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Category: Music (1-10 of 155)

Meet Pixar's singing volcano in 'Lava' short

It’s a rare off year for Pixar, with no full-length feature in theaters until next summer. But Disney recently shared an adorable clip from Lava, the short that was slated to debut in front of The Good Dinosaur—before that movie was delayed from May 2014 to November 2015. As you can see, Lava is the story of a singing Hawaiian volcano, named Uku, who is looking for love.

The name Uku evokes the ukelele—the popular Hawaiian guitar-like instrument that practically scores the state’s sunsets and seduces millions of mainland tourists every year. The late Israel Kamakawiwo’ole’s strummed a uke, and Lava director James Murphy told Yahoo that his short was in part inspired by the singer’s version of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”“I thought that if I could marry the rich imagery and with the power and emotion of music, then I could really make something cool,” he told the site.

Singer Kuana Torres Kahele provides Uku’s voice, and one-third of the inspiration for the volcano’s face. The other two-thirds: Jackie Gleeson, and the cartoon bulldog in the Looney Tunes short, “Feed the Kitty.” READ FULL STORY

Martin Scorsese interested in directing a Ramones movie

The period between Martin Scorsese films is routinely filled with several speculative reports trumpeting fascinating-sounding “next” projects. There’s his long-gestating Sinatra movie, his plans to unite Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci in The Irishman, and a biopic about the formative years of Teddy Roosevelt. Maybe they’ll get made someday; maybe not. His next concrete project is Silence, with Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver, which starts shooting next year—but another potential film project is already drawing attention. READ FULL STORY

Memphis legends young and old pair up in 'Take Me To the River' trailer

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Detroit has Motown, but the Mississippi delta is where it all began. The gospel, folk, soul and R&B music that developed there evolved into modern pop and became the soundtrack for multiple generations of Americans; and the city of Memphis became this cultural oasis for all sorts of musical experiments and breakthroughs, exemplified by the heyday of Stax Records. In Take Me To the River, filmmaker Martin Shore paired old-school legends with current hip-hop artists for an album and a documentary about the timeless language of music that speaks across all generations and races.

“Outside, on the streets of Memphis, it was one of the most segregated places in the world, but inside the studio it was a musical utopia,” Shore said. “In Memphis, people made music that suited them—not what other people thought would be good. It wasn’t prefabricated. It was anything but manufactured. It was real music expressed in a real way.”

Snoop Dogg, who collaborated with soul singer William Bell to record “I Forgot to Be Your Lover,” said, “This is where the seed was planted. This is the origins of it all. When I finally meet my day… I can look back at this and show my grandkids—this is history right here.”

Other musical pairings include Mavis Staples with the North Mississippi All-Stars; Bobby “Blue” Bland with Yo Gotti; Bobby Rush with Frayser Boy; Otis Clay with Lil’ P-Nut; Booker T. Jones with Al Kapone; Charlie Musselwhite with the City Champs; Howlin’ Wolf guitarist Hubert Sumlin with Eric Gales and Ian Siegal; and Hi Rhythm Section with Terrence Howard, the doc’s narrator and a Memphis legend himself after his Oscar-nominated performance in Hustle & Flow. READ FULL STORY

Lonely Island guys partner up with Judd Apatow for Universal movie

Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer, and Jorma Taccone, who made their comedy bones as The Lonely Island trio that specialized in Saturday Night Live digital shorts like “Lazy Sunday,” and “D–k in a Box,” will produce and star in a Universal movie co-produced by Judd Apatow. The plot remains under wraps, though it’s set in the world of music, a logical choice since Lonely Island has released three studio albums. (They were also partially responsible for “Everything Is Awesome,” the contagious hit from February’s The LEGO Movie.)

Schaffer and Taccone will co-direct. Both have experience behind the camera, as Schaffer helmed Hot Rod and The Watch and Taccone directed MacGruber, some episodes of Parks and Recreation, and Samberg’s Brooklyn Nine-Nine.

Ricky Gervais to give David Brent his own big-screen mockumentary

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If you don’t know David Brent by now, you will never, never, never know him… ooooooooooooooo.

David Brent, Ricky Gervais’ signature creation from the original Office TV series, was a middle-manager at a depressing paper company who never gave up his dream to be a rock-star. Never!

