Archive for category: Musicals

Chet Baker, Choppy Waters: ‘Let’s Get Lost’

20 December, 2014 (07:39) | by Sean Axmaker, Documentary, Essays, Musicals | By: Sean Axmaker

1987, Santa Monica. Chet Baker is weathered and worn. Filmed in black and white in the back of a convertible at night, framed by a pair of lovely young models, with street lights and headlights catching his features in a slash or a flash, his once smooth cheeks are leathery with age beyond his years […]

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Film Review: ‘Annie’

18 December, 2014 (05:08) | by Robert Horton, Film Reviews, Musicals | By: Robert Horton

Musical-theater purists can be almost as fussy as Star Wars fanatics, so expect a certain amount of kvetching over the new adaptation of Annie (previously filmed in ’82). The beloved 1977 Broadway show gets a thorough reworking, with rewritten lyrics, funked-up music, and a time-shift to the present day. (The comic-inspired original was a Depression-era […]

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Film Review: ‘20,000 Days on Earth’

26 September, 2014 (08:44) | by Robert Horton, Documentary, Film Reviews, Musicals | By: Robert Horton

Given his distinctive and ultra-dramatic stage presence, it makes sense that a documentary portrait of Nick Cave would not be the usual thing. And 20,000 Days on Earth is not the usual thing. At first this film appears to be a rumination on where the Australian-born rock star is these days: 20,000 days of life puts […]

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Film Review: ‘Take Me to the River’

26 September, 2014 (08:39) | by Robert Horton, Documentary, Film Reviews, Musicals | By: Robert Horton

There’s been a steady drumbeat of music-history documentaries this century, paying proper homage to the great players of pop music. These movies are invariably tuneful and nostalgic. Actually, there have been so many of these — “Standing in the Shadows of Motown,” “Muscle Shoals,” the recent Oscar winners “Searching for Sugar Man” and “Twenty Feet […]

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Videophiled Classic: ‘The Buddy Holly Story’ on Blu-ray

16 August, 2014 (15:25) | Blu-ray, by Sean Axmaker, Film Reviews, Musicals | By: Sean Axmaker

Buddy Holly died young, long before he was finished making his creative contribution to the fledgling rock genre and before the movies had a chance to try him out as a screen performer. So instead of Buddy on the big screen, we have Gary Busey playing the musical hipster from the Bible-belt culture of Lubbock, […]

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Videophiled Classic: Brian DePalma’s ‘Phantom of the Paradise’

7 August, 2014 (17:04) | Blu-ray, by Sean Axmaker, DVD, Film Reviews, Musicals | By: Sean Axmaker

Phantom of the Paradise: Collector’s Edition (Shout Factory, Blu-ray) – Brian De Palma’s wild rock and roll remake of Phantom of the Opera by way of Faust, The Picture of Dorian Grey, and The Count of Monte Cristo plays like a decadent glam inversion of Jesus Christ Superstar. Paul Williams (who also wrote the dynamic, […]

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Review: ‘Donkey Skin’

6 August, 2014 (09:15) | by Richard T. Jameson, Film Reviews, Musicals | By: Richard T. Jameson

[Originally published in Movietone News 45, November 1975] Jacques Demy’s best films—Lola, The Young Girls of Rochefort—wave the silk scarf of an absurd romanticism so expertly over the abrasive realities of The World We Live In—unwanted pregnancies, painful, irrational separations, grotesquely violent death—that our appreciation of both textures is deeply enhanced in the delirious cinematic […]

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Film Review: ‘Get On Up’

1 August, 2014 (08:10) | by Robert Horton, Film Reviews, Musicals | By: Robert Horton

No screenwriter or director could possibly tie together the unlikely, turbulent life of James Brown — Soul Brother No. 1, the Godfather of Soul, the hardest-working man in show business. But maybe an actor could. As though to acknowledge Brown’s brilliant and bizarre life, the makers of Get on Up present their story in a […]

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Fab film at 50: ‘A Hard Day’s Night’

7 July, 2014 (08:41) | by Sean Axmaker, Essays, Musicals | By: Sean Axmaker

The rock movie was never the same after A Hard Day’s Night opened 50 years ago, on July 6, 1964. The Beatles black-and-white comedy, which is being re-released in theaters for the anniversary, immediately became the cheekiest, wittiest, most inventive film in the then-fledgling rock and roll movie genre. Before A Hard Day’s Night, there […]

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Film Review: ‘Begin Again’

2 July, 2014 (21:43) | by Robert Horton, Film Reviews, Musicals | By: Robert Horton

The 2006 film Once, which won an Oscar for best song, was something of a mystery. That little Irish picture featured unfamiliar actors, an obscure director and an unusual approach to the movie musical. Was it just a one-off? Filmmaker John Carney has worked since then, without making much of a splash. His new one, […]

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DVD: ‘Show Boat’ (1936)

12 May, 2014 (07:06) | by Sean Axmaker, DVD, Film Reviews, Musicals | By: Editor

The 1936 production of Show Boat is the second version of the story based on Edna Ferber’s novel (the 1929 version was in fact shot as a silent adaptation of the original novel and hastily reworked to include some of the show’s songs as a part-talkie release) and still the best. Irene Dunne, who had […]

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Blu-ray: ‘Second Chorus’

27 July, 2013 (19:48) | Blu-ray, by Sean Axmaker, Film Reviews, Musicals | By: Sean Axmaker

The American musical is anything but a homogenized genre. Second Chorus (1940) is one of the stranger riffs on the genre, not for any stylistic daring or musical experimentation, mind you, but for its weird twist on the buddy film / romantic triangle. Trumpeters Danny O’Neill (Fred Astaire) and Hank Taylor (Burgess Meredith) are ostensibly […]

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DVD: ‘Having at Wild Weekend’

4 November, 2012 (10:19) | by Sean Axmaker, Film Reviews, Musicals | By: Sean Axmaker

Having a Wild Weekend (Warner Archive), the Dave Clark Five’s answer to A Hard Day’s Night, has a title that suggests the knock-about fun and goofy banter of The Beatles on film. To some extent you’ll find that here. The five boys live in what appears to be, at various times, an old church, an […]

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Review: The Magic Flute

12 September, 2012 (08:05) | by Rick Hermann, Film Reviews, Musicals | By: Rick Hermann

[Originally published in Movietone News 48, February 1976] While in the past I’ve been struck by a certain, sometimes openly self-conscious interplay between roles and “reality” in Bergman’s films—and while I’ve often felt sorely put upon to endure its exposition—it’s a similar sense of an interface between what is real and what is staged in […]

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‘Step Up Revolution’ Still Has Some Moves

26 July, 2012 (15:47) | by Kathleen Murphy, Film Reviews, Musicals | By: Kathleen Murphy

Reprising the franchise’s surefire money-minting strategy, Step Up Revolution detonates five or six hyperkinetic dance extravaganzas in dazzling 3-D, timed to obliterate a traditionally saggy story line. In the Step Up mythology, dreamers, losers and misfits always pull themselves up by their bootstraps, hoofing their way out of mean streets to fame — e.g., prizes, dance scholarships, […]

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