Category: Musical and Dance Films

Black Nativity

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Black Nativity Movie

In a contemporary adaptation of Langston Hughes’ celebrated play, the holiday musical drama Black Nativity follows Langston (Jacob Latimore), a street-wise teen from Baltimore raised by a single mother, as he journeys to New York City to spend the Christmas holiday with his estranged relatives Reverend Cornell and Aretha Cobbs (Forest Whitaker and Angela Bassett).

Unwilling to live by the imposing Reverend Cobbs’ rules, a frustrated Langston is determined to return home to his mother, Naima (Jennifer Hudson). Langston embarks on a surprising and inspirational journey and along with his new friends, and a little divine intervention, he discovers the true meaning of faith, healing, and family.

Black Nativity is an American musical drama film directed by Kasi Lemmons. The script, written by Lemmons, is based on Langston Hughes’ play of the same name and released on November 27, 2013. The film stars an African American ensemble cast featuring Forest Whitaker, Angela Bassett, Tyrese Gibson, Jennifer Hudson, Mary J. Blige, Jacob Latimore, Vondie Curtis-Hall, and Nas.

Black Nativity Movie Poster

Black Nativity

Directed by: Kasi Lemmons
Starring: Forest Whitaker, Jennifer Hudson, Angela Bassett, Jacob Latimore, Tyrese Gibson, Mary J. Blige
Screenplay by: Kasi Lemmons, Langston Hughes
Production Design by: Kristi Zea
Cinematography by: Anastas N. Michos
Film Editing by: Terilyn A. Shropshire
Costume Design by: Gersha Phillips
Set Decoration by: Diane Lederman
Music by: Laura Karpman, Raphael Saadiq
MPAA Rating: PG for thematic material, language and a menacing situation.
Studio: Fox Searchlight Pictures
Release Date: November 27, 2013

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Grace Unplugged

Grace Unplugged Movie

Grace Unplugged is an Inspirational movie starring Amanda “AJ” Michalka as 18 year old Christian singer/songwriter, Grace Rose Trey. Beautiful, highly talented and restless, Grace is so far undiscovered outside church. She performs there each Sunday with her gifted father Johnny, the praise music director at Freedom Community Chapel, a small town Alabama church.

A former rock star, Johnny Trey charted a Billboard number one single 20 years before. When the hits stopped coming he crash landed hard, a one hit wonder. Johnny found Christ and a new life for his family, far from the Hollywood Hills. One day without warning, Grace leaves for Los Angeles.

She has landed a record deal with the help of Johnny’s ruthless former manager and producer Frank “Mossy” Mostin. Mossy sees in Grace a potential pop superstar – the next Katie Perry. Cutting off contact with her parents, Grace seems prepared to walk away from her Christian faith and music to achieve her long-suppressed fantasy of Hollywood.

Grace Unplugged Movie - Amanda Michalka

About the Story

Grace Trey has just turned 18 and aspires to do more than sing in her church’s worship band, which is led by her father, Johnny Trey, a one-time pop star who gave up his life in secular music when he became a Christian. Grace longs to escape his shadow and make a name for herself singing songs about something other than God, but Johnny warns her that fame is not as glamorous as it looks and reminds her that serving and worshipping God with the talent she’s been given is a far more worthwhile goal.

When Johnny’s former manager, Frank “Mossy” Mostin, shows up 20 years after the two parted ways to offer him another shot at the big time, Johnny declines the opportunity. But Grace takes it – without telling her parents. She records a cover version of her father’s old Top 10 hit, runs away to Los Angeles and, under Mossy’s guidance, begins to taste the kind of success she’s always dreamed of.

But with each rung of the ladder she climbs, Grace feels pressure to compromise her Christian values and learns not everyone who says they’re on her side really is. The one exception is Quentin, an intern at her record company and a fellow Christian who urges Grace to reassess her choices and put God first again in her life. Will everything she experiences lead her to reject her faith… or rediscover it?

Grace Unplugged is a Christian musical drama film. The film is based on a story by Brandon Rice, written and directed by Brad J. Silverman, and stars AJ Michalka, James Denton, and Kevin Pollak. It is a family-friendly film about an 18 year old girl who rejects her father’s desire for her to be a church singer and goes to Hollywood seeking stardom. The film was released by Roadside Attractions.

