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In The Heights

In the Heights -

I saw this musical, which is about the Hispanic residents of Washington Heights coping with oncoming gentrification, on HBO Max, but I encourage you to see it in a theater while you still can. It is a visual delight in every way, especially in terms of color. Everything on screen from the apartment buildings to the dancers' outfits to the products on the shelves at protagonist Usnavi's bodega make the movie burst with life. The emotional tone also has a lot to do with this, which I would describe and unashamedly and unabashedly sincere. The best thing of all, though, is that unlike other modern movies that fit this description, I never felt bombarded by the visuals or that I was forced to maintain a smile for the entire running time. Other things I appreciate about the movie are the song and dance numbers - each of which are fun, memorable and have just enough surreality to them - and that we never see the villains. The incoming "rich people and hipsters," as Usnavi refers to them, are only mentioned in passing, and I approve because it lets us spend more time with him, his friends, his family, etc. With all that said, this is no Hamilton (but what is) and it has an odd "siloed" quality that is also a problem in Jon M. Chu's last movie, Crazy Rich Asians. By that, I mean that some of the stories involving the supporting characters, pal Benny and just returned home love interest Nina in particular, often seem so removed from the main narrative that they might as well be in another movie. I get that this is an ensemble movie with many players, many stories, etc., but I would have liked for there to be a bit more interconnectedness. I still think this is the best movie I've seen so far this year and would not be surprised if it remains at or near the top by the end of it. Oh, and it may have the best scene that takes place on a subway train since the original The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3.