2019 - A Theme for Every Month


Cheers for looking in and catching up Cap, always good to see ya
Had a bad night so sadly I'm too tired to comment on your remarks but as always I'm appreciative of your views as they are always respectfully put immaterial of whether in agreement or opposing.

I failed you during Aaarrrggghhhpril, and I make no promises going forward, but I have several musicals on my DVR that I've been saving for next month's theme. Maybe I'll join you for a few tap-dance duets. You can be the Ginger Rogers to my Fred Astaire. Or vice-versa, depending on which of us looks most glamorous in a dress.
Don't like wearing a suit so ..... I might still have the legs, not sure I have the requisite boobage to fill out a dress anymore but I'm game to give it a go as long as we can find some taps sturdy enough to take our combined weight so we don't just end up crashing into the sink within the first few seconds. People often remark how much like Blake Lively I'd look in a dress so at least I know I'd be safe from wandering hands

Watched Keir Burrows' Anti Matter which contains an interesting premise that reaches a moderately satisfactory conclusion but sadly aspects of the plot are best not scrutinised too closely whilst the execution not only suffers from obvious budgetary limitations but imo tries to incorporate too much and somewhat hinders enjoyment of its mystery.

Gave Independence Day: Resurgence a spin tonight and not particularly impressed, the original is still a reasonably fun watch but this instalment feels like little more than a re-run with just advanced technology thrown in to try and make it appear fresh. Watchable but terribly predictable, rather heavy-handed and imo has little charm.


Rouben Mamoulian

Drama with a side of romance primarily within a vaudevillian/burlesque setting that works quite well with a modest but decent enough tale that is enhanced by a solid central performance and directorial touches.

Right off the bat the vaudevillian world this is set in is quite nicely established - the dance troupe consists not of glamourous Busby Berkeley Babes but a more eclectic variety of ladies of mixed age, size and ability, their venues and audience rather base and ordinary. Talking of Busby Berkeley, early proceedings do have a couple of brief overhead shots that instantly remind of those which would become regarded as that great man's trademark (along with his marvellously extravagant dance routines) after his entrance into the industry a few years later.

Being a relatively early 'talkie' there are occasional issues with sound levels but overall technically that aspect is well enough managed and imo the tale is not overly harmed by them. That tale may not have a great deal of depth to it, with the set-up rather brief and exposition heavy, and on occasion drift a little too far into melodrama for my liking but is presented reasonably well on the whole with, aside from a little shakiness at the beginning of the Brooklyn Bridge scene, some nice cinematographic angles and movement to help keep it of interest.

In terms of acting some of the supporting cast are a little weak but the romance between April and Tony (Joan Peers and Henry Wadsworth) is quite nicely played whilst Helen Morgan holds proceedings together very nicely with her central portrayal of a character of which sadly her real life gave her all the insight she needed. That the film ends on the note it does lends it a level of poignancy that perhaps isn't fully deserved but nonetheless felt perfectly fitting to me.

Applause is quite gritty in its portrayal of both its central character and life within the lower echelons of vaudeville in general and for me the run-time certainly flew by but as enjoyable overall as it is the weaker acting along with a script that's no better than workmanlike do sadly drag it down to a

Watched Shane Meadows' documentary The Stone Roses: Made Of Stone which is alright without ever broaching greatness and in my opinion spends too long on the section with the fans looking to get tickets for the free gig at Warrington. Personally I'd have preferred most of those minutes be put to better use by extending the behind-the-scenes footage of the band rehearsing or having the individual members voicing their thoughts/feelings about the band's reunion

Gave Cavedweller (Lisa Cholodenko, 2004) a spin, it's an ok watch that's acted fairly well but nothing more, that's connected to the monthly theme by the central character (Kyra Sedgwick) being an ex-singer - though in all honesty that's little more than just a means to facilitate what is a rather sombre drama with nothing particularly memorable to offer (aside from perhaps a brief scene in which Ms. Sedgwick is topless, not a sight that was ever on my bucket list though tbh)

Way to knock out two birds with one stone, Chyp, finding a pre-30's musical. Doubt there's many of those to choose from. Never heard of Applause, but you've piqued my interest. Hopefully I can stumble across it during my pre-30's prep.

