miki

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About miki

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    Somerville, MA U. S. A.
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    Exotic Birds, Martial Arts, Bicycling, Walking, Classic movies, Politics. West Side Story.
  1. Hi, Kami! I enjoyed your great review of West Side Story, which is my all time favorite movie. Thanks for a great and funny review. Happy New Year!!
  2. Remakes of Musicals in general

    Excellent post, Whthpnd2hllywd. Classics are what they are, and must be left alone, at all costs.
  3. Remakes of Musicals in general

    I could really see West Side Story's musical score being re-made into a junky hip-hop rap score, and a re-make of the film, as a whole, turned into a hyped-up, cheesy piece of junk, regardless of who re-made it.
  4. Remakes of Musicals in general

    Gone with the Wind and Planet of the Apes are two totally different movies, and not comparable, at all. The remake of Planet of the Apes did do poorly in the Box office; It was in the movie theatres for three weeks, and then it was gone, never to come back. That says something right there.
  5. Remakes of Musicals in general

    Frankly, I don't think that movie theatre proprietors would like more of these "lead balloons", because that would mean less money for them. If a movie is really bad, people generally won't go.
  6. Most Beautiful Musical Moments

    Musicals, in general, are a fabulous and fascinating kind of theatre, due to the fact that they often have singing, speaking and, in some cases, even dancing. Here's my list of what musicals are the most beautiful to me: West Side Story--on both screen and stage. My all time favorite movie--hands down, as well. The other musicals I'm listing are in no particular order: My Fair Lady; the movie was okay, but I liked the stage version a great deal better. I liked the "With a Little Bit of Luck" number. Sound of Music: inspired by an intense but true story, this too, is a very good movie musical. I never saw it live, however. The song, Climb Every Mountain is my favorite song in the whole movie, because it delivers a powerful message of how one needs to believe in him/herself, look for and follow their dreams, and when they find their dreams, give them all the love one has. Mary Poppins: Never saw it on stage, but it was a fun film, nonetheless. I saw the movie in the 8th grade, back in the fall of 1964. Godspell: Saw the stage play of Godspell twice; once here in Boston and the other time in London. A fun musical all around. I didn't like the movie version of Godspell very much, however. Showboat: Another beautiful musical. Saw the stage play in London many years ago. The song "Ole Man River" was my favorite moment in "Showboat". I also saw a TV airing of the 1930's film version, with a young Paul Robeson in it. That was good, also. Hair: Saw both the stage and the film version. Both were lots of fun. I like the Cowsills' rendition of the song "Long Beautiful Hair". Mamma Mia: Recently saw the stage play here in Boston with my niece and my sister-in-law, at the Boston Opera House. I enjoyed it a great deal. I liked the song "Dancing Queen" by the Swedish rock group, Abba. Brigadoon: Never saw the movie, but I did see the play in NYC many years ago...and enjoyed it immensely. Oklahoma: Saw the stage play of Oklahoma twice; once back in the early 1960's, and once 13 years ago, in a revival of it, both here in Boston. I enjoyed this musical overall on stage. "Oh what a beautiful morning" and Many a New Day are my favorite songs in this musical. The 2004 Broadway revival of it wasn't very good, but the stage version that I saw back in the early 1960's was fabulous. Wasn't too crazy about the film version, however. Both Fantasias: They were beautiful overall, but I especially liked the Night on Bald Mountain and the Rite of Spring in the original 1940 Fantasia, and the "Firebirds" in Fantasia 2000.
  7. West Side Story is a very rare and special musical that's in a class by itself. Never has there been a musical that's so spectacular on both stage and screen alike. Because of the subject matter, the intensely brilliant Leonard Bernstein musical score that combines jazz, pop, Latin, Calypso and classical music into one score, the beautifully-choreographed dancing by (the late) Jerome Robbins, as well as where the very story behind West Side Story is set, West Side Storyis one of the few musicals that is not only equally successful on stage and screen, but is equally exciting, as well. There are some definite advantages to both film and live theatre. Whereas film absolutely demands one's full attention due to looming larger than life-sized on a great big, wide movie theatre screen, it takes more effort to maintain the wave of communication between real live actors/actresses on stage, due to the fact that stage productions require a much narrower focus and a higher amount of concentration to maintain that wave of communication. In either event, however, West Side Story is a musical that automatically captures the attention of the audience and keeps the wave(s) of communication between the actors/actresses and audiences intact due to the overall exciting quality. The fact that West Side Story was preserved as a larger-than-lifesized piece of theatre when it was