Archive for the ‘Musical’ Category

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The Rocky Horror Picture Show

June 7, 2010

The Rocky Horror Picture Show

The most warped, off the wall, absurd musical that you will ever see.  Not recognized for being a great musical, this jumps into the world of cult classic films unlike any other film out there.  It abounds with audience participation and there are weekly midnight showings all across the country for the fans of the film where they dress up, bring props, and can quote the film line for line.

The story surrounds Brad Majors and Janet Weiss, two star crossed lovers who after a friends wedding take off into the country side by car when it becomes and dark and stormy night their car, predictably, breaks down and they go to the castle of Dr. Frank-N-Furter.  They quickly realize that everything is not quite right when Riff Raff, the hunch backed handyman opens up the door and Dr. Frank-N-Furter is having a party.  Things quickly become worse as Brad and Janet (damnette Janet) end up becoming two of the party guests.  The plot then twists even further into the realm of the absurd (and trust me, my synopsis might make it seem slightly normal, but it isn’t) as Dr. Frank-N-Furter takes his guests up to his laboratory to unveil his newest creation, Rocky.  Rocky comes to life and if at all possible, it becomes even more absurd.  You have to realize that if you see this with other people, everything I’ve written is littered with lines that take it two or three steps past awkward that the audience is shouting out at the screen.

This film has one absurdly iconic character and role that comes out of it.  Tim Curry, a solid actor in his own right, plays everyone’s favorite transsexual transvestite from Transylvania.   Curry will never be known for another role simply because of the swagger and absurdity that he puts into his performance while prancing around in a corset, fishnets, and high  heels.  Susan Sarandon, known for many other roles including her Oscar winning performance in Dead Man Walking, plays one of the other two leads as Janet Weiss.  Even though it is an absurd film and not something you’d generally think of Sarandon for, she does a good job playing a fairly innocent character in this film.  Barry Bostwick,  the mayor on Spin City, plays her finance Brad Majors, who is ridiculed, by the audience, for being more of a chicken and innocent than Janet is.  Richard O’Brien, the writer of the stage play, takes on the role of Riff Raff who is a lovably abused handyman at the hands of Doctor Frank-N-Furter (and when I say lovably, I mean as much as any character could be loved).  The final performance that I will mention (as there really isn’t a bad one in the whole film) is that of Meat Loaf, mainly because he is Meat Loaf and he is in this absurd film.  He only has a limited part (and only one song), but it leads to a wonderful chase around the laboratory with Dr. Frank-N-Furter.

Jim Sharman, who adapted the stage play for the screen and directed the film, does a great job on this film.  It is very absurd and he creates the absurd and fake futuristic (at times) setting in the castle and at other times blends it with the style of an old cluttered house.  He gets good performances from the actors, and with a story as absurd as what it is, he squeezes everything out of it.

This film won’t ever be considered a great film, and rightfully so.  The story is too absurd, the acting, while good for the film, isn’t the greatest acting, and the direction, while again fitting the film, doesn’t take direction and film to another level.  This film is meant to be watched with a group of people (probably shouting at the screen) and the whole event that surrounds a showing of the film is what makes it so incredibly special.

Entertainment Grade: A

Critical Grade: B-

Overall Grade: B+

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Repo! The Genetic Opera

April 26, 2010

Repo! The Genetic Opera

Repo! The Genetic Opera

A wonderful little musical that borders on the absurd the while time.  It has a great rock sound track to it and a lot of good voices.  Visually it is a very dark film that blends its musical aspects with horror and sci-fi.  The acting performances are entertaining to watch as well.

This film takes place in the future, the not to distant future.  Organ failure becomes an epidemic and a company, Gene Co., steps in.  They offer organ transplants, for a price, and when people can’t pay, they pay.  A Repo Man comes to take the organ back.  Rotti Largo, the owner of Gene Co., finds out that he is dying, and none of his children, Amber, Pavi, and Luigi, are worth it, they all have their own selfish plans.  On that night, Shilo, the daughter of the Repo Man, sneaks out into her mothers grave.  She goes outside after a bug, after curfew, and almost gets caught by the police when a Graverobber accidentally gives her and himself away.  It is only when her father, the Repo Man, shows up and pulls rank, that she is saved.  Rotti Largo hears about this and remember how he was in love with the Repo Man’s wife before she met him, and how is broke his heart.  He comes up with an detailed scheme for one last bit of revenge on the Repo Man.  He sets up Shilo, who has daddy issues, to become the new head of his company.

The acting in this film is fun for a musical.  Anthony Stewart Head, from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, takes on the lead role of the Repo Man.  In terms of acting talent, he is quite good, and his voice is extremely good from having done The Rocky Horror Show on stage and a musical episode of Buffy.  He comes off a caring and broken, which is why his character becomes a Repo Man in the first place.  Shilo is played by Alexa Vega.  She is a young actress who isn’t all that bad.  She has a solid quality to her voice and while her acting isn’t on par with Anthony Stewart Head, her performance is entertaining.  Paris Hilton, Bill Moseley, and Nivek Ogre are the children or Rotti Largo.  Hilton actually isn’t that bad in this role, her acting is acting like a stuck up brat, and being that she is a stuck up brat in real life.  Moseley and Ogre offer strong performances and are definitely creepy.  Sarah Brightman, playing a character I don’t mention, Blind Mag, , Brightman has an outstanding voice and is known more for her voice then her acting talent.  Her voice is simply beautiful.  Paul Sorvino shows up in a few other films and he has gives a good performance.

