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Entries in musicals (198)

Tuesday
Jul162013

Here She Is Boys! Here She is World! Here's Natalie!

Presenting... Natalie Wood Week for her 75th anniversary. Anne Marie kicks it off as Natalie flings her kit off.

Let’s get this out of the way now: GYPSY is not a great movie musical. It’s not even a good movie musical. It’s not the best Natalie Wood musical, nor is it her best performance in a musical. In fact, you’d be forgiven for almost missing her entirely behind Rosalind Russell in full Auntie-Mame-mode, all personality and no pipes. But despite these glaring flaws, Gypsy is a significant film; significant to Natalie Wood’s career, significant to us as star worshippers, and significant to the countless young actresses since who have tried to mature their images. It’s significant because this is the movie where Natalie Wood (literally) strips herself of her ingenue status and steps into full-blown sex symbol stardom. [more...]

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Saturday
Jun292013

Release Date Shuffle: Oscar Players, Musical Wars, Franchise Heroes

I know most film blogs make a post for every teaser, release date, and every last press release. I frankly don't have the time but even if I did... why encourage Hollywood's itchy trigger fingers when they're constantly fussily rescrambling their pieces on the puzz--I'm mixing too many metaphors--  Moving on to the Release Date Switches/Announcements. We're less than 200 days away from Oscar nominations! So yes, we gotta update those charts again soon, I know.

Oscarable Switcheroos
August: Osage County has, as you now, moved to Christmas day, despite its summer friendly title. And Saving Mr Banks, the Mary Poppins related Disney flick is opting to get out in front of the Christmas crowd a bit with a December 13th bow. Meanwhile Twelve Years a Slave, from director Steve McQueen and Grace of Monaco, the new Kidman flick, both move from the Dread Oscar Eligibility Dump Week (that awful New Years week) into airier mid October. And October is getting busier and busier, really because Ridley Scott's The Counselor (just discussed) has also moved from its intended mid November start to late October.

Contrary to popular belief this does not automatically mean that the studios are less gung ho about their Oscar chances. Oscar watchers (and, yes, distributors sometimse) often forget that you don't have to open in late December to be a player. It helps to open in the last third of the year though, sure! But MANY MANY films have had good luck in September (your Argos and your American Beautys), October (your Departeds) and November (your Slumdogs and your No Countrys) among other months. 

Your Oscar calendar is currently looking like this... [Oscar Types, Superheroes and Meryl vs. Annie after the jump]

woo woo ♪ here comes the life of the Oscar partay

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Friday
Jun282013

Cameron Diaz Joins the Cast of "Annie"

Anne Marie here to talk about the latest movie musical news. It’s official: Cameron Diaz will be the Miss Hannigan to Quvenzhané Wallis’s Little Orphan Annie in Will Smith’s Annie remake. Sandra Bullock turned it down so Diaz joins a brassy line of comediennes who've played this role including Dorothy Loudon, Betty Hutton, Carol Burnett, Nell Carter, Kathy Bates, Katie Finneran and most recently Jane Lynch in her Broadway musical debut.

Miss Hannigan History (Partial): Carol Burnett (82); Nell Carter (97); Kathy Bates (99); Cameron Diaz (14)

Accusations of stunt casting have already echoed through Hollywood and Broadway, but how true are they?

While the decision to cast an otherwise musically-untested star like Diaz (Her singing in The Mask was dubbed) may smack a bit of stunt casting, Diaz certainly has the comedic background to fulfill the terrifying-but-hilarious shoes of the booze-soaked orphanage matron. Cameron Diaz has shown all throughout her career the ability to be slapstick funny, lowbrow silly, and recently very, very bitchy. But, like every other Broadway geek, I had to ask: can she sing? I did some digging through past performances, and found three of note: My Best Friend's Wedding (in which terrible vocals were the point), Shrek, and this NSFW moment...

It’s hard to judge her voice quality from any of those numbers. This is usually a warning sign for me, but Miss Hannigan isn’t a musically difficult role. As long as Diaz relies on her comedic chops, she shouldn’t be Russell Crowe in Les Miz bad. I’m thinking more Julie Walters in Mamma Mia - musically acceptable and very funny.

Cameron Diaz’s movie roles have been a bit scattershot since she graduated from the ditz and dirty debutante phases of her career. With a few crowd pleaser comedies on the horizon, as well as this week’s teaser for The Counselor and this news about Annie - it looks like Diaz is finally finding a solid trajectory. (I refuse to use the word “comeback.”)

Thoughts?

 

Monday
Jun242013

"It won't cost much... just your voice!"

I realize it's only* voicework but I'm bit sad that Samantha Morton's voice has been removed from the upcoming Spike Jonze picture Her. She was to voice the operating system that Joaquin Phoenix falls in love with in lieu of, one supposes, flesh and blood options. I thought Samantha was brilliant in insert anything from her filmography here, and even though it was only* voicework, I was anxious to "see" her again.

