Tuesday, March 05, 2013

5 Less Is More Musical Sequences

As I can never forgo an opportunity to slam Les Miserables or add another voice to the pile that Tom Hooper is a no good, very bad director I decided to take a different approach today. There's a lot of guff that his "style" of presenting stripped down musical sequences lends them greater emotional truth. I'll let the hogwash of that speak for itself, and only mention that they seem to be confusing "visually impoverished" for deliberately spare stagings. Here are a few of my favorite less is more sequences, showing that simple does not mean revoking complexity, or embracing headache inducing tilts and wastes of frame.

"The Man That Got Away" A Star Is Born (1954). All this appears to be is a late night jam session after the chairs have been put up and the lights turned off. But it's one of Garland's most magnificent screen moments. She sings and the brief cuts to Mason put us in his seat, and then the focus on Garland are he, and us, falling in love with her and recognizing her potential.

"Make Em' Laugh" Singin' In The Rain. Cosmo Brown was my first movie crush, and this here is why. A deceptively simple idea, a friend goofing around trying to cheer his friend up, becomes a tour de force tribute to comedy in film.

"Les Chanson Des Jumelles" Les Demoiselles De Rochefort. This is number I like to watch in the bleakest days of winter, as it is spring to me. The bright, sherbet colors of the girl's dresses, and the equally bright brass of the music as the pair introduce themselves and set the movie up.

"Pick Yourself Up" Swing Time. Fred and Ginger, does anything more need to be said? Well yes, directors who insist on shooting dancers from the waist up should be beaten with a sock full of nickles. Or at least forced to watch Astaire and Rogers films on a loop until they get it.

And last but certainly not least, "Dancing in the Dark" The Band Wagon. Minnelli's style often gets dismissed as pure fluff, as if a filth encrusted waif isn't as much a creation of the makeup and hair department as a feathered show girl. Here it's just two people dancing in a sound stage park, but it's one of the most ravishingly romantic and erotic moments in movies.

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