The Sound of Cinema (Part II): Sirens of the Silver Screen

In an earlier post I introduced a series based on exposing and exploring the incestuous relationships between movies and music. As noted, musicians have often made cameo appearances in movies, musical or otherwise. One of my personal favorites is (of course) Jack White's rendition of a kung-fu savvy "King of Rock 'n' Roll" in the 2007 comedy, Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story. A relentlessly hysterical spoof of pretty much any music bio-pic one could think of.

But I digress...

The topic at hand speaks to the musician whose presence on the silver screen rivals that of their presence on the concert stage. There are few musicians who have claimed, or at the very least shared the lead role in a film. For this discussion, I am requiring that the acting be on par or better than, said performers musical ability, and that the film be worth the view altogether. Although I would also like to categorize these persons as musicians who later turned to acting, the most obvious and accessible blurs this distinction. Cher is a consummate performer and can't be denied success in either medium. For an homage, here is a montage of her Oscar winning role as Loretta Castorini, in the 1987 film Moonstruck:

The musical beginnings of Cher's career included, providing back-up vocals for The Righteous Brother's "You've Lost That Loving Feeling" and several chart topping hits as one half of the "Sonny and Cher" duo. It was however, the coupling of her distinctive voice, provocative stage presence with a few acting lessons that earned her a Golden Globe for her shenanigans on The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour, in 1971. Along with two other Golden Globes later in her career, Cher's list of awards and nominations for her acting is as spectacular as the outfits she wears to receive them. It was no surprise to see Cher presenting at this years Golden Globes "shamelessly promoting" yet another movie role in the upcoming film Burlesque.

Although the acting career of Norah Jones is not quite as epic as the fore mentioned single syllabled diva, she's got time and talent tantamount to other rookies in the film industry. As the daughter of legendary sitar player Ravi Shankar and concert producer Sue Jones, and one who received training as a jazz vocalist and pianist, Jones' musical career was obviously first to take flight. Her first album Come Away With Me, earned her a Grammy for album of the year in 2003. Jones' acting debut in My Blueberry Nights may not have been award worthy, but performing alongside movie mainstays Jude Law, David Strathairn, Rachel Weisz and Natalie Portman, not to mention the savory cinematography, Jones is not entirely overwhelmed. As the movie progresses, so does her comfort level as an actress.

A woman with a radiant presence, Norah Jones leaves me hungry for an acting performance that does more than just wet my appetite. Given time and opportunity, however, her film career may be able to compliment her musical main course.

After exploring how a few female musicians have been able to modify their craft to reveal cinematic charm, it is time to acknowledge the male musicians who have also produced profound performances in film. Stay tuned for, "The Sound of Cinema (Part III): Crooners With More Than Just a Cameo..."

-Emma Jeanmarie


Drewbacca said...

Nice. My Blueberry Nights was unfairly shit upon by critics if I remember right. Their claim of "it's just Wong Kar-Wai being Wong Kar-Wai in English" is a cop out. The film boasts not only an amazing set of actors but brilliant performances as well. Sticking Norah Jones (as the lead!) in with all of those experienced A-listers (Strathairn, Portman, Weisz, Law) was ballsy as hell and it worked like gangbusters. She was perfect for the part and the film was beautiful and warm.

Drewbacca said...

And two other things I have to say:

1) I'm the king
2) LOOK OUT! man.


Blackdog Hepcat said...

I still think Jones did a better job than Portman in the scene where they go to the hospital. Portman was far too melodramatic.

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