Shall We Dance
(Mark Sandrich, 1937)

The seventh Astaire/Rogers team-up. Not their best, not their worst. The plot is perhaps the thinnest I've seen from them yet. Astaire is instantly smitten by Rogers, slowly wins her over on an ocean liner, then the two deal with the unwanted attention and stress from a forced publicity stunt that misleads the public into thinking that they're married. The humor is almost as unfunny as the story is uninteresting, with a few exceptions, such as Astaire's ridiculous attempt at a Russian accent and an amusing sequence that sees Astaire undulate his body to provoke seasickness in others. Faults are thrown overboard and left to drown any time Rogers and Astaire put on their tap shoes. Their chemistry is magic. The highlight for me was their rendition of "Let's Call the Whole Thing Off," as they playfully mock pronunciations before getting off their park bench and tap-dancing on roller blades. Talk about a high degree of difficulty. Another standout musical moment comes earlier in the film as Astaire and a band of African-Americans "Slap that Bass" in the ship's engine room. I'm used to seeing black actors from the era only get screen time if they're polishing someone's shoes or providing some other menial service, so this particular sequence, in which black actors get to sing actual verses, feels refreshingly progressive compared to other films from the era. Watching Astaire dance with a dozen women wearing masks of Ginger Rogers's face, which makes for the most extravagant musical sequence in the film, comes across far creepier than it was probably intended, but luckily I was able to land one such mask and wrap it around my bedroom pillow, so at least I won't be dancing alone these next few nights . . .


Way to knock out two birds with one stone, Chyp, finding a pre-30's musical. Doubt there's many of those to choose from. Never heard of Applause, but you've piqued my interest. Hopefully I can stumble across it during my pre-30's prep.
I don't think anyone would actually call it a musical per se Cap, there's a little singing and dancing in it but purely in the context of showing them performing on stage for their audience. Still qualifies it for this thread though .... I do have a few pre-30 titles noted down that I think could far more rightfully be called musicals and I'm hoping I might be able to locate one or two of them this month though.
Shall We Dance
(Mark Sandrich, 1937)

Many thanks for joining in Cap - I am no longer alone

Would have definitely seen this when younger as I've always been a fan of Fred Astaire (especially when with Ms. Rogers) but that's decades ago and as far as I can recall not seen it since .... will have to try to remember to see if it's freely available and reacquaint myself with it. Glad you managed to snaffle a 'Ginger' mask, quite the sought after item these days I believe ..... such a shame that yours will most likely have absolutely no resale value after tonight though

Rocket man

long version of the Pinball Wizard
Health is the greatest gift, contentment the greatest wealth, faithfulness the best relationship.

1994 s beyond rangoon

Sunnyside Up
[aka Sunny Side Up]

David Butler

Early musical comedy with a side of romance that's reasonably sound technically and does manage to maintain interest but is somewhat laboured in the first half and though it kicks up a notch once changing setting still never reaches any great heights.

Written by a trio of successful songsmiths as their first film screenplay it's probably not overly surprising that the dialogue is a little stilted in places (primarily earlier on in proceedings) and that the story doesn't have that much depth to it. It is at least cohesive though and the comedic aspects might raise the odd smile here or there even if generally for me it misses far more often than it hits.

What is more surprising, given the background of writers DeSylva, Brown and Henderson, is that none of the songs are particularly memorable - though it is of course quite possible they were fresher and made more of an impact at the time of release. The dance routines are sadly also rather unremarkable, in the first half they are more vaudevillian in nature which is perfectly in keeping with the plot and whilst the charity show in the second half does give the opportunity for an attempt at a big dance number unfortunately it's not particularly well choreographed.

Sunnyside Up was apparently reasonably successful in it's day but whilst the story is one that has proved timeless this is not a particularly remarkable iteration of it and overall it's a rather mediocre watch that, even though helped enormously by Janet Gaynor putting in a likeable performance as the central character and bearing in mind it's age, is really only worth a

Gave Searching For Sugar Man a spin, a decent enough documentary that tells an interesting tale though it does completely omit to mention that Rodriguez was 'rediscovered' first by Australia - perhaps understandable from the perspective that it lessens the impact of the story but still a little disappointing imo.

Glorifying The American Girl

Millard Webb

Early musical drama with a little comedy thrown in that struggles to achieve much above mediocrity for much of the first hour but is definitely aided by the big name stars that lend their names to proceedings in the final half hour.

The opening sequence doesn't particularly bode well for what will follow as it's far too 'busy' with all the overlaid images and there isn't much cause for raised hopes with the scenes that immediately follow as the acting is decidedly mixed, direction rather haphazard and the sound isn't very well balanced in places. It does remain watchable though and gradually what little plot there is begins to take shape and help maintain interest.

Thankfully things do begin to take an upturn once the central character Gloria (Mary Eaton) gets her break into show-business and leaves town, and there is one rather nice scene where she and her partner venture into a Ziegfeld rehearsal to audition. Oh and Gloria Shea, who I'd never heard of before but plays the principal's rival love interest, turns out to be quite a cutie - which for this sad sap of a watcher never hurts in maintaining interest.

