Category Archives: Musical

IN THE HEIGHTS (2020): New Trailer From Lin-Manuel Miranda, Dascha Polanco, Anthony Ramos…

In The Heights (2020), Anthony Ramos, Warner Bros. Pictures
In The Heights (2020), Anthony Ramos, Warner Bros. Pictures

Directed by Jon M. Chu, In The Heights is a musical about a bodega owner’s mixed feelings about closing his store to retire to the Dominican Republic.

Key cast includes Lin-Manuel Miranda, Dascha Polanco, Corey Hawkins…

With zero prior knowledge about the broadway show on which this movie is based, it looks as though, as much as the story is about indecision regarding retirement, it’s definitely also about gentrification.

I’m curious because it’s New York but it is also a musical – not my number one genre. I’ll at least try to watch.

Ariana Greenblatt, Stephanie Beatriz, Marc Anthony, Susan Pourfar, Melissa Barrera, Daphne Rubin-Vega, Olga Merediz, Leslie Grace, Ken Holmes and Julia Harnett also star.

In The Heights Release Dates: June 26th, 2020 (US & UK)…

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K-12 (2019): The Things I Liked…

K-12 (2019), Melanie Martinez
K-12 (2019), Melanie Martinez

Starring, written and directed by Melanie Martinez, K-12 is a fantasy / horror / musical about two best friends and their mission to take down an oppressive schooling system. A schooling system where students are force fed medication to stop them from revolting / leaving and teachers are more concerned with exerting their authority than anything else. 

K-12 is essentially Martinez holding a mirror up to several of America and society’s recent and long standing ills and social injustice issues. Issues including but not limited to bullying, transphobia, police brutality, suicide, women’s rights, body image and racial discrimination. K-12 also features several positive and  uplifting messages that many of her young fans no doubt appreciate. For example…

‘The greatest power we will hold is that of acceptance’

‘Any strain we face will transform itself into a crystal rainbow in divine timing’

K-12 (2019), Emma Harvey
K-12 (2019), Emma Harvey, Hair by William Scott Blair

Having not really been aware of Martinez and her music prior to K-12, I was drawn to her aesthetic, the creativity and humour in the K-12 trailer. The world Martinez’s film occupies is visually interesting. I enjoyed the costumes, hair and endless pink – a feature reminiscent of Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014). 

The music in K-12 certainly isn’t bad either – even though I have to admit that there was a point where it all started sounding the same. Yet, even with that said, a week has passed since I watched K-12 and I can’t deny that I wrote this entire review while listening to all the film’s music. Some things just grow on you,I guess. The vocals and production on Wheels On The Bus and Strawberry Cupcake are two key highlights.

There was definitely a  point when it felt like the film could have been 30 minutes shorter. Still, I don’t regret watching K-12. It’s quite the filmic and musical achievement for the young (24) and talented Miss Martinez. On another note, I think my not especially beady but certainly observant eyeballs may have noticed a continuity error regarding a cut on a character’s arm that materialized on her upper arm, only for it to be misrepresented on her forearm a short while later.

You can watch K-12 on Melanie Martinez’s YouTube channel. It’s free and also definitely more than a whole load of pink, puffy sleeves and baby doll dresses.

Happy Film Loving


K-12 (2019): New Trailer From Melanie Martinez, Emma Harvey, Zión Moreno, Zinnett Hendrix…

K-12 (2019), Melanie Martinez
K-12 (2019), Melanie Martinez

Read my spoiler-free movie review of K-12 (2019).

In K-12, a bewitching pair consisting of a brave-hearted girl and her charming best friend set about taking down an oppressive schooling system.

Written, directed by and starring Melanie Martinez, K-12 is a fantasy / musical / horror film, with additional key cast that includes Emma Harvey, Zión Moreno and Zinnett Hendrix…

I’m really just curious about this particular brand of seemingly creepy, definitely creative and hopefully rather entertaining ‘madness’. I also want to know more about the K-12 schooling system and precisely how it’s going to be taken down.

Genesis Ilada, Megan Gage, Jesy McKinney, Vilmos Heim, Quei Tann, Maggie Budzyna and Marsalis Steven Wilson also star.

K-12 Release Dates: September 6th, 2019 (Internet)…

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THE GREATEST SHOWMAN (2017): The Things I Loved…

The Greatest Showman (2017): Rebecca Ferguson
The Greatest Showman (2017): Rebecca Ferguson

I still haven’t seen even half of the very highly rated musicals out there – and I doubt I will. Especially since musicals aren’t my favourite genre. However, to my surprise, I’ve found my most loved musical to date in The Greatest Showman.

Based on the true story of P.T Barnum, a visionary who rose from nothing to create the mesmerising spectacle known as the circus, I found so much to love about this film. The music – of course, the costumes, humour, choreography, performances and themes; I enjoyed it all.

I found that I appreciate The Greatest Showman even more because of the way it speaks to the part of me that chooses to live life on my own terms, regardless of what society expects of me. This is a film about a person who took the risk and followed his vision to make his dreams a reality. In this way, director Michael Gracey’s film belongs in the same entrepreneurship loving space that Jon Favreau’s Chef (2014) occupies in my heart.

It’s generally no secret that the real P.T. Barnum wasn’t exactly a perfect human being. Additionally, not every character in this film actually existed. Yet my, oh my is this version of the story beautiful.

Zac Efron, Hugh Jackman, Zendeya and Michelle Williams all deliver good performances. As does Rebecca Ferguson. Particularly the moment we all get to hear her character’s singing voice. A scene that is arguably the most arresting. A true wow moment. 

You’ve very already seen this but if you haven’t, watch The Greatest Showman for all the seemingly endless reasons above and you may just find yourself inspired. 