Grace Unplugged Movie Poster

Grace Unplugged

Directed by: Brad J. Silverman
Starring: Amanda Michalka, James Denton, Kevin Pollak, Shawnee Smith, Michael Welch
Screenplay by: James Killian, Brandon Rice, Brad J. Silverman
Production Design by: Darian Corley
Cinematography by: Stash Slionski
Film Editing by: Robert Hoffman
Costume Design by: Anna Redmon
Art Direction by: Will E. Drummond
Music by: Jeff Lippencott
MPAA Rating: PG for thematic elements and brief teen drinking.
Studio: Roadside Attractions
Release Date: October 4, 2013

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Metallica Through the Never

Metallica Through the Never,

Taglines: Experience Metallica like never before.

Metallica: Through the Never is an American IMAX concert / feature film featuring the American heavy metal band Metallica. The film shares its name with the song “Through the Never” from the band’s 1991 self-titled album; the feature follows young Trip’s (Dane DeHaan) surreal adventure during an urgent mission he is sent out on, sewn together with concert footage from a set of concerts Metallica held in August 2012.

Stars Metallica, one of the most popular, influential rock bands in history. In this music driven, 3D motion picture event, award-winning filmmaker Nimród Antal immerses audiences in a bracing, raw and visceral cinematic experience with spectacular live performance footage of Metallica’s most iconic songs — created exclusively for film — combined with a bold, narrative story featuring imagery drawn from the band’s trailblazing iconography.

Dane DeHaan portrays Trip, a young roadie sent on an urgent mission, during the Metallica’s roaring live set in front of a sold-out arena. The film features dazzling pyrotechnics, the most elaborate live-performance stage ever built and state-of-the-art 3-D photography, captured using up to 24 cameras simultaneously.

Metallica Through the Never Poster

Metallica Through the Never

Directed by: Nimród Antal
Starring: Dane DeHaan, Lars Ulrich, James Hetfield, Kirk Hammett, Robert Trujillo
Screenplay by: Nimród Antal, Metallica
Production Design by: Helen Jarvis
Cinematography by: Gyula Pados
Film Editing by: Joe Hutshing
Costume Design by: Carla Hetland
Set Decoration by: Elizabeth Wilcox
Art Direction by: Chris Beach
MPAA Rating: R for some violent content and language.
Studio: Picturehouse
Release Date: September 27, 2013

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Battle of the Year

Battle of the Year 3D

Dante Graham enlists Jason Blake to coach the United States’ b-boy team to compete in the Battle of the Year, as the US has not won in 15 years. Blake puts together a team of the best b-boys across America à la Dream Team. After overcoming their differences and learning to work as a team, the Dream Team makes it to the semi-finals, beats the reigning champion French team and finds themselves against the favorites, the Koreans. Ultimately, they lose by one point. Blake resolves to resume training as soon as possible to win next year.

The movie follows Dante and Derrek as they try to put together a B-boy team that will win the upcoming Battle of the Year under the belief that proper coaching can take any team to victory.

Battle of the Year is an American 3D dance film directed by Benson Lee. The film was released on September 20, 2013 through Screen Gems and stars Josh Holloway, Chris Brown, Laz Alonso, Caity Lotz, and Josh Peck. Battle of the Year is based upon Lee’s documentary about the b-boying competition of the same name. It initially held the working title of Planet B Boy, and includes some cinematography by the original doc DP “Vasco Nunes”.

Battle of the Year

Film company Screen Gems first began planning for a feature film adaptation of Lee’s documentary Planet B-Boy In 2009 after discovering that while interest in breakdancing had declined in the United States, it still enjoyed popularity in other countries. Chris Brown and Josh Holloway were announced as being attached to the project in October 2011. Filming began in late 2011 in Los Angeles, with more filming taking place in Montpellier, France.

The first trailer for Battle of the Year was released in July 2012, with Adam Chitwood, Associate Editor of Collider stating that “if B-boy competitions are your thing I assume you’ll have some interest in Battle of the Year.” Screen Crush commented that the 3D aspect “could be a lot of fun with a film like this” but questioned whether the film would stand out against “an A-list title”.

