie stars ever of either gender. I'd hoped to celebrate Kelly all month long but time gets away from you in the dog days of summer. Ah well, at least we had Singin' in the Rain (1952)!!!

So herewith a quick semi-revised list...

Nathaniel's 50 Favorite Male Movie Stars of All Time


Tier 1 - Yin and Yang
neither my life nor the movies would be complete without them
MONTGOMERY CLIFT
GENE KELLY

48 more after the jump

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Aug152012

Hit Me With Your Best Shot: "Singin' in the Rain"

I'm multi-tasking with this, the penultimate episode of Season 3 of Hit Me With Your Best Shot, the series wherein we choose the single best shot of pre-selected movies and discuss. Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen's masterpiece Singin' in the Rain (1952) is also a member of my personal canon (top ten to be exact) and we're using it to kick off our Gene Kelly Centennial Celebration. I'll be looking at a few more Kelly features next week, but we're starting with his greatest achievement. Weirdly the far inferior An American in Paris which directly preceded Singin' won Oscar's heart with ease and yet they ignored this one. 'I caaaannnnt stan' it').

"Monumental Pictures"... Yep. It sure stands tall among them!

Singin' in the Rain more than earns its reputation as 'the happiest movie ever made.'  I am reasonably certain that I could write about Singin' in the Rain every day for a year and still not run out of things to say. I'm already sad that this article will not include an ode to Lina Lamont (Jean Hagen SO deserved the Oscar and nabbed one of the film's two nominations. Only two!) or an examination of the largely unheralded  "All I Do is Dream of You" number which I love beyond all reason and would be the best number in most musicals but is just a little toss off here. 

All things considered, the film is lighter than air and swift on its feet both of which are jaw-dropping accomplishments since it's actually incredibly dense. Take the structure for a prime example: this movie about the history of movies (and, oh so casually, the DNA strands the medium borrows from the stage) starts with a premiere of a movie and then flashes back to previous (multiple) films before moving forward to become a movie about the making of new movie which too closely resembles the previous movie "if you've seen one, you've seen 'em all" which then gets rewritten as an entirely different movie with another movie embedded inside of it !!! After all of that, it ends with a poster of a movie that's yet to come... or is possibly the movie we've just watched. Whew. (It's got as many dream layers as Inception, Synecdoche New York or a David Lynch movie but way less fussiness about them.)

"and I'm ready for love ♪ " - usually my choice for "best shot" or at least the moment which I fall the hardest for Gene Kelly each time

Singin' in the Rain's killer combination of joyful buoyancy, masculine athleticism and artistic grace as it leaps from scene to scene are perfectly paralleled in the face, body, and talent of Gene Kelly himself. Kelly is one of my two all time favorite male movie stars, the other being Montgomery Clift. As I watched the movie for the umpteenth time today it suddenly occurred to me that the two of them are a perfect bipolar representation of my own very particular Gemini cinephilia; they're my beautiful big screen avatars of Joy and Despair.  

My "Best Shot" choice last night

I bring this up because, curiously, for the first time while watching Singin' in the Rain I felt a wave of sudden sadness hit me. I was grinning from ear to ear as "Good Morning" began (the only sane response knowing the bliss to come from the scene's inventive choreography, perfect tripled performance and fluid feeling) when suddenly my eyes welled up and stayed that way for the entire number. This had never happened to me before! As Cosmo, Kathy and Don collapsed on the couch in a big heap of giggling, I felt as simultaneously elated and exhausted as the characters were meant to and as the actors might have been after multiple takes (so few cuts, so much dancing!). But I was laughing through tears because they don't make 'em like this anymore.

BEST SHOT PARTICIPANTS


What a glorious feeling, they're blogging again...
The Family Berzurcher "It’s impossible to ignore the ecstasy of Singin’, but it takes movies very seriously."
Dial P For Popcorn "it makes me shiver... it makes me swoon"
Serious Film "continually reframing the dancers, moving them in and out of shadow" 
Antagony & Ecstasy "the lies movies tell are part of what makes them work as movies
Coco Hits NYC "a playfulness that is just magnetic"
Okinawa Assault "a sequence where gray and black dominate, is just as happy as the scenes with brighter colours in them."
Film Actually "the suggestion of sex is never this overt"
Being Norma Jeane "Cosmo and Lina are just beautiful in this movie. So funny, so brilliant." 
Sorta That Guy "It made me laugh, made me want to learn tap dancing, and most obviously made me fall in love with Kelly." 
Encore's World "Lina, unable to discern the difference between real life and fantasy" 
Pussy Goes Grrr  "Show biz is not sophisticated. In fact, it’s crude. It’s stupid. But per Singin’ in the Rain, it’s a glorious, outrageous, beautiful kind of stupidity"