Now, Gervais, who dusted off the character last year for a series of YouTube guitar lessons and a mini-tour of live performances, is giving the character the big-screen treatment. Life on the Road will be a BBC Films mockumentary that chronicles Brent’s live concerts; he thinks the camera crew is making a true rockumentary, oblivious—as always—to the fact that they’re really filming a “Where are they now?” video pegged to his fleeting reality-TV fame. READ FULL STORY

Video: How Chadwick Boseman went from playing Jackie Robinson to James Brown

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How do you play James Brown? I mean, how does one pretend to be the Godfather of Soul? After all, what made him James Brown was the very fact that nobody else could be James Brown. Inimitable. Nonpareil. An electric performer, dynamic personality, and a true American original.

Fortunately for the filmmakers behind Get On Up, the Brown biopic that open in theaters on Aug. 1, Chadwick Boseman knows a little something about playing an American legend. Boseman starred as Jackie Robinson in 42, and successfully captured the athlete’s grit and composure, his fire and ice. “He has such nobility, and he brings that to James Brown,” said producer Brian Grazer.

In the new film, directed by Tate Taylor (The Help), Boseman not only has to convincingly deliver the show-stopping routines that Brown was famous for, but he has to play the Godfather from the age of 17 all the way up to 60. It’s a tall order… that Taylor knew Boseman could handle after just 20 seconds in his presence. In an exclusive production featurette, the filmmakers and Boseman’s co-stars—Viola Davis, Dan Aykroyd, Octavia Spencer—talk about the work that went to playing the Hardest Working Man in Show Business. READ FULL STORY

Weinstein Co. and Yahoo will debut Paul Potts movie online for free

The Weinstein Company’s experimental strategy behind Snowpiercer—which debuted VOD two weeks after opening in U.S. theaters—is still being debated, but TWC is quickly revisiting unconventional release models for One Chance, director David Frankel’s movie about Britain’s Got Talent‘s unlikely opera singer Paul Potts.

The film, which stars James Corden (Begin Again) as the unassuming young man who became a YouTube sensation when he wowed Simon Cowell on British television, is scheduled to arrive in theaters this fall. But for 10 days before it opens, it will be available exclusively for free on Yahoo Screen. READ FULL STORY

Why is it so difficult to make a biopic?

UPDATE: On June 29, Lifetime announced Zendaya Coleman would no longer play Aaliyah in the biopic referenced in the article below, and that the production was on hold.

ORIGINAL POST: The recipe for a music biopic should go something like this: Start with a beloved musician; add a string of crowd-pleasing hits; mix in a good dose of backstage drama; hit them with a triumphant and/or fatal finale; roll credits. But actually getting a film into theaters? It’s never been that simple—and as several pending biopics have learned lately, it’s not getting any easier.

For every movie that finds its ideal match (see: Sissy Spacek as country legend Loretta Lynn in Coal Miner’s Daughter or Jennifer Lopez as Tejano music star Selena) there are countless others kneecapped by casting before the first scene is shot. The need for star power, performance chops, and physical resemblance leaves filmmakers with “a lot of boxes to check,” says Debra Marin Chase, exec producer of the upcoming Lifetime biopic Aaliyah: Princess of R&B. (That’s a working title.) Disney starlet Zendaya Coleman, 17, won the role of the beloved R&B singer, who died in a plane crash in 2001 at age 22. “It wasn’t a situation where we cast her because she’s hot,” adds Chase. “She has Aaliyah’s spirit.”

But that decision generated harsh blowback from fans who felt that the biracial teen was too light-skinned for the part—a critique that actress Zoe Saldana has also faced for her titular role in an upcoming, much-delayed Nina Simone biopic. (That casting choice inspired the sarcastic Twitter hashtag #blackbiopics, with users suggesting their own pairings, such as “Robin Thicke as Marvin Gaye.”)

There’s also the question, of course, of the actual songs. Reese Witherspoon might not have won an Oscar for her portrayal of June Carter Cash in 2005’s Walk the Line if filmmakers hadn’t gotten the rights to her and her husband Johnny Cash’s famous catalogs. Securing the music rights is often a lengthy and costly endeavor, and may even stop or halt production—as it nearly did for Jimi Hendrix biopic All Is by My Side, due out this year. Experience Hendrix LLC (headed by the late rock icon’s sister, Janie) declined to license any of his music, leading writer-director John Ridley to frame his movie as an impressionistic art-house drama focusing on the brief period Hendrix (played by OutKast’s André Benjamin) spent in London—and ending just before his breakout moment at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival. “This is a story about relationships,” Ridley told EW earlier this year. “If there are folks who just want the music, there are record stores for that.”

