Movie Review: West Side Story

“West Side Story” is a Broadway musical intended to be an adaptation of “Romeo And Juliet”. It debuted in 1957, was conceived by Jerome Robbins with music by Leonard Bernstein, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, and a book by Arthur Laurents. Fundamentally this is a story about love at first sight, and a powerful once in “West Side Story” is a Broadway musical intended to be an adaptation of Shakespear’s “Romeo And Juliet”. It debuted in 1957, was conceived by Jerome Robbins with music by Leonard Bernstein, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, and a book by Arthur Laurents. Fundamentally this is a story about love at first sight, and a powerful once in a lifetime attraction and ultimately love that happens to a few of us and for many more of us, never happens in our lifetimes. We all know going in that this will be a sad story, just like Romeo and Juliet. Despite realizing the tragic ending ahead, at times the music makes what happens hard to sit through.

The new version of West Side Story is directed by Steven Spielberg, and I for one, never thought I would see Spielberg direct a musical in his career. Whether or not anyone is a fan of musicals, you have to admire the huge amount of preparation, period costumes, cars from the 1950’s, set design, choreography, musical direction and acting in this very well done production.

The standouts in this film are Ansel Elgort as Tony, who had his breakout role in the very good “Baby Driver”, released in 2017. Maria is played by newcomer Rachel Zegler, who is not only a great actress, but also a great singer, including several scenes where she sings opera.

Just about all Spielberg productions have been outstanding in the last almost 50 years, with the exception of “1941”, released in 1979. Regardless of anyone’s dislike of musicals, this movie is still a must see, especially for those who have never seen West Side Story. I was amazed at the high percentage of songs in this musical that I have heard many times before, proving that this is one of most significant musicals of all time. I highly recommend West Side Story.

Movie Review: Being the Ricardo’s

Every time we see a new movie written by Aaron Sorkin we all know we will be hearing a great deal of rapid dialogue. Dialogue that is for the most part, unlike how most people talk. The good part of this rapid dialogue is that it will keep most people riveted to the movie, because it is so easy to miss something important that was said.

For a movie about the hugely popular 1950’s TV series “I Love Lucy” casting is everything. Ironically the title role of Lucy played by Nicole Kidman is the one area where the casting was somewhat off, because she did not look enough like Lucille Ball, where the other characters, especially J.K. Simmons as William Frawley are perfectly cast.

This story, typical of Sorkin, who also directed this movie, is told in an unusual way – starting with interviews with the late writers and producers of I Love Lucy, who narrated some of the stories and facts about what is arguably the most popular TV situation comedy of all time – with at its peak had 60 million viewers every Monday night. Sorkin concentrates on 3 main themes throughout this film. How the cast and crew created one episode of the I Love Series TV series, the fact that Desi Arnaz cheated many times on Lucille Ball, and the time when Lucy was accused of being a Communist. These 3 stories create an interesting and engaging two hours that in my opinion is worthy of higher numbers than the 71% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

I thought the acting was very good throughout this story and anyone has to admire any actor who can master the rapid-fire dialogue that Sorkin always writes. Overall I thought this story was well told and I do recommend “Being The Ricardo’s”.