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Entries in musicals (202)

Tuesday
Nov182014

Interview: John Carney "Begin Again"

Jose here. When I learned I would be talking to Begin Again director John Carney, I had to promise myself that my interview wouldn't just consist of me begging him to reshoot that scene where Greta (Keira Knightley) and Dan (Mark Ruffalo) put on their headphones and walk through NYC, using me and Keira... 

...because as magical movie moments go, that one takes the crown this year. You'll be relieved to hear that I did talk to him about other things when we spoke about Begin Again, which is now out on DVD. We even get the last word on which songs will be campaigned for Oscar nominations. 

JOSE: Begin Again is actually the only film that I paid to see more than once in movie theaters this year...

JOHN CARNEY: Sorry, can you say that once more, I didn’t hear you.

JOSE: Yeah sure, I was just saying your movie is the only one I bought tickets to more…

JOHN CARNEY: [Laughs] That’s fantastic and I was joking, I heard you the first time, but wanted to hear you say it again.

I really meant it. The last time I went, I had literally just been dumped by someone, so in trying to make myself feel better, going to see Begin Again seemed like the only option.

I’m sorry, but I’m glad you went again, that’s very sweet!

Keira Knightley and John Carney

This mostly made me wonder if you intended to make the film as the equivalent of “listening to your favorite record” when you’re feeling blue for example?

Oh that’s interesting and it’s funny you say that. Mostly I think that musical films are more like albums in the way that they make sense anywhere, you don’t necessarily have to follow the plot each time to just tune into that bit you love, like an album.  [More...

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Friday
Nov072014

The Honoraries: Harry Belafonte and the Music of 'Beat Street'

In "The Honoraries" we're looking at the careers of this year's Honorary Oscar recipients (O'Hara, Miyazaki, Carriere) and the Jean Hersholt winner (Belafonte). Here's Glenn on a Belafonte hip-hop musical gem…

Harry Belafonte brought hip-hop culture to the world with Beat Street. This rather unassuming musical from 1984, made in the shadow of Style Wars and Wild Style, might not strike you as an important film, but it very much is for the way it influenced a lifestyle and popularized it around the globe. Belafonte was a producer on the film as well as the soundtrack (the first film to ever release two soundtracks – I have part one on vinyl!) and his influence shows. His time-tested ability to spin niche into cultural touchstones is yet again on display with this, the first mainstream film to focus on hip-hop, graffiti art and breakdancing into a hit. Giving the under-heard voice of the youth an audience.

I also just happen to think it is a wildly entertaining film, and the kind of which we rarely get.

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Thursday
Oct302014

The Honoraries: Harry Belafonte in Carmen Jones (1954)

Welcome to "The Honoraries". We're celebrating the careers of the Honorary Oscar recipients of 2014 and the Jean Hersholt winner (Harry Belafonte). Here's longtime TFE reader and new contributor Teo Bugbee, whose work you might have read at The Daily Beast, on Belafonte's biggest film...

Even in the fantastic canon of classic Hollywood musicals, Carmen Jones is a standout. It’s got all the colors—Deluxe, not Technicolor, which as any John Waters fan will tell you is the real deal—it’s got the timeless score by Georges Bizet, but before we talk about the film itself, let’s take a minute to look at the backstory, if only because what was going on behind the scenes in Carmen Jones is at least as interesting as what made it on film. 

Though he never really made particularly political films, director Otto Preminger was a modern man when it came to his politics, and he proposed the idea of adapting the Broadway smash Carmen Jones into a film as a means of showing off the black talent that he felt Hollywood was excluding. But despite Preminger’s substantial box office clout, no major studio wanted to take on a film with an all black cast. So Preminger took Carmen Jones to United Artists and set out making it basically as an independent film.

Harry Belafonte was brought on immediately as Joe, but Preminger took a longer time to find his star, testing a number of black actresses. 

Lusty affairs and a singular film after the jump...

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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]

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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.

