Smart Reads: Jack Smart Edition #7

The Human Symphony

Dylan Marron’s ‘The Human Symphony’

Wonderful internet wormholes you should fall into:

  • Web series!: Good Cop Great Cop (superb absurdist comedy), Paragon School for Girls (if you want to feel a liiittle bit high), SRSLY (proof that creating your own online content can lead to lucrative work!)
  • Kate McClanaghan, now a contributing Backstage Expert, has some really excellent advice for actors looking to break into the voiceover industry. Ditto Jennifer Ashley Tepper of NYC’s 54 Below when it comes to cabaret.
  • Although the fervor of awards season has (blessedly) subsided, it may tickle you to learn where all this year’s acting nominees got their start on screen, especially if you’re still enraged about Patricia Arquette’s Oscar snub for A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors. Also – my apologies – I wrote about next year’s Oscars too.
  • I interviewed the writer behind Let the Right One In, the only horror theater I’ve ever seen that actually made me leap out of my seat like a ninny.
  • David Ives is a theater genius! I got to pick his genius brain a little bit about his invigorating new collection of one-acts at Primary Stages, Lives of the Saints.
  • Check out my alliteration: 9 Fabulous February Films!

Continue reading

Advertisements

Oscars 2015 Recap: The Broadcast’s Most Emotional Moment

First of all, let’s get best dressed out of the way:

Emma Stone

Emma Stone blew everybody out of the water (and got covered in seaweed?) with this chartreuse Elie Saab number

My initial reaction: “What is that, seaweed?? WTF she looks like an alien!” Second reaction: “Ohmygosh it’s like. Seaweed. Like sexy glamorous seaweed. She’s a sexy glamorous bug-eyed alien.” By the end of the night: “Wait, everybody at this year’s Oscars is dressed so conservatively and here’s Emma Stone, national treasure, resident alien supermodel, dressed in a wildly unusual and eye-catching color. Not only does nobody else on this carpet stand out like she does, nobody in all of awards season dared to wear something as bizarre and striking as this! And look at that face!! She freaking KNOWS. All hail, bitches!!!”

Anyway. Patricia Arquette’s speech was great, and Meryl and JLo’s joint reaction was even better. I’m happy for Julianne, I don’t really have words for what happened with Menzel and Travolta, and seeing Julie Andrews did my heart good. The ceremony was full of some unexpectedly cathartic moments; in defiance of #OscarsSoWhite we were treated to a rousing performance of Selma‘s “Glory” followed by an unabashedly political speech from John Legend and Common. Here’s hoping the Academy can pull their head out of their asses a bit more and open their minds to films that aren’t only biopics centering on brilliant misunderstood white dudes.

But for me, I must admit, the most emotional part of the broadcast – tears spring to my eyes just thinking about it – came somewhere in the middle….

 

Continue reading

If I Ran The Oscars: 2015 Edition

All right here’s the thing I took a melatonin pill about eight minutes ago so I have until that sucker kicks in to scrawl down some thoughts on this year’s Oscars. I’m telling you right now, this shit’s not gonna be perfect. Honesty and authority: those are the values guiding my 2015 resolutions. So in the spirit of practicing honesty and authority, I’m going to describe who would win which Academy Awards if I ran the show. My verdicts will be honest and backed with real evidence (my well-informed opinions, duh) and they will be declared without apology because authority.

Selma

The 2015 Best Picture Winner (if I was running this bitch)

Some of the things I’m about to say are going to sound blasphemous or even kind of inflammatory but that’s kind of the point – we all have different perceptions and tastes and come tomorrow morning, we’ll all have plenty of snubs to bitch about. With the surfeit of awards shows plaguing red carpets everywhere (am I complaining no I am not) the Oscars at this point don’t hold a lot of surprises (Keaton, Moore, Simmons, Arquette, Linklater & Boyhood, let’s just call it right now) but there’s still something fun about an award that signals the very top of an industry’s craft, even if it’s just because some dude says it’s so. And as long as we all acknowledge this months-long process of back-patting is little more than a sham, in an echo chamber, dressed in a very pretty gown, we can bitch about snubs all we want. Because it’s about culture, people. And taste. I have it, you don’t. Let the rabble-rousing begin!

Continue reading

Smart Reads: Jack Smart Edition #4

It’s almost 2015, bitches. Let’s do this.

Jenny Slate

“Guess why I smile? Uh, because it’s worth it.” – Marcel the Shell

Famous people:

  • “I have arms. I’m a pretty good fighter.” – Academy Award winner Marion Cotillard.
  • “You have to have Darth Vader, you can’t just have Obi-Wan Kenobi.” – Inherent Vice scene stealer Josh Brolin!
  • “I can’t look at myself in the mirror if [my] standup sucks; that’s like being a chef and cooking a fake cake or something.” – my longtime hero Jenny Slate, whose fantastic performance in Obvious Child would have my vote for Best Actress.
  • “He’s just a totally fucked-up mess for the rest of his life. But a strong one.” – Logan Lerman on his character in the WWII thriller Fury.
  • “Until I can find the emotional truth of the character, by sitting with people and hearing their experience—that’s the only way I can find how to emotionally connect.” – the faaabulous Michelle Monaghan (just Golden Globe-nominated for her work on True Detective) on her indie showcase Fort Bliss.

Industry pros:

  • Director JV Mercanti offered some useful advice I’d never heard before…
  • Eric Tucker of up-and-coming theater company Bedlam is making some truly tremendous theater to get himself and his friends on the map…
  • Micah Stock gets to share a stage with Nathan Lane and Stockard Channing every night in It’s Only a Play
  • Curious about how some of 2014’s best movies were cast? Check out The Grand Budapest Hotel‘s Douglas Aibel, Pride‘s Fiona Weir, Interstellar‘s John Papsidera, A Most Violent Year‘s Tiffany Little Canfield, & Selma‘s Aisha Coley…
  • And most importantly, 33 pieces of advice from actors who chatted with Backstage this year!

Continue reading

Emily Blunt Takes Us ‘Into the Woods’

For my second Backstage cover story, I sat down with Emily Blunt (at the Four Seasons New York, no less!) to chat about her work as the Baker’s Wife in the big screen adaptation of Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods. It was truly one of the highlights of my 2014. In addition to the topics I was able to include in the article, we talked about how annoying it is that some high schools skip the musical’s second act, what project she’d like to tackle next – a Western! – and the embedded nerve she got from filming Edge of Tomorrow while wearing an 85-pound metal suit. She is every bit as charming and down-to-earth as you might imagine, and her performance in Into the Woods, as with all her other movies, is superb. Don’t miss it!

Emily Blunt on Backstage

Photo source: Matt Doyle

Continue reading

Smart Reads: Jack Smart Edition #3

Bylines are not clickable on Backstage unfortunately, so these little updates are the best way to check out what I’ve been up to writing-wise. Do what I do when browsing a writer’s body of work: spend 4.3 seconds scanning for juicy buzzwords, and click what tickles your fancy. Here we go!

Michele Martin of NPR, Henry David Hwang, Lydia Diamond, Kristoffer Diaz

Photo source: Janice Yi/NPR