Focusing on a particular time is one way filmmakers work around the myriad biopic obstacles. Angela Bassett will make her directorial debut with an upcoming Lifetime movie about Whitney Houston, and she’s limiting it to the singer’s early years and her relationship with singer Bobby Brown. There will be no depiction of Houston’s later downward spiral or her death at 48. “I really just want to tell a story about a boy and a girl who fell in love,” Bassett, who recently began filming with lead actress (and America’s Next Top Model alum) Yaya DaCosta, tells EW. “We’re not interested in dragging her life again through the muck.”

That’s not to say that drugs will be completely absent in Whitney Houston: ”We can’t tell their story without it,” says Bassett. The traits that so often accompany great talents—depression, drug abuse, the general danger of a life lived at full throttle—also make for good drama. But an unflinching, warts-and-all portrayal can alienate the subject’s family; that’s one of the rumored reasons that long-awaited films on Gaye and Janis Joplin have yet to emerge from seemingly endless turnaround. (A rep for Lee Daniels, the latest in a long line of directors who have attempted to transfer Joplin’s life to the big screen, declined to comment for this story.)

With major studio financing increasingly difficult to secure, some filmmakers are taking matters in their own hands. Don Cheadle launched an Indiegogo campaign to raise funding for a film on jazz legend Miles Davis, which he plans to direct and star in. “If we weren’t crowdfunding, we would have to cut out scenes or characters that we feel really need to be in the movie,” Cheadle has said of the project. A biopic on Hank Williams starring Thor’s Tom Hiddleston is still in the works, though his grandson Hank Williams III has reportedly expressed displeasure at having a Brit play the role. Midnight Rider, the story of rocker Gregg Allman, is on hold following a tragic train crash that killed 27-year-old camera assistant Sarah Jones in February. (The film’s lead, William Hurt, dropped out of in April.)

And yet filmmakers aren’t giving up. Universal has the James Brown biopic Get On Up (out Aug. 1) and it just slated Straight Outta Compton, about N.W.A. rappers Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, and the late Easy-E, for release next year. There are also reportedly projects in development about Kurt Cobain, Tupac Shakur, Iggy Pop, David Bowie, and Freddie Mercury. After all, there are lots of great true stories to tell—if only Hollywood can figure out how to tell them.

'Argo' composer Alexandre Desplat will lead the jury at the Venice Film Festival

French film composer Alexandre Desplat, most famous for scoring The King’s Speech, Argo, and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, will preside over the jury at this year’s Venice Film Festival. He becomes the first musician to serve in that capacity.

“It is a great honour and an arduous responsibility to be the president of the jury of such a prestigious festival,” said Desplat, in a statement. “Italian cinema has influenced both my taste and my music more than any other, and I am proud to be coming to the Venice Film Festival the year after Mr. Bernardo Bertolucci.”

The 71st Venice Film Festival runs Aug. 27 through Sept. 6. Last year, Gravity and Philomena—which Desplat scored—premiered at the Venice festival. This year’s slate of films has yet to be announced.

 

'Once' director joins with Bono and The Edge for Dublin-set 'Sing Street'

Once director John Carney will collaborate with U2’s Bono and The Edge on a Dublin-based musical titled Sing Street, The Weinstein Company announced today.

Carney wrote and will direct the film, based on his own rough-and-tumble childhood. “It’s kind of a memoir of my days in school and a school-band back in the ’80s in Dublin,” Carney told EW earlier this year. “A very rough, yellowing, coming-of-age diary entry of what my life was as a kid in the band.”

Bono and The Edge will write songs and contribute to other musical elements of the film, which is about a kid named Cosmo who is forced by the depressed economy to leave his posh private school. After moving to a tough inner-city public school, music becomes his outlet and salvation as he forms a band, shoots music videos, and falls in love with a beautiful girl.

Carney was an early member of The Frames, an Irish band founded by Once star Glen Hansard in 1990. Carney’s most recent film, Begin Again, which stars Keira Knightley and Mark Ruffalo, opens on June 27.

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