Thursday, February 23, 2017

La La Land

Is La La Land a forgettable romcom with pretty costumes and miscast stars?
A gorgeous love letter to the musicals of Vincent Minnelli and Jacques Demy?
A sharp dissection of American narcissism?

Critics have argued for all of these and more in the lead up to Oscar night. My guess is that the film will be forgotten after Oscar night and the musical theater fans will move on to debating the merits of the Disney's Beauty and the Beast remake.

Chazelle draws a line in the sand midway through when Ryan Gosling's musician joins John Legend's jazz fusion band. Emma Stone's actress attends the concert and shakes in horror at the high energy performance and the cheering crowds. She seems to be saying "Ugh. Pop music. How tacky. Wouldn't you rather be listening to my breathy head voice or watching Gosling's timid dance steps?" I was team John Legend from that scene on.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Grease 2

"There's gotta be more to life than making out... I'm tired of being someone's chick." ~ Grease 2

The little Chicago musical about teen class war became a record breaking film in 1978. Three sequels and a TV series were proposed. A script was hastily written, the film tanked, and the franchise was scrapped. Grease 2 is no gem but Michelle Pfeiffer's solo, “Cool Rider,” is a camp classic. By the end of the film she learns, unlike Danny Zuko, to appreciate her partner’s nerdy side as well as the sexy persona.  

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Priscilla, Queen of the Desert

When the film premiered in 1994 positive portrayals of gay, bisexual and transgendered characters were in short supply. Writer and director Stephan Elliott saw his low budget project become an international success. Elliott had retired by 2004 when he suffered a near fatal accident. Surviving disaster convinced him to return to work and adapt Priscilla for the stage.

Bette Midler agreed to co-produce the Broadway transfer and became a fervent spokesperson for the show. The book underwent extensive rewrites. Kylie Minogue songs were swapped for Madonna’s and the father/son subplot was expanded. The show won Tony Awards for Best Costume Design (Tim Chappel and Lizzy Gardiner) and Best Supporting Actor (Tony Sheldon).

Tim Chappel complained to the New York Times that the Broadway producers censored his designs to make them "safer for Broadway." Despite the tinkering the production ran 526 performances and had a lengthy tour. Productions of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert are currently running in France, Spain, South Africa and the United States.

Posts will be slowing down in 2017 due to other projects. I'll try to get at least one comic up a month.