Monthly Archives: December 2010

Musical Moment (New feature?)

I had this idea earlier today, and I had it with a very different clip in mind. However, that clip being unavailable, this was my second choice. The Banana Oil Movies Musical Moment will be a post wherein I provide you with a musical clip, most likely from one of the great “Golden Age of Musicals” movies, but not necessarily. Probably something that’s just popped into my head, although if I can make the clip timely/topical, I absolutely will. The likelihood of the clip featuring either Judy Garland, Gene Kelly, or Julie Andrews is high. I cannot tell a lie. But I will endeavor to mix it up some. At any rate, here’s the first, perhaps of many? This one is seasonal, natch.

The musical: Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)
The song: Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

This number, with slightly altered lyrics and recorded by everyone under the sun, is now a holiday staple, but this is the original. Also, in my opinion, it doesn’t get any better. This is Ms. Garland at the height of her abilities, filmed by future husband Vincente Minelli. She looks absolutely stunning, and sounds even better. In this scene, she and her little sister are feeling sad about spending the last Christmas in their home before the family moves to NY to further their father’s career. Note the far more melancholy tone than we’ve grown accustomed to with popular versions, and enjoy!

Happy holidays from Banana Oil! Thanks for reading this year … hope to see you in 2011!!

Trailer: Hanna

We interrupt the new baby hiatus to bring you the Hanna trailer! It looks … kind of bad-ass, although I have to admit that Cate Blanchett’s Southern accent makes me cringe a little bit, and that Eric Bana as Grizzly Adams is not exactly eye candy. Still, it looks like a very interesting and different movie, and I will be waiting to see what comes of it, indeed. And you?

Lists: Five stars I would love to see in a musical

For those of you who haven’t heard, supposedly Robert Downey, Jr. is going to be making a musical at some point in the near future. The story, so far as we know, is about a pair of Broadway songwriters who take jobs at a theatre camp after their musical flops. The songs will be written by the team responsible for the award-winning musical Next to Normal.

Now then. It may surprise you to learn that I am actually of two minds about this. Yes, everyone knows I love RDJ. And musicals. Also, I think this sounds much more interesting/promising than yet another action-y sequel or an Apatowian comedy. However! I am not a fan (at all, really) of newer musicals, nor of RDJ’s singing, actually. It’s very affected, IMO. Despite that, I will say that I have long been interested/hopeful in the idea of him doing a musical, so I will certainly wait this out and see what comes of it.

In the meantime, I thought it would be fun to do some thinking and compile a list of other movie stars that I’d like to see do some singing and/or dancing. I tried to match up the actor to a suitable musical, most of which are older, and don’t already have a true “classic” film version (with one exception). Here we go!

1. The star: Russell Crowe.

I know, I probably shouldn’t have started with him. But hear me out! Crowe is, in fact, a musician, has a really great singing voice (I think) and has done stage musicals in the past. Also, there was a story that went around a few years back about how, originally, the film production of Sweeney Todd was going to be Sam Mendes/Russell Crowe instead of Burton/Depp, and I have to admit that I am still haunted by the idea. I found Depp to be completely ineffectual, and his singing wasn’t even that good. BUT, if you want a commanding presence with acting chops and a capability for pure menace in every frame? One that can still exude the needed charisma? Look no further. As such, instead of a ST reboot, I’ve chosen another dark musical … nothing too light and fluffy for Mr. Crowe.

The show: The Threepenny Opera.
Threepenny, written by Kurt Weill, is about the seedy underbelly of Victorian London. The lead, Macheath (Mack the Knife), is an “amoral, antiheroic criminal,” but, he is charismatic and loved by many. His marriage to Polly Peachum angers her father, who uses his influence to have Mack arrested and sentenced to hang. While the musical has a “happy” ending, the whole thing is dark, gritty, and satirical. Crowe would bring an interesting characterization to the role, and I think the end result (properly handled) would be really magnetic and entertaining.

2. The star: Robert Downey, Jr.

Since I don’t know anything about the aforementioned new project, but he’s totally on my list, I decided to just choose my own musical for RDJ to star in. In addition to having released an album and done some singing on various films, RDJ actually knows how to dance, at least a little. Again, I am not a fan of his singing, but he really does hearken back to the true triple threats – good-looking, able to sing, dance, and act fairly well … he’s a natural fit.

The show: Pal Joey.
The role of Pal Joey was originated on Broadway by Gene Kelly. He was essentially brought to Hollywood with the ultimate goal of making Pal Joey into a film, but that never materialized. A film was made, starring Frank Sinatra, but it wasn’t a huge hit, and so a remake would be just fine. Joey Evans is a dancer, night-club entertainer, and cad whose dream is to open his own club. The musical follows him as he meets the young and impressionable Linda and the older, more worldly (and wealthy) Vera, romances them both, attains his dreams and then loses everything. He ends the show as he began it: alone. RDJ as a shifty womanizer with dreams and tap shoes? Sign me up.

