Joyful Noise

If there’s anything I hate most about the Oscars it’s the way the movie awards have the power to influence filmmaking. This time of year it’s more and more difficult to tell if certain films are even meant for us, the audience, or if they should solely be shown to the Academy in exchange for little gold men. Of course, one of the purposes of baiting for Oscars is to receive nominations and especially wins, which will presumably help earn more money at the box office (or, more likely, from the cable outlet). This still excludes satisfying the audience as the primary impulse and objective of making movies. In theory, accolades should indeed motivate Hollywood to make the best pictures they could possibly make. There’s still something to be said for art being the best when not aiming for praise and prizes, but in terms of studio product, which is more craft and entertainment than art and expression, such goals can be positive inspiration. Without the Oscars we probably still would have seen a profit-aiding progression of special effects technology and artistry, but surely some production values have improved over time as a result of sound recordists and costume designers and art directors and composers and songwriters striving to be known as the best in their field.

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The Reject Report - Large

Mark Wahlberg stared the Beast, the whole IMF team, and Dolly Parton down, and he told them to all say hi to their mothers for him. Contraband surprised everyone who thought Disney was just cashing in on easy blockbuster numbers with their 3D re-releases, and the action drama ended up taking the top spot by a nice sized margin. It’s not Wahlberg’s biggest opening to day. Far from it. But Contraband was able to serve up a number that is considered sizable especially considering its mid-January release. It also is a reasonable opening as a vehicle for Wahlberg, who has only had four films in his career open higher than $30m, The Happening ($30.5m opening), The Other Guys ($35.5m opening), The Perfect Storm ($41.3m opening), and Planet of the Apes ($68.5m opening). Needless to say, all four of those films were summer releases. While Disney didn’t match the success they had with The Lion King‘s re-release in 3-D, they did pull in some expected and flattering numbers this weekend with Beauty and the Beast. At this point, they’re just covering the conversion and re-release cost, so most of the $18.4m it made this weekend is icing on top of an already well-made cake. Disney has many more well-made cakes lined up to get their own layers of sweet stuff with Finding Nemo next up in September this year. Also, in the long run of things, Beauty and the Beast is sure to continue pulling in remarkable numbers all throughout its […]

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You know what sort of movie you’ve gotten with Joyful Noise long before Dolly Parton announces, apropos of nothing, that “I know what to do, yodel lee hee hoo.” You’ve already seen Parton grab spaghetti off a diner’s plate and throw it in co-star Queen Latifah’s face. You’ve seen Keke Palmer lead a rousing gospel choir rendition of “Man in the Mirror.” You’ve experienced the ups and downs of the wild, inconsistent shifts in tone and the perils of Todd Graff’s loose-limbed direction. But that unprompted half-a-yodel is a litmus test. Perhaps you’ve bought into the schlock Graff is slinging, shut off your mental faculties and embraced the Latifah-Parton show, in which case it’s just Dolly being Dolly. Alternatively, that avalanche of vomit that’s been amassing inside your throat with each inane, lazy moment finally finds its way onto the floor. I found myself somewhere between the two extremes throughout this exceptionally mediocre film, which only benefits from the fact that it’s never boring. The story of a small-town gospel choir prepping for a singing competition is singularly uninteresting, even if things pick up when they perform their pop covers (Usher and the Beatles are among those victimized alongside Michael Jackson).

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Aural Fixation - Large

Whether or not you are not a fan of gospel music or are even well-versed (har) in the genre, almost everyone has experienced the transcendent nature of music, no matter what style you may have been listening to at the time. For some, that experience comes from listening to a choir of people praise God, for others it can happen in the middle of a Muse concert when Matt Bellamy hits that opening refrain on “Butterflies and Hurricanes” (or maybe that was just me.) While gospel music certainly has its own distinct sound, the feeling it works to evoke in its listeners can be felt through almost any type of music, making gospel an almost fluid genre that many different styles can run through. Even if you prefer rock or rap, it’s more than likely you’ve heard a gospel tune or two over the years, or at least heard the presence of a gospel choir. Popular music has long been a fan of bringing in gospel choirs to accompany performances to help elevate the experience for audiences. And it is hard to deny the impact and effect hearing a group of people singing in harmony can have on one’s ears. One of the more popular songs featured in writer/director Todd Graff‘s Joyful Noise is Michael Jackson’s “Man In The Mirror,” which is fitting seeing as the lyrics have a message of selflessness and bettering yourself as a person. While the beat and instrumentation (and Jackson’s performance of it) made this song […]

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published: 11.21.2014
D
published: 11.21.2014
B+
published: 11.19.2014
C+
published: 11.19.2014
B-, C


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