transferred from stage to screen is one of the things that makes it so special--and exciting, and successful on screen, as well as on stage. Here's something else about West Side Story that bears mentioning, as well: West Side Story is a musical that requires a top-notch orchestra, a top-notch cast, and top-notch scenery that's well designed, as well as people who really know how to dance, sing and act. Many people have grumbled about the fact that neither Natalie Wood or Richard Beymer knew how to act, dance or sing and that their voices had to be dubbed. As a devout fan of the film version of West Side Story who's also seen several very good stage productions of the original Broadway stage production and who's also fully aware that the dubbing of singing voices when making musicals into movies was quite common during that general period, and due to my intense love for the film version of WSS, I have been more than willing to overlook the fact that both Natalie Wood's and Richard Beymer singing voices were dubbed. Because the Beymer-bashing has gotten so out of hand in many circles, I have been more than willing to give Richard Beymer the benefit of the doubt, despite my having initially thought that he played a weak, somewhat lackluster Tony in the film version of West Side Story. I realize that Richard Beymer was a stronger Tony than I originally thought, due to the fact that he was very tender in his romantic outlook towards Maria, and the fact that the old "street" Tony emerged in the end, when he retaliated against Bernardo after he'd stabbed Riff to death, by doing likewise to Bernardo. West Side Story, in either instance, sends yet another, somewhat more sordid message: That escaping one's environmental and familial upbringing is far easier said than done. Another thing that puts West Side Story in such a special class by itself is the fact that not only are there so many intensely different emotions, ranging from exuberance, arrogance, toughness, cockiness, gentleness, love, romance, hatred, violence, death, and possible reconciliation between the Jets and Sharks, but that they're expressed, quite vividly and intensely, through dance, as well as beautifully created scenery on both stage and screen. As I've also pointed out, the message that West Side Story conveys is quite unique, despite the fact that it's a somewhat double-edged sword, which also makes this great movie/musical as special as it is. The people who said that there would never, ever be a movie/musical like West Side Story again were 100% right on their money, and I firmly stand by my conviction that no re-make of the film version of West Side Story could ever take the place of the original 1961 film, or even the more-up-to-date Broadway stage version of WSS, will ever take the place of the original.
  8. I love the cast overall, too, Det. Jim MacLeod. Your points are spot-on, as well. Richard Beymer, as Tony, was good in the romantic scenes, but the old "street" Tony re-emerged after his buddy, Riff, was knifed to death by Bernardo, by stabbing Bernardo to death in retaliation for Riff's death. Despite Tony's being gentle, tender and loving during the romance scenes between him and Maria, however, there were numerous times when the old "street" Tony seemed like he was waiting to re-emerge.
  9. My trip to Portsmouth, NH for a screening of the film West Side Story is by no means the first time I've made special road trips to neighboring states to see this great classic, when it's not playing in my general area. It's good to have an adventure, see this great classic movie-musical in a different general location, and even meet different people, on occasion, as well.
  10. Thank you, Jim. It was all worth the trip up there, and it was a beautiful evening overall. I totally agree with you about the scene where Tony meets Maria at the Bridal Shop and Anita openly disapproves of Tony as soon as she sees him, and her sarcastic response to Maria's protection of Tony. The other ending of A Boy Like That/I Have A Love songs, which are sort of a medley, are also quite intense, and never fail to make me mist up a bit, especially during the end, when Maria and Anita both sing "When love comes so strong, there is no right or wrong. Your love is your life." That's really too bad about the cutting out of Anita on your old VHS tape of the film West Side Story, during the time when Maria and Anita are holding hands and singing "When Love comes so strong". That must've ruined it for you. Sorry that happened. West Side Story actually cries to be viewed on a great big, wide movie theatre screen, in a real movie theatre, with the lights down low, with a whole bunch of other people, whether one knows them or not.
  11. Thank you for a great post! You're absolutely spot-on here, johnm001. The beautifully-choreographed dancing by the late Jerome Robbins, as well as the intensely brilliant Leonard Bernstein score, and the rare cinematology by Daniel Fapp were also fabulous additions to Ernest Lehman's screenplay and Robert Wise's adept and tasteful direction.
  12. Some favorite classic musicals

    You should see West Side Story when you get a chance, especially if and when it plays on a great big, wide movie screen, in a real movie theatre, with the lights down low. It's a real treat!
  13. Some favorite classic musicals

