Musicals


The Folk Prophet
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1 hour ago, LDSGator said:

 

@The Folk Prophet-have you seen the new movie version of West Side Story? I have not, been busy lately. 
 

It’s directed to FP, but if anyone has seen it let us here know how it was please. 

In a word?

It's horrible.

The assault on the senses starts almost immediately, when you're hit by lighting that alternates between pastel and neon. Then you realize that they did some heavy digital effects work to change the skyline, even going so far as to alter the weather for certain scenes. As if that wasn't bad enough, you literally have digitally-inserted lens flare in some scenes. Throw in the odd camera angles, and it's downright surreal at times. 

Then we get to the initial brawl between the Jets and the Sharks. One kid literally gets a nail punched into his ear, and we see the whole thing, nail, blood, and all. 

After more surreal lighting and camera shots, we find out that the pharmacist is dead and his widow is running the store, something done so that Rita Moreno could have a role in the movie. Turns out that the reason why the pharmacy is a neutral spot in the turf war is because a white guy married a Puerto Rican woman, so neither side wants to try anything there. 

Once you get past these and other changes, you realize that they changed the order and context of a number of the songs. Yes, they did that. Several songs are now sung by different characters and under different circumstances, such as "Cool" now being sung by Tony as he tries to talk the rest of the Jets out of fighting. 

In the middle, you notice that whenever the girls have a dance number their skivvies are visible as their skirts twirl, a further reminder that it's no longer the 50s / 60s. 

Anybodys has been remade into a full-on transgender individual rather than simply a tomboy, which ironically explained why the kids wanted nothing to do with her because of the stigma that being transgender had in the 1950s. Yes, it seems like whenever Hollywood finds a tomboy or a pretty boy in a work they have to make them transgender for some reason rather than stopping to understand why the original character is the way they were. 

Maria and the other girls are now maids rather than garment industry workers, something that even the Puerto Rican community has protested, given how critical the garment industry was in providing jobs for young women like her in NYC and removing the context behind her sister-in-law's desire to strike out on her own. 

Several key sequences were also changed, including the finale between Chino and the police. 

The cast did the best with what they were handed, but what they were handed was an absolute disaster. 

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10 minutes ago, Ironhold said:

In a word?

It's horrible.

The assault on the senses starts almost immediately, when you're hit by lighting that alternates between pastel and neon. Then you realize that they did some heavy digital effects work to change the skyline, even going so far as to alter the weather for certain scenes. As if that wasn't bad enough, you literally have digitally-inserted lens flare in some scenes. Throw in the odd camera angles, and it's downright surreal at times. 

Then we get to the initial brawl between the Jets and the Sharks. One kid literally gets a nail punched into his ear, and we see the whole thing, nail, blood, and all. 

After more surreal lighting and camera shots, we find out that the pharmacist is dead and his widow is running the store, something done so that Rita Moreno could have a role in the movie. Turns out that the reason why the pharmacy is a neutral spot in the turf war is because a white guy married a Puerto Rican woman, so neither side wants to try anything there. 

Once you get past these and other changes, you realize that they changed the order and context of a number of the songs. Yes, they did that. Several songs are now sung by different characters and under different circumstances, such as "Cool" now being sung by Tony as he tries to talk the rest of the Jets out of fighting. 

In the middle, you notice that whenever the girls have a dance number their skivvies are visible as their skirts twirl, a further reminder that it's no longer the 50s / 60s. 

Anybodys has been remade into a full-on transgender individual rather than simply a tomboy, which ironically explained why the kids wanted nothing to do with her because of the stigma that being transgender had in the 1950s. Yes, it seems like whenever Hollywood finds a tomboy or a pretty boy in a work they have to make them transgender for some reason rather than stopping to understand why the original character is the way they were. 

Maria and the other girls are now maids rather than garment industry workers, something that even the Puerto Rican community has protested, given how critical the garment industry was in providing jobs for young women like her in NYC and removing the context behind her sister-in-law's desire to strike out on her own. 

Several key sequences were also changed, including the finale between Chino and the police. 

The cast did the best with what they were handed, but what they were handed was an absolute disaster. 

So…are you recommending it or not? 

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10 hours ago, LDSGator said:

 

@The Folk Prophet-have you seen the new movie version of West Side Story? I have not, been busy lately. 
 

