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Entries in musicals (197)

Tuesday
Dec172013

Interview: Greta Gerwig on "Frances Ha" and Movie Musicals

Greta at the "Her" premiere in LA last weekTrue stars are always spectacularly themselves onscreen, even when acing the particulars of a new character. And make no mistake, Frances Ha's Greta Gerwig is a star, despite her deceptively modest indie trappings. Even the Hollywood Foreign Press Assocation, notoriously reluctant to honor non-household names, could see it. They nominated her last week for a Golden Globe alongside little unknowns like "Meryl Streep" and "Amy Adams" for Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical last week. In its own peculiar way Frances Ha is the film that most belongs in that category, being both musically inclined (Greta's Frances is a struggling modern dancer) and very very funny. The actress dances through Frances Ha, which she also co-wrote, with such endearing inimitable style that she's finally ascended, becoming the "GRETA GERWIG!" she was always going to become. 

I talked to this gifted actress recently about the somewhat arbitrary nature of movie awardage but we quickly moved on to two topics far closer to her heart: creative collaboration and movie musicals. When it came to the latter, her voice lifted with as much energy as her titular character exhibited in those spirited spinning runs down Manhattan streets in Frances Ha.

Nathaniel R: Everyone movie fan I've ever talked to about you remembers vividly the first time they saw you in something. I think this is a huge compliment to you.

GRETA GERWIG: That's really nice.  

What do you attribute that to?

I don't know. I think it's sort of "Who let her in the building?" I think it has that effect on people. [Laughter] But I'm glad I'm memorable!

[Three actors Greta loves and movie musicals after the jump...]

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Dec072013

American Horror Story: Sound of Music

This thing on my DVR was the 4th season pilot, right?  

I kid I kid. But horrified I was. If you miss live "events" it's difficult (one might say pointless) to write about them later so I promise to be quick about this. What I enjoyed far more than the show, which I caught a day later, was catching up on the articles and tweets about the show wherein people either hilariously skewered it or contorted themselves memorably to find nice things to say or excuse its Carrie Underwoodedness. Her acting was far far worse than I'd been told, recalling Julianne Moore's dead on approximation of porn star acting in Boogie Nights only dumber and with less of a nose drip to help with the dead eyes. I initially was surprised that Carrie wasn't oversinging it but the surprise soon faded because after the hills came alive with the sound of music she decided to shout-sing the rest. Not a wise choice when the poor girl couldnt even make it up and down the Von Trapp family staircase without breathing heavily. It was absolutely mean to pair her with musical performers as gifted as Laura Benanti and Audra McDonald, two of Broadway's richest voices... neither of whom ever need this silly oxygen thing to get through a long-ass musical phrase. Vampire Bill was a better match for Carrie (albeit not chemistry-wise) with his shaky voice bringing him down to her shaky-acting level (somewhat). 

I should say that I was less surprised than most people seemed to be that the stage musical is so different from the film. I've seen it performed live before and though critics are generally unkind to the film version it's one of those rare adaptations that improves on virtually everything from its source material structurally in terms of song order and character arcs and even in pacing though it's longer. Plus it's got Julie Andrews who you know, owns all when it comes to twirling around on mountaintops or believably portraying both sexual longing and religious piety in equally wholesome and relatable ways as Maria. I know it's uncool among cinephile's to consider it great cinema or whatever. But I do. Full stop. The Sound of Music became its best self in the translation to the big screen. 

we must've done something good to deserve the 1965 classic

The gargantuan ratings suggest that more "live" musical events are on the way. It has to be family friendly so why not Oliver! which could use the legacy resuscitation? Since giving the stuff away never seems to hurt actual sales of entertainment (weird, that) they could even do something that's about to be a movie like Annie or Into the Woods. Or why not something more contemporary that not everyone can afford to see on Broadway. Why not The Lion King or Wicked even since that movie is clearly never going to happen. I'm thinking about Wicked constantly these days because of its doppelganger Frozen and "Defying Gravity"'s doppelganger "Let it Go" , and because of these drawings by Oscar nominated animator Minkyu Lee, and the rumored Idina & Taye breakup (sniffle. is that true? they were so adorbs together) and the possibility that Idina might perform on Oscar night. I'd rather think about Wicked right now, okay?!  My beloved Sound of Music is in a hospital in Austria somewhere recuperating. It's a survivor. I have confidence it will live to spin on mountain tops once more.

