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Black is King

This feature-length film, a visual album by Beyonce, uses her music and the medium to retell the story of the Lion King from the perspective of the Black experience. The film is impressive and showcases Beyonce’s incredible talent and vision. Filming took place in Africa, Europe, and the US and features a lot of unknown actors. The visual imagery stunning, some of the images with their juxtaposition of color and sound are breathtaking. The costuming is equally gorgeous and reflects the many aspects of the African and African American experiences. The film is a celebration of Black pride, Black beauty, …

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The Prom

The Prom: Meryl Streep and James Corden Broadway stars whose recent play was panned; Nicole Kidman, an actress relegated to the chorus who dreams of being at center stage; and Andrew Rannells, a guy who attended Juilliard but is serving drinks in a Broadway theater are all down on their luck and decide that they need to adopt a cause to reinvigorate their brands. In Iowa, when the local PTA finds out that Emma is going to bring her girlfriend to the prom, the head of the PTA stops at nothing to ensure that Emma won’t be attending. The 4 …

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The Disney Channel brings Hamilton to the big screen! Having seen this on stage, but not with the original cast, I was eager to see the movie version that captured one of the early performances. I was not disappointed; in fact, I was surprised at how well the film captured the energy and excitement of the stage play. The editing work is exceptional –different angles of the stage are captured with all of its intense motion and energy, with lots of close-up shots – it is like you are sitting in orchestra and your eyes move to where they want …

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Blinded by the Light

Javed is 16 and yearns to be a writer. He writes poetry and keeps a journal to the dismay of his father, who emigrated to the UK from Pakistan to have a better life for his family. The film takes place in Thatcher’s England of the 1980s when economic woes rocked the country and jobs were hard to find. One day, Javed discovers the music of Bruce Springsteen, and his world completely flips. The topics the film covers, such as generational culture clash, racism, and economic blight, aren’t particularly new. What makes this film singularly stand out are two things. …

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The Greatest Showman

This musical tells the story of how P.T. Barnham (Hugh Jackman) rose from nothing to build what became known as the “greatest show on earth.” As a story of his life and of the people who became a part of his show, it is rather shallow; one doesn’t get a lot of depth, and I was not sure exactly how much of it was real and how much was “inspired.” As a musical, some of the numbers were good, particularly “This is Me” and “Rewrite the Stars,” but the choreography overall was not particularly dazzling. Performances, especially that by Hugh …

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La La Land

Mia (Emma Stone), an actress struggling to break into the business, and Sebastian (Ryan Gosling), a musician trying to find work and remain pure to his love of jazz, meet. The film is a musical that tells the story of their meeting and what happens over the course of a year in their lives together in Los Angeles. I love the movie, but not in the way that I thought I would. It is a tribute to an older style of Hollywood musical, but here it feels very updated and fresh. I was not totally wowed by the “musical” aspect; …

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Animated film about a girl Moana, is destined to be Chief of her clan. For years, her tribe had “fished beyond the reef”, but then stopped. Moana dreams of the sea, and at the urging of her grandmother, she sets sail to save her tribe. Along the way, she meets Maui, a demigod who helps her on her journey to become a Wayfinder.  I absolutely love this movie. There is a lot of action, particularly during the last half while Moana and Maui are on their journey. The music is wonderful and has a couple of really beautiful songs. It …

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Sing Street

Sing Street: The new movie by the director of “Once” creates a similar kind of feeling in a very different era – 1980’s in Dublin. Connor (who calls himself Cosmo) is 15 years old, lives with his parents who are constantly fighting, a sister, and a much older brother who is a kind of music mentor to him. When he transfers to a new school, he meets Raphina and asks her to star in a music video with his band. Since Cosmo has no band, he has to put one together within a week. The rest of the movie is …

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The Last Five Years

The film, based on an off-Broadway musical, is about a young couple’s courtship, marriage, and dissolution. The story is told from the perspectives of Cathy (Anna Kendrick) and Jaime (Jeremy Jordan) star in a film, The film narrative is interesting – we get the story from the perspective of Cathy and Jaime; Jaime’s perspective begins at the end, and Cathy’s at the beginning, and the two perspectives weave in and out during the film. I found it a bit confusing to follow at times, but the songs are great, and they do an effective job of helping to keep the …

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