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Entries in Into the Woods (25)

Thursday
Oct022014

Breaking: Streep & Blunt Trading Places

Top billed but so what?!

Meryl Streep has the first poster for Christmas release Into the Woods all to herself and the Witch is always the marquee role in Stephen Sondheim's musical on stage. But Meryl will be campaigned supporting. The news isn't technically "official" but it soon will be so we're playing a little game of switcheroo on the Lead Actress and Supporting Actress Oscar Prediction Charts.

Technically this reversal (at least from our expectations) is  probably fine as categorizations go: The Witch is a showy role but it's not a huge one and The Baker's Wife (Emily Blunt) is just as much of a major focal point of the show (winning the lead actress Tony for Joanna Gleason in the first production) and the wife has the clearest arc. So Blunt is our leading contender.

The takeaway, with far less competition (as of yet) in Supporting Actress, Meryl is probably looking at her 19th Oscar nomination. If Emily Blunt doesn't thoroughly own Into the Woods she'll be left out of the very competitive leading lineup which will make it the second time co-starring with Streep where she had a plum role but voters attentions were elsewhere.

And by 'elsewhere' I mean 'where the attention always is': on MERYL STREEP. 

Silly Trivia Alert: If nominated this will not only be Meryl's Fourth nomination in the supporting category after The Deer Hunter (1978), Kramer Vs Kramer (1979), and Adaptation (2002) but her Fourth for a role with a singing solo. She sang "Amazing Grace" in Silkwood (1983), "He's Me Pal" in Ironweed (1987), and "You Don't Know Me" and "I'm Checking Out" from  Postcards from the Edge (1990). Her voice is so expressive. Can't wait to see how she interprets "Stay With Me" in particular.

Tuesday
Sep162014

Thoughts I Had... While Looking at Posters for Three New Musicals

You know how this works. Thoughts as they come to me without self censorship to speed up the blogging... 

Musical No. 1 INTO THE WOODS

• This is how I look in the morning when I accidentally fall asleep with a wig on
• "Be careful what you wish for" - they pay people to write these taglines you know but why not save money on the budget and just use song lyrics. It doesn't get much better than Sondheim lyrics. Wouldn't "Careful the tale you tell, that is the spell..." be more intriguing / and delightfully faithful.  Say what you will about Les Miserables (2012) -- and you have -- but one of the best things about its very successful campaign ($441 million plus worldwide) is that they just used song titles for their character posters
• "Be Careful what you wish for..." as Meryl climbs out of the poster at you, also adds an unfortunate meta layer. Be careful that you ask for Meryl Streep to be in every moviee because she WILL be!
•  Meryl looks a bit like "Yoga Jones" here, yes?
• How much would they charge The Witch for a mani/pedi?
• Christmas. UGH. I am impatient. I used to L-O-V-E going to movies on Christmas day. Now I want all holiday movies to open on Thanksgiving.
• Since The Witch is Rapunzel's mother, we can directly compare her to Donna Murphy's Mother Gothel in Tangled if we'd like... 

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Sep042014

"Happy now and happy hence and happy ever after"?

Manuel here, to discuss some news that got lost in the shuffle last week -in an interview with EW last week, Rob Marshall confirmed that that new Stephen Sondheim-penned number for Into The Woods was cut. [Gay gasp!] Yes, that song which Meryl was so effusive about last year and which Sondheim had penned just for her (seemingly in response to certain plot strands that were left dangling by, well, Disneyfied cuts to the fairy tale musical) has found itself on the cutting room floor. In Marshall's words,

“It was beautiful and spectacular, but it was very clear, as good as the song was, that [the movie] was stronger without.”
Rumblings on the web lead me to believe there's more to the story (isn't there always?) but rather than give credence to the rumor mill, we'll at least have something to look forward to in the film's DVD/Blu-Ray bonus features (they still have those, right? I feel as though I've been streaming so many films lately, I haven't sought out or outright explored these behind the scenes featurettes unless they become viral sensations). 

 

But rather than ask that obvious question ("will the song still be featured in some way in the film and thus be eligible for the Best Original Song?") I thought I'd open it up to a more interesting, if obscure, conversation. Writing new songs for existing musicals as they make their way to the silver screen is nothing new. Written either as an Oscar-grab or as a way to solve cinematic problems when adapting stage-primed material, these songs have been just as often outright hits as they've been unmistakable misses. For every serviceable number such as "Suddenly" (Les Mis) there is a head-scratcher like "Cinema Italiano" (Nine). For every tacked on song like "Hopelessly Devoted to You" (Grease) that nevertheless finds life outside of the musical film therein, there is "Mein Herr" which is now integral to stage mountings of Cabaret

I know I'm talking to the theatre queens in the audience, but I'm sure there's plenty of you out there: If you could choose one such number to nix it from a musical film adaptation, which one would it be? Or, conversely, which numbers written specifically for the screen do you think have captured the spirit of the show and made significant contributions to its sensibility? 

Monday
Aug182014

Stage Door: Two Hunks

Billy Magnusson as "Rapunzel's Prince"If you're looking forward to Into the Woods, you should familiarize yourself with one of its two Prince Charmings. The Observer has a great profile of rising star Billy Magnusson who is in a new play called "Sex With Strangers" with Breaking Bad's Anna Gunn. We heart him here at TFE from the moment we first noticed him in his eventually Tony nominated role in Vanya and Sonya and Masha and Spike (reviewed). He played Spike in all his shirtless Sigourney's- boy-toy glory. We'd also seen him as one of the dumbest jocks ever committed to film in Whit Stillman's Damsels in Distress but either he hadn't yet perfected his sleight of hand with this 'type' or you had to be paying closer attention.