Battle of the Year 3D Poster

Battle of the Year 3D

Directed by: Benson Lee
Starring: Josh Holloway, Laz Alonso, Josh Peck, Caity Lotz, Chris Brown
Screenplay by: Brin Hill, Chris Parker, Benson Lee
Production Design by: Chris Cornwell
Cinematography by: Michael Barrett
Film Editing by: Alessandra Carlino, Peter S. Elliot
Costume Design by: Soyon An
Art Direction by: Charlie Campbell
Music by: Christopher Lennertz
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for language and some rude behavior.
Studio: Sony ScreenGems
Release Date: September 20, 2013

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Justin Bieber’s Believe

Justin Bieber's Believe

Taglines: Behind the headlines, beyond the spotlight, lies the real story.

The sequel to Never Say Never continues to focus on Bieber’s rise to international fame as he embarks on his Believe Tour. The film features interviews by his mother Pattie Mallette, his mentor Usher Raymond IV, his manager Scooter Braun as well as others.

Rumors of a sequel to Never Say Never began surfacing the media around May 2012, when Bieber himself hinted a possible sequel for some time. It wasn’t until January 2013 when the project was confirmed by Bieber himself tweeting about it. Concert footage was filmed during Justin’s Believe Tour on January 26–27, 2013 at Miami’s American Airlines Arena. Two months later, in March 2013, a $15 million budget was appointed for the production of the sequel.

On October 11, 2013, it was confirmed that Jon M. Chu reprised his role as director for the biopic and will be screened at the Toronto International Film Festival later in the month. Meanwhile, Justin Bieber released a teaser trailer on his kidrauhl YouTube channel for the sequel to Never Say Never with the tagline “There’s more to his story” and the hashtag “BelieveMovie” confirming the sequel title as “Believe”, to be released on Christmas day in 3D. The official trailer was released on Yahoo! Movies on November 15, 2013.

Justin Bieber's Believe Poster

Justin Bieber’s Believe

Directed by: Jon M. Chu
Starring: Justin Bieber, Scooter Braun, Ryan Good, Usher Raymond, Pattie Mallette
Screenplay by: Sarah Landman
Production Design by: Tom E. Marzullo
Film Editing by: Jillian Twigger Moul, Avi Youabian
Music by: Nathan Lanier
MPAA Rating: PG for brief language and mild thematic material.
Studio: Open Road Films
Release Date: December 27, 2013

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One Direction: This Is Us

One Direction: This Is Us

An intimate all-access look at life on the road for the global music phenomenon. Weaved with stunning live concert footage, this inspiring feature film tells the remarkable story of Niall, Zayn, Liam, Harry and Louis’ meteoric rise to fame, from their humble hometown beginnings and competing on the X-Factor, to conquering the world and performing at London’s famed O2 Arena. Hear it from the boys themselves and see through their own eyes what it’s really like to be One Direction.

One Direction – Niall Horan, Zayn Malik, Liam Payne, Harry Styles and Louis Tomlinson – were discovered by Simon Cowell on the U.K.’s “The X Factor” in 2010. The band quickly gained a following to become one of the competition’s all-time most popular acts, finishing in the final three and garnering a gigantic and loyal fanbase along the way. In March 2012, One Direction’s debut album, “Up All Night,” made U.S. history, as it was the first time a U.K. group’s debut album entered the U.S. Billboard 200 chart at No. 1. The band has sold over 13 million records worldwide. In November 2012, One Direction released their sophomore album, “Take Me Home,” which includes the hit “Live While We’re Young.”

About the Production

Global superstars, Niall Horan, Zayn Malik, Liam Payne, Harry Styles and Louis Tomlinson introduce to you their big screen debut: ONE DIRECTION: THIS IS US. More than just a filmed concert and tour documentary, this is a chance to get up close and personal with the world’s biggest band. Filmed while the guys were taking their world tour to arenas around the globe — from Mexico to Japan to London’s famed O2 arena — the movie mixes high-energy performance footage, candid interviews, and behind the scenes footage to offer a one-of-a-kind perspective into the talent, hard work and mischief that goes into being One Direction. It’s a remarkable story of humble origins, an unprecedented rise to fame and a fan-driven phenomenon that enabled One Direction to conquer the world.

