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items tagged with musicals

Rap Sessions: "Straight Outta Compton" and "The Man from U.N.C.L.E."
Written By: Mike Schulz
Section: Movies

Category: Reviews

2015-08-17 01:22:13

Aldis Hodge, Neil Brown Jr.,  Jason Mitchell, O'Shea Jackson Jr., and Corey Hawkins in Straight Outta ComptonSTRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON

In the N.W.A. bio-pic Straight Outta Compton, long after the professional and personal flame-outs between Eazy-E (Jason Mitchell) and Ice Cube (O’Shea Jackson Jr., playing his real-life father), the two rappers run into each other at a club, and Eazy, seeking reconciliation, tells Cube he saw him in Boyz n the Hood. Cube reminds his former friend that Eazy publicly called the movie “an after-school special,” and Eazy, knowing he’s caught, simply grins and says, “Man, you know I like after-school specials.” (As it must, this initially tense encounter ends in a hug.) Given the film’s expectedly harsh language, constant threats of violence, and poolisde and hotel-room debaucheries that only platinum-selling albums can buy, I was amazed to find its own resemblence to an after-school special the most surprising thing about director F. Gary Gray’s musical drama. But whatever – I, too, like after-school specials.
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Life’s a Beach, Then You Get Meds: "Love & Mercy" and "Dope"
Written By: Mike Schulz
Section: Movies

Category: Reviews

2015-06-21 01:07:38

Paul Dano in Love & MercyLOVE & MERCY

Receiving a wide national release on the same weekend as Inside Out’s debut, director Bill Pohlad’s Love & Mercy is also an exploration of the brain – specifically, the brain of Beach Boys wunderkind Brian Wilson, alternately portrayed by Paul Dano (during the film’s Pet Sounds-era 1960s sequences) and John Cusack (during Wilson’s heavily-, and incorrectly-, medicated period in the late 1980s). And rather astonishingly for a work of its type, it boasts numerous scenes in which it really, truly feels like we’re allowed to roam around in a legendary musician’s head, feeling what he feels and, even more importantly, hearing what he hears.


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Off-Key: "Pitch Perfect 2" and "Where Hope Grows"
Written By: Mike Schulz
Section: Movies

Category: Reviews

2015-05-17 17:28:41

Hailee Steinfeld, Anna Kendrick, and Rebel Wilson in Pitch Perfect 2PITCH PERFECT 2

Pitch Perfect 2 opens strongly, with the peerlessly funny Elizabeth Banks (who also directed the film) and John Michael Higgins performing an a cappella rendition of the Universal Pictures theme song and launching into the hilariously bitchy byplay that made their vocal-contest judges among Pitch Perfect’s many highlights. And while it’s true that this musical-comedy follow-up, like director Jason Moore’s 2012 predecessor, is set in the world of collegiate a cappella groups – and specifically the world of Anna Kendrick’s fledgling mash-up artist Beca – it’s more accurately set atop a steep precipice. Because although it starts promisingly, as the saying goes, it’s all downhill from there.


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Forgotten, but Not Gone: "Still Alice" and "The Last Five Years"
Written By: Mike Schulz
Section: Movies

Category: Reviews

2015-02-23 15:23:00

Kristen Stewart and Julianne Moore in Still AliceSTILL ALICE

In Still Alice, newly minted Oscar winner Julianne Moore plays Alice Howland, a 50-year-old recently diagnosed with a hereditary form of Alzheimer’s. At one point in the movie, after a series of not-bad days and pretty-awful ones, Alice and her family attend an off-Broadway production of The Three Sisters starring the youngest Howland daughter, Lydia (Kristen Stewart). We see Lydia enact Chekhov’s dialogue with appropriate, impressive anxiety and fortitude, and our view of Alice in the audience suggests that she sees it, too. After the play ends, the family goes backstage to congratulate Lydia, and Alice, with carefully chosen words, praises her daughter for her complex rendering of Chekhovian heart and humanity. Lydia smiles and blushes; this might be the most interest her mother has ever shown in her acting career. Then Alice asks what play Lydia is doing next, and whether she’ll be sticking around New York much longer. And in the reaction shot that follows, the heartbreak in Lydia’s eyes verifies what we immediately suspect: Alice, at this moment, has no idea who Lydia is.


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In Too Depp: "Mortdecai," "The Boy Next Door," and "Strange Magic"
Written By: Mike Schulz
Section: Movies

Category: Reviews

2015-01-24 21:38:40

Johnny Depp in MortdecaiMORTDECAI

Mortdecai, a Clouseau-esque slapstick about a bumbling art dealer and a missing Goya, isn’t so much a movie as it is a test, and one with a single question: Just how much Johnny Depp can you still stomach? For me, the answer turned out to be “more than I expected,” because while director David Koepp’s comedy is crummy in many ways, it did crack me up a good dozen times, and every time because its generally overexposed star did or said something that caught me completely, joyously off-guard.


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