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Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story (2021)


mrbellamy
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On 06/03/2022 at 8:46 PM, mrbellamy said:

I was excited for Annette and I was not that excited for West Side Story. I thought West Side Story was a better movie musical and a more rigorous (if less eccentric) piece of direction. 

 

That's it in a nutshell, i know that there will be tremendous shots in WSS, but i just can't be arsed to put it on because i give a rat's ass about this musty old warhorse glossied up for a 2021 audience. A miscalculation.

 

Given recent geo-political events, Spielberg would have made a home run if he just remade i. e. 'Fiddler in the Roof' - you just can feel the timeless relevance - and it would've fit his jewish heritage to a T. Or something like that. 

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1 minute ago, publicist said:

Given recent geo-political events, Spielberg would have made a home run if he just remade i. e. 'Fiddler in the Roof' - you just can feel the timeless relevance - and it would've fit his jewish heritage to a T. Or something like that. 

 

Or why not create an original movie musical - why plunder and appropriate past classics. Or why not adapt a musical that's never been adapted for the screen.

 

This really was a baffling choice of project for Spielberg and he ended up losing 100s of millions of dollars for Disney just to fulfill a personal interest. 

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10 minutes ago, TheUlyssesian said:

Or why not create an original movie musical - why plunder and appropriate past classics. Or why not adapt a musical that's never been adapted for the screen.

 

I was just riffing on the situation as is, i. e. remaking a proven property. Of course an original would have been preferable, but with the fiftieth Batman or Spider-Man reboot leading at the box office, who's gonna delude himself?

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 07/03/2022 at 8:47 AM, AC1 said:

My experience with Spielberg's 'recent' batch of movies:

 

I switched off The Adventures Of Tintin. I begrudgingly watched War Horse. I tried to watch Lincoln two times but I just don't like what I'm seeing (or how it's directed). I managed to finish Bridge Of Spies but wasn't a fan. I did not bother with The BFG. I switched off The Post after just one scene (I really have a problem with Spielberg's tone of storytelling). I switched off Read Player One after one hour or so (it made me nervous and felt it I did not get anything in return). I'm hoping West Side Story and The Fabelmans will bring a change in my 'relationship' with Spielberg's movies.

 

Nope. I thought it was a pointless and uninteresting remake which got more and more cringy towards the end. I'm done with Spielberg.

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I didnt enjoy watching WSS either. My wife endured it thoughout and she usually enjoys a musical...but we felt ridiculous watching this old fashioned styled film.

 

On a side note the Spanglish talked by the portorricans between themselves makes no sense, so even in the no spanish subtitles thing, the movie fails. In fact some songs like America should be sung in Spanish for example.

 

That would have made the film sound fresher, as it would not be the exactly the same songs again.

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10 minutes ago, Luke Skywalker said:

... but we felt ridiculous watching this old fashioned styled film.

 

That surprised me the most, how unbelievably old-fashioned it was. It's as if Spielberg is completely out of touch with everything. 

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Of course, I was talking about the style, not the topic. 

 

However, looking at Rotten Tomatoes, it seems that it's actually the naysayers who are living in a bubble and who are completely isolated from what arouses modern audiences and critics. 

 

Tomatometer: 92%

Audience Score: 94% (!)

 

What a world! What a world!

 

 

 

 

 

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While watching the film i thought spielberg could have made a great drama film with the same story. No songs or things like that. It would ruin the heart but it would have been a different thing entirely to make it new, and i think spielberg would have nailed it, and it would be more believable and contemporary. 

 

I mean... They make new musicals out of normal stories or films... Why nobody has tried the contrary? 

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Well ok, but based in the same historical setting. I for example needed a little of world building as the film does not explain what happens in the city, why are there so much ruins, so many immigrants etc.... 

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14 hours ago, AC1 said:

 

That surprised me the most, how unbelievably old-fashioned it was. It's as if Spielberg is completely out of touch with everything. 

