It’s called a genre, dude: Musicals

The draft for this is almost one year old now but I always wanted to do it because, genres are a good way to categorize one’s likes and dislikes (there should, of course, always be exceptions to any rule), and also because I LOVE MUSICALS!

I am not even sure when it started. I have a feeling that Barbra Streisand had something to do with it, then again I loved Judy Garland before I even knew there was Barbra Streisand (and yes, my cd-collection looks very gay).

There always seems to have been musicals around. I remember watching “Grease” with the whole family on a Sunday afternoon. I remember getting up in the middle of the night because some channel or other showed a classic musical at 1 a.m. (and by classic, I mean a Warner Bros. from the 30s or an MGM from the 40s). I bought The Wizard of Oz on video after seeing it once on tv – it was one of my first videos ever (I still haven’t got it on DVD, though, shame on me).

What I like most about the genre is the inhibition with which the actors (singers, dancers) erupt into song and dance. By the way it is almost always taken for granted by everybody around that people should sing and dance on the street. I love musical numbers because they tell a story, they tell us how a person feels, they have an artificiality about them that is almost always sappy but heartfelt. And what great songs have been written by people like Rogers & Hammerstein, Harold Arlen, Irving Berlin, and, of course, Cole Porter. Don’t think, I don’t know more but these for me are the best (I hate men from Kiss Me Kate comes straight from the heart…).

(I just read that Kathryn Grayson died about a year ago. I bow to her talent, she made musicals colorful. I really loved her Katherine Minola.)

Strangely enough, I have only four musicals on dvd that I constantly watch and rewatch and they are not the classics one might suspect. I don’t know why these in particular, they are neither the best musicals ever nor are they very similar to each other. I enjoy them because they are fun, and trashy, and have great actors in them (some of them are not even good singers). They are not my favorites, they are just the ones I have around and cannot get around:

The music is good, the actors are good, the film is fun… and I love the message, especially in a world that sometimes denies that racism still exists or where it is just glossied over, this is important. But the main attractions of it are:

Exhibit A.

And exhibit B.

And then there’s:

And there is, of course, no question why I love this so much. It’s queer. It’s so 80s. It’s about AIDS (or HIV) and yes, I still think that’s an important topic and another one we should not be silent about. And it’s got lesbians in it (and it’s a bonus that they are played by Idina Menzel and Tracie Thoms.

And:

Oh, the music! It’s brilliant, though not conventional. And Johnny Depp has not the worst voice ever, and Helena Bonham Carter… well, she is one of my all-time favorite actresses, she’s simply devine in everything she does. I am fan.

And here’s a woman who can really wear those sun-glasses… the movie also has some other Potter-Alumni: Rickman and Timothy Spall. And it has in an absolutely insignificant role: Anthony Head (that’s Sir Giles to you!).

And last and probably least:

Yes, I am the one person you know that is over 17 and admits to having High School Musical on DVD (only the first on, mind you, the second was bullocks, though I will probably own the third one at some point).

It’s not really anyone in particular but I really like Sharpay (that girl’s got sass) and Taylor (she’s got all the brains of the group, how could I not love like her). Also, I like that the girls have already been together in The Suite Life of Zack & Cody (and no, there is absolutely nothing I feel embarrassed about having watched andam  sometimes still watching).

Musicals make people feel good. And, what is more important, it makes me feel good. Sometimes I pretend I live in a musical and sing along with my MP3-player but people tend to look at you somehow irritated when you do that… not that it stops me but… hey, it’s just music. I know, I am no Barbra Streisand but hell, Yentl is one of my favorites.

So, this is musicals (which has little to do with Bollywood and/or Andrew Lloyd Webber!). Sing and dance on!

Ginger Rogers & Fred Astaire

Eleanor Powell (we share a birthday)

Judy Garland & Gene Kelly

Bill Bojangles Robinson.

For me the best dancers Hollywood ever had…

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The Tourist

The Tourist (2010) by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck

I don’t know why it is that I have such problems posting about movies starring Angelina Jolie. I guess, I am starting to ramble much in presence of beautiful women and Angelina is stunning…

That said I may be able to continue, then again, this movie plays on her beauty, to her beauty. There is not a minute in this movie where a man does not look at her, after her. She is object of this movie, all scenes play toward her. It’s in your face! And this is something I do not necessarily like, maybe because it is a heterosexist way to portray her since it’s only man looking at her and the women look rather jealously than lustfully at her (which is ridiculous). It also makes the female viewer (and lesbian viewer) painfully aware of Laura Mulvey’s concept of every perception at movies being male perspectives. Though I don’t necessarily agree with Mulvey this movies seems to do so.

It does not look at Johnny Depp as an object (though some of the female viewers might), that is. But okay, enough of the academic analysis and let me say that I enjoyed the movie. Simply because there was nothing that was not enjoyable. The tone was light, the plot not too difficult to figure out, there were references to movies past (though Johnny Depp is not really a Cary Grant-character).