From the Beginning

In the summer of 2010, Niall Horan, Zayn Malik, Liam Payne, Harry Styles, and Louis Tomlinson entered Britain’s biggest talent show “The X Factor,” as talented individual artists. At the boot camp stage of the competition X Factor judge Simon Cowell offered the guys the opportunity to stay in the competition as a group.

“I saw five solo artists who were five solo stars, but would be stronger in a group, it was that simple,” says Cowell, a producer on ONE DIRECTION: THIS IS US. “I liked each of them individually, and something made me think they would work really well as a group.”

Calling themselves One Direction, they were immediate sensations. A group of talented and cheeky guys who immediately captured a nation of young girls. They didn’t look or sound pre-packaged, they just exuded talent, friendship and charisma both on and off stage.

Says Cowell, “Right from the get-go, if I’d be honest … I was very much of the attitude, ‘I’m not gonna tell you what to do. You can probably tell me what to do,’ you know? ‘You’ve got to sort it out for yourself, ‘cause I think you’re smart enough.’ And that’s always been the way it’s worked with these boys. I had this just amazing confidence in them.”

Fans responded in their thousands, flooding social media, waiting for hours outside TV studios, and voting the boys through each round of the competition through to the grand final. Though they came in third overall on the show – narrowly missing the record deal awarded the first prize winner – the boys knew instinctively that this was not the last the world would see of One Direction.

That instinct to stay together instantly paid off. The band signed to their “X Factor” mentor Cowell’s record label, Syco Records and quickly got to work recording their debut album whilst performing across the UK and Ireland on the X Factor Live Tour. A book chronicling their experience on the road – Forever Young – went straight to number 1 on The Times Best Seller List. The album, meanwhile, was coming together with a stellar team of writers and producers, from Steve Mac (Westlife, Leona Lewis) to Rami Yacoub (Britney Spears, Backstreet Boys) and Red One (Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez).

The band’s debut album, Up All Night, released in October 2011, was an instant smash; a feat forecast by the fact that their first single, What Makes You Beautiful, had already become the biggest single pre-order in Sony Music’s history. In the United States, the boys sought North American success with a string of appearances and performances that not only turned What Makes You Beautiful into an iTunes hit, but led Up All Night to a feat never before achieved by a British band: entering the Billboard chart at number one with their debut record. With three MTV Video Music Awards, a Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Award (for Favorite UK artist), and three MTV Europe Music Awards (including Best New Act and Best UK & Ireland Act), it truly seemed there was no stopping their rise to the top.

The band’s sophomore album, Take Me Home turned 2012 into a banner year for the boys, hitting the top of pre-order charts in 50 countries. The album’s first single, Live While We’re Young, went straight to No. 1. All in all, Take Me Home topped the charts in 37 countries. The Take Me Home tour, which continued into 2013, was a global sellout, taking Niall, Zayn, Liam, Harry, and Louis to Europe, North America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan.

In July, they released Best Song Ever, a track written specifically for the film. The fun and cheeky video for the song (Directed by Ben Winston) broke records on VEVO with 12.4 million views in one day, making it the most viewed debut video ever on the platform.

Cowell says, “What I’ve loved about working with the boys is that they haven’t taken anything for granted, and they still appreciate and still are in awe of what’s going on. They’ve survived, and they’ll continue to survive because first of all, they’re smart, and secondly they understand their audience and respect their fans. They’ve matured really, really quickly.”

During the tour, though, the notion of a film came together, giving the boys a chance to conquer an entirely different medium.

Making the Movie

When Morgan Spurlock was approached to make a movie about One Direction, he jumped at the chance. “One of the things I’ve always tried to do from the very beginning of my career is create very popular documentaries,” says the Super Size Me director. “And I think that this film, coming off the work I’ve done in the past is the next step. Making something that’s successful to a large audience that tells a great story, that is really intimate and gets you into their lives, but at the same time, is also really entertaining and engaging, with great music.”

Naturally, meeting Niall, Zayn, Liam, Harry and Louis was important. Spurlock found the boys completely charming but also level-headed about the phenomenon they were in the middle of experiencing. Notes Spurlock, “They’re very fun. I think they’re incredibly grounded considering the amount of crazy that’s surrounding their lives on a daily basis. And I think that was one of the things that I really liked about them.”

