June 24th: Pitch Perfect

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Release Date: 2012
Director: Jason Moore
Why I picked this: Recommendation from my sister

I was initially very adamant about avoiding this film, despite many recommendations. At first glance, this simply looked like a lighter version of “Bridesmaids,” with a little bit of “Glee” mixed in. However, I am happy to report that despite a few misgivings, I overall enjoying watching this college acapella-themed film.

May 19th: Newsies

newsies

Release Date: 1992
Director: Kenny Ortega
Why I picked this: In prep for the Broadway musical; also, the family was watching it

A few memorable songs and a lot unmemorable; I really didn’t care about the story.

Okay

February 2nd: Chicago

Chicagopostercast

Release Date: 2002
Director: Rob Marshall
Why I picked this: I always love a good movie musical

It’s flashy, visually stunning, has catchy songs, and very well-acted, pretty much everything a movie musical needs to be enjoyable. The movie’s atmosphere and mise-en-scene draws you in its caricature of 1920s Chicago; it isn’t realistic, but it’s believable and lifelike. All of the movie’s musical numbers are shown in the form of a vaudeville performance, introduced by a “master of ceremonies,” and they are all well directed and choreographed. Renée Zellweger plays Roxie Hart, who aspires to be a vaudevillian, when she murders her lover when he lies about getting her a start in show business. An array of characters are introduced, including Catherine Zeta-Jones as a showgirl who too has murdered, Richard Gere as their lawyer who launches Roxie to celebrity status, Queen Latifah as the matron of the prison in which she stays in, and John C. Reilly as Roxie’s devoted husband. Zellweger is as bubbly as she was in “Down with Love,” and she and Gere give performances that seemed more attuned for the stage, but they’re great to watch, as is Queen Latifah. Zeta-Jones and Reilly were my favorite of the cast. Zeta-Jones not only does great in the musical numbers, but she gives a great performance as well. I was surprised that I sympathized with her character more than Roxie Hart. John C. Reilly plays a similar character to the naive ones he always plays, but he certainly seemed to be the most human character out of them all. He always gets the short end of the stick, and his feelings are perfectly expressed in his one musical number. The musical numbers do a great job at introducing characters and expressing their feelings. They are wonderfully directed, but they seem to extend the story rather than progress it. There are also some numbers that are blocked just like they would on a stage production and don’t take advantage of the medium of film. But there are some like the minimalist but creative “Roxie” that alleviated my concern that this was just the stage version with a camera plopped in front of it. However, by the end of the film, I didn’t feel that every character received closure, and the finale wasn’t like that of most musicals; usually, every cast member is included.

Great production design, catchy music, and memorable performances make a movie musical adaptation that (barely) succeeds in transcending its stage version to the medium of film.

January 31st: The Rocky Horror Picture Show

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Release Date: 1975
Director: Jim Sharman
Why I picked this: Its cult classic status

Boy oh boy, was I lucky to go to a midnight screening of this. If you haven’t seen “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” at midnight, in a theater, with people, preferably in costume and with an extensive knowledge of the film, then you really haven’t seen it at all. Still in limited release in some theaters, this is one of the longest standing transitions in movie watching history. “Shadow casts” with people acting out the musical numbers as they play, calling and responding to the characters in the movie, singing along, and overall audience participation are integral elements to this. I found myself enjoying the audience’s comical remarks about the movie as entertaining as the movie. It is basically a snarkfest, a friendly competition to say the wittiest comments. Often, their remarks would point out what the character is about to say, in a comical fashion (Audience member: “Describe your birth!” Character: “An accident!”) The movie itself is a fun one. It’s campy, creepy, and at sometimes, non-sensical, but it is an enjoyable ride. A newly engaged couple find themselves in the castle of Frank-n-Furter, a “sweet transvestite from Transsexual, Transylvania,” who creates a buff, almost completely naked creation named Rocky. Tim Curry as Frank-n-Furter is electric; his energy is what gives the movie life. His character decisions make little sense, but it’s hard to not enjoy his performance. The music is catchy and addicting, and the numbers themselves are very campy and energetic. The audience was basically required to do the “Time Warp” with the movie. The film’s director also directed the stage musical, but the transition from stage-to-film works. The sets are great, the camera is never static, and there are some neat images to look at. I have to say, I was very confused by the last fifteen minutes or so (Frank-n-Furter: “What happened to…” Audience member: “THE PLOT!”), but the entire ride is worth it.

This is an experience that every movie-lover must go through. The movie is weird, but the music is catchy and the story is bizzare fun. Just make sure you’re with a great audience too.