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Tue Dec 14, 2021, 03:04 AM

*Remake DU Post* - follow-up after seeing West Side Story. SPOILERphobes do not click here!

Last edited Wed Dec 15, 2021, 12:35 PM - Edit history (11)

Beware: Am gonna see and judge the West Side Story remake tomorrow. It's already tomorrow.
#1 - no screwing around with Lenny's music. The rest largely moot, visual impact. See #1. *END O.P.*

****If WSS can be remade, a DU post can, too!1 Here follow my review/impressions after seeing it.

MOVIE REVIEW: Only the 4th time since 2000 to see a movie in a theater. The others were Gladiator, Fahrenheit 9/11, and Gaga's Star/Born. So theaters are not normal to me, strange experience. This time more so, the big techno experience - computerized check-in, select seat on a 'puter screen - I've never understood the seating charts in venues, had to ask which way was the SCREEN to get back away from it, and picked what I thought was fairly far back. A couple of other elderly (rented?) Closed Caption contraptions looking like architect lamps. Strange, the TIME for my feature in the lobby was an hour and a half different from my feature on the internet. I asked the usher kid why I was at the wrong time and he had zero idea. Looking around, I saw MY feature at the far end of the lobby at another entrance. Fine. So my time was for 11:45 A.M. and on a Tuesday and in a week before the schoolkids are on the loose. My fellow audience members were a half dozen elderly ladies, all of us with the same scheduling principles. Trekking into the seating area, gosh, STEEP steps straight up, in the DARK, me grasping onto the handrail and all hunched over with the other hand flung toward anything on the other side, like a gorilla. Finally got to an almost top level and to my seat in the center - yet the gigantic screen was still in my face. Wow, armchair seats, but curved lumbar seatback and a cushion or pillow would have been appreciated by my lumbar, feet barely reaching the floor. And the *VOLUME* was expectedly deafening, at least during the previews, with the heavy armchair actually VIBRATING. During the movie, the sound was fine. Made it all the way to a convenient place in the movie to have to go pee, perfect because when I got back Officer KRUPKE was just starting.

And that's my REVIEW ------------------HAHA!1 No, here it comes:

*I* - Remakes, trepidations, misgivings

The few movies in my lifetime (let's say "50" tops), like my music, have to be HITS, epic, spectacular. No, those four I mentioned seeing in a theater are not representative of those criteria, except almost Gladiator. I've seen almost my total on DVD. Things like WSS hit a chord, so to speak, have a special place, are a complex of what's on the screen and the immense personal impact in a mass of what was going on in my life at the time. Besides WSS the movie, BERNSTEIN's *music* was the the absolute wonder. I saw the movie a couple of times, perhaps pieces of it several times, but heard the soundtrack a zillion times. The movie was fine, but the music is fantastic. Speaking of spoilers, seeing a movie after the first time is like a spoiler, no? SPIELBERG has said it was the SOUNDTRACK he's heard since he was age ten that has been THE thing for him. So why remake the movie? To make it "better", more real/authentic, like buying a new water heater just for the sake of UPDATING even before it breaks down? STREISAND and Gaga's Star Is Born weren't better than GARLAND's. And nobody better remake Lawrence of Arabia.
And speaking of "spoilers," what is the original version of something if not a spoiler for the new one? So here's a spoiler, anybody who saw the first movie will know what this one is like. And by the way, it was disclosed from the very start of the first version that it was a retooling of Romeo/Juliet. And SHAKESPEARE was not nothing if not a retooler of previous texts and plots. As a poster below provided the reasons for remaking classics - making it better, for respect - yeah, so the first movie/play was actually a remake of SHAKESPEARE who had done his own remaking of other source material.
And every generation has its own lens for seeing its present and the past. This one (the one after mine) wants Race-gender representations, applying mostly to the visual arts no? since textual things from the past can't really be re-written. So is every movie or stage play going to be re-cast with Race-gender actors? Or are all dramas and comedies going to be remade as musicals? I say that things are their own thing of their own time.

*II* - My actual "Review"

The one and almost only thing that matters to me for this product is BERNSTEIN's music. And as another poster below reported, in this version, *LENNY's MUSIC IS INTACT!* The music itself made me tear up in places, which is not frequent or common for me about anything. The actors grew on me and actually got me to tear up towards the end. Given my approach to movies, I had to see it but will not see it more than I did the first one.

