Currently browsing the "Musical" category.

Review: Hamilton

Let’s be real. Hamilton is critic-proof. Everyone I know who desperately wanted to see it has, by now, seen the filmed version of the hit Broadway musical at least once since its debut on Disney+ in the wee hours of the morning on July third. A slew of others have seen it too, out of sheer curiosity or pop culture public shaming. And some – declaring their independence from peer pressure, or harboring an inexplicable disdain for musical theater – will simply take a pass. That’s okay. You are excused. This show will go on.

Review: The High Note

Drama? Check. Music? Check. Romance? Check.

The High Note delivers all the required elements for a satisfying, mainstream-friendly chick flick, though it could have scored higher if not for a few flaws: there’s a twist you’ll see coming a mile away; it could use more music, drama and romance; and the character development is a bit on the shallow side. But it’s still an entertaining watch in, or out of, quarantine. The movie is reminiscent of The Devil Wears Prada except that it’s set in the LA music scene rather than the NY fashion scene, and it features the overworked personal assistant to a notorious pop diva, rather than the overworked personal assistant to a notorious magazine editor.

Review: CATS

Speaking of memories…

I still have my ticket stub from the July 27, 1983 performance of CATS at the Wintergarden Theatre on Broadway. It was a Wednesday matinee and my orchestra seat cost $35. Betty Buckley played Grizabella the Glamour Cat. She sang “Memory.” I was hooked. I will always be a fan of the music. I will continue to defend the songs, the dancing, and the whimsical appeal of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s classic stage production.

I can’t, however, defend the movie. It simply doesn’t work.

Review: Frozen II (aka Frozen 2)

Oh c’mon, did you really expect Frozen 2 to be as good – or even better – than its predecessor, the highest-grossing animated film of all time in worldwide box office? Did you really expect, or even want, another “Let It Go”? If so, you’re in for a bit of a letdown with this perfectly safe and pleasing sequel to the 2013 mega-hit that introduced us to royal sisters Elsa and Anna and the picturesque, Norwegian-esque Kingdom of Arandelle.

Review: The Lion King (2019)

Can you feel the love again?

In the circle of life that is cinema, The Lion King is back in all its original story glory, with a couple of new songs and stunning visual effects. The “reimagining” of the 1994 animated classic blends live-action techniques with virtual reality tools and photo-real digital imagery to create an all-new computer-generated medium that resembles something of a cross between traditional animation, Animal Kingdom and Mr. Ed. The added layer of ‘realism’ makes the light stuff lighter – and the dark stuff darker – in and around the fictional landscape of Pride Rock, somewhere in Africa.

Review: Yesterday

Quick – try and recite the lyrics to Eleanor Rigby (“picks up the rice in the church…”) Not so easy, is it? Imagine having to recount the music and lyrics to all the Beatles classics – or risk having them gone forever? That’s a dilemma central to the premise of Yesterday, a somewhat bland yet charming cinematic tribute to the Beatles – and to love, love, love.

Won’t you please, please help me… stop singing so I can tell you about the movie? Don’t let me down. Here goes:

Review: Echo in the Canyon

When I lived in Los Angeles, I frequently drove through Laurel Canyon on the way to and from work and I knew that over the years it had been famous for its arty inhabitants. I even looked at a rental house or two there, since I loved the counterculture vibe of the place. Echo in the Canyon is a documentary celebrating the musicians of the mid-60’s who lived there and invented folk-rock together and separately. The Byrds, The Beach Boys, Buffalo Springfield, The Mamas and the Papas and so many of the biggest groups of the day were there, creating and collaborating. The film is hosted by Jakob Dylan, lead singer-songwriter of the band The Wallflowers. He sits down for chats with an array of famous 20th century musicians – including Brian Wilson, Ringo Starr, Michelle Phillips, Eric Clapton, Stephen Stills, David Crosby, Graham Nash, Roger McGuinn, Jackson Browne, and Tom Petty in his very last film interview. And those interviews are intercut with the making of an album and a 2015 Los Angeles tribute concert with contemporary artists (Beck, Fiona Apple, Cat Power, Regina Spektor and Norah Jones) performing some of the songs made famous by those musicians of the canyon. It’s a lot of fun.

Review: Rocketman

This one took some serious rumination, because as much I would love to say I loved Rocketman, I can only say I liked it. I’m still thinking about it though, so it’s possible my verdict will change over time, much like my initial reaction toward Bohemian Rhapsody which impressed me more upon second viewing. It’s not fair to directly compare Rocketman and Bohemian Rhapsody however, because even though they share a director (sort of, in part) and touch on similar topics relating to music, addiction, sexuality, excess, friendship, family and betrayal – the movies themselves are quite different, narratively and stylistically.

Review: Aladdin (2019)

I must confess I went into Disney’s live-action Aladdin with the lowest of expectations and a great deal of skepticism. I’m an ardent fan of the 1992 animated classic and couldn’t imagine anyone other than Robin Williams – in human or animated form – playing the big blue wisecracking “Genie.” I still think Williams set an unattainable bar for Will Smith – or anyone else who dares to step into Genie’s shoes. And yet… Aladdin 2.0 is quite good, especially if you’re into family-friendly movie musicals (Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella, The Greatest Showman, etc.). It pays homage to the old while bringing something new to our “whole new world.”

Mainstream Chick’s Top Picks of 2018

It’s insanely difficult to do a “Top 10 Movies of 2018” list when you’ve seen about 200 movies in 365 days – everything from blockbusters, to arthouse films, to documentaries, to films that simply defy classification. I reviewed some of them for Chickflix; others I just bantered about on the Cinema Clash podcast; still others I never got around to reviewing, ‘cuz sometimes, Life happens and the catch-up game aint worth playin’.

Movies are subjective – and so is my list. And no movie is a “bad movie” if somebody out there “gets” it and likes it. My list is different today than it was yesterday. And it will surely be different tomorrow. But at this particular moment in time – as we enter 2019 – this is where I stand with my top picks, and why.