It’s directed to FP, but if anyone has seen it let us here know how it was please. 

No. I want to. No time to do so though. Anyhow,  who goes to theaters anymore? 😀 

Maybe when it hits streaming. 

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  • 3 months later...
  • 2 weeks later...
Posted (edited)

So I finally saw Stephen Spielberg's West Side Story. Here's my thoughts.

So first, the SJW elephant in the room...the change of the character Anybodys from a tomboy to a trans character. Did it hurt the show? Yes. Conversely, did it improve the show? No. Did it destroy it? Well....yes....ish.... in the current state of culture it would be something that I'd steer clear of generally. Outside the culture, could it have been an interesting idea to have a female character that thinks she's a boy and to deal with some of the conflict around that? Sure. But in today's world, it came across as pandering to the left and forced. And, of course, anything right now that pushes that kind of narrative is harmful. But even taking those critiques out of the mix...it was still handled badly. Particularly in once scene.

Spoilers moving forward, if anyone cares.

So in the original movie (1961), Anybodys runs off to look for Tony and the line is, "Hey. You done good buddyboy." She replies, "Thanks, daddio."

In this version it's the same line, but handled:

"Hey."  Big pause....melodramatic camera zoom in for the line.... "You done good.......buddy-boy!" Anybodys nods dramatically and turns to exit.

The camera zoom is SO bad. Like just terrible. A perfect example of ruining something for "THE MESSAGE". In the 1961 movie the lines worked great. Here...it came across as cheesy and terrible. Just bad directing and camera work, acting choices and everything, right in the middle of what was, overall excellent directing, camera work, acting choices, etc. Just terrible.

Okay...so that's out of the way. Now putting that "woke" garbage aside, what did I think of the movie, overall?

Well, it's West Side Story. It's great. So the question is: did it improve on things? Yes in some ways. No in others. The overall... I'd say the 1961 version is better on the whole. This version had some things that were better, but on the whole, it wasn't as good.

Obviously the directing, camera work, lighting, etc., were superior. No question on that.

The other big changes were in the order of the songs and additions or changes to the story. Some of those worked. Some didn't. Some were just meaningless changes that didn't add or subtract, but were fine.

For example. the west side is having the slums torn down to build the Lincoln Center. So the street gang's worlds are ending anyhow one way or another. Did this story change hurt anything? No? Did it help? Not really. It was fine. Interesting I guess. Fine.

They moved One Hand, One Heart to earlier in the show and had them sing it while visiting a church. This worked. It was cool. It was better placement for the song.

Some of the other changes to the song order were worse, but not terribly so. Specifically, they put Cool earlier in the show and changed it so Tony was telling Riff to be Cool and not have the rumble. This....kind of....worked. Sort of. But it wasn't better. It was, in my opinion, worse. But it was...fine. Like I said. Not terrible. And the choreography was fun. Just conceptually....it didn't quite work.

Now for the terrible... they moved I Feel Pretty from the start of the 2nd Act to immediately following the rumble. This was terrible. It absolutely killed the emotions and tension from the rumble. I had noted that they hadn't done I Feel Pretty earlier. And partly I thought they'd cut it. And I wasn't sad. I Feel Pretty is, and always has been, the worst song from the show. It's a throw away song. And I dislike it. But....it's popular. So I would have been surprised if they'd actually cut it. But in the 1961 version it comes at a point where having a throw away song is acceptable. It's kind of before the story really starts moving again, and before the second Act drama really starts to build. So it's always been fine. But putting it right after the rumble was not fine. It was really bad. I'm actually shocked that such a horrible decision was made with it.

Some other things that were improvements: the singing was great! Like really, really good. I was very impressed, overall. Particularly Maria. I really loved her voice, and I typically don't like sopranos. Tony was great. Anita was great.

But the giving of Somewhere to Rita Moreno to sing.... okay...fine again. It worked. I got it. But I missed it for Tony and Maria (even more so since I enjoyed their singing performances so much), and even more so...that means the reprise in the end scene was Tonight instead...and that just felt wrong somehow.... but I'll admit that might be sentiment talking. So I'll give that change a pass overall. And it was nice to have Rita Moreno sing it as a solo.