It’s not enough, says Spurlock, that they’re “five good looking guys that get put together in a band. That happens all the time. But the fact that, you know, they actually had the talent and the ability and the drive to kind of push it as far as they have, and continue to do, is remarkable.”

Spurlock filmed in various locales for almost six months, including the band’s performance in Mexico City in early June, 2013. The crew number ranged anywhere from Spurlock alone holding a camera without even an audio person, to fully coordinated concert set-ups involving, says the director, “an army of people.” Filming the band’s O2 performances alone were massive undertakings for someone used to the run-and-gun nature of most documentaries. Says Spurlock, “Probably about, I don’t know, 250 people were working on the concert when we shot at the O2, it was massive.”

As for the behind-the-scenes footage, which runs the gamut from backstage mischief before the show to touching hometown scenes, like Harry working at the family bakery, those moments alone amounted to 500 hours of material. Editing it down was challenging, but the band were instrumental in helping Spurlock and the editors pick the most choice moments. Says Spurlock, “They’ve given really insightful feedback about things that are very personal to them … to things that they remembered that we shot that we have forgotten about, and to remind us to dig and find. It was like, ‘Oh my gosh, you’re right, that was a great moment.’”

For producer Cowell, Spurlock was the ideal choice as director because he was never going to stage scenes or manufacture magic. “Morgan is somebody who likes to kind of eavesdrop,” says Cowell. “He wants to pick stuff up without people realizing that they’re being filmed and that’s his skill and he’s very patient. It’s not about set pieces or ‘Do this for the camera.’ He’s just put the cameras in all these different places and he’s just filmed what it’s like being in this group. It’s fascinating.”

What ultimately emerged from the editing process was the sense that moviegoers were going to get a special peek into the members’ lives. Adds Spurlock, “You feel like you really do get to become a part of this journey and these boys and this band.” It could even generate new fans, he suggests. “I think every One Direction fan should take someone who isn’t a One Direction fan, because I think when people see the movie, they’ll see a different side to these boys that they probably didn’t think existed or they didn’t think they would enjoy. And I bet they’ll convert a lot more fans than they think they will.”

As for the decision to film the 02 concerts in 3D, Cowell says it’s “unbelievable. The 3D is sensational. It actually makes the concert like being there. It’s really clever.”

None of ONE DIRECTION: THIS IS US would have happened, however, if the boys hadn’t put their faith in the project, and from the get-go, they all believed in what could be achieved.

“There’s a tremendous amount of trust you have to have, between you and the subjects that are in the film,” says Spurlock. “It takes time. It takes conversations. You have to spend time with one another to talk, feel comfortable, and know that this person is there to tell an honest story about you, and tell a story that you ultimately want to be told. And, you know, I give them credit. I mean, they were really open and honest with us about their lives, their fears, about the things that were going on with them, and kind of letting us come into their world. It’s a big undertaking, and it takes a lot of courage, and they were fantastic about it.”

In the end, says the director, the boys in One Direction understood that this was an opportunity to document a special time in their lives. “They realize this movie is a time capsule,” notes Spurlock. “They already know how special it is, and to be able to have something like this where you can really show – whether it be your family down the road, your kids down the road, something you just want to keep for yourself – that really does capture the essence of this moment in its purest form.” Adds Spurlock, “I think they’ll treasure this whole experience.”

And is he now a fan?

“Listen, I’ve seen thirty-plus One Direction concerts at this point,” says Spurlock. “I am like a hardcore Directioner now!”

One Direction: This Is Us Poster

One Direction: This Is Us

Directed by: Morgan Spurlock
Starring: Liam Payne, Harry Styles, Zayn Malik, Niall Horan, Louis Tomlinson, Jon Shone, Dan Richards, Sandy Beales, Josh Devine
Cinematography by: Neil Harvey
Film Editing by: Marrian Cho, Guy Harding, Cori McKenna, Wyatt Smith, Pierre Takal
Music by: Simon Franglen
MPAA Rating: PG for mild language.
Studio: Sony Pictures
Release Date: August 30, 2013

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Street Dance 3D

Street Dance 3D Movie

Taglines: Two worlds. One dream.

