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As Molly Shannon's famous Saturday Night Live character Sally O'Malley would say, "I'm Fifty!" Alan Cumming celebrated his 50th birthday this week by partying at Studio 54 wearing only a Speedo (what else would you expect from him, right?). The Cabaret star, whose actual birthday was yesterday, took to Instagram the other day to share a funny party pic of him nearly sporting his birthday suit. "This is what fifty looks like!" the always-colorful Scottish star captioned the b-day photo. In the snapshot, Cumming shows off his body in just a tiny red Speedo, a matching headband and some party necklaces. The birthday boy flashes a smile while sitting on the shoulders of a male »
George Lucas rides off into the sunset on a song, and with a whole lot of love as Strange Magic marks the final film he developed for Lucasfilm before selling his company to Disney. Inspired by Shakespeare's 'A Midsummer Night's Dream', Strange Magic is a motion capture, CGI musical about the unlikely romance of a faerie princess (Evan Rachel Wood) and the grizzled Bog King (Alan Cumming).
A departure from his previous work, this new fantasy adventure is a frame to frame musical, with popular songs driving the love themed plot. Lucas admits he has been writing Strange Magic for over fifteen years. As Star Wars was mainly meant for boys, Strange Magic is his opus for girls. And it Teaches a much different lesson than traditional, patriarchal fables.
The frequent collaborators John Tiffany and Steven Hoggett seem to be everywhere these days, not just geographically but narratively. Whether the tale they’re telling is psychological (as in the recent Broadway Glass Menagerie) or sociopolitical (Black Watch) or mytho-historical (the Alan Cumming Macbeth) or just groovy (What’s It All About?, the Burt Bacharach revue Hoggett put together) they almost always manage the difficult trick of cutting to the bone while raising the emotional temperature. To do this, they bring a certain amount of magic to their realism, as when Laura in that great Glass Menagerie made her first entrance and final exit through a kind of memory-wormhole in a sofa. But they also bring a certain amount of realism to their magic, and that’s an iffier proposition. At any rate, it’s a problem in their production of Let the Right One In, a vampire romance now at St. »
- Jesse Green
The Iraq War saga “American Sniper” soared like a superhero movie at the box office, with a $64.3 million second weekend in wide release that would make any caped crusader proud.
The Clint Eastwood-directed telling of the tough return home by Navy Seal Chris Kyle, played in the movie by Bradley Cooper, continued its electrifying run with the best second weekend ever by an R-rated movie. In the process, “American Sniper” hit the $200 million mark in domestic grosses just 10 days after earning nominations for Best Picture, »
- Todd Cunningham
The New Yorker Presents, Season 1, Episode 1: “Pilot”
Directed by Jonathan Demme
Released January 15, 2015 by Amazon
Of all the recent pilots released by Amazon, The New Yorker Presents is easily the most interesting. A half hour smorgasbord of content, this first episode is completely fascinating in terms of its form and what that could mean for both Amazon’s original series and television in general going forward.
The conceit of The New Yorker Presents is simple: a little bit of this, a little bit of that. This first episode contains a short film, a conversation/interview with an artist, a short documentary and a recorded performance of a poem. The ultimate success of a series like this is similar to that of a sketch comedy in that episodes and individual segments will be hit or miss week-to-week. Obviously, the goal becomes bringing together a collection of talent that is of »
- Sean Colletti
“American Sniper” intensified its stunning and record-breaking box-office barrage with another $18.3 million on Friday. The tale of a top U.S. marksman coming home a changed man again blew past analysts’ projections and is heading for a three-day haul of more than $60 million, which would be easily the best second weekend in January ever.
- Todd Cunningham
The first Lucasfilm movie announced by Disney after the acquisition was Star Wars: The Force Awakens. But the first Lucasfilm feature released by Disney is this weekend’s Strange Magic. First conceived by George Lucas over a decade ago, the animated musical delves into a fantasy world populated by lovelorn elves, feisty fairies, and embittered goblins. During […]
- Angie Han
You might not know who Gary Rydstrom is, but you've certainly heard him before. This is a man whose pioneering sound work has won him seven (!) Academy Awards and brought to life groundbreaking technological advancements like the first film presented in DTS sound ("Jurassic Park") and re-crafting sound mixes in 5.1 surround (after his breakthrough work on "Terminator 2: Judgment Day," he and James Cameron created a new multi-channel mix for the original "Terminator"). He's also directed a pair of Pixar short films ("Lifted" and "Hawaiian Vacation") and overseen the English language dubs of four Studio Ghibli movies ("Tales from Earthsea," "From Up on Poppy Hill," "Arrietty," and last year's Oscar-nominated masterpiece "The Wind Rises"). In short: he's kind of the coolest dude around.
