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Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story (2021)


mrbellamy
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22 minutes ago, His Royal Noelness said:


LLL, The Greatest Showman, and Les Mis all had big name actors involved. WSS didn’t. That was going to introduce its appeal immediately. 

 

Big name actors aren't a guarantee. Ryan 'La La Land' Gosling couldn't save Blade Runner 2049 the following year. 

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La La Land was made for relatively little money, Blade Runner 2049 cost a fortune that was never to brake even. The fanbase isn't that strong and the word of mouth didn't help it.

 

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2 hours ago, His Royal Noelness said:


LLL, The Greatest Showman, and Les Mis all had big name actors involved. WSS didn’t. That was going to introduce its appeal immediately. 

 

The first two  were original musical. LLL cost only 30 mil. Les Mis was the first time the musical was being adapted to the big screen.

 

WSS 2021 is a remake of a successful box office musical that already was a box office smash, is widely available, considered a great cinema classic and won 10 oscars. It kinda-sorta like remaking Sound of Music. Why? - Would be a question a lot of audiences would have.

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Here's Deadline's opinion over whether WSS and King's Man should've gone to streaming or not:

 

Quote

Some might argue that Disney’s 20th Century titles The King’s Man and West Side Story should have gone to streaming, given how the challenged adult audience is. They could not, due to previous pay-cable window terms, but also the misfiring of those movies at the box office — $20M and $30M, respectively — has more to do with their release dates: King’s Man should have been released in January, outside of Spider-Man, while West Side Story should have seen a Christmas Day launch, not only to create another family event outside of Spider-Man and Sing 2, but also that’s when more adults are available.

https://deadline.com/2022/01/2022-box-office-theatrical-streaming-day-date-experiment-1234902774/

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33 minutes ago, Joe Brausam said:

I don't quite understand what the issue is here -

 

As TheUlyssesian said this was a vanity project for Spielberg.  Something he did for himself.  If that's the case what's the problem?  Everyone is getting paid, it's not going to kill Disney's bottom line, and maybe they'll get a few awards out of it.  What's the problem if Spielberg wanted to make it simply because he wanted to make it?  Do we forget that musicals have revivals all the time on Broadway and elsewhere?  Would you have the same criticism for the umpteenth revival of WSS or Les Misersables on Broadway?  Who asked for a new revival of The Music Man to be staged with stunt casting in place like Hugh Jackman (who is probably doing a great job).  

 

There's no reason to complain about these things, they exist and people will find something to enjoy about them.  Sometimes you'll get lucky and find a large audience, sometimes it'll be a small one.  I can tell you as a music teacher I LOVED this interpretation of West Side Story and it has received near universal praise and good word of mouth within our music education communities.  Even if it was ONLY us that derived pleasure from this film I would say it was worth it.

 

A live show and a movie are not the same at all. Live shows can be revived ad nauseum no problem. It is not something bottled. Film is.

 

With that out of the way - your reasoning is basically tied to what someone thinks of the remake itself.

 

I happen to not have a good opinion of it, so I think it was gigantic waste of time, waste of effort and I would much rather have seen one of my favorite directors do something useful or meaningful. Sure I am no one to dictate his schedule but I can freely express my opinion.

 

Now those who happen to like the remake may think it was a good use of time and resources.

 

So ultimately it might boil down to what people think of WSS 2021 in deciding where they fall on the issue of its usefulness.

 

--

 

Now to demonstrate that the liking a movie shouldn't follow that you think it is useful .. for the discerning viewer... I will advance the case of Matrix 4.

 

I personally liked the movie, enjoyed it and I think it is good. I can still have the opinion that it was absolutely and totally pointless.

 

So even people who think the remake is good can have the opinion that this was a pointless movie and a deserved failure.

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It would be fair to take into consideration the fact that it would probably been more difficult for Spielberg to get financing for an original musical instead of a remake of a famous one. 

 

In this day and age, even ol' Stevie has trouble financing his vanity projects. I remember he complained that Lincoln was almost an HBO movie, but how things are going his should at least do an Irishman type of deal, where the movie is projected in some theaters but it's also available on streaming.

 

He's being a contrararian for no good reason, at least in my opinion.

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1 hour ago, TheUlyssesian said:

 

With that out of the way - your reasoning is basically tied to what someone thinks of the remake itself.

