Friday, 25 January 2013

50 musicals challenge: pitch perfect, easter parade, swing time

2012 was a pretty rough year so for 2013 I wanted a 'challenge' that was fun and that I'd gladly keep up with so as well as trying to read 50 books this year I'm also going to watch 50 musicals! It's no secret that I LOVE musicals but I've hardly seen any of the classics and honestly, I can think of no better way to ~broaden my cultural horizons~ than by spending afternoons watching pretty people in lovely costumes sing and dance! At first 50 seemed like a sensible number - just under a movie a week - but I'm already wayyy ahead of schedule so the number might change! Primarily I'm using this as an excuse to go through all the classic Hollywood musicals that I've never seen so I won't include animated musicals (unless I've not seen them before) but if you think I'm going to let the year pass without rewatching High School Musical 3 then you're sadly mistaken! Every couple of weeks I'll make a post reporting my progress and a running total and links to previous discussion can be found in the permanent page. If you have any particular recommendations or want to discuss all things de-lovely get in touch here or at Twitter!

01 - Pitch Perfect (2012)
Starring: Anna Kendrick, Brittany Snow, Rebel Wilson
Rating: 8/10
Beca, a freshman at Barden University, is cajoled into joining The Bellas, her school's all-girls singing group. Injecting some much needed energy into their repertoire, The Bellas take on their male rivals in a campus competition.

It's not classy (we're now living in a post-Bridesmaids world!) and the characters are all under-developed but that's not really the point! The a-capella singing is awesome, the soundtrack features some great mash-ups, the love-interest is kind of delightful and who doesn't love Anna Kendrick?!

Taster: The Riff-Off

02 - Easter Parade (1948)
Starring: Judy Garland, Fred Astaire, Ann Miller
Rating: 7/10
On the day before Easter in 1911, Don Hewes is crushed when his dancing partner (and object of affection) Nadine Hale refuses to start a new contract with him. To prove Nadine's not important to him, Don acquires innocent new protegee Hannah Brown, vowing to make her a star in time for next year's Easter parade

If Pitch Perfect is a bawdy romp of a musical then Easter Parade is a joy in the opposite sense! It's innocent and charming and everything you want on a Sunday afternoon. The singing is lovely, the dancing is astonishing (The opening number 'Drum Crazy' is particularly brilliant) and the costumes are beautiful - what I would give to be able to wear the emerald dress Judy Garland wears in 'Better Luck Next Time'!

Taster: It Only Happens When I Dance With You

03 - Swing Time (1936)
Starring: Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Victor Moore
Rating: 8/10
A performer and gambler travels to New York City to raise the $25,000 he needs to marry his fiancée, only to become entangled with a beautiful aspiring dancer.

Not perfect (the gambling plot line is strange and the Astaire's blackface for his big dance number doesn't sit well with modern audiences) but not far off. It contains some lovely music (most notably 'The Way You Look Tonight' quite possibly the most romantic song ever written!) and the dancing, as ever is wonderful.

Taster: Never Gonna Dance

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