The only thing I would say is that I believe the estates of the original creators are fairly prescriptive as to how WWS is put on. I imagine that SS could have used his clout, backed with his considerable talent, to propose something more revisionist, but productions of WSS are largely required to be pretty faithful to the original. While I imagine SS wasn't especially looking to make a radical re-imagining, there was probably limited scope for doing so in any event.

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On 8/3/2022 at 2:38 PM, TheUlyssesian said:

 

Or why not create an original movie musical - why plunder and appropriate past classics. Or why not adapt a musical that's never been adapted for the screen.

 

This really was a baffling choice of project for Spielberg and he ended up losing 100s of millions of dollars for Disney just to fulfill a personal interest. 

I agree. But at this point Spielberg has so much power and money that he can do whatever he wants, even lose 100s of millions of dollars on a meaningless passion project. He makes so incredibly much money as a producer with endless sequels of dumb franchises like Transformers or Jurassic World that he can afford ten box office bombs like West Side Story. He just doesn’t care anymore. He lives in a bubble surrounded by people who tell him what he wants to hear, and they won’t tell him that remaking West Side Story is a pointless stupid idea. And it was nominated for 7 Oscars, which is legitimization for him.
Too bad, because he used to be a great director. 

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1 hour ago, eitam said:

Counterpoint : the movie was great, so making it wasn't that dumb of an idea. Go Spielberg ! 

Glad you enjoyed it.
The last two Spielberg films I really enjoyed were WAR OF THE WORLDS and MUNICH in 2005. 

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For the last time....

SS didn't " plunder" a classic or " remake" a classic.

Musicals and opera and drama wriiten for the stage are DESIGNED to be PERFORMED and reinterpreted - by future generations. In any media.

It's called the " repertory".

Got it?!😡

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18 hours ago, Tom Guernsey said:

The only thing I would say is that I believe the estates of the original creators are fairly prescriptive as to how WWS is put on. I imagine that SS could have used his clout, backed with his considerable talent, to propose something more revisionist, but productions of WSS are largely required to be pretty faithful to the original. While I imagine SS wasn't especially looking to make a radical re-imagining, there was probably limited scope for doing so in any event.

 

You say that, but the 2020 Broadway production that got abruptly halted actually changed quite a bit about the material (cutting out a few numbers, changing key details, and really pushing a type of edge that boarders on a bit much). Hell, I heard that the only thing the Bernstein estate requested of Spielberg was for him to include a piece Leonard had made for the musical that didn’t make the original film.

 

Based on that, I know the naysayers will be even more peeved that Steven "played it so safe" if the floor was apparently that open, but I personally feel that there was enough added and changed about the work that it organically stands out from a lot of productions and the previous adaptation.

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23 hours ago, Tom Guernsey said:

The only thing I would say is that I believe the estates of the original creators are fairly prescriptive as to how WWS is put on. I imagine that SS could have used his clout, backed with his considerable talent, to propose something more revisionist, but productions of WSS are largely required to be pretty faithful to the original. While I imagine SS wasn't especially looking to make a radical re-imagining, there was probably limited scope for doing so in any event.

 

Again, I'm talking about style, not the story or the subject. I don't know what you mean by "required" but as far as I know, nothing forces a director to uphold an old-fashioned style or vision. Even though it is technically impressive, stylistically, Spielberg's version could have been made a long time ago (lens flares included). Even the film stock looked old (probably because it's 35mm low light film). 

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I don't really care about the tangibles of this project and just say that this is the first Spielberg i personally feel not the slightest urge to watch, even if i'm sure the are the usual crane and dolly shots that work brilliantly in the aid of the storytelling. 

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2 hours ago, bruce marshall said:

If you love the MUSIC , how can you skip this?😳

Easily. I listen to the music. 

 

By the way, how was Spielberg's version interpreted in a different way than the 1961 classic film? Is it a modern retelling? Is it set in another town, or in the present (or the future)? Is the music interpreted in a new way or is it the very same score performed by a new orchestra and the same songs sung by new actors? What does Spielberg's version add to the 1961 film that makes it more relevant and essential that future generations have to see? Because the 1961 film IS loved by future generations.

