In a word: Magnificent
The original 1961 movie version of West Side Story, directed by Jerome Robbins, won 10 Oscars. Sixty years later, the 2021 version, directed by Steven Spielberg, will likely surpass 10. It is a fabulous picture that deserves to be considered among the greatest musical/dramas of all time.
Sadly, the big screen theaters will likely be disappointing as the movie makers and movie fans these days are watching such films on at-home large screens. The Covid19 infestation may have much to do with that. I would still urge reluctant movie-goers to give the big screen version of this epic a viewing of the real thing. West Side Story deserves that.
Among the biggest stories of the 2021 version, is Spielberg’s utter genius in reaching out the virtually thousands of young actors/singers in assembling the very best cast possible. More often than not, youngsters who won a part in the movie had little background in show biz.
The major star playing the principal role of Maria, was plucked from a plethora of some 30,000 wannabees in an effort to cast the very best of the best. New to the movie industry, that role went to Miss Rachel Zegler, now age twenty. (Remember that name) Not only is Miss Zegler simple and beautiful, she has many natural elements needed in such an important role. Besides that, she has a pure and natural singing voice. No doubt, we will be seeing a lot of her in her movie career.
Interesting to note, in the 1961 version, the primary singers, such as Natalie Wood, did not actually sing because their voices were dubbed. In the 2021 version, the voices were not dubbed.
The full cast roughly included 30 street-gang players, some adult roles, all too many to include in a brief review. However, we must tip our hat to one star who appears in both versions of the movie, sixty years separated. That would be Rita Moreno, who won an Oscar for best supporting actress in 1961. In the new version, she plays Valentina, an elder woman who interacts with the young Hispanics of New York City’s “West Side.” And, she also sings.
Special credits are owed to other players as well, one being Ansel Elgort, age 27, who wonderfully plays Tony, the “Gringo” with whom the star, Maria, has fallen in love. Another powerful actress emerged from the cast who we will surely see more often in the future. Ariana Debose plays a voluptuous Puerto Rican teen whose energy is second to none.
How will the awards be doled out from this movie? Very generous I suspect. Best director, best musical score, best set design, best acting in lead roles and supporting roles, best costumes, best cinematography, best sound, and et al. We’ll know on March 27, 2022.
Plenty of trivia, for fans interested. For example: This is Rachel Zegler’s first film role. Stephen Spielberg credits her as the greatest Maria he’s ever witnessed.
For more trivia in “West Side Story” click on link below.
West Side Story (2021) – Trivia – IMDb
In a word: Copycat
Why “copycat?” Starting in 1962, Hollywood has given us twenty-five James Bond movies. Um, make that twenty-six. However, this latest copycat fails to name James Bond as the protagonist. Rather, the newest persona for a James Bond-like character is Dwayne Johnson, the highest-paid movie actor in modern times.
Of course, just like James Bond movies, the plots and fight scenes are adorned with beautiful ladies who manage to win every confrontation against the array of tough, well-armed bad guys and good guys.
There will never be another Sean Connery.
In a word: S0S
This review can be summed up in two words: — James Bond–. That says it all. That’s all that matters.
As I began writing the review, I thought about researching more background data; actors, directors, scenery, violence, travels to foreign lands, or casting the right proportioning of whites, blacks, males, females, bullets, bombs and car crashes. After all, it is a James Bond movie.
Was there anything new, unique, exciting or daring? Probably. I’m still mulling that over. It’s tough to answer when the question asks for anything “new.”
What about the plot? That’s an important item in creating storylines. Plot?
What plot? There was no plot. Somewhere in the dialogue, the actors posed as allies and/or villains, making sure there are at least two gorgeous, gun-toting women among the pack. But the basis for the story was as clear as a London fog. In truth, the movie was a carbon copy of other James Bond movies, just an excuse for blasting more sprays from guns, bombs, crashes, and violence in general.
For film buffs who have always loved James Bond, they will enjoy this movie about as much as they enjoyed the twenty-four previous Bond movies because it is close to a carbon copy, offering lines, scenes, characters and French Horns for background music, so we can pretend we saw a new movie.