Morton has the most terrible ratio of talent-to-role opportunities. I don't quite get what's happened to her career as she's one of the best screen actors alive. Still, since the world has a very short memory I didn't notice much mourning online about her replacement when the news broke. Or maybe that's just because Scarlett Johansson, her replacement, is early Aughts popular again. Scarlett weathered the storm of a lame but lucrative patch in her career in which she seemed more model/spokesperson/celebrity than talent. She seems interested in actually ACTING again (see multiple trips to the stage and a wonderful spin on Black Widow the second time around) so I am free to root for her again, too.

Scarlett's voice is a wonder, it's true. But also quite an expected choice for this type of role since her timbre is so effortlessly sexy. I guess I didn't quite expect the obvious from Spike Jonze which is why I'm still processing this news.

Anyway, do you miss Samantha Morton? If you're asking "who?"... please state your age! She couldn't have faded from collective memory that quickly, could she?

When it comes to singing actresses, I'm as greedy as Ursula! In other Beautiful Voice News, Anna Kendrick has been cast as Cinderella in Rob Marshall's adaptation of Stephen Sondheim's fairytale mashup classic Into the Woods (2014)... a movie we're tracking closely but very worried about.

Since we first fell in love with Kendrick as evil scheming Sondheim-singing Fritzi in Camp (2003) and haven't ever felt quite that proprietary/excited about her again (but loved hearing the voice again in Pitch Perfect), this is potentially very good news. With Into the Woods and The Last Five Years (just discussed) both arriving in (presumably) 2014, and so quickly after Kendrick's first real success as a headliner (Pitch Perfect) will she be the first modern actress to really embrace becoming a star of film musicals?

Can you already here her version of "At the Palace"? (♥ that song!)

He's a very smart Prince,
He's a Prince who prepares.
Knowing this time I'd run from him,
He spread pitch on the stairs.
I was caught unawares.
And I thought: well, he cares-
This is more than just malice.
Better stop and take stock
While you're standing here stuck
On the steps of the palace.
-Cinderella in "Into the Woods" 

Everyone else in Mainstream Hollywood seems to think of musicals as one-off larks, something to do to say that you've done it or to demonstrate how "game" you are to mix things up. (Though Anne Hathaway won an Oscar that way she's built her massive career on diversity of genre so I'd say she's unlikely to stick to the form or even return to it for some time. Sad face. CZJ was obviously born to do them but it took how many years between Chicago and Rock of Ages?) If Kendrick makes a success of both of her plum movie musical gigs next year, I shall build a shrine to her.  

* I realize "only voicework" might enrage some readers and some voice actors! I don't mean it derogatorialy but for whatever reason I've observed that many TFE readers really value voice-only work in movies more than I do. Is this generational and tied to the second golden age of animation? I wonder... I mean I don't want there to be a whole Oscar category (do you?) but I do agree that brilliance is possible within the limitations of acting with one's voice alone. 

Friday
Jun212013

"The Last Five Years" & "Hedwig" Jitters

I've seen a lot of theater since moving to NYC in January 1999 (wow. so long ago!) and four have stuck with me and become my informal holy trinity quadrilogy of modern showtunery: The Light in the Piazza (Adam Guettel), The Wild Party (John LaChiusa), Hedwig and the Angry Inch (John Cameron Mitchell & Stephen Trask) and the one I've listened to the most and feel the most proprietary about: The Last Five Years (Jason Robert Brown). 

For reasons which mostly have to do with equal parts scheduling problems, lethargy, and a case of "what if the lightning is no longer in the bottle?" worry, I did not see the recent revival of the latter. But my trip to The Last Five Years's original run with Norbert Leo Butz (brilliant) and Sherie René Scott (always a treat) is one of the definining theatergoing moments of my life. I loved everything about the musical in which you watch a 20something couple's troubled relationship told backwards (Hers) and forwards (His) in time as they both monologue/sing to the audience. They only ever sing together once when the stories meet in the middle.

When news broke that it was going to become a movie I wondered how they'd possibly get around the two character theatrical conceit but they've announced that for the film version they'll be singing to each other and the songs will be adjusted to accomodate this major change. My greatest worry is the casting since total two-handers require both hands to work.

Two time Tony winner Norbert Leo Butz originated the role. Tony nominee Jeremy Jordan (pictured in Bonnie & Clyde on stage) will reinterpret it for the screen

Though noone is likely to replace Sherie René Scott in my heart Anna Kendrick is very talented, has good comic timing, and sings well, so I'm not worried about "Cathy". What worries me is "Jamie". Jeremy Jordan (from the late Smash) gets the tricky husband part. Jamie is super cocky, super talented, super charming, and secretive. All four of those traits ostensibly defined Jeremy's role on Smash but he was terrible at playing the "charming" part and just came across as a complete asshole whose career was handed to him on a silver platter but he just had to be all bratty about it anyway. In order for this musical dramedy to succeed he'll have to give the performance of his life and remember not to push the cocky assholism (it apparently comes naturally!) and work very hard on the charming part, the part that might draw a woman to him in an initially loving and supportive relationship. 

