All The Way Broadway/YouTube
Bryan Cranston is going to be appearing on Broadway for the first time ever in his career - he'll be playing President Lyndon Baines Johnson in All the Way - and I can't wait. He already looks like him in the commercials, doesn't he? I'm sure he studied a lot of his mannerisms and refined it as he went along performing it in Cambridge, MA over the fall.
He's shown that he's more than capable of inhabiting a role. He was so believable as the hapless father on Malcom in the Middle and then his slow change in Breaking Bad from a frustrated man who was facing unfair events in his life to someone who was pure, malevolent evil was something to behold. When you're watching a show or a movie that he's in, you are not thinking, "I'm watching Bryan Cranston act right now." No, he becomes the person on the screen and adds so much nuance to each role, it's really amazing to see him talk so differently when he's not on set.
Sure, Cranston won't have what actors on movies and television shows have: a safety net. If he flubs a line, he won't have a chance to stop, laugh at it and then do the scene over again. No, it'll be the theatergoers who exit chuckling and saying, "Can you believe Walter White forgot his lines?" Not that I'm worried about that happening, since the veteran actor is a consummate professional. The Great White Way won't intimidate this man. He's also got one of the masters of ad-libbing in Michael McKean, who will be playing J. Edgar Hoover (who would have thought the Spinal Tap actor would be right for this role?). So if things go sideways, they'll be able to pull it off.
The only thing that might pull me out of the play is if he suddenly tells someone, "What? Do you think I'm just some ordinary president who cowers when danger knocks? No. I'm the leader of the free world ... and I am the One Who Knocks. I. Am. The. Danger!" Or if Aaron Paul bursts on to the stage and blurts: "Veto? But you're the President, b---h!" Then there might be people there demanding some kind of re-write.
Chances are good that this will do very well, since Cranston is still an extremely hot commodity given the popularity of Breaking Bad. It wouldn't be surprising to see him add Tony awards to his ledger.
Theatrics slapstick and cheer are cinematic qualities you rarely find outside the realm of animation. Disney perfected it with their pantheon of cartoon classics mixing music humor spectacle and light-hearted drama that swept up children while still capturing the imaginations and hearts of their parents. But these days even reinterpretations of fairy tales get the gritty make-over leaving little room for silliness and unfiltered glee. Emerging through that dark cloud is Mirror Mirror a film that achieves every bit of imagination crafted by its two-dimensional predecessors and then some. Under the eye of master visualist Tarsem Singh (The Fall Immortals) Mirror Mirror's heightened realism imbues it with the power to pull off anything — and the movie never skimps on the anything.
Like its animated counterparts Mirror Mirror stays faithful to its source material but twists it just enough to feel unique. When Snow White (Lily Collins) was a little girl her father the King ventured into a nearby dark forest to do battle with an evil creature and was never seen or heard from again. The kingdom was inherited by The Queen (Julia Roberts) Snow's evil stepmother and the fair-skinned beauty lived locked up in the castle until her 18th birthday. Grown up and tired of her wicked parental substitute White sneaks out of the castle to the village for the first time. There she witnesses the economic horrors The Queen has imposed upon the people of her land all to fuel her expensive beautification. Along the way Snow also meets Prince Alcott (Armie Hammer) who is suffering from his own money troubles — mainly being robbed by a band of stilt-wearing dwarves. When the Queen catches wind of the secret excursion she casts Snow out of the castle to be murdered by her assistant Brighton (Nathan Lane).
Fairy tales take flack for rejecting the idea of women being capable but even with its flighty presentation and dedication to the old school Disney method Mirror Mirror empowers its Snow White in a genuine way thanks to Collins' snappy charming performance. After being set free by Brighton Snow crosses paths with the thieving dwarves and quickly takes a role on their pilfering team (which she helps turn in to a Robin Hooding business). Tarsem wisely mines a spectrum of personalities out of the seven dwarves instead of simply playing them for one note comedy. Sure there's plenty of slapstick and pun humor (purposefully and wonderfully corny) but each member of the septet stands out as a warm compassionate companion to Snow even in the fantasy world.
Mirror Mirror is richly designed and executed in true Tarsem-fashion with breathtaking costumes (everything from ball gowns to the dwarf expando-stilts to ridiculous pirate ship hats with working canons) whimsical sets and a pitch-perfect score by Disney-mainstay Alan Menken. The world is a storybook and even its monsters look like illustrations rather than photo-real creations. But what makes it all click is the actors. Collins holds her own against the legendary Julia Roberts who relishes in the fun she's having playing someone despicable. She delivers every word with playful bite and her rapport with Lane is off-the-wall fun. Armie Hammer riffs on his own Prince Charming physique as Alcott. The only real misgiving of the film is the undercooked relationship between him and Snow. We know they'll get together but the journey's half the fun and Mirror Mirror serves that portion undercooked.
Children will swoon for Mirror Mirror but there's plenty here for adults — dialogue peppered with sharp wisecracks and a visual style ripped from an elegant tapestry. The movie wears its heart on its sleeve and rarely do we get a picture where both the heart and the sleeve feel truly magical.