Sunday, 30 May 2010

The Musical Blog-a-thon

I invited my fellow bloggers to participate in blog-a-thon dedicated to celebrating musicals. They were asked to write on any musical - preferably their favourite - and tell us why it's worth our time. At first I was thinking asking for a favourite would become repetitive with everyone choosing standards, but the posts ae in and the choices are diverse. Head on over to the sites and take a looksee, every post is worth your time so head on over and read them, I did. They may not all have written on their aboslute favourite, but it's obvious - all the musicals covered are well loved.
         
Jose on The Wizard of Oz (1939) from Movies Kick Ass
The minute she arrives, her view of life is transformed because she has achieved color. Her simple jumper now in pale blue becomes a symbol of serenity and achievement.Did you know that the color blue is meant to symbolize high ideals? With this simple color choice we determine that the filmmakers are placing an importance in the way Dorothy looks, in her expression through what she wears.
          
Ruben on The Wizard of Oz (1939) from My Floating Red Couch
And speaking of flying monkey attacks: when the Simeon minions swarm and attack our heroes in the haunted forest, they totally get after it. They're all pouncy and rippy and flyey and kidnappy -- they take out some of the scarecrow and throw him over there and take out some more and throw it over there. Just very violent and graphic -- if you're made out of straw, but still.
            

Crazy Cris on Summer Stock (1950) from Here and There and Everywhere
As usual what sells the show is the chemistry of the leads, and the music. Some musicals annoy me when the music isn't quite "right", when it pulls you out of the story for a 'tah-dah!' musical moment. But here the numbers all pretty much worked seamlessly within the tale, starting off with a song I need to adopt as my own "If you feel like singing, sing!". Judy sings this as she goes through her morning rituals (shower, dress etc.) and it's just such a wonderful moment that I'm sure many people can relate to, when you just feel like singing and to hell with anyone who might have a different opinion!
           

Chase on Singin’ in the Rain (1952) from The Ludovico Technique: A Film Blog
The perfect confluence of song, dance, sugar-spiked romance and Hollywood satire, the film is one of those rare Hollywood musicals without a flaccid note, number or scene in sight, utilizing its well-rounded cast and catchy verses to win us over time and time again.
                

Bryce Wilson on A Star is Born (1954) from Things That Don't Suck
Cukor was of course one of the most skilled comedy directors of the forties, which in turn makes him one of the most skilled of all time. And he’s able to keep the film from becoming a slog, putting in some deft comic scenes that never feel out of place, including one nice sequence that turns a killer running gag out of the simple phrase, “Glad to have you with us.”
             
Fritz on West Side Story (1961) from Fritz and the Oscars
West Side Story is a movie that achieves the impossible – to bring the aliveness and thrill and feelings of the stage production to the screen. Isn’t it thrilling to sit an audience and watch dancers do the dance at the gym right in front of your eyes, on a stage where you can see the brilliant movements so closely?
                 

Yojimbo on A Hard Day’s Night (1964) from Let's Not Talk About Movies
That's pretty ironic, as the four's own bickering is what led the group to self-destruct and go their own ways once they were no longer forced to go together in the same direction by their hectic tour schedule. The only real idyll they have in "A Hard Day's Night" is in the antic "Can't Buy Me Love" sequence, where, in a rare moment of freedom, they caper about a play-field, which Lester films in an eclectic helter-skelter array of techniques, formal and informal: sped-up, slowed down, from the air, and hand-held.** Even that ends with an admonition ("I suppose you know this is private property!").
              
Ben on My Fair Lady (1964) from Runs Like A Gay
With musical theatre the score must either be so good that the listener appreciates the quality of the writing (see just about anything by Sondheim), or you need to leave the auditorium toe tapping away (try anything by Andrew Lloyd Webber). I won't pretend the music in My Fair is particularly well written, but by God it does make you want to join in.
              

Simon on Pierrot le fou (1965) from Four Of Them
Fantastic, mesmerizing (despite, as I assume ya'll know, shitty subtitles), surreal, colorful in that way only Godard in a good mood and the sixties can produce. Aided by the fanciful performance of Anna Karina and the half-lovestruck, half-bemused Jean-Paul Belmondo, an unexpectedly catchy song is performed by the two, that might've been an in-character way to pass celluloid had not been for the burst of music the background.
              