*III* - Nitpicking

Most of the pre-publicity gave me misgivings about the cast. Just the faces from the first one are branded in my brain and these replacements seemed to lack the gravitas. Well, the leads grew on me towards the end, although the Tony dude barely overcame the too-nice-guy aura, making it hard to believe that he had almost killed before and was in prison for a year and finally *did* kill Bernardo.
The beginning scenes had a hair or two in the soup - sort of hokey 1950s dialog and the "Cool" patina of trying too hard. Despite being about the 1950s when Robert MOSES was tearing down neighborhoods to make way for Lincoln Center or his other nefarious reasons - a specific PERIOD piece - it seemed dated. PERIOD pieces evoke the PERIOD without seeming DATED.
Which brings up the "remake" issue again: SPIELBERG and his partners have made it clear they based this on the original stage version, not the movie. This explains some things that seemed like kinks/distractions to me: First, the dialog. Then the lots of "snappy" body movements, heads snapping, pivoting, stage dance moves, faces turning to and fro each other - am talking here outside of the choreographed dance routines. And to answer a poster from a few days ago, yes they DO do the finger-snapping.
Plus, this action didn't seem to FLOW as much as what I remember about the first movie, faster plot and more jerky. possibly because of the stage version. The ending funeral procession was stage jerky, not flowing, less feeling.

And the current cultural issue we have now about actors portraying racial/ethnic/gender roles. I come down on the side that acting means portraying a character separate from who the actor is. Yes, Laurence OLIVIER did Blackface in doing Othello. Should a great actor be barred from a great role based on appearance? Do the words in the play saying Othello was Black convey *enough* without the visual?
How far back to go in an actor's ethnic background to qualify them as authentic enough? And who says it makes their acting good enough? I thought I would have to be careful about using the "woke" word, but have not needed to: If the main principle for this version was to cast it wokely, the results in the finished product were barely noticeable, negligible, therefore unimportant.
I thought I would be comparing Natalie WOOD in this movie, but didn't, but always will see her face first. I thoroughly disliked how they staged "I Feel Pretty" despite that the music and singing were fine. And I didn't like this new Anita, who seemed stiff and jerky maybe because of the staginess, liked Rita's Anita much better, and DISLIKED Rita in this movie. So there.

*IV* - My bottom line:

The music is *ALL* for me and, repeating, it is INTACT. I will probably not see this movie version any more than I have seen the first one, but will probably hear the soundtrack just as much as anytime before, perhaps not specifically in this version, just on whatever symphonic video that pops down my road.

The story line is a known quantity. It. has. been. DONE. including by SHAKESPEARE, who had everything (gangs, lovers, plot twists/misunderstandings). I don't think it should get any Oscars except perhaps for visual effects or whatever it's called, cinematography - the cast of thousands on the streets, the rebuilding of blocks and blocks of 1950s NYC ? Now I'm bracing for the new Cabaret stage version with Jessie BUCKLEY and Eddie REDMAYNE, whoever they are, if I live to see a movie version. They're getting rave reviews.

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Reply *Remake DU Post* - follow-up after seeing West Side Story. SPOILERphobes do not click here! (Original post)
UTUSN Dec 2021 OP
TreasonousBastard Dec 2021 #1
UTUSN Dec 2021 #5
UTUSN Dec 2021 #6
RandySF Dec 2021 #2
UTUSN Dec 2021 #8
Kablooie Dec 2021 #3
UTUSN Dec 2021 #7
Scrivener7 Dec 2021 #4

Response to UTUSN (Original post)

Tue Dec 14, 2021, 03:17 AM

1. Ya know, some people redo a classic when they think they...

can do it better. Others go for it out of respect for the ones that started it.

Considering who's involved, I prefer to believe the latter.

We've had stage and film versions already. I'm assuming this one will be as good

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Response to TreasonousBastard (Reply #1)

Wed Dec 15, 2021, 01:34 AM

6. Have edited the O.P. for my "review" seeing it.

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Response to UTUSN (Original post)

Tue Dec 14, 2021, 03:27 AM

2. I'm reading great things.

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Response to RandySF (Reply #2)

Wed Dec 15, 2021, 02:58 AM

8. Production, scenery, sound techno quality all updated, overall the same.

Like buying a water heater for updating, not because the old one broke.

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Response to UTUSN (Original post)

Tue Dec 14, 2021, 03:52 AM

3. The music is all intact ...

other than a few vamps a little longer than the original to cover some new business.

The dialog is modified and some of the musical numbers are shifted around in where they occur but they remain the same and work well with the story. There is one exception where a song is given to a different character to sing but I think you'll still like it.

Spielberg said they based it on the original stage version, not the movie version which was directed by a friend of his.

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Response to Kablooie (Reply #3)

Wed Dec 15, 2021, 01:35 AM

7. "The music is all intact" - yip, thanks. That was my main concern.

Last edited Wed Dec 15, 2021, 12:21 PM - Edit history (1)

And it can be heard as played by any fine orchestra and sound quality on YouTube. Not "better" than a remaster of the other movie. No need to make an effort to seek this version out.

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Response to UTUSN (Original post)

Tue Dec 14, 2021, 09:02 AM

4. I'm waiting for the Denzel Washington/Francis McDormand MacBeth to go back to a theater.

That thing looks epic. I can't wait for it.

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