EXCLUSIVE: If you love a song from a classic Disney animated feature, it is likely that Howard Ashman was the mind behind the words. Don Hahns documentary Howard takes a look at the life of the Academy Award-winning lyricist and the legacy he left behind. In the exclusive clip above, we see him at work recording the memorable Beauty and the Beast song “Be Our Guest” with composer and frequent collaborator Alan Menken as well as the movies stars Angela Lansbury and Jerry Orbach. Howard will make its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 22.
Ashman grew up with love for musical theater and after living the life of a starving artist in New York, he adapted Roger Cormans film The Little Shop of Horrors into a musical with Menken which served as a turning point in his career. The success led to some speed bumps but he eventually ended up in Los Angeles where he re-teamed with Menken to write songs that would later become benchmarks in Disneys Renaissance of animation. He received many Oscar nominations for his work and won for songs in The Little Mermaid, Aladdin and the aforementioned Beauty and the Beast. However, while he was writing songs for Beauty and the Beast, he was struggling with AIDS. Howard died at age 39 before he was able to see his final Disney films release, but his legacy continues to inspire new generations.
“Theres no better home for the world premiere of Howards story than the Tribeca Film Festival, which celebrates everything he loved about film and music and New York,” said Hahn in an exclusive quote for Deadline. “Weve been honored to share this legends story and showcase his enormous legacy, a privilege second only to having known and worked this special man whose life touched so many. This clip is just one of those special moments we cant wait for audiences to discover in our film.”
Watch the clip above and check out the poster below.
‘Antebellum’ has a ‘Get Out’ vibe, but doesn’t live up to its twist
“Antebellum” is built around a provocative twist, and it’s a good one — as well as one that definite..
“Antebellum” is built around a provocative twist, and it’s a good one — as well as one that definitely shouldn’t be spoiled even a little. Once that revelation is absorbed, however, the movie becomes less distinctive and inspired, reflecting an attempt to tap into the zeitgeist that made “Get Out” a breakthrough, without the same ability to pay off the premise.
Originally destined for a theatrical run, the movie hits digital platforms trumpeting a “Get Out” pedigree in its marketing campaign, since there’s an overlap among the producing teams.
More directly, the film marks the directing debut of Gerard Bush + Christopher Renz, who have championed social-justice issues through their advertising work. The opening script features a quote from author William Faulkner, whose intent will eventually become clearer: “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”
If that sounds like a timely means of drawing a line from the horrors of slavery to the racism of today, you’ve come to the right place.
The story begins on a plantation, where the brutal overseers carry out grisly punishments against those tilling the fields. A few have just tried to escape, led by Veronica (Janelle Monae), and they pay a heavy price for their resistance, which does nothing to curb her defiance.
Also written by Bush + Renz, the script take too long before revealing what makes “Antebellum” different, but the middle portion — a “The Twilight Zone”-like phase when it’s hard to be sure exactly what’s going on — is actually the film’s strongest. (Even the trailer arguably gives away too much, so the less one knows, the better.)
The final stretch, by contrast, veers into more familiar thriller territory, and feels especially rushed toward the end, leaving behind a host of nagging, unanswered questions. That provides food for thought, but it’s also what separates the movie from something like “Get Out,” which deftly fleshed out its horror underpinnings.
Although the filmmakers (in a taped message) expressed disappointment that the movie wasn’t making its debut in theaters, in a strange way, the on-demand format somewhat works in its favor. In the press notes, Bush says the goal was “to force the audience to look at the real-life horror of racism through the lens of film horror. We’re landing in the middle of the very conversations that we hoped ‘Antebellum’ would spur.”
“Antebellum” should add to that discussion, so mission accomplished on that level. Monae is also quite good in her first leading film role (she did previously star in the series “Homecoming’s” second season), but otherwise, most of the characters remain underdeveloped.