Breakthrough Star: Anna Kendrick

Posted on September 26, 2012 at 8:00 am

Anna Kendrick has been one of my favorite performers since I first saw her as a child belting out “Life Upon the Wicked Stage” in My Favorite Broadway: The Leading Ladies. She provided the voice of the title character’s older sister in this summer’s ParaNorman and this month appears in two very different roles as the wife of Jake Gyllenhaal in the brutal, gritty cop drama “End of Watch” (they have a great wedding dance scene) and as a reluctant a capella choir member in “Pitch Perfect,” her first lead role.  She is also extremely friendly and accessible and a great interview, as I found out this summer.

She is best known for her Oscar-nominated role in Up in the Air.  But if you have not seen her in these films, take a look — you are in for a treat.

Camp A sort of “All About Eve” set at a summer camp for would-be musical theater kids, Kendrick plays a determined young performer who first acts as acolyte and then competitor for the camp’s Queen Bee.  It is supposed to be funny, even ludicrous, when she performs “Ladies Who Lunch,” a biting and sophisticated song written for an aging lush, but she nails it.

The Twilight Saga Kendrick appears as a friend of Bella’s in this blockbuster series. She does not have a lot of screen time, but she makes it memorable.

Rocket Science Kendrick is simply stunning in this under-seen gem, a semi-autobiographical story about a high school boy who stutters but becomes a competitive debater. Kendrick’s role as his rather Machiavelian mentor requires a lot of very precisely delivered rat-a-tat dialog and she is mesmerizingly brilliant.

50/50 Please don’t call this “the cancer movie.”  Yes, it is based on the true story of a young man who got cancer and was given a 50/50 chance of survival.  But he lived to write the story, so you know it’s going to be okay.  And it is co-produced by co-star Seth Rogan, so you know it will be funny.  Kendrick gives another, well, pitch-perfect performance as a just-certified psychologist who tries to maintain some professional distance as she works with the cancer patient.

Coming soon: she plays an FBI agent in “The Company You Keep,” co-starring writer/director Robert Redford, Susan Sarandon, Julie Christie, Chris Cooper, Stanley Tucci, Terrence Howard, Richard Jenkins, Brit Marling, and the little girl with the voice of an angel, Jackie Evancho.  Can’t wait.

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Actors Breakthrough Perfomers

Gangnam Style: Robots and More

Posted on September 25, 2012 at 8:00 am

Psy has inspired more people to get up and dance than anyone since Los del Rio had everyone dancing the Macarena.

Even robots are dancing gangnam style.

And of course there are flash mobs.  Barcelona, Spain:

Bergen, Norway:

Cornell University

I think this one’s my favorite:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r6PVSSedym4
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Music Shorts

Trailer: Yoga Is

Posted on September 24, 2012 at 4:28 pm

Suzanne Bryant’s new documentary, Yoga Is: A Transformational Journey, will be available tomorrow on DVD.  She thought she had it all until she lost her beloved mother to cancer. Trying to process and understand her profound grief, Suzanne embarked on a journey and turned to a deeper practice of yoga.  Suzanne’s journey led her to India where she studied various disciplines of yoga and met with respected gurus. During her visit, she came face-to-face with a near death experience and discovered that something had shifted within her; the light had returned.  Inspired by her experience, she returned to the U.S. to explore what yoga means to the West and how it can transform lives. What she found was something wonderful: a path that can enable anyone to transform suffering in order to experience daily peace and happiness.

 
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Trailers, Previews, and Clips

Happy 50th Birthday to “The Jetsons!”

Posted on September 24, 2012 at 3:59 pm

Fifty years ago this week, The Jetsons first appeared on television, a sort of spin-off/bookend to The Flintstones.  While “The Jetsons” did not have any characters to match the bombastic and iconic Fred Flintstone and lasted only 24 episodes in its original run, its stories of a family living in 2062 with push-button conveniences (and a robot maid to operate them) is still fondly remembered after five decades.

The Smithsonian’s Paleofuture blog has a thoughtful and entertaining tribute to the Jetsons by Matt Novak, who calls the show “the single most important piece of 20th century futurism.”

Thanks to my Google Alerts for words and phrases like Jetsons, Minority Report, utopia, dystopia, Blade RunnerStar Trek, apocalypse and a host of others, I’ve been monitoring the way that we talk about the future for years. And no point of reference has been more popular and varied as a symbol of tomorrowism than “The Jetsons.”

“The Jetsons” was the distillation of every Space Age promise Americans could muster. People point to “The Jetsons” as the golden age of American futurism because (technologically, at least) it had everything our hearts could desire: jetpacksflying carsrobot maidsmoving sidewalks. But the creators of “The Jetsons” weren’t the first to dream up these futuristic inventions. Virtually nothing presented in the show was a new idea in 1962, but what “The Jetsons” did do successfully was condense and package those inventions into entertaining 25-minute blocks for impressionable, media-hungry kids to consume.

And though it was “just a cartoon” with all the sight gags and parody you’d expect, it was based on very real expectations for the future. As author Danny Graydon notes in The Jetsons: The Official Cartoon Guide, the artists drew inspiration from futurist books of the time, including the 1962 book 1975: And the Changes to Come, by Arnold B. Barach (who envisioned such breakthroughs as ultrasonic dishwashers and instant language translators). The designers also drew heavily from the Googie aesthetic of southern California (where the Hanna-Barbera studios were located)—a style that perhaps best represented postwar consumer culture promises of freedom and modernity.

He interviewed Danny Graydon, the London-based author of The Jetsons: The Official Guide to the Cartoon Classic.

Graydon explained why he believed the show resonated with so many Americans in 1962: “It coincided with this period of American history when there was a renewed hope — the beginning of the ’60s, sort of pre-Vietnam , when Kennedy was in power. So there was something very attractive about the nuclear family with good honest values thriving well into the future. I think that chimed with the zeitgeist of the American culture of the time.”

Here the Jetsons are doing something that today seems almost as sweetly retro as the Flintstones — gathered together to watch a small television with antennae.

 

 

 

 

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Animation Television

Steel Magnolias Remake Coming to Lifetime October 7

Posted on September 24, 2012 at 8:00 am

I’m very excited about the upcoming remake of “Steel Magnolias” coming to Lifetime on October 7.  Like the beloved 1989 original, it has an all-star cast with Queen Latifah, Jill Scott, Phylicia Rashad, and Alfre Woodward.  The movie was based on a play by Robert Harling, a tribute to his late sister, who believed, like Shelby (played by Julia Roberts in the original), “I would rather have thirty minutes of wonderful than a lifetime of nothing special.”

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Remake Television
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