Rocky’s Review
West Side Story, Belfast, Don’t Look Up

We've got a stellar line-up of movies and Oscar contenders for you beginning this Friday.  "You're not going to believe this. He's lost his mind. He wants to do West Side Story." That was the reaction of playwright and screenwriter Tony Kushner upon learning of Steven Spielberg's desire to remake the beloved movie musical, winner of 10 Academy Awards (1961). While I'm guessing that most fans of WEST SIDE STORY - myself included - would have responded the same way - as I did - one should never bet against Spielberg and Kushner. They have been working together for nearly 20 years, through MUNICH (2005), LINCOLN (2012) and other unconsummated and upcoming films. 

     Kushner is intensely proud of the way he, Spielberg and the creative team have reimagined this classic film, itself a reimagining of William Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet." Tackling the thorny American realities of race, class, immigration and identity was ambitious and not without risks. But judging by the reviews, they have succeeded with distinction. "Spielberg and Kushner have done justice to what Bernstein, Robbins, and the quite recently late Stephen Sondheim made all those years ago - not subverting its enduring value, but rather, with fire and grace, doing so much to earn it." -Vanity Fair. 

     A dark comedy about climate change was inevitable, and l'm glad that it landed in the very capable comedic hands of writer-director Adam McKay (THE BIG SHORTVICE). DON'T LOOK UP is being hailed as the best comedy of the year. The all-star cast includes Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, Meryl Streep, Jonah Hill, Timothée Chalamet, Melanie Lynskey, Cate Blanchett, Tyler Perry, Mark Rylance, Ariana Grande, and Rob Morgan. While the film alludes to climate change, it never directly addresses it, instead focusing on an extinction-level comet heading directly toward Earth. "A dead serious and hilarious end-of-the-world comedy." -IndieWire. (DON'T LOOK UP is from Netflix and will only be playing on the big screen through Thursday, December 23rd.)

     Written and directed by Academy Award nominee Kenneth Branagh, (HENRY VHAMLETMUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING), BELFAST is a poignant story of love, laughter and loss in one boy's childhood, amid the music and social tumult of the late 1960s. Judi Dench, Ciarán Hinds, Caitriona Balfe and Jamie Dornan star in this "affectionate cine-memoir, rendered all the more effective on account of young discovery Jude Hill." -Variety. [Branagh's] "most intimate and deeply felt film to date." -London Evening Standard

     THE MAGIC FLUTE, Mozart's magical fairy tale lights up the Rose screen this Saturday morning at 9:55 a.m. This delightful production from the Metropolitan Opera has become a holiday tradition.

Cinematically yours,
Rocky