Musical

Otto Preminger – Porgy and Bess (1959)

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A stellar line-up of African-American actors and musical stars helped to bring DuBose Heyward and Ira Gershwin’s classic operetta to this screen in this lavishly-produced adaptation. Porgy (Sidney Poitier) is a crippled man living in the shantytown of Catfish Row who has fallen in love with Bess (Dorothy Dandridge), a beautiful but troubled woman addicted to drugs. Bess is already being courted by several men, including Crown (Brock Peters), a muscular laborer, and Sportin’ Life (Sammy Davis, Jr.), a sharp-suited hipster who deals narcotics. Crown gets in a fist fight with Robbins (Joel Fluellen) and ends up killing him; Crown goes on the lam, and Bess, needing companionship, takes up with Porgy. However, Crown soon returns, and Porgy kills him in a subsequent altercation, forcing him to hide from the police. Meanwhile, the fickle Bess follows Sportin’ Life in search of the bright lights of New York City. Pearl Bailey, Diahann Carroll, Ivan Dixon, and Clarence Muse also highlight the cast; Robert McFerrin provided the singing voice of Porgy, and Adele Addison dubbed in Bess’ musical numbers. — Mark Deming Read More »

Heinz Emigholz – 2+2=22 [The Alphabet] AKA Streetscapes – Chapter 1 (2017)

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Celebrated for his rigorous films about the experience of architecture (Schindler’s Houses, Loos Ornamental), Heinz Emigholz launches a new chapter of his “Photography and Beyond” project with an ambitious four-film cycle titled “Streetscapes” (which premiered to great acclaim at the recent Berlinale). The first installment is an open-ended response to Godard’s One Plus One, which chronicled the Rolling Stones in the studio at the height of the 1960s counterculture. This 21st-century update documents the German post-rock band Kreidler at work on their album ABC in a wood-paneled hall in Tbilisi, Georgia. Throughout Emigholz cuts to shots of the city streets outside and to the briskly leafed pages of his densely illustrated notebooks, while a voiceover ruminates on the nature of art and desire. Read More »

Robert Z. Leonard – Dancing Lady (1933)

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Plot:
Janie lives to dance and will dance anywhere, even stripping in a burlesque house. Tod Newton, the rich playboy, discovers her there and helps her get a job in a real Broadway musical being directed by Patch. Tod thinks he can get what he wants from Janie, Patch thinks Janie is using her charms rather than talent to get to the top, and Janie thinks Patch is the greatest. Steve, the stage manager, has the Three Stooges helping him manage all the show girls. Fred Astaire and Nelson Eddy make appearances as famous Broadway personalities. Read More »

Júlio Bressane – Miramar (1997)

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qUOTE:
Story with some autobiographical touches taken from director’s life. Miramar is a teenager raised by his parents to be an artist. But a tragedy occurs in his life: both his parents commit suicide. He then discovers the movies, and dreams of being a director. Read More »

Jean-Luc Godard – Une Femme Est Une Femme AKA A Woman Is a Woman (1961)

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“Director Jean-Luc Godard’s deceptively blithe tribute to the musical comedy features Anna Karina as an exotic dancer who decides that it is time for her to have a child. When her lover refuses to commit to the decision, she turns her romantic attentions to his best friend. This being a Godard film, the straightforward story serves as a framework for improvisation and stylistic experimentation, allowing for odd interludes and unexpected images. Rather than the sometimes alienating, dense intellectualism of later Godard works, Une femme est une femme offers aesthetic pleasure through luxurious visuals and a charming musical score by Michel Legrand. Against this bright backdrop, Karina proves particularly fetching, capturing the film’s frolicsome mood in an unforced manner. While not one of Godard’s most groundbreaking or influential films, Une femme est une femme is one of his most appealing and pleasurable efforts.” Read More »

Danièle Huillet & Jean-Marie Straub – Moses und Aron (1975)

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In expressive, melodic tones, the fraternal pair debate God’s true message and intent for His creations, a conflict that leads their followers – in extravagantly choreographed song and dance – towards chaos and sin.

Quote:
Moses and Aaron finds Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet, through their exemplary craft, transforming a familiar Biblical tale into a borderline-surreal cinematic opera of seemingly endless possibility. In expressive, melodic tones, the fraternal pair debate God’s true message and intent for His creations, a conflict that leads their followers — in extravagantly choreographed song and dance — towards chaos and sin. Set almost entirely within a Roman amphitheater whose history lends every precise line-reading and gesture, every startling camera move and cut, a totalizing force, Straub-Huillet’s adaptation of Schoenberg’s unfinished opera opens us to the stimulating worldview of a filmmaking duo whose masterful efforts are finally coming to light. Read More »

Alan Parker – The Commitments (1991)

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Quote:
Foul-mouthed, fast-talking and very funny, this is Parker’s best to date. It’s an intentionally ‘small’ movie that treats a familiar subject (kids forming a rock band) with a deft intimacy. But as the young hopefuls from Dublin’s working-class Northside go through the round of auditions, rehearsals and gigs, it becomes clear that the film is big in heart. For Parker and his excellent, mostly non-professional cast are indeed committed to characters, milieu and music: classics from Otis, Wilson Pickett, Aretha et al. For one thing, the script precisely captures both the witty banter and the modest dreams of the streetwise kids. For another, Parker never over-emphasises the unemployment and poverty, nor does he glamorise the band. The result is a gritty, naturalistic comedy blessed with a wry, affectionate eye for the absurdities of the band’s various rivalries and ambitions; and the songs are matchless. Read More »