I wonder what Spielberg would say if another director decided to remake Schindler's List? It's based on Thomas Keneally's book SCHINDLER'S ARK after all. 

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  • 1 month later...

I finally saw this! I loved it.

 

I discovered a few things:

  1. I love (or at least like) West Side Story.
  2. I don't like the original movie. (I knew that, but I didn't know it was the movie, not the play.) (Maybe I need to give it another shot?)
  3. I get what everyone is talking about about the music now. Good heavens! (I've always love America. Who doesn't love that song?)

One big thing though: The Spanish. Spielberg said that Spanish should be on equal footing with English. Except that if you watch the movie with Spanish subtitles the whole movie is in Spanish. If you watch the movie with Korean subtitles only the English is subtitled! The Spanish is not. If you watch English subtitles then you get the English in English and the Spanish in Spanish.

 

So it's really intended to be more like Bridge of Spies where the majority of the audience is not supposed to understand parts of the dialog. Which is a valid choice. But they weren't up front about that at all.

 

And it's GORGEOUS.

 

I watched it with my kids. This is really the first tragedy they've ever seen. (Star Trek: Into Darkness doesn't count.) They liked it. They were a little surprised by it.

 

Any recommendations for other recordings of the musical?

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1 hour ago, Tallguy said:

Any recommendations for other recordings of the musical?

You could try the Carreras/Ti Kanawa version from the '80s, conducted by Lennie, himself. Also, there's the original Broadway recording, from the late '50s. Happy listening.

 

 

 

1 hour ago, Tallguy said:

This is really the first tragedy they've ever seen. (Star Trek: Into Darkness doesn't count).

STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS is definitely a tragedy ;)

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  • 4 weeks later...

I was blown away by how great this was!. The way the camera movements and editing synced with the images was stunning.
The best musical in.that regard since TOMMY.
But, what really makes the film is the mythic stance it takes. You could call it ONCE UPON A TIME ON THE WEST SIDE.
The underlying theme of a world being swept away by progress, of people and communities being dislocated by the forces of greed is so relevant.
People asked why it was "necessary" to remake this film. The answer is the wonderful original was a contemporary story. The new version looks back with the  wisdom of hindsight.
I loved this film!

On 24/03/2022 at 4:28 AM, JTW said:

Easily. I listen to the music. 

 

By the way, how was Spielberg's version interpreted in a different way than the 1961 classic film? Is it a modern retelling? Is it set in another town, or in the present (or the future)? Is the music interpreted in a new way or is it the very same score performed by a new orchestra and the same songs sung by new actors? What does Spielberg's version add to the 1961 film that makes it more relevant and essential that future generations have to see?

See my review for the answer 😄

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Problem #66

 

Bespin watched the 16 first minutes of "West Side Story" by Steven Spielberg, a loooooong movie of 156 minutes.

 

Find how many more 16-minutes sessions will be needed for Bespin to finish watching the film.

 

Answer: __________

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On 20/12/2021 at 8:12 AM, The Illustrious Jerry said:

Saw the film last night and it’s a definite lock for my favourite of the year.

 

It's strange to think that but a few months ago I could not have been less pressed over the arrival of this adaptation, and was largely skeptical about Spielberg's decision to "waste his time" on it from the start. Sure, the original is almost certainly in my holy trinity of movie musicals, but recognizing that any comparisons would be null was actually the easiest part of the whole ordeal. I don’t consider that film to be untouchable, because what does that even mean and why does it matter? Besides, there have been hundreds of performances of West Side Story, and if Steven Spielberg wants to make a grand foray into the musical genre by leaning on a surefire pick like this, his adaptation is more than welcome and certainly deserves to be realized. I didn’t expect, however, that the now 75-year-old director would end up outdoing himself in every possible way. Then again, I guess I should have known I would end up eating my own words.

 

This is unequivocally a Steven Spielberg production of West Side Story, and while the story and score are always going to be tremendously powerful and resonant, it is nothing short of enlivening and refreshing to see one of the greatest directors of all time take the opportunity to swing for the fences like this, breathing a surge of electric energy and seemingly boundless creativity into a tragic romance I thought I was already more than familiar with.

