Saturday, July 16, 2011

Preview: LIghts! Camera! Music!

We've had some fun partaking of classics from many different varities: dramas, comedies, noir, sci-fi, thrillers and more. But now, it's time for some musicals. So get ready to watch a couple of vintage song-and-dance movies that'll have you humming under your breath and shuffling your feet under your seat.

I saw West Side Story last year for the very first time, and was blown away. The thought of seeing it again on the big screen at The Paramount leaves me ecstatic. It's truly one of the finest musicals ever made, and I wrote on last year's experience here.

The film is easily the most acclaimed musical in motion picture history. Winner of 10 Academy Awards including: Best Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, Art Direction, Cinematography, Costumes, Editing, Direction, Score, Sound and Best Picture. At the time, the soundtrack album was also the best-selling album of all-time. Set on the streets of New York City, it's a clever modernized Romeo and Juliet that is far less headache-inducing than anything by Baz Luhrman. It's incredible, it's moving, it's visually stunning... it's West Side Story.

Does it seem a little dated to you? Well, then try this one on for size. It's a later trailer for a DVD release. It showcases much more of the soundtrack and the vibrant visual style, and captures the energy and vibe perfectly.

Just goes to show ya, after 50 years this one is still powerful and amazing.

The second film featured, Swing Time, is a classic from the collaborations of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, whom are still regarded as two of the best dancers in cinematic history. And contrary to what may have been instilled in you since the late 1990s, the title neither refers to The Brian Setzer Orchestra or a Gap commercial.

Of all the films featuring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, Swing Time is often referred to as their best dance musical. Released in 1936, it marked the peak of popularity for the dancing duo. The story is about a young man (Astaire) who bumble a wedding and must make $25,000 to make up for his error. Broke and penniless in New York City, he then meets a dance school instructor (Rogers). They eventually form a successful dancing partnership, but let's be honest. Here, the plot is incidental; merely an excuse to see these two dance around each other like orbiting bodies. Director George Stevens smartly allows their dance sequences to be the showcases in the film and they are presented mostly in real time, without manipulation of edits. The results are beautiful to behold.

Swing Time is also notable for the song "The Way You Look Tonight," which won the Academy Award for Best Original Song and has been covered countless times since. It's one of a few sequences in the film where Astaire and Rogers practically glide over the floor in such elegance. Once you see them in action, it will be easy to see why, after over 75 years, Fred and Ginger remain the gold standard in dance.

Experience two of the most amazing musical dance films of all time at The Paramount. Even if you normally don't care for musicals, make the effort to check these out. They are two that simply don't want to miss. Musicals can engage you like few other films can. All you have to do is let them into your hearts and minds, let the rhythm surround you, and let the magic sweep you off your feet.

Showtimes for the films:

West Side Story
Sunday, Jul 24th
Tuesday, Jul 26th

Swing Time
Sunday, Jul 24th
2:00 7:00

Final Notes about the screening

Double Features:
"When two movies are grouped together under the same thematic heading, one ticket is good for both features when viewed back-to-back on the same day." (cha-ching!)

"Hassle-free downtown parking available for $6 at the One American Center for all summer films! Since you’re also supporting the theatre when you buy parking, they're giving you a free small soda each time you park there for a film. Buy online with your film tix and print out your confirmation e-mail or buy directly from the garage attendant (cash only). Attendant will have your soda ticket as well."

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