INTO THE WOODS

While I was in New York performing Avenue Q on Broadway, I had an audition for a revival of another Sondheim musical "Putting it Together" and had the opportunity to sing for the man himself...Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine.  It was an experience I shall not soon forget.

ALONE can mean solitude.  ALONE can mean being alone even in a crowded room.  ALONE can also mean being in an involuntary state of existence.  ALONE is a theme and through line often used in classic Sondheim pieces.

Into the Woods is THE classic Sondheim musical and has been on Broadway twice where the "Witch" has been portrayed by such heavyweights as Bernadette Peters, Cleo Laine, Phylicia Rashad, Betsy Joslyn, Nancy Dussault, Ellen Foley and Vanessa Williams in the 2002 revival.

Having never seen the original or revival, I was eager with anticipation.  Mostly because for the screen version...yes ladies and gentleman  it is Meryl Streep as the "Witch" and she has freaking done it again!!!!  Is there anything this woman is NOT capable of??!! Singing Sondheim is no easy task, yet Streep does so with the greatest of ease and is compelling to watch.  As much as I love Meryl though, I would've loved to have seen Vanessa or Phylicia have a go at it.

Meryl Streep as THE WITCH

Meryl Streep as THE WITCH

Meryl Strep "Into The Woods"

Meryl Strep "Into The Woods"

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vC07rPoK9lI

Having said that, most of the time when Hollywood adapts these musicals, there is always a weak link in the cast.  The onscreen cast of Into The Woods is strong as steel from the youngest cast member, Lilla Crawford,  to the fantabulous Meryl Streep.  Their singing and acting are superb and they never skip a beat.

Lilla Crawford (Little Red Riding Hood), Chris Pine (Prince Charming), Emily Blunt (The Baker's Wife), Christine Baranski (Stepmother) were my favs and had a variety of scene stealing moments.

I was not ALONE when I burst into applause and laughter doing this film, nor will I be ALONE in the multitude of opinions that will come in the midst of INTO THE WOODS' nationwide release on Christmas Day.

Watch it, take the kids, relive those classics tales once more through a different a pair of eyes and imagine what would happen if their outcome was somehow tweaked.  You'll be happy you did.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L6Yz5BRMGIQ

R.I.P. Mike Nichols

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Mentor...A word usually associated with an individual who has a profound impact in one's life.  A person who is generous enough to guide one on their way to whatever path or road they are choosing to take.  A person whose advice you heed and who you look up to and admire.

Everyone has a mentor in one shape or another.  I have had several mentors in my lifetime through my various stages of creativity.  Whoopi Goldberg had one...Mike Nichols.

Had it not been for Mike Nichols, it s very possible that we may have never know the comic genius of Whoopi Goldberg.  witnessed film debut of Calista Flockhart in The Birdcage, witnessed the explosive relationship of Burton and Taylor played out onscreen in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf or listened to Dustin Hoffman utter those famous words in The Graduate, "Mrs. Robinson...are you trying to seduce me?"

Mike Nichols, one of only 12 people (including Whoopi Goldberg) to have been honored with an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony Award (affectionately known as EGOT), was a celebrated director for over 60 years.

Arriving in 1931 America at 7 years old speaking little English, German born Nichols came to the US when his family escaped Nazi Germany.   His legacy as a director is left in such Broadway and the silver screen hits – from "Barefoot in the Park" and "The Odd Couple" to "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" and "The Graduate." He earned the best director Oscar for "The Graduate."

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-3lKbMBab18

He started his show business career with comedian Elaine May.  Their three comedy albums reached the Billboard Top 40 between 1959 and 1962 and garnered them a Grammy.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x0vSLIO7m20

He earned his eighth Tony two years ago for the revival of "Death of a Salesman and recently been working with HBO to adapt "Master Class ( “Wit” and “Angels in America” were also Emmy winning successes for Nichols and HBO)," Terrence McNally's Tony Award-winning play about opera legend Maria Callas. The project would have reunited him with frequent collaborator Meryl Streep.

meryl-streep-mike-nichols-tribute

“An inspiration and joy to know, a director who cried when he laughed, a friend without whom, well, we can’t imagine our world, an indelible irreplaceable man,” said Meryl Streep, who worked with Nichols on “Silkwood,” “Heartburn” and the HBO adaptation of Tony Kushner’s “Angels in America.”

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Nichols was married to ABC newswoman Diane Sawyer and I can only imagine how this massive loss must be impacting her today...or his kids and many grandchildren.

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I , for one, will miss the twist on reality in his films that made us wince, look twice and laugh at ourselves just a little bit harder under the most dire of circumstances.  Whoopi Goldberg said it best...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ozj9pjPh-h8

RIP...Hope you and Anne Bancroft are having the reunion of a lifetime...

 

Carla Renata

Hey My Fellow Movie Lovers...

A Bison, Virgo, devoted daughter, yoga and spinning enthusiasts, graduate of  the "mecca" - Howard University's School of Communications, former publicist, actress, branding influencer and "doggie mom" to an adorably smart-energetic maltese are just a few of the characteristics that make up the essence of me -- Carla Renata.