Marcy on Fiddler on the Roof (1971) from Because I Saw The Film
The film is ultimately about love. The love between a father and his daughter. The love between a husband and his wife. The love between two young lovers. The love between a man and God--and that's touching, whether you believe in God or not. There is just something so pure and simple about the musical's message about love, and it's a shame that modern films seem to over stuff the love message with a glow of shallow boxes of chocolates and bouquets of roses.

Andrew on Cabaret (1972) from Encore's World of Film & TV
I suppose Cabaret is not so much a story about what happens as it is a story about how it happens. Fosse has always has his reputation for being an especially stylistic man, and Cabaret represents the zenith of his talents. For, in many ways, Cabaret is a bit like an allegory. We’re transported by the bawdy music and scintillating dances so that by the time tragedy is at hand we’re surprised, even though it’s been sneaking up on us for the entire film.
            
Alex on Victor/Victoria (1982) from Alex in Movieland
The screenplay is the highlight, without a doubt one of the best ever written. Yes, I stand by it: so many excellent one-liners, the dialogue is fabulous and funny and the story just makes sense all around. It is Blake Edwards’ greatest achievement and one of Julie’s Andrews best performances.
            

elgringo on Krush Groove (1985) from He Shot Cyrus
The real fun of Krush Groove is in the performances. About half of the film is scenes of rappers and singers performing either on stage for an audience or just out in public with a mix of diegetic and non-diegetic music. In one scene, The Fat Boys sing their song "All You Can Eat" while scarfing down pizza at a Sabarro. It might sound like a Weird Al music video but this is what hip-hop was like in the mid-80s.
                    
Darren on The Lion King (1994) from The M0vie Blog
Still, “Be Prepared” is a powerful little number. Not only is Jeremy Irons freakin’ amazing delivering his lines (“And soon I’ll be givin’ my due!”), but it’s also been suggested that Jim Cumming may have filled in for him when he got a throat ache (and wasn’t able to finish the song). in under three minutes, with a hauntingly demented yet charismatic voice, and iconography borrowed from source I was too young to understand at the time, the musical number managed to do what no amount of ranting or raving or threatening from any Disney villain before or since could do: it convinced me that Scar was irredeemably evil. Sure, he’d go on to throw his brother into a herd of stampeding wilderbeast and (in an act even more evil) convince his nephew Simba that he was responsible, but this musical number was the first hint that something was truly and deeply wrong with the cartoon lion.
              
CS on Everyone Says I Love You (1996) from Big Thoughts From A Small Mind
The themes of looking for love, being in love, and being in relationships with the wrong people, are common in almost every single Woody Allen film. Yet there is a more optimistic, and whimsical, feel in this particular film than is more prominent than his other works. Everyone from the upper east side elite to the two-bit gangster is struck by cupid’s arrow.

Walter on Everyone Says I Love You (1996) from The Silver Screening Room
The idea here is that normal, everyday people, not given the gift of Garland, can become so full of emotion and romance that they are compelled to sing despite their own limitations. It's a beautiful and dangerous idea, yet Woody is blessed with actors who can actually carry a tune for the most part.
                 
Jude on Moulin Rouge (2001) from And All That Film
Even as Ewan and Nicole spin high up in the clouds, they make sure that the message doesn't get lost in the crazy, over-produced (in a good way) musical number. It also helps that Ewan's voice has that sensual, masculine touch of rogue-ness and the face of a Shakespearean paramour. He's the spark that ignites Nicole's flame (there's a metaphor of worth in there somewhere... look harder!).
    
Clarabela on Chicago (2002) from Just Chick Flicks
It wouldn’t be a really good musical, without THE BIG FINISH or a big musical number to get your toes tapping. Chicago won’t disappoint you. After much tap dancing and legal maneuvering, Bill Flynn (Gere) helps both Roxie and Velma beat their murder charges. Unfortunately for Roxie, her trial’s publicity doesn’t bring closer to her dreams of stardom. It is as true in Jazz Age Chicago as it is today: People are always looking for the next big thing.
               
Twister on Chicago (2002) from Movie Mania
Among the songs in the film my favorite is Roxie, sung by Renee Zellweger who is just perfect as the jazzy baby turned murderess who comes to start enjoying her infamy. Much of Chicago's success is thanks to Zellweger who carries the film with her funny, sexy, and all around luminous performance. It's her understanding of the character and her vocal/dancing abilities that make everything work.
                 