 

I happen to not have a good opinion of it, so I think it was gigantic waste of time, waste of effort and I would much rather have seen one of my favorite directors do something useful or meaningful. Sure I am no one to dictate his schedule but I can freely express my opinion.

 

Now those who happen to like the remake may think it was a good use of time and resources.

 

So ultimately it might boil down to what people think of WSS 2021 in deciding where they fall on the issue of its usefulness.

 

 

This I agree with - ultimately it really does just boil down to personal opinions.

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11 hours ago, Naïve Old Fart said:

@TheUlyssesian

I'm not sure if he "miscalculated". Many directors have many reasons for wanting to make a particular film. Perhaps it was just released at the wrong time?

Many great films fell at the wayside, financially, because they happened to be released alongside a mega-hit. Case in point: BLADE RUNNER, and THE THING. Look what they were up against.

If anything, the release date was unfortunate. Maybe if it was released last year, it would have cleaned up. I guess we'll never know.

 

Thank you for this very sensible post.

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I could go along with the idea that this is a vanity project....I mean, whatever. I posted when I saw it a few weeks ago that it really felt like he just wanted to make a musical, felt like he was running out of time, picked his favorite one. Yeah there are contemporary parallels to current events that he's reacting to, and the deeper universal issues that are always there, buuuuuut I think he wanted to do the prologue. He wanted to do the dance at the gym. He wanted to do the balcony, America, the quintet, the rumble, I Feel Pretty, all of it. He still had an itch to show off.

 

The thing I got out of this movie was just seeing Spielberg indulge music in his filmmaking in a way he hasn't really done since at least Tintin and War Horse (and probably back to Catch Me If You Can for something I had quite as much fun with overall) so I was glad for that. I mean, yeah, there's "The Presses Roll" in The Post and RPO and BFG are wall-to-wall score, they're fine, I love the voting in Lincoln, Bridge of Spies has its moments at the end but it's just that extra Spielbergian showstopping "thing". Watching him purely exercising that muscle throughout.

 

I mean, personally, my favorite thing about Spielberg is when his camera and great music are engaged together, and in that respect I got as much out of this as a lot of what he's done with Williams, and I wasn't so sure I'd be feeling it. And okay, it's "cheating" but West Side Story is automatically among the top scores Spielberg's ever had for one of his movies and he dove into it headfirst. It's kind of a pleasure to see him create the effect in reverse after all. This is where I would say its value lies most specifically with how it relates to his filmography, his aesthetic and generosity to music as a visual stylist. 

 

And idk, wtf, The Post to me was more of a limp noodle in which literally his only goal was rallying two acting titans to say something specific about the world and I don't think he really succeeded. I don't really care. I like seeing a great director make a movie motivated by their love of the form. I actually can't get enough of that when it works.

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You never see me evangelizing for The Post like I do for Bridge and Lincoln, and there’s obviously a reason for that.  But I still feel stupidly defensive when I see people insult it :P

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I gave it a second watch this year and even seeing it before my eyes I was not really sure it exists!

 

Meryl's great. Like, predictably. But one of those that's gonna fly under-the-radar in her career and she's really, really great. 

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I don't care for Meryl Streep all that much. What The Post excels at is that it is a tremendous work of film direction. As I have noted before, the Post is actually much more respected and admired in Europe for precisely its auteur qualities. The opening is a little bit hokey. But the entire final section - the last one hour or so - which almost play like takes place in a single evening as the journalists decide to publish the papers, it absolutely gripping, superb and as entertaining as any action movie. It shows Spielberg at his nimble-best, managing to arrange a large number of actors in several frames and giving each of them something to do while moving the scene along. 

 

If you just like the directorial art of blocking, staging, mis en scene, composition and cutting, then The Post is a marvel. 

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Plus a great score!

 

Just more as a sign of where I'm at in my life, I'd probably put The Post on the TV before I'd put on Raiders or Jurassic Park even though I obviously think the latter are better films.  I love "Civics teacher Spielberg" so much guys.  I want him to make only history lesson movies for the rest of his career.

