Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Dearest… 2016: Melody Time



Along with a pair from the big screen, we dip into a trio of made for TV tuners in our look back at the movie musicals of 2016. 


Grease Live!:
1978’s Grease is one of the most popular movie musicals of all time, so they had big shoes to fill, and they pulled it off… mostly. High School Musical’s good girl Vanessa Hudgens stole the show as Pink Lady Rizzo, while boy-next-door Aaron Tveit was miscast as greaser Danny. The producers smartly included the movie’s original songs (you know everyone wanted "You're the One That I Want"), but bombed with a number written for a stunt cast Carly Rae Jepsen. Even so, in the end Grease was still the word. (7/10)

Howyoudoin'?

Sing Street:
Following Once and Begin Again, director John Carney delivers another musical mini-masterpiece with this charmingly romantic tale set in 1980s Dublin. Fresh-faced newcomer Ferdia Walsh-Peelo plays the typical teenager who forms a band to impress a girl, the difference being that he is actually talented, a surprise to him as it is anyone else. Original, period perfect pop songs (such as the standout, better-be-Oscar nominated “Drive It Like You Stole It”) and appropriately cheesy music videos add to the fun, retro vibe. (8/10)

The Dance at the Gym

The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let’s Do the Time Warp Again:
Fox had been threatening a remake of the original midnight movie cult phenomenon for years and finally delivered it last October… was it a trick or a treat? A little bit of both, actually. It really was a treat to see Laverne Cox let loose and totally camp out as Frank N. Furter, and the reimagined opening number was vintage cool. Less of a treat was the horrible idea to incorporate (fake) audience participation, and the hyper-choreographed “Time Warp” was an assault on the senses. (6/10)

Kiss and Makeup

Hairspray Live!:
Way back in 1988, who knew that John Waters’ quirky little indie Hairspray would become such a pop culture staple? Remixing the best of the Broadway musical with its 2007 film adaptation is one thing, but the most important reason for the necessity of this third filmed version was to finally preserve the Tony winning performance of Harvey Fierstein as big mamma Edna Turnblad on film. Hopefully you did like I did and fast-forwarded through all that “live viewing party” nonsense during its original broadcast. (7/10)

Twist and Shout

La La Land:
Mixing influences from such movie musical masters as Donen, Minnelli and especially Jacques Demy, Damien Chazelle creates a truly original post-millennium musical that is also a bittersweet rumination on fame, love and the road not taken. Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone take the stock characters of the brooding jazz musician and the aspiring actress and deliver winning, fresh performances as real people in a world just like our own... except for all the breaking into song and that dance number in the middle of a L.A. traffic jam. Not just a valentine to the its titular "city of stars", but a love letter to all us "fools who dream". (9/10)

Dancing with the Stars

Reviews by Kirby Holt, Movie Dearest creator, editor and head writer.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Dearest… 2016: Crime and Punishment


 

Politics, crime and racial issues dominated the documentaries of 2016.


O.J.: Made in America:
Don’t let the nearly 8-hour running time of this epic documentary series feature deter you from watching this exhaustive exposé of race relations in America through the prism of the life of one Orenthal James Simpson. From his football superstardom and the “trial of the century” to his lesser-known later legal woes, director Ezra Edelman constructs a powerful, often disturbing, but ultimately binge-worthy biography of a man who flew so high only to fall so, so far. (8/10)

Glove Story

The Witness:
The 1964 murder of Kitty Genovese became an infamous case of urban apathy as 38 of her fellow New Yorkers reportedly did nothing to help her. Following her brother Bill as he investigates the crime and its aftermath, this fascinating documentary unfolds like a mystery, with moments of bittersweet revelation and discoveries of maddening misinformation. The witness of the title is ultimately Bill himself, a man who will go to great lengths to find the truth even if the answers are as elusive as a scream fading into the night. (8/10)

Silent Night

...13th:
Selma director Ava Duvernay delivers a powerful indictment of the American penal system in 13th, named after the constitutional amendment that abolished slavery. Or did it? It is compellingly argued that, thanks to institutional racism, prison orange is the new black oppression. And with the evidence presented it is A) amazing, B) baffling, C) enraging, or D) all of the above that this has been going on for over 150 years. A vital additional voice to the rallying cry for justice and equality. (8/10)

American Horror Story

...I Am Not Your Negro:
With a title like that, you know this one has something to say… and in the voice of Samuel L. Jackson no less, speaking the words of gay writer and intellectual James Baldwin in an(other) examination of race relations in the United States. What sets it apart is director Raoul Peck’s use of evocative imagery to accompany Baldwin’s eloquent prose, from old Hollywood movies and vintage advertising to the latest disturbing police brutality cell phone videos. The more things change... (7/10)

Baldwin, James Baldwin.

...Weiner:
The makers of this fly-on-the-wall look at a modern political campaign must have been high-fiving each other when it starts to implode from a sex scandal. Disgraced ex-Congressman Anthony Weiner (bravely? foolishly?) decides to run for Mayor of NYC, until evidence of his sexting random skanks on the internet resurfaces; cue the media frenzy. You can see the toll it takes as Weiner’s (brave? foolish?) façade slowly erodes on camera. In the end, you may not respect him, but you may feel sorry for him. The schmuck. (8/10)

(Hey, I made it through that whole review without making one dick joke!)

[Insert dick joke here]

Reviews by Kirby Holt, Movie Dearest creator, editor and head writer.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Dearest… Outrageous Fortune



The hilariously hedonistic escapades of Edina Monsoon and Patsy Stone have been a gay fave since Ab Fab made its television debut 25 years ago. Their unique brand of bawdy bad behavior has finally made the leap to cinemas in the flashy, fun and fashionably late Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie.

Not much has changed.

Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley are back in their iconic roles, along with just about every actor who ever appeared on the TV show (Lulu! Gran! Baby Spice!), not to mention a slew of celebrity cameos, from Jon Hamm to Dame Edna to Rebel Wilson. With Ab Fab on the big screen, everything is bolder, campier and far more expensive… just the way Eddy and Pats love it. And you’ll love it too.

Dearest Rating: 8/10

Review by Kirby Holt, Movie Dearest creator, editor and head writer.

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