Meagan on The Phantom of the Opera (2004) from Wild Celtic
I will forever hope that the Phantom is able to be with Christine. My whole life, since I first saw the play, I would listen to those songs, feel his pain, hear Christine's longing for him and would be moved to tears by the music, the story. It is about passion, music, love, fear, anger, rejection, lust and mystery. In my minds eye, Christine always chooses to stay with the Phantom, to love him and sing with him...to be his angel of music.
               
Anna on Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2005) from Life of A Cinephile and Bibliophile
Most musicals are bright and colorful, I prefer dark and moody. So Sweeney Todd works on that level for me. And since it's directed by one of my favorite directors and features one of my favorite actors, that also works.
             
Joe on Rent (2005) from Oscarfan
The film is really entertaining and I think it works, although the "bursting out into song isn't realistic" thing sometimes becomes too noticeable and sometimes it lacks the soul of the original production. But the music is flawless. There are so many great songs and so many that I love!
                
Robert on Hairspray (2007) from His Eyes Were Watching Movies
The great music, dancing, and acting aside (and I didn't even mention the fabulous costumes and art direction!), Hairspray is the "perfect musical" because of the feeling that you get during and after you watch it. I saw the film three times in the theater (the most I've ever gone to one movie in the theater, by the way), and at least 3 times on DVD, and every time I just feel so happy and uplifted.
                   
Mike on Hairspray (2007) from You Talking to Me
By taking this story of a chubby girl chasing her dreams out of the John Waters universe and brushing aside inside jokes and obscure cultural references, the message is as simple and touching as ever: Never give up hope; dreams are not selective and anyone with the courage to reach for them has the tools to catch one.
                  

Univarn on the Genre in General from A Life in Equinox: A Movie Lover's Journal
 Their songs rain from the depth of their personality. They exude the screen. Define the mood. Create the world. Breath life into each and every moment. The musical is a form of auditory art, in which the vocals, soul, and visuals must align so rightly. Loudness, and gimmick, cheapen this to the point of blandness. Musicals that fail to capture the heart of their own characters sit well with me not.
     
A hearty thanks to all those who sent in entries, if you're still interested in participating you can send me a link or post it below, I'll try to include it. Now go out into the world making musical waves and keeping the hills alive with the sound of music - naturally.
 

15 comments:

Simon said...

A fantastic link, then, though I'm rather shocked nobody did Chicago.

Simon said...

Never mind, I missed Twister.

Jude said...

http://allthatfilm.blogspot.com/2010/05/moulin-rouge.html

Sorry I'm late!

Jose said...

I'm glad you had such a good turnout Andrew!
Some quite interesting pieces out there as well.

CrazyCris said...

Very cool! Lots to read, but will be for tomorrow 'cause it way past me bedtime now... damn Sunday nights!

A couple of repeats in there but otherwise there does seem to be quite a diversity! I do miss a few older pieces that aren't "big" classics... No one feeling the love for "Meet Me in St Louis", Easter Parade, Holiday Inn (or anything else with Fred Astair)? I could lose myself in musicals from the 30s and 40s... ;o)

On big names I'm also surprised Mary Poppins and The Sound of Music are missing! I guess there are just too many musicals and too few of us. You'll have to do this again next year Andrew so we can spread the love! :p

Otherwise thanks for putting this together! :o)

Marcy said...

I'm late. Sorry!
http://outofmud.blogspot.com/2010/05/if-i-were-rich-man.html

Fritz said...

Thanks a lot, Andrew!

Walter L. Hollmann said...

Sorry I'm so late! Thank you so much for hosting this, though, it is greatly appreciated!:

http://silverscreeningroom.blogspot.com/2010/05/everyone-says-i-love-everyone-says-i.html

Robert said...

This is great! I look forward to exploring all of these posts, what a great blogathon. :) Thanks!

Mike Lippert said...

Great links. I'm suprised by the Godard one. I'd think if any of his films qualify as a musical it would be Woman is a Woman. Alas, I must now go and read what Simon had put together.

Runs Like A Gay said...

Really good response and some great posts.

Thanks for organising this, Andrew.

Luke said...

Wow - fantastic work, my friend. This is quite a showing. And what a diverse group of choices, as well! I'm particularly excited to read the one about Victor Victoria - a forgotten that gem that I truly love.

Darren said...

Well done, and thanks for putting this all together. Wow... that is some list. Thanks for including me.

Burning Reels said...

Sorry I didn't contribute Andrew and well done.

For the record, Singin' in the Rain and Cabaret are the top musicals which do it for me.

princess said...

good
Entertainment
Music