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Janelle Monae's Breakout Year

One of my favourite artists of the decade. I've had the pleasure of seeing her live twice. I would've loved to see more of her in Moonlight. Loved that role and loved seeing her. -Roger

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Entries in musicals (354)

Tuesday
Jan262016

Finding Linky

LA Times the Academy has clarified some of its new rulings on membership due to confusion from within its own ranks - very useful info
In Contention Kris Tapley has some thoughts on that as well and depressingly mentions there is still talk of "expanding" the acting categories. This will be very hard for yours truly to stomach if it happens. Traditions are important (and no I dont mean traditions of discrimination - don't confuse the issue!). Changing an 80 year tradition of a set of five slots in no way helps diversity and may actually serve to make the Academy look much much worse sending an accidental message (you weren't good enough for five but maybe with seven -- oops you weren't good enough for seven either!) so I pray to all the cinematic gods that wiser heads prevail and they reject it. 
Fistful of Films... speaking of working through something by talking about it. Fisti takes on the subject of Leo's Oscar baiting through the years and denies it! Interesting and entertaining though he's totally crazy that his work in The Revenant will be the best leading actor win in some time. (Noooo. I mean, he's fine but good ≠ great) 

Guardian $17.5 for Nate Parker's Birth of a Nation a record Sundance sale
TFE ICYMI we were just discussing that film's buzz last night
Pajiba reminds us that Blade Runner 2 is about to start production so Harrison Ford is reviving another one of his classic roles
Pajiba also tries to decipher Kristen Stewart's much misquoted outrage producing "stop complaining - do something" quote by transcribing the interview. (This serves as yet another reminder why the outrage factory is so annoying and boring itself. People contradict themselves ALL THE TIME when they're talking on at length about complicated subjects and sometimes they dont even know what they're saying. And if you lift a few words out you can make anything look worse. Give everyone a f***ing break. Chances are they weren't trying to offend anyone.)
Comics Alliance I keep hearing competing things about Thor: Ragnarok. First that it's the "darkest" film yet (ugh) and second that it's going to be the funniest. Usually those things dont go hand in hand so who is telling the truth? But Taiki Waititi the new director has a good sense of humor (see What We Do In the Shadows) so let's hope for the second one.
i09 Speaking of Taika... the sequel to his great vampire mockumentary has a title We're Wolves (get it werewolves) but he has to wait until after Thor to do that.
Vulture Sir Ian McKellen would like to remind you that the Academy could be more inclusive with gay people too. Thank you Sir Ian, Hero.  
Playbill well that didn't take long. Hamilton, Broadway's new mega hit, has already announced its tour plans to kick off in 2017
Playbill Jonathan Groff's turn in A New Brain -- which I don't think we discussed here - has been recorded for posterity. He was just superb in that staged reading and Saturday Night Live's Ana Gasteyer was sensational as his mom... can we get them both in movie musicals please? 

Cinematic Corner reacts to a bunch of recent news but I'm linking up because it's always fun when Sati drools on Tom Hardy and she's so enthused about his enthusiasm over the Oscar nomination
Towleroad okay this is adorable. One of the dancers from Kinky Boots celebrates his 29th birthday by doing 29 death drops around Manhattan
Vulture has a longread on the fall of Ryan Kavanaugh and Relativity's bankruptcy
Variety Abe Vigoda, the film (The Godfather) and television (Barney Miller) actor has died at 94
John August... responds to that but encourages us not to dismisses the story as opportunism or embrace it as cautionary tale.

Today's Teaser
Awww, it's Ellen DeGeneres signature film role, returning to us in Finding Dory. In which we will find out if a character that was so wondrous in short comic relief doses can handle carrying a whole film...

 

Wednesday
Jan202016

Judy by the Numbers: "Americana"

Anne Marie here with one of the foundational building blocks of the legend that is Judy. This week it's the story you've probably heard: young Judy Garland sings in a two-reel with another mostly-unknown MGM child actor named Deanna Durbin. Mayer sees the short and decides to dump one of the girls. Which he chooses and why is up for debate, but the practical fallout turns one girl into a big star at a small studio, and puts the other on the road towards a mythmaking career.