Friday
Dec062013

Let It Go... (In More Ways Than One)

I'm sorry. Was I singing too loudly? I'm just watching Frozen's "Let it Go" on loop (what?) now that Disney has uploaded it to YouTube*

One thing that is hard to miss while watching it repeatedly is that a) drag queens will be lipsynching to this in 3...2...1... and b)  new gay anthem and c) Elsa is letting more than just her old repressed identity go in this key scene. Magical makeovers are a guarantee of FABULOUSNESS of course but this one seems to involve not just dress-making but elaborate undergarment construction. Push up bra and a girdle, amirite?

Note how she's just a slip of a thing in her queenly garb. But as soon as she lets her snowy powers out she's suddenly sexualized with larger breast and teensy waist. All the better to strut at you with, my dear. I'm suddenly flashing back to those complaints people had when Brave's Merida joined the princess line and tilted from tomboy towards boytoy with less freckles and a more womanly figure. 

* Color me surprised that Disney released the Oscar-seeking "Let it Go" scene in its entirety, though. More and more if you just wait a month you can piece together about 33% of every movie playing for yourself if you just collect all the clips they release from everything -- even big draw scenes like this one. Such a strange give the farm away media world we live in these days. Here is the movie. Now come see the movie. 

Um....

 

Saturday
Nov302013

Interview: Jonathan Groff

If you’ve read The Film Experience for any significant length of time, it won’t surprise you to hear that if there’s one type of actor that melts my heart every time, it’s a singing actor. While Hollywood doesn’t nurture the triple threats (singing, dancing, acting) as much as they did in the Golden Age when musicals were a regular occurrence rather than a once a year event, this past decade gives the musical lover reason enough to hope. Musicals are far less uncommon than they were in the dark times between All That Jazz (1979) and Moulin Rouge! (2001). There are two in theaters right this moment! Lately several musically gifted actors have been ascending.

Jonathan Groff, a treat on stage for some time, is one of the best among them. This season he’s moving up to leading man status. He’s currently serving male romantic hero duties (of a kind) as Kristoff in Disneys’ Frozen and in January he headline’s HBO’s new gay series “Looking”. I interviewed him for Towleroad but here are a couple of bits I didn’t use there for you movie musical and Frozen fans.

Nathaniel R: Can I just tell you that I thought Frozen was great fun but when it ended I realized I was still waiting for another song from you. Were you disappointed that you only got one?

Jonathan Groff: They were apologetic. ‘We tried to find another place but we feel like it didn’t work with the character and we wanted you to sing a’ -- I was like 'Guys, why are you apologizing to me. I'm singing in a Disney movie! I don't care what it is or how long it is, even if it's for 30 seconds.' The answer to that is no. I'm just thrilled to be singing at all and I'm thrilled to be in this movie at all. They were so dead on at having my character sing when he does and at no other moments. It wasn't true to who he was.

One of the great things about this movie is that as classic and recognizable as the elements are in a Disney movie, there's a lot of unexpected things, where they turn it on its head.

When you were watching it, was there any moment where you thought 'Damn, I wish I could have been Kristoff in a live action film.'

Jonathan: Oh my god, yeah. Just the sleigh ride with the wolves would have been so fun. I've always dreamt of being in an action movie. And there's such intense action sequences - falling, running, whipping that tree in the monster's face. All of that stuff would have been fun to do in real life. I was amazed at how much action there was in the movie. It was really intense.

Do you view Frozen as a stepping stone or have you ever thought “This is my breakthrough” of any of your roles?

Jonathan: No, I think each part... It sounds a little hippie but I feel like each role that comes to me or comes to anyone comes for a specific purpose, something to work through. Whether you realize it in the moment ‘I'm learning this about myself’ or ‘this is happening in my life’ or you look back in five years and think ‘That's why that was in my life’.

Any more Broadway in your future?

The theater is where my heart is so I'm dying to get back on stage. At the end of the day it's just a matter of what project. The people you're working with and the thing you're working on are the two things that matter most.

