Friday, March 14, 2014

My Top 10 Movie Musicals of All Time and The Week in Reviews

[I review "3 Days to Kill" and DVDs  "Jobs," " Hunger Games: Catching Fire," "Broken Circle Breakdown" and "Inside Llewyn Davis" and give you "The Book of the Week."]

But first

The American Musical is beyond compare.

The Musical is an art form that through music, song, dance and dialogue takes us away from ourselves.  It is ever changing with the times.  During the Great Depression musical comedy soothed the national soul and later, shows like "South Pacific" and "Showboat" took on social issues. But no matter what the purpose, if you leave the theater humming the tunes, it has been successful.

I know I am putting myself out on a limb here to only choose 10, because I love musicals, but if I had to choose, these are the very best.

Note that these are MOVIE musicals, not Broadway musicals. 

If I did a list of best or most important stage musicals it might be very different, e.g. "Oklahoma" would be on the list, not because I love the libretto, (also known as the "book" ), or even the music that much, but, because it was the first musical written by Rodgers and Hammerstein, and Agnes De Mille did the choreography.  Likewise, "Rent" and "A Chorus Line" would be on that list, because they were ground breakers, but not here -- those two were abominable movies.

Likewise, I am hard pressed to find new musicals that measure up to the ones produced during the "Golden Age."  With the exception of a couple such as "Les Miserables," "Phantom of the Opera" and "The Book of Mormon," recent musicals have been a disappointment.


Here are my Top Ten movie musicals
and why.

All that Jazz (1979)

What's it about?
Bob Fosse's dark autobiographical take on life and the musical.

Why it's in my top 10.
Bob Fosse and his dark take on life and the musical.

An American in Paris (1951)


What's it about?
An American in Paris, silly.

Why it's in my top ten.
Beautiful Gershwin music and the 18-minute ballet with Gene Kelly and Cyd Charisse.

Cabaret (1972)

What's it about?
The divine decadence of 1930's Berlin before the Nazis came to power.

Why it's in my top 10.
Under Bob Fosse's direction, it's truly an adult musical. Liza Minnelli aint bad either.

Funny Girl (1968)

What it's about.
The life of Fanny Brice.
Why it's in my top ten.
Barbara Streisand singing "Don't Rain on My Parade."  She's also really funny.
Gypsy (1962)
What's it about?
A domineering stage mother and her famous stripper daughter "Gypsy Rose Lee."

Why it's in my top 10? 
Rosalind Russell as Mama (and of course, the songs).

A Hard Day's Night (1964)

What it's about.
The Fab Four out on the town.

Why it's in my top ten.
It's the Beatles, Baby! 
And this film also changed a lot of young lives (see my blog "Why the Beatles Matter").

Les Miserables (2012)


What's it about?
A bunch of miserable people in a miserable time in French history.

Why it's in my top ten.
"One more day."

Singin' in the Rain (1952)

What's it about?
The difficult transition from silent films to talkies.

Why it's in my top 10.
Gene Kelly and his famous dance in the rain and Donald O'Connor giving him a run for his money with his back flips.  And who can forget, "Good morning, Good morning, rise up and greet the day, good morning, good morning, to you!"  I know my kids can't.  We sang that to them every morning when they were growing up.

West Side Story (1961)

What's it about?
A modern retelling of "Romeo and Juliet."

Why it's in my top ten.
The first of the really modern, realistic (except for the dancing in the street, of course) musicals thanks to the sophisticated, edgy and gorgeous Bernstein-Sondheim songs and score.

The Wizard of Oz (1939)

What's it about?
If you don't know, you have been living under a rock for the last 75 years.

Why it's in my top ten.
Judy Garland

What do you think?

If there are any of these you haven't seen, get thee to your local library (or Netflix)!

t will be a great way for you to spend your weekend instead of bingeing on past seasons of "Game of Thrones" or "Breaking Bad."


A dying, but still smart-ass, CIA assassin must complete one last assignment in exchange for a treatment that could save his life.
Not many movies at my local theatres that I want to see or haven't seen, so decided to try this one. 
After all, I like the occasional spy thriller, and Kevin Costner has been my secret crush ever since I saw him, dressed head to toe in Armani, playing in the
A T & T Golf Tournament at Pebble Beach (and he still looks damn good)!  

Most of the story takes place in Paris which is always a plus and there are some great action sequences (I only had my hands over my eyes a couple of times).  However, I could have done without the father-daughter subplot and even the squatters, and I never figured out why it was just "three days."  I must have let my mind wander a bit fantasizing about Kevin.