And this weekend he adds another accomplishment to his already unfathomably long list, when his debut feature film "Strange Magic" debuts in theaters nationwide. This bizarre, George Lucas-produced animated fairy tale, »
- Drew Taylor
Every now and then, I find myself suddenly and unexpectedly angry at George Lucas, but not for reasons that have anything to do with "Star Wars." There has been a refrain we've heard from him over and over during the past couple of decades, where he talks about returning to his roots and making experimental films that could never exist inside the studio system, movies that aren't created to be commercial product, but that come from a very personal place. And over and over, those comments lead nowhere and nothing happens. I'd love to see him do it, though. I have a huge fondness for "Thx-1138," Lucas's first feature film, which evolved out of a student film he made. I take Lucas at his word that commercial filmmaking was never meant to be the complete detour it became after "American Graffiti" and "Star Wars" both blew up into mega-hits, »
- Drew McWeeny
On its way to box office supremacy and Christmas season ubiquity, Disney’s Frozen left a lot of pretenders in its dust. With the exception of Studio Ghibli’s The Wind Rises, 2013’s animated scene was defined by better-than-expected sequels, but not much else outside the sweep of Frozen‘s popularity vortex. 2014, by contrast, saw studios separate the House of Mouse putting their best foot forward, with creative successes from the aforementioned Ghibli, Aardman Animation, Dreamworks, and the house that Lego built, Animal Logic. As a showcase for the breadth of styles and narratives available, 2014 was a stellar year for animation. Strange Magic, the first animated feature of 2015, suggests such a trend ended with the calendar year.
- Sam Woolf
Have you ever landed a job because of Twitter? Alan Cumming has. The advances in technology are rapidly changing the way we live our lives and, in the case of actors, earn their next paychecks. As Cumming told me during an interview for George Lucas. fairytale musical endeavor, neither he nor his Strange Magic co-star Evan Rachel Wood landed their roles through practical means. There wasn.t a traditional audition. They hadn.t prepared any songs to sing for the father of Star Wars. Instead, it was thanks to social media that their involvement came to pass. As Wood said, it was clips of her online that brought her to the attention of the movie.s producers, while Cumming had a similar experience. Their co-star Elijah Kelley, however, wasn.t as fruitful in this department, and he underwent a more straight-forward process. What.s more impressive, though, is Cumming.s »
Analysts didn’t see Clint Eastwood’s look at the life of Navy Seal Chris Kyle coming, so it’s hard to figure out just how massive the film will continue to be now that it faces off against new projects from Jennifer Lopez and Johnny Depp.
If “American Sniper” has a sophomore weekend drop-off like the kind of traditional summer blockbuster it mirrored when it kicked off with $107 million and change over the four-day period, it should pull in roughly $45 million. In a sign of its dominance, “American Sniper” will have the biggest second weekend of any January wide release in Fandango history.
“We’re in uncharted territory,” said Phil Contrino, VP and chief analyst at BoxOffice.com. “I don’t think »
- Brent Lang
Johnny Depp and Jennifer Lopez, two stars whose best box box office days appear behind them, will try to bounce back in new movies opening Friday. But with the record-breaking reigning champ “American Sniper” turning into a cultural phenomenon, they may have picked the wrong weekend.
Lopez is featured in Universal Pictures’ R-rated erotic thriller “The Boy Next Door” as a high school teacher who becomes the object of a young neighbor’s obsession after a one-night stand. Rob Cohen directs and Ryan Guzman, »
- Todd Cunningham
If you’ve ever longed for a movie with all the insistent life lessons of a Disney fairy tale, the tacky visual excesses of digital-era George Lucas, and enough glorified karaoke covers to fill half a season of “Glee,” then you may want to treat yourself to the altogether perplexing animated brew that is “Strange Magic.” Everyone else can just imagine a CG cartoon mash-up of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” “Arthur and the Invisibles” and “American Idol” populated by extras from the Mos Eisley Cantina, and they’ll pretty much get the idea. An insipid byproduct of the Disney-Lucasfilm merger that looks to attract a fraction (if that) of the audience for this year’s “Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens,” this noisy, unappealing children’s fantasy fails to distinguish itself among January’s many, many reasons to steer clear of the multiplex.
