West Side Story
Soon to be remade by Steven Spielberg, the original West Side Story film is an absolute triumph and well worth a watch on a lazy Sunday afternoon. It’s all about gangs in New York, but these gangs dance and sing in a manner that would probably get you shanked nowadays. It really is excellent though, and I don’t see how Spielberg is ever going to make a better version. Maybe he’ll add some dinosaurs in there or something?!
I watched this last week and was pretty dumbfounded that 1. I’d never heard of it even happening, 2. Jessie J is in it at the beginning for some reason, 3. The guy playing Danny Zuko is a bit rubbish and 4. Overall – it’s actually really bloody good. Originally aired live on telly over in the States, there’s nobody fluffing their lines or breaking their leg (shame) and it’s one of the best versions of the hit musical you’ll ever see. Probably.
The Wizard of Oz
Not a full-on musical, more like a variety-musical where characters unexpectedly drift off into song here and there to express some form of emotion – the Wizard of Oz is, nonetheless, an absolute classic. Everyone knows the story – a ‘good’ witch tells a young girl to go and murder a ‘bad’ witch for a maniacal dictator who is really just a fraud from Kansas. Judy Garland is bloody good in it though.
La La Land
I was working at the ODEON cinema in Oldham a couple of years back and each Tuesday and Thursday they had a ‘Silver Screen’ – basically old films for old people. Now, these old people were usually always cantankerous and rude – even after you’d poured them a cup of tea and offered them a plate of biscuits. I can also say that they ruined La La Land for me too – because I ended up seeing the big twist at the end while asking some of them to be quiet. Annoying.
The unofficial story and dramatisation of The Supremes, although don’t mention it to Diana Ross because she is absolutely nothing like Beyoncé’s Deena Jones and she certainly never fucked up Florence Ballard’s career in real life. Honest. This is a great film actually and a fantastic musical, with a powerhouse performance by Jennifer Hudson as Florence/Effy – and a scene-stealing turn from Eddie Murphy – as Jimmy ‘Thunder’ Early.
There are two versions of Annie on Netflix. The first one is the 1982 one with Tim Curry in it, while the other is the 2014 remake with Jamie Foxx and Cameron Diaz. Personally, I’m not really much of a fan of either one, but the wife loves the old one – mostly because Tim Curry is dead sexy in it. The newer one isn’t as good as the older one and even caused Cameron Diaz to retire from acting. I think it’s because she won a Golden Raspberry for it.
Rock of Ages
Okay so this might not be the best musical out there, or even the best film, but there are some really good musical numbers in here, and with the help of Catherine Zeta Jones and Tom Cruise – it goes from passable to slightly-more-passable. Cruise plays against type as a boozy rock ‘n’ roll star who likes to have sex with women, while another set of attractive young stars sing and dance to power ballads and fall in love. Russell Brand is in it too as a gay fella with an awful Brummy accent. Ignore him and you’ll be fine.
Mamma Mia 2: Here We Go Again
Contender for the greatest movie ever made – there’s no one ‘thing’ in this sequel which sets it apart from all other musicals, it just seems to have it all. Wait, who am I kidding?! It’s Cher. Cher is in this and she comes in at the end in the most ridiculous fashion and it’s just fucking brilliant. Oh, and Lily James is a national treasure.