He was fun on The Leftovers a couple of weeks back, too, as a man who sold artificial look-alike corpses of your vanished loved ones. And if you've tried watching that show you'll know how surprising it is to call anyone "fun" within its creepy miserabilism. Frankly the show could use more gallows humor like it had during his intoxicating appearance.

I love this observation from the Observer profile:

On Screen and Stage Billy Magnusson often plays what I have started referring to as the Billy Magnusson Character: infectiously high energy, slightly drunk, and constantly hitting on an older woman. Oh, and he's got to take his top off. Just rip the thing off. Seriously like right now.

...What makes the Billy Magnussen Character so compelling is that he'll simultaneous play both to and against type.

I recommend that you familiarize yourself right quick with this Billy Magnussen Character. His Twitter and Instagram are fun too with cameos from co-stars of note like Kathy Bates & this one of Meryl Streep at the first sing-through of Into the Woods a year ago this month.

In other stage sex symbol news, how's this for shameless and thoroughly modern self-promotion....?

You almost never hear about actors from stage touring companies but a dancer named Mark MacKillop who played Riff in a recent West Side Story production, is selling a book compiling every photo taken of himself in hotel rooms on the road when he was lonely.

[NSFW photos after the jump...]

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Aug142014

Oscar Rumblings, Song Cuttings, Record Breakings

don't cry Meryl, you've got plenty of songs to sing already!No sooner do we get the Oscar charts updated than everything changes. We are Sisyphus! 

I was thrilled to have a new Stephen Sondheim song to look forward to after all the build-up, but we shan't be hearing it. At least not within the context of Into the Woods since they've cut it from the movie. Sorry Meryl... but you've got other great songs to sing. That means less one Oscar nomination for the movie which could earn anywhere from 0 to, you know, 14. I should pretend to have a clue how this will be received but my own deep love of Sondheim musicals has really messed with my radar about this movie. I remain both totally elated that it will be onscreen and terrified at all the things that are sure to be wrong with it. What should we replace it with in "Best Original Song"? HELP

But while we're on the topic of Rob Marshall movies, remember Chicago (2002)? Chicago should be a perfect example to show film and stage people that film versions of stage shows do not hurt the box office so there's no reason to wait (*cough* Wicked). They help it enormously. Chicago the stage show was tapering off before the movie and moved to a smaller theater. It's been steady ever since and come November it  will surpass Cats as Broadway's longest running musical that isn't named Phantom of the Opera. It's been on the boards since 1996 and...

I lost the thread. OSCARS.

As you may have heard American Sniper, Clint Eastwood's latest - you know how he do with not one film a year but two - will open at Christmas so Oscar talks begins in 3...2... oh never mind it already began. Like clockwork. But do you think Clint still has that golden touch or do you doubt that he'll recover with this one. This film is an adaptation of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle’s memoir "American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History." That title sounds so boastful! But The Academy likes Eastwood when he's doing masculine genres... so, it's something to consider at least. 

And still more Oscar rumblings: Fury is moving up to October (smart move) and buzz is strong on Logan Lerman. You may recall I interviewed him for Perks of Being a Wallflower and they were very smart to pursue longshot awards attention for him there. Awards are so often about momentum and being perceived as worthy before a film even hints. Build a good reputation and make good films and you gather steam. And Awards Circuit talked to someone who saw a test screening of Unbroken so give that a look if you're eager for a random opinion. I never know how seriously to take test screenings since one person's "wonderful" is another person's "meh", you know?

Finally, we got the first still from P.T. Anderson's Inherent Vice, however tiny it is... via The Film Stage via EW in print

Thursday
Jul312014

I Wish... we'd get an "Into the-- Hey, I wasn't done wishing yet!

Well, this is unexpected. Just one day after releasing 10 new images, and an hour after posting about them, there's a teaser, too.

You'd think they'd want to space out the media attention since Christmas is still a long way away but we'll take it. As per usual, they're not quite admitting it's a musical yet in advertising. You hear the opening words "I wish..." of the prologue chorale number over and over again but nobody quite sings it as if the spirit of Rex Harrison has taken over. Anna Kendrick comes closest to sounding melodic while just speaking. But the teaser is enticing.

Come what may, for better and we-hope-not worse, it will be an event to see this musical on big screens during the holidays.

Thursday
Jul312014

Thoughts I Had... while looking at new "Into the Woods" images

If there is one thing in life that's certain at TFE beyond daily postings, Actress mania, Oscar chart delays, and time-jumping movie coverage, it's this: if Meryl Streep is featured there are a bajillion comments. And yet the last two Streep attacks, a look back at 2009 and a subliminal Hours reunion proved the exception. Is this merely summer doldrums or a sign of the Streepocalypse? Or were people just waiting for Into the Woods news? If so, it has arrived.

UPDATE: And the Teaser too!

Yesterday a bunch of new images surfaced from the movie and you know how this goes. We look at the image and we list off thoughts as they come without self-censorship to keep the brain loose and the words flowing and to not be too mundane about what this actually is - free advertising for Disney and regurgitated photo sharing.

Meet Rapunzel
• I always forget her in Into the Woods because she's immobile and shares her scenes with the Witch (Meryl Streep) who invariably steals them.
• So annoying when movie studios release one image with different proportions than the others. Rapunzel gets a vertical rectangle. Is this to show off the hair? 
• I love Tangled.
• When I was a wee boy it was my dream to make a Rapunzel movie because it was the only fairy tale I loved that DIDN'T have a Disney movie and also because my big sister had long hair and Crystal Gayle was still famous and yes that makes me an ancient - shut up! #40somethingisthenew30something
• Mackenzie Mauzy is literally the only Into the Woods cast member I don't know from anything. I guess she was on soaps? Are you familiar?

10 more photos after the jump...

Click to read more ...