Films viewed in 2011

Archive for the ‘Musical’ Category

396. The Muppets

In Musical on November 24, 2011 at 1:07 PM

Dir. James Bobin

With the help of three fans, The Muppets must reunite to save their old theater from a greedy oil tycoon.

MY TAKE

If you thought The Muppet’s were old hat, you’re a little right and a little wrong. Right because the new movie directed by James Bobin goes to painstaking efforts to glamorize the days gone by, and leans on the comeback theme for the entire film. You’re only wrong because Jason Segal, Amy Adams and their felty friends deliver enough laughs and irreverence to firmly justify their continued existence in pop culture. Great original songs are just the beginning of the fun, even if music supervisor Bret Mackenzie sometimes rips off his own Flight of the Conchords tunes.  The big bright colours, lavish designs and full chorus dance numbers make the musical side of the film work, while the occasional cameo and self-aware joke go a long way. The un-Muppetized version  of “We Built This City on Rock and Roll” felt out of place, but otherwise I was sending a lot more cheers from the balcony than jeers.

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350. Dancer in the Dark

In Musical on October 25, 2011 at 1:43 PM

Dir. Lars von Trier

An east European girl goes to America with her young son, expecting it to be like a Hollywood film.

MY TAKE

Back when digital cameras were only deemed fit for feature films like The Blair With Project, Dogma 95 co-founder Lars von Trier opted in to make this not-so lavish musical. Equipped with 100 cameras to capture some of the dance sequences, the film is a fairly successful exercise in both style and form. Björk is a marvel as a naïve girl going blind and struggling to see the reality of her own life. But just when you get comfortable with where the film is going – murder! That twist spins the world out of control for a shocking an unexpected finale that won’t leave people craving a stage adaptation, but it sure makes for an captivating film.

347. The Producers

In Musical on October 24, 2011 at 12:42 PM

Dir. Susan Stroman

Down-on-his-luck producer Max Bialystock teams up with timid accountant Leo Bloom in a get-rich-quick scheme to put on the world’s worst show.

MY TAKE

Mel Brooks is a master of silly, but this remake of his famous first film definitely feels like it’s from another time. Director Susan Stroman has a great cast at her disposal (Nathan Lane, Matthew Broderick, Uma Thurman, Will Ferrell) and manages to create some impressive set pieces, but the comedy often feels imported directly from the stage version and tone deaf for modern cinema. As my first brush with the material, however, I did find the overall storyline to be great and laughed more than a few times, usually at the audacity of the spectacle more than the one liners. But there are definitely a few of those too, right? Shut up! I’m having a rhetorical conversation.

106. Velvet Goldmine

In Musical on August 14, 2011 at 12:05 PM

Dir. Todd Haynes

In 1984, British newspaper reporter Arthur Stuart is investigating the career of 1970s glam rock star Brian Slade.

MY TAKE

I have a feeling this was Todd Haynes attempt at staying true to his interests while straddling the mainstream. The film just feels so Bowie-inspired that it’s hard to read between the lines. The music is bad, characters are pure pastiche and the end of the second act lost me.

59. Repo! The Genetic Opera

In Musical on August 6, 2011 at 4:34 PM

Dir. Darren Lynn Bousman

A worldwide epidemic encourages a biotech company to launch an organ-financing program where defaulters pay the ultimate price.

MY TAKE

The set design is inspired, the story has its moments, but the characters are basically cartoons and the music feels like a complete after-thought. The film doesn’t seem to know it’s audience, and can’t commit to any particular style or genre. For a film featuring Paris Hilton, it also takes itself far too seriously.

58. Hedwig and the Angry Inch

In Musical on August 6, 2011 at 4:34 PM

Dir. John Cameron Mitchell

A transexual punk rock girl from East Berlin tours the US with her rock band as she tells her life story and follows the ex-boyfriend/bandmate who stole her songs.

MY TAKE

Some of the early songs really worked for me and the general set-up had me interested. But when the film loses its narrative and becomes more of a bad trip, I found myself caring less and less for Hedwig. John Cameron Mitchell still pulls off an impressive triple crown as writer/director/star.