Tag Archives: musical theatre

My Thoughts on Movies I Saw for Free

I wrote this last year but kept delaying posting it because I kept thinking I would watch Lincoln. Since I was starting to write one up for THIS year, I figured, what the heck, I’ll post it a year late.

So, because I work in Hollywood, I get screener DVDs sent to my house of some of the movies that are up for awards every year.  (And if they don’t send DVDs, they often give me downloads or free movie tickets.)  Here are my brief thoughts on a subset of this year’s free movies:

(mild spoilers for Silver Linings Playbook, Argo, Hitchcock, Les Miserables, and Best Exotic Marigold Hotel)

Silver Linings Playbook:  Well-written, well-directed, well-acted, and their screw-up of the “big move” was one of the best-crafted actions in a movie scene I’ve seen in a long time.  But I have a bone to pick with Silver Linings Playbook, which is . . . how did nobody tell me this was a ROMANCE???  I’m watching, and watching, and watching, and suddenly, BANG, in the last ten minutes, I realize the entire plot structure was a ROMANCE PLOT STRUCTURE!  I thought it was a drama that was going to end unhappily with everyone miserable or dying, dammit.  I felt very duped!

Argo:  First half: Awesome.  And I was rolling on the floor at the (all too true!) portrayal of Hollywood.  Second half?  Eh.  Way too many exactly timed close calls that were Hollywoodized in just for the DRAMA of it.  Plus, I didn’t think any of the hostage characters were very well-developed, which means I couldn’t bring myself to care as much as I wanted to about their eventual escape.  I would have much preferred to see more antics of the producer and the SPX make-up artist.  (Also: The whitewashing, of course, pissed me off.  We’re at a time when Hispanic people are systemically being painted as non-patriotic, non-real Americans, and here was a golden opportunity to show a Latino as an American hero . . . not.)

Hitchcock: The cast was spectacular.  The story of making Psycho was fascinating.  Alas, if only they could have stuck to that story.  The forays into Hitchcock’s strange daydreams/night dreams messed up the pacing and confused what would have been an excellent film otherwise.  (Also: I want to marry Helen Mirren.)

Lincoln: Didn’t watch it at first because they didn’t send a DVD.  Then they sent one and I . . . still didn’t.  Sounded heavy, so we kept procrastinating on watching it.  I’ve heard it’s narratively pretty problematic (i.e. racist), so I’m not too bothered.  Maybe I’ll watch it eventually.

Les Miserables: . . . no comment.  (We tried to watch it with copious amounts of alcohol; we really did.  We started the fast-forwarding about five scenes in and still couldn’t even make it to the halfway point.)

Best Exotic Marigold Hotel: Expected it to be a bunch of awesome elderly British actors getting up to hijinks, and it was completely as advertised.  I’m generally not a fan of the Exotic Location Teaches White People a Very Important Lesson stories, but I was too busy watching Judi Dench being adorable to worry about it much, and from what I can tell (not being Indian) they did have a diversity of reasonably well-developed Indian characters.  (Also: I tend to like movies that don’t focus on young twenty-somethings.)  Other thoughts: Judi Dench and Maggie Smith are both near eighty, what?, and I desperately wanted Penelope Wilton to whip out a badge and say, “Harriet Jones, former Prime Minister!”  (Yes, we know who you are.)

The Impossible: After reading this review, I refused to watch it, even for free.

Pippin, Or, I Want a Circus In My Head

While on the East Coast it was a priority of mine to see the new Broadway revival of Pippin.  I haven’t been following Broadway since I moved west, but the reason I needed to see Pippin is that a friend of mine is in it.  And can I just say that for a Broadway geek, seeing a friend of yours on the Broadway stage is magical.  Whee!

And boy, am I ever glad I went to see it!  I’ve never seen Pippin before, but my impression is that the circus elements are all new with the revival.  And they work splendidly.  The show is basically a cross between a circus show and a Broadway musical, starring half Broadway legends and half professional circus performers, which makes it pretty much my perfect show.

