At the Movies with Joyce & Don Fowler

Posted 12/15/21



WEST SIDE STORY****(Classic Broadway Musical Soars)

Steven Spielberg has taken the classic 1961 movie and Tony Award-winning Broadway hit, retrofitted it , and given …

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At the Movies with Joyce & Don Fowler




(Classic Broadway Musical Soars)

Steven Spielberg has taken the classic 1961 movie and Tony Award-winning Broadway hit, retrofitted it , and given us a first class version of one of the best love stories since Romeo and Juliet.

I watched the original movie on TMC the other night, noticing the subtle differences and updating that added to the story.

The big screen allows for spectacular dance routines, shot from every angle imaginable, spreading over the streets, alleys, and neighborhoods of New York City’s West Side.

The opening sequence sets the tone, with fingers clicking to the jazzy da-dada-da-da background music, as we are introduced to the Sharks and the Jets.

Set against the background of a crumbling city, where buildings are being torn down and people displaced to make way for a ne Lincoln Center.

It is all about territory. The white Jets hate the Puerto Rican sharks for moving in. The local cops plan a dance to bring the groups together. Tony (he’s actually Polish) lays eyes on Maria. And they immediately fall madly in love.

They dance. Maria’s brother is outraged. A rumble is planned. It doesn’t go well.

That’s basically the story, and yes, it drags a bit over nearly two and a half hours.

But the music is so good. So memorable.

“Tonight”, “Maria”<, “America”.

Songs that will remain in your head long after you leave the theatre.

If you are a dance lover, you will marvel at the choreography.

The acting is also first rate, especially newcomer Rachel Zegler as Maria.

We have all seen the hype about Rita Moreno and her return to the movie 50 years later as the proprietor of the drug store where the kids hang out.

They don’t make ‘em any better than this.



Arc Wahlberg stars as the title character in this true story about a father who walks across America to honor his 15 year-old gay son who has committed suicide.

Joe talks to people along the way, on the side of the road, in a diner, or at planned town and school meetings, preaching understanding, forgiveness, and the dangers of bullying to anyone who will listen.

The problems he encounters with other people are nothing compared to the conflicts going on inside his own head, as he struggles with his own feelings of guilt, anger, resentment, and motivation.

The movie movies back and forth from past to present, giving us insights into this complex human being.


THE FRENCH DISPATCH, described as Wes Anderson’s “love letter to journalists” is rounding outa record seven weeks at the Avon, where it has received mostly gl0wing reviews.

Set in an outpost of an American newspaper in a fictional 20th century French city, the movie tells three stories, with Bill Murray serving as the editor involved in each.

It is satire at its peak, often going over the top with its humor. If you like the outrageousness of physical humor, you should like t.

The sets are imaginative, the acting by more than two dozen familiar names is mostly over the top, but the movie has gained a cult following, especially in college communities.

BELFAST, Kenneth Branagh’s “intensely personal story” of growing up in Belfast during the late 1960s, is a touchy tale, filled with typical Irish humor.

My problem with  the movie is the Irish accents, causing me to miss much of the dialogue.

Most of the film is shot in black and white, using camera techniques that follow the actors as they move through the war-torn streets of their beloved city.

Branagh captures the fear of the poor residents and their concern for their children and their future.

At the center is a family striving to survive as seen through the eyes of nine year-old Buddy (Branagh). He sees and hears everything and tries to understand what is happening.

Add sub-titles, and you have one powerful look at the “troubles” in Belfast and their effect on its residents.


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