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Entries in Into the Woods (28)

Saturday
Nov222014

Big Eyes, Big Questions, Big Night... Big Open Thread

He sells paintings. Then he sells pictures of the paintings. Then he sells postcards of the pictures of the paintings.

I've been thinking a lot about art vs. commerce tonight, having just seen Big Eyes in which it is kind of the theme. Only not. Because there is a lot of other things going on inside this movie. Including multiple tones. It veers so far into comedy towards the end that I think they'd be smart to campaign musical/comedy for the Globes. (I kind of wanted it to be a musical. And I think Colleen Atwood and Rick Heinrichs did too but we know Tim Burton doesn't like those.) Christoph Waltz will again be the egregious category frauder of the year since it's most certainly a two-lead movie (he's missing from the first 5-10 minutes but then it's the both of them or either/or throughout. Oscar may or may not bite but it would only bite this one as fresh December bait so smart release date they chose. So for the next month I will live in fear of people loving Waltz's shtick!

We aren't allowed to review it yet so I will shut up now

Tonight: INTO THE WOODS! Which we also aren't allowed to review and which will also surely bring thoughts of art vs. commerce as we see how they adapted Sondheim's popular but still fairly dark musical in the hopes of becoming an all quadrant Disney blockbuster.  

UPDATE: Still sorting out my feelings on INTO THE WOODS but have plenty of time. Loved the first act but the genius of the second act in the show is... not... clear (lost?) with the many changes made. Anna Kendrick was the MVP but the whole cast can really sing and they were all good (barring Johnny Depp on both counts) which is the #1 thing I need in musicals. Alas I have very complicated feelings about the movie musical (my most beloved genre) because I always have too many feelings going in. This is why I need original musicals to return. Less pre-movie feelings obsessiveness to brush away to get to true reaction. 

ANYWAY. WHAT'S ON YOUR CINEMATIC MIND? How ready are you for the holiday movies and these two films?

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!

Thursday
Oct232014

Things Johnny Depp's 'Into the Woods' Costume Makes Him Look Like

Margaret here, examining the first image released of Johnny Depp as The Wolf in Into the Woods.

Take it in. There is a lot going on here. Allow me to guide you through it via the magic of list-making.

THINGS THIS COSTUME MAKES JOHNNY DEPP LOOK LIKE, FROM GREATEST RESEMBLANCE TO LEAST

1. A first-round cut from Big Bad Voodoo Daddy auditions
2. Zsa Zsa Gabor's mustachioed coat rack
3. The illegitimate lovechild of Carmen Sandiego and Templeton the Rat
4. A pile of 1970s car seat covers in dire need of a shampoo
5. The Mask when he watches Cameron Diaz sing for the first time 
6. The "after" in a poorly executed "Smokey Eye" makeup tutorial
7. Johnny Depp on a regular Thursday
8. Fanciest presenter at the WerePimp convention
9. A Zoobilee Zoo
10. A Halloween costume assembled from whatever was left at Party City at 8pm, Oct. 31
11. Villain of Wallace & Gromit and the Curse of the Were-Rabbit live-action reboot
12. Zorro making a surprise cameo in the "What Does the Fox Say?" video
13. A magically animated bearskin rug
14. Cruella de Ville's less fashionable younger brother
15. A Very Manly Muppet or a Muppet of a Man
16. The pirating industry's most sought-after stylist
17. Fantastic Mr. Fox cosplayer
19. A molding vintage print ad for mustache wax
18. Huggy Bear
20. [Insert name of any widely ridiculed celebrity offspring here]
21. What Johnny Depp is supposed to look like when he finally works with someone other than Tim Burton
...
...
...
...
100. a wolf

Any suggestions for additions to the list?

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 ...