Archive for category: Musicals

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: Sean Axmaker

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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Review: That’s Entertainment, Part Two

27 February, 2012 (13:31) | by Richard T. Jameson, Documentary, Film Reviews, Musicals | By: Richard T. Jameson

[Originally published in Movietone News 50, June 1976] That’s Entertainment, Part Two begins where the first compilation should have ended, with (a portion of) the first performance of “That’s Entertainment” by Fred Astaire, Nanette Fabray, Jack Buchanan and Oscar Levant in Minnelli’s The Band Wagon. Around this footage Saul Bass has devised one of the […]

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Dark Star in Hyperdrive and TV Is Frank Sinatra’s Lady – DVDs of the Week

2 November, 2010 (08:46) | by Sean Axmaker, DVD, Film Reviews, Musicals, Science Fiction | By: Sean Axmaker

Dark Star: The Hyperdrive Edition (VCI) Think of Dark Star as John Carpenter’s answer to the glistening designs and metaphysical ponderings of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001. Deglamorizing the allure of space-age technology by giving it a drab, industrial practicality, Carpenter and co-writer/special effects supervisor/actor Dan O’Bannon give us not heroic space jockeys bravely exploring the unknown […]

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Review: Saturday Night Fever

3 August, 2010 (06:04) | by Robert C. Cumbow, Film Reviews, Musicals | By: Robert C. Cumbow

[Originally published in Movietone News 58-59, August 1978] In intent and intensity, Saturday Night Fever falls somewhere between West Side Story and Mean Streets. The former film is specifically evoked by the dwelling on Romeo and Juliet. When disco king Tony Manero takes his prospective dance-contest partner Stephanie Mangano out to tea, she plays a […]

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SIFF 2010: PV Dispatch 2 – A Tale of Two Rock Bio-pics, plus quick notes

22 May, 2010 (16:05) | by Sean Axmaker, Film Festivals, Musicals | By: Sean Axmaker

How to do a rock and roll film is intertwined with why to do a rock and roll film. Two biopics of rock icons (one more iconic than the other) play at SIFF this weekend, but genre aside, there isn’t much in common with the two. Nowhere Boy (dir: Sam Taylor Wood, UK) is the […]

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California Dreamin’ and 30 years of Rock ‘n’ Roll High School – DVDs of the Week

4 May, 2010 (15:36) | by Sean Axmaker, DVD, Musicals | By: Sean Axmaker

California Dreamin’ (E1) Director Cristian Nemescu was a rising star of what has been branded the Romanian New Wave when he and his sound editor were killed in a car wreck near the end of post-production of his first feature. As a tribute to Nemescu, the producer released California Dreamin’ as is. The director would […]

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Out of the Past: The Harder They Come

19 April, 2010 (00:13) | by Robert C. Cumbow, Film Reviews, Musicals | By: Robert C. Cumbow

[Originally published in slightly different form in Movietone News 60-61, February 1979] Perry Henzell’s Jamaican film The Harder They Come invites comparison with Marcel Camus’s Black Orpheus in its stylistic reliance upon pulsating rhythms to carry it along with a sense of inevitability, and in its literary use of the music and lifestyle of New […]

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Review: The Rose

20 November, 2009 (07:12) | by Robert Horton, Film Reviews, Musicals | By: Robert Horton

[Originally published in Movietone News 64-65, March 1980] “You know, I’m so tired of the road,” sighs Bette Midler into a telephone near the end of the film. There’s a hesitation in her voice on the word ‘road’ as if she were going to say, “I’m so tired of The Rose” instead. This would not […]

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Review: Quadrophenia

6 November, 2009 (15:49) | by Robert Horton, Film Reviews, Musicals | By: Robert Horton

[Originally published in Movietone News 64-65, March 1980] The movie starts out with a pretty good indication of what it’s going to be made of: A young man stares out over the golden ocean towards the sun, then turns and walks toward the camera, his silhouette remaining in the streak of sun on the waves. […]

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