3. The star: Anne Hathaway.

I guess I’m not a huge fan of Anne Hathaway. She’s fine. She is, however, a trained singer, and perhaps one of the most obvious choices knocking around Hollywood these days. If you watched the Oscar telecast last year, you’ll probably remember her brief song-and-dance bit with Hugh Jackman, and since she’s hosting the next Oscars herself, I’m sure we’ll be seeing more of these talents very soon.

The show: Guys & Dolls.
This is the exception to the “doesn’t have a big film version” rule, mostly because Hathaway would be just spot-on perfect as the strait-laced missionary, Sarah Brown. I’d actually really love to see her do the “If I Were a Bell” number. If you don’t know the story, Guys and Dolls is about New York gamblers, Nathan Detroit and Skye Masterson, who have various trials and tribulations involving money and love. Detroit has had the same girlfriend for years who is constantly after him about marriage. Masterson is the young buck, who ends up betting Detroit that he can convince Sarah Brown to fly to Cuba with him. Throw in a struggling mission, a floating craps game, and the inevitable romance, and it’s a fun show. I would love to see a good update, and I think that Anne Hathaway would be perfect in it.

4. The star: Kate Winslet.

Yes, Kate can sing. If you’ve seen Sense & Sensibility (and if you haven’t, shame on you!) then you know this. She also has a Christmas hit across the pond, recorded for a film some years back. She obviously has the acting ability to excel in whatever she decides to do, and she’s had such a varied career that I feel like you could pick just about any role and she’d be fantastic in it. What I’d love to see her do is something really brassy and out-there, maybe even a bit vampy. There’s been talk of a Damn Yankees remake, so I toyed with that idea, but I opted for something different that would give her more of a starring role.

The show: Annie Get Your Gun.
A fictionalized account of the life of Annie Oakley, Annie Get Your Gun follows the courtship of Annie Oakley and Robert Butler as they travel the country and perform with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. Annie is rough-and-tumble, and Robert wants a “genteel lady,” but they of course end up together. This show does also have a film version that was reasonably well-received, but it isn’t one that people remember these days, so I think it could stand to have a shiny new treatment. Plus, wouldn’t you love to see Kate riding a horse and sharp-shooting? She’d also do really well with the transitions between cowgirl and lady. Fun!

5. The star: Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

Another actor with incredible versatility, even at his young age, Jo-Go needs only to add a musical to his repertoire to have done nearly everything. In case you missed it, he hosted Saturday Night Live not so long ago, and chose, for his opening monologue, to recreate the incredible “Make ‘Em Laugh” routine from Singing in the Rain. Live. On stage. His performance obviously didn’t have the polish of the original (performed by the incomparable Donald O’Conner), but he acquitted himself quite admirably, considering. So, for him, something comedic, but requiring some acting skill as well.

The show: How to Succeed at Business Without Really Trying.
How to Succeed … is a tongue-in-cheek story, set in the 50s, about a young man who starts out life as a window washer, but soon manages to scheme and schmooze his way to the top of a corporation. He also, of course, gets the girl. This show was revived not too long ago and starred Matthew Broderick, and is actually scheduled for a Broadway revival next year (starring Daniel Radcliffe [yes, really!]), so it’s ripe for a film version. I think Joseph Gordon-Levitt would be an excellent successor to Broderick’s brand of stammering-yet-calculated earnestness. I actually just saw a production of this recently, as well, and I think it could be really funny and enjoyable on the big screen.

So that’s my list. I love the old musicals, and I would really enjoy seeing some of today’s talent tackle those classic numbers. What do you think? Who would you like to see donning a pair of tap shoes or belting out a ballad?

Monday morning rallying cry

Apparently, there’s a Twitter campaign afoot to ask 20th Century Fox for a Master & Commander sequel. I am for it. I will direct your attention over to Cinemablend for the story, and ask that if you have Twitter, you a. Follow me, and b. Join the campaign!

Obviously, if you haven’t seen the movie yet, you should get on that, too. 😉 I’ve been thinking lately about how Paul Bettany needs to get back to doing better roles, and a well-made sequel to M&C would be just the thing, both for him and for Mr. Crowe, who’s sadly on a bit of a downturn at the moment.