Lucas is credited here »
- Justin Chang
Rubber-faced characters and a seemingly ceaseless parade of repurposed pop ditties combine to make what might be the worst animated feature Disney has ever released
Well, now we know what a Las Vegas show designed for eight-year-olds would look like.
The advance marketing on producer George Lucas’ “Strange Magic” suggested a retread of the not-all-that-memorable 2013 cartoon “Epic.” And yes, this fairies-versus-bugs story does recall that earlier film, but “Magic” also ladles in unwieldy dollops of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” “Moulin Rouge!” and a particularly long and excruciating episode of “American Idol.”
See Video: Sing Along With the First Trailer »
- Alonso Duralde
Like any decent trick, "Strange Magic" came about as a bit of a surprise. Instead of the usual multi-year lead-up of most animated film releases, the release announcement for this film came as a bit of a shock when its beans were spilled last November.
The project is directed by Gary Rydstrom, a sound designer and editor credited with the majority of the most popular live-action and animated films ever made, from "Toy Story" to "Titanic," with the "Star Wars" prequels, "Jurassic Park," and "Saving Private Ryan" under his belt. He has 17 Oscar nominations (with seven wins), yet this is the first time he's credited as the director of a film.
The story is credited to Rydstrom's boss at Skywalker Sound, the one and only George Lucas. This is a straight-up fairy tale, complete with dark forests, goblins, elves and the like.
Oh, dear. Are you going to be some Lucas fanboy about this? »
- Jason Gorber
Strange Magic is a new animated musical from Lucasfilm, sprung from the mind of George Lucas over 15 years ago when he decided to make a movie that would appeal mostly to young girls. In the film, Evan Rachel Wood plays Marianne, a carefree fairy who unwittingly crosses into the land of the goblins, inciting unexpected results. Alan Cumming plays The Bog King, the leader of the dreaded goblins who actually turns out (surprise, surprise) to have a soft heart and a knack for singing. I »
- Eric Walkuski
“Strange Magic,” a new animated film from Lucasfilm Ltd., is a fairy tale—but not your average fairy tale. It’s a madcap musical with a princess who has sworn off love, a vulnerable villain, a slightly nutty Sugar Plum Fairy, a tenacious and big-hearted elf, a mischievous imp, and a knight who is no Prince Charming.
“Strange Magic” welcomes an extraordinary roster of voice talent, including Alan Cumming (CBS’ “The Good Wife,” Broadway’s “Cabaret”) as Bog King, Evan Rachel Wood (“The Ides of March“) as feisty fairy Marianne, Elijah Kelley (“Hairspray,” “Lee Daniels’The Butler”) as lovelorn elf Sunny, newcomer Meredith Anne Bull as Marianne’s lovesick sister Dawn, »
- Michelle McCue
Emma Stone and Alan Cumming, who’ve been starring in Broadway’s Cabaret together, hit up Queen of the Night in New York City Sunday night. Emma Stone, Alan Cumming Queen Of The Night On their night off, Stone and Cumming went to Queen of the Night, the circus-themed interactive theater experience inside Manhattan’s Paramount Hotel. Following the show, […]
- Chelsea Regan
See Also: Watch the trailer for Strange Magic here
Strange Magic is a madcap fairy tale musical inspired by A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Popular songs from the past six decades help tell the tale of a colorful cast of goblins, elves, fairies and imps, and their hilarious misadventures sparked by the battle over a powerful potion.
Strange Magic is directed by Gary Rydstrom (Toy Story Toons: Hawaiian Vacation) and features a voice cast that includes Alan Cumming (The Good Wife), Evan Rachel Wood (The Wrestler), Kristin Chenoweth (Rio 2), Maya Rudolph (Big Hero 6), Sam Palladio (Nashville), Alfred Molina (Spider-Man 2), Elijah Kelley (Hairspray), Bob Einstein (Curb Your Enthusiasm), Peter Stormare (Arrow) and newcomer Meredith Anne Bull. »
- Gary Collinson
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