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Entries in Original Song (76)

Tuesday
Nov252014

Quick Impressions: "Madame Frou-Frou (Singing Voice)" in The Boxtrolls

New Series! In Quick Impressions we'll be looking at the working actor in key movie scenes. Consider it a celebration of SAG card-holders everywhere and free advice for casting directors for people who aren't famous ...in some cases "yet". So many showbiz dreams wander around on every film set and are embedded in each frame of your favorite movies. 

Today, we're talking to actor Sean Patrick Doyle who sings the title song in The Boxtrolls in that great scene when Madame Frou-Frou takes the stage. Sir Ben Kingsley is the voice of Archibald Snatcher / Madame Frou-Frou so Sean Patrick makes like a modern day Marni Nixon.

NATHANIEL: What is that process of "voice matching" and how did you get the part - it's so different from your other credits. 

SEAN PATRICK DOYLE:  A cockney villain posing as a female Czechoslovakian show hall performer? - different indeed!  Laika had auditioned many actors in LA but Heather Vergo at Atlas Talent put a call out to their commercial office in New York, seeking performers who could interpret the song but still voice match.  My commercial agent Michael had seen me perform a soprano aria in the Broadway revival of La Cage Aux Folles.  He also knew that imitating famous singers is my party trick of choice.

I signed a few confidentiality documents, but was never told that the spoken recordings I was listening to were Sir Ben Kingsley. A week or so later, there was a bite at the line giving me feedback on my audition track and a slew of references to listen to before re-recording: Mae West, Edith Piaf, British Show Hall performers.  They also requested that I roughen up my sound a bit.  Dario Marianelli [The Oscar-winning composer] had done some digging online and turned up a video of me playing Fruma-Sarah in the 2008-09 National Tour of Fiddler on the Roof.  He was tickled that they had cast a male in the role for the first time, and advised “a little more of that wouldn’t hurt.”

Because I was doing a show here in New York, director Anthony Stacci and producer David Ichioka flew in from the West Coast. Co-director Graham Annable listened in from Portland and Dario from a studio in London.  It was collaboration across many time zones!

NATHANIEL: It payed off. The song/scene is amazing. Did you know what it would look like?

SEAN PATRICK DOYLE:  I was sent an animatic, which is a moving storyboard with rough sketches of the characters and their movement, along with the spoken voice performances in the Cheesebridge Fair scene.  When we recorded, the producers put up renderings of Snatcher and Frou Frou in the booth and also showed me footage of Ben recording his tracks in a lounge chair.  When seeing the movie, the real surprise was that they had turned it into a full production number, using live choreographed dancers to aid the animators.  They also had Mark Orton re-orchestrate the song with Portland band Loch Lomond, and bent some of the higher operatic notes (the ending note was originally a soprano A), so it sounded slightly different, too.  I think the finished product is very clever, and fits Ben’s colorful spoken performance.

NATHANIEL: Proposal: If the song is nominated for an Oscar, You and Ben Kingsley do the number in full drag. He stands at the microphone and you are behind him as a curtain opens up, the Kathy Selden to his Lina Lamont. 

SEAN PATRICK DOYLE:  It might take some convincing to get Sir Kingsley into a frock, but, hey, sign me up!  I know the Academy often favors a pop sound, but I’d be very happy to see Eric Idle’s cheeky lyrics and Weill-esque melody recognized on that level.

NATHANIEL: Speaking of frocks, First La Cage and now you're onstage in Kinky Boots (such a fun show!). So should we expect to see you next season on RuPaul's Drag Race

SEAN PATRICK DOYLE:  Haha!  Well, as much as I love watching those queens battle it out, the fulfillment I get from gender-bending roles comes solely from being able to play a character wildly different from myself. Recently I was playing nebbishy Eugene in Grease at Paper Mill Playhouse, and I just filmed an episode as a heroin addict in the final season of Nurse Jackie.  The further I step away from myself, the more fun the work becomes.  But as a lithe countertenor weighing in at a buck twenty, a few of my bigger jobs have involved elements of gender illusion.  It’s not in every actor’s skill set and I’ve used that to my advantage, but of course the goal is always to do really varied, interesting work!  Still, let me tell ya - it takes a real man to pump across a Broadway stage wearing a bikini and 7 1/2 inch heels.  Come to the Hirschfeld and I’ll show you! 

The Boxtrolls will be released digitally on Dec 23rd with the DVD/BluRay release on January 20th, 2015. You can follow Sean Patrick on twitter here. He is currently on stage as "Angel" in Kinky Boots (in the top hat and red coat, third from right by football star Michael Sam below). You can also listen to Sean Patrick's insane voice reel below if you're interested.

 

Previously: "Nervous Intern" in Gone Girl
Next Tuesday: American Horror Story: Freakshow

Monday
Nov242014

I didn't link it, but if i'd linked it, how could you tell me that i was wrong?

