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Entries in musicals (198)

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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Tuesday
Sep092014

Robert Wise Centenary: Star! (1968)

For Robert Wise's centennial, we're looking back on a random selection of his films beyond the familiar mega-hits (The Sound of Music & West Side Story) which we are far more prone to talk about. Here's Manuel discussing Star! (1968).

With its succinctly confident title (exclamation mark and all) Star! is that other Julie Andrews/Robert Wise musical. The film is a biopic of Gertrude Lawrence,  a celebrated English performer who rose up from music halls to become a famed fixture on the West End and Broadway (see why Andrews seemed like such a great fit?). At 176 minutes, the film tests the patience of even those of us enamored with Andrews, musicals, and showbiz dramas.

Much like the very form that made Gertie a star, the film feels like a revue musical more so than a cohesive narrative of or about Gertie’s life. Parents, children, husbands, friends and lovers, come in and out of focus but rarely stay for long enough to create any sort of tension, especially as the movie is intent on barreling through Gertie’s life to give us (count ‘em!) fifteen full musical numbers.

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Monday
Sep082014

TIFF: The Last Five Years

Nathaniel's adventures in Toronto. Day 3

The first thing you see in The Last Five Years is a white brownstone. It looks almost like a ghost in the middle of a New York City block. As the notes begin to play, the camera drifts upwards to peer into windows and search for its movie star within them. No, that's not her.  Not her either. Ah, there she is. Anna Kendrick sings the entirety of "Still Hurting", moping around a dark apartment, crying. The camera moves around her (in strange patterns) and her voice is just beautiful. And then I realize I've forgotten to breathe and am gripping my armrest.

I have a strange relationship to modern movie musicals. We're about 14 years into the movie musical's modern resurgence after two decades of a major drought but it's still hit and miss as to quality and success (not necessarily related). I always desperately want them to be great since there are so few. The fact is, though it's grossly unfair, each of them bears far more responsibility in keeping an entire genre alive than any action, horror, drama, epic or comedy out there. I have trouble relaxing watching them because of all this pressure and only when the film is gobsmackingly great or confident (like a Moulin Rouge!) do the "ohmygodpleasedontkillthemusical" nerves subside and just let me thrill to what's in front of me. 

more...

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Tuesday
Sep022014

Summer (lovin') happened so fast

Hello all, Manuel here wishing you all a great “back to school!” week with some choice words from your favorite singing and dancing adults-playing-teens.

I've had the best summer of my life and now I have to go away. It isn't fair."

To all the Sandys out there who have spent their summer nights bowling in the arcade, making out under docks, and getting friendly in the sand, it must surely seem unfair that it’s that time of year again when we bid goodbye to fun summer flings and have instead to prep ourselves for another school year. We could spend the next couple of weeks moping about the end of summer, and wishing we didn't have to spend the last beautiful days of the year indoors pining away, but, like Grease itself, we should see this coming back to school moment as an opportunity to engage in a high-energy musical number. True, Frankie Valli's rendition of Barry Gibb's "Grease" opens the film (while cartooney versions of our leads get ready for their first day of school) but it is "Summer Nights" which officially kicks off this musical comedy, framing the entire narrative of the film as an attempt to reclaim and repurpose the spirit (and romance!) of those summer nights amidst the dreary day to day of senior year.

“Okay girls, let’s go get ‘em!”

I had a friend in high school who, without a doubt, would always bring up "Summer Nights" on our first day of school ("tell me more! tell me more!" he'd joke, though I rarely had anything as interesting as Sandy to share with him). I never told him this, but thinking back on it, I would have much rather us role-play being the Pink Ladies (rather than dear old "Sandra Dee"!). I mean, in terms of heading back to school, I think Rizzo and the Pink Ladies have the right attitude. Can you really go wrong with sunglasses, pink jackets, gum and a killer strut?

Did you have, like Sandy, an unforgettable summer that you wish would never end? Have you already chosen what fabulous outfit you’ll be wearing when you make your grand return to the classroom this fall? Tell me more, tell me more!

Monday
Aug252014

How To Get Away With Linking

/Film Keith Stanfield of Short Term 12 fame will play Snoop Dogg in the N.W.A. biopic Straight Outta Compton. He also has a key supporting role in Selma. So glad things are going his way
Buzzfeed Must read list of 17 black women who deserve their own biopic. God, if we could get even half of these projects greenlit there'd finally be roles for our best black actresses to fight over. I'd replace some of the dream names with better actresses though. Where's my Lorraine Toussaint and Kimberly Elise?
In Contention icymi images from Selma have been going around. Can't wait to see this movie 
Playboy interviews the one and only Terry Gilliam on Zero Theorem and his past pictures


Playbill in light of all the 'was it or wasn't it cut from the movie?' discussion around Into the Woods' songbook, here's a list of famous numbers that were cut from their film versions like Cabaret, Dreamgirls and so on
Gawker has an amusing objection to Clive Owen hawking vodka
MI6 the new James Bond film is looking for a memorable assassin called "Hinx" -- muscular and over 6'2" and will have some major fight scenes. 
Bam Smack Pow a twitter account called Josh Trank gave us our first look at what Jamie Bell will look like in Fantastic Four (i.e. not like Jamie Bell at all. Ugh. Why you wanna cast him in a role where we can't see his face. Sigh) but it turned out to be a prank
Moviefone talks with Joseph Gordon-Levitt about Sin City: A Dame To Kill For and tries to ask about that proposed Sandman adaptation, too

Tweet of the Week

 

 

 Love you Viola! We do. We do

Gay Gay Gay
The Guardian MPAA is homophobic. What else is new. If you have gay content you're obviously always R. Even without sex scenes. See: Love is Strange
The Advocate explains why there needs to be more gay sex on television. Looking can't do it alone!   

Cinema and Real Life
The Stake on what we can learn from sci-fi movies and TV about the militarization of police forces 
Salon is the medium's obsession with Robin Williams suicide rough on those struggling with depression? That'd be a yes.

Off Cinema But Of Interest
i09  incredible photo tribute to the cats who served in World War I. I had no idea about this. I now feel personally cheated that there's never been a good cat moment in a prestige war movie.
AV Club have you heard there's a transphobic Congressmen messing with Laverne Cox's Wikipedia page. Shameful. (And while we're on the subject of Orange is the New Black stars, I'm thrilled that Lori Petty will be joining Season 3. I guess she'll get transferred to Litchfield or something)
Salon interviews Sinead O'Connor on her new record and why she won't sing some of her early work anymore