When top street dancer Ash (Hentschel) is laughed off stage by American crew Invincible he and his best mate (George Sampson) set off the gather the best dancers from around the world to take them on – with a dance style- they weren’t expecting. With landmark locations, a spectacular fusion of dance styles and an unparalleled vibrancy, the sequel to Streetdance sees our hero fall in love with a beautiful Salsa dancer as he discovers the magic, power and passion of dancing for the ultimate global dance off.

StreetDance 3D (also called StreetDance in the non-3D version) is a British 3D dance drama film which was released on 21 May 2010. The film was released in RealD 3D, XpanD 3D, and Dolby 3D with Max Giwa and Dania Pasquini directing it. Britain’s Got Talent stars George Sampson, Diversity and Flawless made their debut appearances to the big screen. The soundtrack to the film was written and performed by alternative acts N-Dubz, Tinie Tempah, Lightbulb Thieves, and Chipmunk.

Street Dance Movie 3D - Nichola Burley

The film is a production of Vertigo Films in association with BBC Films. N-Dubz composed the official soundtrack. The song “We Dance On”, featuring Bodyrox, was sent to music stations on 22 April. On 28 May 2012, Phase 4 Films has acquired the US rights for the film, along with its sequel, StreetDance 2. Streetdance 2 was released on 30 March 2012.

In January 14, 2009, it was announced that Max Giwa and Dania Pasquini would direct a 2010 British 3D dance drama movie similar than the Step Up movie series titled StreetDance 3D which would be released in cinemas in the UK, James Richardson would be the producer for the film with the budget of £3.5 million and Jane English would be the writer for the film, it was announced that Diversity, Flawless, George Sampson, Charlotte Rampling, Eleanor Bron, Nichola Burley, Patrick Baladi, Jocelyn Jee Esien, Richard Winsor and Jeremy Sheffield would star in the movie.

Vertigo Films and Universal Studios acquired distribution rights to the film. N-Dubz would compose the music for the movie. StreetDance 3D filmed from August–December 2009. The film was shot with Paradise FX’s Tri Delta camera systems. Max Penner (CTO of Paradise FX) was the stereographer. This film was also the launch of Paradise FX Europe. It was filmed on location, the shopping centre scene was filmed in Southside Shopping Centre and the streetdance competition was filmed in the Battersea Power Station. There is a scene featuring Akai Osei from Got to Dance which was filmed in September 2009. Charlie Bruce from So You Think You Can Dance also appears in the film, but her scenes were cut.

Street Dance Movie 3D

About the Story

In inner city London, a street dance crew is on the verge of breaking up after its leader, Jay (Ukweli Roach), leaves the group unexpectedly. The group loses the use of their rehearsal space, forcing them to try to raise money or practice in other locations. Eventually they secure a space in a ballet school, on the condition that they include five ballet dancers in their routine. At first, they struggle to get along, but they all become friends in the end.

One of the teachers at the ballet school, Helena (Charlotte Rampling), takes Carly (Nichola Burley) to a ballet where she starts getting ideas for their routine. When she arrives home, Carly finds Jay waiting for her and the two spend the night having sex. During a dance battle in a club the next night, the team learn that Jay has betrayed the team by joining The Surge, a rival crew. Jay brags about his sex with Carly and Tomas (Richard Winsor), a ballet dancer, punches Jay out of anger. Jay is furious and swears revenge. Carly, upset over the betrayal, leaves the club and is nearly hit by a car before Tomas pulls her out of the way. Tomas then takes Carly back to his apartment where they dance on the roof, eventually kissing. Carly then leaves him alone on the roof, while they both look at the sunrise and smile.

The next day at the school, Carly announces the new name of their dance crew: Breakin Point. Another teacher at the school, outraged that her students are being corrupted, deliberately plans a Royal Ballet audition for the same day as the street dance finals. The ballet dancers promise Carly they will make it, but the auditions were running overtime.

