Family Movie Night
By Karyn Bowman
A few weeks go, I began to talk of my favorite musicals.
Musicals were always my place for hiding when I couldn’t deal with life. And sometimes it was the place I need to go when I need a break from the real world. Maybe you do it with ice cream or potato chips or golf. Sports on TV always seem to make my husband relax after a long day.
Lately, I have been listening to the soundtrack of Hamilton. It is interesting how different styles of music are used to define different characters. The King of England uses the style of a pop love song, the three Schuyler sisters sound like pop trios from the 80s. And Mr. Hamilton is a rapper telling a complicated story. You think he is fast until you hear Marquis LaFayette.
But I have to admit at this time I think it is more important to pay my mortgage than take the family to see this award winning show. One of my friends joked that it would be less expensive for him to take a Rhine River cruise, including the cost of airfare to Germany. Until this show comes to the big screen, I need to be patient.
This made me think about some of my favorite musicals. The ones I love are energetic with saucy heroines. When the movie is done, I want to feel as if I could dance and sing for no apparent reason. I get this feeling whenever I watch Mamma Mia starring Meryl Streep and Pierce Brosnan. I like to put is on whenever I feel blue because by the end of the movie I am laughing and singing and dancing. I last watched this on the day of my colonoscopy as I recovered from the anesthesia.
I feel it is one of the great ones, not for the wonderful singing. The older guys are all a bit imperfect in an adorable manner. All cast members have such fun singing that I can forgive the imperfections I would normally rant and rave about.
That is what makes Guys and Dolls great as well. There are many great singers in the Frank Sinatra version. But Marlon Brando had never sang before in the movies. I don’t think he ever did another musical but I really liked what he did here. His voice was strong and interesting, filled with musical imperfections that makes for a great song stylist. Imperfections make a song come alive, strengthens the emotional intent.
Frank Sinatra uses his imperfections and strong accent to make his gambler sing of the misfortune of being dragged around by the nose by a doll. That is until his doll tries to make him quit the gambling life. Then his voice turns into smooth cream to keep her happy for just a while longer.
Another musical that I love to watch is Moulin Rouge! directed by Baz Lurhmann. Released in 2001, this movie crossed time periods and musical styles while telling a story of a young writer who falls in love with a beautiful courtesan. He (Ewan McGregor) sings Your Song, originally sung by Elton John, to his love despite the fact that she has to please the Count underwriting the show.
Satine (Nicole Kidman) has wonderful productions including a mash-up of Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend and Material Girl while swinging about the auditorium. Like anything by Lurhmann, the set designs are incredible and big, really big. And this re-telling of La Traviata will have you crying at the end.
A word of warning. Moulin Rouge! is not meant for small children. It is fill with sexual innuendo and direct talk. Guys and Dolls would be better but not by much. After all, we have guys talking about, and creating, a massive floating gambling game. Perhaps the younger ones would just like to watch Frozen for the umpteenth time. Who can get tired of listening to Idina Menzel over and over again?
Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.