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Entries in musicals (539)

Sunday
Feb132011

Betty Garrett (RIP). "Awful, Awful Nice To Be With..."

Betty Garrett, aka "Hildy" the female cabbie from On the Town, passed away yesterday at 91. She was a comic star of stage, tv and, however briefly, big screen musicals. The Hollywood blacklist of the 50s, which sadly destroyed so many careers at their prime, derailed hers, but at least she had charming musicals like Neptune's Daughter, My Sister Eileen and two Frank Sinatra pairings in On The Town and Take Me Out to the Ball Game under her dance belt before that sorry turn of events. Her career got a second wind of sorts on television in the 70s in sitcoms like Laverne and Shirley and All in the Family.

Is there anything more contagiously cheerful than a good musical comedy star? ♪ They're awful....awful good to look at, awful nice to be with, awful sweet to have and hold...

Here's a fun video that apparently played before her 90th birthday bash.

Monday
Jan242011

'Happy 50th Nastassja' That's One From Our Hearts

Nastassja Kinsi by Richard Avedon

Editors note: For Nastassia Kinski's 50th birthday, I asked Glenn to write up a bit on her appearance in "One From the Heart" since it's a movie I know he loves (even more than me and I like it quite a lot) and also because I like to mark the big milestones for actresses and films. If you haven't seen this movie rent it. If you're too young to know Kinski's work, other must sees include Roman Polanski's Oscar nominee "Tess", the horror remake "Cat People" and Wim Wenders "Paris Texas". Here's Glenn from the great blog Stale Popcorn.

I’m going to commit what must be one of the ultimate cinephile no-no’s and go on the record as stating One from the Heart is my favourite Francis Ford Coppola film. Yes, moreso than The Conversation or Apocalypse Now, even moreso than The Godfather parts one and two, Coppola’s One from the Heart is a personal favourite that, to be sappy and pun-tastic at the same time, I hold very dear to my heart. I don’t have time to get into the hows and the whys, because I’m here to discuss Nastassja Kinski!

Is she for real?

Kinski’s Leila first enters the picture over 30 minutes in, her hair slicked back, waving a sparkler, wearing a beaded yellow one-piece costume and draped with a cape. When Frederick Forrest asks “Is she real?” you have to wonder the same thing. This was Kinski’s first American production and her film following her breakthrough in Roman Polanski’s Tess and she couldn’t have a more eye-popping entrance.

Before long she’s romancing Forrest by performing a dance routine in a neon-lit martini glass to the bluesy trumpet of Tom Waits’ Oscar-nominated music. Coppola himself has said that he envisioned Kinski’s Leila as a "Felliniesque circus performer to represent the twinkling evanescence of Eros,” whatever that means, but her sexy gymnastic routine around the rim of this giant, novelty prop remains the film’s most lasting, and seductive, image. Coppola didn’t exactly make Kinski stretch herself by casting her as an exotic, German goddess, but in the mean time he cemented the image that we all still have of her. And then, poof, “like spit on a grill” Leila is gone; the perfect encapsulation of Las Vegas’ intoxicating, but short-lived high.

But didn’t she leave quite the impression?

Wednesday
Jan192011

This Link Goes To 11

Boston Globe Wesley Morris looks back at Todd Haynes's defiant Poison, now 20 years old but still strong.
Antagony & Ecstasy chooses the 100 Best Films of All Time
Scanners "Moments out of Time" for 2010
Critical Condition
Mark shares his dream Oscar ten.
Playbill
Another award for Annette Bening. I'd never heard of this one though "The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association's Dorian Awards"


Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Rose Byrne, James McAvoy (and others) in X-MEN FIRST CLASS

Hero Complex first photos from the star-studded X-Men: First Class
Movie|Line
, prepping for Sundance, reminds us of 13 films that broke out in a big way at the snowy festival.
Boy Culture prompted by Jane Fonda's return has an On Golden Pond flashback. 
Everything I Know names the best stage musicals of 2010 ...and the worst
Natasha VC The inimitable Natasha has some words for Robert DeNiro in regards to his Globe speech. 
The Wrap f/x epic John Carter of Mars is coming three months earlier than expected: March 2012. 

Sunday
Jan092011

Supporting Actress Blog-a-Thon: Donna Murphy in "Tangled"

Tangled begins as so many Disney fairy tales do, with literal storytelling. But rather than opening a book --are they too antiquated for the kiddies *sniffle* ? -- it's simple narration as Flynn Rider begins to tell us the tale of Rapunzel. The first character he introduces us to is Mother Gothel, obsessing over the healing power of a golden flower. 

Oh, you see that old woman over there? You might want to remember her. She's kind of important.

No joke. That's true of character and actress. Gothel's voice belongs to Donna Murphy, one of Broadway's most formidable stars. She seizes the richest opportunity of her sparse screen career as forcefully as Mother Gothel grabs at her chance at immortality.

"blah blah blah blah blah"

In the first seconds of this introduction when we see the hunched crone-like woman with darting eyes, the animators are doing the heavy lifting. But soon enough Donna Murphy's spectacular voice creeps into the picture and we have one of the all-time best villains in Disney's already estimable rogues gallery.

"Flower gleam and glow, let your power shine," she sings with ancient cracked weariness. As her magic flower does its healing work, Murphy's more familiar superstar pipes emerge, newly coated in honey "Make the clock reverse, bring back what once was mine, what once was mine." No wonder she can't let go of this power once it's in the human form or Rapunzel. Who'd want that voice to whither, never mind the beauty. 