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2 hours ago, TownerFan said:

 

When we see idols we rever being harshly criticized, it's kind of natural for some to step up as defense lawyers. I have yet to see WSS, but I guess call it "a gigantic waste of time and effort" is way beyond the point of a normal like/dislike debate. I firmly believe Cinema is one of the great human achievements of the 20th century (I know it was technically invented in the 19th, but the artform essentially was born in the 20th), but if we extremize this line of thought about 'usefulness' or 'meaningfulness' I can definitely say that any movie in the world can be see as a gigantic and ultimately useless venture, because no movie is necessary for anything essential in our lives. We get attached to them of course and they can reach even level of art, but that's rarer than most people truly convince themselves of. For the most part, movies exist just to entertain people and give them something to spend time with. That's it. Yes, there are much more detrimental hobbies and activities that are much more useless than watching movies of course. The only thing we should regret about a movie we didn't like is that we'll never get back that time we spent watching it instead of doing something else.

 

As Hitchcock said to Truffaut, "People think that movies are 'tranches de vie' (i.e. pieces of life), but I prefer to call my own 'tranches de gateau' (i.e. pieces of cake). Let's enjoy our cakes.

 

I respectfully disagree with this view entirely. I think cinema has the capability of creating art. It is an artistic medium - just as sculpture is, just as literature is, just as painting is, just as theater is.

 

To the extent that a medium has the capacity to create art, to represent the truth of humanity, to explore the mysteries of our minds and how we think, it is immensely valuable.

 

I do not subscribe to the view cinema is just entertainment. That might be the case with Hollywood blockbusters but there is a lot of worthwhile art that is created in this medium also. Might not meet the criteria of entertainment for 99.9999% of people but to the extent art is a noble pursuit, then no cinema is not useless. 

 

Just my humble opinion. 

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I didn't want to make a bold statement to say "all movies are just entertainment". Of course cinema can be art and can be used as a pure artistic medium. But 99.9% of the time here people discuss films that are made just for entertainment value (including West Side Story). And there is absolutely nothing wrong with it. My point was that if a director like Spielberg doesn't do something "meaningful" or "useful" as you said, then it's right to label it as "a gigantic waste of time". Saying that you didn't like it because it does not live up to some of his best work would be more than enough to express a perfectly agreeable point of view. Because, in the end, it's just a movie.

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I object to the term "entertainment" on a compeltely different grounds: to me, its a term that has this connotation of "light amusement" as opposed to something that's actually sobering and poignant, which is what all good drama is and should be.

 

What that has to do with art I don't know. All film is art. The question is just what films are good art.

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6 hours ago, TheUlyssesian said:

If you just like the directorial art of blocking, staging, mis en scene, composition and cutting, then The Post is a marvel. 

 

I agree but just find it interesting that you'll be this generous for The Post and not WSS. 

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1 hour ago, TownerFan said:

I didn't want to make a bold statement to say "all movies are just entertainment". Of course cinema can be art and can be used as a pure artistic medium. But 99.9% of the time here people discuss films that are made just for entertainment value (including West Side Story). And there is absolutely nothing wrong with it. My point was that if a director like Spielberg doesn't do something "meaningful" or "useful" as you said, then it's right to label it as "a gigantic waste of time". Saying that you didn't like it because it does not live up to some of his best work would be more than enough to express a perfectly agreeable point of view. Because, in the end, it's just a movie.

 

For sure. Like I said above - our reactions are just a proxy for what we thought of the remake.

 

If you don't like something, it can feel absolutely worthless. And if you like something, it can feel worth everything. 

 

I just happen to be in the former camp on this one - for a director mind you, I immensely love and admire. 

 

I will just also state that the theory of this forum is predicated on film music at least in a pretextual sense, so naturally those are the sort of films that get discussed here. I am sure we all watch a much wider swath of cinema than is discussed here, at least I do - and those most definitely veer towards very serious art. Spielberg is capable of that too and has made art several times in his career - often even melding entertainment and great art.

 

7 minutes ago, mrbellamy said:

I agree but just find it interesting that you'll be this generous for The Post and not WSS. 

 

I value originality immensely - just as a personal preference. Or doing something not done before or telling a story not told before or making something not made before. Simply on that criterion The Post is vastly superior to me than WSS - which to me is an inferior remake of a superior adaptation in almost every imaginable way. 

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That's fine, then. To me, when comparing it to the original, they split the difference more than that. 