Happy Film Loving


JUDY (2019): New Trailer From Renée Zellweger, Rufus Sewell, BELLA RAMSEY, Jessie Buckley…

Judy (2019),  Renée Zellweger, RoadsideFlix
Judy (2019), Renée Zellweger, RoadsideFlix

Starring Renée Zellweger, Rufus Sewell,  Bella Ramsey, Jessie Buckley and directed by Rupert Goold; Judy is a new biography / musical about legendary performer Judy Garland, a.k.a Frances Ethel Gumm.

Judy focuses on Garland’s winter of 1968 series of sold-out concerts in London. Goold’s film will show Garland as she prepares for the show, battles with management, charms musicians and reminisces with friends, fans and meets Mickey Deans, her soon-to-be fifth husband….

As someone who’s aware of Garland but not so much her work, especially outside of The Wizard Of Oz (1939), I look forward to being enlightened.

Furthermore, having not watched Zellweger in a movie in a while, I’m looking forward to seeing her do a great job with this role. I wonder if she’ll actually sing…

Michael Gambon, Finn Wittrock, Andy Nyman, Fenella Woolgar, Philippe Spall ,John Dagleish and Gemma-Leah Devereux also star.

Judy Release Dates: September 27th, 2019 (US); October 4th, 2019 (UK)…

Happy Film Loving


DUMPLIN’ (2018): The Thing I Liked…

Dumplin' (2018), Jennifer Aniston
Dumplin’ (2018), Jennifer Aniston

Starring Jennifer Aniston, Danielle McDonald and Odeya Rush, I had some fun Watching Dumplin’, the comedy / drama about Willowdean a.k.a  Dumplin,’ the plus-size teenage daughter of a former beauty queen.

Directed by Anne Fletcher, the story really gets underway when, to the surprise of many in their small Texas town, Willowdean starts a revolution by signing up for her mom’s Miss Teen Bluebonnet pageant. 

I wanted to watch Dumplin‘ because of Aniston and the promise of some humour. There is a little humour involved and the messaging about inclusion, representation and love of self are indeed adequately executed. I also  enjoyed witnessing the positive evolution of a strained mother / daughter relationship and seeing a teenage girl find her confidence. 

Though everyone did well in their roles, a part of me does wish that Dumplin’ had been a tad more amusing and fun. A similar movie that I had that little bit more fun watching is Don’t Talk To Irene (2017),which I recommend.

Dolly Parton’s music features quite a lot in Dumplin’ and she’s often mentioned. So… if you’re a fan, you know what to do. Another reason to watch Dumplin’ to see Aniston have fun in her role as a small town Texas woman. The idea alone just makes me smile.

Happy film Loving


DUMPLIN’ (2018): New Trailer From Jennifer Aniston, Danielle Macdonald, Odeya Rush, Dove Cameron, Harold Perrineau…

In new comedy / drama / musical Dumplin‘, the plus-size teenage daughter of a former beauty queen decides to sign up for her mom’s Miss Teen Bluebonnet pageant. Doing so ends up revolutionising the pageant and their small Texas town.

Dumplin is directed by Anne Fletcher and stars Jennifer Aniston, Danielle Macdonald, Odeya Rush, Harold Perrineau, Dove Cameron…

Reasons to be excited about this one include the promise of humour, the fact that I enjoy Aniston in comedy roles and Harold Perrineau in drag as ‘Rhea Ranged.’

Luke Benward, ex Taylor-Klaus, Sam Pancake and Joshua Allan Eads also star.

Dumplin’ Release Dates: December 7th, 2018 (US)…

Happy Film Loving 


A STAR IS BORN (2018): The Things I Liked…

A Star Is Born (2018), Bradley Cooper
A Star Is Born (2018), Bradley Cooper

A Star Is Born stars Bradley Cooper as Jackson Maine, an ageing, alcoholic musician in a downward spiral; whilst Lady Gaga plays the talented young singer he helps find fame.

I’ll start by saying that I definitely misread the film’s duration of ‘one hundred and thirty six minutes’ as ‘one hour thirty-six minutes.’ Luckily though, in the end the longer than average two hours 16 minutes total length barely proved punishing.

As for why this movie appealed, I had to watch it if just to see how well Cooper faired in the dual leading actor / director role. The good news is, A Star Is Born is a well executed story that’s heartbreaking, funny, layered, well captured and it features some rather memorable music. In fact, my favourite song on the soundtrack is called Shallow and I’ve played it many and I mean MANY times since.

There’s no denying that I absolutely bought Cooper’s tortured character’s emotional journey. I also believed him as a rock star because of the good music in the film and how his character presented physically – including the way he moved – both on and off the stage. I especially enjoyed the first time Shallow is performed on stage; a pretty glorious experience that’s very beautifully shot.

Besides Cooper’s well executed dual roles, other highlights include the deep bass in Cooper and co-star Sam Elliott’s voices. There’s also a memorable perfectly timed funny moment that involves one of the two / three times Frank Sinatra is mentioned.

As for the not quite great things about A Star Is Born, my suspension of disbelief was briefly interrupted by the uncomfortable closeups near the beginning of the movie. Closeups that luckily either eased off as the film went on, or they somehow bothered me less. There were also one or two moments of dialogue that felt quite awkward during Cooper and Gaga’s early interactions. Thankfully though, that awkwardness also eased off as the film continued.

Watch A Star Is Born because it’s good, handles well themes linked to different kinds of relationships, familial, business, healthy, unhealthy, poisonous, etc. Lastly, if you’re not already in love, there’s a reasonable chance that A Star Is Born will make you want to be – and likely with a musician. So good luck with that!

Happy Film Loving