If you didn't catch the Coen brothers Hail, Caesar! this weekend it might surprise you to hear that it could actually be categorized as a musical. No, not a full blown musical with a good portion of their narrative emerging from the songs but musically inclined. It's more like "a film with music" as Yentl once said to the ticketbuying public. There are three distinct musical numbers in the film, which is three more than 95% of films get. More...
Entries in musicals (291)
Anne Marie is tracking Judy Garland's career through musical numbers...
Though nobody guessed it when she was cast, Judy Garland’s fifth movie would be the first in a series starring the most famous child actor team in Hollywood history. Thoroughbreds Don’t Cry, a Freddie Bartholomew vehicle sadly missing its intended star, saw the first team up of Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney. Though both played supporting parts, their onscreen chemistry is clear. These kids were a hit!
The Movie: Thoroughbreds Don’t Cry (MGM 1937)
The Songwriter: Arthur Freed (music and lyrics)
The Players: Ronald Sinclair, Mickey Rooney, Judy Garland, directed by Alfred E. Green
The Story: This bizarre little musical number perfectly encapsulates what would become the Mickey and Judy dynamic. Mickey is busy working at a project – in this case, trying to take Ronald Sinclair’s pants off (just in case you needed your daily dose of unintended homoerotic subtext). Meanwhile, Judy flits and flirts in and out of the scene, trying to get Mickey’s attention through accolades, through annoyance, through anything so long as it makes him notice her. She dances around him, he gives her a swat – it’s schoolyard flirting with song and dance. This formula would define the two child actors together until long after they had put away childish things. But for the moment, it’s dimples, music, and fun.
My name is Dancin' Dan and I LOVED Grease! Live.
When Fox announced they were getting into the live musical game, with "America's Favorite Musical", Grease, there was reason to be skeptical. True, the home of American Idol seemed like a more natural fit for a live musical than NBC, but Grease is perhaps an even more iconic show than The Sound of Music, and we all know how that one turned out for NBC.
But then casting announcements kept rolling in, and they felt shockingly on point: Broadway heartthrob Aaron Tveit as bad-boy-with-a-heart-of-gold Danny Zuko. Dancing With the Stars alum Julianne Hough as eternal good girl Sandy Young. High School Musical star Vanessa Hudgens as bad girl Rizzo, pop star and Broadway Cinderella Carly Rae Jepsen as air-headed beauty school dropout Frenchie, former child star Keke Palmer as sex-obsessed Marty.... could this actually work?
Lynn Lee revisits the 2007 Sundance hit Once as the current festival wraps up.
I was at Sundance in 2007—the only time I’ve ever been. It was one of the highlights of my life as a moviegoer, albeit more for the experience than the actual movies. While I enjoyed most of the films I saw there, few really stuck with me beyond the festival, with the exception of the lovely character study Starting Out in the Evening (which really should have gotten Frank Langella an Oscar nomination).
Somehow, I missed the true breakout success of Sundance that year—the low-budget Irish musical Once, which won the festival’s World Cinema Audience Award. It went on to become a critical darling, a sleeper indie hit, and even an Oscar winner for Best Original Song. How could I have bypassed being one of the first in the U.S. to see it? Well, somehow I did, even though I became a fan when it arrived in theaters later that year.
2001 was the comeback year for the musical. As the massively-scaled Moulin Rouge was reinventing the genre for the post MTV era, John Cameron Mitchell's Hedwig and the Angry Inch was an unassuming small scale success that didn't disappoint its cult following from its Off Broadway run and the cult grew rapidly after its Sundance debut. Still a genre anomaly for Sundance, this musical was awarded the Audience Award (Dramatic) and Mitchell won Best Director for his first time behind the camera.
The dramatic Audience Award winners are typically optimistic, but rarely this uniting - Hedwig is a musical that reflects our deepest human needs. Nothing brings together a crowd of strangers like music (or film) we can all connect to and Hedwig's score is packed with emotional insight. Composer Stephen Trask fills the songs with rage, wit, and a hard-won optimism that burns through whatever baggage we as an audience bring to the table. [More...]
Anne Marie is charting Judy Garland's career through musical numbers...
In 1936, 14 year old Judy was selected to perform at Clark Gable's birthday party. Gable, the biggest MGM star at that time, was to have an all out bash. For Judy's performance, Roger Edens wrote an intro lyric to an old MGM property, "You Made Me Love You," which directed the 1917 song specifically at Gable. At the party, Judy jumped out of a cake and sang the star his song, charming not only the birthday boy, but also his boss, Louis B. Mayer.
The Movie: Broadway Melody of 1938 (MGM, 1937)
The Songwriter: James V. Monaco (music), Joseph McCarthy (lyrics), Roger Edens (new title & intro)
The Players: Eleanor Powell, Robert Taylor, Judy Garland, Clark Gable's photo, directed by Roy del Ruth
The Story: The result of her hit at the birthday party was that Judy Garland was cast singing her new song in Broadway Melody of 1938. The Broadway Melody series was designed for MGM to try out up-and-coming talent; Buddy Ebsen made his debut there, and it helped make Eleanor Powell a star. Judy was no exception. All of the reviews raved about her: NYT called out her "amazing precocity" while The Hollywood Reporter asked why she'd been kept under wraps so long. "Dear Mr. Gable" would become her first single, too. Judy Garland was an overnight hit, but it would take her 2 more years and 5 more movies to become a star.
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.
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...