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Found 10 results

  1. If you've any inkling to watch "Singin' in the Rain," rent it on Amazon Prime - clearly, this film has not only been "digitized," but also significantly enhanced from its original self - the color and clarity looks like it was filmed with a digital camera this year - it's remarkable. I had never before seen this most glorified of Hollywood musicals, so I really had no idea what to expect. I am not a huge fan of musicals (thank you, "Doctor Dolittle" for helping to eliminate the genre), but went in with an open mind. The song and dance numbers were, surprisingly, all from about 25-years before (except for two), as the film (from 1952) takes place around 1927, in the transition period between silent and talking films, with nods toward "The Jazz Singer." I hate to keep bringing this up in film reviews, and should probably just accept it as a sad part of recent American history, but I honestly did not see one, single person in this entire movie who wasn't white. I watched this in part to honor Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds - Debbie Reynolds was just wonderful in this film, Donald O'Connor was a fine dancer (who looks a lot like the remarkably talented Danny Kaye), and both Gene Kelly and Cyd Charisse were perhaps the two best dancers not named Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers ever to grace the Hollywood stage (of the four, the only two who never danced together were Gene Kelly and Ginger Rogers). Charisse, a Texan named Tula Finklea (!), had some of the longest and strongest legs I've seen on a classically trained dancer. The eponymous dance number is wonderful, of course, but surpassed in grandeur by the extended "Broadway Melody" sequence which was probably the most involved dance scene I've ever watched. "Singin' in the Rain" is a lot like Venice, Italy - it's something you should see, once - but I know of some older folks who think it is the high point in Hollywood history, and in a sense, they're right - it's magical without needing any computerized special effects, and that era is now gone - forever, I'm afraid, although I'm sure there will be individual films in the future that make do without electronic wizardry. And for the record, I think I prefer both "West Side Story" and perhaps even "The Sound of Music," but both of those had "Singin' in the Rain" to draw on, and 10+ years to think about it. Actually, in terms of "story," "Sweeney Todd" was far superior even though there was nary a dance to be found. If anyone knows where to find the "Broadway Melody of 1929," would you please write me? I've been looking for it, and cannot find it anywhere on the internet. A genuinely funny scene, where Gene Kelly is recalling his "sophisticated" past, and how the audiences were thrilled by his work:
  2. The 1934 musical-comedy short "Bubbling Over" stereotypes the "lazy black man," with Hamtree Harrington playing the good-for-nothing head janitor, Samson Peabody, constantly hounded by the Assistant Janitor, Ethel Peabody (played by Ethel Waters), the two of them leading an "All-Black Cast!" Waters played the unforgettable role of Jennie Henderson in the very best episode of "Route 66," "Goodnight Sweet Blues" (which I urge anyone-and-everyone reading this to watch, over-and-over again - it's life-changing television). This 19'30" musical manages to fit in four numbers: "Taking Your Time," (in which Ethel humorously nags Samson), "Southernaires Quartet," (a delightful song about "hanging your hat in a Harlem flat"), "Darkies Never Dream," (Ethel's lament about her life of drudgery), and "Company's Comin' Tonight," (an upbeat ensemble about a rich uncle arriving in town (from the, um, State Asylum)). "Bubbling Over" is worth watching for historical terms, and if you can tolerate "lazy, black humor," you may get a laugh or two out of Ethel Waters' dialogue after her first song ("Wake up, Samson, you're going to be late for your nap!"). At the end of the day, I can appreciate the humor, but still wish that films like this were never made. Ethel Waters and company deserved a whole lot better.
  3. If this movie hadn't been nominated, I probably would have really enjoyed it. If this movie had a different literal take away toward the end, I may have even loved it. But it was, and it didn't. Not to sound cliche, but they don't make movies like this anymore. I felt it had the right amount of whimsy and fantasy, along with a story line that was engaging and kept moving. Interestingly, my wife felt like Ryan Gosling was a star while Emma Stone was lacking - I thought the exact opposite. But these filmmakers aren't dumb, I will give them that. Take the nostalgia from a well done example of a dying genre, combined with the blatant love note to Hollywood, and you wind up with a best picture nominee in a year when options were light.