Amber Heard acquits herself well as a tough CIA agent, but I don't think this is the breakout role she needs for super stardom (see my blog "15 Really, Really Good Actors You Have Never Heard Of").
Rosy the Reviewer says...if you like action, this film has got it.  If you like smart-ass CIA agents, Costner makes a great grizzled action hero.  If you can overlook some of the plot devices, you will enjoy this. 
(Now I have to go tell Kevin he has been replaced with Chris Hemsworth as my secret crush.  I like them younger).

You Might Have Missed
And Some You Should Be Glad You Did
(I see the bad ones so you don't have to)
Jobs (2013)

The story of Steve Jobs' rise to power as one of the most innovative entrepreneurs of the 20th century.

Ashton Kutcher is surprising as the mercurial Jobs.

Rosy the Reviewer says...Not sure it sheds any new light on the man, but it's an enjoyable two hours.
 Katniss and Peeta are back for Round 2.

This just seems to be a rehash of the first movie in the series.  It must be the curse of the second installment of any trilogy.  It left you waiting for Round 3.
Rosy the Reviewer says...Hugely disappointed in this.  I hope the third one is better and wraps it all up. 

The Broken Circle Breakdown (2012)

Can a marriage withstand the death of a child? 
This Belgian film was nominated for a Best Foreign Film Academy Award this year and many critics thought it would win ("The Great Beauty" was the winner).  It's original in its theme of a Belgian couple entranced with America and American bluegrass music, and there is lots of banjo pickin' and old country music throughout.  Yes, there are European country music devotees.
However, the crux of the film is how these two deal with the death of their little girl, with the stem cell research controversy and the belief in an afterlife vs. atheism thrown in.  Will the circle be unbroken?
Rosy the Reviewer says...not sentimental, no cliches, this will tug at your heart strings.  Reminded me of "Once."  A must see.

Inside Llewyn Davis (2013)

The Coen brothers take on the New York City Village folk music scene of the early 1960's and those who struggled to make it there.
This is not the kind of story you would expect from the Coens, though their cinematic style is in evidence:  quirky characters, moody cinematography, claustrophobic interiors and dark storyline.
Supposedly based on the life of folkie Dave Van Ronk, the film is peopled with some real and some fictional characters from that period such as Jim and Jean (I was a HUGE fan of theirs and still have two of their albums) and Bob Dylan, and, in general, most of the characters are very unpleasant folks.  Newcomer Oscar Isaac sings well and does a good job with this character, a not very likable guy...unless you are a cat.  He has five projects in the works so you will be seeing more of him.
See it with "The Broken Circle Breakdown (see review above)" for an interesting counterpoint.
Rosy the Reviewer says...though an interesting film, I do not agree with some critics that it deserved to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture.  In fact, some Coen brothers fans might be disappointed in this.  But see it for yourself.  After all, it's the Coen Brothers, two of the most innovative filmmakers we have these days.
***Book of the Week***
May the Road Rise Up To Meet You (2012) by Peter Troy


Four characters from vastly different backgrounds come together with the Civil War as a backdrop.

Four parallel stories, each beautifully told from a different perspective:  an Irish immigrant, a feisty young woman of Spanish descent and two slaves.

“May the road rise up to meet you
May the wind be always at your back
May the sun shine warm upon your face
And the rain fall soft upon your fields
And until we meet again
May God hold you in the palm of his hand”
― Irish Blessings
Rosy the Reviewer says...Riveting.  A must read!
That's it for this week.


See you Tuesday for

"My Guilty Pleasures"


Thanks for reading!

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  1. Great choices on the musicals! Though I would have replaced "Les Miserables" with "My Fair Lady." :-)

    1. It was hard to choose but I just love the music of Les Miserables and wanted to include a more recent film. In the end how do you choose between Showboat, Mary Poppins, South Pacific, The King and I, Music Man...i could go on and on

  2. Great choices Rosy! I also loved Sweeney Todd and Moulin Rouge!

    1. Thanks, Caroline. I like your choices too! Rosy

  3. Is it a direct reflection of my generation that I would have added Grease to your list? :-)

    1. Not necessarily, Tamara. Grease is definitely a classic musical and the movie was a huge hit. I am just not a big fan of Grease, but I think it stems back to my daughter's musical comedy career. She was in it TOO many times! :)

    2. That is so funny - I feel that way about 'Annie,' which MY daughter was in too many times!

    3. We did "Annie" too! I dislike "Annie" now even more than "Grease!"