There's no mistaking that "Cyrano" is among the year's best films...that year being 2021. Despite it's late February 2022 release, "Cyrano" was considered as a 2021 movie, which led it to garner some awards, like being named the overall Best Picture winner by the Detroit Film Critics Society...our group also named its star Peter Dinklage as Best Actor.
It's finally arriving in theaters, and I urge you to consider seeing it on the big-screen.
It's more than a challenging task to remake a movie that is already known to be a classic, but if anyone can pull it off, it's Steven Spielberg.
The iconic musical "West Side Story" was the highest-grossing film of 1961, earning 12 Oscar nominations (winning 11 of them including Best Picture), and set a new standard for what the movie musical could be.
The good news is that any fans of the original will most likely love what Spielberg has done, creating a splendid cinematic doppleganger while maintaining much of the 1961 film's charm, not to mention its rough - or what could be considered to be "outdated" - edges.
It doesn't quite justify an answer to the overriding question some might have though: Why? Why remake "West Side Story"?
If Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda is capable of doing anything wrong, he's yet to prove it. His directorial debut, "tick, tick...BOOM!" is a gloriously energetic ode to the theater, and one of its greatest creative minds, Jonathan Larson, the one-of-a-kind talent who gave us "Rent."
Before you go off ready to hand this year's Oscar to Will Smith or Benedict Cumberbatch, don't sleep on Andrew Garfield. He is an absolute firecracker as Larson and a commanding screen presence who single-handedly energizes each frame he's in. This is a crackling performance in an equally impressive film...one of the best of 2021 for sure ("tick, tick...BOOM!" is streaming on Netflix starting 11/19/21).
Full disclosure: I have not seen the Tony-winning stage version of "Dear Evan Hansen." But judging by the movie version, I now have no desire to.
A 27-year-old Ben Platt - playing a high school senior and reprising his original role from the play - is the least of the film's problems. There isn't a note of truth in this misguided adaptation, so without ever having seen the play, I can plainly tell you that this film does not do the original material any justice.
One of the most delightful, impressive, heart-warming and optimistic productions you will ever witness comes to Apple TV+ this weekend. "Come From Away" is a Tony-winning musical that was filmed and made into a movie (just like "Hamilton" was for Disney+ in 2020), and it comes just in time for the 20-year anniversary of 9/11.
Yes, the "feel good" movie of the year centers around one of the worst, horrific tragedies in American history, and if there was ever something that this divided nation should be able to agree on, it's that "Come From Away" is an absolute treasure and should be seen by every American...despite it taking place in Newfoundland, Canada.
Surprisingly, the key to understanding the ambitious rock opera, "Annette," might be found in a documentary that came out earlier this year. That doc, "The Sparks Brothers," was about the 80s rock band Sparks, made up of brothers Russell and Ron Mael, whose quirky lyrics, music videos and rhythms led them to becoming one of the most influential bands of that decade, despite having never existed in the mainstream.
To call them and their music "eccentric" doesn't quite describe it. But their documentary is a good primer to trying to understand "Annette" - music and script by the Mael brothers - which is a film that by-and-large will not connect with most common movie-goers, and is even so bonkers and "out there" that it hasn't even been a sure-thing with critics either (as of this writing, it's clinging to a "Fresh" score of 70% on RottenTomatoes).
If you've seen "The Sparks Brothers," it may help get you close to the wavelength in which "Annette" exists, but even then, it's an over-long, showy and mostly hollow musical, kept interesting in spite of the Maels, not because of them. That's because one of the finest actors of his generation, Adam Driver, delivers one of the most boldly dedicated performances of his career, giving us an anchor of emotion in a sea of lunacy.
A play like "Hamilton" is a one-in-a-million sort of production. From the original cast to the costumes and choreography, to the unprecedented word-play and unforgettable lyrics from the mind of Lin-Manuel Miranda, to its cultural significance, "Hamilton" was lightning in a bottle...the stage play of our time and one of the few creations in the history of the stage or cinema that cannot be over-hyped regardless of how much praise is heaped upon it. It really is that good.
But before "Hamilton," there was "In the Heights," the debut production from Miranda that he originally wrote his sophomore year in college back in 1999. The play finally reached Broadway, from 2008 to 2011, scoring 13 Tony nominations (winning four, including Best Original Score for Miranda, the youngest recipient ever to win the category).
Now after a full year of postponements due to COVID-19, the big-screen adaptation of "In the Heights" reaches theaters (it is also available to stream on HBO Max). If you're familiar with "Hamilton," you know that "In the Heights" is a lesser overall production...how could it not be? But on its own it's a rich celebration of the immigrant experience in America, and one of the most joyous, unapologetic and optimistic films in quite some time.
"In the Heights" is no "Hamilton," but that is just fine.
There's no denying that "The Prom" is fun, bright and colorful. But while the celebration is in full-swing, one too many missteps leave this dance falling flat.
While their motto of "be excellent to each other" couldn't come at a better time for our country, Bill & Ted's latest adventure/journey/romp is so awful, so painful and so inexplicable, it only makes sense that it is being released in 2020.
I'll start with the headline: I have COVID-19. I tested positive along with my wife and three-year-old son, and life has been brutal, scary and exhausting ever since.
Even still, watching movies from bed has been a saving grace...a much-needed therapeutic that has granted me some level of sanity and feelings of normalcy. My wife and son - thanks be to God or whatever other guiding forces willing to listen - have reacted much more mildly than me thus far...I have definitely gotten the worst of it. And whether this is a momentary plateau, or a sign that I am turning the corner, I wanted to catch up on some of the films that I've been able to view over the past few weeks but haven't quite had the chance to review.
Instead of "full reviews" of each of these films, all with separate articles, I've instead consolidated more shallow dives than usual into each recent film and have lumped them all together into this one piece. I wish I could do more, and give each movie the same thoughtful consideration that I try to bring to all of my written reviews. But I needed to write, for my own sake. And this is hopefully better than nothing.
I hope to be back on track soon, fully invested into this dream job of mine. But in the meantime, please bear with me as I give you a few "drive-by" reactions to some of the latest movies that are seeing release this weekend, or may have been released on past weekends. Here goes it. And thanks for your continued support.
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