Street Dance 3D Movie Poster

Street Dance 3D

Directed by: Max Giwa, Dania Pasquini
Starring: Nichola Burley, Richard Winsor, Ukweli Roach, Frank Harper, George Sampson, Rachel McDowall, Elmeanor Bron, Sianad Gregory, Teneisha Bonner
Screenplay by: Jane English
Production Design by: Richard Bullock
Cinematography by: Sam McCurdy
Film Editing by: Tim Murrell
Costume Design by: Andrew Cox
Set Decoration by: Alex Marden
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some suggestive content and brief language.
Studio: Phase 4 Films
Release Date: July 26, 2013

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Becoming Traviata

Becoming Traviata

The reinvention of Verdi’s masterpiece, La Traviata, as sung by world-famous French coloratura soprano Natalie Dessay, is the subject of Philippe Béziat’s thrilling new movie. A modern, minimalist, post-punk approach strips away the opulence and grandiosity associated with operatic productions. Concentrating on director Jean-François Sivadier’s working relationship with Dessay, the film reveals how two great creative minds build the story of a doomed love affair.

The stars rehearse in what look like yoga outfits, on a bare stage, with minimal props. The final production, set against a backdrop of sky and clouds, punctuated by a single chandelier, features Violetta and Alfredo (a darkly gorgeous Charles Castronovo) as the very essence of hipster-chic. Their passion, however, is for the ages. With music performed by the London Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Louis Langrée.

Becoming Traviata Movie Poster

Becoming Traviata

Directed by: Philippe Béziat
Starring: Charles Castronovo, Natalie Dessay, Louis Langrée, Matthew Polenzani, Jean-François Sivadier
Cinematography by: Raphaël O’Byrne
Film Editing by: Cyril Leuthy
MPAA Rating: None.
Studio: Distrib Films
Release Date: May 24, 2013

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Quartet

Quartet MovieTaglines: Every diva deserves an encore.

Cecily, Reggie and Wilfred are in a home for retired opera singers. Every year, on October 10, there is a concert to celebrate Verdi’s birthday. Jean, who used to be married to Reggie, arrives at the home and disrupts their equilibrium. She still acts like a diva, but she refuses to sing. Still, the show must go on… and it does.

Quartet is a British comedy-drama film based on the play Quartet by Ronald Harwood, which ran in London’s West End from September 1999 until January 2000. It was filmed late in 2011 at Hedsor House, Buckinghamshire. The film is actor Dustin Hoffman’s directorial debut.

About the Story

The plot takes place in Beecham House, a retirement home for former professional musicians, patterned after the real-life Casa di Riposo per Musicisti founded by Giuseppe Verdi.

Reg, Wilf and Cissy are retired opera singers who often worked together in the past; among other residents are Cedric Livingstone, a former director, and diva Anne Langley. All the guests in the retirement home continue to be engaged in their former professions in one way or the other, including lecturing and initiating young people to music.

Quartet Movie

Finances threaten closure of the home but proceeds from a yearly gala concert on Verdi’s birthday hold hope for a continuation of the place. However, Cedric has been rather desperate due to the fact that some of the most prominent singers have either died or decided not to participate at all. Reg, Wilf and Cissy, were in the cast of a very highly rated recording of the opera Rigoletto, which includes a famous quartet for soprano, mezzo-soprano, tenor, and baritone. This version is very prominent amongst opera buffs as THE Rigoletto of the post-war era.

One day, Reg is shocked to find his former wife Jean Horton, the missing soprano of the Rigoletto recording, turning up to live at Beecham House. Reg is angry not to have been warned as their parting was on very sour terms.

At first Jean tries unsuccessfully to mend things with Reg. In the ensuing conversations her infidelity arises, as well as her past marriages, but Reg comes to understand that all that is past. In the meantime, Wilf and Cissy convince Cedric that bringing together those who sang the quartet on the famous recording to sing it again for the Verdi Gala concert will sell enough tickets to save the home. Enchanted with the idea, they convince Reg to overcome his objections to performing with Jean again. However, she is harder to persuade as she vowed never to sing again after retiring.

Quartet Movie Poster

Quartet

Directed by: Dustin Hoffman
Starring: Maggie Smith, Michael Gambon, Billy Connolly, Pauline Collins, Sheridan Smith
Screenplay by: Ronald Harwood
Production Design by: Andrew McAlpine
Cinematography by: John de Borman
Film Editing by: Barney Pilling
Set Decoration by: Sarah Whittle
Costume Design by: Odile Dicks-Mireaux
Music by: Dario Marianelli
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for brief strong language and suggestive humor.
Studio: The Weinstein Company
Release Date: January 4th, 2013

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