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The Film Experience™ was created by Nathaniel R


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COMMENT DU JOUR
best of 2014 -- any fycs?

YEAR IN REVIEW

ANY FYCS ?
 
"LINE READING: Chris Pine's "I was raised to be charming, not sincere" is an instant classic, and should be studied by actors playing that role for years to come.
-Colin

"BEST MUSICAL SEQUENCE IN A NON-MUSICAL: Hilary Swank in The Homesman tries to woo a suitor with homemade dinner and a song. So delicate and heartbreaking." - Cameron

"BEST CAMEO: Ben Affleck's Penis." -J. Garner

 

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Entries in musicals (210)

Tuesday
Nov252014

Stage Door: Emma Stone in "Cabaret"

Jose here. Earlier this year I reported back from the Kit Kat Club to share my impressions about Michelle Williams’ performance as Sally Bowles in the Roundabout Theatre production of Cabaret. Last night I went back to see what Emma Stone (Spirit-Nominated this morning) brought to the part...

Halfway through the first act of Cabaret, Sally Bowles realizes that life with her naive, new lover Cliff (Bill Heck) might be exactly what she needs. She sits with Cliff on a chaise lounge and for a moment she sees herself living the life of a wife and mother, satisfied with keeping home and raising her child. Suddenly, the Emcee interrupts this precious moment by bringing a microphone, its allure too powerful for Sally to resist, and drawn towards it as if under a spell, she performs “Maybe This Time”.

Onstage, the heartbreaking irony of this moment (Sally selling her soul to showbiz, while fooling herself into thinking she’s doing the opposite) is hard to detect if the actress playing her is too eager, or not eager enough; a delicate balance which I’m thrilled to report was beautifully achieved by Emma Stone.

Having already proved to be a truly magnetic screen presence, Stone brings her unusual sensuality to Sally Bowles by subverting the quirkiness that makes her so much fun to watch in movies. Gone are the traces of the goofy girl from Easy A, or the naivete of her Gwen Stacy in The Amazing Spider-Man. If anything, she’s taking on the introspective self-destructiveness of her Sam from Birdman, the same volatile qualities that make her appealing and scary. Her Sally is a teenager who has convinced herself she can fool others into thinking she can play with the grown-ups. Her levels of delusion are such that she fails to notice she hasn’t really fooled anyone but herself.

Stone is also smart enough to know that in the stage version, Sally isn’t the star, she’s part of the ensemble. To a certain degree she's also a memory conveyed by Cliff who “writes” the show as it goes by looking back at his Berlin experiences. Stone’s Sally, while not the star of the show, is so seductive that we miss her whenever she’s not onstage, partly because we want to see her again, and partly because we are afraid of what will happen to her when we’re not looking after her. The audience develops caretaker feelings towards her, combined with sexual desire, making for Stone’s most mature performance to date.

And can she sing you ask? While she is obviously no Liza (then again who is?), Stone successfully delivers her numbers, bringing a raspy, sensual quality to them. (She often sounds like Lindsay Lohan did in her pop star moment!). Stone knows that singing isn’t her (or Sally's) true forte, so she lets this be an essential part of the performance, delivering the last third of the title song completely out of pitch, furiously fighting against the notes coming from the band. If a man can’t restrict her, why does this song think it can?

 

Monday
Nov242014

Lukewarm Off The Presses: Hugh & Amy's Musicals, Diana's Director, Lee's Horror, & Eddie's Operation

Five stories we didn't share in all the hulaballoo of our trip to Los Angeles, the recovery week's madness and now our Thanksgiving prep. Can't let these stories go unremarked upon since many of them are related to this year's Oscar race as well as 2015 and possibly 2016. Let's get ahead of ourselves! 

Barnum by way of Jackson / Amy to play Janis

1. Hugh Jackman as P.T. Barnum
When I was coming out of Into the Woods the other day and coming out of The Last Five Years back in Toronto, I was wracked with indecision about how I felt. My cinephile self was mounting a civil war with my inner musical theater geek who is deeply devoted to both shows. The former musical is among my top 3 favorite Sondheim shows (the others being Company & Follies) and the latter is literally my favorite original musical of the 21st century to date. The solution to this inner turmoil is surely ORIGINAL SCREEN MUSICALS. We haven't had one since Dancer in the Dark, right? So I'm absolutely excited to see Hugh Jackman belt out whatever tunes they're writing for him as P.T. Barnum in a new musical biopic about the circus pioneer called The Greatest Showman on Earth. Having seen Jackman absolutely slay audiences on Broadway as another flamboyant showman (Peter Allen in "The Boy from Oz"), this could be his Oscar ticket if the movie is good. The songs are by a composing duo you know from "Smash" but before you get too excited it's not from the composers behind the fictional musical "Bombshell," damnit!, but the composers behind the fictional musical "Hit List" which wasn't half as good. (Sigh)

Bette Midler as Janis Joplin (sort of) in The Rose (1979)2. Amy Adams as Janis Joplin
Should Adams be nominated (maybe) and lose (definitely) the Best Actress Oscar for Big Eyes this season she will join the "Biggest Actress Loser Club" that is currently a three-person tea party with Thelma Ritter, Glenn Close, Deborah Kerr. Fine company, don't you think? The solution is UNDOUBTEDLY a Janis Joplin biopic since Amy Adams has a great singing voice, considerable awards momentum, and is still young enough to be interesting to Oscar... for at least another few years. We're far enough away from Bette Midler's wildly acclaimed take on that iconic musician (by another name) in The Rose (1979) that the earlier Oscar run won't be an issue either. [More after the jump...]

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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...

Click to read more ...

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.

Click to read more ...

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...

Click to read more ...

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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