In point of fact, a broader overall critique I have of West Side Story as a musical is that Maria doesn't have a solo. She sort of has I Feel Pretty...which I hate...but doesn't have a good aria to sing. She should. But I digress.

Officer Krumpke was one of the weaker entries in this version. Not terrible. But not as entertaining as the older movie (primarily because of the performances).

The rest of the musical pieces were all pretty good. Some of them played better than the 1961 versions (Tonight, Maria, One Hand, One Heart, A Boy Like That/I Have A Love). Some of them were just as good (Jet Song, Something's Coming, America), and some, as mentioned, were not as good. Actually the performances were all at least as good with the exception of Officer Krumpke. Even when they were not as good in the show because of placement (like I feel Pretty), the performances were as good or better, mostly. Maybe not Cool. It was fine. But the 1961 version performance is pretty killer.

The choreography? It was fine. It was good. I liked it. Was it better than the 1961 version? No. But it was enjoyable.

The rumble was....meh. It was fine. In some ways it was stronger than the other...but in some ways not. For some reason they had Tony actually fist fight Bernardo. In the 1961 version Tony takes a fighting stance at one point but stops immediately. I thought that was stronger. And the way Tony went from totally chill to fighting Bernado didn't feel very realistic here. And the lead into the usage of knives wasn't as cool or emotional. Etc. It was fine. Not as strong.

Let's see. I think that basically covers it. Probably more detail than anyone cares to read. But if you made it through, those were my thoughts.

Will I purchase it? I..........don't................think so...... I mean I would in a heartbeat if it wasn't for the trans thing. Does that bother me enough to keep me from buying it? I have such strong feelings about the matter in the current political and social climate that I don't know if I can separate that from it. Which basically means I'll default to not buying it. But is it because I really was bothered by what they did there? I can't say for sure. I can say, however, that unlike some other things, that if someone I knew purchased it I wouldn't judge and scorn their decision to do so.

So overall, it was a good version. Not as good (overall) as the 1961 version. Hurt by some woke stuff and some weird decisions. But still, quite good.

Edited by The Folk Prophet
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Star Trek Discovery has fallen for the same trap. The last two seasons have been all about the first trans character in the Star Trek universe. Endless, endless scenes of the other characters standing around smiling supportively, while this character grows and learns and what not.

I don’t give a crap if they have 10 trans characters. But they’ve been sacrificing plot to push woke, and it’s obnoxiously obvious, and the shows popularity is not that great anymore because of it.

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2 hours ago, NeuroTypical said:

Star Trek Discovery has fallen for the same trap. The last two seasons have been all about the first trans character in the Star Trek universe. Endless, endless scenes of the other characters standing around smiling supportively, while this character grows and learns and what not.

I don’t give a crap if they have 10 trans characters. But they’ve been sacrificing plot to push woke, and it’s obnoxiously obvious, and the shows popularity is not that great anymore because of it.

My understanding (I haven't seen it, just what I've heard) is Star Trek is WAY worse on this. I wouldn't say West Side Story, overall, sacrificed plot for the woke. It just emphasized the one line in a weird way that weakened it. Otherwise, the story (and I mean even Anybodys story) wasn't weaked by making her (him? it?) trans. It was the same story. A girl that desperately wanted to be a part of the boy's club, but wasn't accepted, and then found a bit of acceptance when she (he? it?) stepped up and helped. Exactly the same as the original. It was just turning the "buddy-boy" from a meaningless slang to a meaningful, dramatic, "hey, he said, BOY!" moment that was so lame.

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4 hours ago, NeuroTypical said:

Star Trek Discovery has fallen for the same trap. The last two seasons have been all about the first trans character in the Star Trek universe. Endless, endless scenes of the other characters standing around smiling supportively, while this character grows and learns and what not.

I don’t give a crap if they have 10 trans characters. But they’ve been sacrificing plot to push woke, and it’s obnoxiously obvious, and the shows popularity is not that great anymore because of it.

A very big issue across all forms of entertainment media right now is that the current generation of writers wants to be praised for being "brave" and "daring", and so they cram as many characters into their works as possible that are meant to be "progressive" in nature. 

These characters almost always land with an audible "thud" because they're rarely developed out beyond whatever their point of diversity was supposed to be, and in extreme instances this lack of proper development can result in the characters effectively being walking stereotypes because their net sum purpose for existing is whatever their point of diversity is and so writers will play that up to its hideous conclusion. 