 

much more Groff at Towleroad

Thursday
Nov282013

Live Blogging: THR's Actress Roundtable

HAPPY THANKSGIVING! Today I am thankful for... actresses.

In other words it's a Thursday. Well, listen, I'm always thankful for actresses but now I finally have a tiny bit of time to say so. Can you believe I've held out until now to watch The Hollywood Report's Actress Roundtable? If you've already moved on I forgive you but I wanted to do it in one sitting and finally had the time. As you read this I'm probably on my way to feast with my besties but right now as I write, I'm pretending I'm settling in for a Thanksgiving dinner with (drumroll please) two-time Oscar winning ham Emma Thompson (who I just had cocktails with!), Julia Brockovich-Roberts who brought fish ("eat your fish, bitch!"), Lupita Nyong'o who provides the appetizer (to what we hope is an overflowing career o' plenty), Amy Adams who brought stuffing (she's in everything!), Oprah Winfrey (who paid all the grocery bills) and Octavia Spencer (who brought choc... no, too obvious! abort. abort.)

So let's begin...

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Nov272013

Review: Frozen (2013)

Tim here, to talk about the last big animated release of 2013, and easily the best to come from a big studio all year: Frozen, the 53rd film in the Walt Disney animated feature canon. Adapted very loosely from Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Snow Queen”, it’s a fairy tale about two sisters, princess of the small kingdom of Arendelle: Elsa, first in line to the throne, voiced by Broadway icon Idina Menzel, and clumsy Anna, voiced by Kristen Bell. Elsa was born with a touch of magic to her, and can create snow and ice from her hands, and when this terrible secret reveals itself on the day she’s to be crowned queen, she flees the kingdom in terror, leaving behind a thick blanket of endless snow.

Let’s clear out the low-hanging fruit first: “best Disney movie in 20 years” is just plain silly. It’s the best Disney movie since Tangled, maybe. Except for the instantly-forgotten but wonderful Winnie the Pooh. Anyway, let’s not get all daffy and pretend this is a movie at the level of achievement reached by The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, or Aladdin. It has some very wonderful elements, and a gorgeous song in Elsa’s “to hell with y’all” anthem “Let It Go”, which is absolutely every bit the “Defying Gravity” knock-off that Glenn identified, though I’m inclined to say that it’s better than its evident model. In fact, there’s probably nothing about Frozen I don’t like, up to and including the comic relief snowman Olaf (Josh Gad), who is incorporated into the movie far more elegantly and with far less gruesome “buy this toy!” stridency than the trailers suggested would be remotely in the realm of possibility.

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Nov262013

Sondheim to Streep "Don't F*** It Up!"

I am normally loathe to share soundbyte interviews from TV  -- especially when I have full delicious ones to offer with a whole slew of actors (soon, darlings, soon) -- but this little bit with Meryl Streep explaining what it's like to play Violet Weston is choice. The 'shiv in her hair' reference is perfect. But mostly I dug her enthusiasm about Into the Woods. Hey I'd squeal too if Sondheim wrote a new song for me!

He only asks that Meryl not fuck it up. (That's all we ask too) Which delights her. Because Meryl is delightful. 

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Nov262013

Is Frozen the Closest We Will Get to 'Wicked: The Movie'?

Glenn here, asking you to consider, if you will, a fantasy movie about two young women in a magical faraway kingdom, one of whom was born with a severe affliction. When her “powers” go wrong, everybody in their homeland believes she’s a monster. Wicked, you could say.  

That’s the plot to Disney’s new musical, Frozen. It could, of course, easily be the logline for Wicked: The Movie if the powers that be had been smart enough to get the film adaptation of the massive Tony-winning Broadway musical off the ground. The failure to do so remains baffling and there's been just too much other Oz-related product on the market lately that it would risk brand-damaging saturation to make it now. At least Les Miserables showed that film versions of famous musicals can still be hits decades after the fact so maybe we will get one someday. Until that someday occurs, however, at least we have Frozen. A film that feels so obviously indebted to Wicked (yes, despite being loosely adapted from Hans Christian Anderson's The Snow Queen), so much so that they even cast Idina Menzel and got her to sing a big mid-film song about embracing the dark side that could have been called “Defying Gravity Part 2”.

Click to read more ...

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