Was it done well? Actually, yes. About as good as any other. But I’d suggest future Bond releases be titled by the numbers: “26th Edition” – “27th Edition” — “28th Edition” — and so forth.
As Bond actors are concerned, Sean Connery still remains in a world by himself.
I give this movie a 6.0 out of 10.
In a word: So-So
This story could have been a great film, because it focuses on the trials and tribulations that young teens and some adults as well, struggle with while trying to be accepted by others. Or, they find a deep, dark hole somewhere because they simply cannot connect with desired friends. Often, such victims are prescribed mood and psyche medication for symptoms, as does the main character in this film.
Evan Hansen, the main character, is an anxious, isolated high-school student who aches for understanding by others. Rather, belongs amid the chaos and cruelty of the social media age of which he does not welcome. He soon embarks on a journey of self-discovery when a letter he wrote for a special exercise falls into the hands of a grieving couple whose son had taken this own life.
The story becomes more complex when two factors merge, lest I say clash, one about a struggling, unwanted teen (played deftly by Ben Platt) and two merging families which include Class A actors, Amy Adams and Julianne Moore.
That’s where the movie slows like crashing into a wall, making time for thirteen songs, not only sung intermittently by Platt, but also by other actors. That might have worked well on a Broadway stage production, but not so much in a movie. After we were forced to listen at the sixth, seventh or eighth song, I was ready to walk out.
It was only after doing more research, that I learned the show had been an award-winning musical at various venues through the country since 2015.
Had the music been melodic and pure, it may have made a difference, but in fact, most of the songs were repetitious and not very melodic. That’s an opinion by a lifelong violinist who I know.
Found in Wikipedia’s summary:
“The film’s handling of its source material, particularly how the Broadway version’s stagey aspects mixed in with the movie format, was generally not well-received. Few critics felt the transition from stage-to-screen was successful.”
But the basic story is worth telling. I hope, in five or ten years, that Hollywood would remake the movie and stick to a script only, because the purpose of the film is important and not well-adapted to the combination of drama and repetitive song productions.
I give this movie a 5.0 out of 10.
Dear Evan Hansen (2021) – IMDb
In a word: Engrossing
Though flawed in a few scenes, this is a good movie and far less complicated than most in modern times. For movie goers who rely on death-defying heroics, blood gushing, untold fights, Karate kicks, guns blasting, screaming, daredevil stunts, female breasts or the repetitive use of the “F” bomb, DO NOT SEE THIS MOVIE.
Based on a novel by N. Richard Nash, “Cry Macho” stars one-of-a-kind actor, Clint Eastwood who plays Miko, an over-the-hill rodeo star and washed-up horse breeder who, in 1978, accepts a job from an ex-boss in Texas to bring the man’s 13 year-old old son home and away from his alcoholic mom who lives in Mexico. But there’s more to the story. Crossing rural Mexico (via cars and horses ) on their way back to Texas, the unlikely pair face several unexpected and challenging obstacles. The world-weary horseman may have found his own sense of redemption by developing an unintended relationship by teaching the boy what it means to be a good man.
Simple, but deep.
The story tears at the heart in several aspects, to and including an unanticipated tender romance between the washed-up cowboy and a Mexican lady, though the two cannot speak the same language.
The real phenom is the man named Clint, who at age 91, not only plays the lead role, he also serves as screenwriter and director. Though challenged in some scenes where we can detect his fragility, we cannot escape the admiration so many have for witnessing such a high achiever who knows no limits.
Also admired, is the performance by the young actor, Eduardo Minett, age 13, who plays Rafo. Amazingly, the boy’s constant and closest pet is a rooster that is always in the boy’s company, like brothers. The following is an excerpt from the script, which I dare to include in this review:
Rafa: His name is Macho, like me. Very strong rooster.
Rafa: What’s wrong with that?
Miko: Guy wants to name his cock Macho, it’s okay by me.
Clint Eastwood has performed in over 60 movies, and won numerous awards, including two Oscars for Best Director. I doubt he’ll be retiring any time soon.
I give this movie an 8.5 rating.