Friday, May 09, 2014

New Movie Musicals

Three films scheduled for release this summer look quite promising for fans of movie musicals.  And that makes me very happy indeed! Jersey Boys swings into our multiplexes on June 20; Begin Again follows on July 4; and Get on Up completes this eagerly-awaited trio on August 1. To whet your appetite, here’s a bit of information about each of these movies:

JERSEY BOYS. Finally, the popular Broadway musical about Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons has been adapted for the screen. John Lloyd Young,  a Tony winner for his portrayal of the “falsetto giant” on stage, also appears as Valli in this film. Christopher Walken joins the cast as the mobster who becomes a father figure to the famous singers.  Clint Eastwood directs. Yes, you read that right! Eastwood and a musical may not seem to go together (remember Paint Your Wagon?), but he is a fine composer and musician (remember Bird?), so don’t worry about this one. Although I haven’t seen the Broadway play, the clips of musical numbers from the stage production come across as exceptionally entertaining.

BEGIN AGAIN. Keira Knightley, Mark Ruffalo, Hailee Steinfeld, Catherine Keener and Adam Levine star in this dramatic film about struggling New York musicians. Knightley plays a British singer who inspires a depressed label executive (Ruffalo) to record an album about the spirit of New York. Keener and Steinfeld portray Ruffalo’s estranged wife and teenage daughter, respectively. Levine takes on the unsympathetic role of Knightley’s partner who dumps her after he becomes famous overnight. I can hardly wait to see these excellent actors bring this story to life. And I’m eager to hear the tunes that Entertainment Weekly says might be candidates for a Best Original Song Oscar.         

GET ON UP. At last, a film about Godfather of Soul James Brown! Chadwick Boseman, who wowed viewers as Jackie Robinson in 42, snagged this key role. Octavia Spencer is cast as Brown’s aunt, and Viola Davis appears as the mother who abandons him. How good is Boseman at portraying Brown? Spencer told Entertainment Weekly that she “actually mistook his screen test for documentary footage.” Evidently the talented actor can really belt out a song and has all the right moves. Yay!!!

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