Visually this film is very good.  Darren Lynn Bousman directs this film, he has ties to some Saw films, and while the filming style doesn’t directly match, there are some levels at which they are similar and are very dark.  Darren Smith and Terrance Zdunich wrote this screenplay and have been performing this show with a couple other people (or parts of this show) across the world and when it started to draw interest people loved it, so they made a short film of it and then with Bousman they made it into a feature length.  Smith and Zdunich do a great job with music.

This is a wonderfully gothic film, so dark with little bits of horror twisted into it.  The music is very entertaining.  This film isn’t a masterpiece by any means, but overall is very enjoyable.  Everything just comes together into a film that could very easily ends up being a cult classic.  This isn’t a film that most people will like because of how off the wall it is, but it is very entertaining in how it is portrayed on the screen.

Entertainment Grade: B+

Critical Grade: D+

Overall Grade: B

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Singin’ in the Rain

April 23, 2010

Singin’ in the Rain

Singing In The Rain

Now, if you know me, you know I like my movies to be odd, and I have a couple of very odd musicals that I’m dearly in love with, The Rocky Horror Picture Show and Repo! The Genetic Opera, but Singin’ in the Rain might be my favorite musical of all time.  It is an up tempo happy story of the struggle from silent film into the world of sound films that just pumps off of the screen.  This isn’t only just a fun film, it is also extremely well made.

As I’ve said about the story, it is about the transition from silent films to sound films and the struggle that a production company faces.  Don Lockwood was a relative unknown stuntman who had the good fortune of running into Lina Lockwood on the set of a film and falling for her a little.  He was able to use this to propel himself and his buddy, Cosmo Brown, into the real world of show business.  For years in their silent films Don Lockwood and Lina Lamont have been playing a love interest in silent films and people still expect to see their pairing together for the new sound films.  As Lockwood adapts developing a great voice for film, Lina Lamont simply doesn’t have to chops.  As their last silent film is bombing, Lockwood has to escape a throng of fans and he ends up escaping them with the help of Kathy Seldon.  Sorry, this part of my story telling is really scatter shot and not flowing extremely smoothly.  Lockwood ends up falling for Seldon, even though their romance has to be kept a secret because even back then the news loved celebrity gossip and all the rumors were that Lamont and Lockwood were romantically linked.  When the studio finally agrees that Lamont has a terrible voice Lockwood suggests having Seldon take over for her.  A young up and coming actress, and he actually is interested in her.  This idea seem good until Lamont points out her contract gives her a lot of power and they really can’t do that, so Seldon is just slipped in to do voice over work.  This causes a rough patch in the Seldon and Lockwood budding romance.  It isn’t until the premiere of the film, that Lamont decides to take it one step too far lip syncing up on stage, while Seldon, behind the curtain actually is singing.  Lockwood, with the help of Cosmo, raise the curtain and bring down Lamont’s career, start Seldon’s career, and the secret romance isn’t a secret anymore.

Gene Kelly is one of the two biggest starts of musicals at that point in time, and it was either him or Fred Astaire that people would go to see dance and sing their way across the silver screen.  And there is a good reason for that, he gives an extremely entertaining performance as Don Lockwood.  Debbie Reynolds and Donald O’Connor star opposite of him.  Reynolds does a very good job as Kathy Seldon.  And O’Connor does an amazing job providing the comic relief as Cosmo Brown.  There are several points in time, especially early in the film with the number “Make Them Laugh” that O’Connor steals the show from Kelly with his “off the wall” slapstick humor.  Jean Hagen plays Lina Lamont and does a good job filling in that bitchy role.  All of the cast is very solid and entertaining and have talent with actual voices.  Hagen went on to act in many more films that weren’t silent.  They all did their own singing as well, for the most part, in this film, and they do a very good job of it.  Oddly enough the only scene where Debbie Reynolds doesn’t do her own singing is at the end when she is singing behind the curtain.  So at that point she was lip syncing for someone lip syncing while someone else actually sang, very confusing bit of trivia there.

Gene Kelly pairs with Stanley Donan to make this film.  They do a very good job with everything that is shot getting a great performances out of their actors and portraying it in an entertaining way.  This film is made more impressive by the fact that the songs weren’t written for this story.  Singin’ in the Rain, the title song had been used in films before and most of the other songs had as well.  MGM decided that they wanted to take the most popular songs and put them into one musical so the writers had to create the story around the songs, which is backwards from how it is generally done.  This offered challenges in and of itself as the songs didn’t always go together all that well.

Overall this is a highly entertaining film.  You do really laugh in this film, feel bad when Lamont puts Seldon behind the scenes in her power play, and feel much of the emotions that are portrayed in this film.  It is a musical though, and while it is always in the top 100 films by AFI (and always the top musical), not enough people have seen it because musicals aren’t in style anymore and with a few exceptions are rarely made anymore or make it big.  This one shouldn’t get looked down upon because it was a musical (and musicals were huge when this film came out) as it still offers a ton for the current audience to enjoy, even if you aren’t the biggest fan of musicals.

Entertainment Grade: A-

Critical Grade: A

Overall Grade: A