Making matters worse is that the same vainglorious nature that leads to these writers doing this in the first place also means that they cannot handle any negative responses, and so they automatically attribute everything to "bigots" as a justification to ignore what people are saying... even if what people are saying is "No, your character wasn't the first. Here's a list of other characters that came before yours, characters you may wish to study." 

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7 hours ago, The Folk Prophet said:

Now for the terrible... they moved I Feel Pretty from the start of the 2nd Act to immediately following the rumble. This was terrible. It absolutely killed the emotions and tension from the rumble. I had noted that they hadn't done I Feel Pretty earlier. And partly I thought they'd cut it. And I wasn't sad. I Feel Pretty is, and always has been, the worst song from the show. It's a throw away song. And I dislike it. But....it's popular. So I would have been surprised if they'd actually cut it. But in the 1961 version it comes at a point where having a throw away song is acceptable. It's kind of before the story really starts moving again, and before the second Act drama really starts to build. So it's always been fine. But putting it right after the rumble was not fine. It was really bad. I'm actually shocked that such a horrible decision was made with it.

I seem to remember the director of the 1961 version saying he changed the song order for reasons similar to what you’re describing. After the rumble it was supposed to be Officer Krumpke. The director decides it’s too silly. That just escalated their gang war to a precipice you don’t climb down from….. and they’re going to play dress up? So he puts Cool there instead.

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1 hour ago, mordorbund said:

I seem to remember the director of the 1961 version saying he changed the song order for reasons similar to what you’re describing. After the rumble it was supposed to be Officer Krumpke. The director decides it’s too silly. That just escalated their gang war to a precipice you don’t climb down from….. and they’re going to play dress up? So he puts Cool there instead.

I remember hearing that now that you mention it.

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Another thought: I'm totally torn on West Side Story flopping. I want all "woke" content to flop. But I want musicals to succeed and lead to more musicals. So...

Hollywood is stupid. That's all I know for certain about them. They're stupid.

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I recently saw In the Heights. I think it had the ability to be a good film but it has too many failures working against it.

Spoilers

In the Heights had enough stage popularity to suggest that it could connect with large audiences. It was the popular hip hop musical before Hamilton (others had tried but did not have either the story or the production values to carry it — sorry Bring on da Noise fans, not sorry Bring it on fans). The general theme is about a neighborhood of people seeking out their individual dreams (and I tend to think most of these are facets of the American dream) with one character in particular carrying a sub-theme of gentrification.

In my mind, the biggest thing they messed up was jumbling the songs. It was clear to me that the songs were getting played in a different order because the lyrics belonged elsewhere (or else when). A good (bad) example of this is the love song between Benny and Nina. It was framed as a recollection of the love they shared over the past summer, but both the lyrics and the dance would have fit better if they were actually in love in the moment and not reminiscing. Abuela’s song lost a lot of oomph because they wanted to keep the lotto winner a secret. She sings of the sacrifices her mother made to bring her to New York and make ends meet. Abuela carried on her work. And then the key line: What do you do when your dreams come true? She’s finally arrived to a point where she can have some financial breathing room. What do you do? We’ll you die of course (so sad, so tragic)! No!! You share it and help others with their dreams! But that gets lost because she’s just singing about shuffling off this mortal coil and not about winning the lottery (not to mention it makes the reveal at the end a deus ex machina because they’ve already denied ever finding out who won).

The second class of grievances I have are things that chip away at the main theme. I already mentioned the failing of Abuela’s song. Nina is thinking about not going back to Stanford — not because of how much it costs her dad (which looks to be the concern from the play) but because of racism directed towards her. This pulls away from the theme because lottery winnings can help in one case but not the other. The cousin is an activist. There’s a few nods towards gentrification and I think there used to be a subplot about some hoodlums but his big draw now is DACA. The specific problem with this is that it takes him too long to get to this issue so it’s resolved almost as quickly as it’s discovered. Additionally, combined with Nina’s changes it firmly locks the film into the Trump presidency instead of something more timeless.

