Tuesday, March 18, 2003

Watched the movie "Chicago" last night. Very good movie! I've always liked musicals anyway: Sound of Music, Into the Woods, West Side Story, Les Miserables. I enjoyed how they integrated the spoken story with the music. Really loved Renee Zelweigger and Catherine Zita-Jones as well as Queen Latifah as the warden. Richard Gere was hard to buy as the slickster lawyer and his singing scenes weren't as enchanting. Lucy Liu was ok. I wish she could find a role that isn't just the bitchy lady. What resonated with me as well was the juxtoposition of entertainment and the court system of how it's all a show. And really trials particularly scandalous trials are a form of entertainment. Enough so we can have CourtTV 24/7 on cable. Now that's a great movie when you can be entertained and still have something to think about in the morning.

When Moulin Rouge and Chicago became hits, I read one critic who asked why Hollywood hasn't done a movie musical in a while. Well, that's quite easy. They stopped making money. When Prince came out with Purple Rain, it didn't present itself as a musical, but more a long music video. Music videos became short story versions of the movie musical. And now we're back again.

If we take a look at when movie musicals were popular (I did do a paper on this in collage). Musicals were big in the 1920s, in between the world wars, and during the depression. Many of them had themes that ran along hard on your luck characters who make it big or get lucky after going through their trials, usually monetarily. In the 40s you had the Fred Astaire type movie musicals that involved love affairs that weren't necessarily supposed to work out, but do in the end (how else to end the show with a big dance routine.) My loose theory, musicals in movies become big when we get really depressed. Economy is bad, war looming... we gotta sing and dance, and maybe it doesn't hurt so much.

The musicals, more so than regular movies, allow us to traverse the drama, comedy and song into one. Even serious musicals had light hearted moments. If you take a look at Filipino cinema, the romantic comedy runs along the lines of musical movie with at least one love song number or dance routine.

With dozens of movie musical productions in the works, we'll be seeing a new era in movie musicals. But unlike the more lighthearted ones of the Fred Astaire era, we'll probably get the darker more cynical twists like La Boheme and Chicago.

see you at the movies.

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