 

Every review I've read in advance of seeing the film has made it abundantly clear just how much Spielberg wanted to direct this, but my goodness that passion really is just dripping right off the screen. It's not even fair how good everyone is here. Kushner is doing summersaults with the material, and Dudamel's hitting dinger after dinger with the orchestra. The performances squeeze everything out of Newman's adapted score, and the recording is fittingly stunning.

 

This is also Kaminski's best work since Munich. Nobody has a visual language like this anymore. Heck, nobody even blocks a scene or moves the camera like Spielberg does either. This is most obviously a film full of life and energy and movement, but even when the characters aren't dancing, something else is. The script, the camera, the production design- it's all there and working in perfect synthesis. That being said, the choreography itself remains amazing. Only a master could find such thrilling new ways to stage Bernstein and Sondheim’s classic numbers like this. The signature long takes and wide shots only accentuate just how well Spielberg's cinematic toolbox translates to this genre. 

 

I'll further posit that every single casting decision is on-point. I'm well aware that it's going to be a minority opinion but I think Elgort is excellent, and if you're not convinced and still think he's the latest in a long line of woeful Spielbergian miscasts (allegations aside, of course), at least throw a bone for the discovery of Rachel Zegler, who was last seen soaring past Jupiter. I mean, talk about a movie star in the making! Other major stand-outs include Mike Faist in the role of Riff and Ariana DeBose as Anita. I also liked seeing Corey Stoll and Brian D'Arcy James as Schrank and Krupke, respectively. All in all, everyone's on their A-game, whether it be in the background or foreground.

 

I'm well aware the reception of some of the vocal performances on the album was a little lukewarm, but I'll just say it helps immensely to see it all on screen. In fact, watching the film only makes the album more accessible, and I say this as someone who has practically known these songs by heart for years.

 

Anyway, I'm overjoyed and elated and absolutely spoiled to have been able to take in such rich filmmaking as this. I suppose I should probably say something about how people are really missing this in favour of catching Spider-Man 8: Kevin Feige Needs Thirty New Homes or whatever they've called their latest money printer, but what's the point? If this is the last big-budget movie musical we ever get I think I can live with that. Without a doubt, Spielberg and company have knocked it out of the stratosphere.

This review deserves a bump!😄

 

 

Fyi.Some reviews have complained there wasn't any " world building" or explanation for the ruins.

At the.very beginning we are told, visually, that the new Lincoln Center project will displace blocks and blocks of residences.

We see protesters marching against forced evictions. There is a scene where the Puerto Rican girls debate whether to take their relocation checks.

There was a massive government program of what was euphemistically called " slum clearance". If residents merely hung out their laundry to dry, their neighborhood could be labeled a " slum" and bulldozed. Naturally, poor folks - especially people of color-  were the main victims of this cruel and cynical policy.

This is all based on HISTORICAL events.

And, it's certainty " relevant" to our present day society.

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3 hours ago, Bespin said:

Problem #66

 

Bespin watched the 16 first minutes of "West Side Story" by Steven Spielberg, a loooooong movie of 156 minutes.

 

Find how many more 16-minutes sessions will be needed for Bespin to finish watching the film.

 

Answer: __________

9.75

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9 minutes ago, Naïve Old Fart said:

9.375

 

You fell into the trap, Mildred!

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Slightly off- topic.

 

The last film that blew me away like this one - for its visionary coupling of images with music- was THE GREAT GATSBY.

Though not technically a musical- the actors don't sing on screen- it is filled with songs and score that amount to a ' quasi' musical.

If you loved WSS, check out GATSBY, if you missed it.

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22 hours ago, Bespin said:

Problem #66

 

Bespin watched the 16 first minutes of "West Side Story" by Steven Spielberg, a loooooong movie of 156 minutes.

 

Find how many more 16-minutes sessions will be needed for Bespin to finish watching the film.

 

Answer: ___8.75_______

 

156 - 16 = 140

 

140 / 16 = 8.75

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