Finally there were some stylistic choices that felt out of place. 96000 at the pool worked, as did the street dancing for the title song. They built to it and you could accept it. But the neon air writing at the start of 96000 didn’t work. It came out of nowhere and didn’t go anywhere. The dancing on the side of the building from Nina and Benny’s love song could have worked if they were in the moment (like the La La Land fantasy dance/flying scene) but as a memory it fell flat. The love interest was unlikable so they shouldn’t have pursued the happily ever after ending. And the entire framing was fraudulent.

I will say, listening to the Latin beats in the songs had me longing for Santana to write a musical. I think the music and story had promise, but too many reactive story choices and poor design decisions brought it down.

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1 hour ago, mordorbund said:

I think it had the ability to be a good film but it has too many failures working against it.

I'm not sure I'd call them "failures" as much as "not successes". 😀

Okay...failures to succeed then, I supposed.

My point is....it wasn't a "failure" of a movie, per se. It was okay. It just could have been much better. I would say it was a "good" film, but not a great one. I enjoyed it okay. Didn't hate anything in particular. But, yeah....I won't be too bothered if I never see it again... Hmm. Maybe that does make it a failure.

It wasn't like some of the movies I've legitimately disliked. Like Pixar's The Good Dinosaur. FAILURE!

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17 hours ago, mordorbund said:

I recently saw In the Heights. I think it had the ability to be a good film but it has too many failures working against it.

Another major strike the film had against it was the advertising. 

The trailer mentioned Lin-Manuel Miranda, showed us a lot of dance numbers, and had the main character make a vague statement about the neighborhood somehow being in danger of disappearing. 

Basically, anyone who wasn't already familiar with the musical wouldn't know what the film was about, and I imagine that caused a lot of people to wait until the movie hit on-demand to watch it.

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2 minutes ago, LDSGator said:

I think almost everyone in the country has at least heard of the original. It’s like the Wizard of Oz. Part of pop culture 

I hadn't. 

It was *not* on my radar until the movie came out. 

And given how many people I had to explain the plot to, I'd say a lot of other folks were in the dark as well.

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1 minute ago, Ironhold said:

I hadn't. 

It was *not* on my radar until the movie came out. 

And given how many people I had to explain the plot to, I'd say a lot of other folks were in the dark as well.

That's surprising to me-I thought the musical was very well known. Oh well. 

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28 minutes ago, LDSGator said:

I think almost everyone in the country has at least heard of the original. It’s like the Wizard of Oz. Part of pop culture 

You think In the Heights and The Wizard of Oz are in the same class of well known? 

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2 minutes ago, The Folk Prophet said:

You think In the Heights and The Wizard of Oz are in the same class of well known? 

I misunderstood and thought we were talking about West Side Story, not In the Heights. My mistake. 
 

I DO think WSS is on the same level as Oz, I do not think In The Heights (though itself a good musical!) is. 

Edited by LDSGator
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25 minutes ago, LDSGator said:

I misunderstood and thought we were talking about West Side Story, not In the Heights. My mistake. 
 

I DO think WSS is on the same level as Oz, I do not think In The Heights (though itself a good musical!) is. 

I kind of figured that might be the case. 

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@The Folk Prophet

 

You know way more about musicals than I do, so I’d like your opinion on this. 
 

Let’s pretend the remake does not exist for a minute. Do you think the original West Side Story is iconic? I think it’s become part of pop culture. Antonin Scalia quoted it once in a Supreme Court opinion!

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26 minutes ago, LDSGator said:

@The Folk Prophet

 

You know way more about musicals than I do, so I’d like your opinion on this. 
 

Let’s pretend the remake does not exist for a minute. Do you think the original West Side Story is iconic? I think it’s become part of pop culture. Antonin Scalia quoted it once in a Supreme Court opinion!

Sure. But with reservations, mostly based on the apparent ignorance of the younger generations on so many things. 

Is it iconic for musicals? Undoubtedly. Is it iconic for the broader culture? Yes.... but not like Star Wars, The Beatles, Beethoven or Superman. 

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36 minutes ago, The Folk Prophet said:

Sure. But with reservations, mostly based on the apparent ignorance of the younger generations on so many things. 

Is it iconic for musicals? Undoubtedly. Is it iconic for the broader culture? Yes.... but not like Star Wars, The Beatles, Beethoven or Superman. 

Hey, totally legit points. 

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