Thoughts, in no particular order:

(spoilers)

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Awards

I’m one of those people who’s never been much into awards.  Getting ’em is nice, and I’m excited when my friends get them—or when someone/something I like or respect is a recipient—but any time I’ve bothered to follow awards for any length of time I’ve ended up angry and disappointed.

The longest I ever followed an awards slate was the Tonys, when I was a kid.  I was obsessed with Broadway and knew all the best ways to get rush tickets so I could go into New York and see as many shows as I could on a high school student’s budget.  I watched the Tony campaigns raptly, read all the criticism, made my predictions.

The year I became disillusioned was the year Christine Ebersole (42nd Street) won over Marla Schaffel (Jane Eyre) for best actress in a musical.  I’d seen both.  Marla Schaffel was spectacular; that woman hit a home run.  Still, if she hadn’t won my anger might not have reached epic levels, except that it was Christine Ebersole who did win.  She wasn’t even the lead in 42nd Street!  She was barely in the second act!  She was a supporting role who got top billing because she’s a name actress!  Not to mention that her performance was competent, but nothing special.

Critics explained it by saying she had been voted for because of “lifetime achievement” reasons.  I was furious.

That was the same year The Producers swept all twelve Tonys it had been nominated for.  Now, don’t get me wrong; I’ve never laughed as hard as when I saw The Producers (with its original cast, no less).  But did it really deserve Best Orchestrations?  No.  No, it did not.

I stopped following the Tonys after that, and once I moved away from the East Coast I wasn’t even familiar enough with any of the shows for the awards to feel relevant.  Since then, I’ve always failed miserably at following any other awards slate—even though I work in film, I’m barely aware of when the Oscars and Emmys are.  And I fail very much to care.

Now that I’m getting more into the writing world, I thought maybe I should start paying attention to the Hugos and Nebulas . . . but that seems like so much work, guys.  And I’m very much afraid the same sort of thing would happen—that there will come a year I’ll feel passionate about one of the categories, and everyone else will choose the wrong one.  Heh.

So I think I’ll stay mostly in the sunshine and roses of not-caring land, and continue to be happy when something I love or someone I respect gets nominated or wins.  ‘Cause that’s cool.

(Making the decision not to care about awards is kind of like the decision not to read Internet comment threads.  It helps keep me happy and sane, and I can still be happy about a Particularly Awesome Comment if someone points me to it, just like I can be excited about someone I like winning an award.  There’s no downside!)

I’m Not a Musical Theatre Snob or Anything . . .

I’m not posting this for any particular reason today.  No siree.  Not because a certain movie I’m very not-excited about is premiering.  Not because I think they shouldn’t have made that certain movie.  Or at least cast singers in it.

I would never be so petty.

I’m posting it because Lea Salonga is amazing.  Isn’t she amazing?

Sigh.

Merry Christmas to those who celebrate!

So. It Turns Out John Barrowman Can Sing. YOU’RE WELCOME.

I’m a musical theatre geek.  When I was a kid, I would fan on Broadway with the same intensity I did on Star Wars.  I had all the soundtracks and had all the songs memorized; I followed all the stars; I obsessed over the Tonys each year (whereas the Oscars and Emmys?  Still not sure what months they happen in.  AND I WORK IN FILM, I AM A FAILURE AS A HUMAN BEING).  I would take the train into New York at least once a month and knew all the tricks for getting cheap rush tickets to shows.  Heaven!

Fast forward to present day; one of my best friends is also a musical theatre geek, and this year I got her into Doctor Who and Torchwood (because I am awesome that way).  We’re sitting reminiscing about the 10th Anniversary Les Mis (LEA SALONGA YOU ARE A GODDESS), and we get to wondering if either of us still has the VHS from when we were kids, and in the process of looking for it she finds her old copy of Hey, Mr. Producer.  Which we both start reminiscing about, because of course we’ve both seen it, and then she’s reading the back and says, “John Barrowman is in this???”

(Cue frantic searching on YouTube, because, dude, we had the thing on VHS; nobody knows how to play those things anymore.  And we would have had to rewind and fast-forward.)

I give you, John Barrowman singing “One, Two, Three” in Hey, Mr. Producer:

And because YouTube is awesome, from the Torchwood DVD extras, we have “Anything Goes:”

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