Friday
Sep192014

Lukewarm Off Presses: Ben-Hur, Bourne-Again, Baz Junior?

Catching up with some stories we've missed of late.

BEN-HUR
Morgan Freeman was the first cast member announced for the remake of Best Picture winning Ben-Hur (1959) which was itself a remake of the silent epic of the same name in 1925.  Freeman will play the role of a wise old man who gives advice like a Pez Dispenser with Morgan Freeman's face on it. Can Morgan Freeman do anything else? Shame that a once very gifted actor now plays EXACTLY the same role in everything. Maybe he doesn't care to stretch? Jack Huston of Boardwalk Empire fame (who seems to be in the running for everything these days -even if he hasn't booked the high profile stuff until now) will play the lead Charlton Heston role. But good luck trying to best William Wyler's Oscar winning classic (one of 'em rather). I shudder to think how they'll handle Messala, previously slyly interpreted by Stephen Boyd on the DL.

BOURNE AGAIN
In a weird case of "WAIT. I changed my mind!" Matt Damon is getting back into the Bourne franchise along with previous director Paul Greengrass (who is also possibly doing an Olympics bombing true story movie) and delaying Jeremy Renner's already begun takeover. The same thing happened with Jeremy Renner's assumed takeover of the Mission Impossible franchise until Cruise wanted back in. This will and already has prompted think pieces on Jeremy's failure to become a star but nobody would be griping on him if his agent (and maybe the man himself) hadn't gotten so greedy. How many franchises does one actor need?(Bourne, MI, Witch Hunters, Avengers, etcetera) Especially an actor that good with two Oscar nominations already?

But if we're going to start interrupting reboots with original casts, can we shelve the next Amazing Spider-Man movies and just get Tobey Maguire back in tights? P-L-E-A-S-E. That'd free up Andrew Garfield to be a real actor again and to say "you better lawyer up asshole" if they drop his surely unending contract. 

BAZ JR
I don't mean to be snarky about newbie director Diesel Schwarze, a Baz Luhrmann protege, because it's quite possible that he'll be his own brilliant artist. But I needed another "B" for alliterative blogging, what. SO, anyway, he's doing an original musical that uses pre-existing songs (a la Moulin Rouge!) called Ziggy and Dane DeHaan and Rooney Mara are earmarked to star in it. Can they sing? It's not quite Ewan MacGregor and Nicole Kidman exciting even in terms of in context 2014 vs 2000 stardom levels at press release time, but it's still interesting. Especially since it sounds weird...

Dehaan will play a hunchback in NYC who falls for a beautiful woman already mixed up with a powerful man -- you know how singing hunchbacks do!

Wednesday
Sep102014

A Year with Kate: The Madwoman of Chaillot (1969)

Episode 37 of 52:  In which Katharine Hepburn plays another aristocrat in an odd little movie that makes no sense.

1969 was a really weird year for Kate. At age 62, she’d achieved commercial and critical success unlike any she’d experienced before. The Lion in Winter and Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner had not only earned Katharine Hepburn back-to-back Oscars, but also made her one of the top grossing stars of 1968. But as the 60s blossomed into the 70s, Kate took two very strange steps: an allegory, and a musical. Limitations be damned, she was Kate the Great, and she hadn’t had a flop in 15 years. That was about to change.

The Madwoman of Chaillot works as a curio, but not as a film. Based on a postwar French allegory, “updated” to include topical issues such as student riots and atomic power, the resulting movie is one Be In short of a bad 60s cliche. The cast is a veritable Who’s Who of Old Hollywood, New Hollywood, and Cinecitta: Katharine Hepburn is joined by Yul Brynner, Richard Chamberlain, Dame Edith Evans, Donald Pleasence, John Gavin, Danny Kaye, and Fellini muse Giulietta Masina, as well as two of Kate’s former leading men: Charles Boyer and Paul Henreid. This is great news for anyone playing Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, but unfortunately does not improve the quality of the film.

"That's the way we became the Chaillot Bunch!"

 

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