Category Archives: Musical

Rock of Ages

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Release Date: June 15, 2012
Runtime: 123 minutes
Rating: PG-13
Studio: Warner Bros. / New Line Cinema
Director: Adam Shankman
Cast: Julianne Hough; Diego Boneta; Alec Baldwin; Russell Brand; Paul Giamatti; Catherine Zeta-Jones; Bryan Cranston; Malin Akerman; Mary J. Blige; Tom Cruise

The Broadway musical upon which this movie is based, while not great art by any stretch, is better. Period. Adam Shankman’s adaptation of the hit jukebox musical that’s been rockin’ the Helen Hayes Theatre for years, has style and some fun performances, but this show really doesn’t translate well to film. I think the main reason is this: these songs (“Don’t Stop Believin,’” “Sister Christian,” “We’re Not Gonna Take It”) are the types of rock anthems that are best heard live, blaring through speakers at deafening decibels, sung by singers who look like their vocal chords are about to pop out of their necks! Continue reading

Graffiti Bridge

It’s Flashback Friday!

This Week’s Flashback Movie….

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Release Date: November 2, 1990
Runtime: 95 minutes
Rating: PG-13
Studio: Warner Bros.
Director: Prince
Cast: Prince; Morris Day; Ingrid Chavez; Jerome Benton; Mavis Staples; Tevin Campbell

[SPOILERS]

Prince is an extremely talented guy. His music and his moves are hallmarks of the 1980s. “Graffiti Bridge,” his unofficial 1990 sequel to his seminal 1984 hit “Purple Rain,” will not dissuade anyone from thinking as much. His prowess as a filmmaker, however, is another story. Continue reading

Showgirls

Showgirls

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Release Date: September 22, 1995
Runtime: 131 minutes
Rating: NC-17
Studio: United Artists (MGM)
Director: Paul Verhoeven
Cast: Elizabeth Berkley; Kyle MacLachlan; Gina Gershon; Gina Ravera; Glenn Plummer; Alan Rachins

Let’s not bullshit each other, folks. You know you love this boondoggle of a flick from 1995, to date the most widely released NC-17 movie ever produced. Yes, it is far from a perfect film, the final print perhaps not representing what most of the actors, if not the production team, had envisioned when they initially signed on. That is arguably the precise reason why “Showgirls” has achieved the kind of rarified cult status that puts it in the same company as “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” “Mommie Dearest,” “Beyond the Valley of the Dolls,” among others. Continue reading

Streets of Fire

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Release Date: June 1, 1984
Runtime: 93 minutes
Rating: R
Studio: Universal Pictures
Director: Walter Hill
Cast: Michael Pare; Diane Lane; Willem Dafoe; Rick Moranis; Deborah Van Valkenburgh; Amy Madigan

[POSSIBLE SPOILERS]

Although this film is pure 80’s in the music, it’s a throwback to 1950’s ‘good-guys vs. bad-guys movies’ in plot, dialogue and costumes.  Adopting the tone and visual style of an old-time comic book, “Streets of Fire” clues us in to the fantasy motif right up front, by indicating that the film takes place in ‘Another time, another place.’ Continue reading

Xanadu

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Release Date: August 8, 1980
Runtime: 93 minutes
Rating: PG
Studio: Universal Pictures
Director: Robert Greenwald
Cast: Olivia Newton-John; Gene Kelly; Michael Beck

Something about this movie draws me to it.  I don’t know if it’s the fact that it was so viciously derided upon its initial release, whether it’s the tack, tack, TACKY sets and costumes, whether it’s the actually pretty likable music and “Solid Gold”-ish style dancing, or my strange obsession with the former Pan-Pacific Auditorium. Whatever the reason, I will always watch “Xanadu” with a smile…not because it’s good, but because it has a sincerity that is endearing in its naivety. Continue reading

Lost Horizon (1973)

Lost-Horizon

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Release Date: March 17, 1973
Runtime: 150 minutes (feels like it!)
Rating: G
Studio: Columbia Pictures (Sony)
Director: Charles Jarrott
Cast: Peter Finch; Liv Ullmann; John Gielgud; Sally Kellerman; George Kennedy; Michael York; Olivia Hussey; Bobby Van; James Shigeta; Charles Boyer

Hoo-boy!  Where to start with this one?

This is Ross Hunter’s infamous musical version of James Hilton’s “Lost Horizon.”  Essentially laughed off the screen in 1973, Columbia Pictures was so ashamed of this movie that they never released it on home video (until they recently decided ‘What the hell!’ and released it on DVD on October 6, 2011 – available at Amazon), even though it clearly cost a bunch of money and had some big name (for the time) stars in it.  In fact, in film circles, this cinematic dung heap is known as ‘Lost Investment.’  Ouch!! Continue reading