Last night, I saw a wonderful, light French musical Les Chansons d'Amour (Love Songs). Being a huge fan of musicals, I do not understand when people think of them as a lower form of theatre/movie genre. These people probably only saw one or two musicals in their lives, and those were probably too old-fashioned for them to love and get interested in this genre. The Sound of Music, for example, is a great family movie, but certainly not enough to make you want to explore that section of your DVD rental. In truth, the musical is a genre so complex and gripping, once you start watching it, you'll never go back.
So, here's a list of 5 very different musicals, and I guarantee that you will like at least a couple of them.
- RENT (Chris Columbus) - My favorite movie of all time. If your idea of a musical involves nuns singing on top of Austrian mountain tops, think again. RENT is a modern story about a group of young people living in East Village, dealing with such universal issues as poverty, AIDS, estrangement from their parents and identity. The music is contemporary as well, blending rock, pop and gospel. The original Broadway production was a vehicle for today's stars like Idina Menzel and Taye Diggs, and the movie version also includes the majority of the Broadway cast, with newcomers Tracie Thoms (The Devil Wears Prada, Death Proof) and Rosario Dawson (Sin City, Death Proof). If you like it, check out: Fame.
- Evita (Alan Parker) - If you are more of an opera goer, you may find this movie starring Madonna and Antonio Banderas a real gem! Commonly known as the movie Madonna should have gotten an Oscar for, it is an emotional story of a young girl rising from poverty to become the first lady of Argentina. The film doesn't have any dialogue - everything is sung out and it resembles an operetta. Madonna also went into history as being an actress with the most costumes in the movie, followed by Elizabeth Taylor in Cleopatra. If you like it, check out: Phantom of the Opera, La Vie en Rose.
- Across the Universe (Julie Taymor) - From the visionary director of Frida comes a love story told exclusively by means of the songs by The Beatles. The new arrangements are superb, and the performances by Jim Sturgess (21) and Evan Rachel Wood (Thirteen, Life Before Her Eyes) are thrilling. It is also a film for those who love lush, trippy visual effects. If you like it, check out: Mamma Mia!, Pink Floyd: The Wall
- Cabaret (Bob Fosse) - An almost-musical, this Liza Minnelli masterpiece is a story of two lovers and their life in the Nazi Germany. A moving, powerful movie is especially driven by its music and the title track and is also ranked as 63rd on the American Film's Institute's list of the 100 greatest American movies. If you like it, check out: New York, New York.
- Once (John Carney) - Once is an Academy award-winning Indie musical, about two struggling Irish musicians who fall in love. It is very naturalistic and low-budget, but a true gem for Indie film lovers! If you like it, check out: Les Chansons D'Amour.