  4. I'm not sure how much Glenn Close is getting paid to star in this revival of Sunset Boulevard 26 years after the original, but she is worth every cent - even considering an imperfect vocal performance. This production was called 'partially staged' in London - when it moved to New York they must have fleshed out the staging a bit, but it is still much lighter than the original. After all, you need the space to hold the 40-piece orchestra on the stage which provides rich sound without being distracting behind the actors. The actor playing Joe Gillis (male lead) was fine, but gave a very by-the-book performance with very by-the-book vocals. The night we saw the performance, the woman playing his young love interest (Betty) was an understudy - she was also fine but gave a very by-the-book performance with somewhat thin vocals. This all leads to the production being a bit of a bore until Close takes the stage - it is hard to imagine anyone else in this role (though I'm sure the other actresses involved in the 1991 casting drama feel differently). Even with her breaking BOTH of the two most dramatic notes of the production (With One Look in the 1st act, and the final note of the show in the second), her overall performance carries the show. At the curtain call, Close's behavior was somewhat... eccentric - her small dog coming on stage for a back-and-forth dialogue to raise money for the theatre fund left several patrons wondering how far off Close really was from her character, Norma Desmond. This production is on stage through early June - if you're in the city before then, it is worth the ticket to see this performance.
  5. Matt (my son) saw Hamilton three weeks ago and *loved* it. It has been playing at the Richard Rodgers Theater since Aug, 2015 I tried to get him to explain it to me, and he kept saying, "You kind of have to just see it." All I know about it is that the set design and costumes were in period, but the music is something closer to hip-hop - it sounds fascinating.
  6. Saw Allegiance last night partially out of obligation as a Japanese American. The musical tells the story of the JA experience during WWII in the concentration camps and the struggle to prove the patriotism and allegiance of various individuals to the ideals of this country. It follows primarily one family which has the father as a no-no (responses of no to willingness to serve in the army, and no to forswear allegiance to Japan, which for many who were barred from US citizenship would have left them without citizenship) and the son becomes a war hero serving in the 442nd. The daughter/sister in the family falls in love with another man who refuses the draft until his family is released from the camps and is sent to prison. For a 2.5 hour performance, it packs a lot in with regard to Japanese American cultural influences and how it shapes the evolution of the various attitudes towards what is patriotic and what ideals different actors were standing up for. If you have a chance to see it, I highly recommend going to this in the next two weeks. The music was surprisingly strong, and I think they built it around the strength of Lea Salonga as the lead singer.
  7. There are a handful of films that "I want to see, despite not dying to see them," mainly because they're such staples of American society that I feel like I'm missing out by not having done so - "Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" was one of them (until about thirty minutes ago). goldenticket will disembowel me for saying this, but I "liked" it without loving it. I realize it's 44-years-old (the time elapsed between "The Wizard of Oz" and this was only 32 years, if that puts the age of the film into perspective), and I'm glad I saw it while at the same time wishing it would end just a bit sooner. I really didn't know anything about the movie going into it, so it had nothing to do with me knowing the plot in advance. That said, I can easily see this being considered a children's classic, even though "children's" must be put in quotes, like a Grimm Fairy Tale. I also liked the ambiguity of the children's fate - this film was not condescending at all. Loved the Oompa Loompas! There is absolutely an overlap between these two songs (and it's ironic that Johnny Depp was in the remake). Whether or not it was "inspiration," "borrowing," or something more than that, I'll leave up to the readers: Circular
  8. This request may fall into the "Snowball's Chance" category, but does anyone know where to find a streaming version of "The Broadway Melody" (1929 version) online? It's not on Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, or YouTube. It was the first "talkie" ever to win the "Outstanding Picture" award, so there might be some hope.
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