Murphy's enormous gift for musical comedy is a huge assett in crafting Disney's most disturbing parent/child relationship without alienating its intended audience. Tangled isn't a horror film after all. We have to understand that Mother Gothel is dangerous for her adopted daughter, but we also have to enjoy the emotional games which are played at Rapunzel's expense. Little "Flower", as Gothel calls Rapunzel, doesn't even understand the rules.

Murphy's quickfire comic delivery is filled with florid theatricality (perfect for both the stage and the animated film) but the actress can ground it just as quickly with softer tones. So when she teases Rapunzel in the mirror. "I see a confident beautiful young woman. [beat] Oh look you're here too!" and then laughs at her own mean joke, you're both giggling and apalled. Then you want to forgive her when she hugs her daughter because she's funny and vibrant and she sounds like she means it whenever she drops the teasing. She cushions those blows with kisses and endearments "I love you most" and though not all of them sound 100% genuine, moments of emotional authenticity pop up to catch you unawares. What kind of woman is this? Murphy flips Gothel's switch constantly: loving mother, flamboyant diva, charming confidante, dangerous villain, exhausted single parent, selfish bitch; who can keep up? Certainly not Rapunzel!  

a dramatic pose in "Mother Knows Best"

Even better, whether she's working the book scenes or singing, you can hear in Murphy's delivery both the anticipatory manipulations (when she doesn't want to deal with her daughter's neediness) and the lags in response time (when Rapunzel surprises her). 

Though it's not the least bit surprising if you've ever seen her on stage, Murphy absolutely nails Mother Gothel's big number "Mother Knows Best" which is a character song, an illustration of emotional backstory (you know she's sung this song before and you can imagine how it's shaped her "daughter"), a comic interlude and dramatic showstopper. At least it is with Murphy playing it. The most hilariously self-aware moment is in the climax. She sings 

Skip the drama
Stay with Mama
Moooooooooother Knows Best. 

"Skip the drama," sings the drama queen with total flamboyance. That's rich. Mother Gothel is laughing at her own killing joke even while sliding into the next witty lyric.

Murphy records Gothel's voiceLater while bargaining with her daughter about a trip, she drops the comedy for more earthbound familiar parent/child friction but Murphy's still working it like it's her big showstopping song and the spotlight is on. "Enough with the lights," she yells with scary force at her persistent daughter (Dangerous Villain) having reached her breaking point.  "Great now I'm the bad guy" she sighs, collapsing with self-deluding comedy (Selfish Bitch). Rapunzel switches gears herself in response and wants a different gift. "And what is that?" Murphy says with genuine inquisitiveness peaking through her annoyance (Exhaustive Single Parent). Murphy doesn't oversell this last line at all, though she might have. The actress is softening with the character so your attention can flow back to Rapunzel, who is trying her hand at the manipulation game from her mother who knows it best.

Murphy's spoken dialogue is as musically fluid and emotionally incisive as her singing is dramatically and comedically assured.  This is why you cast already great musical stars in musicals, Hollywood! They sing beautifully even when they're just acting and they act dramatically even when their voices are carrying a melody.

Murphy Done Best.   

.

For more supporting actress write-ups see StinkyLulu's 5th annual Supporting Actress blog-a-thon

 

Wednesday
Jan052011

Mama's Getting Hot: Babs for Gypsy?

Fockin' BarbraBy now, should you have a known predilection for movie musicals or Barbra Streisand as musical comedienne (we endorse both predilections, though we can do without Babs otherwise), someone has undoubtedly forwarded you something saying along the lines of "OMFG. BABS. GYPSY. SQUEEE (and/or) EWWW."

According to Playbill, she is in talks to star in a new film version about the ur stage mother "Mama Rose". Other reports have the diva, currently atop the box office charts in her Meet the Fockers role, directing and producing as well. That Babs, always multi-tasking. We heartily approve of Babs returning to musical comedy, her true yet abandoned once-in-a-century gift, and we get that she'd want to scale the musical Mt Everest of "Mama Rose". Many divas have tried their hand at the enormous role. Streisand, at 68 years of age, would definitely be the oldest filmed Mama Rose. Which isn't a big deal since you do need a BIG performer except that the musical is about a mother's tempestuous relationships with her young children who she carts around on the vaudeville circuit as child and then teen performers until the elder kicks free of Mama (and clothing) to become the famous stripper Gypsy Rose Lee.

Well, maybe she'll pull it off. She did famously sell herself as "Second Hand Rose" already.

The major Mama Roses to date (Gypsy never stays away for long):

  • Patti Lupone (2008 Broadway revival, Tony Award)
  • Bernadette Peters (2003 Broadway revival, Tony nomination)
  • Bette Midler (1993 TV movie, Emmy nomination, Globe winner)
  • Tyne Daly (1989 Broadway revival, Tony Award)
  • Angela Lansbury (1975 Broadway revival, Tony Award)
  • Rosalind Russell (1962 Film, Globe winner -- snubbed by Oscar)
  • Ethel Merman (1959 Original Broadway musical, Tony nomination)

Which was your favorite? (I've only see Russell, Midler and Peters and, despite her divisive reviews, Bernadette Peters was my favorite. How about them eggrolls?)

(Remember when Hugh Jackman had super long hair? Hee.)

Hey you know what?

Forget Babs. Wasn't Sigourney Weaver supposed to star in a non-musical version sequel of sorts called G String Mother? That one was about Mama Rose's daughter "Gypsy Rose Lee" in her later years after retiring from stripping. Maybe that project got cancelled? It no longer has an IMDb page. Sadness. That sounded interesting.

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