    I'm surprised that West Side Story and My Fair Lady weren't included on this list. Ditto for The Sound of Music.
  14. On the afternoon of Thursday, April 27th, I made the scenic drive up from Somerville, MA to Portsmouth, NH, for yet another viewing of the film West Side Story, at the Cinemagic Stadium 10 Theatre, where they showed this particular film as this month's part of their Cult Classic events. Leaving Somerville at around 3 o'clock yesterday afternoon, I arrived in Portsmouth, NH, at around 4:25 in the afternoon, checked into the Quality Inn just a little ways down the road from the theatre where I was to spend the night after the film, and then had a very good seafood dinner at a very nice restaurant nearby, called The DinnerHorn. As the film didn't start until 8:00 p. m., and I had arrived at the restaurant at a little before six, I was able to have a leisurely dinner, and the staffpeople were quite nice, and efficient, as well. At a little before seven, I drove back up to the movie theatre, which is located in sort of a mall. It was a very nice, clean theatre, with comfortable aerobic chairs, and stadium-type seating, so that one could look directly at the movie screen and not at the backs of people's heads, while watching a movie. The screen was nice and wide, it was somewhat curved/concaved, and it was a somewhat longer, narrow screen than many other movie theatre screens, which made the film West Side Story stand out even more. Since they showed a Hi-Def, remastered print of West Side Story, the soundtrack was really pristine, as was the film itself. Since I never fail to notice at least one or two things that I failed to notice at the last viewing(s) of this particular film, not only was I able to notice the various facial expressions and various movements, and the angry, gruff, and frustrated tones of the utterances of the various characters in the film, especially those of the warring Jets and Sharks, but I did notice the various facial expressions and the frustrated, equally gruff and cynical vocal tones of the adults (i. e. Lt. Schrank, Doc, Ofcr. Krupke, and "Glad Hand"), as well. The Jets not only looked tougher, but seemed to act a great deal tougher in this particular print of West Side Story, and their facial expressions seemed much angrier, as well. The Jet girls (i. e. Graziella, Velma and Anybodys), seemed to look and act much angrier and tougher, as well. Graziella's expression of rage and angry tone in response to Action's question "What're we poopin' around with dumb broads?", of "I and Velma ain't dumb!" was far more noticeable and seemed to stand out more, as well. Anybodys, too, seemed tougher-looking, and so did her attitudes and expressions of determination to gain acceptance as an equal by the Jets. They all seemed more wise-guy-ish, as well. So did the Sharks, in a way. The Sharks and their girls, on the other hand, seemed to be more angry, and more sardonic, as well. Their expressions seemed to indicate that, as well. Maria seemed more womanly, in both expressions, movement, and temperament, even though she, too, was quite young. Among the adults, Doc's aggravation and frustration with the Jets' and Sharks' persistent refusal or inability to be moved into a different direction which they were inevitably headed due to the constant conflict, hatred, and fighting over turf, and the ethnic/racial battles, was clearly more noticeable, as were both Lt. Schrank and Ofcr. Krupke's gruff voices, tough and bitter attitudes that had developed through years of hard experience, and no-nonsense looks when they, too, tried to deal with the warring Jets and Sharks. Anita and Bernardo, the prominent couple of the Sharks, seemed more fiery but sardonic, and angry, as well. Moreover, the voices of the warring Jets and Sharks, as well as the adults, seemed much rougher, more bitter, and gruffer, as well. Tony seemed sweet, soft and reformed, but with a little bit of roughness and toughness left over from his life on the street, and being the founder and leader of a gang (i. e. the Jets). Although he was in love with Maria and tried to be tender, it often seemed that the old "street" Tony was waiting to come out at some point or other, despite his love for Maria. Eventually, it did come out, during the Rumble, when he stabbed Bernardo to death for having stabbed Riff, who Tony clearly had still been quite close to and they still had a brotherly friendship, despite the fact that Tony had stepped away from the Jets. Nonetheless, there was much gentleness in West Side Story, as well, as was indicated by Maria's and Anita's somewhat playful but serious bantering, when Maria asked Anita to lower the neck of the old white communion dress that Anita was fixing up for Maria to wear to the dance at the Gym that night. The sarcasm and sardonic attitudes and expressions were also quite noticeable in the America scene. There are some funny scenes that make me laugh out loud, such as the following scenes/disputes: A) When Riff tells Tony "Four and a half years I live with a buddy and his family. I think I'm diggin' a guy's character. Boy, am I a victim of disappointment in you." Tony: "End your sufferin', little man. Why don't you pack up your gear and move out?" Riff: " 'Cause your ma's hot for me." At this time, Tony twists Riff's