…I look at the picture Cinemablend has posted, and I swoon a bit. Think I might know what I’ll be doing today …

Movies you simply MUST see: Flash Gordon (1980)

Ah yes, time once again for me to foist my favorites off on you. I’ve been pondering my next post of this nature for a while, trying to come up with something different from Amelie. A musical? Too girly. I struggled with not just going on (again) about Master & Commander. And tonight, inspiration! A fellow blogger, who gets mentioned around here quite a bit, is a die-hard fan of one Mr. Timothy Dalton. And he’s got a new movie coming out, and she’s excited about it, and that made me remember my favorite Dalton movie: Flash Gordon.

Oh yes. I know what you’re thinking. I can’t be serious. It’s so … eighties. It’s so campy you can’t see the trees for the tents! The effects are sooo bad. Some of the acting is downright atrocious. I know, I know, I know. It’s a ridiculous- yet wonderful– movie. I mean, c’mon. How can you go wrong when the entire soundtrack is provided by Queen?? How can you not absolutely adore … wait. Let’s backtrack.

Flash Gordon began life as a futuristic comic strip in the 1930s. There were also a few films in the mid-thirties, starring Buster Crabbe. There were also radio dramas. And then, no doubt riding the wave of the Star Wars craze, in 1980, there was this splashy cult classic, starring a hunky blond named Sam J. Jones. Originally, Flash Gordon was apparently a polo player who manages to find himself on a far-away planet, accompanied by the brilliant scientist Dr. Zarkov and a dishy sidekick named Dale Arden. They have lots of adventures and fight against the megalomaniacal Ming the Merciless, ruler of the planet Mongo.

In the film version, Flash becomes a professional football player, but the rest of the general plot line remains the same. Planet Earth is under attack, suffering from pretty much every possible natural disaster at the same time. Dr. Zarkov (a delightfully mad Topol) is a NASA scientist who loses credibility when he claims the attacks are coming from outer space. Flash and Dale Arden (Melody Anderson, milking the damsel in distress thing) end up being kidnapped by Dr. Zarkov and blasting off in his rocket to discover, if they can, Earth’s attacker and stop the bombardment. Many adventures ensue once they reach the planet Mongo and encounter Ming (Max von Sydow), his uber-sexy daughter Aura (Ornella Muti), her handsome suitor Prince Barin (Dalton, seriously hot), and my favorite, Voltan, king of the Hawk People (Brian Blessed, gleeful).

So now are you interested? Clearly, Mr. Jones and Ms. Anderson are not names that anyone remembers, but otherwise, it’s a reasonably impressive cast: Topol, von Sydow, and Dalton are fairly respectable names, and even if you don’t necessarily know Blessed’s name, he’s been around forever and is freaking awesome. I’m sort of wondering why I didn’t include him on my character actor post, actually. Maybe I should do an all-British one next time. Anyway.

Many adventures are had. Naturally, there is romance and danger and cheesy special effects and in the end, the good guys win. Seriously, it’s fabulous. It was probably in the mid-eighties when I first saw it. I was probably about ten. I find it a little surprising now that my mom let us watch it … it’s never over the top either in terms of sex or violence, but it’s definitely fairly suggestive in spots. Ming and his daughter are pretty hot-blooded individuals, and those earthlings are quite easy on the eyes. With the possible exception of one or two scenes that are a little disturbing, the violence is pretty cartoonish, too. I think we just had such a love of science fiction and fantasy in our house that Flash was fair game.

Now you’re thinking “Oh. She saw it when she was ten. Of course she thought it was great. She was a little kid!” But not so fast! I have seriously seen this movie probably about 15-20 times in the course of my life, and I still think it’s awesome. It’s pretty much a cult classic. I used to own it on DVD, but I think an ex-boyfriend ended up with my copy. Realistically, I can admit to the camp and the bad acting, but there’s just something so fun about the whole thing. It never takes itself seriously. The dialogue is bad in spots but not necessarily any worse than a lot of other things that may be considered better movies. The effects are laughable, but again, they were for lots of things. Have you watched The Black Hole lately? Or Moonraker? Oy. It’s not pretty. I know nowadays people scoff at the effects in the Star Wars movies, even, but they are superior to some of the stuff that came after in imitation. What I’m saying here is, give Flash a chance.

As one last incentive, did I mention the soundtrack is by Queen? The soundtrack is by QUEEN. It is EPIC, you guys. Here, take a listen:

Oh man. Seriously, now I need to watch it again. Why isn’t it available for instant view? Netflix, get on that! Anyway, seriously: the next time you just want to watch something fun and silly, with some pretty decent (if dated) eye candy and a rockin’ soundtrack, think of your buddy Flash. He’ll save every one of us! And as always, if you do take my recommendation, please tell me what you think. Even if it’s just that I’m nuts.