I am a massive fan of musicals, and find myself lucky to have been privy to the visual and auditory spectacles that is The Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables and Wicked. My intense and perhaps elusive hope is to someday see Hamilton, either when it graces the shores of Singapore or if I am lucky enough to chance upon it on my travels. Hence, it should come as no surprise that films which employ the musical genre are high on my to watch list, which is why I was psyched when I saw the trailer for A Star is Born, starring Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper.
Both these individuals prove that talent allocation is not a fair thing. Not only is Lady Gaga a talented musician, she won a Golden Globe for her performance in American Horror Story. As for Bradley Cooper, is there anything this man can’t do? Oscar nominated actor, fantastic work as a sweet rabbit and now, a director. He also sings in this. So yes, the trailer for A Star is Born has me all kinds of excited. Alas, we have to wait till October for this movie to grace our screens, in the meantime, these are good options to spend your time on if you enjoy good music and a good narrative.
I never thought I would be watching a musical movie with Keira Knightley and Mark Ruffalo. But somehow … it just works. The wonderful scenic shots of New York really cements it as a place to chase your dreams. There is this particular scene where they move through the sights of New York, listening to music together. It’s such a public yet private moment, lost in the picturesque sights of the city but also contained in their little musical bubble. I even bought an earphone splitter because I wanted to recreate that moment.
I discovered this gem of a movie when Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová performed their song “Falling Slowly” at the Oscars. The song left me awestruck. Their voices blend so well together, and they looked so … in love. I swear the chemistry swirled on stage in a magical dance as I watched them. So of course I had to watch the movie. It is so stripped down and ordinary, but this film proves that there is such beauty in ordinary life.
La La Land
I think everyone should have seen this movie by now, but believe it or not, it actually improves on multiple viewings. I know Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone have been compared to Hollywood heavyweights Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, and found to be lacking, but I honestly can’t subscribe to that view. There is something just so earnest and relatable about the both of them, and while they aren’t the best singers or dancers, they captured my attention every single moment they were on screen, together or apart. City of Stars still runs through my head on a regular basis.
Baz Luhrmann is a genius. He has this amazing ability to transport the visual spectacle that is the Broadway stage into his films, and a knack for telling a good love story. As much as the purists hated his version of Romeo and Juliet, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes, I thought it was bold and thrilling. The best way to sell Shakespeare in contemporary society is to adapt him, not mimic, and that’s what Luhrmann did. Moulin Rouge is no exception. Nicole Kidman has such an alluring beauty, and is the perfect choice to play the gorgeous Satine. Ewan McGregor compliments her perfectly, playing the giddy lovestruck poet to a T. The music is so memorable as well, with a mixture of old favorites as well as new additions. Come What May is one of my go-to karaoke songs, and I always weep a little when I listen to it.
The Last Five Years
When I was a broke, struggling student in University, I was consistently on the look out for cheap theater productions to attend. This is how I stumbled upon The Last Five Years, having no idea it was even a musical until it started. For the price I paid, it definitely felt like I had won the lottery as I watched Jamie and Cathy’s story unfold, not from the start, but from the moment of their parting. I think knowing how they end up makes this piece all the more affecting. As you watch them in all the happy moments before, it is so heartbreaking to know that all the attempts to fix, to reach a resolution, will come to naught.
Strangely, the film version, starring Anna Kendrick and Jeremy Jordan, barely made a splash when it was released. I did not even know it existed till I saw the trailer on my YouTube recommendations page, a few years after it’s release. Kendrick and Jordan are both Tony nominees, so they more than carry their own musically. Kendrick delivers a more believable performance, in part because of her more subtle delivery of emotions and a more contemporary feel to her singing. While I love Jeremy Jordan and think he has a fantastic voice, he is a little too Broadway for me in this film, and his voice sounded too dramatic at times. Still, the music alone makes this worth the watch, especially Kendrick’s poignant rendition of I’m Still Hurting.
Thanks for reading! What are your thoughts on A Star is Born and other musical movies? Comment down below!
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