Showing posts with label musical. Show all posts
Showing posts with label musical. Show all posts

Friday, September 27, 2019

Judy (2019) Is Simply Unforgettable

Biopics is one of the trickiest genres. Most authors or directors want to pay homage to someone they admire. But if a film exerts too much creative freedom, the story is more like fiction than reality. If it limits itself too much, reading a Wikipedia page would be more exciting. For an American icon like Judy Garland, there's more than enough exaggerated lore director Rupert Goold's Judy could've pulled from for his biopic. And yet for the first time since the last salacious profile was released, the film finds a good balance between exploring the myth of Judy and showing the real side of her.

Based on Peter Quilter’s play End of the Rainbow, Judy covers the last year of the legend's rollercoaster life. Facing homelessness, bankruptcy, and a custody battle for her children, Judy Garland (Renee Zellweger) takes on a five-week engagement of sold-out shows at London's Talk of the Town. As she grapples with one more comeback and falls head over heels for a sketchy entrepreneur Mickey Deans (Finn Witrock), Garland struggles to keep her head above water as her final spotlight starts burning out.

With all that has been gossiped about Miss Showbusiness, how a biopic would grapple with her legacy is a question I've asked myself as a longtime fan of "Joots." At worst, I expected a repeat of scathing tell-alls that are more concerned with melodrama and anonymous sources; so much so that they ignore her humanity and tarnish her reputation. At best, I just wanted it to be better or just as good as other musical biopics. A well-organized, entertaining, and emotionally-driven tribute doesn't seem like a lot to ask for, but the last time I wished for a biopic of a favorite icon, I got Bohemian Rhapsody... To  my great delight, the film hits most of the right notes.

Friday, June 15, 2018

The Greatest Showman (2018) Sings A Surprisingly Different Tune


Musicals inspire us to set aside reality as characters break out into song and dance when life’s knocked them down or they're making their dreams come true. With the setting of a grand circus and a showman making his performers dreams come true, The Greatest Showman surprisingly struggles with creating magic outside of its wondrous score and dazzling production.

Hugh Jackman takes on real-life circus mogul P.T. Barnum from his downtrodden childhood to marrying the woman (Michelle Williams) of his dreams and creating an eccentric show starring outcasts – bearded lady, a giant, a dwarf, trapeze artists, siamese twins - to name a few. As his exhibition of "freaks" bring a different kind of success than he anticipated, Barnum's forced to face what his dreams are truly made of.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Reconsideration: Chicago (2002)

1920s. Jazz. Booze. Adultery. Murderesses on death row. Aspiring vaudevillian Roxie Hart (Renee Zellweger) guns down her lover Fred Casley (Dominic West) after he betrays her with phony show-business connections. When she is sent to jail on a hanging case, her faces off against chanteuse Velma Kelly (Catherine Zeta-Jones) for the help of money-loving lawyer lawyer Billy Flynn (Richard Gere).

Winning six Academy Awards (out of its total thirteen nominations) in 2002, Chicago remains one of the most celebrated and hated musicals of all time. Premiere Magazine named it "one of the twenty most overrated movies of all time", a type of recognition echoed on other prestigious film lists. As one of my favorite musicals, I've tried to understand if the hate is the worth the hype.