The last half hour is pretty much a presentation of the Ziegfeld revue occasionally intercut with snippets from the main story and is greatly helped by contributions from some of the highly popular performers of the period, namely Rudy Vallee, Helen Morgan and Eddie Cantor. The 'red carpet' prior to the revue is an eclectic insertion but also interesting even if, at least for me, much of that interest was down to being able to see what the well known radio announcer of the period Norman Brokenshire looked like.

Glorifying The American Girl isn't great and parts of it are quite dated but it does have a little curiosity value to it and for me the hour and a half went by surprisingly quickly which is never a bad sign so I'll give it a

You can't make a rainbow without a little rain.
The Jazz Singer (1927)

I'm a big fan of Neil Diamond, and the 1980 remake of this movie, but I had never seen the original, so with the Pre-1930s Countdown coming up, and this being the month of "Choon", this seemed like a good time to remedy that.

I knew that the 1927 version of The Jazz Singer has been called "the first talkie", but it wasn't quite what I expected. The movie is mostly a silent movie with title cards, but there are several times throughout the movie when there are musical numbers with a small amount of spoken lines.

Having said that, I enjoyed the movie more for the music than for the story. It's a good story about a Jewish cantor who defies his father when he leaves home to become a jazz singer. Along the way to success, he finds romance, but he loses his family when his father decides that he no longer has a son. He ultimately must choose between his family or his career as a jazz singer.

I know that it's unfair to compare the original movie to the more modern remake, but while Al Jolson was very good, it just felt like the story lacked the emotion of the remake. Maybe it was because of the title cards vs actual spoken word, but it was hard to feel much for the characters. However when it came time for him to make his decision between his family or his career, I could almost feel how tough the decision was for him.

I didn't really like or understand why Al Jolson's character wore blackface when he sang later in the movie, but from what I read about it, it seems to be something that was common around that time. It didn't feel like the blackface was racist, or anything like that, it just felt unnecessary.

And while the endings of the two versions were similar, there were slight differences that made me prefer the ending of the remake over the ending of the original version.

As the first talkie, the movie is worth watching, especially if you like musicals. The story is good, the music is very enjoyable, and Al Jolson's performance is terrific.

If I answer a game thread correctly, just skip my turn and continue with the game.

Thanks for joining in Gbg, I know musicals are a genre you enjoy. The original The Jazz Singer is one of those I'm hoping to get around to (if I can find a free copy that doesn't risk coming with a free virus somewhere) as I also quite enjoyed the 1980 remake.

Watched musical biopic Ya tayr el tayer [The Idol] (Hany Abu Assad, 2015) about the winner of the 2013 Arab Idol reality tv singing competition which, if you take out the sporadic political commentary, may as well have been a Disney offering - as much of events prior to the competition lack realism (especially the incredibly childish younger period) and the whole is overly saccharine in places. The subject deserved better imo

Gave Into The Woods (Rob Marshall, 2014) a whirl and have to say that I found it quite a frustrating watch as none of the songs were particularly memorable and some were downright awful, feeling to me like they were written more to show off a fondness for playing with words than imparting any level of enjoyment to the viewer. The acting was mixed, Meryl Streep was decent but not particularly Oscar nom-worthy imo, the story had some merit but took too many liberties even for a fairytale fantasy and the narration lacked any sense of drama.


Robert Z. Leonard

Light-hearted musical romance set around WW I that is very well put together for it's period (imo it could pretty much pass as a movie made some 20 years later) and a reasonably entertaining watch even if it is somewhat drawn out.

The essence of the tale is a simple one that has been recounted a number of times but due to it's nature is generally one that will always find an audience. Marion Davis playing the French mademoiselle does grate at times with the stereotypical zis is 'ow ze French talk Eenglish accent and sentence structuring but still puts in a performance that manages to charm anyway. Lawrence Gray also puts in a decent enough shift as the principal G.I. whilst the sidekicks, Cliff Edwards and Benny Rubin, are there primarily to provide both a foil and inject a little extra comedy.

That the humour only worked sporadically is certainly not down to any lack of effort, it's just a style that generally proves rather hit and miss for me and wasn't helped in this case by things being a little repetitive in the first half of proceedings. The musical numbers are generally nicely interspersed though which helped maintain interest and, where the first half began to drag at times, the tale does develop a little heart in the second half and is much the better for that.

Marianne doesn't provide anything out of the ordinary but what it does it mainly does well and though imo it would have benefitted from being 20-30 minutes shorter in duration it's still generally entertaining enough to warrant a