Formerly of UBNRAdio.com, where I Co-Hosted "On Air With Tony Sweet", this Fall, I will be hosting a new show for Black Hollywood Live owned by E! Correspondent Maria Menounos  and am a freelance contributor for NPR's Weekend All Things Considered.

I absolutely adore talking about all things cinema and it is my sincere hope that although not every opinion I have will or will not be embraced, know that I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to share!  Enjoy and see you on the red carpet!!!

Oscar Predictions: Best Actress

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Two of these actresses are portraying real life women, one goes it solo in space, one a dying,manipulative Mom from a Pulitzer Prize/Tony Award winning play, last, and certainly not least,  one is a Woody Allen imagined Hampton's housewife who is desperately trying to hang onto the remnants of her sanity along and just barely succeeding.

Meryl Streep has the distinction of being the most nominated actress with a grand total of 18.  Streep has proven repeatedly that she can inhabit any character, accent and blow every other actor off the screen.  However, it is Cate Blanchett in "Blue Jasmine" that has swept this awards season with her portrayal of a spoiled, delusional housewife driven to the brink of insanity after losing everything...including her dignity.  Only Amy Adams beat Blanchett in this category at the Golden Globes.

All of these actresses are stellar, however, I would be lying if I said I didn't miss Oprah Winfrey ("Lee Daniel's The Butler'), Octavia Spencer ("Fruitvale Station") and Allison Janney ("The Way, Way Back) on this list.  They too turned in exceptional performances in a year that has proven to be a real horse race.

Is my prediction right on the money?  Watch The Oscars Sunday, March 2nd and find out...

 

Carla Renata

Hey My Fellow Movie Lovers...

A Bison, Virgo, devoted daughter, yoga and spinning enthusiasts, graduate of  the "mecca" - Howard University's School of Communications, former publicist, actress, branding influencer and "doggie mom" to an adorably smart-energetic maltese are just a few of the characteristics that make up the essence of me -- Carla Renata.

Formerly of UBNRAdio.com, where I Co-Hosted "On Air With Tony Sweet", this Fall, I will be hosting a new show for Black Hollywood Live owned by E! Correspondent Maria Menounos  and am a freelance contributor for NPR's Weekend All Things Considered.

I absolutely adore talking about all things cinema and it is my sincere hope that although not every opinion I have will or will not be embraced, know that I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to share!  Enjoy and see you on the red carpet!!!

2013 Independent Film Festival Follow-up

Film Festival Follow-up The Telluride festival...done, Venice is wrapping up and Toronto begins while we are getting news about what is on the horizon with the AFI Festival slated to open on November 7th. All of these festivals usually gives us a sneak peek about what the Oscar race for 2014 is shaping up to look like.

Thus far, we have seen these films emerge as front-runners -- FRUITVALE STATION, Lee Daniels' THE BUTLER, BLUE JASMINE, THE WAY, WAY BACK and its stars Michael B. Jordan, Octavia Spencer, Forest Whittaker, Oprah Winfrey, David Oyelowo, Cate Blanchett & Allison Janney are creating a lot of buzz.

Going into the Toronto festival, major buzz is surrounding Steve McQueen's 12 YEARS OF A SLAVE, GRAVITY, AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY, CAPTAIN PHILLIPS, PARADISE, PRISONERS & SAVING MR. BANKS already making the Best Actress category overcrowded.

Rumor has it that these actresses will be lauded for their performances: Cate Blanchett - Blue Jasmine Sandra Bullock - Gravity Judi Dench -Philomena Marion Cotillard - The Immigrant Julia Roberts - August: Osage County Meryl Streep - August: Osage County Naomi Watts - Diana Emma Thompson - Saving Mr. Banks Oprah Winfrey - Lee Daniels' The Butler

It's looking like a real horse race thus far...

On another note films opening this week include: Adore starring Naomi Watts and Robin Wright Afternoon Delight with Kathryn Han, Juno Temple and Josh Radnor Bounty Killer starring Gary Busey, Eve and Beverly D'Angelo Hell Baby with Rob Coddry Riddick with Vin Diesel Winnie Mandela starring Jennifer Hudson and Terrence Howard.

Tags: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Brad Pitt, Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts

Categories: Film Reviews

Carla Renata

Hey My Fellow Movie Lovers...

A Bison, Virgo, devoted daughter, yoga and spinning enthusiasts, graduate of  the "mecca" - Howard University's School of Communications, former publicist, actress, branding influencer and "doggie mom" to an adorably smart-energetic maltese are just a few of the characteristics that make up the essence of me -- Carla Renata.

Formerly of UBNRAdio.com, where I Co-Hosted "On Air With Tony Sweet", this Fall, I will be hosting a new show for Black Hollywood Live owned by E! Correspondent Maria Menounos  and am a freelance contributor for NPR's Weekend All Things Considered.

I absolutely adore talking about all things cinema and it is my sincere hope that although not every opinion I have will or will not be embraced, know that I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to share!  Enjoy and see you on the red carpet!!!