arm and Riff says "No...'cause I hate living' with my buggin' uncle....uncle....UNCLE!" When Maria pleads with Anita to lower the neck of an old white communion dress to wear to the dance, protesting "Anita..this is a dress for dancing, no longer for praying." Anita: "Listen...with those boys, you can start in dancing and end up praying." C) When Chino and Bernardo come to call for Maria and Anita, to take then to the dance, and Anita bades Chino, who's feeling a bit awkward, to come in: Chino: "But this is a shop for ladies". Anita "We won't bite you, 'til we know you better." D) During their dispute about Maria's wanting the neck of her communion dress lowered: Maria: "What happens when you look at Bernardo in the movies?" Anita: "It's when I don't look that it happens." The various emotions, i. e. the exuberance, the insolence, arrogance, cockiness, sarcasm, hatred, love, romantic scenes, and the gruffness and aggravation and frustration, and the tough need to protect and compete for turf, plus the determination to both keep outsiders off one's turf, as well as determination of outsiders to make their presence felt and be allowed onto that same turf. It was also clear that both the Jets and the Sharks needed their girls to tame them somewhat, as well. All of that culminated in the War Council that took place between the Jets and Sharks, after the Dance at the Gym, when Bernardo physically roughed up Tony for dancing with Maria. Tony came in, and, at his insistence, it was to be a “fair” fight, where Bernardo and Ice would duke it out, at the Rumble. Other scenes, such as the Dance at the Gym, the America scene, the Cool scene, and the Officer Krupke scene, and the I Feel Pretty scenes, all made me smile, due to the exuberance of these particular parts of West Side Story. There were other scenes, such as the pre-Rumble Quintet, the Rumble itself, the Prologue/Jet Song, and the Candy Store scene, where Anita is roughed up and almost raped by the Jets, who are trying to protect Tony from Chino, who's gunning for him, due to his having stabbed Shark gang leader, Bernardo to death, in retaliation for Bernardo's having stabbed Riff, that drive me to the edge of my seat. So does the pre-Rumble War Council between the Sharks and the Jets, at Doc's Candy Store, after the dance, especially at the end when the Jets and Sharks exchange racial/ethnic epitats.. Other scenes in West Side Story cause me to mist up, such as the A Boy Like That/I Have a Love scene, when Anita upbraids Maria for allowing Tony to take an interest in her, Maria proclaims her love for Tony, and Anita said that she loved Bernardo, and then tells Maria that Chino is gunning for Tony, and then Anita and Maria sing "When love comes so strong, there is no right or wrong. Your love is your life.", and the tears begin streaming down Anita's face, which Maria wipes away. The Officer Krupke song also deals with the fact that the Jets, as well as the Sharks, also had issues: lack of parental guidance and love, extreme poverty, drug and alcohol abuse, delinquency, and conflict with the law. The I Feel Pretty scene was a scene of exuberance and happiness for Maria, due to her new-found love, Tony, but it’s kind of hard to tell if her girlfriends, who also worked as seamstresses in the Bridal Shop with her were making fun of Maria due to her acting kind of vain and too exuberant, or are sharing in her happiness. The One Hand/One Heart song/scene indicated Tony and Maria’s pledge of love through a mock wedding with the use of the bridal shop mannequins, and showed that the romance was going full swing for awhile. The pre-Rumble Quintet, in which both gangs begin finger-pointing, and threatened each other, with their faces growing dark with fury, was the next step to what would come along—arguments, violence, and then the rattle of death. The Rumble itself was beautifully done, and the dance steps perfectly accurate and intense. This was the climax of the story, where everybody would reveal their true selves and would fight out their arguments over territory, as well as cultural and ethnic differences, and the competition for the crumbs left to them by a society that pitted, and still pits poor people against each other. That was especially true of Tony, who stabbed Bernardo to death in retaliation for his having stabbed his old buddy, Riff. Tony, I think, revealed his “street” side, when he did that. Even more revealing was the fact that he pointed out to Maria, “Riff was like my brother, so when Bernardo killed him...” The Cool scene/song, on the other hand, was sort of an anticlax of West Side Story, when Ice, who’d taken over the Jets gang leadership after Riff’s death during the Rumble, admonished the Jets to keep cool, and not to exact any more revenge on the Sharks, especially since Chino was gunning for Tony, and that Tony had come through for the Jets (rather ironically, of course, due to the fact that he’d stabbed Bernardo to death in retaliation for his having killed Riff, his close buddy). I Have a Love/A Boy Like That, was the sounding of both Maria and Anita about the love that one has (Maria’s love for Tony), and Anita, who’d loved Bernardo, and the warning to Maria on the part of Anita to “stick with your own kind”. Yet, when Maria and Anita sing “When love comes so strong, there