The New Yorker Anthony Lane on Mike Nichols
Playbill congratulations to Chicago which became the 2nd longest running Broadway show of all time tonight surpassing Cats
Screen Crush bitches about the long uneventful Part 1s of modern franchise culture as I've been bitching about forever. But as long as audiences keep buying tickets, why should Hollywood stop? They make double the money this way.
YouTube first TV spot for Jurassic World. It's mostly Chris Pratt & Bryce Dallas Howard's faces and you know what they look like. But a brief flash of dinosaurs, too.


Critic Wire the terrifying children's book in The Babadook (opening Friday!) is now a real book you can buy
Vanity Fair since I officially stopped watching How To Get Away With Murder I said goodbye by reading / enjoying / giggling through this post on the "who killed Sam" episode
Empire more new projects for Channing Tatum and his creative partner Reid Carolin (who you'll remember as the sister's date in Magic Mike)
Variety why did Mockingjay Part 1 perform below Hunger Games expectations (which were sky high)
Interview Michael Shannon interviews Amy Ryan (currently onscreen in Birdman)
THR is excited about those Lana Del Rey songs in Big Eyes but I only remember the title song (which is played somewhat inside the movie but not enough of it to have a firm opinion of it) I remember the lines being something like "Big Eyes.... and your Big Lies..."
Film School Rejects looks at connections between the documentary and best picture category this year
LA Times Jennifer Aniston on 'drunk singing' for Cake
In Contention The Fault in Our Stars finally does some campaigning for Shailene Woodley
Samuel L Jackson The Hateful Eight cast have met 
Deadline checks out the numerous very dark horses in the Best Actress race: shout-out to Sally Kirkland and Gena Rowlands from the veterans. An interviews with the former and possibly the latter coming up. Stay tuned...

Pic of the Moment
Jake Gyllenhaal submerged. I wish it were in Oscar buzz! [src] (I was horrified to get blank faces from Oscar voters when I brought up this movie at a recent luncheon. They weren't in the actor's branch but still. How had they not heard of his remarkable performance?)

Chart Updates?
Best Actress & Supporting Actor made minor adjustments following Into the Woods & Big Eyes screenings. Unbroken screenings just after Thanksgiving as we enter the final month of the film year. So exciting.

Whither Nicole Kidman?
I missed Before I Go To Sleep in theaters (it left town instantly) and despite wrapping her roles on five more films we don't have firm release dates on any of them! If you're keeping track they are: Queen of the Desert, Strangerland and Grace of Monaco (lead roles) and Paddington and Genius (supporting roles). Here's a teaser for Strangerland.

It's an Australian drama with Hugo Weaving and Joseph Fiennes in which a couple's daughter goes missing. They freak out, naturally. Looks intense. Might it actually be good? I have high hopes for Queen of the Desert, too, given that Werner Herzog is behind the camera but she probably needs one of these films to be at least a minor hit.

 

Thursday
Nov202014

Interview: Patti Smith Doesn't Want Her Own Biopic!

What becomes a legend most? Not the biopics we see each year at the movies, Patti Smith suggests to me. We were meeting to talk about her first Original Song for a film, "Mercy Is" from this spring's $100 million hit Noah when the conversation veered into her own status as a showbiz legend, the godmother of punk. She shudders when I wonder aloud if anyone will make ever make a movie of her best-selling memoir "Just Kids" which recounts her storied relationship with fellow artist Robert Mapplethorpe. Though she's undoubtedly been interviewed thousands of times by now in her forty years of stardom, and she questions (indirectly) the whole point of the star profile and the interviewing process  -- 'if you really want to know me, it's all there in the work' -- she is a patient and warm interview. She instantly recalls the old massive paraphenalia that journalists used to bring into the room to record with when she sees my tiny electronic device and she's eager to talk Noah, a project she felt immediately taken with when Darren Aronofsky first told her about his plans for it at the Venice Film Festival years ago. 

Patti Smith at a recent concert in Iceland

NATHANIEL: Movies aren’t something you've spent a lot of time with in your legendary career. Did you know Aronofsky’s work well before writing the song for Noah?

PATTI SMITH: Yes. I love the one with Rachel Weisz, The Fountain. And Pi. I saw Black Swan a couple of times and we talked about Black Swan as a metaphor for the artist process and things like that. But it was not so much Darren as the subject.

Nathaniel: But you’ve been asked about religion before in your career and you’ve called it ‘man-made dogma’ so why do a Biblical film?

PATTI SMITH: Well, I love the Bible. Just because I’ve extricated myself from religion doesn’t mean I’m not interested in the scriptures. I look at the Bible as itself. It’s a holy book, it has incredible literature in it and beautiful poetry - the Songs of Solomon and the Psalms. I studied the Bible seriously until I was young teenager. It was always part of our home education: talking about the Bible, arguing about the Bible, interpreting it. So I don’t connect prayer or scriptures with any particular religion so it’s not a contradiction in my life. [more...]

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Nov192014

Honey, time marches on and eventually you realize it is marchin' across your blog.

