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Entries in musicals (189)

Monday
Oct282013

Monologue: "As Long As He Needs Me"

[This article was originally published in 2010 but we're adapting/rewriting it a bit for our celebration of the 1968 film year as we march towards the latest Supporting Actress Smackdown.]

1968's Best Picture Oliver! is commonly disparaged these days as an Oscar blunder and a typical example of the bloat that eventually derailed the musical genre. Musicals were big business back then and like animated family features now or action films roughly a decade ago, the running times got more and more padded. It's a common hubris problem for whatever genre is the reigning box office champion. 1968 featured at least four big ticket musicals -- Funny Girl, Finian's Rainbow, Star! and Oliver! -- and they all clock in well over 2 hours with all but one of them tipping over to be closer to 3 hours in length.  Combine this problem with the critical endurance of 2001: A Space Odyssey's legend and add in that six Oscar haul and what do you get? Critical animosity. Oscar enthusiasts are familiar with this phenom and they know that winning the big prize isn't always good for your place in film history. 

So Oliver! will have to settle for its place in personal histories and in mine it looms large. (It's weird that as a child I had such a long attention span. As an adult I get antsy once you've past the 110 minute mark but wee Nat couldn't get enough of all 153 minutes of this musicalized Oliver Twist whenever it played on television.) It probably won't surprise you to hear that literally every one of my favorite scenes was focused on Nancy, the prostitute with the heart of gold (Shani Wallis). 

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Oct242013

Kate, Barbra, and Oscar Part 2: The Diva

Anne Marie with the second half of the two-part post on the Best Actress tie for 1968. Part One is here if you missed it.

The audience of the 41st Academy Awards roared its approval when Ingrid Bergman announced that Hollywood newcomer Barbra Streisand had tied Katharine Hepburn for Best Actress in a Leading Role. But though Streisand has since achieved immense popularity and icon status, this win is still questioned by some. After all, Hepburn was a giant among giants, giving the performance of her career in The Lion in Winter alongside a stellar cast with a sizzling script. Barbra was certainly the best part of an otherwise unremarkable musical. As a highly fictionalized version of famous vaudevillian Fanny Brice, Stresiand packed a ton of charm, chatter, charisma, and chutzpah into one role. But is that enough to warrant an Academy Award?

Actually, yes it is...

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Tuesday
Oct082013

Countdown to Carrie: "When There's No One"

I'm not suggesting that I want to see Chloe Grace Moretz in a musical (God, no) but wouldn't it be great if the impending Carrie remake (October 18th) were an adaptation of the infamous flop stage musical instead or just a retread on hallowed cinema ground? At least then it would have a reason for existing.

Here's the beautiful Alice Ripley, famous to Broadway fans as one half of Side Show's siamese twin stars and the lead in the mental illness musical Next To Normal (which also needs to be a movie, right?) and singing Carrie's 11th hour amazement "When There's No One" on Seattle TV. The stage musical, which we've written about before when it played here in NYC recently, is playing there this month so Seattle readers take note and let us know if you go to the show!) This number is the signature showstopper from cracked mamma Margaret White, a role originated by Betty Buckley on stage (who neatly also co-starred in the Brian dePalma classic... albeit not in the same role.)

 

It's hard to picture Julianne Moore belting that out but I hope the movie star at least does it for friends at karaoke for a laugh.

Friday
Sep272013

Thoughts I Had... The First Image of Meryl in "Into the Woods"

Uncensored as they come to me... thoughts on the first on the first still from Into the Woods

  • This image gives me hope and I need it with this movie which could easily be a disaster because Rob Marshall
  • "blue hair"... no longer a euphemism!
  • Someone needs a manicure. (The place I go for my mani-pedis services Marcia Gay Harden. The manicurist couldn't speak English but obviously knew her client was a celebrity because she'd plastered her photo all around her station -- and was beaming when I acknowledged them. This has nothing to do with Meryl Streep but you know whoever does her manicures feels like they won the Oscar of nail polishing!
  • If they were going to give her the puffy black shoulder sleeves THANK GODDESS they surprised with the hair otherwise it could've been confused as an outtake from her eccentric auntie cameo in Lemony Snicket
  • Colleen Atwood's 11th nomination and 4th win for Best Costume Design? I'd call her the Meryl Streep of that category except that there are two Streeps of that category. The other being Sandy Powell (who also have 10 noms and 3 wins)
  • I love La Streep's singing voice. I mean LOVE it. I still regularly listen to her songs from Postcards from the Edge, Ironweed, Death Becomes Her and that wonderful undersung practically sung-through performance in A Prairie Home Companion. So I'm happy she's doing a real musical and not Mamma Mia 2: More Screaming, More Running, More OverActing
  • Since Into the Woods is SUCH  a creation of the stage I hope they find a way to transfer it happily to this new medium. I'm hoping they really use the title setting wisely. Woods can look beautiful, eery, earthy, surreal... they're so flexible and rangey; they're the Meryl Streep of Nature. 

Friday
Sep202013

First Look: Quvenzhané Wallis as Lil' Orphan "Annie"

Classic musical moppet "Annie" may no longer be a brilliant orange redhead but the new film version was savvy enough to still give her a memorable mop o' hair. Here's our first peek at Oscar nominee Quvenzhané Wallis as the singing orphan.

This photo also reveals that the musical is no longer a Depression era fable, but set in the here and now. But it's obviously still not going for realism. Quvenzhané, who turned 10 last month, was biking around Harlem like so in character and CitiBike is not offered up here in Harlem much to the frustration of residents like Harlem Gal Inc and me... I was totally going to sign up but CitiBike currently ends at 59th street. Damn them!

Annie (2014), opening Christmas day next year, will be our first chance to see the Oscar nominee act since she was a five year old since Beasts of the Southern Wild was filmed years before it was released. Yes, she's in 12 Years A Slave but you won't even realize -- mere seconds of screentime!