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Posts Tagged ‘Keegan-Michael Key’

Andrew Rannells, Meryl Streep, James Corden, Nicole Kidman

“THE PROM”  My rating: B+ (Netflix)

130 minutes | MPAA rating: PG-13

Sabre-toothed cynicism and squishy-hearted sentiment are unusual bedfellows, but they get it on quite swimmingly in “The Prom,” Ryan Murphy’s winning screen adaptation of the gay-centric Broadway musical.

Here’s a movie I’d pay to see in a theater.  And I say that from the depths of my pandemic-panicked heart.

Simultaneously a celebration/sendup of show-biz hamminess and a touching coming-out story, “The Prom” depicts how a handful of Broadway has-beens and wannabes descend upon a tiny Indiana burg to champion the cause of a teenage lesbian named Emma (a winning Jo Ellen Pellman) who only wants to take her gal to the high school prom.

That simple desire is complicated. First, because the PTA president Mrs. Greene (Kerry Washington) would rather cancel the prom than let a gay couple attend; second because Emma’s squeeze is none other than Mrs. Greene’s daughter Alyssa (Ariana DeBose), who is yet to come out to her mom.

Meanwhile in New  York, Broadway diva Dee Dee Allen (Meryl Streep) has been trashed for  her new musical about Eleanor Roosevelt.

“What didn’t they like?” asked co-star Barry Glickman (James Corden), who plays FDR. “Was it the hip hop?”

Actually, no.  The critics find Dee Dee and Barry to be insufferably narcissistic. They need an image makeover, something that will let them “love ourselves but appear to be caring human beings.”  Hey, what if they help out that little gay girl in Indiana?

They are joined on their mission  by Angie Dickinson (Nicole Kidman), who after 20 years in the biz is still stuck in the chorus, and actor/bartender Trent Oliver (Andrew Rannells), whose career high point is his degree from Juilliard.

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“THE LION KING” My rating:  B-

118 minutes | MPAA rating: PG

The original 1994 “Lion King” was classic Disney animation featuring hand drawn backgrounds and characters — or if  computers sometimes were used, at least the final product appeared to be hand drawn.

A quarter century later we get a “Lion King” redux done in a live-action format…though one cannot begin to figure out what (if anything) is live and what rendered through the ones and zeroes of digital animation.

There are moments, especially early on, when Jon Favreau’s updating of the beloved yarn offers such a sumptuous  visual feast that the eye and mind struggle to take it all in.

Against an absolutely believable African landscape lifelike lions, elephants, impalas, hyenas and other creatures do their things.  Your senses tell you that these are real animals filmed in action (after all, the great Caleb Deschenal — “The Black Stallion,” “The Right Stuff,” “The Passion of the Christ” — is credited as cinematographer)…except that invariably these creatures do something no animal ever could.

A lion tamer with years to refine his act could never get actual big cats to hit their marks, strike perfect poses and execute complicated action sequences. Not to mention move their mouths to utter dialogue in human voices.

Indeed, I have no idea how this was done. Were live animals filmed and then digitally diddled to make them do the impossible?  Do the backgrounds even exist? Or were they built entirely in the computer?

Let it be said up front that “The Lion King” is one of the most amazing-looking films of all time. The work Favreau did a couple of years back on the similarly-rendered  “Jungle Book” looks a bit  primitive by comparison.

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