Musical

Victor Saville – First a Girl (1935)

British musical star Jessie Matthews tops the bill in this song-studded comedy. Elizabeth (Matthews) is a delivery girl for a seamstress who is dispatched to drop off some costumes at a theatre where a noted female impersonator is about to open a new show. The star is suddenly stricken with laryngitis, and Elizabeth is drafted to take over in his place, posing as a man who dresses like a woman. Elizabeth is a hit, and with Victor (Sonnie Hale) as her manager, she sets forth on a concert tour of Europe; she continues to perform as a man and draws packed houses and enthusiastic reviews. However, a mysterious Princess (Anna Lee) and her significant other get the strange feeling there’s something odd about this new singing star, and they’re determined to find out what it is. First a Girl was adapted from the German film Viktor und Viktoria, which would be remade into the American musical comedy Victor/Victoria. Read More »

Georg Wilhelm Pabst – Die 3 Groschen-Oper AKA The Threepenny Opera [+Commentary] (1931)

In London at the turn of the century, the bandit Mack the Knife marries Polly without the knowledge of her father, Peachum, the ‘king of the beggars’.
Quote:
Brecht’s opera, as we have seen, is not as ideologically pure as he would have us believe, nor is Pabst’s film as apolitical as Brecht charged. Both works are to be valued in their own right, although to my mind, Pabst’s film is ideologically more correct from a Marxist point of view. One can argue, then, that despite Brecht’s objections to the film, Pabst’s version of THE THREE PENNY OPERA is the most Brechtian film adaptation of Brecht’s work to date. Read More »

Joe May – Music in the Air (1934)

Synopsis:
Constantly quarreling couple decide to try the jealousy angle when a naive young couple comes along.

Review:
The screen edition of the Kern-Hammerstein musical play is a skillfully photographed work which includes among its ballads, songs and snatches some of the most distinguished melodies of this cinema season. From the Music Hall’s screen and also the throats of John Boles and Gloria Swanson, “Music in the Air” sends out in a high-hearted cavalcade all the gay, tender and superbly romantic lyrics which warmed the flinty heart of Broadway back in the Winter of ’32. Read More »

Albert Pyun – Road to Hell (2008)

Albert Pyun’s unofficial sequel to the 1984 rock & roll fable Streets of Fire called Road to Hell. Shot entirely on green screen.

This rare film is a strange thing. Really good and really bad, really pretty and really ugly, art and not art at all. It is entirely its own thing. A truly unique experience.

A soldier who has been fighting a long war is driven mad because he no longer believes in any purpose or righteous truth behind the killing. He comes home to a surreal world looking for his first and only love from his youth, believing she will rescue him from his demons. On the road to Edge City he encounters two seductive spree killers who oppose his efforts to find his love and the redemption he desperately seeks. Read More »

Nadezhda Kosheverova & Mikhail Shapiro – Zolushka AKA Cinderella (1947)

It is one of those happy memories of our childhood, which sometimes is better to leave untouched in order to preserve the first naive impressions. The fabulous atmosphere and unusual interpretation of the story, together with the vivid images of the characters and magnificent game of actors create the truly magnetic effect. Even though the film is shot during the times of post-war hardships, it is filled with such a kindness and sincerity that you want to watch it again and again. At this difficult time Yevgeny Shwarts, Nadezhda Kosheverova and Mikhail Shapiro managed to create a beautiful fairytale, which fills the hearts of viewers with the unforgettable sense of miracle. Read More »

Evans Chan – Sorceress of the New Piano – The Artistry of Margaret Leng Tan (2004)

Strumming the strings of a grand piano like a harp and performing Beethoven on toy piano are among the surprising scenes in Evans Chan’s documentary, Sorceress of the New Piano (2004). The film celebrates the trans-cultural career of Singapore-born, New York-based pianist Margaret Leng Tan, hailed by The New Yorker as “the diva of avant-garde pianism”. Read More »

Kwon-taek Im – Chun nyun hack AKA Across The Years AKA Beyond the Years (2007)

Synopsis:
Adopted by a nomadic pansori singer, Dong Ho (Cho Jae Hyun) and Song Hwa (Oh Jung Hae) grow up as brother and sister, bounded by a deep unspoken affection. Their father trains them strictly, and Song Hwa’s love and talent for pansori becomes both her blessing and her burden. Young and brash, Dong Ho tries to keep pace as a traditional drum player, but eventually leaves the family in search of a better life. Though in the ensuing years he encounters news places and new people, he can never forget his love for Song Hwa. Together and apart, reunion and separation, the two keep moving in different directions while restlessly chasing each other’s shadows. Dong Ho spends a lifetime trying to find a place he belongs, a way to Song Hwa’s heart. Read More »