And welcome these 'best shot' first timers!
Arf She Said "I love how the whole film opens up as Don's heart expands." 
Kelli Marshall "the one shot of Singin’ in the Rain that gets me every time"
Allison Tooey "looking utterly at ease despite flimsy support"
Lerblacompo "Don and Gene believed in their fantasies so much that it's impossible for us not to believe them, too.

If you didn't participate, tell us about your favorite shot in the film!
Do your feelings line up with any of these joyful to read articles?

[P.S. Next week is the Season 3 finale of "best shot" as we watch "Dog Day Afternoon" together. Best Shot will return in 2013 for a fourth season! Every episode thus far]

Thursday
Aug092012

Personal Canon #99: XANADU (1980)

From now until the end of August we'll be celebrating Gene Kelly for his Centennial (August 23rd to be exact) so let's revisit Xanadu, which opened 32 years ago last night! It's a member of my Personal Canon... also known as "The movies I think about when I think about the movies"


"A Movie That Nobody Dares To Love"

A Broadway version of this 1980 classic opened on Broadway a few years back marking yet another jokey acknowledgement of Xanadu's kitsch value. It was high timeto rediscover the film in all of its enduring time-capsule glory. For Xanadu, you see, is not the tongue-in-cheek comedy that it was reworked as. It's a completely sincere endeavor and, I'd argue, endearingly so. It's not one of those films that are so intentionally bad that it's subversively excellent (see: Showgirls). No, Xanadu is the real deal: a straight-faced musical. It just had the terrible misfortune to celebrate a number of things that would be out of style almost immediately thereafter: roller rinks, disco, legwarmers, greek mythology, album covers … and Olivia Newton-John.

The album art within "Xanadu" though not the movie's soundtrack album coverIt's easy to dismiss Xanadu for the very things it shamelessly loves but it's a shame to dismiss the shameless if they're also compulsively watchable. What other movie gives you a glimpse into the lost profession of album cover illustration? None that I know of. In what other movie will you see Greek muses come to life from a painting on a brick wall? Even Clash of the Titans didn't have that. What other movie has the wacky chutzpah to give you a pop star as A list as Olivia Newton-John (she is strangely disregarded now but don't be fooled: she was an enormous star with dozens of hit songs) and put her on rollerskates and in only one outfit for almost an entire film?

MORE...

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Tuesday
May082012

Les Línkables

TMZ life imitating art - Shawarma sales skyrocketing in LA after The Avengers opening.
Coming Soon has a new photo from the set of Les Misérables. I'm choosing to interpret this set as an homage to Moulin Rouge!'s greatness
Acidemic would like you to know that 1933, not 1939 was the greatest year at the movies.
Playlist Maybe Edgar Wright is going to make that Ant-Man movie after all.

Antagony & Ecstacy looks back at Ang Lee's Hulk (2003) in the wake of the new green giant fever sweeping the nation. Really interesting piece.
In Contention Gene Kelly centennial tribute hosted by the Academy next week in LA. Someone go and tell me all about it. We'll celebrate his centennial here in August (the actual month of his birth)
Movie|Line Jessica Chastain finally passes on a movie. Hee!
SuperPunch has photos of Wal-Mart's The Avengers set. I include this only because its rabidly sexist. I believe when the camera spun around the heroes in that highly publicized shot it was The Black Widow and not Loki who was part of the heroic team. (sigh) 
Kenneth in the (212) Fun couples: Woody Allen and... Lindsay Lohan? 

P.S. This is the best thing that Kate Beckinsale has ever done.

 

Told ya!

Off Cinema.
It's sometimes worth stepping out of the movie theater. Rarely but still...
The Realist for those of you who've spent too much time on Facebook
Playbill weirdest music news of the week. Twisted Sister's Dee Snider recording an album of showtunes with Broadway friendly guest stars