Stereogum interviews musician Tunde Adebimpe, the groom from Rachel Getting Married. He says Paul Thomas Anderson (!!!) was originally going to play his part.
Dissolve the Russo brothers who did such a great job with Captain America Winter Soldier may be staying with Marvel unto infinity. And Infinity Wars
BadAss Digest kind of a dick move that DC announced a Flash movie shortly after The Flash series opened to great numbers but with a different actor. The star of CW's Arrow objects

Geek x Girls Dance off from Guardians of the Galaxy takes a detour with Lee Pace
Coming Soon Interstellar prequel comic
/Film 30 movies coming to TV from worst to best ideas
THR Madonna isn't done directing Her next project Ade: A Love Story has a writer
MNPP LMAO! Which is hotter, Andrew Garfield or...?
Film School Rejects shares 7 movie scenes where actors imitated other actors. Amusing but why no ladies?

Angelina Madness
Variety the long journey of Unbroken to screen 
In Contention Angelina Jolie premieres Unbroken, gets emotional
Vanity Fair new photos of the exquisite Jolie via Mario Testino 

The Gay
Me Says defends the gay (or lack of?) content of The Imitation Game 
Buzz Feed asks the cast of The Imitation Game to cast their own biopics 
Gay Vancouver Congratulations to Film Experience reader since way back, actor Michael Azevedo, who is premiering a short film in Canada
Towleroad Paul Bettany corrects a troll's grammar and homophobia. Paul Bettany is so perfect. I only wish he had a filmography to match. 

Today's Must Read
Steel Magnolias celebrates its 25th anniversary on November 22nd. I'm surprised at how many of these "12 Things You Didn't Know About Steel Magnolias" I didn't know. Usually those article titles are so misleading. Like this juicy anecdote implying that we could have had an all Old Hollywood version! Bette Davis wanted Shirley Maclaine's role. Can you imagine this version suggested?

Davis hadn't yet seen the play, but Elizabeth Taylor had. (Police were forced to shut down the street outside the theater because so many people were rubbernecking Taylor's arrival.) Davis wanted to play Ouiser, and she suggested Taylor for M'Lynn and Katharine Hepburn for Clairee. "It was fantastic, "Harling recalled. "If I ever write a book, it’s a complete, incredible chapter. She basically, bless her heart, wanted to show that she was up and at ‘em and doing it. There was nobody else and she was looking fabulous."

Today's Listen
If you have 50 minutes, hear David Fincher talk about the movies in this wide ranging interview from Studio 360. Have just 5 minutes?  The second listen is Hobbit Billy Boyd singing the theme song for The Hobbit: The Battle of The Five Armies. It's called "The Last Goodbye"

 

 

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 ...

Tuesday
Nov042014

Will the Hollywood Music in Media Awards Tell Us Anything about Oscar?

Tonight in Los Angeles they're holding the Hollywood Music in Media Awards. I'm not familiar with this organization but this is apparently their fifth year. Two Oscar nominees, actor Eric Roberts (who has a small but key role in the upcoming Inherent Vice) and songwriter Stephen Bishop (Remember "Separative Lives" that duet from White Nights?), are among the handful of hosts and performances will include Antonio Sanchez (interviewed right here) performing a section of his all drum score for Birdman and Gregg Alexander doing "Lost Stars" from Begin Again (clearly the song to beat at this point but we wish they'd push for two nominations in that category because the whole soundtrack is so good).  

But will any of this tell us anything about Oscar? [More...]

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Sep042014

"Happy now and happy hence and happy ever after"?

Manuel here, to discuss some news that got lost in the shuffle last week -in an interview with EW last week, Rob Marshall confirmed that that new Stephen Sondheim-penned number for Into The Woods was cut. [Gay gasp!] Yes, that song which Meryl was so effusive about last year and which Sondheim had penned just for her (seemingly in response to certain plot strands that were left dangling by, well, Disneyfied cuts to the fairy tale musical) has found itself on the cutting room floor. In Marshall's words,

“It was beautiful and spectacular, but it was very clear, as good as the song was, that [the movie] was stronger without.”
Rumblings on the web lead me to believe there's more to the story (isn't there always?) but rather than give credence to the rumor mill, we'll at least have something to look forward to in the film's DVD/Blu-Ray bonus features (they still have those, right? I feel as though I've been streaming so many films lately, I haven't sought out or outright explored these behind the scenes featurettes unless they become viral sensations). 

 

But rather than ask that obvious question ("will the song still be featured in some way in the film and thus be eligible for the Best Original Song?") I thought I'd open it up to a more interesting, if obscure, conversation. Writing new songs for existing musicals as they make their way to the silver screen is nothing new. Written either as an Oscar-grab or as a way to solve cinematic problems when adapting stage-primed material, these songs have been just as often outright hits as they've been unmistakable misses. For every serviceable number such as "Suddenly" (Les Mis) there is a head-scratcher like "Cinema Italiano" (Nine). For every tacked on song like "Hopelessly Devoted to You" (Grease) that nevertheless finds life outside of the musical film therein, there is "Mein Herr" which is now integral to stage mountings of Cabaret

I know I'm talking to the theatre queens in the audience, but I'm sure there's plenty of you out there: If you could choose one such number to nix it from a musical film adaptation, which one would it be? Or, conversely, which numbers written specifically for the screen do you think have captured the spirit of the show and made significant contributions to its sensibility?