Set in 1980s England, British Pakistani teen Javed discovers the music of Bruce Springsteen, inspiring him to change his life. Loosely based on the memoir of journalist Sarfraz Manzoor, the film Blinded by the Light (2019, PG-13) features Bruce Springsteen's words and music as a character.
If you are a devoted Disney fan like me, you may be reluctant about the company's recent foray into live-action remakes of their classic animated movies. In this 2019 live-action version of Aladdin (rated PG), I went in with low expectations, especially for Will Smith in the role of Genie, because Robin Williams' performance as the 1992 animated Genie was so outstanding. Smith ultimately does not try to mimic Williams' style and interpretation, but rather adds his own flair to the part. Genie even gets an expanded storyline in the live-action. I also appreciated that Jasmine was a more developed character, expressing a desire to break down the oppression of her society and voice her opinions as a leader.
Composer and songwriter Alan Menken returns to score the live-action film, enhancing his original music and adding additional songs not part of the 1992 version. So perhaps Disney can, in fact, be successful in livening up their animated classics after all!
It tells the story of Alison's experiences growing up with her family, in college, and as a 43-year-old adult. The musical uses three different actors to play Alison.
The music ranges from funny and humorous to poignant as it conveys all three viewpoints of Alison. My favorite song is the anthem "Ring of Keys" when young Alison realizes that she recognizes herself in an older lesbian.
I definitely recommend reading the graphic novel memoir, as well as getting some insight into the musical since not every scene is on the CD. You can do that by listening to the podcast Broadway Backstory or investigating the musical's website.
Recommended for fans of RENT, In the Heights, and Spring Awakening.
The Greatest Showman is pure entertainment for school-aged children and adults. There is also a sing-a-long version. Check out The Greatest Showman: original motion picture soundtrack to listen to the incredible songs again.
Check in next month for Mary S.’s take on the film.
Beautiful: The Carol King Musical (original Broadway cast recording) highlights such hits as "Up on the Roof," "You've Got a Friend," "On Broadway," "Uptown," and many more. It is impossible not to want to sing along to this recording! It is a wonderful story with the bonus of exceptional music. Listen to the music CD or stream the album on Hoopla.
Directed by Vincente Minnelli (Meet Me in St. Louis, Designing Women, etc.).
Check out Turner Classic Movies’ article on Summer Stock, then watch the film.
Cabaret (1972) is the popular musical starring Liza Minelli as the original “good time girl” who is oblivious to the changes happening around her. Based on The Berlin Stories of Christopher Isherwood.
Three Comrades (1938) is a poignant story of the love between fragile Margaret Sullavan and Robert Taylor. Taylor’s other two comrades are Franchot Tone and Robert Young. Young, politically active, runs into trouble with the pro-Nazi marchers in the streets.
Mephisto (1981) is a German language movie with Klaus Maria Brandauer, as an actor who sells his soul to the devil in order to keep working in Nazi-era Germany.
The Harmonists (1997) is based on the true story of a successful German singing group that was forced to disband in 1934 because three of its members were Jewish.
Tracy Turnblad (Nikki Blonsky), an overweight and goodhearted teenager, is able to live her dream and become a regular member of her favorite TV dance program, The Corney Collins Show,which seems to be Baltimore’s version of American Bandstand.
This lively musical is set in 1962 when segregation was prominent. The issues of prejudice and integration are dealt with in an upbeat manner. See John Travolta transformed into Tracy’s plus sized mother. I finished my viewing with a smile on my face and songs in my head, especially “You Can’t Stop the Beat” and “Big, Blonde and Beautiful” (sang by Queen Latifah).
Also costarring Amanda Bynes, Zac Efron, Allison Janney, James Marsden, Michelle Pfeiffer, Brittany Snow, and Christopher Walken.
Hairspray was based on John Waters’ cult film Hairspray (1988) which spawned a Broadway musical and this movie version. Check out the music with the CD Hairspray: original Broadway cast recording.
Charity (Shirley MacLaine) is sweet and trusting and easily used by the worthless men she keeps falling in love with. When Charity meets a young insurance clerk who doesn’t know about her life as a dance hall hostess, Charity thinks, “this could be it!”
For another movie choreographed and directed by Bob Fosse, see All That Jazz.
This classic musical comedy is pure entertainment. Set in the 1920s, Singin’ in the Rain shows the awkward transition from silent films to talkies. Everything works in this film – the skits, the songs, and the stars.
The greatest movie musical of all time (according to the American Film Institute) stars Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor, Debbie Reynolds, and Jean Hagen. Read Roger Ebert’s take on the film. Check out TCM to watch movie clips and featurettes.
The opening scene of this movie is a frenetic, whirling burst of lights, colors, and music! But try and stick with it because it is one luscious movie!
As the story goes, Christian, an impoverished writer, comes to Paris and falls in with Toulouse-Lautrec and the Bohemians of Montmartre, which leads us all to a merry romp at the Moulin Rouge. Christian meets Satine, the club's star and a beautiful courtesan. When he falls head-over-heels in love with her, a dangerous love triangle begins!
Ewan McGregor is terrific as Christian, Nicole Kidman is perfect as Satine, and they sing and dance! Visit About.com to find more about the movie, the stars, and the music.