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Tue Feb 15, 2022, 11:24 AM

We went to the movies last night!

We're in the Lower Catskills Northwest of NYC and the local movie theater is rather beautiful. It was built just after WWII and it was fashioned out of a quonset hut. It seats about 350 people with a beautiful digital projection system and a terrific sound system and wonderful seating. They make real popcorn with real butter and the owners make this one of the best movie theaters I've ever been to, (that includes my other favorite, NYC's Ziegfield).

We haven't been to the movies for a couple of years which has seemed like forever. In the past we would go to the movies 2 or 3 times a month. It's been a long drought, thanks to the pandemic. The Callicoon Theater, where we went, has put into place very good Covid protocols including roping off every other aisle, requiring masking everywhere (except at your socially-distanced seat) and providing hand sanitizers in many parts of the facility.

So, we went to see West Side Story with great excitement. Sadly, it was a huge disappointment. There's nothing in this film that improves on the original and there's an awful lot of stuff glommed onto this classic musical in vain attempts to make the story "relevant." I could go on and on-- as I did last night when we got home-- but I'd be wasting my breath. In short, it's no surprise that this $100 million dollar movie has crashed at the box office, earning back less than half its investment.

The cast, however, is excellent and their singing and dancing is superior, although much of the acting is stiff and/or stilted. The photography is exceptional and evocative and the music is glorious. Still, it's not enough to save this film which is overly long at more than 2 hours and 35 minutes.

It was an unexpected bummer.

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Reply We went to the movies last night! (Original post)
PJMcK Feb 2022 OP
NoRethugFriends Feb 2022 #1
PJMcK Feb 2022 #3
NoRethugFriends Feb 2022 #4
PJMcK Feb 2022 #5
NoRethugFriends Feb 2022 #6
Demovictory9 Feb 2022 #7
ratchiweenie Feb 2022 #2

Response to PJMcK (Original post)

Tue Feb 15, 2022, 11:28 AM

1. Wow. I thiought it was excellent. (And I see a lot of movies)

What did you consider glommed on?

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Response to NoRethugFriends (Reply #1)

Tue Feb 15, 2022, 11:59 AM

3. Here are a few things added unnecessarily

Tony is written being an ex-convict. For what purpose? Is it to make a statement that incarceration is beneficial? The new Tony says that his experiences in jail make him want to improve his life. In the original, he has a job and wants to grow up and out of the gang life.

In the original, Maria has recently arrived in New York which sets the stage (pardon the pun) for "America" and "I Feel Pretty." In this new film, she's been in the city for years and she expresses a desire to go to college. Too much and unnecessary information, in my opinion.

Chino, who is pretty much undefined in the original, is given a backstory that he is going to night school studying accounting and adding machine repair. It's just clutter and the attempt to flesh out the character is a distraction. I found this quote in the New Yorker's review: "But nothing comes of these new practical emphases; the characters have no richer inner lives, cultural substance, or range of experience than they do in the first film." I concur with this view.

The scene where Tony and Maria "marry" is ridiculously re-concieved to take place at the Cloisters (as if these two people would actually go there!) instead of the bridal shop where Maria works in the original. Trading the graceful irony of the bridal shop with the fake solemnity of the Cloisters is overly ingenuous and artless.

The one addition I loved was Rita Moreno's character. Any film with her in it is enhanced. Unfortunately, she cannot single-handedly save this overly-worked rendition.

Look, these are just my opinions of course. But audiences haven't turned out for the film. This is not because of the pandemic as other films, like Spiderman, have delivered solid box office numbers.

My fundamental question is why did Steven Spielberg want to make this film? Why re-make a classic? In truth, everyone involved in this picture is a superior artist and/or craftsperson. The skills and talents are visible in every frame of the film. For me, it's just a disappointment.

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Response to PJMcK (Reply #3)

Tue Feb 15, 2022, 12:40 PM

4. Thanks for your thoughts

Well thought out.
I agree with some and disagree with others.
I thought the Cloisters scene was fine.
And if you stream , here's a suggestion for a great, difficult, extremely moving movie. "Flee"
And absolutely see "Drive My Car". Japanese, long, and superb.

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Response to NoRethugFriends (Reply #4)

Tue Feb 15, 2022, 02:14 PM

5. Thanks for the suggestions

During the past few years, we've been watching movies on our large-screen TV and gotten used to the "big" picture and its sound system. Going to the actual movie theater was exciting and the popcorn was better than the microwave cup we've been chawing on! Since I was disappointed with the film, it was a bit of a let down but the movie for next weekend is "Belfast" and I'm looking forward to seeing that.

Oddly, I have a bunch of connections to WSS. In graduate school, I interned for Leonard Bernstein and arranged the "Suite of Dances from West Side Story" for a recording by two pianists and two percussionists, (it was paired with a composition by Bela Bartok). Additionally, I've been Stephen Sondheim's music publisher for 40 years. Lastly, I conducted a two-week run of WSS for a summer stock theater many years ago. So you can see why I have my point of view!

We'll look forward to seeing the films you recommended. I'll let you know what I think!

Enjoy the rest of your week.

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Response to PJMcK (Reply #5)

Tue Feb 15, 2022, 06:11 PM

6. You're Welcome

I love going to the theater.

And yes, I certainly see why you have your very well-thought-out point of view.
You enjoy your week also.

After some highbrow entertainment last night:

Brentano Quartet
Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, Philadelphia PA
February 14 @ 7:30 pm
Haydn: Quartet in D major, opus 71 no. 2
Schubert: Octet, D. 803
Anthony McGill, clarinet; Daniel Matsukawa, bassoon; Jennifer Montone, French horn


I have some lowbrow entertainment Friday

Special Event: Bobcat Goldthwait

Special Events Over the years, Bobcat Goldthwait has amassed legions of fans with his brutally honest, outrageous, and off-beat comedy that has made him one of the most recognizable comedians in show business today. Goldthwait is as edgy as ever and his stand up continues to draw crowds to comedy venues across the country with his hilarious riffs on his personal life, politics, and humorous stories about his over 30 years in show business.

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Response to NoRethugFriends (Reply #1)

Wed Feb 16, 2022, 02:08 AM

7. I loved it too

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Response to PJMcK (Original post)

Tue Feb 15, 2022, 11:28 AM

2. It would have to be absolutely fantabulous to surpass the original.

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