Tag Archives: Julia Roberts

Sound & Motion Pictures: unexpected singing scenes

Sometimes I’m pleasantly surprised by an unexpected singing scene in films that are not about singing at all. Usually it ends up being a feel-good moment, on occasions it turns out to be a remarkable bit of the film. Here’s my favorite ones:

1. Almost Famous – Tiny Dancer, cast + Elton John

Although the whole film is about music, the ensemble singing along with Elton John’s song on their way home is uplifting.

2. Ten Things I Hate About You – Can’t Take My Eyes Off You, Heath Ledger + Frankie Valli

Best way to apologise and win back the girl, it’s a tie with John Cusack holding a boombox under his girl’s window.

3. My Best Friend’s Wedding – I Say A Little Prayer, cast + Dionne Warwick

Effective way to tell a story and charm the audience with a classic song, plus Rupert Everett is at his best.

4. Young Frankenstein – Puttin’ On The Ritz, Gene Wilder + Irving Berlin

How would you present your recently-raised-from-the-dead creature to the wide world? With a vaudeville number, of course!

5. Muriel’s Wedding – Waterloo, Toni Collette and Rachel Griffiths + Abba

Show the mean girls that you don’t care and sing some Abba!

6. The Fisher King – Lydia The Tattooed Lady, Robin Williams + Harold Arlen and Yip Armburg

A foolproof method to captivate a quirky girl’s attention is to sing a Groucho Marx’s song.

7. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty – Space Oddity, Kristen Wiig + David Bowie

The confidence boost that an introverted needs: Kristen Wiig singing a Bowie’s song.

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Filed under Odds and ends, Sound & Motion Pictures

August: Osage County

Director:  John Wells, Main Cast: Meryl StreepJulia RobertsChris CooperMargo MartindaleEwan McGregorSam ShepardJulianne NicholsonJuliette LewisBenedict Cumberbatch;

august-osage-county

Tracy Letts adapted his Pulitzer winning play for the screen and it is a very interesting study of characters and family dynamics. With John Wells at the helm, an old and honest hand at the craft, we get, alternatively, dark, stuffy interiors and burning summer light on the plains of Oklahoma, nice juxtaposition that underlines the inner turmoils and difficult relationships of the Weston family. The family members reunites under rather gloomy circumstances: the disappearance and then death of the patriarch, Beverly (Shepard). It appears clear to his eldest daughter Barbara (Roberts) that he committed suicide, having made arrangements such as hiring a help for his cancer-suffering, pill-popping wife, Violet (Streep), two days before vanishing. The audience slowly learns about the past of each character and how they became what they are, in particular we get an deep insight into Violet: the harsh childhood and difficulties of her early life, and her sister Mattie (Martindale), turned them both into strong-willed, unforgiving women and relentless mothers and wives. It is a rather dismal portrait of what people can do to the psychological health of their children. Barbara is the eldest and clearly the favorite but, being an opinionated, strong woman herself, keeps locking horns with her mother, unfortunately, in turns, she is alienating her soon-to-be ex-husband Bill (McGregor) and teenager daughter (Abigail Breslin). Ivy (Nicholson) is the mild-mannered, submissive daughter, who does everything to help her mother (she is the only one who lives nearby) and avoid confrontations (which seems a self-defense technique). Karen (Lewis) is the free-spirit but insecure one, always undervalued and dismissed by Violet, who either runs away from her problems or desperately tries to fix them finding the “right” man. Among this gallery of “terrible” women the men seems both helpless (and hapless) and the only ones who can achieve some redeeming qualities. While longtime alcoholic and poet Beverly finds that the only way through is to walk out of this raw deal, his brother-in-law Charlie (Cooper) attempts to be level-headed, patient and kind, proving to be the most balanced person of the whole family. Little Charlie (Cumberbatch) is the most pitiful of the lot: disliked and verbally abused by his mother Mattie, with zero self-worth and self-esteem, still shows a gentle nature and a kind soul. As always, family reunion will bring up old stories and things that rub the wrong way, including long-kept secrets. It is very far from the Brady bunch and not a edifying picture of familiar relations but, nonetheless, an amazing study of human nature with all its ordinary flaws. The cast as an ensemble is spectacular and makes the film, the lion share is, of course, taken in equal parts by Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts, both stretching their acting chops very effectively. Special kudos to Cooper and Cumberbatch for their portrayal of decent men. Intriguing —7.5/10

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