I did not see Jeremy Jordan onstage in Newsies (did you?) so perhaps he was charming in that but when I saw him in Bonnie & Clyde The Musical he had the same problem... the "run away with me" charm necessary for any successful take on Clyde Barrow was mostly absent and he just seemed angry. Maybe it's an age problem (Jordan is 28) but he's so bratty for lack of a better word. I hope to be converted since I love this musical so much it's like a part of me, but I am, as of yet, not a fan. If you are please talk me into reconsidering in the comments!

While I wait I will just stare at this NSFW photo (after the jump) to try to generate warm feelings for Mr Jordan...

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Jun202013

Leo, Lists, Ladies, and Link Love

French Toast Sunday 5 best summer movies? Confession: I have never seen Crooklyn but always wanted to. 
Gawker on Cher's wiggy performance on The Voice 
The Local did you hear this story about how a French teacher an 11 year-old class Saw? WTF? At least pick a classic horror with artistic historical merit.
Guardian the next Star Wars sequels are looking for a teenage female lead? Whoa. I guess Hunger Games and Twilight are even more influential than they appear to be

Variety Miss Saigon is returning to the boards but I'm personally still curious as to why the movie version has never happened?
My New Plaid Pants the three things you need to see from the Anchorman 2 trailer
Los Angeles Times Show Tracker the women of Mad Men speak about the impending end
Film Flare awww, I had totally forgotten about "Elizabeth Taylor" on Sex & the City 
The Cinematic Katzenjammer Shailene Woodley cut from The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (ahem, 5). What, no Mary Jane? Seems odd to cut her just as her star is rising
Empire speaking of which. Here's more on her Hunger Games which is called Divergent
Hark, A Vagrant! takes on The Secret Garden 

On Leo...
Awards Daily asks why Leonardo DiCaprio is so often ignored by the Academy (brought on by The Wolf of Wall Street trailer). I know he has many devout fans and I am often criticized for not adoring him wholeheartedly these days but I disagree (and muchly) with the notion that his work has improved with age. I still think he has beautiful moments in several of his recent star turns but as a whole from film to film he is not pushing himself and is deeply repetitive in his acting choices (not just in the surface role similarities I've mocked like his run through The Dead Wives Club).

But I harbor no illusions that the Academy shares my opinion of his gift...

I think it's as simple as this: Leading Men who are considered beautiful always have to fight harder for Oscar love. That's all there is to it (well, that and them preferring five other people each time he's missed out). Paul Newman and Jeff Bridges, two of the best screen actors of all time, didn't win until their 60s and Leo isn't nearly that good! Plus he's only 38 years old. Leo has the same amount of acting nominations as Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise and Johnny Depp and the similarities are instantly noticeable, aren't they? Good looking marquee value men who are often viewed as STARS first, ACTORS second (whether or not that's an accurate description). I have no doubt Leo will eventually win -- and I think nominations will be much easier to come by in his 40s after whatever hiatus he plans to take -- but I think if it doesn't happen for him with Wolf, he'll have to wait until at least his mid40s and possibly much longer as many desirable leading men have had to in the past. I'm not sure why everyone expects the rules to be different for this one actor. The question of why not yet is as simple as the male dominated Oscar's completely obvious binary gender standards: they usually like to award female actors for being young and hot and, to some extent, new; and they usually like to award male actors for their bodies of work when they have stood the test of time (and are less sexually threatening).

 

 

This Sunday...
Oooh, I totally wanna watch this. Oprah is talking to four black actresses on their unique struggles in Hollywood on her new network. (Do I even get this network? I do not know)

Alfre Woodard (that's enough right there!), Viola Davis (YES), Phyllicia Rashad (makes sense) and Gabrielle Union (Bring it!) which is a classy lineup, don'cha think?

Also
The Film Experience on facebook. You haven't "liked" us yet. Rectify!

Tuesday
May282013

Stage Door: Showgirls with Kinky Boots

I'll be out of the country for the Tony Awards this year on a much needed vacation but before they arrive I thought I'd share with you my final theatrical experiences of the season, the first of which is way Off Broadway (though close to Broadway geographically)  and the second is one of your major Tony contenders.

Both of them adapted from movies because that is what gets financed these days!

Elizabeth Berkeley (Nomi Malone) and Rena Riffel (Penny/Hope) in Showgirls (1995)

Showgirls: The Musical is playing Wednesdays and Saturday nights at XL Nightclub. I raced to see it with friends since I love the movie so much. Plus I was fascinated that "Penny" herself, excuse me, "Hope" ("no one wants to fuck a Penny!"), the actress Rena Riffel, is reprising her role for the stage. She's self-aware enough to embrace Showgirls infamy as a career (she's also the star of the straight to DVD Showgirls 2: Penny's Revenge) the way C list stars of certain sci-fi programs end up as geek convention regulars hawking their wares. It's a honest living! I totally wanted to hug her or at least let her sign my ass or something. What a good sport! [more on Showgirls and "Kinky Boots" after the jump]

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