The Movie: "Every Sunday" (MGM, 1936)

The Songwriter: Roger Eden

The Players: Judy Garland and Deanna Durbin directed by Felix E. Feist

The Story: When young Judy had signed with MGM, she had done so without a screentest. The powers that be decided to rectify that in 1936, casting Judy with Deanna Durbin, another girl singer whose classical style contrasted nicely with Judy's big, swingtime voice. Durbin's option at MGM was about to expire, and the studio decided not to renew it. Durbin was rapidly scooped up by Universal, cast in Three Smart Girls, and became a nearly overnight sensation. These are the facts as we know them.

Many variations on this storyfeature heavily in the Judy Garland myth. In some versions, Mayer tells an underling to "get rid of the fat one," and the studio mistakenly lets go Durbin. In others, Arthur Freed recognizes young Garland's talents and intercedes on her behalf. Whatever the real reason was, this story remains the most romanticized near-miss in Hollywood musical history. It's a story of foils: Classical Deanna vs Brassy Judy, the flashpan sensation vs the undying star, the nonegenarian vs the talent gone too soon. Every good myth needs an origin story, and this moment, when Judy's career nearly stopped before it began, serves neatly as the genesis for Judy Garland, Child Star.

Tuesday
Jan192016

Well "Hello, Dolly!" ...Again (Feat: Channing, Pearl, Bette, and Babs) 

Bette on the Tonight Show in 2014Bette Midler basically gave the game away in a tweet last night but today it's official: The Divine Miss M will be taking over Carol Channing's signature role Dolly Levi in a Broadway revival of "Hello, Dolly!" due in the Spring of 2017. Carol Channing made a huge enduring career out of the role, of course, playing it three different times across four decades on Broadway and touring with it, too. Barbra Streisand tried to wrestle the role away from her in the movie musical adaptation in 1969 -- there are multiple catty anecdotes about this in the trivia-filled gossipy book "Roadshow! The Fall of the Film Musicals in the 1960s" that do not paint a pretty picture of Babs --  but despite the plentiful Oscar nominations thrown that movies way, it didn't really stick and no one thinks of Dolly as anyone's but Channing's.

Babs, Bette, Carol Channing & Pearl Bailey after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Jan132016

Judy by the Numbers: "The Texas Tornado"

Anne Marie back with the next installment in our new Judy Garland series. Before she was a legend, Frances Gumm was a contract player. This meant that MGM could loan her out to other studios. It was common practice for both large stars and minor players. But what makes you Frances unique is how rare it was for her. Today's musical marks the only time MGM loaned out Judy Garland; the rest of her contract with the studio would be spent snugly - if not comfortably - within the white walls of Metro Goldwyn Mayer. Judy's next short would kick off the Garland legend, and jumpstart the young teen's career.
 
The Movie: Pigskin Parade (20th Century Fox, 1936)
The Songwriters: Lew Pollack (Music), Sidney D. Mitchell (Lyrics)
The Players: Stuart Erwin, Patsy Kelly, Betty Grable, Jack Haley, Judy Garland, directed by David Butler
The Story: Already under contract to MGM at the age of 14, the newly renamed Judy Garland's first feature film was a loan out to 20th Century Fox. Pigskin Parade was a low-budget musical - Fox's favorite kind - that cashed in on the early 30's fad for college crooners. Judy plays the hick sister of a barefoot football prodigy (Stuart Erwin) who's invited by accident to play for Yale. Judy gets a handful of numbers, all shot and sounding more or less exactly like this one: she stands, feet planted, and belts pep songs in medium closeup. Young Judy hasn't quite mastered lip synching yet, but already one of her defining features shines: she looks like she's having a hell of a lot of fun performing.
Monday
Jan112016

Baz's The Get Down Gets A Trailer

Manuel here. Can it be possible that it’s taken us this long to talk at length about the trailer for Baz Luhrmann’s upcoming Netflix series The Get Down? I guess we’ve been busy, what with writing up our year end review, following all the precursors (including last night’s Golden Globes), counting down the shortlisted docs, and of course, obsessing over who’ll be nominated this Thursday. Well, let’s remedy that because nothing will cleanse your palate from the always fun/frustrating gamble of Oscar predictions than some flashy Baz.

All I really needed to know about The Get Down was that it comes from, as the trailer below states, the Australian “visionary director.” Even when his films don’t quite hit the mark (see Australia, The Great Gatsby) they are never nothing short of fascinating and as his Fitzgerald and Shakespeare adaptations show, few directors can match his cinematic vibrancy when it comes to using music to infuse his own storytelling.

Click to read more ...