is no right or wrong”, it meant that Anita had come to (grudgingly) accept Maria and Tony’s romance, although she certainly disapproved of it, openly, when Tony came to see Maria at the Bridal Shop, at closing time the next evening, as had been arranged by Tony and Maria. That, too, was a very sad part of the movie, as was the part when Tony was shot and killed by Chino. When Anita tells Maria that Chino had a gun and was hunting for Tony, that roused Maria’s anger, and, at the excuse that Maria needed aspirin for her headache, requested Anita to go to Doc’s store to warn Tony, after Schrank had called on Maria and Anita for questioning, and Maria made up a story of having danced with a boy from Puerto Rico named Jose, when Lt. Schrank mentioned that her brother had gotten into a heavy argument the night before, because she’d danced with the wrong guy. Reluctantly, Anita goes to Doc’s Candy Store to warn Tony (after Anybodys, who’d found him while looking “in and out of the shadows”), who’d been hiding in Doc’s cellar, that Chino was gunning for him. Action and the other Jets, (except Ice) were there. They begin to insult Anita and to rough her up, despite her pleas to let her help them protect Tony from Chino, due to their fear that Anita would give away Tony’s hiding place to Chino, and their hatred for her ethnicity and culture. Anita’s true feelings were revealed when she not only spat out a different message in anger after having been almost raped by the Jets, who were stopped by the sudden arrival of Doc “Bernardo was right! If one of you was bleeding in the street, I’d walk by and spit on you! And then; “I’ll give you a message for your American buddy: You tell that murderer that Maria’s never going to meet him. Tell him Chino found about about him (meaning Tony) and Maria, and shot her. She’s dead!” Doc’s aggravation and frustration with the Jets was the most noticeable, when Doc told the Jets to get out, after he asked: "When do you kids stop? You make this world lousy!", and then Action answers: "We didn't make it, Doc!" and slapped Tony for being too excited about Maria and him going out to the country, having lots of kids, and naming them all after him, even the girls, and then telling him about Anita’s message, but he gave Tony some cash, just the same, as he wondered why the kids had to live like there was a war on and kill each other. Devastated by Anita’s message, Tony goes out into the street, yelling for Chino to “come get him, too!”. as he didn’t want to live any more, after Maria had supposedly been killed. If West Side Story conveys the message that racial/ethnic hatred has deleterious consequences,( i. e. gang violence, etc.), with reconciliation being possible despite that, this classic also carries the message that there's a bit more to it: That society has left, and continues to leave the poor people, be they native-born and/or immigrants, to compete with each other for a small piece of the pie that has been allocated to them. It also proves that love, although it can develop amid such conflict, often goes up in smoke, in some way or other. It was also clear, from the very beginning, that a Rumble was inevitable. So was the fact that people would die as a result, and that the romance between Tony and Maria would go up in smoke. Yet, it also proved that love can withstand the test of time, even though the one that a person's in love with dies as a result of such conflict, or whatever. Yet, there were hints of possible reconciliation, as well. What was sad is the fact that Maria felt that she had to succintly point out the fact that the hatred between the Jets and Sharks led nowhere, except death and destruction, through her message of; "You all killed him (i. e. Tony), and my brother, and Riff! Not with bullets and guns! With hate! Well. I can kill too, because now I have hate!" and then pointed Chino's gun all all of the Jets and Sharks, and helped scare them into at least realizing what they'd done and where they were headed, if one gets the drift. That, too, was indicated by the fact that several Sharks and Jets came together in the end to carry Tony's body off, after he'd been shot dead by an angry, jealous Chino (who Maria’s brother, Bernardo, had brought Maria to the Continental United States to marry), and by the fact that Action gently stepped towards Maria, as well as the fact that Baby-John, the youngest Jets member, gently draped Maria’s black scarf that she wore in mourning of Bernardo’s and Tony’s deaths, over her head and shoulders. All told, West Side Story is a wonderful story in its own, fleshed out by expert cinematography by the late Daniel Fapp, who won an Academy Award for his cinematography, as well as the beautifully-choreographed dancing by the late Jerome Robbins, and the intensely brilliant musical score by Leonard Bernstein. It was well worth the drive up to Portsmouth, NH, and the stay at the nice hotel just down the road from the movie theatre, just to see a fabulous movie, and to have a wonderful time. Although the screening of the film West Side Story didn’t sell out, there was a good crowd, and we all had a great time. Please note: This posting about the film West Side Story is also crossposted at dailykos.com and docudharma.com.

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