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For what is worth... I thought the movie was brilliant.

I'm not an easy audience to please and while I may be better disposed towards Spielberg than any other filmmaker, I also rise the level of my expectations considerably when it comes to someone of his caliber (for the same reason I'm flabbergasted by Bob Zemeckis' poor results in recent years).

In this WSS, the level of bravura filmmaking alone is worth the price of admission (and let's face it, if you are doing a musical, you better have some cinematic muscles to flex), but for me the real success are the performances.

Spielberg can really cast a movie, especially the side roles.

 

I also adored the genuine retro vibe of many sequences: at times it felt and looked like a real 50s musical, and that warms my heart like nothing else.

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I don't think I've heard from many (any?) people who actually saw this that didn't at least like it. I still haven't seen it. Might have to make that a priority this weekend if it isn't too late.

 

I remember seeing the trailers. They were marketed like this was Star Wars and every note and every beat would thrill everyone in the theater. "I know what that IS! I REMEMBER that! Oh, they're doing this THAT way!" But none of it was exciting. Or interesting. Very pretty to be sure. It was like they were selling to the people who already bought it.

 

Compared with Dune where they hit the moments that the fans of the book were excited to see, sure. But they also made it look like something that people who had never heard of Dune wanted to see.

 

IMHO of course. (See? I've got it. Every person in entertainment including Steven freaking Spielberg is trying to figure out why this bombed so bad and I'VE got the answer. Wow. The Ghost of Sondheim smiles upon me.)

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Hopefully since it didn't do well, they'll rush it to stream so I can see it sooner.

 

I'm at least looking forward to seeing it, coming from someone who thought a remake of the show was completely unnecessary. 

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Yeah I'd love to see this but, after having COVID, I'm in no rush to get back to the cinemas anytime soon.

 

I guess the one positive to the film bombing is the cinema will be empty.

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  • 3 weeks later...
  • 2 weeks later...
Just now, Jay said:

It is?


Only because it is a 20th Century Studios release. Wouldn’t it be streaming exclusively on Disney Plus?

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Basically 20th Century Studios films were going straight to HBO per their decade-old agreement, until the new deal was struck

  1. The Call of the Wild - HBO Max only
  2. The New Mutants - HBO Max only
  3. The Empty Man - HBO Max only
  4. Free Guy - HBO Max only
  5. The Last Duel - HBO Max only
    --Deal is struck here--
  6. Ron's Gone Wrong - HBO Max & Disney+
  7. West Side Story - HBO Max & Disney+
  8. The King's Man - HBO Max & Hulu
  9. Death on the Nile - HBO Max & tbd
  10. Bob's Burgers - HBO Max & tbd
  11. David O Russel's new movie - HBO Max & tbd
  12. Avatar 2 - HBO Max & tbd

After that, no more HBO for 20th Century Studios films (unless HBO extends the deal)

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37 minutes ago, Jay said:

 

  1. The Call of the Wild - HBO Max only
  2. The New Mutants - HBO Max only
  3. The Empty Man - HBO Max only
  4. Free Guy - HBO Max only
  5. The Last Duel - HBO Max only

Those movie are also on Disney+ at least outside of the US where there's no HBOMax yet

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Depends on the markets i think. I watched last duel, free guy and new mutants on disney +.

 

I have yet to see call of the wild free anywherr 🙁

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Yea I dunno how other countries work I am just saying what they were on in the USA

 

Yea I want to see Call of the Wild but it's only streaming on MaxGo here now

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49 minutes ago, Jay said:

Yea I dunno how other countries work I am just saying what they were on in the USA

 

Yea I want to see Call of the Wild but it's only streaming on MaxGo here now

 

Interesting how it works in the US. Here in Australia, Disney+ added a new category called "Star" and all 20th Century Fox films are available to watch (Alien series, Predator, Die Hard, Home Alone, XFiles, etc.) 

 

It sits alongside Star Wars and Marvel categories in the main menu. 

 

I don't think they even jacked up the price when they added them to the library, which I thought was pretty generous. I'm sure that'll change in the near future though. 

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Yea in the USA they are keeping the Disney+ app entirely family-friendly, and the r-rated fare they own all stream elsewhere

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Interesting... I guess it's a much bigger market there and they can afford to split their library across multiple streaming services.

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