Maybe the movie treaded too carefully at times but then, I would not know what to do differently (unless maybe to have women ogle Angelina, and her wearing some snug jeans, but that’s just something I would have any attractive woman wear in movies). The movie is harmless, it does not make a deep impression, but it will probably make a lot of money (especially on the European market, we so love to see ourselves represented in American films!).

The reason I watched it was Angelina herself. I had already watched the trailer several times and it did not impress me that much though I would usually watch anything with Angelina in it. Still, I did not plan to watch this one. But I was coincidentally (yeah, this happens to me sometimes) near the movie theater in Berlin where the premiere was on Tuesday, and I happened to see the tip of her hair – twice… there were too many people in between us to really see her but… y’know, just the knowledge that there were only a couple of meters between us… it’s pathetic really but it is also uplifting to be so near someone you have admired so long and usually only see on the screen or staring from tabloid covers… so, yeah, I wanted to see what the fuss was about and went to see it the very next day. I couldn’t help myself but I guess that’s what these premieres are for… I wasn’t prepared, though, for the overindulgence of Angelina Jolie I got from this movie. Sometimes less is more, y’know.

Halloween Galore: A Nightmare on Elm Street

A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) by Wes Craven

I don’t know if you knew but I L.O.V.E. horror movies – that is horror stories. Ever since I started reading Stephen King’s IT (it was the German version back then) for the first time when I was ten I simply am fascinated, enchanted, hypnotized and amused by horror stories.

So, what better to do on Halloween than watching a classic (well, not in the I-am-watching-a-silent-horror-movie-way, more in the I-am-impressed-with-how-Wes-Craven-reinvented-horror-movies-during-the-80s-way classic)? I went for A Nightmare on Elm Street since it was the only movie from that time that the vid shop had – the vid shop in my hometown is a really good one, they usually have all the wonderfully disturbing 80s nostalgia I can watch but my guess is that there is not a one horror fan among the guys (it is only guys) who work there so it is mainly remakes of the good ones….

I have watched it before (I remember my sister obsessing over Johnny Depp when he was on 21 Jump Street and her forcing me to watch it as side-effect of this obsession since she was too much of a coward to watch it alone) but didn’t remember much of it. What is always the most fascinating is the back-story: where does the monster/human turned serial-killer come from? What’s his (and let’s face it, it is usually a HE) story?

And, of course, it makes perfect sense that Fred Krueger comes back to haunt the dreams of the kids of the people who have killed him. I guess, I should have inserted a spoiler warning but, honestly, has anyone not seen this movie? Or at least the remake?

I am usually not against remakes of horror movies. The original The Texas Chainsaw Messacre, for example, was forbidden in Germany until after the remake got released on DVD. So I went to watch the remake. Still, when I read about the remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street some time back I thought: Without Robert Englund? You must be joking!

I guess there are some actors we will always link to a certain role they played and the role back to that actor/actress. I haven’t seen that many original horror movies from the 80s because I didn’t know back when that I loved horror stories (I only found out these last five years when all the remakes emerged and I watched them all, that I may be a little twisted that way).

I am pretty much hooked on horror… and if only for the reason that most horror movies make better comedies than movies advertised as comedies…

Alice in Wonderland – or getting 3D-ed

Alice in Wonderland (3D) (2010) by Tim Burton

I should probably start by saying that I have never read Lewis Carroll’s stories about Alice. I am aware there are two, I am aware that they exist, never read, only ever watched. But I am willing to read them should the opportunity occur.

I like Burton’s take on the old story (just like I liked Ridley Scott’s new take on another old story) though something was lacking. In another review about the movie (http://www.afterellen.com/blog/afterelton/review-of-alice-in-wonderland) it was said that it lacks heart. I agree though I don’t share the opinion that the mad hatter is just another Edward Scissorhands. Still, the story shows maybe a little too much enthusiasm for Johnny Depp’s character. Having gone through early resentment of that actor in his 21 Jump Street-days I have come to like him – especially in Burton-films.

Where there is too much Johnny Depp there is too little Helena Bonham Carter. I love that woman. One of the finest actresses ever to come to Hollywood over the big pond and she nails the character of the Queen of Hearts like she does every other role. (I have been a fan of hers since Howard’s End, she’s just brillant!)

My sister commented on Anne Hathaway’s character that she appears to be on dope and I quite agree. Not her best performance in all but I still like her.

What I did not like and have a hard time to come to terms with is 3D. It made complete sense in Avatar, I was glad that Scott did not use it for Robin Hood, and with Alice in Wonderland it seems to have been just another distraction from the story. Maybe it is because I am wearing glasses and another set of them does not make me really happy but I really think that it is mostly much ado about nothing. As I said, it was nice in Avatar because of this wonderful new world of Pandora but I do not think that every other movie has to have it and am honestly surprised that it is seemingly only discovered by Hollywood now. I mean, it has been around for some time, right? Why all that hype now? I don’t get it.

I guess, I don’t have to. But, honestly, dance movies in 3D? Animated movies in 3D? Not for me, thank you very much. I am very happy with 2-dimensional views of my favorites.